The following information should help you better understand the process of banking in Canada. Every effort is made to provide you with timely and useful information but it is important that you do some personal research upon your arrival here in Kingston.
When you deposit a cheque into your bank account, the money appears to be there immediately but it can take days and even weeks (for international cheques, in particular). A common scam is to send money to you as a cheque and then ask you to repay some or all of the money from your account. Do not make a return payment until you have a guarantee from your bank that the money has arrived in your account.
If you have been the victim of fraud, notify our International Student Advisers and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
What is on this page
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I open a Canadian bank account?
If you will work for the university (ie. Teaching/Research Assistant, other part-time jobs), you must have a Canadian bank account as payments to you will be deposited directly into the account. It may also be necessary to have a Canadian account if you are paid by other employers by cheque (see details about the use of cheques below).
Some short-term visitors (ie. 1 term exchange students or visiting researchers who are not paid by Queen’s) may choose not to open a Canadian account. In this situation, or in the first days in Canada before opening an account, it is important to be aware of which Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) can be used to access money from your account at home.
Bank cards from around the world should include the logo of an ATM network (ie. Maestro, Cirrus or Plus). Look for those logos on ATMs in Canada to determine whether you can use those machines.
The Maestro network is integrated with the Cirrus network. That means their logos should be interchangeable.
If you are considering not opening a Canadian bank account, it is extremely important to check with your home bank about the cost of accessing money through Canadian ABMs.
What should I take with me to open a bank account?
1. Your Passport or Birth Certificate
2. Your Study Permit or Work Permit (if you have one)
3. Some money to deposit
4. Your Queen’s Student ID (or a copy of your offer of admission) to be eligible for special student plans
Bank staff will explain how to open an account. Please ask them questions if there are details which you do not understand.
Which bank should I open my account with?
There is no single answer to this question. Everyone has different needs. As a result, there is not one account that is best for all students. You should ask yourself what is important to you. Do you like to take money out regularly? Where do you want to be able to access your money?
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) is the only bank with Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) on Queen’s Campus, but the downtown branches of the major Canadian banks are within easy walking distance.
The following table includes information on student accounts available at the main banking institutions found in Kingston.
Note: The information contained in the table is subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
# of self-serve Transactions Included in Monthly Fee
Cost per Transaction OVER # included in Monthly Fee
|Major Canadian National Banks|
|Bank of Montreal||Free (for Plus Plan)||30||65¢|
|Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)||Free (for Advantage Plan)||unlimited||n/a|
|Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)||Free (for Student Plan)||25||$1.00|
|Scotiabank||Free (for Student Banking Advantage Plan)||unlimited||n/a|
|Toronto Dominion (TD) Canada Trust||Free (for Value Plus for Students)||25||$1.00|
|HSBC Bank of Canada||$4.00 (for Performance Chequing Unlimited)||unlimited||n/a|
|Kingston Community Credit Union (see note below)||Free (for ages 17 – 25)||unlimited||n/a|
The downtown branches of these banks can be found on QUIC’s City of Kingston Map.
Note: Account holders at the Kingston Community Credit Union must buy a share in the company to open an account. The cost is $10 for students under 21 and $160 for students over 21. This money (plus any interest you may have earned) is returned when you close your account. You also require a Social Insurance Number to open an account (this is only an option if you have a study permit with the necessary conditions or a work permit).
Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) that are not branded by one of the major Canadian banks above (often found in convenience stores, bars and restaurants) can charge extremely high fees for use.
If possible, plan to withdraw money from your own bank’s network of ATMs.
Where can I get help in managing my money?
Creating a budget is very important. A budget can help you keep track of your income and expenses. The Queen’s Student Awards Office can help you create a budget based on your income and expenses. Their office is in Gordon Hall. They can also give general advice on money management. You can all 613-533-2216 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment with an Awards Officer.
The Queen’s Student Awards Office can also give information about scholarships and bursaries that may help cover some costs of your time at Queen’s University.
How do I get, write, and cash cheques?
All banks offer chequing accounts which allow customers to write “cheques” to other individuals and companies. Cheques are one way to transfer money to other people’s accounts. Cheques are not always required in Canada. The most common use of cheques is to pay one’s rent, but direct payments through the Interac ® E-mail Money Transfer system are now quite popular.
To order cheques (usually between 50 and 200) you can expect to pay between $20 and $30 at any bank. Every time you issue a cheque and it is cashed is usually considered a “non-teller” transaction and counts towards the number allowable based on your monthly fee. The HSBC student account is an exception with each cheque transaction costing 75¢.
When writing a cheque you must know the name of the person or company to whom you are making the payment as well as the date.
It is important to ensure that you have enough money in your account to cover any cheques that you write.
If your account does not have enough money in it your bank may charge you a high penalty fee.
If someone writes you a cheque and you want to deposit it into your account or get the cash, you must write your signature on the back. Some cheques have a specific space for this. Otherwise, signing across the top on the back is usually adequate.
Once you have signed the back of the cheque it can be cashed. You should only sign a cheque once you are at the bank or bank machine to ensure that you do not lose the cheque and have someone else try to “cash” it.
ATM – Automated Teller Machine (or ABM – Automated Banking Machine)
You will receive a bank card when you open an account and will need to choose a secret password, also called a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for use with your bank card. Bank machines allow you to bank 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can do all of your routine banking, including withdrawing money, depositing money or cheques, paying bills and checking your account balance when using your bank’s ATM. There is usually an extra charge for using an ATM not belonging to your own bank and particularly high fees for using private ATMs that are not associated with any bank (like those found in restaurants and bars).
24 hours a day, 7 days a week, you can call a toll-free number. You can pay bills, get your current account balance, hear your last 5 or 10 transactions and transfer money between accounts. You will need your bank card, and you will need to choose a password specifically for telephone banking.
You can check do the same things as with Telephone Banking and more, including buying and selling stocks.
Interac ® Direct Payment
In many stores, you can pay for your purchases with no need for cash. You can withdraw funds from your account and transfer them directly to the retailer. It works just like an ATM, using the same bank card and Personal Identification Number (PIN). Each time you use your bank card to pay directly is considered a “non-teller” transaction. To pay for something this way, tell the cashier you would like to pay with your bank card or “debit” card.
Interac ® E-mail Money Transfer
An online banking service that allows you to instantly and securely send and receive funds electronically using someone’s e-mail address and a password that the sender creates. Each payment costs the sender $1.
Money can be transferred from your bank account to pay your bills. Some companies will allow you to pay your bills by “Pre-Authorized Debit”. This usually requires you to fill out a form and attach a cheque with the word “VOID” written across the front to the company. The money will then automatically be withdrawn from your account. Note: As with writing cheques, it is extremely important that you have enough money in your account to pay your bill. If you do not, your bank will charge you high penalty fees. The company you are paying may do the same.
In-Branch (or Teller) Transactions
Although transactions can be conducted “in-branch” with the assistance of a teller (a person who works in the bank), this can be more expensive and may not be included in monthly plans. Make sure you cheque with bank staff when you open your account.
If you have further questions, after reviewing the information above, advising is available (without an appointment) from the International Student Advisers at the Queen’s University International Centre from Monday to Friday between 1:00pm and 4:30pm.