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My Canadian Experience
Opening a Bank Account & Telecoms

Today (29th October 2004) I decided it was time to open a personal bank account and get myself a visa card.  As I hadn't heard back from the RBC bank to the email enquiry I sent them I decided they were a no no.  I then remembered seeing a Scotia bank branch about five minutes walk down the road from where I am staying on Broadview.  So I walked down to see if I could open an account.  On the whole got a pretty poor welcome and just told to phone a number and they would issue an appointment for me to come in.  So... I decided not to bother with them.

As the CIBC bank had given that talk at the Immigration meeting I decided to try their web site and got a contact number.  So I phoned them and got a very nice girl that explained she could take all my details online and process the application.  She explained that in around 5 days time the local branch to where I live would phone me to ask me to come in where I could both verify my details in person and get my account.  So as that all sounded nice and easy I went ahead.  So hopefully I will hear from them Friday of next week when I'll report back on how I get on.

The Banks I checked out were CIBC, RBC Financial Group and Scotiabank.

I have my application in for a rental in Elliot Lake but not sure when I will hear from them.  Likely need to phone to ask that but will try emailing them and see if they respond.

I will probably make some email enquiries to a few more realtors about rental accommodation so if I get turned down at Elliot Lake I'll at least be making progress elsewhere.  Larry Hynes at the Immigration office suggested a lunch meeting next week where we could go over alternative places to try so will take up that offer.

I do want to get a mobile phone so I'm contactable but figured I would wait until I get my bank account and credit card then I'll have some Canadian identification.  I will be looking at the various options in Canada for communication bundles.  As far as I am aware there are three main companies, Rogers, Bell Canada and Telus. As a person that does need the option to use the phone in the USA and UK as well as Canada it's not that easy to figure out the best options. Mind you I do wish different countries would all standardise on the same phone system as it would make worldwide communication much easier. It seems to me it's the USA that is the major problem as they want their own standard and that is just not working.

I rarely use a mobile phone myself and it can be quite complex deciding on what phone to purchase and what plan to go for.  There seems to be a never ending list of plans to choose from. Do I just want to use my phone in Canada?  Should I have the option to use it in the USA or the UK?  How often might I actually go to the USA or the UK and need to use it?  Sheesh... decisions decisions :-)

One thing I've already noticed is that most company web sites don't actually make it very easy for you to ask a question by email and where they do the response is either a standard reply which mostly doesn't answer the question you asked or you get no response at all.

Overall my stay in Canada has been great and enjoying staying with Nola, Harold and their extended family.  Weather hasn't been great and the leaves are surely flooding off the trees as you walk around. And as I walk around I am seeing lots of houses with Halloween decorations up.  Must get around to taking a few pictures.

I've emailed the Mayor of Elliot Lake as he does run a couple of car dealerships.  Thought I'd ask him about gettting finance for a car purchase as I don't have any credit history in Canada.  Getting some finance will definately make a difference on what car to get.  I did purchase a copy of Phil Edmonston's Lemon-Aid publication which is a New Driver's Guide for 2005. It does give you a whole host of tips on how to buy a car, options on new versus second hand, buying tips, secret warranties, and lots of other things.  It also includes details of new and used cars along with service records for each. There are actually lots of interesting wee snippets in this publication which also makes it very readable.


Spoke too soon on the banking issue.  It transpires that CIBC will not give a newly arrived person a credit card despite what their representatives said at the Business Immigration seminar.  Not even if you offer to secure it with a deposit.  I received a letter refusing me one and did phone their credit card office and went through to a Supervisor but no chance of a credit card until I have been here for 18 months.

Stop Press:
ScotiaBank now offer a way to get a credit card even if you have no credit history...

No credit history needed.
It's hard to get a credit card without a Canadian credit history. But the Scotiabank StartRight® Program± for Newcomers can help. It's a special program designed to meet the needs of newcomers to Canada. Once you have a credit card you can:

Make purchases online or by phone.
Earn rewards like cash back, free movies or travel points.
Build your Canadian credit history and credit score, so you can build the future you want in Canada.
With the StartRight Program, you can be approved for a credit card – even without a Canadian credit history.

To complete this application you will need to have the following information available (if applicable):

Personal/contact information - name, address, phone numbers
Employment information - employer name, phone number, time employed
Gross monthly income - annual income before deductions divided by 12
Monthly housing costs - monthly rent or mortgage payment
Other monthly obligations - spousal or child support
Your passport
Your date of arrival in Canada - you must currently be in Canada and have arrived in Canada within the last three (3) years
Your Canadian Visa/Landing Document Number

The link can be found at:

And so I decided to phone the banks again and eventually found that Scotia Bank would offer a credit card if secured by a deposit equal to 120% of the credit limit.  This security has to be held for 2 years and if you have looked after the account you then get it back.

So cancelled the account at CIBC and have now applied for one at Scotia Bank.  I will add that the telephone representative did advise that I should open a PowerChecking account for my normal account and a MoneyMarket account which will pay 2% interest.  I can thus transfer money between the two accounts for zero cost although to avoid monthly bank charges I need to hold a minimum of $2000 in the checking account.  I was also advised to open a US account as that meant if I needed money from my American bank then I can just wire the money to the US account and then transfer the funds from that to my checking account in Canada at no further cost.  All accounts can be managed online.  So this way I save on the fees charged by my American bank.

Once again this will take up to 5 days to process and I need to visit the branch to finalise the process which seems to be a normal requirement.

And so... I'll let you know how I get on. 

Return to my Canadian Experience Index Page

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