banking in canada


So let’s talk about Banking


I admit, sometimes I rely on people close to me too damn much. When I was overseas, I did all of my banking at HSBC. When I was doing my research going over all the main bank’s websites in Canada, the option that worked best for me was simply opening an HSBC Canada bank account and use the internal transfer option to transfer my money into Canada. Easy-peasy right? Sort of…While all the banking websites have an option to open a bank account, the people close to me told me to go in person to a branch to open a bank account. So I took their advice. I went in person to the closest branch to me, waited for 30 minutes to see a representative, then was told, “The earliest appointment to open a bank account at this branch is next month!”. My jaw dropped, do banks in Canada not want your business? Then the CS rep said she found an earlier appointment but it would at a branch further away, in only 2 weeks time. I wasn’t in a hurry so I accepted that appointment. At my appointment, the banker I had an appointment with was training a new employee so I had 2 people’s attention, both were really nice and helpful, my bank account was opened with no problems. It’s just…during the appointment I noticed something funny. After getting all my documentations, they were just on a mobile phone setting stuff up while we chatted. So I asked, “Are you guys just opening the bank account with the website?”. To which the banker replied “Oh no, I’m doing this on the app.” I just started laughing. I mean it was nice to have them handle the paperwork, but I literally could have opened the bank account 2 weeks sooner if the original CS rep had told me there was no difference in booking an appointment and going home and downloading the app.


Moral of the story: Do your own research on what bank works best for you. Each bank has their own products and types of accounts that best serves your needs. I’m not going to pretend to be an expert and BS you on all that, do your own research, because even my method doesn’t work anymore since HSBC Canada got bought out by RBC and I’m now on RBC. But just remember…you can open a bank account by yourself, at home, on the couch…without going to a branch.


International Transfers

I do also have a little bit of experience with international money transfers that I can share. The company I do remote work for is an US based company so I get paid in USD. They offered several different payment options but since I already had an account I chose PayPal to receive my salary. Boy was that a mistake. What I didn’t know was because I didn’t have a USD account set up on PayPal, the platform automatically exchanged the money into CAD as soon as it hit my account. The company paid for the transaction fees but the foreign exchange fees were crazy high and the exchange rate was crazy bad. After 1 payment I was immediately on the lookout for a better platform.

Another option the company provided was Wise. I looked through a lot of posts from freelancers that get paid in USD and most of them suggest looking into Wise. They have the only 2 things that matter to me, a better exchange rate and lower fees to move the money. They also have an option for a debit card so I don’t need to move it to my bank account but I don’t have a need for it. I’m fine spending a few bucks sending the money into my bank account. So far I have no complaints. I just keep my USD in the account, set an exchange rate that I like and wait for it to hit before sending it to my bank. From what I’ve seen, Wise is available in 40+ currencies and can be used to hold/send money to 73 countries as of the time of this post.


To be clear, I am not affiliated with any of the institutions that I have written about, but these are just my personal experiences with banking and international transfers that might be of help to someone else.