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If you are new to Canada, one of the first things you will likely do is make sure your finances are in order and on track for future living expenses.

An important early step to establishing yourself in your new country is familiarizing yourself with how things work. Building a trusted network to help you navigate and understand common questions — including questions on banking — may even help you get established faster.

“There are a lot of options available to newcomers but you may not need or use all the benefits. Take some time to learn about them and if you aren’t sure what works for you start with basics.” — Denys Smushko Assistant Branch Manager / Advisor, Calgary Newcomer Meeting Place.

Banking may seem overwhelming to newcomers at first, so here are a few tips to help you understand banking in Canada:

Take some time to learn about each offer and if you aren't sure what works for you start with basics.

Denys Smushko, Assistant Branch Manager/Advisor, Calgary Newcomer Meeting Place

Get to Know the Types of Canadian Bank Accounts

One of the differences you may notice first is the various types of accounts available to you. They may serve different functions or be called names you don’t use back home. The two most common account types are “chequing accounts” and “savings accounts.”

  • Chequing accounts: A chequing account helps with day-to-day transactions or depositing your work pay-cheques.
  • Savings accounts: A savings account can help set aside money for things like home furnishings or education.

Build Your Canadian Credit History

Learning about credit history in Canada and why it matters is a good idea to look into as you settle in. One way to start building a credit history is by applying for a Canadian credit card and using it wisely. It can be treated as an alternative form of payment that can be used for many expenses, such as internet and phone payments, online purchases, and travel.

Research Government-funded Programs

As you set up your day-to-day banking account, you may also want to consider the different tax-sheltered options available in partnership with the Canadian government. One is the Tax-Free Savings Account or better known as a TFSA. It is a way for individuals who are 18 and older and have a valid social insurance number to set money aside tax-free throughout their lifetime; the money is tax-free even when it is withdrawn.

For more advice for newcomers to Canada, connect with an RBC Newcomer Advisor.