As a nation of immigrants, Canada has a lot of programs designed to help newcomers get things organized financially.
It’s not easy; language and culture can be significant barriers to new Canadians understanding our financial system. On top of that, establishing yourself in a new nation is often an economic struggle.
Many of our large financial institutions have programs to help newcomers get established. Almost all of them offering free banking for the first year that includes unlimited transactions. Here are some unique perks offered at the big financial institutions in Canada.
From The Big Banks
Bank of Montreal
The Bank of Montreal has a nicely balanced portal for newcomers with a good range of basic information about how to open a bank account, borrow money and start a business. The bank offers a free safe deposit box and if newcomers invest more than $1000 in any of BMO’s term investments, they get a bonus 0.25% interest above the posted rate (a big deal in today’s low interest climate).
The StartRight Program is this bank’s big product for new immigrants and it includes a brochure on Canadian banking in 13 languages and auto financing for new Canadians. The program is uniquely subdivided into programs for not just newcomers, but students, foreign investors and migrant workers.
One great program here is the CIBC Newcomer Mortgage, which helps immigrants get mortgages even without a Canadian credit history. Many also may not realize that there are special amortization and LTV options specifically for their needs. Check out our LEARN section for even more info on how to secure a mortgage as a newcomer to Canada.
Royal Bank of Canada
Our biggest bank has a huge newcomer portal with its Welcome to Canada banking package, brimming with information and banking tutorials in 14 languages. It also caters to foreign students. Downside: its free banking package only lasts for six months while many other banks waive fees for one year.
Not surprisingly, this international bank caters to people moving to Canada. It runs special accounts geared for people about to move here transferring their money to the bank in advance. These require big deposits of $25,000 to $1.6 million but the bank takes care of all the paperwork and transferring money across borders.
The bank’s site is also loaded with useful information, including an array of link-outs and checklists, even a glossary.
Addressing Needs Beyond Banking
Numerous organizations across the country are working hard to make sure new Canadians understand the financial system here. For starters, newcomers should check out the Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy — this national organization offers training for smaller groups to provide financial literacy services. Check out the list of all the community organizations it has trained; One might be in your community.
You can also find local information through provincial and municipal organizations. For instance, the province of Manitoba runs a financial literacy website. While not specific to just new immigrants, Momentum, run out of Calgary, offers a range of programs to help people get smart about money, start a business or get a job.
Many organizations focus specifically on women. For instance, the Immigrant Women's Centre in Hamilton, ON, runs ongoing seminars on money, employment and other financial issues.
While moving to a new country is financially complex, there are services and programs in Canada designed to help. You just have to ask, and you will find the help you need.