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Old Aug 30, 11, 3:41 pm   #1
 
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Canadian bank account/CC as a non-resident?

(and sorry ahead of time if this isn't the place to ask)

Out of curiosity, which banks, exactly, allow non-Canadian-resident US Citizens to open accounts? The reason I'm asking is because I need/really want (depends on how you look at it) a Chip+PIN card for future travel, and there don't seem to be any in America.

(for reference, I'm a semi-frequent visitor to YVR, so if I need to show up at a branch in person to apply, I can do that)

Also, most banks in Canada seem to want to charge monthly fees on all their checking accounts with no obvious way to waive them, so I'm also looking at getting a credit card+savings account from RBC/CIBC/whoever will let me apply. In that case, how hard would it be to get a secured CC?

Thanks for any help that can be provided!
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Old Sep 2, 11, 1:49 pm   #2
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamar View Post
(and sorry ahead of time if this isn't the place to ask)

Out of curiosity, which banks, exactly, allow non-Canadian-resident US Citizens to open accounts? The reason I'm asking is because I need/really want (depends on how you look at it) a Chip+PIN card for future travel, and there don't seem to be any in America.

(for reference, I'm a semi-frequent visitor to YVR, so if I need to show up at a branch in person to apply, I can do that)

Also, most banks in Canada seem to want to charge monthly fees on all their checking accounts with no obvious way to waive them, so I'm also looking at getting a credit card+savings account from RBC/CIBC/whoever will let me apply. In that case, how hard would it be to get a secured CC?

Thanks for any help that can be provided!

Chase, US Bank and Wells Fargo seem to have chip and pin cards in the US - that may work out an easier option?

Otherwise maybe speak to a bank that operates in both countries - such as TD, and see what they say.
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Old Sep 2, 11, 3:35 pm   #3
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamar View Post
(and sorry ahead of time if this isn't the place to ask)

Out of curiosity, which banks, exactly, allow non-Canadian-resident US Citizens to open accounts? The reason I'm asking is because I need/really want (depends on how you look at it) a Chip+PIN card for future travel, and there don't seem to be any in America.

(for reference, I'm a semi-frequent visitor to YVR, so if I need to show up at a branch in person to apply, I can do that)

Also, most banks in Canada seem to want to charge monthly fees on all their checking accounts with no obvious way to waive them, so I'm also looking at getting a credit card+savings account from RBC/CIBC/whoever will let me apply. In that case, how hard would it be to get a secured CC?

Thanks for any help that can be provided!

I believe all banks offer their products to US Citizens.. Keep in mind the following things: You will need a Canadian address where the account will be "domiciled".. Our banking system works a little different than in the US. You need a Canadian mailing address at the branch where your account is located. Also our debit cards are not VISA (unless you choose the CIBC dual Interac-VISA)..

Many banks will most likely deny you credit because of your non-Canadian citizenship/PR, no Canadian income, and nonresidency.

Secured cards are offered by some banks, and should be easier to get, since the bank doesn't have much to lose. Keep in mind that secure cards may carry an annual fee, and no rewards.
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Old Sep 2, 11, 3:36 pm   #4
 
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Originally Posted by emma69 View Post

Otherwise maybe speak to a bank that operates in both countries - such as TD, and see what they say.
You may want to try RBC. (RBC Royal Bank (CA) and RBC Bank (USA) are fully integrated. They can pull a US credit history.

TD Bank and TD Canada Trust are not integrated in the same manner (yet anyways)
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Old Sep 3, 11, 7:21 am   #5
 
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Thanks for the help!

In order:

1. Chase's chip card is Chip+Sign only, no PIN. It's also got a high annual fee. Same with US Bank, and while I already bank with Wells Fargo in the US, they're telling me that their chip card is a closed trial right now.

2. A Canadian mailing address I can do. My sister's studying at UBC and when I visit I'll be staying/picking up my mail at her place (apartment, not dorm room). Also, I already noticed the lack of Visa debit cards (I know about CIBC, but they want a $4 monthly fee for a basic checking account with 10 transactions/month- not very appealing) so that's why I was asking about savings account+credit card first. I'll keep that in mind about not being able to get an unsecured card and ask about a secured card also.

Though the weird thing about CIBC was that since I posted this, I accompanied my sister to her account opening (she's a student so she gets a checking account with unlimited transactions for free- lucky). The lady promoting credit cards at the branch said that they could pull up my US history and even send the card to my American address if I got approved. Is she just desperate for a commission, misinformed, or are they that American-friendly?

3. Thanks for the advice, I'll give RBC a look too. Truth be told, the first time I didn't give them a second look because I was silly and assumed the Avion card was the only one they offered (because that seems to be the only card they ever advertise).

I've already left and I won't be back for a while, but it looks like my first course of action would be like this:

Head to RBC, ask about getting a credit card. Probably going to get a GIC too if it gets approved, then I get the fee waived on a basic checking account (multi-product rebate).

If that fails, then I'll head to CIBC. Apply for a credit card, and if that passes, get a savings account there to pay the bill with.

And if that fails, I'll go back and ask about secured cards and try again.


Also, as for "all banks"- some insist on residency. Scotiabank told me they wouldn't without proof of a long-term visa, Coast Capital insisted on an SIN, and I guess I haven't tried that many others. It'd be easier if they'd take a phone bill or something as "proof of residency"- I managed to get a Rogers postpaid plan with just my American passport and CC that shows my sister's address and already have bills for that. Oh well.
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Old Sep 3, 11, 9:36 am   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamar View Post
Thanks for the help!

In order:

2. A Canadian mailing address I can do. My sister's studying at UBC and when I visit I'll be staying/picking up my mail at her place (apartment, not dorm room). Also, I already noticed the lack of Visa debit cards (I know about CIBC, but they want a $4 monthly fee for a basic checking account with 10 transactions/month- not very appealing) so that's why I was asking about savings account+credit card first. I'll keep that in mind about not being able to get an unsecured card and ask about a secured card also.
All banks will charge money for chequing accounts. There are ways to waive that fee... I've never paid fees, because I keep the required minimum balance.. For a low transaction account I believe the balance requirement is around $1000. Also, Visa debit cards do not "exist" in Canada.. CIBC offers a dual Interac/VISA card, but you'll never be able to use that card as a Visa while in Canada. It must always be processed by the Interac network. I believe in the US, it works under NYCE.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamar View Post
The lady promoting credit cards at the branch said that they could pull up my US history and even send the card to my American address if I got approved. Is she just desperate for a commission, misinformed, or are they that American-friendly?
.
They can pull up US credit history, but she was also a little misinformed. Your US credit history would help if you actually resided in Canada or had strong ties here. An American simply asking for a Canadian credit card w/ no clear ties here may not be approved so easily.... Yes they send cards to a US address, but when they started that, it was intended only for Canadian students studying abroad in the US, or workers temporarily in the USA. Bills still come to Canada.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jamar View Post

Also, as for "all banks"- some insist on residency. Scotiabank told me they wouldn't without proof of a long-term visa, Coast Capital insisted on an SIN, and I guess I haven't tried that many others. It'd be easier if they'd take a phone bill or something as "proof of residency"- I managed to get a Rogers postpaid plan with just my American passport and CC that shows my sister's address and already have bills for that. Oh well.
Yeah some banks will refuse to open an account unless you have residency. However, they cannot require a SIN (unless your account earns interest). I'm not sure if your able to get a BC driver's licence without Canadian immigration status, but try it. That will solve all the "residency" concerns for banks.

Also - keep in mind that the "free" savings accounts have per-transaction fees that you have to pay. (50 cents I believe)
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Old Sep 3, 11, 12:20 pm   #7
 
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You can open a joint account with you sister. Just have her open the account and then add your name onto it to "facilitate transferring money".

Most Canadian banks will give a CC to a 2nd yr student starting at $1000 limit. (not sure about non-res students).
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Old Sep 6, 11, 10:44 am   #8
 
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Just to add, I was reading an article over the weekend that was saying that Visa, Mastercard and other big 'players' in the credit card market require all their merchants, world wide to accept the older form of swipe card as well as chip and pin (i.e. they are not allowed to be exclusively chip and pin anywhere). That said, I know it is sometimes easier than them having to call over a supervisor to process.
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Old Sep 6, 11, 12:33 pm   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emma69 View Post
Just to add, I was reading an article over the weekend that was saying that Visa, Mastercard and other big 'players' in the credit card market require all their merchants, world wide to accept the older form of swipe card as well as chip and pin (i.e. they are not allowed to be exclusively chip and pin anywhere). That said, I know it is sometimes easier than them having to call over a supervisor to process.
Yeah, Visa/MC require merchants to accept all types of cards, similarly how they prohibit asking a customer for photo ID.

That doesn't mean merchants will go by those rules. In places where chip/pin has been the standard for a good period of time, many merchants will refuse to accept a non-chipped card. Also unmanned terminals may not have the capabilities (or are not programmed) to accept non-chipped cards.


Here in Canada I started noticing that at Esso... The new stations that have been upgraded will not allow you to pay outside unless your card has a chip.
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Old Sep 7, 11, 8:44 am   #10
 
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In order:
1. That's the thing I'm worried about; I'm not sure I'll be able to have C$1000 in the checking A/C every month (in which case, I'd skip RBC as well, seeing as how they need you to have an investment and CC to waive the monthly fee- dunno how I missed the minimum requirement for the GIC). I'd add myself as a joint account holder on my sister's account, but I don't know if the terms of the student account allow for that, or if they do, if both parties need to be students (well, I am, but not in Canada).

2. I figured that seemed a little odd that they'd be able to do all that for a visitor. All I can do, I guess, is to give it a try next time I visit.

3. Didn't know about not being allowed to require the SIN for a non-interest-bearing account. Shows how much I know about Canada. But I did notice that CIBC offers a savings account with one free transaction a month (if I can't add myself to my sister's unlimited-transaction account). Every transaction after seems to cost a rather steep $5, but for only one CC bill payment (and doing all necessary spending with the CC) a month, it seems like it should be OK.

4. Looked on the ICBC website. They need me to have some proof of Canadian citizenship or a study/work/visitor permit for a BC license. None of which I would have as someone visiting without a visa.

Again, thanks for the advice, though I'll have to wait for my next visit to Canada to see how it all pans out. Best case is that I get my Canadian chip card for those occasions that I need it, worst case is that they say no and I wait to see if any American issuers push out a proper Chip+PIN card (or if Wells Fargo lets me into their trial).
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Old Sep 7, 11, 9:11 am   #11
 
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Originally Posted by jamar View Post
In order:
1. That's the thing I'm worried about; I'm not sure I'll be able to have C$1000 in the checking A/C every month (in which case, I'd skip RBC as well, seeing as how they need you to have an investment and CC to waive the monthly fee- dunno how I missed the minimum requirement for the GIC). I'd add myself as a joint account holder on my sister's account, but I don't know if the terms of the student account allow for that, or if they do, if both parties need to be students (well, I am, but not in Canada).
I've dealt with CIBC all my life. (over 40 year history with them). They're a good bank, and I would recommend them. Also once you end up receiving a Visa card from them, they're very generous regarding credit limit increases.

As far as I know - they also have savings accounts w/ no fees, but you may want to check the per-transaction fees.. AFAIK, they cost 50 cents a piece, not $5.

I also do business w/ Scotiabank, but truthfully, I don't recommend them. Horrible customer service... The only reason I keep em is because they gave me a good interest rate on my mortgage.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamar View Post

3. Didn't know about not being allowed to require the SIN for a non-interest-bearing account. Shows how much I know about Canada.
Yep, Canadian law prohibits banks/lenders/cell phone companies etc.. to require a SIN. Technically they can ask you for one if you open an interest-bearing account, but mainly they only ask for registered accounts (RRSP, RESP, RDSP, TFSA etc).

Quote:
Originally Posted by jamar View Post

Again, thanks for the advice, though I'll have to wait for my next visit to Canada to see how it all pans out. Best case is that I get my Canadian chip card for those occasions that I need it, worst case is that they say no and I wait to see if any American issuers push out a proper Chip+PIN card (or if Wells Fargo lets me into their trial).
I think you should be able to get one.. If not a Visa credit card, you can get the new CIBC dual debit card w/ Interac and VISA.

You may want to try TD Canada Trust as well.... My youngest daughter's first C.C was thru them (CIBC declined her initially).
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Old Sep 7, 11, 9:28 am   #12
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Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR)

Don't forget that if as a US citizen/resident, you maintain a foreign bank account, you are required to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) with US Treasury. The fines for failure to do so are astoundingly huge and there is the potential of a criminal charge for intentionally failing to file.

I would check with the banks newly-issuing cards to see what their deal is and will be before starting down Federal reporting path.
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Old Sep 7, 11, 10:24 am   #13
 
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Don't forget that if as a US citizen/resident, you maintain a foreign bank account, you are required to file a Foreign Bank Account Report (FBAR) with US Treasury. The fines for failure to do so are astoundingly huge and there is the potential of a criminal charge for intentionally failing to file.
Omg!! That's crazy.. We don't have to file anything w/ the Canadian government if we own foreign bank accounts.

Just out of curiosity - how will the USA ever find out about him owning a Canadian bank account?

If he doesn't state his citizenship w/ the bank (which will then trigger all the bureaucracy). Foreign territory/accounts are outside the US Treasury's jurisdiction.
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Old Sep 7, 11, 11:08 am   #14
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1. This requirement has existed since at least 1984 (maybe before, but I don't recall).
2. This isn't one of those places where people monkey around with "how will they find out?" It's a Federal felony violation to intentionally fail to file (and remember, ignorance is not a defense).

But, as a matter of academic interest, "they" will find out someday in a routine audit over something else in which it is found that you are writing regular checks (or otherwise transfering US$ to a Canadian account). The question then is, "why?" That answer leads to the foreign account and the FBAR violation.

I have no idea what Canadian law does or does not require of its citizens/residents, but do know that many nations require their nationals to report foreign bank accounts.
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Old Sep 7, 11, 11:26 am   #15
 
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Originally Posted by Often1 View Post
1. This requirement has existed since at least 1984 (maybe before, but I don't recall).
2. This isn't one of those places where people monkey around with "how will they find out?" It's a Federal felony violation to intentionally fail to file (and remember, ignorance is not a defense).

But, as a matter of academic interest, "they" will find out someday in a routine audit over something else in which it is found that you are writing regular checks (or otherwise transfering US$ to a Canadian account). The question then is, "why?" That answer leads to the foreign account and the FBAR violation.

I have no idea what Canadian law does or does not require of its citizens/residents, but do know that many nations require their nationals to report foreign bank accounts.
The only requirements are to report worldwide income. And only if you live here. Canadian citizens residing abroad don't have to file a return. Which I think is very fair. You should be taxed on all your sources of income..

However (a little bit off topic), in the case of the USA , it surely isn't fair to American citizens to have to file US returns and declare foreign income (AND pay taxes on it) if they live abroad.
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