Best Student Banking in Vancouver

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Moving to a new country can be difficult. Thankfully if you’re relocating as a student, there are plentiful support networks that can assist you with your transition – if only you knew. Reach out to the university you will be attending to inquire what knowledge resources they have available to help with your move to a new city or country. There are generally several essentials you need to settle upon arriving, one of them includes most critically a student bank account in Vancouver, BC.

We hope to help you by suggesting a few recommended student bank account out of the five major banks in Vancouver. We hope this summary of information will enable you to make your decision better; helping you find an ideal student bank account to support and facilitate your daily banking needs throughout your studies and beyond.

Here’s a summary of the best student banking plans in Canada base on our opinion and experience:

1) CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce) – Apply for FREE unlimited student banking plan here

2) Scotiabank – Apply for FREE unlimited student banking plan and earn free movies here

3) RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) – Apply for FREE student banking plan in Canada here

4) TD (Toronto Dominion) – Apply for a FREE student banking plan here

5) BMO (Bank of Montreal) – Apply for a FREE student banking plan here.


We will be considering (1) Student Banking Plans (2) Student Banking Benefits (3) Student Banking Cost (4) Convenience and accessibility – inclusive of online banking services (5) Service. We will also give attention to future considerations such as room for growth once you’re finish your studies – what are the costs associated to your everyday banking once you’re completed your four (five or sometimes six) years of studies and discounted student banking plans.

The good news is that most major banks (and credit unions in BC) provide free banking services for full time students. Some banks like BMO may require for you to verify your enrollment yearly whereas certain banks like CIBC will allow you to save the inconvenience and hassle of going into your branch to verify in person yearly such as BMO student banking plans (else it will automatically charge you their standard banking fees) and confirm your student enrollment once for the entire period of study for the student banking plans. Certain banking institutions will provide special student banking benefits such as an SPC card (BMO) or free movies (Scotiabank). Certain banks however like CIBC while not providing such added incentives/benefits, offer completely free unlimited student banking (comparative to BMO which charges you on two tiers of student banking in Vancouver. In comparison, CIBC delivers more value long term, saving you $5 monthly….just buy your own SPC card if you want one. It’s only $10. They make money from having the volume of student loyalty leveraged for these businesses not your $10 fee.)

Which student banking plan is best for you comes down ideally towards the customer service, convenience, and quality of banking service when looking at the bigger picture. You don’t need to save the $9.99 you’d spend on a Student Price Card only to fork out an additional $9.99/month for the next tier of banking plan or put up with more inconvenience of an under-developed online banking system. (Some credit unions like Coast Credit Union however still render much of their services manually so I suppose that’s an improvement from that but as you were taught – at least hopefully – never compare with the worse but the best.)

Before this introduction gets on too far, welcome to our student series to help incoming students to post-secondary education with their transition to Vancouver by recommending the ideal (in our opinion) necessary services for them. We hope this will help you to make an informed decision and save time with knowledge gathering and comparing from various banking websites separately. We have tried to maintain as accurate information as to our knowledge added with personal opinion and experience however no warranties can be made on the accuracy of the content.

While this content is intended primarily to help incoming students to Vancouver find the right student banking plan for them…locals would also consider this list to be exhaustive (hopefully) and useful for their own considerations in looking for a Vancouver student banking option. There isn’t much varying consideration in student banking for a local or international student – except international students may find it beneficial to utilize a more globalized bank like HSBC.

Comment bellow which student banking institution you use in Vancouver! (or credit union for your student banking.) …how you like the service afforded.


Here are our recommendations for the Best Student Banking Plans in Vancouver from #1 to #5 (as usual of our list consisting the top 5).

1) CIBC – Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce:

Student Banking Plan – FREE Unlimited student banking plan.

+ Unlimited e-transfers

+ Unlimited interac payments

+ Unlimited transactions

+ No fee withdrawals on CIBC ATMs



+ One of the BEST ATM networks in Vancouver (and Canada). Save on ATM fees.  At last count, CIBC has 4100+ ATMs. Especially in Vancouver, you will find a CIBC ATM at just about every corner you may require to withdraw cash. However, in today’s electronic world, most of our transactions are online and digital such as credit cards which leads us to point #2.

(Note that CIBC used to operate PC Financial with President Choice providing ATMs at every Superstore. This however will begin to change with the recent change to PC Financial. CIBC will be moving forward with Simplii – a similar concept to EQ Bank and Tangerine – and the ATMs at Super Stores will no longer be operated by CIBC.)

+ One of the BEST Online Banking platform. CIBC regularly invest into their online banking experience to ensure it’s secure and convenient for their customers. Their online banking platform provides a seamless user experience allowing you to perform payments, instant transfers to your credit card, and check transactions up to six months prior. You can also send secure and private messages online to a customer service representative through your CIBC Online Banking Inbox…another alternative if you have questions or require non-urgent banking service.
(It is worth noting that CIBC also has a solid mobile banking product however I find their mobile apps and mobile website more limited in functionality. You can choose to access the desktop browser version or the mobile browser version when visiting CIBC Online Banking with your phone.)

+ Professional and friendly telephone banking service. If you require to complete activities or inquire with a live service personnel, CIBC has a 24 hours telephone banking call center. They are generally prompt and eager to help (most likely scripted replies I’m sure but it works) with the exception of one individual (base on personal experience). You can generally tell if someone is eager to serve base on their tone of voice. If you get a bad experience, just call back – as with customer service, your experience can vary base on the service personnel.

+ Fast and efficient in-branch banking services. The service in CIBC branches are on the whole, friendly, quick, and professional. I suppose with their emphasis on improving and maintaining their digital banking platform and their widespread ATM/ABM network, there is little need to go in to your local branch for everyday banking or student banking in Canada. As a result, lines in local branches are rare. If you do require to visit your local branch after setting up your account and verifying your documents, you can be assured the service on a whole is friendly and efficient. (If you do require to see a banker, set an appointment online.)

Presuming you are attending UBC, you will find a CIBC branch right at University Village. There are no banks on SFU Burnaby campus except Scotiabank.

Perks – None. While CIBC doesn’t offer any student perks, if you need a quality and functional everyday banking plan without the excess fees, then CIBC Student Banking Plan is the ideal option for you as a Canadian or International student in Canada. (personal opinion) You don’t get the fancy perks like an SPC card or like free movie tickets with your Interac usage (which in my opinion doesn’t really matter anyways – put all your purchases onto your credit card instead of interac, let the merchant pay the fees, and get a 1-2% cashback. Travel rewards are better however as you get experiences over a rebate.) however, you do get a solid banking product and service that’s free for students. They also provide easily accessible student line of credits and student credit cards that provides fair incentive.

This is the ideal option if you’re looking for a bank that will serve you well throughout your student years and beyond. After you graduate your student banking plan, just pay $12.99/month for unlimited transaction banking. It keeps it simple. You also get great service at CIBC.

There is actually a student banking contest going on currently to win four years of tuition ($35,000) for opening a new student bank account in Canada, student credit card in Canada, or student line of credit in Canada. However, let’s face it, odds are not in your favor for this contest.


[Side rant here: Truthfully, the Student Life Contests are just a HUGE scheme to get your personal information and then spam you on their social networks with irrelevant content about why your degree isn’t worth it…

I registered for it in 2012. Please don’t waste your time.

You’ll see loads of badly created social media content with annoying and kiddish click-bait headlines telling you why university is a big scam and you can get your dream job without a degree. They probably think this would resonate with the youths and students – yourself, but if you’re spending four years of your life at college or university, I don’t think you need to be told why its a waste.

Honestly, university matters. Value it. Don’t be delusional, in today’s society a degree is still the pre-requisite to many jobs.

More than that, your fours years of university is worth while and for the most part will be a significant portion of your life. It is what you make it to be.

(1) Take the time to seek out experiences. Endeavor to go on an exchange program with Go Global. Find your interest and passions with various student clubs and residence communities.

(2) It’s about people. Use the opportunity to surround yourself with like minded individuals. People who will stir you on, motivate you, and hold you up if needed.

An observation, the people at various colleges/universities differ – you will be surprise, how distinct it is. In Singapore, comparing the drive and ambition of people attending NUS, SMU, or a Polytechnics (community college) varies significantly – both in habits, eagerness to learn, and human interactions.

University is an excellent opportunity to network and surround yourself with like minded individuals to grow and be a better you. People with ambition and drive but never look down on anyone and always be kind. (Time and chance happen to all.)

(3) Training grounds. University is a great opportunity to stress test your load and learn how to manage your time, responsibilities, and social life. (The worse you could do in university is fail.) The knowledge you learn will be basis for learning skills that you can apply in the real world. Much of your practice and habits in society will be built while you’re completing tertiary education.

(4) Pursue your passion. University is a great time to find what you love to do and do it. Try your entrepreneurial endeavors. Try making something from your hobbies.

University is an excellent opportunity to pedal the wheel while you do what you really love and see if you can kick-start a life long pursuit in that field.

University is a safe space to fail like no other. Especially so when your responsibilities and obligations are low and your energy high in your youths. Unless you’re looking to pursue a masters degree or doctorate degree, stress less about your grades and spend time rather pursuing your passions.

Your four years at university allows you to take risks and try with a back-up plan and an incredible amount of support (society generally regard students well with their future spending power, financing available, alumnis, and professors in your field of interest.)

(5) At the very lest, university is a great time to get cheap subsidized accommodation in Vancouver (which is awfully rare in Vancouver), a network of adults eager to help you and connect you – your professors, an opportunity to find ambitious young adults to network, connect, and keep in contact for life – you never know where they may go or who you may need in your team in the future…now is a great time to gauge out individual personalities.

University in a sense is a safe space to try and fail, to learn and grow. One important thing to learn early on is the importance of human capital, university is an opportunity for you to find and bank that human capital (by making friends carefully). Here’s an example, Singapore is a nation that was built on the believe in human capital – with no natural resources, they pushed their efforts on efficiency and on education for the youths. They took a no-nonsense approach to ensure investors had confidence in the society. They are doing pretty well moving from being a third world to a first world country within one generation…  not without it’s toils and tribulations of pioneers.

University provides you an ideal environment to do what you love to do without the judgement of society and peers. Without the stress and pressures if you entered immediately into the working world. Whether you like it or not, our emotional well being and our opinion in society affects us and our pursuits larger than you know. Your college years, for many, will be your opportunity to do what you love without these stresses. – for the most part most people are doing stupid things during college anyways. So while people are spending their weekends at frat parties getting dead drunk, while people are chasing girls or guys, while people are binge watching GOT in your dorms. Spend your time honing your personal hobbies and seeing if you can make something of what you love to do. If you don’t know what you love to do, congrats, get out and try out the numerous topic orientated clubs in your college as an opportunity to meet people and find what you love to do.

So in conclusion, your university degree matters. It’s the people and experiences that you will gain.]


Cons – There aren’t many cons to be considered.

– Fewer branches than RBC, Scotiabank, and TD. But then again, how often do you need to visit a branch when you can do everything online?

– No student perks. Flashy bells and whistles in our humble opinion. What you need is reliable, friendly, and cheap student banking solution for your four years (or more) of your student life. (the best vacation you have in life.)

Opinion: Whether you’re a student or working adult, CIBC, in our opinion is the ideal everyday banking option. Their student banking plans for Canada can’t get any better…it’s free. There aren’t as many student perks but you have a solid banking product that you can continue to use even after your studies (for a reasonable service fee.) You get professional and convenient banking services which will save you more money than any student banking perks considering the opportunity cost of your time and sanity.

I would have no hesitation recommend CIBC if you’re looking to open a student bank account in Canada. I’ve been banking with CIBC for several years and have always found their banking services consistent, quick, and friendly. They provide excellent plans both for student banking and everyday banking; making it convenient to maintain your account even after you finish your studies (without having to exorbitant fees for daily banking) I am impressed with their level of service (generally), their advance and easy to use online banking solution, and convenience. It certainly beats using a credit union with slower processing times and more archaic technology. (The main draw to using a local credit union is precisely about your community and its members however. If you’re looking for functional and convenient banking, choose CIBC.) Taking a look at their credit card products, they also seem to offer some excellent incentives for student credit cards ranging from cashback to travel rewards with Aeroplan points or CIBC’s own Aventura. The Aventura seems like the best offer at this time with a 2500 points for opening a no-fee account and what appears to be 1 point per $2 spent.

You can inquire about a student bank account here or apply for a student credit card here. To open a bank account, you would have to visit your nearest branch to verify documentation. Opening a bank requires you to bring a government issued photo ID And another identification such as your BC Card.


2) Scotiabank

Student Banking Plan – Student banking plan with unlimited transactions. It’s Free! …and get free movies too using Interac.

+ Unlimited e-transfers

+ Unlimited interac payments

+ Unlimited transactions

+ Earn FREE Movies at Cineplex



+ Unlimited debit transactions: You can use unlimited debit transactions with your free student banking account at Scotiabank

+ Accessible ATMs: Scotiabank does not have as many ATMs as CIBC but they have qu



Opinion: We like the service and options provided by Scotiabank student banking plan. You have unlimited transactions with a free student banking account (rack up those Interac transactions) and gain scene points (get free movies at Cineplex) even with your debit purchases. (Which barely any bank offers incentives for Interac purchases. That would be counter intuitive to leveraging your deposits.) They also offer a very attractive everyday banking plan known was the Scotiabank Momentum Account. It provides you unlimited transactions for $15.99 (similar pricing to CIBC Smart Banking plan at $14.99.). The Scotiabank Mometum Account also provides some incredibly attractive benefits and bonuses such as a Global ATM Network, 1% rebate on all interac transactions and two free non-Scotiabank withdrawal.  Click here to register for a free student banking account with Scotiabank.  This bank really like students and a significant proportion of the clients are students. You can expect excellent service from CIBC.

Scotiabank is also the ONLY bank we know that offers rebates on debit/interac transactions. With their Momentum banking plan, you can get 1% rebate for all Interac transactions in-store up to $300 yearly.

Scotiabank is also one of the few Canadian bank that is part of a Global ATM Alliance. You do not pay access fees on your withdrawals in overseas countries by using ATMs that are part of this Global ATM Alliance. For example in United States, you can use Bank of America ATMs with your Scotiabank debit card without paying access fees. (I remember spending $5 USD for each withdrawal at Wells Fargo in Los Angeles and $3 USD at Bank of America ATMs with my CIBC debit card….in addition to the CIBC’s non-CIBC atm withdrawal fee of $3 plus 2.5% administrative fee…that works out about $10 CAD per withdrawal; that is equivalent to a Kurobuta Terimayo at Japadog. Had to fit Japadog in there some how….by the way, you can use Interac at Japadog too!)

Scotiabank also provides 2 free Non-Scotiabank ABM withdrawals per month. This saves you paying $2 per withdrawal.


3) Royal Bank of Canada

Student Banking Plan






4) Bank of Montreal –

5) TD –


+ HSBC: HSBC may be a useful consideration for international students as they have a few branches in Vancouver and BC at large. Many may already have a HSBC account from their country of origin. There aren’t many HSBC branches in Vancouver or BC relatively to Asia however it is a worth while consideration for international students who are looking to bank with a bank that has an established presence in their country of origin which may make it easier for transitions back home.

+ Vancity Credit Union: I would not recommend a credit union for an international student because credit unions tend to have less developed technologies and accessibility that bigger commercial banks already utilize. This may make it harder for you to complete your banking activities however a credit union is member owned. A credit union often works to contribute back to the community it operates within. This is a note-worthy cause. The Vancity Credit Union is often involved in community causes and provides funding for local businesses that work to serve you (so do the other banks) but Vancity Credit Union does so with more consideration on community benefit than most commercial for-profit and publicly owned banks.


These are only five banks we’ve recommended for their student banking plans out of many banks and credit unions that operate in BC. For a full list of banks and credit unions in Canada out of curiosity, you can check out the respective links above.


Student banking and Free Money?

There are several offers currently running that gives you cash incentives for opening a bank account. It is definitely worth considering. Here is a list of all such offers that apply to Canadian banking plans that we could find. Take your pick!

These offers require you to open a bank account and set a direct deposit (or sometimes just deposit $50 like Tangerine) to get a bonus. Each bank has a different offer and some provide you more cash incentives for further actions!


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Soli Deo gloria || Colossians 3:23