If you plan to work in Canada you will need a Canadian bank account. To get an account you will need to make an appointment and bring along a variety of ID. Make sure you check what documents they require when you make an appointment!
With a bank account you receive a debit card that allows you to make withdrawals from ABM machines and make purchases in shops. They cannot be used for purchases on the internet or over the phone. There are a few different banks in Whistler:
RBC (Royal Bank of Canada)
TD (Toronto Dominion Canada Trust)
The North Shore Credit Union
Scotiabank (this bank is in Creekside)
CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce)
Transferring Money Internationally
This can be a major pain & expense if you haven’t thought about it before you need to do it. You’ll want to have your transfer method planned so you don’t have to travel with large amounts of cash or rely on your cards too much when you get here.
You can only take out <$400 per day with your foreign debit card (from an ATM), which may leave you stuck when you need to pay your first months rent/deposit.
CanadianForex (aka OzForex, UKForex, etc)
This is the best method we have found (and we’ve tried many the options over years). Their exchange rates are generally the best, their fees are very low and they have customer service centres that are impressively helpful.
Set up your account with them any time (link your account to your bank at home), even before you have left home. Then when your Canadian bank account is open, you can log in and get your savings sent to your Canadian account quickly… it only takes 2 or 3 days!
Once your account is set up you can send money back and forth easily – a great way to pay off your credit card back home too.
International Transfer through your bank
This is one of the worst value methods… the banks charge you up to $30 per international transfer (more if they route the money through multiple banks). The exchange rate is often not the best.
OK, this one is only for people with plenty of time on their hands! Set up a PayPal account back home and link it to your home bank account (at least a week), then set up another PayPal account in Canada (use a different email) and link that to your Canadian bank account. You can transfer money between the two PayPal accounts for only $1.50, and then withdraw it into the linked bank account for another $1.50. Keep an eye on the exchange rate they are charging you though – they are often much worse than other online options.
In Canada you are charged for any withdrawal from an ABM that isn’t owned by your bank. To avoid these charges its good to use a bank that has a few central ABMs, which is why we recommend RBC. They have a branch just 100m from the village square and an ABM in the Rexall chemist, next to the central grocery store and liquor store. The North Shore Credit Union is also great for this reason – their ABM is about 30 seconds walk further down the village stroll. Bank accounts in Canada are not free and charge you per transaction, even when using their own machines. With RBC there are two main options:
A basic plan for $3.99 per month which gives you 15 transactions each month.
An unlimited plan for $9.99 per month.
For Ride On Whistler Guests, we recommend TD Canada Trust. This is our bank, so will make payments to us faster and easier. TD have the best opening hours in the village – opening Saturdays and Sundays.
Most people can just use their card from home, but making repayments is not always easy or affordable (check with your bank/credit card company before you leave home) – unless you have set up an account with CanadianForex. The alternatives are:
Get a Canadian credit card. If you are from overseas, banks usually insist on a security deposit equal to the limit of the credit card (TD Canada Trust offer secure credit cards). So long as you have some spare cash lying around this might not be a problem! Some people manage to slip through the cracks and receive an unsecured credit card by applying online (often with RBC)…. don’t count on this working though!
A pre-paid credit card. They cost about $4 from RBC and you can load up to $500 dollars onto it. An easy and cheap solution to the credit card problem. Moneymart also offers a pre-paid credit card – it’s more expensive but you can load up to $10,000 onto it.
If you are on a tourist visa and don’t plan on working whilst you’re in town, you may not be allowed a bank account (you need a SIN to qualify although some people get around this). Consider putting your funds onto a money mart credit card (make sure you choose the “flat fee” option) to save yourself all the fees your overseas credit card will charge you & to avoid having to carry wads of cash.