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Money and Finance

Opening a bank account

Carrying a large sum of money, or keeping it at home, is a risky proposition. We therefore highly recommend that you open a bank account at a Canadian bank and deposit your money there, not only for your safety, but also to save on day-to-day banking expenses.

If you wish to use your foreign bank card while in Canada, watch out for the fees that your bank might charge you for each withdrawal or payment.


Here are a few tips on the Canadian banking system:

    • Compare the services offered by each bank, and ask about student rates.
    • Banks usually charge for common transactions such as withdrawals, deposits and direct payment in stores or restaurants.
    • Using an automatic teller machine (ATM) belonging to another bank or network can be costly. (Only the National Bank of Canada and HSBC share a network.) Choose a bank that is close by and that has a large network of ATMs.
    • The three largest ATM networks in Montréal:
      1. Desjardins: 155
      2. HSBC: 120 (includes National Bank of Canada and Bank of Montreal ATMs)
      3. National Bank of Canada: 80
    • Both National Bank and Desjardins ATMs can be found at HEC Montréal.
    • Branches of almost all major Canadian banks can be found on Côte-des-Neiges.
    • Bank-operated ATMs allow users to deposit cheques and cash.
    • You can pay many bills on your bank’s Web site.
    • Other than for rent, cheques are rarely used.
    • You will be charged a fee to receive an electronic funds transfer (EFT) from abroad.
    • Careful! Your bank may freeze any cheque you deposit for between 5 and 30 days!
    • Do not confuse debit cards and credit cards. A debit card, also known simply as a “bank card” or “ATM card,” is used to make bank account withdrawals and deposits, and to pay for your purchases at stores, restaurants and other businesses (through the Interac network). A Canadian VISA or MasterCard credit card is used to pay for something with credit, i.e. to borrow money until you receive your statement and pay it back. Many credit cards charge a very high interest rate. (The Carte Bleue® debit card does not exist in Canada).

Here’s a good idea: the National Bank of Canada offers a free, unlimited transaction package for members of Réseau HEC Montréal. All HEC Montréal students are members automatically!


Documents to bring with you when opening a bank account:

    • Your passport
    • Your study permit
    • Your CAQ
    • Your HEC Montréal admission letter  
    • Your proof of address: lease, invoice or proof of  full-time registration at HEC Montréal, which you can obtain at the Zone Info once you have entered your Montréal address in your student record. If you have no address yet, you can give the bank the School’s address as a temporary solution: 3000, chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, (Québec) H3T 2A7. Remember to update the Office of the Registrar and your bank’s records once you get a permanent Montréal address.


Major bank branches closest to HEC Montréal:


How Can I Transfer Funds to Canada?

In order to cover your costs and expenses, you will need to get your funds to Canada. Fluctuations in the exchange rates between the Canadian dollar and your home currency can affect your budget from month to month. Refer to the Bank of Canada’s online conversion page for current and past exchange rates. 

Canada does not have any system of exchange rate controls. However, your country may have such controls. 

Here are some suggestions for transferring funds from your country to Canada:

  • Have your bank transfer fund to a bank in Montreal, specifically to an account that you open in your name when you arrive here.
  • Send funds to a Canadian bank before you leave and have them deposited into your account once you’ve opened one in Montréal. You can carry out these transactions at most major foreign banks that have Canadian branches. 
  • Bring along with you or have someone mail you a bank draft (certified cheque in your name) which can be cashed at a Canadian bank. However, keep in mind that most banks freeze bank drafts or personal cheques for up to 30 business days.


  • We strongly discourage sending funds using an international postal order because it is a long, complicated, and expensive process.
  • We suggest that you arrive in Montreal with enough cash and traveller's cheques to cover your expenses for the first month.
  • VISA and MasterCard are the two types of credit cards most frequest

For information on how to transfer funds to pay your tuition, consult the following page

Instead, we suggest that you arrive in Montreal with enough cash and traveller’s cheques to cover your expenses for the first month, and that you obtain a VISA or MasterCard credit card. Because acceptance of other credit cards tends not to be as widespread here, some students are known to have run into difficulties when using other ones. And finally, we suggest that you obtain bills of $50 or smaller, as $100 bills tend not to be accepted everywhere.

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