If you’re a Canadian frequently crossing the border to your friendly neighbors to the south, you may want to consider opening a bank account in the United States. With a U.S. bank account, you won’t have to worry about costly transaction fees whenever you use your debit card or the hassle of converting paper CAD to USD.
Can Canadians open U.S. bank accounts? In this guide, we’ll not only share how to go about cross-border banking and establishing a checking or savings account in the U.S., but we’ll also share some of the best U.S. banking options for Canadians.
How to Open a U.S. Bank Account
While policies vary from bank to bank, generally, all you need to provide is two forms of valid identification, such as a passport and a driver’s license, together with other details, such as your full name, phone number, employer and Canadian mailing address.
While most financial institutions in the U.S. allow Canadians to open accounts, you may not be able to use all of the services the bank offers. For instance, you might not be able to use online banking services unless you have a valid U.S. Social Security Number (SSN).
Reasons Canadians might want to open a U.S. bank account
There are several reasons Canadians might want to open a bank account in the United States:
- You work in the United States. If you are a Canadian working in the U.S. on a visa, having a bank account will save yourself a lot of time and hassle by having your checks deposited into a U.S. account.
- You own a business in the U.S. If you already own a business in the U.S. or you’re thinking about opening one in the future, having an American bank account might be beneficial. You’ll have the option to open a business account, which can provide numerous benefits from easier invoicing to faster payments and fewer fees.
- You own property in the States. If you own a property in the United States or you’re planning on buying property, opening a U.S. bank account lets you apply for bank loans. Paying your mortgage will also be a lot less stressful.
- You travel to the U.S frequently. If you travel to the States regularly, having an account with an American financial institution makes things a lot easier for you. You’ll have an easier time accessing your money when you need it, and you won’t have to worry about converting currencies from Canadian dollars to U.S. dollars and back again or paying transaction fees (the cost of which can add up over time).
Canadian banks in the United States
Several top banks offer cross-border banking services that may benefit Canadians living and working in the U.S.
CIBC U.S. offers “tailored commercial, wealth management, personal and small business financial solutions, as well as cross-border banking services to clients with North American operations.” CIBC U.S. is backed by a “150-year-old Toronto-based, global financial institution.” Its U.S. headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois.
Pros: You can set up an account online, so you don’t have to travel to an actual physical bank to get yourself set up. Transferring money between your Canadian bank account and U.S. bank account is seamless; you don’t have to go through any additional steps like you might have to at other financial institutions. CIBC U.S. accounts are also compatible with Apple Pay.
Cons: You need to be an existing client with the financial institution before you open a checking account or savings account. You also have to maintain a high balance to avoid being account charges.
BMO Harris offers “banking that’s on your side, north and south of the border.” This financial institution advertises financial services and products for Canadians that simplify the process of cross-border banking.
Canadians have several options at BMO Harris:
- BMO U.S. Dollar Account. You can choose to open a checking account or a savings account with a BMO U.S. Dollar Account, and you’ll have the ability to transfer funds between this account and your BMO Canadian Dollar Account with ease. You can also use this account to make your BMO U.S. Dollar MasterCard payments.
- BMO Harris Personal Checking Account. This account is designed to “meet your everyday U.S-based banking needs;” you can make deposits, draw checks, take out cash from physical banks or ATMs and pay bills. You can also sign up for online banking and use the BMO Harris Bill Pay to pay and receive U.S.-based bills automatically. You’ll also receive a BMO Harris Debit MasterCard (with advanced chip security features), and you won’t be charged any transaction fees when you use BMO Harris ATMs to withdraw money from your account.
Chase Bank is a U.S.-based financial institution that offers cross-border banking options for Canadians. You’ll have the option to choose from several different accounts, so you can find something to suit your specific needs.
Note that to open an account with Chase Bank, you will need to have a Social Security Number (SSN). You’ll also be required to deposit a specific amount of money into your account when you open it and maintain a specific balance to avoid being charged fees.
Chase Bank offers ATMs throughout the United States and several financial services and products, such as online banking, personal loans, mortgages, wealth management and more.
If you’re a Canadian who travels to, owns a home in, works or does business in Florida, you may want to consider opening an account with Desjardins Florida. This bank is associated with Desjardins Caisse Bank in Canada so you can open an American account from Canada with ease. You’ll be able to use your Desjardins Bank debit card and the multiple products and services that the financial institution offers.
Transaction fees are low, so you won’t need to maintain a high balance like with other banks. However, to open an account, you will have to make a minimum deposit to be paid via a funds transfer.
TD Bank offers cross-border banking options specifically designed for Canadians who travel to, work in or live in the States on a part-time basis.
With a TD Bank account, you’ll be able to avoid fluctuating high foreign exchange fees because you’ll be able to pay American dollars when you’re in the U.S. You’ll also have the benefit of being able to move money around with ease; you can transfer money right online or over the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access cash from your U.S.-based checking account from one of the thousands of TD banks or ATMs located across the United States.
Options for Canadians at TD Bank include:
- Borderless Plan. A TD Canada Trust checking account specifically designed for Canadians who regularly travel to the U.S. Fees are low and you can make unlimited transactions; however, the minimum monthly balance is a bit on the high side if you want to take advantage of the fee rebate.
- TD Convenience Checking. With this checking account, you don’t have to maintain as high a balance as you would have to with a Borderless Plan account.
- TD U.S. Dollar Visa Card. A TD Canadian Trust credit card, you’ll be able to make purchases with U.S. dollars without having to deal with conversion fees.
Other common banking options for Canadians
Apart from these banks, there are other banking options to consider, too, including:
- Toronto-Dominion Bank
- Bank of Nova Scotia
- National Bank of Canada
- RBC Bank
- Royal Bank of Canada
- Bank of Montreal
Each bank offers different options, and the requirements for opening and maintaining accounts vary from financial institution to financial institution. Therefore, we recommend you explore the different options that are available and consider your specific needs before you decide which bank you should choose.
Canadians with a U.S-based bank account can avoid expensive exchange rates and won’t have to deal with the hassle of converting money from U.S. dollars to Canadian dollars. Just remember that, whichever bank you choose, make sure you find out what the requirements and options are to find the best bank for you.
For more resources on how to navigate your new life in the U.S., visit Nova Credit’s resource library where you can learn about everything from renting an apartment to finding the best credit cards for noncitizens. Explore products and services for Canadian newcomers here.