Personal Finances in Canada


Before departing for Canada, you should consider how you will transfer and convert your money into Canadian dollars. Bringing a small amount of Canadian money is the best way to pay for the initial expenses that you will have upon arrival in Toronto. Two hundred dollars in cash should be adequate until you get your bank account setup, if you have a residence room booked in advance. For more information about how to pay your tuition and residence fees, please visit the Student Financial Services website. You will want to open a bank account at one of Canada's major banks soon after you arrive in Toronto. Some students also use an international credit card such as MasterCard or Visa. In addition to cash and credit cards, electronic banking cards, or ‘debit cards’, can be used to make purchases in most Canadian stores. Debit cards that operate on the Interac, Cirrus or The Exchange systems are the most widely accepted. Feel free to view the video below for an overview of the types of banking services available to international students.

Credit Cards

Credit Cards are a popular way of making purchases in Canada. Visa and MasterCard are the two most widely-used brands. If possible, it is advised to obtain a credit card in your home country, as it is sometimes difficult for an international student to obtain one in Canada. Nonetheless, you should speak with a representative at your new bank in Canada about what options for Canadian credit cards are available to you. A common way for recent arrivals or people with bad credit histories to obtain a Canadian credit card is to give a sum of money to the issuing bank as a way to guarantee that you can repay any debt incurred. This money is held in trust, until you establish a satisfactory credit history, at which time, it is returned to you, with interest.

Money Transfers

International money transfers are often a convenient way for international student to receive funds from family at home and to deposit their saving into their new Canadian bank account. Ask the staff at your new bank how they recommend transferring money internationally. Please note, if you are bringing $10,000 or more into Canada, you must declare these funds There are several options for transferring money to Canada:
  • Electronically transfer money into your Canadian bank account from your home country. Before making the transfer, it is advised to check with your Canadian bank to determine how long the transfer will take, as Canadian banks can impose significant holds on foreign deposits (sometimes up to 20 business days).
  • Obtain a bank draft for the amount you wish to transfer from your bank in your home country. When you are prepared to deposit the bank draft into your new Canadian bank account, ask the bank how long it will be before you can access the funds, as they may place a hold on the deposit.
  • If you have an ATM (Automated Teller Machine) card for your bank account in your home country, you may be able to withdraw money from your account at an ATM in Canada and deposit it into your new account. Check with your home bank about this option. Note: there may be significant international banking fees and service charges incurred, and that exchange rates can frequently fluctuate.

Regardless of which option you choose, keep copies of all transaction records.

Currency Restrictions

Venezuela: CADIVI International students coming from Venezuela require a letter in order to transfer out funds from Venezuela. International Recruitment will provide the initial letter and York International can provide the letter as required during the period that the student is at York University.
  • Newly admitted students: If you have been accepted as a new student and require a support letter for starting your CADIVI process, please contact International Recruitment. Email: alixh(at)
  • Current students, please contact York International.

In both cases, please write in the subject line: CADIVI support request, your full name and YORK ID number.