Start my immigration project

Financial system

The contents of this page was created in collaboration with our partner Desjardins.

Canada's financial system

The financial aspect is a very important part of a successful immigration project. Here is some information about the Canadian financial system. 

There are two types of financial institutions in Quebec—banks and credit unions (“caisses Desjardins")

The difference is that banks are private institutions while Desjardins is a cooperative.



Open an account at a financial institution

When you arrive in Québec City, you will absolutely need an account in a financial institution to carry out your daily transactions (deposit your pay, withdraw money, pay your rent, etc.).  

Our partner Desjardins, the first financial cooperative group in North America, allows you to open an account online from abroad!


Several useful services can be provided by financial institutions:

  • Debit cards  
  • Safety deposit box rental 
  • Traveller’s cheques 
  • Currency exchange 
  • All types of loans 
  • Money transfers 
  • Various investment options 
  • Direct deposit of salary 
  • Certified cheques 

Welcome offer

Visit our page dedicated to our partner Desjardins to learn more about their services to recent and future newcomers.

Understanding Canada’s financial system

Accounts, deposits, transfers, credit, debit, ATMs, and withdrawals: the financial system can be complex. Rest assured, here are some details to help you understand how it works.

Débit, virement, chèque

The debit card, or when money follows you 

Blue, green, orange, red, or grey: here, debit cards come in all sorts of colours! The counterpart to France’s blue card (the “carte bleue,” or immediate debit card), Canada’s debit card allows you to use the funds in your everyday account (also called “checking account”). This makes it the perfect tool for your everyday purchases at merchants. This card is also the one you should use when withdrawing money at any ATM in the country. 

However, note that if you withdraw money at an ATM from a different financial institution from yours, you may need to pay additional banking fees. 

Overwhelmed by the number of plan options? Discover Desjardins’s offer for newcomers. It will help you get off to a good start thanks to a banking account with free, unlimited transactions* for one year, among many other advantages.  

To learn all about the welcome offer for newcomers and to find out the details and your eligibility for it, visit

Pay in one click with Interac e-transfers

Transfer funds while on the bus before your next stop, or from the comfort of your living room: this is just one of the many advantages of modern technology! Everywhere in Canada, Interac e-transfers are gaining popularity as an alternative to cheques and cash. Quick and convenient, they allow you to send funds electronically, directly to a third party. Similar to PayPal, this function will make your life easier: paying your rent or your share of the meal is so simple! 


To do this, there's no need to obtain the exact account details of your recipient; all you need to transfer a sum to them is their email address or their cell phone number, whether you are clients of the same financial institution or not.

Cheques, always and forever 

Why waste paper and ink when easier options are at your fingertips? This is why there is a strong decrease in cheques’ popularity in Canada. Part of this decline is due to the arrival of electronic solutions, like Interac e-transfers.



Several forms of credit are available in Quebec: credit cards, installment plans offered by merchants, lines of credit with your financial institution, etc. 

The credit card, an advance to be managed wisely

Similar to the French deferred debit card, the credit card allows Canadians to spend money that the bank “lends” them, subject to an agreement stating the maximum amount and repayment terms. With this card, you can even make purchases online, which is not possible with a debit card. Since this constitutes a loan from your financial institution, know that your balance is not repaid automatically, and that you will be charged interests if you fail to pay off your balance in full at the end of each month. So, make sure to always pay your entire balance by your statement’s due date! 

For more information, visit the following link: "How to Properly Use Your Credit Card - Desjardins."

Five tips for managing your credit card 
  1. Have a realistic credit limit, i.e. an amount that you believe you can repay within 30 days.
  2. Choose a card with no annual fee.
  3. Always pay your balance in full each month.
  4. Set up automatic payments for your statement.
  5. Do not make cash withdrawals using your credit card. 

For newcomers, Desjardins offers a credit card with no annual fees (under certain conditions). For more information, visit their page: "How to use a credit card effectively."


A credit history: essential for your future projects :

In many countries, banking secrecy is the norm. This can be problematic when you arrive in Canada because you will then need to build a new credit history. To do this, among other things, you will need to adhere to the repayment terms of your loans or financial commitments. In other words, to build a good credit history, you must pay your bills, loans, fines, and penalties on time. This credit file provides an overview of your financial history and behavior, and various lenders will take it into consideration when deciding whether to grant you financing or not. This history can be checked when applying for financing for the purchase of a car, a house, or even for renting an apartment.

To learn more, you can read the following article: "What is the Purpose of a Credit Report?" , or watch the following video: "How to Build a Good Credit History in Canada?"  

Your credit  score is a representation of how well you manage your financial responsibilities toward your lenders. Authorized people can use it to evaluate your financial aid applications and  assess whether you are a good payer.

For example, when you want to sign a lease for an apartment, the landlord may check your credit score. (Inform yourself about your rights as a tenant!). The better your financial behaviour, the closer your score will be to the maximum score determined by the credit reporting agencies in Canada. Credit scores typically range from 300 to 900.

Timely payments, your debt load, your credit terms and the number of loan applications you make are some of the factors that will affect your score. It is worth putting some effort in improving your credit score, as a good score will make your life much easier when it comes to making big purchases like a car or a house.

Access your banking account at any time

After Facebook, Instagram, iTunes and Snapchat, it is now time for your banking account to make an appearance in your mobile phone. Nowadays, in addition to providing a complete and efficient service online, many financial institutions allow you to access your information at any time using a mobile app.

It's easy! It allows you to access your financial information anytime and anywhere, and even schedule an appointment with an advisor.


Open a bank account

Now that you have a better understanding of how the Canadian financial system works, go ahead: transfer, deposit, withdraw, check, and repay!

Open my first bank account 



Tax money is used to finance community services. It is your responsibility to file an income tax return. For more information on this subject, consult the following resources:

Municipal taxes and school taxes are levied by cities, urban communities, and school boards within their respective territories. They are typically imposed only on property owners and vary based on property value.

Just like income tax, you will need to pay these taxes annually. Payment can often be spread out over multiple installments.




Would you like to come and live in the beautiful city of Québec or its surroundings? Tell us if you would like to come to study or work there and we will send you relevant information related to your immigration project!