A Guide to Vancouver Banks and Financial Services

Vancouver has a large assortment of banks, including traditional banks and smaller credit unions.This article provides information about choosing from the various Vancouver financial services and setting up an account.


Vancouver Financial Services: Choosing the Right Bank for You

Vancouver Banks & credit unions offer the following services:

Banking - Day to day transactions, both personal & commercial
Loans - Mortgages, car loans, lines of credit
Investment - Portfolio management, options and advice
Insurance - Options range from bank to bank including, home, auto, life, travel, etc.

There are several factors to take into consideration when choosing a bank and the account type:

    > Bank Fees - Do you do a lot of transactions? Are you only paying bills? Do you want to invest? Choose an account that minimizes the fees for the type of account you need.

    > Services Required - Do you do online banking? Do you send money internationally? Make sure the bank you choose offers the services you need.

    >  Hours of Operation - Are they only open when you're at work? Do you need extended opening hours? This can affect which bank you choose, as some banks have very different operating hours.

    > Proximity of bank branches & ATM (bank machines) - How easy is it go get your banking done from home or work?

    > Relationships with your old bank - Your old bank in your country of origin may have a partnership with a Canadian bank, meaning you could save on fees for accessing your old accounts or transferring your money to a new account.


Vancouver Financial Services: Traditional Banks

There are five national banks in Canada, all of which have widespread branches in Vancouver. Basic borrowing and lending rates, fee structures and accounts are quite similar between them. Take the time to look at all the account options and compare them.

    > TD Canada Trust
    > Bank of Nova Scotia (a.k.a. Scotiabank)
    > Bank of Montreal (a.k.a. BMO)
    > Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (a.k.a. CIBC)
    > Royal Bank of Canada (a.k.a. RBC or Royal Bank)

One other major bank to consider is HSBC (Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation). It is the world's largest bank and the leading international bank in Canada, with many locations in Vancouver.

Advantages of Traditional Banks

Ease of Access. The big banks offer national and international services and have branches and ATMs (automated teller machines) all over the city. The 5 major Canadian banks have locations all across Canada so if you move to another province you won't have to change banks.

Basic borrowing and lending rates and accounts are quite similar across the five major banks. Take the time to look at all the account options and compare them.

Disadvantages of Traditional Banks

There are more fees associated with accounts in traditional banks, and the fees are generally more expensive than at credit unions.

While your savings at one of the big banks is insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) in the case that your bank collapses, you can only get up to $100,000 of your deposited money back.


Vancouver Financial Services: Credit Unions

Credit unions over offer a wide variety of services. In a credit union, you're required to purchase several shares to become a member, and the amount depends on the credit union's charter. Most credit unions, for example Vancity and Coast Capital Savings, only require you to purchase a minimum of $5 worth of shares. As a member you're then allowed to access all their products and services, and vote during their board elections.

The services offered by credit unions include many of the same services of the big banks. Credit unions are different from banks in that currently they are only allowed to operate provincially.

Some public credit unions with a large presence in Vancouver are:

    > G&F Financial Group
    > Coast Capital Savings
    > Vancity Savings
    > Prospera Credit Union
    > North Shore Credit Union

Advantages of Credit Unions

Any credit union that is a member of the Credit Unions of BC allows you to use any credit union ATM without the usual charges you would get for using a different bank's ATM.

Credit union banking charges can be lower than the charges of big banks, and some offer accounts with no charges, regardless of how much money you have in your account.

100% of your deposits at a BC credit union are insured against a credit union collapse.

Disadvantages of Credit Unions

Because credit unions operate provincially, you won't have a branch in your area if you move to another province.


Vancouver Banking: What You Need to Open an Account

Once you've chosen from the large selection of Vancouver banks, opening an account is a straight forward process. Go to a branch office of your chosen Vancouver bank, and tell them what type of account you'd like. You'll be asked to provide 2 pieces of government ID, (examples: Driver's License, Passport, BC Care Card, Social Insurance Card), and proof of address, (utility or credit card bill with your address on it.)

*Note: 2vancouver.com does not endorse any specific institution. The ones listed here are for information purposes only.

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