Cell Phones and Bank Accounts

<p>Hello, I am an American student who will be attending McGill next year. It recently dawned on me that going to school at McGill would require that I set up an Canadian bank account, or at least find a way to withdraw money from my current without being charged for it. Does anyone have any advice or experience with this process? To any current students from the USA what did you do?</p>

<p>A similar question applies to cell phones. Is there a specific service people have found works well? What plan/provider do current McGill students from the USA use?</p>

<p>Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to reading your replies.</p>

<p>I've been wondering that same thing about cell phones! Last time I was up there my phone (Verizon) was roaming the whole time, which i would assume could get kind of expensive.</p>

<p>I don't actually go to McGill yet; this is just my advice from other experiences.</p>

<p>Cell phones: Your best bet is to use pay as you go. If you have T-Mobile or AT&T in the US, you'll want to do this with Fido or Rogers (they're really the same) so that you can use the phone you already own; if you have Verizon, Sprint or Alltel, you can use any carrier as no matter what you'll have to buy a new phone. There is no point getting a contract because on a contract you'll be paying for the four months you are not in Canada over the summer, while with PAYG, you'd only be paying for minutes used. (The normal Fido PAYG rate is 20¢/min, which is US$0.16/min.)</p>

<p>Bank account: If you live in the northern United States, your best bet is to open a US account with TD Bank (formerly Commerce Bank) or HSBC; if you live in the South, you should open an account with RBC Bank (formerly RBC Centura). (TD Bank is the US trading name for TD Canada Trust, while RBC Bank is an abbreviated name for the Royal Bank of Canada.) These banks have ATMs in Montréal that should allow you to make free withdrawals and deposits, with RBC having ATMs on-campus, an HSBC branch being directly across the street from the Roddick Gates, and TD Canada Trust being near by. (I know for certain that TD lets US customers have free withdrawals in Canada as I have done it; I would be shocked if HSBC and RBC had different policies.)
Paying tuition can be done directly from your US bank account using SWIFT codes.</p>

<p>The best deal I found for cell phones is Verizon. If you have a single or even better a family plan than you can add Canada for no roaming long distance for a few dollars more a month, which is very affordable. That way you don't have to get a new number. You keep a US number and calling back home is part of your plan minutes and not long distance.
If you get a Canadian phone than the long distance charges are very expensive. Also don't forget that you can have friends and family for unlimited talk with a US based phone.</p>

<p>As far as Bank accounts, most national Canadian banks have student accounts whcih are for the most part free. I would recommend to keep some money in Canadian $ and some in US $ to take advantage of exchange fluctuations. The US $ is 1.20 Canadian at the moment. I have seen it vary from $ 1.00 to $ 1.50 and that can make quite a difference on your tuition costs. TD Canada Trust is probably your best bet for being well represented in both countries to take advantage of free ATMs</p>

<p>I hope this helps</p>

<p>stellitsa, thank you so much for looking that up. That sounds incredibly easy and cheap way to go about it. do you know if text messaging is included in that add canada plan?</p>

<p>Links! Links! I have links!
(Sorry for the faux excitement.)</p>

<p>"Nationwide plus Canada" from Verizon:
Nationwide</a> Plus Canada Plan
Your minutes are deducted from your US pool, and SMS is at the same rate both to Canadian numbers and in Canada as it would be to US numbers or in the US; however, the unlimited in-network calling can't be used.</p>

<p>Sprint/Nextel offer a discount option on their respective networks:
Traveling</a> Internationally
"Traveling to Canada? For only $2.99 per month all calls placed from Canada are only $0.20 per minute! Whether you place a local call in Canada, place a call back to the US, or receive a call with the Canada Roaming Option you pay only $0.20/minute (without the plan calls are $0.59/minute)."
20¢/min isn't really that great.</p>

<p>I'd still recommend getting a Canadian PAYG line over using your US contract in Canada because chances are, at least during the school year, you'll be calling and be called by Canadians more than Americans, and that can get very expensive for them.
(Unless of course you're not a decent person and don't care about others.)</p>

<p>I wouldn't move money to a Canadian bank in Canada over a Canadian bank in the US because chances are you won't be paying the tuition yourself and it's easier for your parents/guardian/whoever to deal with a US branch than a Canadian branch. (Despite offering free deposits and withdrawals, TD et al probably won't let you manage your US account in Canada the way you would at a US-branch. I know that HSBC definitely won't let you manage your account in a different country without going to Premier level.)</p>

<p>is it possible to come to montreal with the phone we used elsewhere and just create an account ? btw which oparator is best for cheap international calls ? Also friends told me that HSBC is best for student because the taxes when you take money out are very low? do you agree ?</p>

<p>Thank you for taking the time to read this. I look forward to reading your replies</p>

I've had a student account with TD for two years, and there's no fee or tax when you withdraw money. Also, you can bring the phone you already have but it has to be both SIM-unlocked and GSM, and you can only use it with Rogers/Fido.</p>

<p>sebcartwright is correct about bringing the phone you already have. I've used a Fido prepaid SIM card in an unlocked GSM phone purchased in the US.</p>

<p>You might want a Canadian bank account even if you can withdraw money from your US account with no fee. It's useful for paying bills in Canada. Also, if you get an on-campus job, you'll get a paycheque which is denominated in Canadian dollars and drawn on a Canadian bank. ("Check" is spelled "cheque" in Canada.) If a US bank accepts a Canadian cheque at all, the fees will be significant.</p>

<p>It's true that a branch of a Canadian bank has little or no ability to manage an account with their US affiliate. You'd have to manage the Canadian bank account via a Canadian branch and the US bank account via a US branch.</p>

<p>If you have a TD Bank account in the US and a TD Canada Trust account in Canada, you can move money between the two accounts directly. This is useful because SWIFT wire transfers aren't cheap. The same may be true of other US banks which are affiliated with Canadian banks, although I don't know firsthand.</p>

<p>Note that TD Banknorth is being integrated into TD Bank. Everything stated above is already equally true for TD Bank and TD Banknorth.</p>

<p>Also, in the midwest, Harris Bank is owned by Bank of Montr</p>