Immigration/Permanent Resident Canada

How To Build Credit In Canada As A Permanent Resident

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build credit in Canada Newcomers


If you are wanting to build credit in a new country where you are a permanent resident it’s not easy, but it’s certainly possible.

Building credit was one of those things that I had no idea I was going to face when I moved to Canada.

I’ve overcome this part of my journey and want to share with you all the ways I was able to build credit while being a newcomer to Canada.

Moving to Canada was a Blessing

Not a day goes by that I’m not proud to be part of this gorgeous country I now call home.

I’m still here and living it up and don’t fancy heading back to the UK any time soon. I love Canada!

I’ve battled through all the permanent resident requirements with my lovely wife at my side and it’s been such a learning experience that I hope to share with all of you.

It took me just over 100 days from the time I sent out the package that I prepared to Immigration Canada to being accepted as a Permanent Resident of Canada.

Related: How I made my move to Canada from the UK

I am truly blessed to be living in such a beautiful country like Canada and all the opportunities it has given me.

Now I’m doing my part and giving back. Many people who land in Canada as new residents often find themselves lost when trying to establish credit to build a credit history.

New Permanent Resident

When I moved to Canada from the United Kingdom I was what they used to call a “Canadian Landed Immigrant” now called a “Canadian Permanent Resident”.

Although I did some research on a Canada Immigration Forum it was more about the legal aspect rather than the financial.

I already knew how to become a permanent resident so I had my work cut out for me.

No Canadian Credit History

I had no credit score and had to build credit from the bottom up meaning I needed to find out how to establish credit in Canada.

Even though my credit history in the UK was perfect and I had well over 50,000 British Pounds in the UK bank it meant nothing to the banks here in Canada.

They wanted me to prove I wasn’t going to be a right wally with money and they meant business. 

It was tough enough to sort the paperwork to get through all the Immigration red tape but to have the banks want you to prove yourself is a whole other ball game.

Don’t get me wrong I agree with the entire process and understand fully why it is so thorough.

So, I had to do some homework as I don’t think we truly thought about credit ratings and credit scores before I landed in Canada as a permanent resident.

Through research, it was suggested I get a credit card to build credit.

But how do you build credit using a credit card?

How To Build Credit In Canada

Build Credit Canada Permanent Resident

Using credit cards to establish credit is probably the easiest way to go.

For myself, the biggest problem was trying to find a company willing to give me a credit card.

It does help if you are working full-time and have a letter from your employer but that was not the case with me.

I was lucky enough that I was a student at the time as I enrolled in school shortly after landing in Canada.

I don’t know if that’s what did it as it certainly wasn’t my accent and charm.

Although judging by the rate credit card companies dish out credit cards to University and College students it would come as no surprise as to why I was a prime candidate. 

If you are lucky you can score a Canadian credit card with perks where you get rewards points towards free products or even money back.

As a new resident of Canada, you can also talk to an advisor at the Bank of Montreal (BMO) where they offer a free banking plan for new residents. 

The free banking plan at BMO is called the performance plan and you get it free for up to one full year with unlimited transactions.

That means you won’t get charged for bill payments, transfers, debit card purchases and BMO ATM withdrawals/deposits.

UK Credit Information

I was smart enough to bring with me my no claims bonus for my vehicle insurance from the UK which saved me thousands of dollars.

Something I recommend to anyone moving from the UK to Canada is to get authorized letters from your banks and insurance companies on your ratings.

Although I do caution you as not all insurance companies in Canada accept them.

Luckily, Johnson’s Insurance Canada did and I’m thankful to them for their faith in me.

I’m still a customer 11 years into my permanent residency in Canada and in perfect standing.

Tips For Building Credit In Canada as a Newcomer

What can you do to build your credit?

Here is what I needed to do to build a credit history in Canada as a permanent resident with no credit history:

  • I made sure I understood what a credit score was in Canada.
  • I opened a bank account with President’s Choice Financial now Simplii Financial
  • I opened as secured credit card (or line of credit if you wish) with a $500 limit and I put $500 down on it as security (so, for example, you get to pick the credit limit on the card depending on how much you want to put down as security on the card.
  • If you know what kind of spender you are the number should be fairly simple although it also depends on how much liquid cash you have. In my case, I gave the bank $500 so my limit was $500. It was one of the best ways to build credit in Canada.
  • The money was put into a (GIC) Guaranteed Investment Certificate earning interest while I was earning credit. When I was released from my secured card I was given the money and interest back from my bank.
  • Deposit money into my new bank accounts (High interest and Chequing)
  • I opened a MasterCard with a $500 limit and used it every chance I could and paid it in full each month.
  • Invested money in Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP’s) but you can also invest in and Tax Free Savings Account  TFSA, GIC’s  or other investments through my bank.
  • I opened a second credit card with Canadian Tire 5 months after my first MasterCard.
  • I paid all of  my bills every month on time and used credit cards when I could to build credit consistently.

Eventually, they (the credit card companies) offered me a higher limit on my cards once they noticed I was paying my bill in full.

It also helped that I had finished my education in Canada and was working full-time in my field.

Order Your Free Credit Report

I order my free credit report every year which I call the “Check 4 Your Credit Score“.

Now that I’ve established some history with companies it’s important to check my report for accuracy each year.

It’s easy peasy and everyone should be doing it.

  1. Check it over and make sure all my accounts are listed properly
  2. Check that my personal information is correct
  3. Check credit card information and payment history is correct
  4. Check that my credit rating is in perfect standing

For more information about Canada search Citizenship and Immigration Canada website for more resources.

Although it is time-consuming when you build credit the process is worth waiting for in this beautiful country called Canada!

Discussion: What other ways were you able to build credit in Canada?

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  1. First started with a secured CapitalOne credit card for newcomers, they actually didn’t even need a security deposit from me. I just paid the balance in full every month & the card has no fee for life. Then I went on to apply an MBNA credit card, they gave me a higher credit & did not need any security from me, Again, paid in full every month and no fee forever. And we can get the credit report for free yearly. If you want the score then there’s a fee. Now PC Financial has been calling me to get their credit card, I don’t know if I should get one yet.

    1. Hi Adeline,
      I have the PC Mastercard and the Canadian tire MC and use them both often. We are with PC for all of our Canadian Banking and have never paid a cent to the bank. Where did you move from if you don’t mind me asking? How long have you been in Canada?They’ve been amazing with us! Thanks for sharing. Mr.CBB

      1. I’m also with PC Financial for Savings A/c, so yes I love that don’t have fees. I’m from Singapore & have been in Canada permanently since 2006.

      2. I dont’ know why I could not reply to your 12.09 pm question below 😉 Anyways, I had it pretty good all round in terms of transition, nothing too major. Prior to 2006 I travelled to and fro & stayed a little longer each time so was pretty much getting used to things. The only funny thing was crossing the road, had to look both ways a few times & was always wanting to get into the driver’s side instead of the passenger side of the car. Cos we in Singapore followed the English way of things on the road.
        One pet peeve I realised tho was major banks always charge ridiculous fees on acoounts, where’s the incentive to save with them etc? Oh well, there’s always good & bad in all countries.

        1. That drove Mrs.CBB nuts when she was always getting in on the wrong side of the vehicle lol. I notice in Canada Cell phones and bank fees are outrageous where back in the UK it wasn’t near as bad.. oh and insurance for vehicles and television costs… crazy expensive here. Mr.CBB

  2. I never really thought of having to re-establish credit when moving to a new country. I am sure it can be a nuisance to do it, but I completely understand the need for it. Sounds like you took a great approach to building up your score.

    1. That’s ok I never gave much thought to it either mate. I’ve since learned that it’s very important to research everything you can before moving country. It can take weeks if not months to try and get documents sent your way if you didn’t get them before you left. Cheers and thanks for dropping in! Mr.CBB

  3. I never really realized or thought about having to start over with your credit if you were to move to another country and become a resident. It makes sense though and it sounds like the process would be very similar to what you’d need to do in the US to start building credit.

    1. I don’t know about anywhere else in the world but I presume it would be the same. It’s not so bad it just takes time. It just means that sometimes your dreams will take longer to come to life but it’s all worth it.

  4. Great info buddy! My sister is actually moving out to Canada from the UK permanently in November, so gathering as much information as I can for her is a big help for sure! I’ll be sure to mention Johnson’s Insurance to, of course.

    Thanks again!


    1. Hi Michael,
      I’m sure I will touch on more topics about my Journey here to Canada and what I’ve learned to help others out. We have helped many couples who wanted to move here with tips and advice. IF you need anything in particular.. ask away or send me an email. Cheers mate. Mr.CBB

  5. Ahhh! So that explains the sarnies comment and the cheers, mate! lol. One of my exes was of British background. I always felt whenever we visited his parents I had to be extra polite and proper because they were British. I had been once several years back, but I would definitely love to visit again.

    Interesting post, by the way! 🙂

    1. We are probably the worst when it comes to talking rubbish and taking the piss out of people to be honest. Yes the accent derives a posh politeness that people seem to think is of utmost importance but at the end of the day we are just like everyone else. ha. Thanks for reading my post. Cheers mate. Mr.CBB

  6. Thanks 🙂 It was actually interesting to read what you had to go through in order to do what a lot of us take for granted.

  7. Very informative read… I can believe it about the student credit cards, my daughter got them all the time. After a few months of them showing up here she showed me the envelope and said if anymore of these come in the mail to just shred them as she didn’t even want to see anymore. I did that and I think they finally stopped sending application forms 4-5 years after she graduated.

    1. Oh I believe it as I still get credit card applications that come in the mail. The thing is if I wanted one I’d apply for it. Sending it to me in the mail isn’t going to make a difference. Sometimes when they offer the 0% balance transfers I think they are hoping these students are maxed out and turn to more cards to help them get out of debt or to shuffle credit around.

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