Trans-Canadian (financial) Pipelines

So my last daughter is off to her senior year at an arts school in Toronto (or “TO” as I’m learning to call it). From there, it’s one of two or three art colleges in the same city. Barring acts of international warfare, it’s a more or less permanent situation for the next few years.

I am not unfamiliar with Canada, having family and friends there and having moved money, drugs, weapons and subversive literature across the border. But most needs to move money or communicate have been intermittent. We’re going to need a more or less permanent, high-traffic way to send money and communicate. Advice from Canadjuns, TOians and experienced USAians appreciated.
[li]Best cell phone plan for low-cost, high-volume use locally and to home in the states? I don’t mind paying a little more for a reliable large carrier (Rogers?) over the nickel-and-dimey MetroPCS kind of options. What about texting, IM, Skype, Google Voice, etc. as low-cost backups? (She has a Samsung G5 I hope to re-SIM.)[/li][li]How best to send money with some end-user control, a la any college kid funding scheme? Is there a reloadable credit card scheme that would work well across the border - something we could put an allowance or emergency money on and she could spend within 24 hours, without excessive fees?[/li][li]She will almost certainly have a local bank account, as she is already a working artist who makes a pretty fair living for a 17yo via online sales and PayPal. Any thoughts about which bank might be best for all needs, including the international-funding schemes?[/li][/ul]

For cell service, my husband and I both use PC mobile, we’ve found it to be quite a bit cheaper than our previous services (Telus and Rogers)

Banking wise, Scotiabank seems to be marketing heavily towards those “New to Canada”,2468,00.html

Not sure about the sending $$ from US to Canada, would PayPal work for something like that? (I’ve never really used PayPal so I’m not exactly sure of the specifics:confused:)

I bank with one of the big Canadian banks, that also operates in the US.

According to their on-line banking website, if you open a Canadian dollar account in the US, and another account in Canada, you can transfer money directly between them using their on-line banking.

So you open an account with them in the US, and you open one in Canada with both you and the Barbarian Daughter having withdrawal privileges (scratch that: you just need deposit privilege; she’ll do all the withdrawing :stuck_out_tongue: ).

Then you deposit money to your Canadian $ account in the US, and then transfer it to the account in Canada, and she can have access to the money.

ETA: just saw your inquiry about which bank she should use. I’d recommend one of the big five (RBC, TD, CIBC, BMO, Scotiabank) and not a credit union, because the big banks are more likely to have cross-border facilities. Credit unions only operate locally.

My company does some money-movement processing for TD Bank. They are marketing to and are set up to accommodate cross-border customers.

Royal Bank (and most of the others) own banks in the US and can transfer money easily between accounts. You can fairly easily set up a secured credit card (since you won’t have a Canadian credit history) with online access so you can track balance and spending. Check with your current bank though - they may have a relationship with a Canadian bank you can leverage.

Most of the carriers have great US options but who is better/cheaper changes all the time. I’d check out Telus, Bell and Rogers and compare plans. Telus has better customer service but coverage is basically the same between all three.
Is she going to OCAD? My daughter graduated from there a few years ago - if you have any school related questions, please feel free to PM me.

I’ve just done a quick check and BMO, Royal, Scotia, CIBC and HSBC all have branches nearby. No TD oddly.

It will be far cheaper to use an American cell phone carrier with an all-continental plan than anything on the market in Canada. IIRC T-Mobile has such a plan for $40.

American Express has its own, internal, credit rating, and will issue cards in the currency of your choice. So get one now, in the U.S., and in August ask for another card in Canadian dollars. Amex is not as widely accepted in Canada, but after a couple months she’ll exist in the Canadian credit rating agencies and be able to get a Visa or Mastercard issued by the bank of her choice.

As a student she will have a plethora of options for no or low-fee Canadian bank accounts, but bank fees can be unreasonable. As others have pointed out there are 5 big banks, plus some sizeable credit unions.
Some brick and mortar banks also own online-only banks (Scotiabank owns Tangerine, formerly ING), and some Canadian banks operate in the US (like TD, which in the New York area used to be CommerceBank).

Needing cash in 24 hours will be difficult at best. Canadian banks like to hold onto cross-border transfers for weeks on end.

The issue with this is it becomes very expensive for her peers in Toronto that want to communicate with her.

Something like Chatr may work for her, Telus owns Chatr so you’ve got good coverage.

Only if they’re texting. My student wife assures me all the cool kids are using WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger these days – items that rely solely on a data plan.

I’ve turned into an old man!