Which is Better for Cross Border Banking: RBC or TD Bank?

Posted on January 15, 2021

Remember when you would find yourself south of the border, terrified to pay with your credit card because of the fees involved? 

Those days are over. 

As the world becomes more interconnected, more borderless banks are emerging. Threatened by this electronic banking wave, traditional financial institutions are also adapting. 

When outside of Canada, having a cross border banking solution is now essential. Exchanging physical isn’t good enough; cash usage in the US dropped from 51 to 8 percent between 2010 and 2020. 

If you’re confused with banking across borders, RBC and TD Bank might have the answers you’re looking for. 

But is RBC cross border banking a better choice, or should you go with TD Bank? You’ll discover that below. 

What is Cross Border Banking? 

Cross border banking allows customers to manage their finances from countries outside of their homeland. These solutions are essential for ex-pats looking to start a new life somewhere. 

However, cross border banking also has a lot of benefits for Canadians moving for a year or less – or just traveling. 

A lot of banking services designed for access in more than one country are provided by digital banks, also known as fintech banks. These institutions have surged in popularity since 2015; it’s expected that the fintech industry will be worth $305 billion by 2025

Slowly, though, traditional banks are adapting to more people moving between borders. 

Cross border banking solutions often share similar features, including: 

  • Allowing customers to move money around without friction
  • Enabling users to pay for goods and services in the currency of the country they live in 
  • Accessible customer support, often with physical branches as well as online and via phone. 

Why is Cross Border Banking Important?

For some people, especially newcomers to a country, cashless comes with problems. 

One particular issue is that paying by card abroad often comes with unwanted fees. If you spend more than a week there, those add up fast – especially if you make lots of small purchases.

In some cases, cross border banking helps solve this problem by allowing customers to use their cards abroad without extra fees. They will also get a favourable exchange rate on what they buy. 

Another benefit is that opening a bank account is much easier. Opening an account in a country you’ve just moved to often comes with a lot of bureaucracy. Employment contracts, financial history, and a host of other documents are needed. 

Often, you will need an address in a country before opening a bank account is possible. If you’ve just moved somewhere and haven’t yet found a place to live, trying to open an account is another layer of needless stress. This is especially true in cities where housing is hard to find. 

Some banks, however, can eliminate this problem. Sometimes, your Canadian address will be enough.

RBC Cross Border Banking

What is RBC? 

RBC, or the Royal Bank of Canada, is the country’s largest bank. It’s also an important global institution. 

RBC has over 86,000 employees around the world. Besides Canada, the bank is also present in the US. If you’re moving further away, such as the Netherlands, Australia, or Japan, RBC also has locations in those countries. 

Pros of Cross Border Banking With RBC 

  • Plenty of cross border banking features. RBC offers access to a lot of support for your US move. You can pay for your groceries and bills in USD, move money between Canadian and US accounts, and access US loans too.  
  • Options for different traveler types. RBC offers banking for ex-pats, shorter-term visitors, and snowbirds. 
  • No need for a US address or social security number. With RBC, you only need a Canadian address to open your account. 

If you’re moving around different states within the US, you can also keep using your account. 

Cons of Cross Border Banking With RBC 

  • Monthly bank account fees. To open a direct checking account (with eStatements), you’ll need to pay $39.95 per year. Premium accounts cost $99.95 annually.
  • If you make more than 10 debit payments each month with a direct checking account, you’ll have to pay a $1 fee for all transactions.
  • Some annual credit cards cost a yearly fee. Although the Visa Signature Black credit card is free, Signature Black Plus costs $75 per year.  

TD Bank Cross Border Banking

What Is TD Bank? 

Like RBC, TD Bank is a major banking service in Canada with a Toronto HQ. Unlike RBC, TD Bank is less internationally-focused. 

TD Bank has over 10 million customers across Canada. The service is also present in dozens of US states.  

Pros of Cross Border Banking With TD Bank

  • Solutions for short and long-term travelers. TD Bank offers services for both Canadians living in the US long-term and those who only visit occasionally. 
  • Short-term travelers can open a free account and a USD credit card. Meanwhile, people living in the US can enjoy unlimited monthly transactions, and more.
  • Exchange rate services. To avoid paying expensive foreign exchange fees, TD Bank offers help with converting CAD to USD. 
  • Rebates for (some) fees. For long-term residents, TD Bank offers you the chance to skip monthly maintenance costs. These are subject to certain conditions. 

Cons of Cross Border Banking With TD Bank 

  • Not as widespread as RBC. TD Bank’s US presence is mainly on the East Coast. The service operates in 15 US states overall. 
  • The monthly fee for USD bank accounts. To open a cross border account with TD Bank, you will pay $4.95 USD per month. 
  • Minimum balance for certain benefits. For monthly fee rebates, your account balance needs to be at least $3,000 USD. Convenience Chequing also requires a $100 daily balance to avoid a $15 monthly fee. 

Other Things You’ll Need  

When moving to or traveling around the US, cross border banking is just one essential. You will also need comprehensive health insurance, as well as travel insurance. 

While you can use your phone in the US with some Canadian network providers, others will charge you big roaming fees. You should check to see how much using your phone abroad will cost, and think about getting an American number if it’s more cost-effective. 

Picking the Best Cross Border Bank Account

So, RBC cross border banking or TD? 

Both are reliable for Canadians, but RBC is the better choice for most customers. The bank is available in more states and has a larger range of benefits. 

Opening an account with RBC is also easier, while you can also move around both Canada and the US without needing to change your banking provider. 

Now you’re ready for your adventure south of the border, why not cover yourself with travel insurance? Check out our offerings here.  

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