CIBC International student bank accounts - an overview

Piyush Singh

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) offers multiple banking account options for international students, no matter where they are in their schooling journey.

In this guide, we will provide you with an overview of CIBC student-friendly bank accounts (with zero monthly fees), including their features, the steps you must follow to open each type of account, and any fees you may be charged. We will also take a look at Wise as one of your premium alternate options for ease of global money transfers at no additional costs.


Table of Contents

CIBC Accounts For International Students in Canada

CIBC Smart Start


Monthly Fee: 0 CAD

Open for Ages: 13-24 years


  • Tracking your spending (with CIBC Insights)
  • unlimited domestic fund transfers between friends and family in minutes.
  • For students aged 18-24 years: Free online access to North American stock and ETF trading with their TFSA, RRSP or non-registered account. There’s no minimum balance and no annual fees¹.
  • Free SPC+ membership² that allows you to save up to 30% on over 450 top brands, both in-store and online.
  • Savings of at least 10 cents per liter on gas money if you link and use your CIBC debit or credit card with Journie Rewards³.

If you open this account as a parent of youth aged above 13 years, you can help grow your child’s savings faster with a no-monthly fee bank account, deposit their allowances easily using mobile banking, and get personalized insights and financial tips to guide your child to handle money better, on the CIBC Mobile Banking⁴ app.

The CIBC Smart Start student bank account also comes with features, such as:

  • No monthly costs
  • Unlimited free Interac e-Transfer transactions
  • Free unlimited debit and Visa Debit purchases, withdrawals and bill payments
  • One free non-CIBC ATM withdrawal in Canada per month
  • Access to CIBC Investor’s Edge⁵, a platform with educational tools that help you build your investment portfolio
  • Free access to mobile, net, and telephone banking 24/7
  • Free SPC+ membership that provides access to exclusive student deals and discounts (for students aged 14 years and above)

You can keep access to your CIBC Smart Start student bank account until you turn 25, after which your account will continue as a regular CIBC Smart Account⁶ (unless you're eligible for the CIBC Smart for Students account at that time). You will have to pay a monthly fee of 16.95 CAD⁷, which may be rebated if you maintain a minimum daily balance of 4000 CAD or more⁷.

To be eligible to qualify for a CIBC Smart Start student bank account, you will need to:

  • be a Canadian resident under age 25 years
  • one government-issued photo ID document⁸

Conditions for account opening:

  • Teens (aged 13-15 years) can open an account at any CIBC bank branch with or without parental signing authority.
  • Teens (aged between 16 years and the age of majority) can open an account online or at any bank branch with or without parental signing authority)
  • Young adults (aged up to 24 years) can open an account online or meet with CIBC bank officials at any branch.

During the current intake season, you can earn up to 125 CAD⁹ if you sign up for a CIBC Smart Start student bank account, and complete these actions within 2 months from the time of opening your account:

  • Provide your email address and put money in the account (to earn 25 CAD)
  • Set up an ongoing direct deposit (to earn 50 CAD)
  • Perform any two of these three actions within one calendar month (to earn 50 CAD):
  • 2 ongoing pre-authorized debits
  • 2 online bill payments of 50 or more each
  • 5 Visa Debit purchases

If you open your first CIBC Smart Smart™ account by October 16 and pay for your monthly Disney+ subscription using the Visa Debit feature of your CIBC Dividend Visa card, CIBC will give you an additional cashback of 50 CAD, and free access to Disney+ for up to 6 months¹⁰. The subscription auto-renews at 11.99 CAD per month thereafter. To access this benefit, you must be the age of majority in your province or territory of residence to subscribe to Disney+.

CIBC Smart For Students


Monthly Fee: 0 CAD

Open for Ages: above 25 years


  • Unlimited banking privileges to university, college and CEGEP students graduating at the age of 25 and above
  • No need to maintain a minimum balance in order to avoid a minimum monthly fee
  • Free SPC+ membership², similar to the CIBC Smart Start bank account.

The CIBC Smart for Students bank account also comes with features, such as:

  • No monthly costs
  • Unlimited free transactions including debit purchases, CIBC withdrawals (inclusive of CIBC ATM transactions), Interac e-Transfer transactions, cheques, pre-authorized payments, bill payments, and more
  • One free non-CIBC ATM withdrawal (in Canada) per month
  • Free access to online, mobile, and telephone banking 24/7
  • No minimum deposit requirements
  • Free SPC+ membership that provides access to exclusive discounts, special experiences, cash prizes, giveaways and more
  • Several student credit card options¹² that allow you to start building your credit history and collect rewards on eligible cards while you focus on school

You can keep your access to your CIBC Smart for Students account until 6 months after you graduate. Following that, your account will continue as a regular CIBC Smart™ chequing account, the monthly fees for which range between 6.95 CAD to 16.95 CAD¹¹.

To be eligible to qualify for a CIBC Smart for Students bank account, you will need to:

  • be residing in Canada during the time of opening of account, and,
  • show proof of your international student status; for this you need a valid foreign passport, a student ID from the educational institution you are enrolling at, and a IMM 1442 study permit.

During the current intake season, you can earn up to 125 CAD if you sign up for a CIBC Smart for Students account, same as when you open a Smart Start student bank account. This includes the six-month free Disney Plus membership, as highlighted under the CIBC Smart Start benefits above.

CIBC International Student GIC Program


Monthly Fee: 0 CAD

Open for Ages: both below and above 25 years


  • Helps international students meet the requirements for a Student Direct Stream (SDS) study permit
  • Can be opened while still residing in your home country by transferring 10,000 CAD via bank wire transfer, into your new account
  • No processing fees on your foreign currency transaction
  • Acts as a necessary proof of funds, which is often required by educational institutions in Canada

Upon your arrival in Canada and on producing the right documentation, you will first be given access to 2000 CAD. The rest of the funds will be invested in your GIC Program account. You will get the full amount back plus guaranteed interest over the 8000 CAD, in 11 equal payments over the next 1 year.

This enables you to spend your first year of study, completely worry-free.

The CIBC Student GIC Program bank account includes features, such as:

  • No monthly costs
  • 5 minute application time
  • Guaranteed rate of interest (0.5% for 1 year on all GICs¹³)
  • Expedited approval of Student Direct Stream (SDS) study permits
  • Access to digital—internet and mobile banking 24/7
  • Access to exclusive promotions, discounts, and offers for students

Under the CIBC Student GIC Program, you can also earn a 100 CAD referral bonus¹⁴ when someone you know (friends or family) transfers money to an International Student GIC Program account, even if you are not a CIBC customer. The latter will also earn a 25 CAD referral bonus.

To apply for a CIBC Student GIC bank account, you need the following:

  • A valid foreign passport with a student visa for Canada
  • A letter of admission (in jpg/pdf format)
  • The name of the campus you will be attending

You also need 10,000 CAD plus additional account fees to set up the account.

How To Open a CIBC International Student Account

Here is a step-by-step guide that details how you can open a CIBC International Student Account:

Step 1: Create your account on the CIBC web portal.

Step 2: Read the terms and conditions of each student bank account to figure out which option will be the right choice for you.

Step 3: Complete your application.

Step 4: Transfer money into your new account, if required. For example, if you go for the international student bank account under the CIBC Student GIC Program, you will have to deposit 10,000 CAD to qualify.

Step 5: If you open your CIBC student bank account from your home country, you will need to visit a local branch upon your arrival in Canada and show them your qualifying documentation, which will allow them to release your funds.

CIBC International Student Pay

CIBC International Student Pay is an alternative method for international students to pay their deposit and tuition fees from their CIBC student bank accounts.

Here are the steps you need to follow to send the funds:

  • Log in to your CIBC International Student Pay online portal with your SAIT ID number.

  • Specify your desired currency and payment method after entering the fee amount in Canadian dollars (CAD) at the platform's entry point. If you are using a bank wire transfer, you will be clearly shown the exact amount of funds you need in your select currency to pay your tuition fees in Canadian dollars, based on the competitive FX rate CIBC is offering SAIT.

    The exchange rate advertised does not change for 72 hours, so you will not be caught by surprise when you complete your transaction.

  • Next, you need to enter the name of the person paying—whether it is you, your parents, or some agent acting on behalf of you. Review the CIBC Terms & Conditions carefully, then click agree and submit when you're done.

  • In the final step, your transaction will be processed. You will be given a reference code and a transaction receipt for all payment methods. Print the payment instructions and reference code if using a bank wire, and then deliver them to your neighbourhood bank within 72 hours.

You can simply follow the instructions and your bank will transfer the money to SAIT. When SAIT accepts your payment, you will get confirmation via email.

CIBC International Student Account and Card Fees

If your money transfers usually tend to be to or from another country, chances are you will be charged some fees. Here is a rundown of the CIBC international student account and card fees:

Type of Bank AccountAdmin FeeMonthly FeeCard Fee
CIBC Smart StartFreeFreeFree for no annual fee credit cards
CIBC Smart for StudentsFreeFreeFree for no annual fee credit cards
CIBC International Student GIC ProgramFreeFreeFree for no annual fee credit cards

The exchange rate sent by CIBC is 2.5% over the mid market rate.¹⁵

Note: No annual-fee credit cards12 include CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students, CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students, CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students, and CIBC Classic Visa Card for Students. For students in medical, dental, optometry, law, veterinary and pharmacy disciplines, bundling their credit card with a CIBC Professional Edge Student Line of Credit can get them a CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for $0 CAD annual fee.

Meet Wise - Your Alternative To Bank Accounts

When it comes to managing your money as a student, Wise has you covered. A money service business, Wise saves you money each time you make a transfer. Let’s take a look at the key benefits of using Wise, all on your phone!


To start managing your money as a student, check out the Wise App on Google Play Store or the App Store!

Please see Terms of Use for your region or visit Wise Fees & Pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

Final thoughts

If you are an international student in Canada, CIBC’s student-friendly banking options might work for you.

The CIBC Smart Start bank account is ideal for you if you are set to graduate from a post-secondary school before the age of 25 years, and want the benefits of unlimited everyday banking.

On the other hand, if you are a university, college, or CEGEP student aged 25 years or more, you should go for the CIBC Smart for Students banking account and avail no-fee functionalities until you graduate.

Last but not least, you must consider the CIBC International Student GIC Program, if you want to pre-fund your Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) while still living in your home country and get your Student Direct Stream (SDS) study permit, faster. This service is available in countries including India, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

However, if you are looking for flexible banking services offer full transparency, you should choose Wise. With Wise, you may send funds overseas in 70+ select currencies at the mid-market exchange rate, via any of these accounts!

To know more about international money transfer options, check out Wise.


1 - A Bank Account for Youth Under 25 | CIBC

2 - Get Student Deals and Discounts with SPC and CIBC

3 - Save on Gas with Journie Rewards and CIBC

4 - CIBC Mobile Banking

5 -

6 - CIBC Smart Account | CIBC

7 - CIBC Smart Account | CIBC

8 - ID Required to Open a CIBC Bank Account

9 - A Bank Account for Youth Under 25 | CIBC

10 - Smart Start Student | CIBC

11 - Open a Bank Account Online | CIBC

12 - Find the Best CIBC Student Credit Cards for You | CIBC

13 - ISBO (

14 - International Student Referral Program: Get $25 when you refer a friend | CIBC

15 - Banking Fees and Service Charges | CIBC

Sources verified on 28 September 2023

*Please see terms of use and product availability for your region or visit Wise fees and pricing for the most up to date pricing and fee information.

This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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