Typically Canadians or others from other countries owning residential property here in Arizona need banking services. This is especially critical if the home is rented periodically as there will be income and expenses. The ability to deposit funds and write checks from a U.S. bank greatly facilitates property management activities.
Using a credit card from a bank in your home country is an option, but that only covers one half of the equation – spending. Or you could obtain a card in U.S. dollars from, for example, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, which would enable you to avoid conversion rates and currency exchange service charges.
Canadians have a better option in accounts offered by the Royal Bank of Canada (“RBC”) or TD CanadaTrust (“TD”). Both RBC and TD offer Canadian bank accounts that are operable in the U.S. They permit account holders to pay U.S. bills online, use ATMs here without access fees, and allow money to be transferred between the U.S. and Canadian account counterparts. Moreover, a U.S. dollar credit card is available with these accounts.
RBC’s Access USA program has been around since 2004. RBC has two account options: Access USA and Access USA Preferred, which are linked to a Canadian Royal Embassy or Preferred checking accounts. In 2011 RBC sold all of its U.S. operations to PNC Financial, but the transfer has had no effect on the program. More than 7,100 no access fee ATM’s across Arizona and the rest of the country remain available to RBC customers.
TD’s U.S. based account also provides free online banking, U.S. bill payments, and U.S. check writing. Another benefit is that once a credit history is established, both U.S. and Canadian credit report histories are available facilitating the process of applying for a loan or mortgage. TD claims it has at least 1,800 ATMs in the U.S. that can be accessed with a TD debit card without paying fees. Although TD has approximately 1,300 U.S. branches, they are located primarily on or around the east coast.
Both RBC/PNC Financial Bank and TD offer single portal access to both the U.S. and Canadian accounts, simplifying the process of transferring cash between accounts and paying U.S. bills online.
Apparently there is strong demand for this type of banking option, as TD says about 60% of all Canadians have some form of U.S. financial need. This obviously includes more than snowbirds. Canadians living in the U.S. also need access to banking accounts and services in both countries, according to TD. So whether you are a snowbird or not, before you leave Canada get U.S. bank account access so you can take care of the bills at your Arizona home or condo.
If you only occasionally need to transfer funds to the U.S. don’t forget that the Canadian Snowbird Association, a nonprofit advocacy group which represents the interests of Canadians traveling to the United States, has a low cost currency exchange program. I’m a member, and can help you establish an Arizona to Canada banking relationship. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.