After visiting 60+ countries between the two of us, living in Canada for 4+ years and Kamila working for the airlines for over 3 years, we’ve become pretty travel-savvy.
Below we share our vetted resources to make your expat life more convenient!
Zero Fee Banks in Canada
(Only available in Canada)
Tangerine is a zero-fee online bank that meets most of our everyday banking needs. We use Tangerine as our checking account. As per TFSA or high-interest saving accounts, we prefer EQ bank as it offers more competitive rates. To receive a 50$ cash bonus when you sign up for Tangerine, use the code 61458994S1.
(Only available in Canada)
A high-interest saving account with zero monthly fees. There is also an option to open Tax free savings account (TFSA) or Registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) account.
Similar to Tangerine, Koho is zero fee online bank in Canada. It comes with a reloadable Visa card which you can use to earn 0.50% cashback on all purchases. Besides this, you earn high interest – on all the funds that you hold in your KOHO account without any strings attached.
If you use the code KNOL0VLR at signup for KOHO, you can earn an extra 20$ bonus.
We also love their credit-building tool. If you’re new to Canada, it takes time to build your credit score from scratch.
For a small fee of $10/month, KOHO reports to a credit bureau (Equifax) every month on your behalf for a period. This way you don’t have to worry about missing a payment. My credit score jumped by over 100 points after about 6-month with their credit-building tool. You can cancel it anytime.
Sending Money Abroad
We love to use Wise or Revolut especially when we travel, shop online, or move money between currencies.
(Available in 45+ countries, including Canada)
Wise is a multi-currency account that enables you to hold over 50 different currencies all in one place and pay anywhere in the world.
What’s great about it is that you can exchange between multiple currencies with a real-time exchange rate. Plus, international transaction fees are much lower than other traditional banks.
It can come in super handy especially if you want to transfer money to or from Canada.
Wise account also comes with a Wise Visa debit card and up to 3 optional virtual cards. Receive a fee-free transfer of up to 500 GDP (or equivalent in your currency) when signing up with this referral link.
(Available in 36+ countries)
Revolut is an online banking app that offers excellent debit card and accounts for travelers and digital nomads. It works similarly to Wise and allows you to receive, exchange, and send payments in multiple currencies.
Both Kiwi and Skyscanner websites are great tools to find reasonable deals on flight tickets.
What we like to do is search for flights on Kiwi or Skyscanner and then book the flights directly with the airline company if there isn’t much price difference.
If you need to rebook the flight or in case of any delays and cancellations, it’s easier to deal with a specific airline directly rather than a third party.
It’s best if you can be flexible with your dates or destinations to get the best deals and of course if you travel outside the peak season.
If you can use your credit card points, it’s also a great way to save on flights or get access to business lounges.
(Available for UK and EU residents)
True Traveller offers flexible & reasonably priced travel insurance including packages for last-minute travelers and backpackers. However, True Traveller is only available for UK and EU residents. For people from other countries, we recommend World Nomads.
We used True Traveller for my proof of travel insurance when we applied for a working holiday visa in Canada. I had a tooth problem during my first 2 years in Canada and they covered some of the cost without any fuss which was great.
(Available for 130+ countries, including Canadian residents)
World Nomads is a simple and flexible travel insurance company based in Australia that offers cover for residents from over 130 countries including trip cancellations, interruptions, or delays.
(Only available to residents of the European Economic Area – EEA)
What makes Revolut insurance stand out is that you can pay per day for the duration of your travels. You also have the option to purchase longer-term policies if you’re traveling to multiple countries.
You can customize your insurance depending on your needs. If you upgrade to Revolut Premium or Metal, you can get their travel insurance included.
When you’re new to Canada, it might take time before you find your ideal place to stay. When we first arrived we preferred to view the rental spots and get familiar with the area before we committed to a long-term lease.
There are also plenty of scammers out there, so it’s not advisable to pay a deposit upfront before you see the place. For short-term accommodation, you can look into Airbnb, house-sitting platforms, or WorkAway.
If all else fails, many cities have a dedicated FB group for rentals. Sometimes you might luck out and find a short-term sublet on FB or Kijiji for a good price.
Airbnb is a flexible platform that lets property owners rent out their spaces. Compared to traditional hotel rooms, a lot of Airbnb rentals come also with a kitchen and laundry. You can find plenty of budget-friendly options. Some of them are truly unique such as tree houses or tiny houses!
It’s an ideal solution for a short-term stay before you find more long-term accommodation in Canada or if you’d like to save money on your travel accommodation.
WorkAway is a great way to save money on accommodation when traveling. It’s an online platform connecting travelers with hosts all over the world who are keen to offer free food and accommodation in return for help with their projects.
We’ve personally stayed with a family in Holland for around a week, and it was such a unique experience! We got to learn about the local culture, and customs, and even enjoy some homemade Dutch cooking.
Workaway can be especially useful if you want to stay in Canada on a budget, as there are so many opportunities like this that you can take advantage of. Plus, it’s always great meeting new people from different places and hearing their stories when you’re new in the country.
Another hack to get free accommodation on your travels is house-sitting. If you haven’t heard about house sitting before, it’s when someone agrees to look after a homeowner’s house and property while they are away for an extended period of time.
TrustedHousitters has good worldwide housesitting opportunities, including in Canada.
(Available in Canada, US, and the UK)
Turo is a cheap renting car alternative that lets you book the cars directly from their owners. Car rental options can range from standard Toyota to Tesla. Overall, prices vary but you can often find much better deals than with standard car rental companies. You can use your own insurance or buy coverage from Turo for a reasonable price.
Communauto is an affordable car-sharing company available in major cities in Alberta, Nova Scotia, Ontario and Quebec.
You have the option to book a car for a one-way, round-trip or multiday trip. It’s a great option, especially for international students in Canada or before you get your own car.
- Interactive Brokers (For Advanced Traders)
(Accepts clients from more than 220 countries and territories, including Canada)
Interactive Brokers is an advanced trading platform that provides access to numerous asset classes (including stocks, options, futures, and bonds) and exposure to foreign markets.
Consistently voted the best trading platform available. There are no monthly fees if you sign up for Interactive Brokers lite + many stock purchases are commission-free. Earn up to $1000 of IBKR Stock for free when you sign up here.
- Wealthsimple (For Beginners)
(Only available in Canada)
Wealthsimple is a commission-free trading platform if you want to start your investing or crypto trading journey.
The platform offers limited asset classes and small exposure to foreign markets. It’s a user-friendly platform but has delayed price updates so not great for more experienced traders. Get two free stocks at sign up with this link.