A credit card is issued on the basis of an applicant’s Canadian credit history check. As a result, a newcomer would find it difficult to obtain a credit card upon arrival. Some banks will offer secured credit cards to foreign mission personnel and their family members. This would require a cardholder to maintain a minimum balance in an account in the same bank as a security measure.
Banks also offer prepaid credit cards which provide many of the conveniences of a credit card, such as making reservations or purchasing items online. Some banks now offer debit cards that feature the convenience of credit cards without the high interest rates.
Credit cards offer convenience when paying for goods and services, and are often a person’s first access to credit. Although credit cards are useful and convenient, they can be an expensive way to borrow money, especially when withdrawing cash.
Typically, credit card companies charge 18% or more on an annual basis, if the monthly balance is not paid in full. Withdrawing cash from a credit card is not advisable, as interest would automatically be charged on the amount of borrowed cash, plus any previously incurred amount. Paying the full balance, instead of merely the minimum charge, is an important way to build a good credit history.
Many stores offer their own credit cards. This is a good way for a newcomer to establish a good Canadian credit history, although these credit cards typically have very high interest rates.
It is wise to inform a bank or credit card company before leaving the country or making unusual transactions, since a bank may freeze an account without notice if it suspects fraudulent use or compromised card security. The financial institution that provides the bank or credit card can inform customers about security features and precautions that may reduce risks. The number to call is usually on the back of the bank card.