Canada is on the north border of USA; Canada's main export destination is USA; Many Canadians travel to the US on a regular basis. Those all are the reasons why almost every Canadian needs a US dollar bank account. People can find USD accounts in most Canadian banks, including both chequing and savings. But the USD is settled in Canada. They do not participate the clearing among US banks. If you deposit a Canadian-bank-issued USD cheque in USA, the transaction might not get through. Even the financial institute accepts that cheque, it could be subject to hold up to one month!
Here is another reason why you may need a US based bank USD account: Paypal Canada can hold both CAD and USD balances in the account. But it only transfers USD to and from a US-based bank account. Even your account in a Canadian bank is of USD, Paypal just does not allow that. Usually your earnings from the internet is dominated as USD. Then you need to convert USD to CAD then withdraw. The conversion rate is not that good in Paypal.
People can use his/her Canadian address to open an account in US based banks. Preferred way is to go to a border town. Many Canadians have opened their US accounts there. The staff in border towns gained experience to handle this situation. The forumers usually wrote "smooth" experience online.
If you do not want to step into USA and still wish a US account, this is still possible. You may consider subsidiaries of Canadian banks, such as RBC, TD, and BMO. I opened a BMO Harris checking account online. In US they call it checking account, while in Canada, chequing. It has the option of being a Canadian. So the form asks for SIN, instead of SSN. The opening money of USD 100 was billed onto my Canadian credit card. In a few weeks, I received debit card and starter check book (20 pieces of checks) by mail. Then I phoned them to setup the online banking. I should mention the monthly account fee of $12. But by keeping the balance of over $1000, or depositing at least $500, one can waive that fee. (Note: In 2017 they have Smart Advantage Checking account. I switched to this type which requires 0 minimal balance.)
I also checked TD Bank (Based in US) offerings. Their minimal balance to waive the monthly fee is only $100. But it seems that TD Bank account online opening only applies to US residents. In Canada one should call cross-border specialist to open the account. I'll do it soon because good things (little min balance) won't exist forever. RBC's cross-border account is the worst among them. It demands $2.95 per month and no ways to waive it. (Update: I called TD cross-border hotline to open my check account. They checked my Canada credit profile in the phone call process. Later I found TD Bank online opening accounts for Canadians. Maybe they have improved their computer system.)
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加拿大地缘接壤美国，在经济上强烈依靠美国，这就是为什么加拿大人都需要一个美元户头。在加拿大营业的银行，都有美元的户头，包括 chequing and savings. 可是，加拿大银行的美元户头，只能在加拿大境内清算，不直接参与美国银行间的清算。在美国花一张加拿大银行的美元支票，有可能被拒。即使被接受，也可能至少被 hold 一个月。（my god!)
还有一个理由给为什么要在基于美国的银行开美元户头：paypal canada 只处理加拿大元的加拿大银行账户。即便你在加拿大银行的账户是美元的，也不能加到 paypal 里。如果你有网络广告收入，通常是美元单位。每次转成加元提取，白白被 paypal 克扣转换费。(my god!!)
用加拿大地址是可以在美国的银行开户的。首选办法是去美加边境的小镇，很多加拿大人在那里开过户了，所以他们也有经验了。网上见到的评论通常是 smooth （顺利）.
如果不去美国境内，可以考虑加拿大银行在美国的子银行，如 RBC, TD, BMO. 我是在 BMO Harris 开户的，申请材料在网上填写，预存的100美元从我的加拿大元信用卡扣取。很快，从美国寄来第一本免费的支票本，还有 debit card. 我打电话去设置好 online banking. 然后寄了一张支票去我们公司指定的股票经纪商。我们公司在美国上市，所以股票经纪是美国的，它只接受美国银行的账户转账。否则，卖了股票取钱的话，要么寄支票，要么电汇。这个 BMO Harris 户头要最低余额1000美元，否则有每月12元管理费。（如果该月有至少500美元的存入，则也可免去管理费）（2017年注：它推出了 Smart Advantage 支票户头，无最低余额要求，选 eStatement 则可以全部免费。）
TD 是最便宜的支票户头，最低余额只需100美元。它不提供网上申请，需打电话去开户。RBC 则不被我喜欢，它没有最低余额要求，每月 2.95 美元管理费，合每年约 36 元。RBC 在加拿大的分行可以接受开户。BMO Harris 的 1000元，每年按 1% 利率计算，成本约 10 元。若将来利率升高，则相当于成本上升。所以，要尽快开 TD Bank 的支票户头，趁它现在还只需100元的最低存款。(更新：我已打电话开了 TD Bank 支票户头。后来我发现它的网站也可以申请开户头了。也许他们提升了系统。我的 BMO Harris 已变更为 Smart Advantage. 免费的。）
In Canada we call a chequing account, while in US, checking. Despite different names, they are much similar in many ways. In order to be efficient, banks usually charge a monthly fee for maintaining chequing accounts, or, you keep more than minimal balance (1 to 2 thousand) to waive the fee. In last decade, the Internet has changed how people live. It has changed how people do the banking too. Many financial institutions set up virtual or direct banking divisions. It does not require brick-and-mortar branches. All the transactions are done electrically. The savings on physical presence are passed to customers in forms of high interest rates, no monthly maintenance fee, and so on. In Canadian market, my favorites are as following:
No. 1. President's Choice Financial. It has pavilions in "Real Canadian Superstores", where you can actually talk to bank staff. They may help you open accounts, setup online banking, etc. Though they do not take deposits or withdrawals. All the checquing and savings accounts are free. Best feature is: all the cheque books are free too. (In 2017 CIBC and President's Choice discontinued cooperation. The CIBC direct financial division changed its name to Simplii Financial and closed pavilions in superstores.)
No. 2. Canadian Direct Financial. It offers free chequing and savings accounts. First cheque book is free and additional is chargeable. Best feature: its savings account interest rate is the highest, currently sitting at 1.75%, while President's Choice only 1.05%. Be aware of the catch: while transferring from Savings to Chequing is totally free, other forms of debits on Savings are free only once per month. All the debits on Chequing is absolutely free.
No. 3. Tangerine. This one is much similar to the President's Choice. Best feature: it offers electrical verification when adding external accounts. When adding other financial institution accounts, Tangerine will do TWO small deposits to that account. After 2 to 3 business days, the two deposits show up in other financial institution's online banking. Then you key them in Tangerine online banking to complete the adding process. That's it.
No. 4. Some local credit unions offer free chequing accounts too.
加拿大的银行称支票户头叫 Chequing, 与美国同行的称呼 Checking 不同，但是做法上有很多共同点。为了减少低余额的户头占用银行资源，银行通常会收取管理费，每个月几元到几十元不等。或者余额达到一定数量（通常一两千元）就可以免除每月的管理费。
Internet 的兴起让 纯 online bank 有了可能。这些 online banks 没有实体分行，所以能减少费用。无实体分行，给需要柜台服务的客户添了一些麻烦，正好靠免除管理费来弥补。愿意靠 internet, ATM 来处理账务的人，就可以享受免费的支票户头了。在加拿大，常见的有：
1. President's Choice Financial. 这个为首选，因为它依托 Real Canadian Superstore, 有广大的超市网络。在超市里设有亭子。开银行户头要填表，所谓 paper work, 怕麻烦的话，就去亭子请工作人员填写。之后，开通网上银行，转账、付款在网上银行进行；取现金到ATM. 它还有一个独一无二的特点：它所有的支票本都是免费 order.
2. Canadian Direct Financial. 它是加西银行的 Direct Banking 部门。开户就得自己网上填表，或者打印、填好，寄去，没有面对面的工作人员服务。它的第一本 cheque book 免费，之后要收费。好在现今社会用到支票的机会不多，一本可以用好久。它的最大好处是，再开一个储蓄户头，储蓄户头的利率目前最高，1.75%。 储蓄户头与支票户头之间转账算内部转账，免费。特别注意：从储蓄户头取现，或者转去其它银行，每个月只免费一次。从第二次起要收费。
3. Tangerine. 这是以前的 ING Direct. 号称给加拿大银行带来革命的虚拟银行。现在的 owner 是五大银行之一的 Scotiabank. 它目前吸引我的特色有：用手机给支票照相就可以存支票；添加其它银行户头，靠存两次微小的转账，然后验证这两次的数额，即可。其它银行添加 external bank, 还需寄去 void cheque. 一来麻烦，二来无法添加储蓄户头。Tangerine 可以添加它行的储蓄户头。
4. 一些信用社 credit unions. 如 coast capital savings. Manitoba 有很多信用社开立了 online bank divisions. 全加拿大（除法语省）的居民都可以申请。缺点是，它们的存款不是 CDIC 公司保险，是另外的公司。优点是保险额度是无限的，不仅仅像 CDIC 的首十万受保险。
I settled down in Vancouver 8 years ago. Like all the immigrants who come to Canada to pursuit a new life in this free and strong land, I am especially interested in financial products. I believe, by using proper bank accounts, we can greatly enhance our financial lives.