How do I open a bank account?

You need a bank account for many day-to-day activities, like making purchases, transferring money, depositing paycheques, and more.

To open a a bank account, you will need:

  • Acceptable identification (for examples, check this list from Settlement.Org)
  • A bank
  • Signed approval from a parent or guardian if you're under 18

To open an account, you don’t need a job. You don't have to put money in your account right away. You don't need a permanent address.

Step 1: Pick a “type” of Account

Think about what you want to do with your money. Just need a place to put it? Writing lots of cheques for your rent? Try a checking account. Trying to save money? A Savings account is a better idea. Want both? Try a combination account.

Are you under 18 or still a student? Many banks have youth or student accounts. These accounts have fun deals like not charging you for transactions, for example, when you use your bank card to buy something, or use an ATM machine to take out money.

Step 2: Pick a Bank

Not all banks are the same. Visit a few banks and ask them about what is important to you.

  • Some banks will charge you high fees or have very low interest rates (that’s bad!) so ask around
  • Some banks have many locations in your city (that’s good!)
  • Some banks are good for international banking if you have family in other countries who will be sending you money

Most people pick “home branches” that are close to their homes. Your “home branch” is the branch that you opened your account at. It is usually the only place you can change your personal information.

If you are more interested in internet banking than face to face interaction, think about opening an internet-based account.

Step 3: Visit the Bank

When you visit the bank, make sure you have all the things you need (acceptable ID and a parent if you need one). If you decide to open you account on the spot, you can. Ask to speak to someone about opening an account. Things to ask about:

  • Monthly bank charges
  • The minimum amount of money you need to keep in your account and what happens if you go under that amount
  • The interest rate (the higher the better!)
  • Whether you will be charged for using ATM’s or paying with your bank card.

Step 4: Open Your Account

Found a bank you are happy with? Open your account! A bank representative will help you open your new bank account.