Bank Accounts & Credit

There are a lot of different types of bank accounts and financial options to help manage your money. Check out this section to learn about the different options and what to consider when using each.

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Opening a bank account

Everyone in Canada is able to open a bank account as long as they have two pieces of government ID to confirm their identity (see the list of acceptable government IDs here). You can open a bank account at any age, even if you don’t have a job or money to put in the account.

There are a few types of bank accounts. Usually, you will open a chequing account, a savings account or both. The fees the bank will charge are based on the type of account and the bank you are with. These accounts are for different purposes:

Chequing account:

  • For day-to-day expenses such as buying items from a store.
  • Includes the use of a debit card to make purchases with or withdraw money from an ATM.

Savings account:

  • For saving and storing money. Not usually used for daily expenses or transactions.
  • You earn interest (money) at different percentages based on the amount of money in your account (learn about earning interest).

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA):

  • A type of savings account for those ages 18+ that does not charge tax on money kept in the account or earned through investments in the account. The most you can put in is $5,500 per year, but this adds up each year in the account.
  • Learn more about tax-free savings accounts.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP):

  • A type of savings plan that is used to save money for when you retire. All funds you put into the plan are tax-free so long as you do not withdraw them before you retire.
  • Learn more about RRSPs.

Tips for opening a bank account:

  • Learn about different chequing and savings accounts offered by different banks before committing to one. You can compare accounts using an Account Comparison Tool.
  • Most banks have financial advisers who are able to give you information or help with any steps you are unsure of.
  • If you are still a student (either high school or post-secondary) you may be eligible for low cost or free accounts.
  • When you get a bank card or credit card it is important that you do not share your PIN with anyone as that gives them access to your money.

What about credit?

You need to be 19 years or older to have any form of credit in Canada, including a credit card. Credit is when you borrow money or get a loan from your bank or other financial institution. This can include things like a credit card, car loan, mortgage (loan for a house), line of credit or payday loan. With a loan you have to repay the amount you spend, plus some interest, and if you do not pay the amount back in a certain amount of time you will be charged even more interest. Interest is where you have to pay a percentage of the overall amount borrowed until it is paid in full. It is important to keep up with paying off credit because usually the more you owe the more interest you will be paying. The interest you are charged is different for each kind of credit card and type of loan so you should do some research before getting a credit card or loan.

Your bank or creditor will use something called a credit score. This is a number that banks and other creditors use to see how you manage credit and how risky it is to loan money to you. Sometimes your employer or future landlord may check your credit score to see if you are suitable for the job or housing opportunity. Learn more about credit scores and why they are important.

Tips for managing credit:

  • Learn about and compare different credit cards or loans before getting one. You will want to find one that fits your needs. Some things to consider may be:
    • which bank offers the lowest interest rate
    • does the card offer insurance
    • are there rewards like getting cash back
  • Pay off your credit card in full each month to avoid adding up more interest
  • Stay away from payday loans as they usually charge high fees and interest. A payday loan is when you borrow an amount of money with a large interest rate that you will need to repay.
  • Check your credit score to be sure it is where you expect it to be. Check out this guide to Understanding your credit report.

What Next?

Want to explore and learn more? Here are a couple options that will help you.