Bank account basics

Savings and chequing accounts are safe places to put money you plan to spend soon:

  • Saving accounts – allow you to set money aside for emergencies, save for a large purchase or build funds for your education – while keeping your money readily accessible.
  • Chequing accounts – are for money that you plan to use for day-to-day spending or to pay bills.

Money in these accounts is protected against loss, up to set limits, through the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)

Learn more about bank accounts.

Where to open an account

You can open an account at any of these financial institutions. They provide the same kinds of banking services for chequing and savings accounts, but they are run differently:

  • Banks and trust companies – make money for the people who own their shares.
  • Credit unions and caisses populaires – owned and run by the members who bank there. They may charge a refundable membership fee to join.
  • Investment firms – may offer an account similar to a bank account.

Who can open an account

Almost anyone can open a bank account. You don’t need to have a job or certain amount of money. If you are under age 18, you can open an accountAccount An agreement you make with a financial institution to handle your money. You can set up an account for depositing and withdrawing, earning interest, borrowing, investing, etc.+ read full definition with the help of a parent or guardianGuardian A person that you give the legal responsibility to care for a child or adult who cannot take care of themselves. There are different types of guardians for property or health.+ read full definition. You may have trouble opening an account if:

  • you don’t have 2 pieces of acceptable identification, or
  • you have a criminal record.

You can open an account with someone else. This is called a joint account. It allows 2 people to make withdrawals, deposits, payments and other transactions from the same account. A joint account may be useful for managing household expenses with your spouse.

Protect yourself from fraud

Protect your account numbers, debit card, personal identification number (PIN) and online banking information. Also, watch out for e-mails claiming to be from your bank, asking for your bank information or other personal details. This is a scam called phishing.


Don’t respond to emails claiming to be from your bank, asking for your bank information or other personal details. This is a scamScam When someone tries to make money by misleading or tricking another person.+ read full definition called phishing.


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