First Bank Account

How to open your first bank account in Canada, and how to use it!

by the FlexFi Team

Opening a bank account is one of the most important things you need to do when you first arrive in Canada. Thankfully, there are plenty of resources and help available to you.

What do you need to open an account?

To open up a bank account, you’ll first need to have some pieces of basic information. It will mostly be information you already know, such as your legal name, and address. However, be sure to have your official government identification ready, such as your driver’s license, social insurance number, or another form of government ID.

What kind of bank account should you have?

Generally speaking, there are 2 main types of bank accounts: chequing account, or savings account. Let’s do a quick comparison between the 2.

First Bank Account in Canada

Whichever account you choose, after you open your account, you’ll be able to deposit your funds and make it much easier for you to manage your money.

How to manage your money

All banks, and credit unions, have a variety of ways to help you manage your money:

1 – Online banking – You’ll be able to check your balances online, pay bills, transfer money wherever you have internet

2 – Telephone banking – If the internet is an issue, telephone banking can be helpful too. They often have translation services over the phone as well, if there is a language barrier.

3 – Direct deposit – when you start working your employer may ask for your account information so they can transfer money directly into your account

4 – Automated teller Machines or ATMs – Withdrawal cash from your bank’s ATM with no fees, or pay a fee to withdrawal funds via another bank’s ATM

5 – Chequebook – Somethings are still paid the traditional way, such as rent, or bigger deposits. Order chequebooks at your bank to start writing cheques.

6 – In a retail branch – Of course, you’ll always have to option of visiting your branch in person and have them help you directly.

Credit union or bank? Which is better?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer for this one. It really depends on what your needs will be. We can do a bit of a comparison which can give you a general idea of the pros and cons of using a credit union. Let’s start with the pros:

1 – Lower fees. Generally speaking, credit union accounts will have lower fees on basic accounts such as their chequing or savings accounts. Many credit unions actually don’t charge a fee at all. This can extend to fees charged for extras on your account such as non-sufficient fund fees, or transfer fees.

2 – Lower interest rates. It’s possible to get lower interest rates from credit unions than banks, especially if you don’t have the greatest credit.

3 – Ownership. Unlike banks, credit unions are owned by its members, which means the focus is not necessarily on profits. Additionally, this also means owners have some ability to influence how the credit union is run through voting.

Despite the pros, there are some areas where credit unions are lacking:

1 – Products. Banks will have a tremendous range of products. As an example, banks will have tens of credit cards to choose from, whereas credit unions may only have a few. They’ll also offer a wide variety of loans for all sorts of different purposes, whereas a credit union might only have personal loans and mortgages.

2 – Rewards. To entice more customers, banks often include many rewards, from bonus points or cashback on their credit cards, to straight up cash just for opening an account there.

3 – Technology. Due to their large size, banks usually have better access to different technologies and services. For example, banks were the first to integrate NFC (tap technology) into their cards. They were also the first to utilize e-transfers.

Some additional resources

Lastly, here are some places you can check out to get started. Many large banks have packages for newcomers.

FlexFi Inc. is not a financial advisory firm.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice.

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