Don't pay unnecessary fees - learn to convert

​​​​​​Picking up your debit card

Assign a PIN (personal identification number) - the banker will help you.  You'll use it to verify your identity before you can make a purchase / withdraw money using your credit card.

Sign your card.On the back, below the magnetic strip, there's a signature box – make sure to sign. Your debit card has three important numbers - the card number and expiry date on the front, and the security code on the back (three numbers to the right of the signature box). 

at the bank

Confirm the account you're about to open has the features you expect.

The banker will want to know: 
your name, address, date of birth, telephone number, whether you're a student, and where your income comes from (family, gift, part-time or full-time work are all good answers, so are being a student / looking for work).  They may also ask where you pay taxes - probably 'Canada'.

Technically, you don't have to provide your SIN (social insurance number) when opening a chequing account (because you won't be paid interest). But some chequing accounts pay token interest - giving the bank a reason to request your SIN.  Banks often ask for your SIN when you are a new client so that they have it on file - as they hope you'll get more of their products. It’s up to you whether or not you want to provide it in such a situation.

You may be asked if you would like to purchase additional banking services, for which you'd have to pay. In most cases you should decline, except for overdraft protection. Do not choose the monthly-fee option - choose to only pay when you overdraw.

​Don't worry about getting cheques.  You have better methods of transferring money (e-transfers, direct deposits, and pre-authorized payments - discussed in the KEEP UP section.  If the bank offers you a few cheques for free, accept them - just in case.

After you sign the application, the banker should be able to open the account immediately.

Remember to ask the banker to help you set up online / mobile banking.

Your debit card will be issued a few days later. Don't ask for it to be mailed.  Pick it up at the bank because you'll need to return to a branch anyway and assign a PIN.

Confirm your card's daily limit. This is how much you can withdraw / spend in a day. The default is $500. You may ask for an increase/decrease if this is too low/high.

Make sure everything works. Before you leave, deposit a small amount of cash (or a cheque) with the teller, send an e-transfer, and withdraw some money at the ATM.

Open a student / regular account

Before you go to the bank

Prepare your IDs. Banks need two IDs: a government-issued photo ID and proof of address. Try to bring your driver's license and passport. What if you don't have those?

Bring your phone/tablet. 
The banker will help you set up online / mobile banking.

If you're opening a student account, prepare your proof of enrollment (an acceptance letter or a valid student card).  If you are still waiting for your acceptance and the grace period on your youth account is about to expire, go to the bank, explain your situation and ask for an extension.  It's better to try than to see charges appear on your account when you turn 18 and it converts to a regular one.

Don't complete online applications.  You'll have to go to the bank anyway to show your IDs.

​Pick a good time to go to the bank.  Bankers are least busy when the branch opens.  Even better, book an appointment.

​​​​​​your student account expires

Student accounts automatically convert to regular accounts after 4 years. This may not be the account you want - many regular accounts have fees by default.

After 4 years, you can renew your student status for another year by showing the bank current proof of enrollment. As long as you're still enrolled, you can renew your status as many times as you like.