​​​​when you get 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

Go to the desk, say you'd like to open a youth account. Confirm you're getting 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, and part-time work are all good answers)  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.

​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 free cheques, 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.

Get your debit card. If you don't receive your debit card immediately, it 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 a branch anyway and assign a PIN.

Your youth account expires

Youth accounts automatically convert to regular accounts some time after you turn 18 (each bank has its own grace period).  This may not be the account you want - many regular accounts have fees by default. Learn to convert an account properly.

Open A Youth Account

Don't pay unnecessary fees - learn to convert

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

  • Low limits are good if your card gets stolen. They can also help you spend less.

  • Any purchase that would make you exceed the limit will be blocked - it's impossible to exceed your limit. 

  • You may need a higher limit to make larger purchases, like textbooks or a phone / computer.

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.

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 / provincial photo card and passport.  Not all provinces offer photo cards.  What if you don't have those? 

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

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. You can go alone or bring your parent, older sibling, or a friendly adult.