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Money Matters: Opening a Bank Account

Can I open a bank account if I am under 18 years old?
Yes you can! Some banks have rules that say you need your parent’s permission to open a bank account if you are a younger child. But if you are over 13, most banks let you open a bank account.

What do I need to open a bank account?
You need to find a bank and to bring identification and proof of your address. Identification could be a Driver’s License, an Ontario ID, a Social Insurance Number, your refugee claimant ID paper, or a passport from your country. See this website for a list of other things you could use as identification.

What if I am a refugee claimant and I do not have my photo ID yet?
If you are still waiting for your photo ID paper from the government, you can also bring the white piece of paper called the “Acknowledgement of Claim” document. Some bank employees might not have seen this document before. If you are having problems opening a bank account with the documents you have, ask for help from the Centre for Refugee Children or another refugee centre.

How do I pick a bank to open my account at?
There are lots of bank options! Not all banks are the same. Some charge more money for bank accounts than others. Some have special youth accounts. Some are only online services, which keeps the cost lower. It is a good idea to visit some different banks to ask what accounts they have and what the cost is. You could also ask friends or other people you know what banks they use and what their experiences are.

Once I have a bank account, how do I put money in?
• You can put cash in your bank account by going in person to the bank counter or by putting it into a bank machine called an ATM.
• You can put a cheque into your bank account by going in person to the bank counter, putting it into an ATM, or using the “deposit cheque” function on a mobile app for your bank.
• You can send and receive e-transfers to and from other people using an online banking account or a banking app on your phone.
• If you are working or receiving Ontario Works, you might be able to set up your payment to go directly into your bank account through something called a “direct deposit.” Talk to your employer or your Ontario Works caseworker to see if that is an option.

How do I take money out of my bank account?
• Your bank should give you a card called a “debit card.” You can use your debit card to take cash out of the bank from the counter or from the ATM. Or you can use your debit card to pay for things at a store or a restaurant on the debit machine.
• When you get your debit card, the bank will tell you to choose a PIN code. This is a set of numbers that you need to enter in the debit machine your card in most cases. It should be a number that you should remember, but not a number that other people can guess. We recommend that you DO NOT use your birthday/year. Always keep your PIN private.

Security tip:
Always be very careful before ever giving out your banking information to someone, including paying for things online. There are scammers who might try to steal this information so they can take money out of your account.

Read more about opening a bank account on this website