Choosing the Right Bank Account

As part of your life in Canada you'll need to open a bank account. At most banks, you can also get a credit card, rent a safety deposit box to store your valuables, and apply for financing for purchases such as a car or your home.

You may not be familiar with how banking works in Canada. The first thing you should know is that banking in Canada is safe. All Canadian banks are governed by the Bank Act of Canada, which ensures that everyone who banks in Canada receives fair service. When you deposit your Canadian-dollar funds in a Canadian bank account or Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation insures up to $100,000 in case your bank fails or goes bankrupt, subject to some restrictions. Coverage is automatic, and you don't have to pay for it.

Here are answers to questions you may have about banking in Canada.

"What kind of account should I have?"

Most banks in Canada offer a wide range of accounts, but they basically fall into two main categories: chequing and savings.

  • Chequing account. This is your day-to-day bank account, where you'll keep money for immediate and ongoing expenses - to pay bills, shop, or withdraw cash. Fees often apply.
  • Savings account. Your savings account is for emergency funds and longer-term needs. This is the place to set aside money you don't need right away, so it can earn interest and grow. At the same time, you always have access to your money should you need it.

Important to know: You'll need a Social Insurance Number (SIN) to open a bank account that pays interest. That's because interest income is taxable and must be reported to the government, using your SIN as your identifier.

"How can I get my money when I need it?"

When you open a bank account you'll receive a bank card (or "debit card"), which identifies you as a customer, and provides access to all bank services. You'll use it almost every time you want to access your account. Your card, along with your Personal Identification Number (PIN, sometimes known as a passcode), gives you secure and convenient access to your money several ways:

  • In branch. You can visit a branch for your day-to-day banking transactions and access to your safety deposit box.

Important to know: CIBC has extended evening and weekend hours (Saturday and/or Sunday) at many of its over 1,000 branches across Canada

  • Online banking. Online banking provides convenient, secure, and easy access to your accounts over the Internet. You can pay bills, transfer money, update records, open accounts and locate branches. It provides a consolidated view of all your accounts when you log on to your account.
  • Automated Bank Machines (ABMs). These may be located in a bank or in other locations, such as malls and gas stations. Using your bank card and PIN, you can withdraw cash, make deposits, check your account balance, pay bills and more.

Important to know: When you use your bank card at a bank machine or a financial institution that is not affiliated with your bank, you may be charged a service fee. CIBC has an extensive network of almost 4,000 ABMs across the country, with English, French, and Chinese language capabilities.

  • Telephone banking. Telephone banking is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition to basic transactions, telephone banking agents can discuss and complete transactions such as loans or purchasing investments.

Important to know: CIBC Telephone Banking offers Mandarin and Cantonese-speaking agents.

  • Debit payments. At most stores and restaurants, you can pay with your bank card instead of cash. You simply insert or swipe your card through a card-reader and enter your PIN to authorize the purchase.

“Can I keep my valuables at the bank?”

You can protect important documents, passports, and personal items of value from fire and theft, in a safety deposit box (or “locker”) at a bank. Located inside the bank’s vault, your box is accessible (with proper identification) during the bank’s business hours. Annual fees may apply.

Opening your bank account

To open a bank account in Canada, you will need to provide your full legal name, address, occupation, if any, and date of birth. In addition, you must present two pieces of identification, such as:

  • A Permanent Resident card or Citizenship and Immigration Canada Form IMM 1000, IMM 1442 , IMM 5292 or IMM 5688
  • A Social Insurance Number card
  • A passport issued by a foreign country
  • A birth certificate issued in Canada

Please visit your nearest CIBC branch for more information.

Important to know: You will need your Permanent Resident card and Citizen and Immigration Canada form IMM5292 to prove that you have obtained the Canadian permanent resident status within the past 2 years in order to qualify for the special offers for newcomers to Canada.