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Personal finance

How to open your first bank account

November 2, 2022

The cute little piggy bank in your room is useful and lets you stash your cash, but it can be limiting over time. A good solution is to open an account at a financial institution. But what can you use a bank account for? Is it hard to open one?

A must for getting paid

You got your first job. That’s great! Now you need to think about opening your first bank account if you don’t have one already. Why? A few weeks before starting a job, many employers will ask for your banking information to make sure you get your first paycheque deposited directly into your account on time.

For your other day-to-day needs

First and foremost, having a bank account keeps your money secure. It’s very useful for many reasons, regardless of whether you have a job. For example, you can use it to pay your cellphone bills, or deposit your birthday or Christmas money. You can also use your debit card to pay for things like transit.

With a debit card, you can use an ATM to deposit the cash or cheques you receive for babysitting, cutting your neighbours’ lawn or shovelling their driveway. Having an account also lets you receive direct Interac®e-Transfers from your family members, so it saves them a trip to the ATM. It’s very practical!

How do you open an account?

To open your first bank account, you’ll need to meet with an advisor at the caisse. They’ll guide you through the steps. If you’re 14 or older, you can open an account without a parent or guardian. But you should check with your advisor to see if you can do this.

It all starts with a phone appointment

The first step is making a phone appointment with any Desjardins caisse. During the call, the advisor may suggest starting the account opening process over the phone. You’ll need to provide some personal information like your name, address, and phone number.

During the call, it’s also a good idea to ask any questions you have. For example, you can ask the advisor how the account works, how to use the debit card or how to choose a strong personal identification number (PIN). You’ll need to start thinking about a good PIN to use!

At the end of the call, you’ll need to choose a date for your in-person meeting at the caisse. If you think it would be helpful and reassuring to have your parent or guardian with you at the meeting, bring them along!

Prepare for your upcoming meeting at the caisse

Before you hang up, make sure to write down what you’ll need to bring (like ID and documents). This can include your health card, proof of address or driver’s licence, if you have one.

Since Desjardins is a financial cooperative, you’ll need to deposit a $5 qualifying share to become a member. The $5 will stay in your account for as long as your account is open. Remember to bring the $5 in for deposit. During the call, the advisor will give you all the details you need to make sure you don’t forget anything.

What is a financial cooperative?

A financial cooperative belongs to its members. It strives to support community development and meet its members’ and clients’ needs. It is also guided by its values—including the ones shared by Desjardins: equityequalitytransparencyself-help and responsibility.

Your meeting at the caisse

During this meeting, you’ll sign the account opening documents and an advisor will verify your identity. You’re almost done opening your first bank account!

Some financial institutions may give you a debit card and ask you to enter your PIN on the spot. When the meeting’s over, you’ll leave with your debit card in hand. Other financial institutions will mail you a personalized debit card with your name on it. You can discuss your options with your advisor.

Choosing and protecting your PIN

  • Make sure that the PIN you choose has 5 digits
  • Use a secret code that only you know and can easily remember
  • Don’t use your address, phone number, date of birth, etc.
  • Change your PIN if you think someone knows it
  • See our FAQ  - This link will open in a new window if you have any questions about PINs, debit cards, etc.

Having a bank account gives you endless opportunities. It’s free and a big step towards becoming financially empowered. What are you waiting for? Take advantage of the perks of having an account today! You can still keep your trusty old piggy bank in your room as decor!

®Interac e-Transfer is a registered trademark of Interac Inc. Used under licence.