Opening a personal bank account
Learn how to choose a personal bank account that fits your lifestyle and your financial goals. Refer to handy lists of best practices for setting up your new chequing or savings account.
By ATB Financial 17 April 2023 4 min read
As your lifestyle and priorities change, the tools you need to realize your goals change as well. Maybe the bank accounts you opened in a different phase of your life are no longer helping you to manage your finances wisely and perform everyday transactions efficiently. Or maybe you want to take advantage of the services at a different financial institution.
It's time to open a new bank account.
Assessing your goals and needs
The first step when opening a new account is to assess how your financial goals intersect with your practical needs. Are you focused on paying lower monthly fees? Consolidating your accounts within a single institution? Diversifying your financial portfolio across multiple institutions? Earning higher interest on your savings? Performing multiple transactions daily without hassle or extra cost? Sharing account access with a partner?
- Take a look at your existing accounts' statements for the past six months. This simple exercise can help you identify patterns in your transaction history and any gaps in the service you're currently receiving.
- If you're interested in opening an account with a new financial institution, start by doing your research online. In addition to the new financial institution’s website, you may want to check out third-party comparisons of different accounts, as well as client reviews, and financial advice articles. You can also speak with an advisor at your local branch to get a better idea of the kind of relationships you'll be able to build.
Things to remember when opening any new account
Whether you’re just starting to develop your financial literacy, confidently charting a new course or opening yourself up to new possibilities, follow these steps to get the most out of your new chequing or savings account:
- Make sure you’re signed up for online and mobile banking. Usually this is set up when you open your account, but if you've never used a digital banking program, you may need to request login credentials from your home branch or your financial institution's customer care phone line. Ask for any help you need setting up or navigating digital banking—the convenience and financial agency you'll experience will be worth it.
- Set up two-factor authentication (2FA), a digital banking security measure to keep your account safe. You can also set up other security measures, such as biometrics. (Check out our Good Advice articles for more information on protecting your information and your funds).
- Pick up your new debit card. If you open a new account or switch accounts in-branch, you'll get your card right away. If you open a new account online, you may have to request a card before you can pick up your card in-branch or have it mailed to you. With features like mobile pay, you may not even need one!
- In order to stay aware of all your financial activity and avoid paying unnecessary fees, remember to empty and close any accounts that you'll no longer be using.
Opening a chequing account
- First, set up any payroll, direct deposit or direct debit transactions that need to go through your account. You should be able to do this using digital banking or by filling out a form provided by your financial institution.
- If you like using mobile pay, set up your new account so you can access it across your devices.
- If you regularly receive cheques, try mobile cheque deposits.
- Schedule regular bill payments and never have to wonder whether you remembered to pay your phone bill this month. Or familiarize yourself with the pay now function.
- Set up Interac e-Transfer® and Autodeposit for a safe and convenient way to send and receive money.
- Learn how to view and manage your daily debit spending, tap limits and cash withdrawal limits in your digital banking platform or app.
Opening a savings account
While the basic process for opening a savings account is the same as for opening any other account, here are a few additional steps you can take to optimize your new account and put your money to work for you:
- First, identify your savings goals. Whether you're putting money aside for your child's future education or a new washing machine, an emergency fund will change your savings strategy. Our savings roadmap can help you identify your priorities and make a plan to realize your dreams.
- Next, you may want to automate your savings contributions as a commitment to your newly stated goals. Set up a pre-authorized contribution (PAC) to automatically move money from your chequing account to your savings account—it's easy to do in-branch, over the phone, or through online and mobile banking.
- Watch your money grow. Track your progress in your digital banking app.
Interested in opening an account at ATB? Book an appointment with an advisor, explore our personal banking options or drop in to any branch. We're always happy to answer your questions and learn more about how we can power your possibility.
Interac e-Transfer is a registered trademark of Interac Corp. Used under licence.