Protecting Your Money

Banks and other financial institutions

Most Canadians keep their money in the bank. A bank account is a safe place to keep your money. Banks let you write cheques, earn interest, apply for credit, and pay your bills. These kinds of financial services are also offered by credit unions, caisses populaires and trust companies.

Opening an account

Most banks have various kinds of accounts, and you can discuss which kind you need with them. To open one, you should be prepared to provide certain kinds of personal information, as well as various forms of identification, such as your passport, or your Social Insurance Number. The bank will need your Social Insurance Number for income tax purposes. This is the same for anyone, at any bank. If you have not received your SIN card when you go to open your account, you should present proof that you have applied for one. Remember: Post Office savings accounts do not exist in Canada.

Using banking machines

Many Canadians now use Automated Banking Machines, known as ATMs, to do most of their banking. It like a self-service bank, one thatpen?24 hours a day, seven days a week. With a bank card, you can use these machines to get cash from your accounts, to pay bills, to deposit cheques, and so on. You will likely pay a small fee for this service. You can apply for a card at your bank. You will need to create a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for yourself to access your accounts. Don`t lend your bank card to anyone, or tell anyone your PIN. Don`t even let anyone see your PIN number when you enter it in the banking machine. This will keep your account (and your money) safe. Bank cards can also be used to buy things at many stores. The money is taken directly from your account when you use your card. This is known as Interac Direct Payment.

While all of these services are useful, keeping track of all your bank transactions can get complicated. Remember to record everything and take note of your balance and the fees charged by your financial institution.

Direct deposit

Direct deposit has become very popular with Canadians. It means that money owed to you, such as a paycheque or a government payment, is put electronically into your account. You have access to the money immediately, and you don`t have to wait for the cheque to come in the mail or line up at the bank to deposit it. You can request this service if you expect to receive regular payments. Most government departments offer this service, as well as many companies.

Sending money

If you send money outside Canada, don`t send cash. Use a certified cheque or money order. Ask your bank about these options. You can also buy a money order at the post office.

Applying for credit

Getting credit means that you borrow money to buy something now and pay it back later, with interest. Interest is the fee charged for using the money. Interest rates can be quite high, so you should be very careful how you use credit.

Credit comes in many forms ?credit cards, lines of credit, mortgages, loans. You can apply for credit cards at banks and trust companies. These cards allow you to buy items on credit and be billed for them within a month. If you pay the full amount back by the due date, you won`t be charged any interest.

If you borrow any money on credit, make sure you understand exactly when you have to pay it back and how much it will cost. This includes monthly payments if you are borrowing money on an installment plan.

Many department stores now advertise special sales which claim that you can buy something now and pay for it in a year, or in six months with no interest, and so on. Make sure you understand exactly what you must pay and when, before you sign anything. If any information is hard to understand, ask someone you trust for a clear explanation.

To find out more

There is a great deal of free information available to you from your bank, including financial advice. The Canadian Bankers Association also offers a free series of publica-tions, ranging from how to open an account, how to manage your money, how to use bank machines, and how to save for your children`s education. You can call their toll-free number to obtain copies: 1-800-263-0231 or you can visit their website at