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I can't afford expensive service fees, but I still need a bank account. What are my options?
In today's economy, access to basic banking services is essential. That's why, under Canadian law — subject to certain conditions — everyone has the right to open a personal bank account.
Similarly, everyone also has the right to a low-cost bank account. Eight banks have signed agreements, called "memoranda of understanding", with the federal government to offer low-cost accounts to their customers. These banks include:
Low-cost accounts are available at these financial institutions for a service fee of $4.00 or less per month. This type of account includes all of the basic banking services: a debit card, free deposits, and either a monthly statement or a passbook. Some (but not all) financial institutions that offer this type of account may also provide you with cheques at no extra charge. The number of free transactions that you can make is usually limited, and extra charges may apply if you make more transactions than you are allowed in any given month, according to the terms and conditions associated with the account. For further details, talk to your financial institution.
If you don't require in-branch services — that is, if you do your banking by Internet, by telephone or at an automated banking machine (ABM) — some banks will offer free packages and an unlimited number of transactions.