Banking: Open Accessibility and Affordable Options

As more Canadians approach retirement, they should rest easy about their future ability to access basic financial services. While a change in employment status and adjustment to a fixed income are realities of the transition to retirement, these are in no way barriers to new or continued relationships with banks in Canada.

Canadian banks are committed to providing fair and equitable access to basic financial services for all, regardless of employment status, income or age. Moreover, it is important that you know your rights and the options that are available to you in order to get the bank account that best meets your needs at the best price.

Some people think that they can’t open a bank account because they are no longer employed, don’t have an initial deposit or can’t maintain a minimum balance, but this isn’t the case. Federal laws ensure that anyone with the proper identification can open a bank account and no income, initial deposit or monthly minimum balance is required. With this level of accessibility, banks in Canada have ensured that virtually every Canadian has access to basic banking services.

Individuals entering retirement must often adjust to new income levels. Because of this, some worry that monthly fees may make it too expensive to maintain a bank account. But seniors have many low-cost or no-cost options. Many banks offer no-fee accounts for seniors and a number of major banks offer low-fee accounts with monthly fees of $4.00 or less.

Here are some tips to help you find the bank account that meets your specific needs with minimal to no fees:

-Look back at the transactions you’ve made in the past three months. Calculate the average number of transactions you make in a month online, at an ABM and in a branch and the number of cheques you’ve written. All banks have tools on their website that let you compare the various accounts and their features and fees. Or talk to your bank and they can help you choose.

-Shop around. There are over 70 banks and many other financial institutions operating in Canada, each offering a wide variety of banking packages.

-Visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada’s (FCAC) website at They have an interactive tool, the Cost of Banking Guide that allows you to compare the low-fee and no-fee accounts available to seniors at financial institutions across Canada. They also publish a consumer brochure, What you should know about low cost accounts. The Guide and brochure are available on the FCAC’s website or by calling 1-866-461-3222.

Banks in Canada are committed to making it as easy as possible to conduct your day-to-day banking transactions. The number of bank branches across Canada continues to grow and many offer extended operating hours, with some now open on Sundays.

Many Canadians are also embracing new banking technologies. Our research has found that while 37 per cent of Canadians over the age of 55 prefer to bank in person at their local branch, 26 per cent now use ABMs as their primary means of banking and 22 per cent now do the majority of their banking online.