Personal chequing accounts

Unless you keep all your money stuffed in jars or under your mattress, you probably already have a personal chequing account, or at least have heard the term. A personal chequing account is the most basic type of bank account used to manage your everyday transactions such as paycheque deposits, debit purchases, cash withdrawals and bill payments. All big banks and most credit unions offer chequing accounts with different features and monthly fees ranging from basic to premium.

As its name implies, a personal chequing account is for your use exclusively. If you’re looking to share an account with a spouse or family member so you can both make deposits and withdrawals, you’ll want to check out joint chequing accounts. If you own a business and are looking for an account to manage related day-to-day transactions, you’ll want to open a business chequing account.

Having your own bank account is a necessity for managing your money easily and effectively. The money in your personal chequing account is liquid and allows for numerous deposits and withdrawals. Unlike a savings account, personal chequing accounts offer little-to-no interest on deposits – think of this as a trade-off for liquidity. You can check your balance via your monthly paper statement, or keep tabs on your personal chequing account online or using your bank’s mobile app.

If you don’t have a bank account, it’s harder to save money for long-term goals such as buying a house, starting a business or sending your kids to university. And, unlike your mattress cash, any amount you deposit up to $100,000 is protected by CDIC insurance.

There are a number of different transactions you can perform through your personal chequing account, including:

  • Deposits (cash and cheques)
  • Direct deposits (paycheques, government cheques)
  • Withdrawals (at ATMs, bank tellers, in stores, etc.)
  • One-time payments for goods and services (groceries, clothing, food, etc.)
  • One-time bill payments
  • Pre-authorized payments (insurance, mortgage, rent, utilities, etc.)
  • Transfers (between two users of the same lending institution)
  • E-mail money transfers between two users of different lending institutions (both send and receive)

Debit card

When you open a personal chequing account, you’ll be issued a debit card that allows you to make cashless direct payments that come out of your account. Unlike credit cards, where you repay the money later, payment from a debit card is processed immediately from the designated bank account tied to the card.

When you receive your debit card, you’ll have to choose a four-digit personal identification number (PIN), which you’ll punch in every time you use your card for purchases or cash withdrawals. For security, don’t make your PIN related to your birthday, anniversary, address, phone number, or any other personal information. Don’t write it down, and don’t tell anyone – you’re the only person who should know your PIN. If you share it with someone and they steal your debit card to go shopping, you’re liable for any losses. If you suspect your PIN has been compromised, visit your nearest bank branch to reset it.


Privacy

Besides keeping your PIN private, you’ll want to shred any paper copies of your monthly bank statements before throwing them out to protect your personal information. If you do your banking exclusively online (going paperless can save you $2-5 per month, since banks charge for paper statements), keep your login password private and make sure to always sign out when you’re finished your session.

A personal chequing account is the most basic, yet important tool for managing your money. To get the most out of your account (and avoid unnecessary fees), look for an account that matches your financial needs and spending habits.