11 Best Banks in Canada 2022: Make An Informed Decision

According to the Corporate Finance Institute, there are 29 domestic banks, 24 foreign bank subsidiaries and 27 full-service foreign bank branches in Canada.

That is a lot of options for the everyday Canadian.

If you’re keen to know which of these banks are the best and why, you are definitely at the right place.

In today’s post, I will be covering the best traditional and digital banks in Canada. I’ll also touch on the basics of Canadian banking and which banks are best for certain demographics, such as students and new immigrants.

Let’s start.

The Basics of Canadian Banking Explained

Before we get into the best banks in Canada, I want to lay the foundation of the banking basics.

Traditional Banks

Traditional Banks

Canadian banking is currently dominated and has been for quite some time by the “big five.”

These are (in no particular order) TD Canada Trust, Bank of Montreal (BMO), Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), and the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).

As major competitors to one another, they offer similar bank accounts ranging from $5 to $25 per month. They also offer business banking, investments, loans, mortgages, and insurance.

The big banks have thousands of employees, branches, and ATMs nationwide. And with such vast market capitalization (RBC having the most), they play in a league of their own.

Digital Banks

Digital Banks

In recent years, digital banks in Canada have also been on the rise.

In fact, some of the big five banks themselves have digital-only subsidiaries now, such as Scotiabank’s Tangerine and CIBC’s Simplii Financial.

With no physical branches to maintain and lower costs across the board, these digital banks pass their savings onto their customers. This is why they are known for their fee-free accounts and relatively higher savings accounts and GIC rates.

Credit Unions

Credit Unions

Credit unions are cooperative financial institutions. While they offer nearly the same products as traditional banks, every customer must be a shareholder in a credit union, making their governance a little different than for-profit banks.

Credit unions tend to offer cheaper financial products and dividend payouts and are also heavily involved and invested in their communities because they operate on a more local scale. 

I have talked about the best credit unions in Canada in this post. I’m a huge fan of credit unions and bank with them myself, so I would highly recommend checking it out.

As they are not technically banks, I will not be touching on them in today’s post.

Banking Alternatives

Banking Alternatives

Lastly, there are banking alternatives. These include organizations such as Koho, PC Financial, and WealthSimple.

While these organizations are not legally banks, they offer spending and savings accounts as well as money management tools for their customers.

You can view these banking alternatives as additions to your existing banking to help you manage your finances better and save more money each month.

The different types of banking options I mentioned above have their pros and cons.

In the following list, I will first focus on the best Canadian traditional banks and then discuss their digital counterparts.

By the end, you should have a good understanding of which organizations are leading the way in each category and which ones may be best for you.

The Best Banks in Canada: The Big Five

1. RBC – The Royal Bank of Canada

RBC logo

Founded: 1864, Halifax
Headquartered: Toronto
TSX Ticker: RY
Total Assets: $1.70 trillion (2022)
Market Cap.: $185 billion (2022)
# of Branches: 1600 (2022)
# of Employees: 85,000 (2022)

The Royal Bank of Canada, commonly referred to as RBC, is the largest bank in Canada when it comes to annual revenue, market capitalization and total assets. The bank serves more than 16 million people in Canada and beyond.

RBC is traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker RY and is usually regarded as a stable and safe stock option. You can find a review of this stock here.

RBC offers chequing and savings accounts, credit cards, loans, mortgages, investments and insurance. It is also one of the best employers in the Canadian banking sector.

RBC is also well known for its self-directed investment portal/Robo-advisor, InvestEase. You can learn more about this product here.

2. TD – Toronto-Dominion Bank

TD Logo

Founded: 1855, Toronto
Headquartered: Toronto
TSX Ticker: TD
Total Assets: $1.70 trillion (2022)
Market Cap.: $174 billion (2022)
# of Branches: 1100 (2022)
# of Employees: 89,000 (2022)

TD offers a large range of banking accounts, loans, investments, and insurance for both individuals and businesses. It also operates through several different subsidiaries, including TD Asset Management, TD Wealth, TD Insurance and TD Bank (USA).

You can check out this post for a detailed review of all ten of their banking accounts and this post for a head-to-head comparison of TD with RBC.

3. Scotiabank – The Bank of Nova Scotia

Scotiabank logo

Founded: 1832, Halifax
Headquartered: Toronto
TSX Ticker: BNS
Total Assets: $1.10 trillion (2022)
Market Cap.: $102 billion (2022)
# of Branches: 1000 (2022)
# of Employees: 89,000 (2022)

Scotiabank is a multinational banking and financial services company currently based in Toronto, Ontario. It is the third-largest bank in Canada by market capitalization and deposits.

Scotiabank acquired ING Bank of Canada in 2012 and, along with it, what is now known to be Tangerine.

Scotiabank offers a full-fledged line of personal and business banking products. It is also well-known for its partnership with Scene, where customers can earn and redeem points with their debit and credit card purchases.

Check out a review of Scotiabank’s most premium banking product here and their famous travel credit card here.

4. BMO – Bank of Montreal

BMO

Founded: 1817, Montreal
Headquartered: Montreal
TSX Ticker: BMO
Total Assets: $1 trillion (2022)
Market Cap.: $91 billion (2022)
# of Branches: 950 (2022)
# of Employees: 44,000 (2022)

BMO is the oldest of the big five. With more than $1 trillion in assets, it is also the eighth-largest bank in North America by assets.

BMO is the only bank out of the big five that is not headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. Apart from its Montreal roots, it is also known for its great offerings for students and a wide range of Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs).

BMO offers personal and business banking, including credit cards, loans and investments.

5. CIBC – Canadian Imperial Bank Of Commerce

cibc investor’s edge

Founded: 1867, Toronto
Headquartered: Toronto
TSX Ticker: CM
Total Assets: $840 billion (2022)
Market Cap.: $62 billion (2022)
# of Branches: 1050 (2022)
# of Employees: 45,000 (2022)

Despite having the lowest market capitalization out of the big five, CIBC still has more than 10 million clients and is a major financial player in North America.

CIBC is also the owner of one of Canada’s leading digital banks, Simplii Financial. I will touch on this bank in the following section.

CIBC is well known for its great products for students and immigrants alike.

Stuck between RBC and CIBC? Check out this head-to-head comparison to see which big bank is better.

The Best Banks in Canada: Digital Banks

I have here five of my top picks for digital banks in Canada. For more options, check out this article on the best online banks in Canada.

6. Tangerine

Tangerine logo

Founded: 1997 (acquired by Scotiabank in 2012)
Number of customers: 2 million+ (2022)
Total assets: $40 billion (2022)
Full-fledged?: Yes

Tangerine is one of the oldest standing digital banks in Canada. Even when it was acquired by Scotiabank in 2012, it was way ahead of its time as there were only a few digital-only banks established in the country at the time.

Tangerine offers a full-fledged line of products to its customers, including business banking solutions, whereas Simplii does not.

Tangerine is also well-known for its fantastic credit card, the World Mastercard. If you are eligible for this card, I highly recommend it to you.

You can read a full head-to-head comparison of Simplii vs. Tangerine here.

7. Neo Money – Best High-Interest Savings Account

Our Verdict
Neo Financial Money: Savings Account
9.7/10Our Score

Neo Money

High-Interest Savings Account

  • Very high-interest savings rates
  • No banking fees
  • Send and receive Interac e-Transfers
  • CDIC deposit protection of $100,000

Neo Money doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it has one killer feature: its’ high-interest savings account rate. Right now, you can get a 2.25% interest rate in its savings account, which is over 100 times as much as a traditional bank.

Account Features

  • No monthly banking fees
  • Make bill payments
  • Send and receive Interac e-Transfers
  • Make bank-to-bank transfers to and from your account
  • No minimum balances
  • Unlimited free transactions
  • Available Canada-wide (except Quebec, but will be coming soon)
  • Eligible for CDIC deposit insurance

8. Simplii Financial

simplii financial logo

Founded: 2017
Number of customers: 2 million (2022)
Full-fledged?: Yes

Simplii Financial is owned by CIBC. Here are some of the great perks it offers its users.

  • No fee, all-inclusive banking, including free USD banking
  • Fantastic investment options available through CIBC Securities
  • $0 annual fee credit card with cashback rewards
  • CDIC protection on deposits
  • Free access to CIBC ATMs

Many Canadian digital banks fail to offer a full-fledged line of products that can allow people to conduct most of their banking digitally. Simplii is different.

It offers bank accounts and good investment options along with loans, mortgages and mutual funds.

You can read a full review of Simplii Financial here.

9. EQ Bank

EQ Bank Logo

Founded: by Equitable Bank in 2016
Number of customers: 150,000
Full-fledged?: No

If you need a little more features than Neo Savings and don’t mind a slightly lower savings rate, EQ Bank is a good pick for you.

EQ Bank offers some of the best rates on savings accounts and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) in the country.

If you are on the market for a place to park your money with absolutely no risks and tangible interest, go with EQ Bank.

One of the downsides to EQ is that it doesn’t offer much beyond savings accounts and GICs, including a debit card for purchases. However, it can complement your existing banking really well.

10. Motusbank

motusbank

Founded: 2019 by Meridian Credit Union
Full-fledged?: Yes

Motusbank is the digital-only bank launched by Meridian credit union, the largest credit union in the province of Ontario, and the third-largest credit union in Canada.

The bank offers fantastic account options, including high-interest savings accounts, as well as GICs, mortgages, investment vehicles, loans, and more.

Much like other digital banks in Canada, this bank offers little-to-no fees for its everyday banking products.

You can check out a full review of this bank here.

11. Alterna Bank

Alterna Savings

Founded: in 2000 by Alterna Savings and Credit Union
Full-fledged?: Yes

Alterna Bank is yet another digital-only bank backed by a credit union (Alterna Savings and Credit Union).

The bank sports the values of a credit union while offering low-fee banking products and the convenience of digital banking. Alterna Bank is also known for its business banking/financing options and its fully digital mortgage.

Read a full review of Alterna Bank here.

Best Banks in Canada for International Students

Best Banks in Canada for International Students

CIBC, Scotiabank and BMO are the three best banks in Canada for international students.

Here are the highlights for each.

CIBC:

  • A free SPC membership for special student discounts up to 30%
  • A no-fee GIC Program to help students meet Canadian study permit requirement

Scotiabank:

  • Unlimited and free international money transfers to any country
  • Scene rewards points

BMO:

  • Amazing credit card options with $0 annual fees, rewards (cashback and Air Miles) and a standard interest rate (19%)

Figuring out banking in a new country can be difficult. Check out this post to learn how to sign up for Canadian banking as an international student, what you will need and which bank is going to be best for you based on your financial situation.

Best Banks in Canada for New Immigrants

Best Banks in Canada for New Immigrants

RBC, National Bank and Tangerine are some of the best banks for new immigrants in Canada.

Here are some of the details.

RBC:

  • No-fee safety deposit box (two years)
  • No-fee credit card options, even without a credit history
  • Two free money transfers per month to any country (one year)
  • Special interest in select GICs
  • A free chequebook

National Bank:

  • Benefits for up to three years
  • No-fee safety deposit box (one year)
  • No-fee credit card available with no credit history
  • A free chequebook

Tangerine:

  • Digital access and 24/7 phone support
  • Full-fledged line of financial products
  • Amazing interest in your account balances
  • A free chequebook

Immigrating to a new country is no easy task. If you want to learn more about banking in Canada as a new immigrant, you can check out this post. In it, I cover everything you need to know and more.

Conclusion

Best Banks in Canada

The best banks in Canada are made up of the big five, along with some up-and-coming digital banks.

The big five are known for charging more for their products while also having immense market capitalization. The digital banks, on the other hand, pass much more financial benefits to their customers but have no in-person branches.

Have you made your decision on which bank to sign up for? If so, check out these four steps to open a bank account in Canada.

Photo of author
Selin is a seasoned personal finance and sustainable banking expert with several years of experience working in Canadian credit unions, both in the branch networks as well as the head office. A graduate of the University of British Columbia, she's also a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers youth community and is either working with kids or travelling when she is away from her computer.

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