You might not think twice about your chequing account. In fact, most people keep the same account for years without considering other options out there. While you don’t want to change accounts all the time, it’s always a good idea to look around every few years and see what’s new.
The banking market has changed considerably in the past decade because of technology. There are more online banks and mobile apps that cut down on the need for brick-and-mortar institutions.
With that lack of overhead, online banks have more to offer – fewer fees and higher interest rates. But that’s not to say the old way of banking isn’t effective. Many people still prefer in-person customer service that’s second to none.
Either way, choosing or switching to a new chequing account is a tough decision. Here’s what you should know.
Ready to open a chequing account? With all the different options available, it’s not easy figuring out which is the best for you. Before you commit, here’s what you should consider.
- Which type of account is most beneficial? Most banks usually offer joint accounts or accounts geared towards students, kids, or seniors. Many also offer discounts or lower rates depending on your situation (i.e., Scotiabank student chequing account offers no monthly fees as long as you can provide proof of enrollment at a post-secondary institution).
- Where should you open the account? Is a big banking conglomerate best? How about a local, smaller bank? In addition to those two choices, consider online banking options and credit unions. Each one has its own pros and cons, so the right choice is dependent on your circumstances and what you’re looking for in a bank.
- What about the features? Consider the type of service you want. Small, local banks can offer top-notch in-person service. But that’s not the case for online banks where service reps won’t know your name. Will that matter to you? Do you mind calling a service center whenever you have questions? These are questions to ask yourself before choosing the right bank.
- What are the fees? Most banks have some type of fee for their services. Whether it’s a regular monthly fee, transaction fee, NSF, or overdraft fee, make sure you read all the fine print before opening an account. Many of those fees are also waived if you keep a certain minimum balance. The bottom line is to do your homework and know what you’re getting into before signing on the dotted line.
In general, one chequing account will do for the average individual. It’s most common to use it for paying bills, depositing paychecks, and making everyday purchases.
Once you have that opened up, adding in a savings account is the usual next step. Since saving accounts have higher interest rates, it’s best to move any money earmarked for special purposes into that account.
Now the only time another chequing account should suffice is if you’re a business owner. Separate accounts are necessary for entrepreneurs to keep their business and individual income and expenses apart from each other.
The best Chequing Accounts in Canada
When narrowing down the best accounts, the factors listed above, along with competitive interest rates, ATM access, and mobile banking platforms are all important in deciding which accounts are the top dog. Here are the best ones that made the list.
Why open an account? Tangerine offers a no-fee daily chequing account.
Tangerine is Canada’s top online bank, and for good reason. The banking giant only offers one chequing account – Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account. While their choices are limited, the bank has seemingly perfected its one and only option.
In addition to no fees, Tangerine offers unlimited daily transactions and free money orders. Because it is an online-only bank, there are no brick-and-mortar branches, but that doesn’t mean customer service suffers. With Tangerine, do your banking or contact a service rep either on the phone or online.
Because it is an online-only bank, it does not have its own ATMs. However, it solves that problem by allowing its customers with debit cards to access Scotiabank ATMs all throughout Canada.
The interest rate on the account depends upon the account owner’s balance. Interest rates can range from 15 to 65 times higher than typical brick and mortar institutions such as RBC or TD Bank.
Why open an account? The name says it all – this chequing account has no fees.
Similar to Tangerine’s chequing account, Simplii Financial offers unlimited free transactions and cheques. There is no service fee associated with the account adding to its desirability.
While it is an online-only bank, SImplii is associated with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), meaning account holders have access to CIBC’s 3,400 ATMs located throughout Canada.
Interest rates are a bit lower for Simplii though, and you can check out the current rates here.
Simplii also offers direct payroll and pension deposits, overdraft protection up to $5,000, and automatic bill payment set up to never miss a due date.
Their mobile app is handy and easy to use. You can request and send money for free and tap and pay for purchases from your phone – another added benefit.
Why open an account? RBC offers four different chequing accounts and is the largest bank in Canada, meaning there are physical branches located throughout the country.
With youth and senior accounts, RBC has plenty of options when considering a chequing account. One of its best choices is the Day to Day account. It offers unlimited money transfers, 12 free debit transactions a month, and a low monthly fee of $4.
RBC offers big savings on its Petro-Canada discount cards. Link up your card for $.03/L fuel savings and earn additional Petro-points on all your fillups.
Access to a local branch or ATM is one of the big draws of this bank. There are over 1,300 branches and 4,200 ATMs, making it easy to do your banking wherever you go.
Once you’re a member, you’re also more apt to take advantage of one of their other services – RBC offers credit cards, mortgages, and all kinds of loans (personal, student, home, and lines of credit).
Why open an account? The options. TD offers various different chequing accounts, even some U.S. dollar chequing accounts.
Although TD offers four different chequing accounts, nothing surpasses their TD Unlimited account. There are no monthly fees if you have a balance greater than $4,000. Anything below $4,000 gets you hit with a $16.95 monthly charge.
Students opening the account can get a $10 discount on the fee if they provide proof of enrollment at a secondary institution. Seniors (60 and older) can get a $5 discount on the monthly fee.
There are unlimited transactions and no ATM or Interac e-transfer fees. Plus, because TD is the second largest bank in Canada, there are 1,100 branches and 2,600 ATMs conveniently located throughout the country.
The mobile app design lets you bank from your phone while keeping all your information secure. Use mobile deposit or TD MySpend, in combination with the mobile app, to help customers track their monthly spending while finding ways to improve their financial habits.
TD does not provide interest on any of its chequing accounts, except the student one, so it’s a good idea to maintain a savings account with a higher interest rate to capitalize on extra savings.
Why open an account? Get the perks of a big bank with a flexible rewards program.
Scotiabank offers multiple checking accounts – some geared towards students and seniors, but the account that gives you the most bang for your buck is the basic chequing. Since Scotiabank is one of the larger banks throughout Canada, that means ease of access to local branches and ATMs.
However, some of their more premiere accounts come with high fees. That’s why the basic chequing is the best of both worlds. The fees for this account are only $3.95/month, with 25 free debit transactions per month and free Interac e-transfer transactions.
Monthly fees are waived if the user maintains a $3,000 minimum balance throughout the whole month.
The biggest perk of this chequing account is its rewards program. Account-holders have a choice between Scene Rewards or Scotia Rewards. Users redeem points based on their debit card transactions. Once they’re high enough, trade them in for things like movies, meals, travel, gift cards, and more.
All account holders have access to mobile banking, including mobile cheque deposits, and pay and go with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay.
Why open an account? Often runs promotions with cash incentives for new account holders.
The Bank of Montreal (BMO) Performance Plan offers unlimited transactions and Interac e-transfer transactions. The account does come with a $16.95 monthly fee, but users can waive it if they maintain a $4,000 minimum balance.
With only $300 needed to open an account, a new customer can get a high- interest rate for the first six months. Another added perk includes one free withdrawal from any non-BMO ATM. Withdrawals after that are $2 each per usage.
Customers are eligible for a $40 rebate on annual fees included with select BMO credit cards when they have a performance plan account. Additionally, the bank provides OnGuard Identity Theft Protection at no charge.
BMO tries to promote its products across the board and make it easy for anyone to open a chequing account. They offer discounted rates and free chequing accounts to kids under 18, students, seniors, Indigenous people, immigrants, and members of the Canadian Defence Community.
Why open an account? No fees and unlimited transactions
Online banks are finding ways to compete with bigger branches, and motusbank is no exception. With no monthly fees and unlimited debit purchases and bill payments, it’s hard not to like this innovative online bank.
Even their debit cards are different – they’re vertical. It’s just another way motusbank is trying to stand out from other financial institutions.
The account offers somewhat smaller interest rate, no minimum balance requirements, and the first 25 cheques absolutely free.
Customers have access to ATMs in The Exchange network – surcharge-free ATMs. You can also use any ATMs featuring the Interac logo – in total, that’s over 43,000 ATMs located throughout North America.
Their mobile app allows for cheque deposits, bill pay, and even price matching with Price Drop, a bargain-hunting app made to find deals. If you scan your receipts and Price Drop finds a better deal, you’ll get your money refunded.
Why open an account? An attractive no-fee account complete with a stellar rewards program.
Most students need a chequing account with no fees, access to ATMs, and a solid interactive mobile banking platform. Scotiabank’s student chequing account checks off all those needs. In addition, the banking giant offers students the chance to redeem rewards for entertainment, food, and travel.
The basics of the account include unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-transfer transactions. As long as students are enrolled in a post-secondary institution, there are no monthly fees associated with the account.
There’s a $60 welcome bonus to those opening new accounts and a chance to win an additional $30,000. The perks don’t stop there. Like other Scotiabank members, student account holders are eligible to earn Scene or Scotia Rewards – points accumulate based on everyday purchases.
The mobile app makes it easy to check balances, deposit cheques, or use the pay and go function available through Apple Pay or Google Pay.
With over 4,000 ATMs, access to cash is never far away. Scotiabank also offers over 900 branch locations throughout Canada if an in-person visit is necessary.
Wealthsimple started as a way to provide investment services without all the high fees. Since its inception, the company has grown to include commission-free stock trading, tax filing services, and even investments in cryptocurrency.
Its Wealthsimple Cash product allows users to send and receive money from anyone within their contact list within seconds. However, it isn’t a chequing or savings account. Instead, it’s a P2P payment platform meant to allow users to securely move money without account fees.
In addition to money transfers, Wealthsimple offers the Cash card, a card similar to a prepaid debit card that earns 5% cash back on purchases.
The company plans to expand the Cash platform in the future with bill payment features and Apple/Google Pay. They also hope to set up free ATM withdrawals, reimbursing any charges associated with taking money out up to a certain limit.
Other plans include direct depositing paychecks and waiving foreign transaction fees.
While Wealthsimple Cash is not a chequing account, the plans for the future make it seem like they’re leaning towards starting an almost pseudo-like chequing account feature. Dependent upon its success and reception, Wealthsimple may offer its own chequing and savings accounts in the future.
You probably never thought opening a chequing account would come with so many different options. Between online-only and brick-and-mortar banks, choosing the right account to fit into your lifestyle and your budget can be tricky.
Depending on your current situation, there are chequing accounts for all types of people. Seniors, students, and everybody in between can find something that’s just right. If you’re still trying to find the best fit, check out these top online banks.