CIBC vs Scotiabank: Which Bank Is Better? (2023)

If you are looking for a new bank in Canada, the chances of both CIBC and Scotiabank being on your radar are quite high.

These two institutions are both a part of the “big five” banks in Canada and have major financial power. As competition is quite high, they also have products and services that are quite similar to one another.

In this head-to-head comparison, we’ll be going over whether CIBC or Scotiabank is best in these categories:

  1. Chequing and Savings Accounts
  2. Credit Card Options
  3. Loan, Mortgage and Investment Products
  4. Customer Experience

Ultimately, we’ll decide who comes out as the ultimate winner of this CIBC vs. Scotiabank battle.

Let’s get started!

A Quick Introduction: CIBC

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, commonly known as CIBC, is one of Canada’s major banks. The bank was founded in Toronto, Ontario and is still headquartered there.

CIBC offers a wide range of personal, business and commercial banking services, as well as wealth management and insurance. The bank is traded under the stock ticker CM on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE).

Here are some quick facts about CIBC:

Total Assets (2022): CAD $840 billion
Market Capitalization (2022): CAD $62 billion
Annual Revenue (2021): CAD $20 billion
Number of Branches (2022): 1,050
Number of Employees (2022): 45,000

A Quick Introduction: Scotiabank (Bank of Nova Scotia)

Scotiabank logo

The Bank of Nova Scotia, commonly known as Scotiabank, is also one of Canada’s leading banks.

Founded in 1832 in Halifax, the bank has been running for quite some time and is larger than CIBC by market capitalization, annual revenue, total assets and number of employees.

Scotiabank offers a wide range of personal and business banking products that are comparable to the other big five. Scotiabank is also the parent company of Canada’s leading digital bank, Tangerine.

You can find Scotiabank on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker BNS.

Here are some quick facts:

Total Assets (2022): CAD $1.10 trillion
Market Capitalization (2022): CAD $102 billion
Annual Revenue (2021): CAD $30 billion
Number of Branches (2022): 1,000
Number of Employees (2022): 89,000

A Head To Head Comparison: CIBC vs. Scotiabank

Here is a head-to-head comparison of these two big banks in four categories.

Keep posted for the winner of each category as well as the ultimate winner at the end of the post.

Category One: Chequing and Savings Accounts

Category One: Chequing and Savings Accounts

Chequing and Savings Accounts: CIBC

CIBC offers three different chequing options for its customers. These include:

  • An everyday chequing with primary, basic features: $4 per month (+$1.50 per Interac e-Transfer)
  • A “Smart” account with unlimited transactions and e-Transfers: $16.95 per month
  • A “Premium” account: $29.95 per month

The latter two accounts’ monthly fees may be waived with a minimum balance ranging from $4,000 to $6,000.

When it comes to savings accounts, four accounts are available, including a US Dollar account and registered savings products (RRSP and TFSA.)

Chequing and Savings Accounts: Scotiabank

Scotiabank offers four chequing accounts rather than three. These include:

  • A basic everyday chequing account with 12 free transactions and e-Transfers per month: $3.95 per month
  • A “Basic Plus” account with 25 free transactions and unlimited e-Transfers: $11.95 per month (may be waived with a $3,000 min. balance)
  • A “Preferred” account with additional banking features and Scene+ rewards: $16.95 per month (may be waived with a $4,000 min. balance)
  • The “Ultimate” account with vast features and fee-waivers of other Scotiabank products: $30.95 per month (may be waived with a $5,000 min. balance)

Check out this post for a full review of the Scotiabank Ultimate Package to find out whether the high monthly fee is worth it.

Scotiabank also offers five different types of savings accounts, including a US Dollar and Euro account (the latter is still uncommon with most Canadian banks, so I’d recommend it if you’re looking for Euro banking!)

Chequing and Savings Accounts: Category Winner

The category winner for chequing and savings accounts is Scotiabank.

Here’s why.

CIBC is missing a good “in-between” account between its basic and “smart” account where the basic one might offer too little for the average consumer, and the latter might be too expensive without the minimum balance.

This is not the case with Scotiabank.

Scotiabank also offers Scene+ rewards with some of its chequing accounts and has a Euro savings feature that is quite hard to come by in Canadian banking.

Other than these features, the two banks are quite comparable to one another.

Category Two: Credit Card Options

Category Two: Credit Card Options

Credit Cards: CIBC

CIBC offers more than 20 credit cards with great perks ranging from rewards, cash-back, and travel. With this much variety, you will likely be able to find a card that fits your needs.

CIBC also has a partnership with Costco for some of its cards where you can reap cash-back benefits at certain restaurants and Costco gas locations. But keep in mind that you must first be a Costco member to apply for this card.

I would recommend the Costco card to you if you are already a regular Costco shopper. This way, you can maximize your savings.

Otherwise, CIBC’s other cards can definitely provide other types of value to you.

Credit Card Options: Scotiabank

Scotiabank also does not lack variety when it comes to credit cards. With travel, cash-back, low-interest, and Scene+ options, you can easily find something that fits your needs.

I’m specifically a fan of their cards that come with Scene+ rewards.

You can check out the full range of Scotiabank credit cards here.

Credit Card Options: Category Winner

When it comes to credit cards, CIBC and Scotiabank tie

Both of these banks have a vast range of credit cards that you can choose from, covering travel rewards, cash-back, and more.

And note, you do not have to do your everyday banking with either of these banks in order to be able to take advantage of their credit cards.

After a credit check, most banks will issue a credit card to you if you meet its requirements and pay the annual fee.

Both CIBC and Scotiabank also offer no annual fee student cards, which is awesome.

Category Three: Loan, Mortgage and Investment Products

Category Three: Loan, Mortgage and Investment Products

Loan, Mortgage and Investment Products: CIBC

CIBC offers a good range of loans, mortgages, investment products and wealth management.

Here is the low down:

  • CIBC loan products include lines of credit, personal loans, student loans, car loans and business loans
  • CIBC mortgage products include fixed and variable rate mortgages as well as home equity line of credits (HELOCs)
  • CIBC investment products range from term deposits, mutual funds, ETFs, and self-directed investments. They also offer retirement and wealth management advice.

Loan, Mortgage and Investment Products: Scotiabank

Here is the breakdown of Scotiabank’s loans, mortgages and investment products.

  • Scotiabank loan products include lines of credit, personal loans, newcomer loans, student loans, car and vehicle loans and business loans
  • Scotiabank mortgage products include fixed and variable rate mortgages as well as home equity line of credits (HELOCs)
  • Scotiabank investment products range from term deposits (GICs), mutual funds, ETFs, registered products and self-directed investments. They also offer retirement and wealth management advice.

Loan, Mortgage and Investment Products: Category Winner

When it comes to loans, mortgages and investments, CIBC and Scotiabank tie once again.

You can attribute this to the fact that these two banks are major competitors. Their rates for these products are incredibly similar and change only minimally (both for the better or for worse.)

If you are on the market for GICs, it is incredibly likely that you will find better rates at Canada’s digital banks, such as EQ Bank. For all else, rates and products are quite similar across the board.

When it comes to wealth and retirement advice, on the other hand, I encourage you to shop around for financial advisors, both within the same bank and between different ones, to see who you feel the most comfortable with.

Having a good relationship with your account manager and seeing eye to eye on your personal financial goals is crucial when it comes to wealth management.

Lastly, if you are looking to finance a car or other type of vehicle (such as a boat, RV, or motorcycle), I recommend you check out Scotiabank first.

Category Four: Customer Experience

Category Four: Customer Experience

Here are some things I take into consideration when it comes to customer experience: ATM and branch access, mobile, online and branch banking, customer service, community involvement, transparency and other factors that may enhance customers’ experience.

Customer Experience: CIBC

CIBC has more than 1,000 branches across Canada, as well as thousands of ATMs that can be used at no additional cost.

CIBC is also well known for the following things:

  • Good customer service and minimal wait times over the phone
  • An award-winning mobile application that has been recognized by various institutions such as JD Power, Forrester Research and the Global Finance Magazine
  • Great offers for international students in Canada

CIBC is involved in its community but lacks significantly in this regard, especially when compared to credit unions in Canada.

The company discloses its financial reports annually.

Customer Experience: Scotiabank

Scotiabank has a similar number of branches and ATMs across Canada.

They are also well known for:

  • Scene+ reward program
  • Good customer service
  • Being a financial leader in the Americas

You can also expect good mobile and in-person banking services at Scotiabank, as well as decent transparency and community involvement.

Customer Experience: Category Winner

When it comes to customer experience, everyone’s experience will be quite different.

Your experience with a bank may be associated with various things such as:

  • The proximity of branches and ATMs to your area of residence/work/school
  • One-on-one experiences with specific bank tellers, over-the-phone customer care representatives and account managers
  • The ease of use of mobile and desktop banking applications based on computer literacy
  • Budget and suitability of product offerings based on your financial needs

Overall, you can have fantastic experiences at both of these banks. As a result, CIBC and Scotiabank tie in this category as they both aim to offer the same quality of service.

CIBC vs Scotiabank For Students

Scotiabank vs. CIBC For Students

Scotiabank and CIBC are the two best banks in Canada for student and youth banking. There is a reason I ranked them as winner and runner-up in my Ten Best Bank Accounts For Children In Canada post.

Here is what you can expect from these banks when it comes to student banking.

Scotiabank offers students 18 and below:

  • Unlimited transactions and Interac e-Transfers
  • $0 monthly fee
  • Eligibility for Scene+ reward program
  • Interest on their entire account balance

CIBC offers students 18 and below:

  • Unlimited transactions and Interac e-Transfers
  • $0 monthly fee
  • Interest on your their account balance
  • A free SPC membership for special student discounts at various Canadian stores and restaurants 

I have extensively covered student and youth banking on Wealth Awesome before, in addition to banking offers for international students in Canada. Check out these posts for more.

The Final Verdict

Scotiabank is the ultimate winner of this CIBC vs. Scotiabank showdown.

The two banks, however, did tie in several of the categories, so it was an incredibly close comparison.

All in all, I’m a firm believer that you can have a positive experience at both of these banks, specifically if you can find what you are looking for when it comes to their product offerings.

Here is what I recommend.

Go with CIBC if you:

  • Are looking for a great mobile banking app
  • Are interested in good credit cards (such as the Costco one if you are a regular shopper)
  • Are a student
  • Have plenty of CIBC branches and ATMs close to where you live, work or study

Go with Scotiabank if you:

  • Are looking for a wide range of chequing account products
  • Are interested in the Scene+ reward program
  • Have plenty of Scotiabank branches and ATMs close to where you live, work or study
  • Are interested in Euro banking

I hope that this post was helpful to you. If you’re curious, check out this related post on the comparison between RBC and CIBC.

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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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