Welcome to our guide on the best banking options in beautiful British Columbia! Whether you're a resident, newcomer, or visitor in search of reliable financial institutions, we've got you covered.
In this article, we'll explore the ten best credit unions and banks in BC, providing you with valuable insights into their offerings, customer service, and overall reputation. From major national banks to local credit unions, we've carefully curated this list to help you find the perfect banking partner to meet your financial needs.
So, without further ado, let's dive into the diverse and competitive world of banks in BC.
- Factors to consider when choosing a credit union or bank in BC
- The best credit unions and banks in BC
- FAQs about banks & credit unions in BC
Factors to consider when choosing a credit union or bank in BC
When it comes to picking the perfect financial institution, you want to make sure you're teaming up with a winner. Here are some key factors to keep in mind when you're on the hunt for your money's perfect match.
Reputation and Trustworthiness
The reputation of a bank or credit union speaks volumes about its reliability and integrity. Look for institutions with a strong track record and a trusted name in the industry. A long-standing history of providing reliable financial services is a good indicator that you can entrust your hard-earned money with them.
Accessibility and Convenience
Convenience plays a significant role in managing your finances. Consider the accessibility of branches, particularly if you prefer in-person banking. Additionally, evaluate their digital banking capabilities, ensuring they offer user-friendly online and mobile banking platforms. Convenience should be a priority to ensure banking aligns with your lifestyle and what you are looking for.
Sure, banks are great for holding your money, but what else do they bring to the table? Beyond basic banking services, consider their offerings in areas such as interest on savings accounts, loans, mortgages, and investment options. A comprehensive suite of financial solutions can provide you with the flexibility to meet your present and future needs.
Fees and Charges
Nobody likes unexpected surprises, especially when they come in the form of extra costs. Banks and credit unions may have various fees, such as monthly maintenance fees, ATM fees, or overdraft charges. To avoid such surprises, make sure to thoroughly review a financial institution’s fee schedule and policies to ensure they align with your preferences.
Customer Service and Support
In times of need or uncertainty, having reliable customer service is invaluable. Look for institutions known for their responsive and knowledgeable customer support. Whether it's seeking assistance with account-related inquiries or resolving an issue, prompt and friendly customer service can make your banking experience much smoother and more enjoyable.
The best credit unions and banks in BC
Now that we’ve covered what you should be looking out for when choosing your next bank or credit union in BC let’s go ahead and cover the options at your disposal.
Tangerine, one of Canada's pioneering digital banks, has a rich history, standing as one of the oldest in the country. Even before its acquisition by Scotiabank in 2012, Tangerine was ahead of its time, blazing a trail when digital-only banks were still scarce in Canada.
If you are one of the many people transitioning away from in-person banking, a fully-digital bank like Tangerine might be a great option for you.
Tangerine has one of the widest product ranges out of all digital banks in Canada. In their personal banking suite, you can find savings and chequing accounts, credit cards, mortgages, registered and non-registered investment products, and lines of credit (including home equity lines of credit).
Furthermore, Tangerine has gained a well-deserved reputation for its exceptional credit card, the World Mastercard. If you meet the eligibility criteria, I highly recommend considering this card.
Vancity Credit Union is a prominent financial institution based in BC and is known for its commitment to community-focused banking. Founded in 1946, Vancity is one of Canada's largest credit unions, serving over half a million members.
Vancity operates with a mission to improve the financial well-being of its members while also making a positive impact on society and the environment. It places a strong emphasis on social responsibility and sustainability, aligning its practices with values such as environmental stewardship, social justice, and economic inclusion.
If sustainable banking is something that is important to you, I’d highly recommend Vancity. But even if you don’t really care about that, Vancity also has great financial products.
These include personal banking options such as bank accounts, mortgages, loans, and credit cards. The credit union also provides specialized services like wealth management, insurance, and business banking. Their “Planet-Wise Solutions” also stand out, which provide loans at great rates to increase the energy efficiency of your home or switch out your car to an electrified one, all in the name of lowering your carbon footprint.
When it comes to credit unions in BC, it’s also good to note that they all have fantastic deposit insurance through the Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (CUDIC). Rather than the standard $100,000 insurance found at banks, however, CUDIC provides deposit insurance coverage of up to $250,000 per member, per category, at each credit union.
3. Coast Capital
Moving on to another credit union, Coast Capital stands out for its member-centric approach, community involvement, good customer service, and comprehensive financial solutions. These qualities make it a great option among the dozens of other financial institutions in BC.
Since credit unions serve a smaller area than national banks, they tend to understand the needs of their customers well and cater their offerings accordingly. This, coupled with the great deposit insurance found at credit unions, makes Coast Capital an attractive option.
4. EQ Bank
EQ Bank is a digital bank that offers a range of banking solutions. Operating entirely online, it is known for its high-interest savings account, which offers competitive interest rates to help customers grow their savings.
EQ Bank also offers other products, such as Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) and international money transfers, at fantastic rates. With its user-friendly digital platform and commitment to providing exceptional service, EQ Bank can be an attractive option to those seeking a modern and efficient banking experience while maximizing their savings potential.
- No fees
- Earn 2.5% interest on all your money
- Get 0.5% cash back on all your purchases
Open a Savings Plus Account to get your free EQ Bank Card.
Neo Financial is an exciting and forward-thinking financial technology (fintech) company offering innovative modern banking tools. While not a registered bank itself,
Their Neo credit card (which also has a secured option!), spending account, and investment platform is paired with a user-friendly mobile app where you can easily manage your money, track your spending, and save for your goals.
They also have partnerships with leading merchants where you can enjoy exclusive rewards, cash-back incentives, and special discounts. All in all,
Awarded the best savings account by the Financial Post, Neo Money is the high interest saving account for you!
- Unlimited free transactions
- No "minimum" required
- Automate your payments
- Easy Funding.
Sticking with the theme of financial institutions that aren’t actually banks, KOHO is up next. While not a registered bank like
KOHO’s main offering is its reloadable and prepaid Mastercard. This card provides a smart solution to manage your finances responsibly while enjoying rewards.
With the KOHO Mastercard Prepaid Card, you can spend within your means, just like a debit card, ensuring you never exceed your account balance. At the same time, you can reap the advantages of a credit card, such as cash-back rewards and savings opportunities while travelling. This means you can earn rewards while staying in control of your spending, giving you the best of both worlds!
7. Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
Going with a Big Five bank might be an obvious choice, but with so many great digital and low-cost options these days, I only recommend such banks if you are looking to carry out in-person banking.
Big banks such as RBC have branches all across the country. While the advent of online banking has made many financial tasks convenient to perform remotely, there are still a few activities that typically require a visit to a bank branch in Canada. These include money orders/bank drafts, wire transfers, safety deposit boxes and large cash transactions (usually those that are over $10,000).
So, if these are regularly on your to-do list, going with RBC might be a good choice. As Canada’s largest bank, it has resources many smaller banks don’t. Do note that, however, RBC tends to have higher account fees and lower interest on products such as savings accounts and GICs.
8. Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
Scotiabank is another good big bank option for BC residents. As one of Canada's leading big banks, Scotiabank sets itself apart through its established presence in international markets, particularly in Latin America and the Caribbean. This global footprint distinguishes Scotiabank from its competitors and provides unique opportunities for customers with international ties or aspirations.
- Annual fee: $120
- Interest rate on purchase: 20.99%
- Interest rate on cash advances: 22.99%
- 6 Scene+ points per dollar at partipating grocery stores
- 5 Scene+ points per dollar on food and entertainment
- 3 Scene+ points per dollar on gas, transit and streaming services
9. FirstWest Credit Union
FirstWest Credit Union, headquartered in Langley, BC, stands out among other credit unions in Canada due to its unique structure. It comprises four distinct local credit unions or “divisions” that maintain their former names to leverage local knowledge and relationships following mergers with FirstWest.
With over 250,000 member-owners collectively, each division delivers highly personalized and specialized service to its members while offering the same comprehensive range of products and services.
One standout offering from FirstWest is their Simply Free chequing account, which comes with no monthly fees and unlimited transactions (including Interac e-Transfers). This rare non-digital bank account is an excellent opportunity for residents within the service area.
10. Simplii Financial
Simplii Financial has gained significant traction since its establishment in late 2017. With a fully digital experience and over two million clients, Simplii stands as a reliable financial institution backed by CIBC.
Despite its commitment to keeping finances simple, Simplii offers a comprehensive range of services that align with those offered by larger banks. From bank accounts and credit cards to loans, mortgages, and investments, Simplii provides a full suite of products to meet diverse financial needs while sticking to an online-only presence.
Additionally, Simplii customers can enjoy the convenience of free access to thousands of CIBC ATMs across the country for cash deposits and withdrawals, which is a big perk!
FAQs about banks & credit unions in BC
Most Canadian banks have a nationwide presence. Credit unions, however, are province-specific, meaning that, for example, you can’t become a member of an Alberta credit union if you are a BC resident, and vice versa.
There are approximately 40 credit unions in British Columbia. While some serve the entire province, some serve a distinct municipality or group of people. For a full list of BC credit unions, head here.
Since Easter Monday is not a statuary holiday in BC, you can expect most bank branches to be open on that day.
Yes, BC credit unions are safe. In fact, since deposits at BC credit unions are protected under Credit Union Deposit Insurance Corporation (CUDIC), depositors have insurance coverage of up to $250,000 per member, per category, at each credit union, as opposed to the $100,000 CDIC coverage found at most Canadian banks.
Compare dozens of Canadian chequing accounts and find the one that best suits your needs.
About The Author: Selin Oguz
Selin is a writer with a special interest in all things financial literacy and sustainable banking. When she is not supporting others to make more informed financial decisions, she is either travelling, meditating or reading old classics on her couch.
More posts by Selin Oguz