The 5 Best Chequing Accounts in Canada

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Like many of you, the day my “wealth” began to spill out of my piggy bank, I followed my parents to their branch to open my first account. And I kept it that way for several years, even after finishing my studies, without asking myself too many questions. Until the day I scrutinized my monthly statement to see a hundred dollars in transaction costs. I had paid the equivalent of a good dinner at a restaurant with my girlfriend to have the right to…spend my own money. All because I had no idea how to choose a chequing account.

Since our needs and habits change over time and with new technologies, a little shopping for chequing accounts can help you save a considerable amount of money. Here are our recommendations for the best chequing accounts in Canada. Most have monthly fees, but there are also free chequing accounts across the country. For more options, use our chequing account comparison tool.

Scotiabank’s Student Banking Advantage Plan – Best for Students

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The price: The Student banking advantage plan is free!

Why do we love it? When you’re in school, every dollar you can save is worth its weight of gold. In addition to the $0 monthly fee, Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan holders earn points on their everyday purchases with the SCENE+ program.

There is no limit on the number of debit and Interac e-transfer transactions. If you like trading on the stock market with Scotia iTrade, you benefit from a 50% discount on the price of commissions.

Who’s it for? The account holder must be attending a post-secondary institution full-time in Canada or the United States. Foreign students are also eligible. The current offer doesn’t mention any age restriction.

Promotional offer: To get $100, set up at least one eligible recurring automated direct deposit. Alternatively, you can make at least one recurring pre-authorized payment for a minimum of $25 per transaction, which will repeat for at least three consecutive months.

Scotiabank Basic Plus Bank Account – Best Basic Chequing Account

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The price: $11.95 per month or $0 by maintaining a minimum daily closing balance of $3,000 for the entire month.

Why do we love it? Even though it is a basic account, it allows you to carry out all your everyday transactions. It is also eligible for protection against overdrafts and international transfers at $1.99 each.

Who’s it for? By providing 25 debit transactions and 10 free interac e-Transfer transactions per month, the Basic Plus chequing account is ideal for occasional users.

Discount: Seniors who hold this account are entitled to a $4 discount on monthly fees.

The Scotiabank Ultimate Package – Best for Collecting Points

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The price: The Ultimate Package is $30.95 per month. But with a minimum daily closing balance of $6,000 in your Ultimate plan or a combined balance of $30,000 in your Ultimate plan and your Momentum savings account, these fees are waived.

Why do we love it? This Scotia chequing account is a little more expensive than the previous National Bank one, but it offers more. Its many advantages and privileges can quickly pay off the fees it requires each month.

  • Earn SCENE+ rewards points on purchases made with your debit card (1 point per $5 for everyday purchases and 1 point per $1 at Cineplex).
  • Personalized checks and free bank drafts.
  • Take advantage of an interest rate increased by 0.10% on the MomentumPLUS savings account.
  • Get 10 free trades in a Scotia iTRADE account in the first year (valued at approximately $100) and 5 free trades per year for subsequent years.
  • Make unlimited international money transfers with no fees.
  • Free withdrawals from any automatic teller machine (ATM), even abroad. However, charges from the ATM operator may apply.
  • And much more…

Who’s it for? Heavy users who travel a lot will certainly have the opportunity to save more than the monthly fee of $30.95. Note that Scene+ points can be redeemed for travel rewards. Free unlimited international money transfer transactions can also be very useful for those who are used to sending money to relatives outside the country.

Almost anywhere in Canada, you’ll easily find a Scotia branch to serve you in person in most towns and cities. Note, however, that Scotia’s presence in Quebec is limited primarily to Montreal, Quebec City and Gatineau.

Discounts and Promotional Offers: if you meet some relatively simple conditions, the current bonus offer is a $350 directly deposited into your Scotia account. You will also get $50 more by opening an RRSP or TFSA account and setting up a pre-authorized transfer of a minimum value of $50 for at least three months between now and February 29, 2024. Upon deposit of $3,000 in one of these accounts, you will then have an additional $150, provided you keep it until May 31, 2024.

NewStart from BMO – Best for Newcomers to Canada

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The price: $16.95 per month, but with a minimum balance of $4,000 in your chequing account, BMO will waive the monthly fee after the first year.

Why do we love it? The NewStart program is much more than a chequing account. There you will find options for accessing credit without a credit history, savings accounts, mortgages, investments and international money transfers to establish your finances.

This program includes the Performance chequing account with an unlimited number of transactions and a $60 bonus when renting a small safe for one year, provided you meet certain criteria. You can also send funds abroad quickly and securely using the mobile app.

Also note that BMO stands out in terms of customer satisfaction. Among the five major Canadian banks, it is the best according to the J.D. Power 2023 study.

Promotional offers: By transferring your money to a Performance account, you will not have to pay any fees for the first year (which represents savings of $203). With international transfers, you could also save $120.

CIBC Smart Account – Best for Flexible Fees

CIBC Smart Account: Best for students graduating at age 25 and up

The price: Flexible fees depend on the number of transactions you make. The cost is $0 if you have a minimum daily balance of $4,000. With a lower balance, the cost is $6.95 if you make between 0 and 12 transactions per month, then there is an additional fee of $1.25 per transaction when you exceed 12. You will pay $16.95 for an unlimited number of transactions.

Why do we love it? It’s pretty cool that you get one free withdrawal per month at a non-CIBC ATM in Canada. There’s usually a charge of at least 1.50$ for this. Also, the CIBC Smart Balance Alert service notifies you when your account is low on funds, so you have the time to make a transfer and avoid insufficient funds fees and a declined payment.

Who is it for? Everyone who is the age of majority or older in their province or territory of residence in Canada can open a Smart account. It is particularly suitable for people who make a limited number of operations, to keep costs low.

Discounts and promotional offers: There is a welcome offer of $350 if you establish ongoing monthly direct deposits totaling $500 or more and perform certain other transactions. Plus, by linking your card to the Journie Rewards program, you could save on gas at participating Pioneer, Fas Gas, Ultramar and Chevron gas stations. There is also an additional $6.95 discount on monthly fees if you are 65 or older.

How to determine your bank account needs

Before making your choice, here are some questions to consider when determining what type of chequing account and plan is right for you. Have you considered how many transactions you make? Are you paying too much for an expensive plan with options you don’t need? Are you paying too much in unnecessary additional fees for an overly generous plan?

There’s only one way to find out: by examining your banking budget. Take a look at your transactions and your additional costs over the last 12 months. Since your consumption habits may vary in different seasons, look at a full year so that you can identify your maximum monthly needs. As a general rule, take the most active 3 or 4 months as a baseline to establish your level of use.

It’s usually better to go for a more expensive, but more generous plan to avoid significant excess transaction fees in the months when you’re more active.

Do you need to have a branch nearby?

According to a 2019 Canadian Bankers Association survey, more than a third of respondents said they went to a branch at least once a year. But only 20% of Canadians reported going there frequently. Now, a few years later, 78% of Canadians prefer new technologies to carry out their banking activities. Online banks may offer a better and more economical solution for those people who no longer feel the need to carry out face-to-face transactions.

Consolidate or diversify?

There are certainly advantages to bringing all of your financial activities together in one institution. In addition to making it simpler to manage, the multiplication of services under a single banner can offer rewards and privileges.

But loyalty in business must earn you money, or at least save you money! You shop around for your mortgage and insurance (at least I hope so), so why not check out the various bank account offers available on the market?

Before making a living on the web with his writing, Mickaël worked in finance and real estate for a decade. Since his switch to media, he has produced thousands of articles, video content, and advertising campaigns. In 2017, Quebecor mandated him to lead its new Porte-Monnaie platform. Since March 2021, the business and thrill-seeking enthusiast is the Content Director at Hardbacon.