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Best Chequing Accounts in Canada in 2019

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Last updated on July 9, 2019 Views: 547 Comments: 23

A chequing account is a kind of bank account that you use on a regular basis to manage your personal cash flow. It’s a vital part of a healthy financial life and usually supports functions like ABM transactions, electronic deposits for your salary, bill payments, and money transfers.

Although every bank offers slightly different features in its chequing accounts, some features are more or less universal. Standards include ABM transactions, teller transactions, online or telephone bill payments, paper cheques, a debit card for making purchases online and in brick and mortar stores, and Interac e-transfers.

Most chequing accounts offer little to no interest, with some rare exceptions. They’re generally designed to make it easier for you to oversee money as it comes in and out of your possession, not to save money for long-term growth.

Summary of Best Chequing Accounts in Canada in 2019

Chequing AccountSpecial FeatureFeeReview
ScotiaOne Account10,000 rewards points sign-up bonus + Earn rewards on each transaction$0Read more
Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing0.15% on any balance$0Read more
BMO Performance PlanUnlimited self-service transactions$15.95
waved with $4,000 min balance
Read more
TD US Daily Interest Chequing 0.01%-0.10% from balances $1,000-$60,000$0Read more
RBC Day to Day BankingEarn 20% on Metro Points$4Read more

Who Needs a Chequing Account?

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Almost everyone.  A chequing account is an efficient tool to receive payments, like monthly earnings, and hold them securely. Keeping your money in cash under your mattress isn’t a safe option. With a chequing account, you can make it easier for your employers and friends to pay you and you can rest assured that your money is safe.

Most of us are eligible for at least a basic chequing account, but a bank might reject an applicant who has a history of mismanaging prior accounts at other banks. Those who find themselves in this position can consider other options for making payments, like pre-paid debit cards.

If you are interested in getting a chequing account, keep in mind that different account types are suited to different individuals. In order to pick the best chequing account in Canada for you, we recommend that you compare the options out there with an eye for the specific features you require.

Types of Chequing Accounts

Most Canadian banks offer different variations on the below account types, with each account type serving a slightly different purpose.

Personal (Basic)

A personal, or basic, chequing account is the standard account in Canada. You’ll get a certain number of monthly transactions along with extra features, depending on which account you choose. You’ll generally have to pay a monthly fee of up to $30, which varies according to the features and number of transactions on offer.

No-Fee

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A no-fee chequing account is a personal free chequing account. Although this is great for anyone who wants to save money, it tends to come with strings attached. You won’t get nearly as many features as you might with a fee-paying account, and you’ll usually be limited to a set number of transactions per month. You might also have to keep a minimum average bank account balance in order to avoid paying fees.

A no-fee chequing account is a personal free chequing account. Although this is great for anyone who wants to save money, it tends to come with strings attached. You won’t get nearly as many features as you might with a fee-paying account, and you’ll usually be limited to a set number of transactions per month. You might also have to keep a minimum average bank account balance in order to avoid paying fees.

Interest-Earning

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Most chequing accounts don’t pay any interest, but there are some exceptions. An interest-earning chequing account is generally a premium account that charges higher fees. If you usually have a high balance in your chequing account, it can be worth it to find one that pays interest.

Cash Back

Cash back chequing accounts aren’t very common. They operate like a regular chequing account and charge fees, but you can earn cash back when you use your account-linked debit card. In this way, you earn back the money you spend on bank fees.

Student

Student accounts are designed especially for students, usually only those in full-time education. Most student accounts have age restrictions, typically requiring that you be between 18 and 25, although these do vary. Student chequing accounts generally charge lower or no banking fees and might offer perks and rewards.

Youth

Youth chequing accounts are for people under their provincial age of majority. Accountholders will usually pay no or low bank fees and might earn some interest on their money.

US Dollar

US dollar chequing accounts are designed for individuals who want easier cross-border transactions. They usually let you withdraw your money in US dollars from the right ABM without any currency exchange fees and make it easy to pay for transactions in US dollars.

How to Choose a Chequing Account

Before choosing your chequing account, ask yourself these questions:

How many transactions do I need per month?

If you need a lot of monthly transactions, you might go with BMO’s Performance Plan, which offers unlimited transactions for a monthly fee of $13.95. The fee is waived as long as your balance is over $3,000.

On the other hand, if you need relatively few transactions you might opt to go for an account like the CIBC Everyday Chequing Account, which allows you up to 12 transactions per month for a low fee of $3.90.

Do I carry out most of my banking transactions over the phone, via the internet, or in person?

Different banks offer different banking platforms: the Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing account charges $0 per month for unlimited daily and email transfers, e-statements and online banking, but Tangerine has no in-person service, so users need to feel comfortable executing their banking needs online.

Other bank accounts still support in-person service, like the RBC No Limit Banking account: unlimited teller-assisted transactions for $10.95 per month.

What will be my average monthly minimum balance?

Some bank accounts provide benefits for maintaining a minimum monthly balance: the TD Minimum Chequing Account waives its monthly fee if account holders maintain a minimum balance of $2,000 or more. BMO’s Premium Plan sets the bar a bit higher, waiving its $30 monthly fee if your monthly balance is over $6,000, and offering other substantial account perks.

Do I want a no-fee chequing account?

Some accounts charge no monthly fee whatsoever, regardless of the account holder’s account balance. The Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing account charges no monthly fee for unlimited self-serve transactions.

Do I need features such as free Interac e-transfers?

If you anticipate doing a lot of Interac e-transfers, make sure your chequing account won’t charge you a fee for these. BMO offers free Interac e-transfers on all its chequing accounts, including the Practical Plan which charges a fee of $3 per month.

Do I want extras like personalized cheques?

Scotiabank’s Basic Banking Account offers personalized cheques and commission-free travellers’ cheques, and charges $3.95 per month.

The TD Minimum Account offers travellers’ cheques for 1% commission, but does not offer personalized cheques. It charges $3.95 per month.

Do I need easy access to US dollars?

If you travel frequently to the US, you might opt for an account specifically geared for that lifestyle. The TD Borderless Plan offers quick and easy exchange between US and Canadian dollars, unlimited transactions and a monthly charge of $4.95.

Another option is the RBC US Personal Account, which charges $2 per month for 6 monthly transactions in either US or Canadian dollars.

Is it important that I earn interest on my chequing balance, or rewards/cash back on my purchases?

If it’s important to you to make some money on your account balance or purchases, there are some chequing accounts out there that provide those features. Tangerine’s No-Fee Daily Chequing account offers interest of 0.15% on balances up to $49,999.99 and tiered rates above that. Scotiabank’s Momentum Chequing account gives 1% cash back on all debit card purchases.

Best Chequing Accounts in Canada

Canada’s Big 5 banks all offer attractive chequing accounts, and today a number of online-only accounts are giving the Big 5 a run for their money. These are the Canadian chequing accounts that we recommend, based on our research.

Scotiabank Chequing Account

Scotiabank One Cheqing

Scotiabank has 4 different personal chequing accounts on offer, along with a student chequing and a youth chequing account. The fees for Scotiabank’s chequing accounts range from $3.95 (free for seniors and beneficiaries of a registered disability plan) up to $15.95, although seniors can enjoy a discount on the monthly fees. The monthly fee can also be waived on some accounts provided the accountholder maintains a certain minimum monthly balance. Every Scotiabank chequing account comes with a debit card, and you can earn points for SCENE movie tickets or travel rewards using your card (see how Scotia rewards points work here).

Scotiabank’s standout chequing account is its Scotia One account—one of the only rewards chequing accounts on offer from a major Canadian bank. Accountholders can earn points toward free travel rewards with their Scotiabank passport debit card, and new account holders can get 10,000 in SCENE or Scotia Rewards points for signing up (conditions apply) . Here are the major highlights:

  • 10,000 point sign-up bonus (conditions apply)
  • Unlimited Scotiabank ABM transactions
  • No monthly fee with minimum daily balance of $4,000
  • $13.95 monthly fee without minimum daily balance of $4,000
  • Choice of 3 debit cards (Passport, Scene, regular)
  • Earn free travel rewards points with the Passport card

Click here to apply for the ScotiaOne chequing account

Tangerine Chequing Account

tangerine no fee deaily chequing account

There’s not a whole lot of selection among Tangerine chequing accounts in Canada, as the online-only bank currently offers just its No-Fee Daily Chequing account. But Tangerine’s decision to focus its energies on only one account type has paid off in providing a lot of value for account holders: the account doesn’t charge any fees, and pays interest in tiered rates, beginning at 0.15% on any balance.

The No-Fee Daily Chequing account also offers unlimited daily transactions and email money transfers. You can bank over the phone or online, but there are no branches. Interac eTransfers are just $1 each. Tangerine customers can use Scotiabank ABM machines free of charge worldwide and access Apple Pay and contactless payments through their debit card.

Click here to apply for the Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing account

motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account

motusbank is a new online bank in 2019 courtesy of Meridian Credit Union, and so while you’re missing out on the familiarity of brick-and-mortar locations, those who don’t mind this absence get better rates and perks for their mobile banking experience. motusbank is also a leaner bank, offering just a single chequing account featuring solid interest and superior money mobility. With no fees and unlimited, free Interac e-Transfers, moving money through the motusbank No-Fee online chequing account is easy and cost-effective. You’ll also earn 0.50% without any mandatory minimum balance, making it a smart central hub for saving, purchasing, and investing alike.

The No-Fee Chequing Account also gives you your first 25 paper cheques for free, and through the app you can deposit other cheques simply by snapping a picture. There is no-fee ATM withdrawal in Canada at EXPRESS ATMs, or through Cirrus or Accel while abroad, and all deposits are covered by $100,000 through CDIC.

  • 0.50% interest
  • No minimum balance
  • No monthly fees
  • No transaction fees
  • Free, unlimited Interac e-Transfers
  • $100,000 CDIC deposit coverage

Click here to apply for the motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account

*Please note this product is currently not available for residents of Quebec.

BMO Chequing Account

BMO Performance Plan Chequing Account

BMO’s chequing accounts span five options, with monthly fees ranging from $4 to $30. All of BMO’s chequing accounts include unlimited Interac transfers, and apart from the Air Miles account, all of them permit you to waive the monthly fee as long as you maintain a minimum average account balance. Children under 13, youth aged 13-18, students, and seniors get special discounted rates and free chequing accounts.

BMO’s Performance Plan account is our favourite free chequing account in Canada and our most highly recommended BMO account. Although there is a monthly fee of $15.95, you can waive that as long as your minimum monthly balance is at least $4,000. The account also includes:

  • Unlimited self-service transactions
  • Teller-assisted transactions
  • Interac transfers
  • 1 free non-BMO ABM transaction per month
  • A low price of $4 for overdraft protection

Click here to apply for the BMO Performance Plan Chequing Account

TD Chequing Account

TD US Daily Interest Chequing Account

TD offers 4 personal chequing accounts, a youth account, and a student account. Monthly fees range from $3.95 for the Basic account to $29.95 for the All-Inclusive Banking Plan, although you can get a rebate on both. The student and youth accounts have no monthly fee.

TD stands out for its US dollar chequing accounts. While not every Canadian bank offers a US dollar account, TD has two options: the TD US Daily Interest Chequing Account and the premium Borderless plan. The US Daily Interest Chequing Account is a no-fee chequing account as long as your average bank account balance remains above $1,500 USD. The account includes easy cross-border banking, bill payments and exchanges between US and Canadian dollars, as well as a mobile app.  Daily interest is calculated on all balances over $1,000, beginning at 0.01% and increasing in tiers up to 0.10% on balances over US$60,000.

Click here to apply for the TD US Daily Interest Chequing Account

RBC Chequing Account

RBC Day to Day Banking Chequing Account

RBC has four different chequing accounts, along with a youth account and a discount for seniors. The monthly fees range from $4 up to $30, with plenty of extra features and rebates included in the top-priced account. Every account also includes some type of multi-product or credit card fee rebate, and you’ll get a debit card, mobile app, and the option of low-cost overdraft protection too.

RBC’s Day to Day Banking chequing account stands out among stiff competition as our favourite basic chequing account. The monthly fee is just $4, and if you are a senior, a Registered Disability Savings Plan beneficiary, or have two or more eligible RBC products in the same region, you can get a partial or full waiver on the fee. The account also includes:

  • 12 free monthly ABM, teller-assisted, and cheque transactions
  • Unlimited free Interac transfers
  • Extra transactions for $1 each
  • Option to link your RBC debit card to save money on fuel at Petro-Canada and earn 20% more Petro-Points

Click here to apply for RBC’s Day to Day Banking chequing account

Article comments

23 comments
Ali says:

Hi, thank you for this info.
I’ll be moving Canada in probably few weeks. What is the best bank for a normal checking or saving account, I am happy to put some minimum balance but then I want all the ATM withdraws (same bank) and online/mobile app banking/transfers for free or very very low cost. Should be a good bank not charge any hidden fees.

Appreciate your help.

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Ali!

We’re glad to receive you comment and are excited to learn more about your upcoming move to Canada! You’ll be most welcome. If you’re looking for a “normal” bank account that’s highly accessible and offered by one of the biggest financial institutions in Canada, then opt for anything from the “Big 5”: RBC, TD (or MBNA), Scotiabank, BMO, or CIBC. Any of these banks features a huge array of accounts and cards to suit your new status, and they’ll help you get set up with a credit score and all the documentation you need to borrow in the country.

Given what you say about your preferences for low fees (and no qualms about a minimum balance), then we hope the BMO Performance Plan account will be ideal for you. BMO is one of the Big 5, of course, meaning they have a universal presence virtually everywhere in Canada (this is good for you because you’ll likely need some help from a banker getting set up as a new resident). The Performance Plan account has a monthly fee of $13.95 and requires a minimum balance of $3,000, but then you’ll get unlimited transactions of all varieties.

If you think that you’ll survive without relying on teller or banker interactions face-to-face, then Canada’s selection of online only banks is also a good choice. Motusbank’s No-Fee Chequing account for example gives you 0.50% interest without any monthly or annual fees, and no minimum balance either. Hope we helped narrow down your options a bit—we know being new to Canada can be intimidating, but please feel free to us use as a free resource if needed. Either comment here or email us at info@greedyrates.ca – thanks!

GreedyRates

Steven says:

Hello Greedy Rates Team,

Did you look at Manulife Bank? (Advantage Account) It would be great to get your thoughts.

They are currently offer a high savings rate and unlimited transactions but I’m not sure if there are other things to consider before signing up.

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Steven,

We’re aware of Manulife but haven’t looked too deeply into their financial products, but have heard good things. Be sure to look closely at the fine print and certain caveats when scrutinizing chequing and savings accounts, and we can tell you already by looking at the Advantage account that you’re required to have a $1,000 balance to escape fees. If you don’t keep this balance then your fees might get overbearing quickly. Another fine print detail you might have missed is the two parts of their advertised interest rate of 3.25%. The 1.50% is a variable base rate with an extra 1.75% promotional rate tacked on top, and there’s no guarantee the base rate won’t change, which adds an extra variable to consider.

GreedyRates

Jerome says:

I did some research and Alterna Bank has the best chequing account for me. It’s the only no-fee account I found for people living in the province of Quebec, with no monthly fee, no minimum daily balance, free unlimited transactions and free unlimited interac e-transfers. It all depends on what you are looking for!

Arif says:

Hi Jerome
How is there customer service? With online bank like Tangerine and Simplii I am a bit skeptical as the only way you can contact them is via phone or email. So far the reviews about their customer service is not encouraging. If Alterna has a branch where I can walk then I would prefer it over online only banks.

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Arif,

The main choice that banking customers need to make when comparing online-only banks like Tangerine and Simplii with traditional banks like BMO or RBC, is whether they’re willing to sacrifice customer service for financial products with more benefits. Banks that cut out their personal service staff and replace them with live chat or phone lines can save lots of money, which then translates into better rates and perks for their credit cards and loans. However, as you’ve noticed (and this applies to Alterna as well) these banks require you to be very comfortable with an online-exclusive experience.

In the end, if you’d prefer face-to-face service, you should go with the two banks mentioned above or others like Scotia, MBNA or TD. What kinds of cards are you looking at? Let us know what you desire most and we can provide some suggestions which meet your criteria and also provide excellent service. Thanks again for posting.

GreedyRates Staff

Daniel Latimer says:

You have some accounts listed as $0 fees, but there is usually a catch. Eg. Scotia One is $14/mo or $0/mo if you hold $4,000 in the account and never go under that. If you were to instead invest that $4k and received a 4% return you would end up with the same amount as you’re “saving” on fees so it’s a moot point. You’re being charged $14/mo one way or another with Scotia One

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Daniel,

Appreciate the wisdom, thanks for sharing. We agree that it’s crucial to take into account monthly fees and other conditional clauses in the fine print. That might mean you need to hold a certain amount of money in the account itself to be eligible for certain benefits. Sorry for not covering it thoroughly enough, but we always appreciate readers who are willing to step up and help us out!

GreedyRates

Sue says:

President’s Choice Financial (P.C. Financial) recently changed to Simplii Financial. NO Interac fees, no bank or e-transfer fees, no fees for cheques. I don’t know why everyone doesn’t bank with them, they’re great!

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Sue,

Thanks for bringing up Simplii and the former PC Financial! It’s great you just found out about this, because we’re also big fans of this relatively new banking brand from CIBC, and its introduction in 2017 has brought numerous benefits to Canadians. For those prospective customers who find themselves moving money between their various accounts, the zero-fee Interac eTransfer deal is great as it saves lots of cash in fees over time. Another perk that we’ve mentioned once or twice is that cardholders get to use CIBC ATMs all across Canada without fees, which further fattens your wallet. Besides being a good place to bank overall, these perks make it great for many Canadians, including yourself. Enjoy!

GreedyRates

Janet says:

They are great… except when you have problems and have to do things by phone call because there is no bank to go to and phoning is such a hassle being on hold etc…it was good until now with a major problem and can’t just walk into a bank to fix it

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Janet,

Thanks very much for the great comment. We’d like to use it as an opportunity to discuss the idea that online only banks, such as Tangerine, come with pros and cons that must be carefully considered by potential customers. The lack of a face-to-face dispute system or customer service desk is hugely counterintuitive to some cardholders, largely the older crowd, who prefer to interface with real humans and know that there’s someone who is empathetic to their current problem. On the other hand, banks that are only online tend to have lower overheads and can offer some truly innovative financial products with excellent terms. We’re sorry that a problem drew such a contrasting line between these two systems for you, but at least you now know which type of account is best for you.

GreedyRates

Louise says:

I certainly agree with Janet. If you have a problem and have to phone, be prepared to be put on hold for very long periods of time. I thought it was much better when it was under President’s Choice Financial.

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Louise,

You’re correct that customers shouldn’t expect to get through to a customer service person in seconds every time they call. It helps to call during off hours (early in the morning or later at night), and in our experience this reduces the time you wait on hold significantly. It’s nice that you’ve offered a kind word about PC Financial customer service as well, and other readers should take note. Thanks!

GreedyRates

Evan Mooy says:

I believe you said tangerine has free unlimited interac e-tranfers. On their website, they say they offer unlimited email money transfers, and charge $1 for interac e-tranfers

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Evan,

Thanks for the comment on the Tangerine No-Fee Chequing account. You’re correct, and we can confirm that if you appreciate email money transfers the account offers an unlimited amount of them each month for no fee, but for Interac eTransfers, a price applies. Though it’s one of the lowest around at just $1 per transfer, it could eat into the price of your smaller payments. If you’re looking at frequent Interac eTransfers and this is a big requirement of your choice in chequing account, perhaps consider an account that has unlimited eTransfers for a bulk price.

For example, the BMO line of chequing accounts all offer unlimited eTransfers from Interac, but these accounts also have a monthly fee. With the least expensive option just $4 per month, if you do at least 4 transfers per month then it’ll be worthwhile to pay the monthly fee rather than get the No-Fee Tangerine account. Thanks for coming to elaborate on this deal and good luck choosing your future chequing account!

GreedyRates

Anonyme says:

As a note, the 4$ BMO chequing account no longer waives the monthly fee. That’s why I am looking for a new chequing account 😛

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hi Anonyme,

Thanks for the great comment about BMO’s chequing accounts. We double checked the bank’s website and can confirm that the Practical account ($4 per month) no longer lists a minimum balance to waive the fee. If avoiding monthly fees was your primary objective, and you don’t want to deposit the $3,000 or more required by BMO’s other chequing accounts, you can still find excellent alternatives on the Canadian market. One of those is the flexible and modern Tangerine No-Fee Chequing Account, which has zero monthly fees (obviously) but also some nice quality-of-life perks such as unlimited daily transactions, free use of Scotiabank ABMs, Apply Pay and other contactless payment methods, and variable interest rates regardless of your balance.

Another account that might suit your needs is from CIBC. They have a few inexpensive accounts to browse, but the monthly fee will depend on how many transactions you plan on making. Otherwise, our ability to suggest options is limited at this point by our lack of knowledge about you. If you like, tell us in another comment or email (to info@greedyrates.ca) about what you need most in a chequing account. Are you a student or senior? Do you detest the idea of keeping a minimum balance? Do you have other accounts and require multiple free Interac e-transfers each month? We’d like to help you on your search!

GreedyRates

Oliver barker says:

I’m with td.. My question is is there a better cheaper bank to be with

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey Oliver!

Thanks for your comment. If you’re looking for a cheaper bank than TD, might we inquire what is it about TD that’s so expensive? Do you have a chequing account, savings account, or some other type of account(s) with TD? Or perhaps you’re making more transactions than TD allows for free and are racking up charges. Annual fees may also be relevant, but without further criteria we’re merely stabbing in the dark. Please get back to us with more details on where you’d like to save money and what you’re looking for in a bank account. We’ll be happy to assist!

Thanks again,
GreedyRates

FEJ says:

I have a similar question, I’m with TD at present and have a chequing account, savings account, LOC and CC. The lack of decent interest rates and high fees have me looking at alternatives.

The GreedyRates Team says:

Hey FEJ,

If you’re sick of poor interest rates and high fees, then it might be time to switch from TD to a different bank. In fact, we wrote an article very recently that compares the best savings accounts from Canadian banks in 2018. Read it and you’ll discover that there might be some better alternatives to TD, though in the end this choice is always subjective. For example, a new promotion from Tangerine gives an impressive 2.75% interest for new clients and a regular rate of 1.25%, which is still one of the market’s most competitive. With no extra fees for transfer, no minimum balance, and the ability to unlock a third 2.00% cash back category on Tangerine’s Money Back Mastercard, Tangerine is creating Canada’s most lucrative cash back savings combo.

Another option is the BMO Savings Builder, which can get up to 1.40% interest for eligible applicants. If one of these options sounds appealing, or you find a better one yourself, then doing a balance transfer to the bank in question is a great idea. Many banks these days offer balance transfer promotions for new customers, meaning you can consolidate your current line of credit, loans, and credit cards under the same rate (if applicable). Let us know what you’re thinking, and if you need any further assistance. We’ll be happy to comply.

GreedyRates