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Best Chequing Accounts in Canada in 2018

Last updated on May 9, 2018 Views: 915 Comments: 0

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.

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 free Interac e-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

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 Momentum account—the only cashback chequing account on offer from a major Canadian bank. Accountholders can earn 1% cash back on all purchases made with their Scotiabank debit card, capped at $300 in cash back per year. The account also comes with these features:

  • Unlimited Scotiabank ABM transactions
  • 1 free monthly teller-assisted transaction
  • 2 free Interac e-transfers per month
  • 2 non-Scotiabank ABM transactions per month

Tangerine

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. Tangerine customers can use Scotiabank ABM machines free of charge worldwide and access Apple Pay and contactless payments through their debit card.

BMO

BMO logoBMO’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

TD

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.

RBC

RBC Loyalty ProgramRBC 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

CIBC

CIBC offers 3 different chequing accounts alongside its youth and student accounts, with monthly fees ranging from $0 up to $28.95. Discounts are given for seniors.

Our favourite CIBC account is the CIBC Advantage for Youth account. It provides your child (up to age 18) with a debit card to use at ABMs and for online and telephone banking. The account has no monthly fees, and supports unlimited transactions and Interac transfers. What makes the CIBC youth account stands out is that it earns a competitive 0.15% interest on every dollar in the account, without any minimum balance required. Interest is calculated daily.

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