Unless you’ve been stashing cash under a mattress, you’ve probably heard of a chequing account. For most Canadians, this type of bank account is used to manage money on a daily basis: from depositing and withdrawing cheques to paying bills to keeping cash on hand for everyday spending. It’s a personal banking essential offered by every major bank in the country, and most people have at least one chequing account. However, while most banks offer chequing accounts, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re all the same. So, what are the best chequing accounts in Canada? Read on for our top picks.
The Best Chequing Accounts in Canada for 2021
Best For High Interest: Savings Plus Account
What we love about EQ Bank? The Savings Plus Account is a hybrid: it functions like a chequing account and can be used to pay bills and also transfer money instantly. But it also comes with an outstanding 1.25%* everyday interest rate — a rarity in the banking world. What’s also enticing is there are no everyday banking fees, free Interac e-Transfers®, and free day-to-day transactions. The catch is that you can only hold a maximum of $200,000 in the account, but chances are you wouldn’t keep that much money in a chequing account anyway. EQ Bank is a winner in our books.
*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.
Best For Rewards: Scotiabank Preferred Package Account
Scotiabank offers a few choices for chequing accounts, and all of them are rewards accounts. Most of us are used to credit cards with rewards programs, but chequing accounts with rewards programs like this one are a rarity.
Cardholders can choose between two different rewards programs: SCENE®* (perfect for entertainment and movie lovers) or Scotia Rewards® Points*, which can be used towards travel. No matter which type of reward you choose, points can then be earned by using your debit card attached to your account for purchases.
Out of all the offerings, our top pick is the Preferred Package account. This chequing account does come with a $16.95 monthly fee, but that fee is waived if you steadily maintain a minimum of $4,000 in your account. Plus, you have access to unlimited Scotiabank ATM transactions and brick-and-mortar banks across the country, making it easy to access your cash when you need it. We also love that this chequing account also comes with unlimited debit transactions1 Interac e-Transfer† transactions.
1 Conditions apply.
Best For Families: BMO Performance Chequing Account
BMO has several options for chequing accounts, but the BMO Performance Chequing Account stands out for families.
With the BMO Family Bundle, you pay one monthly fee* for the entire household, but each family member has their own separate chequing account. It’s a great way to save some cash. Plus, you’ll still get all the perks: Benefits of this chequing account include unlimited everyday banking transactions* including unlimited Interac e-transfers* and 1 free non-BMO ATM transaction per month. You can also get overdraft protection for an additional $5/month, which is a low price for this service. There is a monthly place fee* of $16.95, but if you have a balance of $4,000 or more, that fee will be waived. Promo: earn up to $350 opening cash bonus*!
*Terms and conditions apply. See bmo.com for more details
Best For Global Banking: HSBC Advance Chequing Account
As one of the largest banks in the world, HSBC is the bank of choice for many Canadians who need a globally connected chequing account. With the HSBC Advance Chequing Account, you can online between your personal HSBC accounts in over 30 countries — a valuable and rare offering for those who send or receive international transactions. When you add up wire charges and fees attached to various international online payment systems, this could save you some serious coin and get you the best currency exchange rate possible. You also have access to high rate savings account and regular foreign savings accounts available in many of the world’s major currencies. You can even open accounts in international destinations before going abroad.
Aside from the international offerings, this account is also great for busy Canadians who are banking “on-the-go.” From unlimited transactions to waived* Interac e-Transfer® transactions to no-fee mobile cheque deposits, the HSBC Advance Chequing Account offers a full range of services to suit your everyday banking needs without busting the budget. There’s also $0 monthly banking fee* for the first 6 months. You can continue to pay $0 monthly banking fee* for this account if you maintain $5,000 minimum balance in combined deposits and investments, including chequing, savings, RRSPs, TFSA’s and more. Otherwise, you’ll pay $25/month.
*Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria apply
Comparison of Best Chequing Accounts in Canada for 2021
Account Key Features Monthly Fee Apply Savings Plus Account Everyday
$0 Visit Site Scotiabank Preferred Package Account Earn a $300* welcome bonus with a new bank account. $16.95 (waived if maintaining a minimum daily closing balance of $4,000 for the entire month) Visit Site BMO Performance Chequing Account
Unlimited everyday banking transactions for a competitive price $15.95 (waived with $4,000 minimum balance) Visit Site HSBC Advance Chequing Account $25.00 (waived if specific eligibility requirements are met) Visit Site Saving Plus Account Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice. * To qualify, certain conditions must be met. Offer ends December 16, 2021.
Things to Consider When Choosing a Chequing Account
Not all chequing accounts are created equal, which is why it’s so important to do your homework before choosing one. After all, a chequing account is something you will need throughout your life and use on a very regular basis, so you want to make sure you get the most out of it. That being said, there’s no one “best” chequing account in Canada. What works for your best friend or your partner may not work for you – instead, choose a chequing account that works well with your spending habits, needs, and lifestyle.
With that in mind, here are the top questions to ask yourself when shopping for a chequing account.
How Many Monthly Transactions Do You Need?
This is probably the most important question to ask yourself when it comes to choosing a chequing account. Most chequing accounts have a set limit as to how many transactions you can do within a month. Once you go over the allotted amount, you will be charged an additional fee for each transaction.
If you plan on using your account frequently, then it might be in your best interest to choose a chequing account that allows a high number of transactions, or even better, unlimited transactions. For instance, the Performance Chequing Account account allows unlimited self-service transactions, but it does come with a monthly fee of $15.95 (which is waived if you have more than $4,000 as a minimum balance).
On the other hand, if you don’t need to do many transactions, then there is no point in paying extra for that feature. Look for an account with a lower number of transactions and you can bet that the monthly fee will also be lower, or possibly even free.
What is Your Average Monthly Minimum Balance?
Another thing to consider is: what is your average monthly minimum balance? For some banks, this doesn’t influence the fee or benefit structure at all. However, other banks are willing to waive fees and even throw in a few additional perks and bonuses for those who keep larger minimum amounts in their chequing account.
If your balance fluctuates a lot and you have a bunch of transactions, then you probably want to go with a bank that doesn’t charge any fees or require a monthly minimum amount. But if you do have a significant chunk of change in there and don’t plan on moving it, you have a bit more flexibility in terms of finding the right chequing account for you.
Is it Important to Have a No-Fee Chequing Account?
At first glance, it may seem obvious that you would want a no-fee chequing account. After all, the goal with good personal banking is to be able to save as much as your hard-earned money as possible. However, while a no-fee chequing account may sound appealing, there may be better options for you.
No-fee chequing accounts are usually the most basic accounts on the market, often with no added benefits and a limited number of monthly transactions. However, depending on your financial situation and standing with the financial institution of your choice, you may be able to have free access to a chequing account with more to offer. Additionally, there are a few accounts on the market that go above and beyond the traditional “basic” free chequing account.
Luckily, there are loopholes. With BMO Performance Chequing Account and Scotiabank’s Preferred Package, one way to escape paying chequing account fees is to maintain maintaining a monthly minimum balance. Another method is through bank loyalty. If you have several accounts or products through one financial institution, they may be willing to waive the banking fees on your personal chequing account. Lastly, look at rewards or cashback as a way of skirting fees. Since the Scotiabank Preferred Package is a rewards chequing account, you may even earn enough points to justify paying a monthly fee, as well as get the added benefit of a brick and mortar bank.
Types of Chequing Accounts
As well as looking for different features, there are different types of chequing accounts that may suit your needs and interests. These are some of the most common types of chequing accounts available to Canadians.
Personal Chequing Account
This is your basic chequing account. Personal chequing accounts tend to come with a monthly fee and a limited number of transactions. This differs depending on the bank and account.
Just like it sounds, a no-fee chequing account has zero monthly fees. That being said, these types of accounts can be very limiting in terms of what they offer.
Cashback or Rewards
Cashback or rewards chequing accounts aren’t common, but there are a couple out there. You will have to pay a monthly fee for these types of accounts; however, you can then earn that money back when using the debit card linked to your cash back chequing account. The Scotiabank Preferred Package is our top choice for a rewards chequing account, and new customers can earn $300 cash (conditions must be met, ends December 16, 2021) when they open a new Scotiabank Preferred Package.
Another less-common type of chequing account is one that will earn you interest. Normally these come with hefty monthly fees, but if you have a good-sized monthly balance, then those fees may be worth your while in terms of what you can earn in interest.
Youth chequing accounts are designed for young people who are under the age of majority in their respective province. As such, these accounts normally have no fees and depending on the account, may earn interest.
Student chequing accounts tend to have low or no fees and frequently comes with additional perks or benefits. Most student chequing accounts will require proof that you are a student to open one and will only be available to you while you are studying full-time at a recognized post-secondary institution.
Canadians who travel back and forth between Canada and the USA should absolutely consider a USD chequing account. It allows you to withdraw US dollars (often directly from the ATM itself) without having to worry about transaction fees. It also comes in handy for any USD transactions.
FAQ – Chequing Accounts
Last Word: Choosing the Best Bank Account in Canada
Without a doubt, there are plenty of great choices for chequing accounts available to Canadians. In our opinion, the Scotiabank Preferred Package offers phenomenal earning potential and excellent service that may justify paying a monthly fee. Regardless, it’s worth shopping around to find the best chequing account to fit your personal needs. Whatever type of account you decide on, there’s no doubt that a good chequing account is an essential part of your day-to-day financial life.