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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 all 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
|Chequing Account||Stand-Out Features||Monthly Fee||More Info|
|Preferred Package Account||Earn $300* cash when you sign up for the Scotiabank Preferred Package.|
Earn SCENE or Scotia Rewards® Points on every purchase.
|$15.95 (waived if maintaining a minimum daily closing balance of $4,000 for the entire month)||Learn More|
|Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account||Interest rate of up to 0.65% on your balance|
No fees for daily transactions
|Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account||0.05-0.5% interest rate on your balance|
No minimum balance requirement
|BMO Performance Plan||Unlimited self-service transactions||$15.95 (waived with $4,000 minimum balance)||Learn More|
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 points (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 $15.95 monthly fee, but that fee is waived if you steadily maintain a minimum of $4000 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 transactions and Interac e-Transfer transactions. As a generous welcome bonus, new customers can earn $300* cash when they open a Preferred Package account by December 30, 2019.
Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing
Our top recommendation is the Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account. Tangerine is an online bank, but it is quickly winning Canadians over thanks to the fact that it offers one of the best deals in Canada when it comes to chequing accounts. Not only is Tangerine’s chequing account free, but it also offers free unlimited daily transactions – a huge perk considering most free accounts offer a very limited number of free transactions.
Perhaps the biggest perk offered by the Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing account is that it offers interest, which is unusual for chequing accounts. While Tangerine is not the only Canadian bank to offer interest on their chequing accounts, their tiered interest approach which starts at 0.15% and goes as high as 0.65% does make it one of the most attractive chequing accounts available to Canadians.
Simplii Financial No-Fee Chequing Account
Simplii Financial offers a no-fee chequing account with a lot of perks including no minimum balance requirement, unlimited transactions, free Interac e-transfers, free cheque books, and interest rates of 0.05%-0.50% depending on your account balance. Heads up: it is important to note that there is a $20/year fee for inactive accounts (2 years with no transactions).
BMO Performance Plan
BMO has several options for chequing accounts, but the BMO Performance Plan stands out. There is a monthly fee of $15.95, but if you have a balance of $4,000 or over, that fee will be waived. Benefits of this chequing account include unlimited self-service transactions, teller-assisted transactions, unlimited Interac e-transfers per month, and 1 free non-BMO ATM transaction per month. You can also get overdraft protection for an additional $4/month which is a low price for this service.
motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account
motusbank is Canada’s newest online bank, and it’s already creating a buzz. motusbank’s no fee chequing account offers unlimited Interac e-Transfers as well as an enticing 0.50% interest rate on your chequing account balance – with no minimum amount required. You’ll also be given 25 paper cheques for free and you can breathe easy with the $100,000 CDIC deposit coverage.
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 BMO Performance plan 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. Tangerine’s no-fee chequing account is a great option for those looking for a free account.
What is Your Average Monthly Minimum Balance?
Another thing to consider is: what is your average monthly minimum balance? For some banks like Tangerine or motusbank, 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. Tangerine’s no fee chequing account is an example: it is free but has the added bonus of offering interest.
Luckily, there are loopholes. With BMO Performance Plan 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 Scotia's 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. Scotia's Preferred Package is our top choice for a rewards chequing account, and new customers can earn $300* cash when they open a Preferred Package account by December 30, 2019.
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.
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, you can’t go wrong with the interest rates and no fees offered by Tangerine, but Scotia's Preferred Package also offers phenomenal points-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.