Compare the Best Chequing Accounts in Canada 2020


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The best chequing accounts in Canada for 2020

You can find more information about Canada’s best chequing accounts and how to choose the right one for you below.


Use this MoneySense Chequing Account Finder to help you find the best type of chequing account to suit your financial needs. Simply input your estimated average bank account balance, expected number of monthly transactions (like Interac e-Transfers, cash withdrawals, teller assisted transactions, and more) and compare all available chequing accounts for your location. The chequing account finder ranks accounts by their estimated monthly costs based on your inputs, but you can also click on “view details” to check out additional fees and to see if there are sign-up bonuses or other promotions available.

Best chequing accounts finder


Best no-fee chequing account in Canada: Simplii Financial

Simplii Financial is the direct banking branch of CIBC. It offers online-only services and low service fees. 

  • Fees: None, with no minimum balance
  • Number of transactions: Unlimited
  • Number of Interac e-Transfers: Unlimited
  • Debit card: Yes
  • Cheques: Yes
  • ATM network: CIBC
  • Mobile app: Yes

Best chequing account with no monthly fee: Alterna Bank eChequing account*

Alterna Bank is a full-service digital bank run by the Ontario credit union Alterna Savings.

  • Fees: None, with no minimum balance
  • Number of transactions: Unlimited
  • Number of Interac e-Transfers: Unlimited
  • Debit Card: Yes
  • Cheques: Yes
  • ATM Network: Exchange Network
  • Mobile app: Yes

Learn more about the Alterna Bank eChequing account*


Best rewards chequing account: Scotiabank Scotia Basic Chequing Account*

Scotiabank is a multinational bank and one of Canada’s Big Five Banks.

  • Fees: $3.95 per month
  • Number of Transactions: 12 free per month ($1.25 each thereafter)
  • Number of Interac e-Transfers: 2 per month ($1.00 each thereafter)
  • Debit card: Yes
  • Cheques: No
  • ATM Network: Scotiabank
  • Mobile app: Yes

Learn more about the Scotiabank Scotia Basic chequing account*


Best student chequing account: CIBC Smart for Students

CIBC is a multinational bank and one of the country’s Big Five Banks.

  • Fees: None 
  • Number of transactions: unlimited
  • Number of Interac e-Transfers: unlimited
  • Debit Card: Yes
  • Cheques: No
  • ATM Network: CIBC
  • Mobile app: Yes

Best hybrid chequing account: Weatlhsimple Cash Hybrid Account*

Wealthsimple is an online investment and wealth management company.

  • Fees: None
  • Number of transactions: unlimited
  • Number of Interac e-Transfers: limited
  • Debit card: Yes
  • Cheques: No
  • ATM network: Visa
  • Mobile app: Yes

Learn more about Wealthsimple Cash*


What, exactly, is a chequing account?

A chequing account is the most basic kind of bank account. It’s what you use to manage your everyday cash flow. Usually, it’s the account people use to deposit their paycheques and from which their rent or mortgage payments, and other bills, are withdrawn. It is also usually linked to a bank card and used to make debit payments or to withdraw cash at an ATM. 

Chequing accounts are not ideal places for keeping savings—for two reasons. First, it’s a good idea to keep your savings in a separate account from your everyday spending so you are less tempted to dip into it. Second, since chequing accounts pay little to no interest, money kept in a chequing account will not grow enough to keep up with inflation, and so will lose buying power over time.

Everyone who is receiving income and paying for things on a regular basis needs a chequing account to manage their everyday transactions. Other banking products, like savings accounts and GICs, are better suited for medium to long-term savings because they will allow your savings to accrue interest, can be held in registered accounts to defer taxes, or kept out of reach for a period of time.


What types of chequing accounts exist?

While most chequing accounts work in the same manner, there are different types of chequing accounts available.

In many cases, some accounts are better suited for others, depending on who is using the account. 

You can find several types of chequing accounts in Canada, including: 

  • A personal chequing account is a chequing account that is used by one person.
  • A joint chequing account is an account used by two or more individuals. Typically, couples or spouses use these accounts.
  • A business chequing account helps business owners use their chequing accounts with additional privileges specific to people who own businesses.
  • A senior chequing account is a no-frills bank account for use by people over the age of 65. Generally, these accounts come with fewer features and lower fees.
  • A student chequing account is a chequing account meant for use by post-secondary students. Generally, account holders must be in a post-secondary program to use these accounts. Certain student bank accounts come with unlimited no-fee transactions.
  • A youth chequing account is an account for children. Generally, youth bank accounts come with minimal features and provide young Canadians with the ability to learn about managing their finances.
  • A no-fee chequing account is an account with no monthly costs. Many no-fee bank accounts come with unlimited free transactions as well as myriad unlimited features, though this is different for each financial institution.
  • A rewards chequing account is rare, offering points for transactions, similar to that of credit cards.
  • A hybrid bank account is the combination of a chequing account and a savings account. Hybrid accounts offer the freedom to make transactions of chequing accounts, combined with higher interest.

How to choose the right chequing account

Given that nearly everyone needs a chequing account, regardless of their income level and financial goals, financial institutions offer a huge range of options. Different people use their accounts in different ways, so it’s important to consider what your individual needs are. If you will never write cheques, for example, then you shouldn’t pay monthly service fees on an account that includes them. We’ve broken down the various aspects you should consider before signing up for an account.

Fees

  • Banks have traditionally charged a monthly service fee for chequing accounts. Higher fee accounts generally include more features, while lower-fee accounts offer those features on a pay-per-use basis. With the advent of online-only banking services that don’t have to cover the costs of operating physical branches, some banks pass on those savings by offering no-fee chequing accounts. Many of these no-fee accounts even come with great features like unlimited transactions. If you don’t need to do your banking in person, these are worth looking into. 

Features

  • Interac e-Transfers allow you to send money easily to anyone with an email address. Some chequing accounts provide e-Transfers for free; others allow you to receive e-Transfers for free, but charge a fee to send them.
  • Transactions generally include debit purchases, deposits, withdrawals, bill payments and transfers. You’ll want to consider whether there are charges for transactions after you’ve surpassed a certain number per month.
  • Some banks may offer rewards debit cards that will accrue points toward programs like Scene, Air Miles or PC Optimum.

Accessibility

  • Banks with more ATMs will provide easier access to cash withdrawals or ATM transactions. Note that using ATMs outside your own bank’s network usually results in additional fees.
  • Branch access may be important for people who prefer to conduct banking in person or need assistance with transactions
  • Access to foreign currency may be important to frequent travellers or those who do business abroad. Some banks also offer foreign currency or borderless accounts, which offer favourable exchange rates.

Promotions

  • Student accounts are usually no fee accounts with no transaction limits.
  • Seniors can often qualify for discounts on existing accounts or low fee senior accounts
  • Small-business owners can find business accounts that cater to their needs
  • Banks are always looking to lure new customers. Look for cash signing bonuses or giveaways such as TVs or iPads.

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