What goes into a great chequing account?

How often do you think of your chequing account? Maybe when your paycheque has been deposited or when a large sum of money comes out of it—but other than that, it’s just there, doing its job, leaving you time to do other things.

The right chequing account can give you exactly what you need for a reasonable monthly fee (or no monthly fee when you maintain the minimum amount in your account).

There are several different types of chequing accounts out there, so there are some things to consider when choosing one that’s truly right for you. 

Monthly account fees

Most chequing accounts have a monthly fee. This fee covers some of the costs of daily transactions like debit payments/point of sale purchases, Interac fees and ATM withdrawals. Some chequing accounts offer unlimited transactions like those that have a higher monthly fee of up to $30, while others have no fee but in exchange require that you forgo things like in-person service or ATM availability. Some may offer a higher interest rate or waive the monthly fee when you keep a certain amount in your account. For example, with Scotiabank’s Ultimate Package,* the $30.95 fee is waived when you maintain a minimum daily closing balance of $5,000 in the Ultimate Package or $30,000 across the Ultimate Package and a MomentumPLUS Savings account for the entire month—two ways to get the account for $0.

Consider whether your account provides value for the fees charged. And, similarly, look at whether a no-fee account offers the services you deem important.

Debit and other transactions

How often do you tap your debit card? It might be several times a month, or several times a day. How often do you make Interac payments or pay bills from your account or take out money from ATMs that don’t belong to your home financial institution? Is there a cost for ordering or cashing cheques? 

The convenience of those transactions comes at a cost, which can add up quickly. Interac fees are $1 to $2, withdrawing money from an ATM could cost up to $6 to $7 (that’s a total of both banks’ fees) and debit payments can be up to $3 each once you’ve used up your free allotment. Take a look at several months of transactions, average out the monthly amount and subtract the number included in the account. The balance is what you’re paying for out of pocket. Is there a better option that offers more monthly transactions? For example, you get unlimited debit transactions,1 Interac e-Transfer transactions,1 and International Money Transfers2 when you sign up for the Scotiabank Ultimate Package.* Unlimited transactions are a key perk now as we increasingly choose to use our cards instead of cash for purchases.

Bonuses and benefits

Not all bank accounts are equal. Some banks just offer plain bank accounts that you can use to access your money for those day-to-day transactions, like paying bills and shopping. Others offer a lot more, like preferred rates on a savings account or GIC, and additional free chequing accounts to help you organize your spending better. Take a look at bank accounts that offer “package benefits” for services that make sense for your spending, saving and investment needs. Some accounts also offer the ability to accumulate points with every purchase so that you can save towards that special something. 

Online banking and other options

Most financial institutions offer a variety of services, including online (web and app), in-person and telephone. Choose an account that accommodates your preferred banking method without additional costs.


  • Will you get cash back, points, a boost on your savings or even a cool piece of technology when you sign up? Will they waive the credit card fee for the first year? When you sign up for Scotiabank’s Ultimate Package, you can get up to $139 waived each year on fees for select premium credit cards.1
  • Are the branches and ATMs close to you and available at your convenience?
  • Are there restrictions on accessing your money? Some institutions hold large sums of money for weeks, which can be inconvenient if you need the money.
  • Does the chequing account pay a higher interest rate?
  • Is there a limit on your daily cash withdrawals or your point of sale purchases?
  • Not that we’re travelling right now, but when you do, can you withdraw money from international ATMs without paying an additional fee?
  • Can you bank 24/7?

These are all things to consider. Financial institutions want your business and some, like Scotiabank, have added incentives. With their Ultimate Package, you get your choice of SCENE or Scotia Rewards, preferred rates on select GICs, and 10 free equity trades at Scotia iTRADE in your first year.3 

No matter your choice, you want to make sure that you’re getting value out of your chequing account. MoneySense rankings can help you compare options. (Scotiabank is named best big bank for everyday banking, as well as best student account and best premium account for bundling.)

Shop around, look at your monthly costs and choose the one that works best for your lifestyle.

What does the * mean?

If a link has an asterisk (*) at the end of it, that means it’s an affiliate link and can sometimes result in a payment to MoneySense which helps our website stay free to our users. It’s important to note that our editorial content will never be impacted by these links. We try our best to look at all available products in the market and where a product ranks in our article or whether or not it’s included in the first place is never driven by compensation. For more details read our MoneySense Monetization policy.

Legal footnotes

1 Conditions apply. Visit www.scotiabank.com/ultimate300 to learn more.
2 Foreign currency exchange rate still applies.
3 This offer is subject to certain conditions and restrictions. Visit https://www.scotiaitrade.com/en/direct-investing-and-online-trading/campaigns/ultimate-package.html for the full offer details.
Interac e-Transfer is a registered trade-mark of Interac Corp. Used under license.                                                                                                                                                                                         
®Registered trademarks of The Bank of Nova Scotia






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