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The Best Chequing Accounts in Canada for 2021

For many of us, our first chequing accounts represented our foray into the world of banking.

If you’re like the majority of Canadians, long before you were researching the right high-interest savings accounts to improve your financial situation, you took a trip down to your local bank branch to open a standard chequing account.

For many of us, this happened when we were teenagers and looking for a safe place to stash the hard-earned cash from our first jobs. However, all classics deserve revisiting.

In this article, we’re getting back to the basics with a valiant mission to uncover the best chequing account in Canada.

Spoiler alert: like most things in the financial world, there isn’t likely to be one winner that stands out above them all.

In consideration of this, we will present an overview of a few of the best chequing accounts that Canadian banking has to offer so that you choose the one that best suits your specific needs.

Table of Contents

The Best Chequing Accounts in Canada

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s answer an age-old philosophical question that humanity has been trying to address for years and years: what exactly is a chequing account? Okay, so maybe it isn’t quite so mystical of an inquiry, but considering a chequing account is the most common type of banking account out there, it’s worthwhile to explain exactly what it is, even if the explanation does seem somewhat redundant.

A chequing account, by definition, is a type of bank account that makes it easy to access your money. It is the easiest and most popular way to deposit money, pay bills, and easily access funds for any other reason (if this definition is too simplistic for your tastes. Get a closer look at what a chequing account is and what it can do for you.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best chequing accounts offered by banks in Canada.

Best Overall Chequing Account: Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing

Tangerine might just be the most well-known online bank in Canada. Due to enticing interest rates, it’s common for some Canadians to keep their chequing account with their brick and mortar bank and open a savings account with Tangerine.

However, if you have been thinking about moving your entire banking operations over to Tangerine, there are plenty of incentives waiting for you.

As an online-only service, Tangerine offers unlimited free debit transactions to all of their chequing account holders, as well as unlimited free pre-authorized payments and free unlimited money transfers. They also support mobile cheque deposits. Notably, in certain circumstances, Tangerine may allow you to earn interest on the balance of your chequing account, up to 0.65%.

All of these offers come on top of the fact that Tangerine offers their chequing account without a monthly fee — something that cannot be said for the majority of larger banks who often charge up to $30 unless a high minimum balance is in the account at all times.

Although Tangerine does not operate its ATMs across Canada, Tangerine customers can access Scotiabank ATMs for free with their Tangerine debit card. They can also access the Global ATM Network, available in over 60 countries around the world.

To learn more, check out:

Best Online-Only Chequing Account: EQ Bank

Online banking has become more popular as many Canadians feel more comfortable with banking via websites and mobile apps.

By forgoing traditional brick-and-mortar banking locations, online banks can pass on what they save on operational costs to their customers.

There are many stellar online bank chequing account options out there, but EQ bank’s offering stands out for its hybrid qualities.

The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is a savings account that functions just like a chequing account. This means that you can use it to pay bills and transfer money without paying transaction fees, all the while earning interest on your balance. The best part? EQ Bank offers its customers an unmatched interest rate, typically at a rate above and beyond most offered Canadian savings accounts, let alone hybrid ones.

To learn more, check out:

Best Perks Chequing Account: Scotia Basic Plus Account

The quest to find a free chequing account in Canada is arduous. Fortunately, the existence of the Scotia Basic Plus Account ensures that your search will not be entirely fruitless.

This simple but comprehensive banking account offers its holders up to 25 free debit transactions per month as well as free e-transfers. The best part? All of this comes at a monthly cost of $0.

Okay, so there is a catch—you will need to maintain a minimum daily closing balance of $3,000 for the entire month to be eligible. However, if your balance falls short, you can still enjoy a monthly account fee of only $11.95, a much lower price than what you will find at any other big bank.

Scotia Basic Plus Account customers also can earn both SCENE Rewards or Scotia Rewards on their purchases.

To learn more, check out:

Best Major Bank Chequing Account: Scotia Preferred Package

The Scotia Preferred Package is the main chequing account offering from the Canadian banking giant, Scotiabank.

A popular choice for daily banking, holders of this account benefit from unlimited free Interac e-transfers as well as unlimited transactions.

Although the bank does charge a $15.95 monthly fee with any account balance less than $4,000, the perks that come with this card mean that the Scotia Preferred Package deserves a spot on a list of the best chequing accounts in Canada.

One of the unique things that keeps Scotiabank customers loyal is the bank’s one-of-a-kind rewards programs, known as SCENE points.

Account-holders can earn points through chequing account debit transactions and then redeem those points at Cineplex movie theatres and several affiliated restaurants.

There are other ways that it pays to be a part of the Scotiabank family, too. Chequing account users are also able to benefit from special interest rates on Scotiabank savings accounts and even waive their Scotiabank credit card’s annual fee.

Best Chequing Account for Sign-Up Bonuses: BMO Performance Plan

The Bank of Montreal, commonly known as BMO, is a common choice among Canadians. This chequing account offers unlimited transactions and Interac e-transfers, as well as relatively low fees for out-of-network ATM withdrawals.

BMO chequing account holders are also allowed one free out-of-network ATM withdrawal per month.

If this does not draw you in, what’s more, enticing is that BMO is known to run promotional cash incentives to anyone who opens a new chequing account.

If you happen to be fortunate to catch one of their sign-up bonuses advertised, it may be worthwhile to take advantage of it, as it’s not often that banks offer generous promotions for new chequing accounts.

Best Student Chequing Account: Scotia Student Banking Advantage Plan

There are many banking options for students out there, but none hit the mark quite as well as the Scotia Student Banking Advantage Plan.

This unparalleled plan features unlimited free transactions and a $0 monthly account fee for domestic and international students enrolled in a full-time post-secondary program in Canada or the United States.

Account-holders have the option of bundling their Scotia Student Banking Advantage Plan with a SCENE Visa card and savings account.

Doing so will result in up to 12,500 bonus SCENE points which can be redeemed for movies, travel, retail purchases, and more.

Best Premium Chequing Account: Scotiabank Ultimate Package

If you are less concerned about monthly fee waiving and more focused on how you can make your bank account work for you, you may be the right audience for a premium chequing account that offers perks and enhanced services.

The Scotiabank Ultimate Package gives customers unlimited transactions, international money transfers, non-Scotiabank ATM withdrawals, and e-transfers.

The perks don’t end here. Ultimate Package account-holders can also enjoy overdraft protection at no monthly fee, membership in SCENE or Scotia Rewards programs, annual fee waivers on select Scotiabank credit cards, and free cheques.

Furthermore, this particular account allows bankers to benefit from an interest rate of 1.80% when they open a Momentum Plus Savings Account.

They also access special rates on GICs and up to 10 free equity trades at Scotia iTRADE in their first year.

So, at what cost? If bankers maintain a daily closing balance of $5,000 in your Ultimate Package account or a total of $30,000 across your Ultimate Package and Momentum Plus Savings Account. Otherwise, a $30.95 monthly fee will be charged.

Best Rewards Chequing Account: BMO Performance Chequing Account

BMO’s chequing account offerings earn themselves a space on the list of the best chequing accounts in Canada on incentives alone. In fact, all new BMO customers who sign up for either a Performance Chequing Account or Premium Chequing Account can earn up to $350 as of 2021.

The Performance Chequing Account is the bank’s most popular offering. With unlimited transactions and e-transfers, this account offers a mid-range banking experience that is an excellent fit for the average earner. Customers are also eligible for rebates on select BMO credit cards, a great selling point as BMO just happens to offer some of the best Canadian credit cards on the market.

Best Budget Chequing Account: RBC Day to Day Banking

RBC may be the largest bank in the country in terms of assets, but it also happens to be the home of one of the best chequing accounts in Canada with its RBC Day to Day Banking account.

Through their Day to Day Banking account, RBC offers unlimited money transfers, 12 free debit transactions monthly, as well as the opportunity to save big on gas with Petro-Canada discount cards, all for the low monthly cost of $4. For an extra $5 monthly, the bank will also provide overdraft protection.

There are no fancy incentives here, and account holders will have to look elsewhere if they are looking for an interest rate or a rebate for their credit card’s annual fee.

However, this account represents low-fee banking at its finest, as it offers Canadians an option for functional banking without the expensive frills or fuss.

What is a Chequing Account?

A chequing account is what most Canadians use for their everyday banking needs, such as retail purchases or bill payments. A chequing account allows you to make purchases, send and receive money, deposit, and issue cheques.

Different Types of Chequing Accounts

Canadians have access to several chequing accounts, many of which come tailored to their specific needs. Below, we’ll explore the different types of chequing accounts available to Canadians.

Personal

A personal chequing account belongs to an individual. Most traditional banks will charge a monthly maintenance fee of between $5 and $30 unless a minimum balance is maintained.

However, many personal chequing accounts are available from online banks, which do not charge any monthly fees.

Business

A business chequing account offers the services found in a personal chequing account to customers who run businesses. A business chequing account allows employees can use debit cards or write cheques on behalf of the business.

Senior

Many banks offer special chequing accounts for senior citizens. These generally come with waived (or low) banking fees and an unlimited number of transactions. Most banks characterize seniors as being 65 years of age and older.

Youth

Like senior accounts, youth chequing accounts offer fee waivers and unlimited transactions to appeal to the younger demographic. Some banks offer these accounts to anyone under 18 or 19, although some may provide certain advantages to anyone enrolled in post-secondary institutions. Some youth chequing accounts will allow account holders to earn interest on their chequing account balance.

How to Choose a Chequing Account

Chequing accounts are the easiest ways to store your money at a bank. The money in a chequing account is instantly accessible and protected. You can access the money in your chequing account through a debit card provided to you by the institution of your choice.

Fees

Money matters, and if you think it is bizarre to pay a bank to store your hard-earned cash, you’re not alone. Luckily, with a bit of research, you can find a chequing account that offers no (or low) monthly fees.

If you can afford to maintain a daily balance of $3,000 or $4,000, you can likely stick with a traditional chequing account from a big five institution.

However, there are many people for whom this is simply not feasible. If you count yourself among one of them, you can likely best benefit from a chequing account from an online bank, most of which come with no monthly fees.

Features

Before choosing a chequing account, it’s good to think about which features are essential to your lifestyle. Do you feel most secure with overdraft protection enabled? Do you send international wire transfers? These features do not come with every chequing account by default, so it pays to shop around.

While fancy bank features are primarily associated with a savings account or credit card, it’s best to keep your eyes out for extra perks that can come with a chequing account as well. Some accounts, such as the Scotiabank family of offerings, will give you the ability to earn reward points with your debit transactions.

Accessibility

Accessibility is an important consideration to have when it comes to banking. But accessibility looks different to everyone.

It’s worthwhile to ask yourself what kind of services you expect out of your bank. Are you somebody that does best when you can be face-to-face with a teller? Are you comfortable with relying on online banking? Does your bank of choice have a comprehensive app with accessibility features that work for you?

Promotions and Rewards

There is more to banking than just stuffing your money in the proverbial mattress. While chequing accounts are not associated with rewards, some banks will offer rewards programs linked to chequing accounts. Some online banks also offer the opportunity to earn interest on the balance in your chequing account in a chequing/savings hybrid set-up.

Also, many banks will offer you sign-up incentives, so if you’re in the market for a new chequing account, it’s worthwhile to shop around. As we outlined above, BMO offers new chequing account customers a bonus of up to $350 in cold, hard cash when they sign up.

Our Final Thoughts

A chequing account is a fundamental financial tool. That said, you deserve the one that works best for you.

To make sure that you have the best chequing account, consider fees and accessibility before anything else. While perks and rewards are great, fees and ease-of-use will serve you much more.

Frequently Asked Questions

Chequing accounts are the easiest ways to store your money at a bank. The money in a chequing account is instantly accessible and protected. You can access the money in your chequing account through a debit card provided to you by the institution of your choice.

The fees for chequing accounts in Canada vary. While some online banks offer a chequing account with no monthly fee, most large financial institutions charge between $4 to $30 monthly. Sometimes, in the case of a high daily balance, this fee is waivable.

The fees for chequing accounts in Canada vary. While some online banks offer a chequing account with no monthly fee, most large financial institutions charge between $4 to $30 monthly. Sometimes, in the case of a high daily balance, this fee is waivable.

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