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Best No-fee Chequing Accounts in Canada

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If you’re paying a monthly fee for your chequing account, you might be surprised to learn that you can get the same (and sometimes better) features for free with a no-fee chequing account.

No-fee chequing accounts let you do almost everything you can do with a regular bank account, like make bill payments, pay with your debit card, and send Interac e-Transfers. The only difference is there are no monthly fees and no transaction fees to worry about.

If you’re curious about no-fee bank accounts but aren’t sure whether you’ll get the service you need, we’re here to help. We’ve rounded up the best no-fee chequing accounts in Canada so that you can find the best one for you.

No-fee banking Canada: how it works and what to look out for

You’re usually more likely to encounter banking fees when you open a chequing account as opposed to a savings account, since you’re bound to use it more frequently to do things like pay bills and make debit purchases.

Here’s what to consider when looking for a free chequing account.

Why choose a no-fee chequing account?

No-fee bank accounts offer almost all the same services you get with a paid chequing account, but without the monthly account fee, and free unlimited transactions.

If you currently pay $16.95 per month for a chequing account, switching to a no-fee account can save you more than $200 per year.

What common fees are associated with no-fee chequing accounts?

While no-fee chequing accounts have no monthly maintenance fees or transaction fees, you might still have to pay some account fees. You can expect to pay banking fees for:

  • Out-of-network ATM fees. Most no-fee chequing accounts provide free access to some ATMs in Canada, but charge a fee for using other machines. A typical ATM fee is $1.50 per transaction.
  • Cheque books. While some no-fee chequing accounts include free cheques, there are typically fees for books of paper cheques.
  • Foreign currency transactions. If you use your chequing account to make a transaction in another currency, such as using your debit card in the United States, you will usually pay a fee for the service. Most banks charge 2.50% for each foreign transaction.
  • Overdraft. If you want to be able to carry a negative balance in your no-fee chequing account, you may be able to apply for overdraft protection. Typical fees are $5 per month you use your overdraft, plus interest.
  • Non-sufficient funds (NSF). If a cheque or bill payment is returned for non-sufficient funds, you’ll pay a hefty fee. Most bank accounts levy a $45 penalty for initiating a transaction you don’t have enough money to cover.

How do I open a no-fee chequing account?

Most no-fee chequing accounts can be opened online, and the process usually takes no more than 15 minutes. You’ll need to provide your personal information and verify your identity by providing proof of ID, details of another bank account, or with photo verification.

You may also need to link your account with an existing account at another bank or deposit money in the account in order to activate it.

How can I find the best chequing account?

The best no-fee chequing account for you might not be the one you expect; some of the best accounts are provided by alternative financial institutions. Online banks like Tangerine are leaders in no-fee banking, while tech companies like Neo Financial and KOHO use other banks to provide a unique and exciting banking experience.

Some of the best no-fee chequing accounts can be found with online banks or disguised as savings accounts. The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is a great example of a savings account that’s as good or better than a no-fee chequing account at most financial institutions.

To avoid paying monthly fees, compare accounts online that offer the features you need. You may want to consider:

  • ATM access. Does the chequing account offer free access to ATMs?
  • Cheque writing privileges. Does the account allow you to write paper cheques and bank drafts?
  • Interest. Does the account pay interest on your deposits?
  • Parent bank. Is the bank backed by a major bank or credit union?
  • Perks and privileges. Does the account offer perks like cash back rewards?
  • Minimum account balance requirements. Does the account require you to keep a minimum balance to avoid fees?
  • CDIC insured. Does Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) insurance protect the money in your account?

What are the benefits of a no-fee chequing account?

A no-fee chequing account provides most of the same services a paid chequing account does but can save you hundreds of dollars per year in bank fees.

A typical unlimited chequing account from a major bank costs $16.95 per month and includes unlimited transactions, Interac e-Transfers, direct deposit, and bill payments. A typical no-fee chequing account provides the same features with no monthly fee, a savings of more than $200 per month in traditional bank fees.

Many no-fee chequing accounts also offer bonuses like high interest rates on deposits and cash back rewards.

What are the drawbacks to a no-fee chequing account?

A no-fee bank account is usually provided by an online bank that doesn’t have physical branches. This means you can’t get in-person customer service and instead have to rely on mobile, online banking, or telephone banking.

Some online banks like Simplii Financial and Tangerine, which are owned by CIBC and Scotiabank, respectively, allow customers to make occasional use of branch services in special circumstances. For example, you may be able to order a bank draft by telephone and pick it up at a local branch if you need it urgently.

Many no-fee chequing accounts don’t offer cheque writing privileges, which can be frustrating in rare circumstances. Fortunately, most do offer unlimited free Interac e-Transfers, which are faster and more secure than cheques.


WealthRocket created this list based on several factors, including each account’s monthly maintenance fee, e-Transfer fee, minimum balance requirement, any additional fees, and more.

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