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Scotiabank vs. RBC Review: Investing for Canadians made simple

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Scotiabank and RBC are two of Canada’s leading choices for banking. But which bank should you choose? Let’s take a look in this comparison of Scotiabank vs. RBC.

Scotiabank vs. RBC: Overview

Scotiabank: Officially The Bank of Nova Scotia, Scotiabank was founded in Halifax in 1832. Fast forward to 2021 and the bank has 92,000 employees serving its 25 million customers worldwide. Canadians have access to over 900 Scotiabank branches for chequing and savings accounts, credit cards, loans, lines of credit and investing, as well as 3,500 automated banking machines (ABMs), online banking and telephone banking.

RBC: The Royal Bank of Canada, aka RBC, is Canada’s largest bank and one of the largest in the world. RBC’s 86,000 employees work to provide customers with everyday banking, investing, credit cards, mortgages and other banking products. Canadians can stop in at any of RBC’s 1,200 branches for customer service and can access their banking online and over the phone.

Scotiabank vs. RBC: Products

Scotiabank products

Scotiabank offers everything you need from a bank. For daily spending and saving, you can open a chequing account and savings account and choose from one of Scotiabank’s 16 available credit cards. For your future, you can purchase many different investments and use Scotiabank for your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP), tax-free savings account (TFSA) and other long-term savings vehicles. And when you need to make a big purchase, Scotiabank offers mortgages, auto loans, personal loans and lines of credit.

RBC products

As Canada’s largest bank, RBC has a wide range of products for every Canadian, with a variety of chequing and savings accounts to meet different needs. RBC offers 21 different credit cards with a wide range of rewards and features. It offers a full range of investments, including RRSP and TFSA accounts. And when you need to finance a major purchase, RBC can provide you with a mortgage, auto loan or line of credit.

The winner

It’s a tie. Scotiabank and RBC offer virtually identical product lines with a wide range of features to meet almost every need.

Scotiabank vs. RBC: Chequing accounts

Scotiabank chequing accounts

Scotiabank has five different chequing accounts to choose from. Its Basic Bank Account includes 12 transactions and free Interac e-Transfers for $3.95 per month. To get unlimited transactions, you’ll have to upgrade to the Preferred Package for $16.95 per month. And for those who travel, the Ultimate Package includes unlimited global ABM withdrawals and other features for $30.95 per month. All of Scotiabank’s chequing accounts offer a $4 senior’s discount and no monthly fee when you maintain a minimum account balance.

RBC chequing accounts

RBC Royal Bank offers four chequing account plans starting with its Day to Day Banking account with 12 included transactions for $4 per month. Unlimited transactions are available with the $11.95 Advantage Banking account, while its top-tier VIP Banking account also includes free cross-border ATM and debit transactions for $30 per month. RBC offers a senior’s discount of up to $7.50 and additional savings when you have multiple RBC products.

The winner

With a lower cost for unlimited transactions and a better senior’s discount, RBC has the edge over Scotiabank when it comes to chequing accounts.

Scotiabank vs. RBC: Savings accounts

Scotiabank savings accounts

Scotiabank’s top savings account is the Scotiabank Momentum Plus Savings Account, which pays a variable interest rate based on a confusing formula that includes regular interest, promotional interest, bonus interest for chequing customers with their Ultimate Package, and “premium period” interest that increases depending on how long it’s been since you’ve made a withdrawal. In total, Scotiabank promises you can earn up to 1.80% interest for a limited time, but it looks like typical earnings will be in the neighborhood of 0.20% to 0.50%.

RBC savings accounts

The RBC High Interest eSavings account comes with a basic savings rate of 0.50%, plus an introductory rate of 1.5% for the first three months for new account holders.

The winner

With a more straightforward option and higher everyday interest on savings accounts, RBC is more likely to be your best choice for a savings account.

Scotiabank vs. RBC: Credit cards

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Scotiabank credit cards

Scotiabank offers 16 credit cards, each offering a perk like travel rewards, cashback rewards, low interest and no annual fees. The Scotiabank Gold American Express Card is consistently rated one of the top rewards credit cards in Canada. Meanwhile, the Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card is great for cash back, and the Scotiabank Value Visa Card offers a low interest rate of 12.99% with a small annual fee. Scotiabank also offers the fan-favorite Scene program which lets you earn free movies and free movie popcorn.

RBC credit cards

RBC has lots of credit cards to choose from, the best of which is the venerable RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card that lets customers earn RBC Rewards points. For cash back, RBC pays up to 1.5% with the RBC Cash Back Preferred World Elite Mastercard. If you carry a balance, the RBC Visa Classic Low Rate Option card charges just 12.99% interest and a $20 annual fee. And if you have a small (or large) business, RBC has five business credit card options to choose from.

The winner

It’s a tie. Both RBC and Scotiabank have fantastic credit card offerings with a wide range of features and rewards.

Scotiabank vs. RBC: Investing products

Scotiabank investing products

At Scotiabank, you can open an RRSP, TFSA and any other type of account for your investing needs. For self-directed investing and trading, the Scotia iTrade platform is one of the best in Canada. If you prefer to keep things simple, Scotiabank lets you invest in exchange traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, GICs and more. And Scotiabank is happy to provide you with an advisor to help you make investing decisions (who also gets paid a commission).

RBC investing products

In addition to letting you invest with an advisor and using its fully self-directed RBC Direct Investing platform, RBC also offers an online program called InvestEase that lets you invest in a portfolio of low-cost ETFs according to your personal risk profile. Similar to robo-advisors like Wealthsimple, InvestEase takes the complexity out of investing, but maintains a human element. Each of RBC’s investing services lets you invest using your RRSP, TFSA and other registered accounts. RBC also offers financial planning and, for the wealthy investor, wealth management.

The winner

RBC, by a nose. Scotiabank’s iTrade platform is a favorite of self-directed investors, but RBC’s InvestEase is a great online option for those who don’t want to go it alone or bother with an advisor — and it’s an option that Scotiabank doesn’t have (at least not yet).

Our final thoughts

Choosing between Scotiabank and RBC doesn’t have to be difficult. For the most part, it depends on your specific needs and which bank offers the right product at the right price. Remember, you don’t have to stay “loyal” to just one bank – you can have an RBC chequing account, a Scotiabank credit card and a mortgage from another institution without trouble.

When comparing the two banks side by side, however, RBC has a slight advantage in a few categories. While the two banks are more or less equal for credit cards and investing products, RBC has better offers for chequing and savings.

Frequently asked questions

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