Best Chequing Accounts in Canada 2021

Best Chequing Accounts in Canada 2021

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated November 23, 2021

As you grow older and begin to earn an income, the need for a bank account becomes essential for everyday living. From the convenience it provides to the purpose it serves, chequing accounts are used by almost all Canadians. In fact, according to the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), 99% of Canadians own a bank account.  

When Should You Get A Chequing Account? 

A chequing account is a basic bank account in which you can receive money through e-transfers, payroll, direct deposit, or by depositing a cheque. Similarly, you can also use it to withdraw money for purchases or bills or send money through Interact e-transfers.  

Moreover, due to the high liquidity of the funds in a chequing account, you’re free to withdraw your money whenever you want without penalty. Certain savings and investment accounts like a TFSA can take up to 6 days before you can receive your money. 

If you have a regular source of income and need a place to store it safely, a chequing account is a useful tool for safekeeping and money management. 

Best Chequing Accounts in Canada

There are many different chequing accounts available in Canada. Each account has its own traits and caters to a specific lifestyle. Below we’ve listed some of the best chequing accounts on the market: 

  • TD Unlimited Chequing Account
  • BMO Performance Plan
  • Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account
  • Scotiabank Basic Banking Account
  • Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account
  • RBC Day to Day Banking
Monthly FeeMinimum BalanceTransaction LimitsE-transfer FeesOverdraft Protection
TD Unlimited Chequing Account– $0 when balance is over $4,000
– $16.95/ month when less than $4,000
BMO Performance Plan– $0 when balance is over $4,000 
– $15.95/ month when less than $4,000
Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account$0$0UnlimitedFree$5/month
Scotiabank Basic Banking Account– $0 when balance is over $4,000 
– $3.95/ month when less than $4,000
$5,00012 transactions/month2 free/month$5/month
Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account$0$0UnlimitedFree19% annually on balance
RBC Day to Day Banking$4$012 debits/month; $1.25/each after thatFree$5/month
TD chequing account

TD Unlimited Chequing Account

TD is Canada’s second-largest bank with more than 1,100 branches and 2,600 ATMs across Canada and some US states. They cater to every banking need there is, anything from day-to-day banking, saving, investing, borrowing and insuring. Their TD Unlimited Chequing Account is designed to provide you with the ultimate freedom to send money, pay bills, make purchases, and overall manage your money. 

If you carry at least a $4,000 balance in your chequing account, you won’t have to pay any monthly fees. Plus, there are no ATM fees at TD bank machines, nor any fees to send or request funds using Interac e-transfer. You’ll have unlimited transactions, and if you take out a credit card, the first year annual fee is rebated with your choice of one of five TD cards. 

You’ll have the option to set up a recurring direct deposit from your employer, government, or pension provider, as well as recurring pre-authorized debit payments of at least $50. The TD Unlimited Chequing Account also comes with overdraft protection, a savings program, mobile deposit, and fraud alerts

BMO chequing account

BMO Performance Plan

BMO is another major Canadian bank with about 900 branches across the nation and is actually the oldest in the country. The bank offers a number of checking account options, including its Performance Plan Chequing Account. BMO’s chequing accounts are its most popular accounts that offer unlimited daily banking transactions with competitive fees. 

Clients can earn a $300 cash bonus when opening a new chequing account, which can be used to set up recurring deposits and bill payments. The account features unlimited transactions and Interac e-transfers, as well as complimentary OnGuard Identity Theft Protection. 

Maintaining a balance of at least $4,000 also means further savings on monthly fees, and up to a $40 rebate on the annual fees on BMO credit cards is also available. You’ll also have access to overdraft protection, identity theft protection and a free US dollar savings account. 

Tangerine chequing account

Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account

Tangerine is a subsidiary of Scotiabank and was first founded as ING Direct in 1997. Since then it has re-branded as Tangerine and now offers a variety of banking services such as chequing accounts, savings accounts, mortgages, HELOCs, and even investment products. Tangerine is a popular online-only bank in Canada and as an arm of Scotiabank, it boasts robust security and allows clients to access all of Scotiabank’s ATMs across the country for free withdrawals. There are no traditional physical Tangerine bank branches, but there are a handful of Tangerine cafes in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary for those who wish to speak with someone in person. 

Perhaps the most popular product from Tangerine is its No-Fee Daily Chequing Account. You can access your funds through mobile, online, and telephone banking, and don’t have to worry about paying any monthly fees, transaction fees, or Interac e-transfer charges. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to earn up to 0.10% on funds deposited in your checking account. It also provides a free cheque book with 50 cheques. The main fees associated with this account are the NSF fees ($45), the non-Scotiabank ATM fees ($1.50) and the foreign currency conversion fee (2.5%). If you prefer banking online and want a chequing account with low fees and no minimum balance, then Tangerine is a great choice. 

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Scotia chequing account

Scotiabank Basic Banking Account

Scotiabank is one of the largest banks in Canada that offers a mix of both traditional and digital banking products to appeal to a wide range of clients. The Scotiabank Basic Banking chequing account is one of the more popular products on the bank’s arsenal of offerings and comes with no monthly fees with a minimum balance maintained and unlimited transactions. 

One of the more unique features of this account is its reward point options that it offers, which is a trait you won’t see with most other Canadian chequing accounts. You can earn SCENE points for free movies, as well as points for travel, gift cards, and others. You can also access your funds from any one of thousands of Scotiabank ATMs across the country at no charge, plus any Bank of America bank machine in the US. 

Simplii chequing account

Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account

Whether you want to spend, save, invest or borrow, Simplii Financial has a variety of products to meet your needs. It is an online-only bank that was previously part of PC Financial. It has now been taken over by CIBC for its daily banking services and products, including its savings accounts, chequing accounts, and mortgages. Simplii Financial clients can bank online and through their mobile devices via the Simplii Financial portal or may choose to visit physical CIBC branches for in-person assistance.

As the name suggests, the Simplii Financial No-Fee Chequing Account comes with zero monthly fees, as well as unlimited Interac e-transfers and unlimited monthly transactions. There is no minimum balance required, and all of your debits and bill payments are free and unlimited. While it may be an online bank, it is associated with CIBC and as such, you’ll still have access to CIBC’s ATMs if you ever need to withdraw cash. Moreover, like a savings account, you’ll be able to earn up to 0.15% in interest on your balance. Clients can also send money to others across the globe at no cost and can order foreign currency that can be obtained at various Canada Post outlets in Canada.

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rbc chequing account1

RBC Day To Day Banking

RBC is the largest bank in Canada with over 1.43 trillion dollars in assets. It is very accessible with 1,300 physical branches and over 4,200 ATMs available across Canada. Like the other major banks, it is involved in just about every aspect of banking, whether on a consumer, commercial, or global investment level. Among the plethora of banking products it offers, its chequing accounts are one of their most popular products. They currently offer 4 different chequing accounts each with its own unique traits. 

The RBC Day to Day Banking chequing account is their most affordable option with a monthly fee of $4.00. It comes with 12 free transactions after which each transaction will cost you $1.25. It also has unlimited e-transfers and extra benefits like overdraft protection, fuel discounts, and access to RBC cash saving offers.  Clients can earn a $300 cash bonus when opening a new chequing account, which can be used to set up recurring deposits and bill payments. Plus, you can link your bank card to your Petro-Canada account to save 3¢/L on fuel and earn 20% more Petro-Points at all Petro-Canada locations.

How To Choose A Chequing Account

With the plethora of chequing accounts available in today’s market, choosing a chequing account can be stressful. Numerous banks and financial institutions fight for your business through promotional offers and persistent ads that follow you around. To help you break through this “fog of war”, we’ve broken down the main aspects of choosing a chequing account. 

Find The Right Type Of Chequing Accounts

There are several different types of chequing accounts available in Canada. Depending on your needs and the features you’re looking for in your chequing account, one of the following will suit your needs more.

Personal chequing account – This is the most common type of checking account and can be used to pay bills, deposit paychecks, make debit purchases, and withdraw funds. 

No-fee chequing accounts – Many checking accounts come with a monthly fee, though there are some financial institutions that offer no-fee accounts that are free of these charges. These types of chequing accounts are becoming increasingly popular among Canadians, for obvious reasons. In addition to zero monthly fees, these checking accounts often come with other perks, such as unlimited transactions, free Interac e-transfers, and no minimum balance requirements. 

Online chequing accountsOnline-only banks are becoming the norm these days and offer many banking products that can be accessed online or via mobile app. They’re very convenient and have the same features as the average checking account. 

Many of these accounts come with zero monthly fees because of the savings due to limited overhead. In turn, these savings are passed on to customers in the form of no or low fees. 

USD chequing accounts – If you frequently visit the US, then a US dollar chequing account might be appropriate. These accounts allow you to deposit and withdraw US funds without the need to pay any exchange fees. 

Youth chequing accounts – These types of accounts are available to children and are designed to help encourage kids to save their money and teach them financial literacy. These accounts come with a variety of perks, including unlimited debit transactions and interest on the deposited funds. 

Seniors checking accounts – Much like youth chequing accounts, seniors chequing accounts are available to Canadians aged 60 years or over. They typically come with monthly paper statements, teller-assisted transactions, and no additional fees. 

Student chequing accounts – Canadians in full-time secondary or post-secondary education may be eligible for specialized student chequing accounts that often come with unlimited transactions. 

Hybrid chequing account – Some financial institutions offer chequing accounts that also act as a savings account. The main perk of this account is that you’ll be able to earn interest on your funds, which is not a typical trait of a chequing account. Moreover, you won’t have to open a savings account to save and grow your money, you can do it all through one account. 

USD chequing account –  If you happen to make a lot of USD transactions, a USD chequing account can help you save on exchange fees, as it allows you to withdraw and deposit USD funds without charging you exchange fees. 

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Lookout For Chequing Account Fees

Another aspect to consider when choosing a chequing account is the fees. There are a number of other bank fees that can affect the cost of owning a bank account.

  • Monthly fees – Many chequing accounts come with monthly maintenance fees, which typically come in the $3 to $15 range per month. However, there are many chequing accounts that come with zero monthly fees, which is something you may want to look out for. 
  • Transaction Fees – Many chequing accounts have limitations on how many transactions you can do for free. After that, it can easily cost $1.25 per transaction. Depending on your banking needs, you may want to opt for an unlimited transaction chequing account.  
  • ATM Fees – If you often use the ATM, understanding the cost of withdrawing money from your bank’s ATM and a third-party ATM can help you save money. 
  • Interac e-Transfer Fees – If you plan on using e-transfers a lot, finding a bank that offers unlimited e-transfers or a few free ones can help save you a few dollars each month.  
  • Overdraft Fees – Do you often find yourself going into overdraft? It may be worth considering a chequing account that has overdraft protection. 
  • Non-Sufficient Fund Fees (NSF) –  When your bank account falls below zero it can lead to an NSF charge. Depending on the bank it can easily cost up to $40.  
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Does Your Chequing Account Offer The Right Features?

Once you figure out the price and type of chequing account you need, you can narrow your options based on additional features.

  • Accessibility –  How do you bank? Do you enjoy banking in-person? Do you use ATMs? Do you prefer banking online or via a mobile app? Depending on your preference, some banks will excel in one area more than another. For example, if you prefer banking in-person, the number of branches your bank has in your area will be a focal point for your decision. 
  • Customer Service – Always check the reviews regarding a bank’s customer service. Good customer service can go a long way and change your entire banking experience.  
  • Product Variety – If you plan on investing, saving, getting insurance or taking out a loan, it may be worth choosing a bank that offers these products. When you use multiple products from the same bank you could potentially get better rates, bundle discounts and more. 
  • Minimum Balance – Some banks waive the monthly fee if you can meet their minimum balance. This is a great way to access better features while saving money on fees. 
  • Promotions – Many banks offer different promotions throughout the year to win your business. They often offer cash bonuses or free giveaways like an iPad when you sign up. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I get a chequing account with a online-only bank?

Generally, it is much easier to sign-up with an online-only bank as they typically require less paperwork than a regular bank. Moreover, they usually charge much lower fees or none at all. However, if you prefer the luxury of banking in person and online, opening a chequing account with a regular bank will be ideal.

Do I need a chequing account to open a savings account?

Simply put, no, you do not need to open a chequing account to open a savings account. To open one, simple apply with your prefered financial institution and provide some personal identification information. Once you’ve submitted your details and signed/e-signed your agreement, you’ll be able to transfer funds into your savings account.

What’s the difference between a chequing and savings account?

A chequing account is a basic bank account that you use to conduct day-to-day transactions and purchases including paying bills, receiving payroll, sending e-transfers, depositing cheques and more. On the other hand, a savings account is an account that augments your savings by accumulating interest.  

Bottom Line 

A chequing account is a convenient product that can help you make purchases, pay bills, send and receive money and overall manage and keep track of your money. While there are several choices available, be sure to evaluate your financial situation when making a decision. Depending on your banking needs, one chequing account will play more to your favour than the others. 

Rating of 5/5 based on 1 vote.

Lisa has been working as a writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same. She's used a variety of financial tools over the years and is currently growing her money with Wealthsimple, while stashing some capital in a liquid high-interest savings account so that she always has a financial cushion to fall back on. She's also been avidly using her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect as many Aeroplan points as possible to put towards her travels!

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