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Online banking continues to grow in popularity among Canadians looking for convenient and low-cost banking options. Online-only banks offer many services as traditional brick-and-mortar banks but without the overhead expenses of operating physical branches. This allows many online banks to offer higher interest rates on savings accounts, lower fees, and compelling promotional offers.

This article compares the top online-only banks available to Canadians in 2024 based on factors such as types of accounts offered, fees, interest rates, accessibility and reputation. Whether you want a chequing account, high-interest savings or a hybrid chequing/savings account, one of these leading online banks can likely meet your needs.

Best Online-Only Banks 2024 At A Glance

BankKey Features
SimpliiNo fees, free transfers, $400 sign up bonus, access to mortgages, loans, investments
TangerineNo-fee savings accounts, free transfers between savings accounts, Great no-fee credit card, access to mortgages and loans
EQ BankHigh everyday interest savings up to 4.00%, chequing account pays interest, 0.5% cash back debit card, no monthly fees
motusbankUnlimited free transactions checking accounts, high 2.5% savings rate, access to 43,000+ no-fee ATMs, TFSA & RRSP accounts
WiseMulti-currency accounts in 10 currencies, hold & exchange over 50 currencies, low fee money transfers
Alterna Bank2.25% high interest savings, Up to $2K new client investing offer, no-fee chequing available, online investing with Qtrade partnership
WealthsimpleHybrid spending & savings account, 1% cash back on spending, up to 5% interest rate on deposits, peer-to-peer lending
Simplii Financial

#1 Simplii Financial™ – Best No-Fee Banking

Simplii™ , owned by CIBC, earns its spot due to its diverse range of no-fee banking services. It provides various products, including chequing and savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages, loans, and investment options. This makes it a great one-stop shop for online banking. 

Despite lower fees, Simplii’s interest rates aren’t market-leading. Overall, Simplii is a good solution for diverse online banking with low to no fees. 

Key Features 

  • A high-value welcome bonuses
    • Earn $400 when you open a No-Fee Chequing Account by October 31, 2024. Add an eligible direct deposit of at least $100 a month for 3 consecutive months.
  • Diverse banking services encompassing savings, investments, loans, and more
  • Low fees or no-cost banking

Types Of Products And Services Offered

  • Personal Everyday Banking: Savings accounts, chequing accounts, USD savings accounts, foreign savings accounts, newcomer banking, and student banking.
  • Personal Borrowing: Credit cards, secured lines of credit, personal loans, and mortgages.
  • Personal Investments: GICs, TFSAs, RSPs, and mutual funds.
  • Business Banking: N/A

Simplii Financial Pros And Cons

ProsCons
– $400 welcome bonus for chequing accounts
– Wide range of banking options available
– Low, or no-fee banking
– Access CIBC ATMs
– Only one credit card option

Tangerine

#2 Tangerine – Best For Goal-Based Saving

Tangerine is owned by Scotiabank, and is a direct Simplii competitor. As above, Tangerine stands out with diverse banking options, including everyday banking, borrowing, and investments. Its value matches Simplii, only edging it out with business banking.

As usual with online banking, Tangerine’s chequing and savings accounts have no fees. However, they also have one of the best no-fee credit cards available today, the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card. Overall, Tangerine remains a popular choice, offering many solutions to centralize online banking. 

Key Features

  • Tangerine offers a wide range of online banking products, but it’s most well-known for its no-fee chequing account and no-fee credit card. 
  • If you apply for the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card by January 31, 2024, you’ll earn an extra 10% back on up to $1,000 in everyday purchases made within your first 2 months.
  • New clients can use the promo code: EARNMORE to take advantage of 3 promotional offers including a special 6% interest rate on RSPs and TFSAs for new customers
  • Get credit card options with 2% cash back. 

Types Of Products And Services Offered

  • Personal Everyday Banking: Chequing account, savings accounts for TFSA, RSP, USD, and RIF.
  • Personal Borrowing: Credit cards, home equity line of credit (HELOC), personal line of credit.
  • Personal Investments: GICs, TFSAs, RSPs, and RIFs.
  • Business Banking: Business savings and investment accounts.

Tangerine Pros And Cons

ProsCons
– Many banking products available
– High promotional interest rate
– Great no-fee credit cards
– Free access to Scotiabank ATMs
– No in branch support for problem resolution
– App usability lags behind competitors in user-friendliness

EQ Bank

#3 – EQ Bank – Best for High-Interest Savings and No-Fee Banking

EQ Bank is known for rock-bottom fees with sky-high interest rates. Customers can earn up to 4.00% interest on various accounts, including savings, TFSA, and USD accounts. This differentiates it from preceding banks offering such high rates only as promotional deals.

The star is their EQ Bank Savings Plus Account, a hybrid chequing and savings account. You’ll earn up to a 4.00% interest rate, with 0.5% cash back on spending. It also provides ATM withdrawal rebates and no foreign exchange fees. 

Key Features

  • Earn a competitive interest rate of up to 4.00%. You’ll earn a base 2.50% on everyday banking, and an extra 1.50% when you direct deposit your pay to the account. 
  • Earn 0.5% cash back on all your purchases.  

Types Of Products And Services Offered

  • Personal Everyday Banking: A hybrid chequing and savings account, joint savings account, TFSA savings, and a US dollar account.
  • Personal Borrowing: Mortgages and personal loans. 
  • Personal Investments: GICs, TFSAs, and RSPs. 
  • Business Banking: Business savings and investment accounts.

EQ Bank Pros And Cons

ProsCons
– No monthly fees or minimum balance requirements.
– ATM fee reimbursements
– Offers competitive interest rates up to 4% on its Savings Plus Account.
– You can manage your EQ Bank accounts via the EQ Bank mobile app.
– Slower bank-to-bank (EFT) transfers
– Missing accounts like credit cards might limit choices for customers seeking more options

motusbank

#4 – motusbank – Best For Credit Union Virtual Banking

motusbank is a newcomer that was established in 2019. While offering competitive rates, they lack a suite of banking products provided by competitors. You’ll earn a 2.50% yield on high-interest savings and their GIC rates starting at 3.75%. 

motusbank doesn’t have credit cards but offers interest-earning chequing accounts, competitive personal loans, and no-fee chequing options. Overall, motusbank is a strong choice for robust online banking, offering competitive terms and no monthly fees. 

Key Features

Types Of Products And Services Offered

  • Personal Everyday Banking: Savings and chequing accounts.
  • Personal Borrowing: Mortgages, home equity line of credit, personal line of credit.
  • Personal Investments: GICs, TFSAs, RSPs, RIFs.
  • Business Banking: Business savings and investment accounts.

Motusbank Pros And Cons

ProsCons
– Credible and federally-authorized online bank backed by a reputable credit union
– Competitive high-interest savings rates
– Extensive access to ABMs in North America
– Absence of credit cards- Integration with Interac e-Transfer for international transfers might not be the most cost-effective
– Limited range of financial products compared to other online banks

Wise logo

#5 – Wise – Best For Multi-Currency Banking

Wise stands out as the go-to choice for multi-currency banking. It’s renowned for cost-effective transfers and the comprehensive multi-currency account. Aside from a Canadian bank account, you can effortlessly receive account details from nine other countries. For example, the Euro account comes with IBAN information, enabling European transactions.

Furthermore, you can hold over 50 foreign currencies and access them through the Wise debit card or app. This institution is ideal for travel and foreign transactions.

Key Features

  • Access to bank details in 10 currencies, including Canada, the US, Eurozone, and more
  • Hold, exchange, and top-up over 50 currencies
  • Multi-currency Visa debit card for fee-free payments in foreign currencies
  • Seamless access to Wise’s international money transfer service

Types Of Products And Services Offered

  • Personal Everyday Banking: Wise multi-currency accounts with multiple account details, multi-currency balances supporting over 50 currencies.
  • Personal Borrowing: N/A
  • Personal Investments: N/A
  • Business Banking: Business savings and chequing accounts.

Wise Pros And Cons

ProsCons
– Offers bank details in multiple currencies, simplifying international transactions
– Wide range of supported currencies for holding and exchanging
– Competitive exchange rates with low fees for international money transfers
– No support for cash or cheque payments
– Lack of interest on account holdings
– Fees for topping up the account via debit/credit card and limitations on fee-free international ATM withdrawals

Alterna bank -Tfsa

#6 – Alterna Bank – High-Interest Savings & Qtrade Partnership

Alterna Bank, not to be confused with Alterna Savings, is an online bank servicing Canadians. They’re a subsidiary of Alterna Savings, which is an Ontario-based credit union. 

Their high-interest savings account offers a competitive 2.25% interest rate, and Alterna’s Qtrade collaboration dangles a lucrative $2,000 cashback welcome bonus. Otherwise, Alterna offers a range of accounts, including a fee-free eChequing account, high-interest savings, TFSA, RRSP, and various investment options. 

Alterna Bank’s collaboration with Qtrade sets it apart, offering an attractive cash back incentive for new investors and a diverse range of accounts to cater to different financial needs. However, potential customers should consider the minimum $5,000 investment requirement for the Qtrade bonus and the limited physical branch locations.

Key Features

  • Competitive 2.25% interest rate on High-Interest Savings Account (HISA)
  • Partnership with Qtrade offering up to $2,000 cashback
  • Accounts include no-fee eChequing, high-interest savings, TFSA, RRSP, and online investing through Qtrade
  • $800 coverage for mortgage legal fees and appraisals

Types Of Products And Services Offered

  • Personal Everyday Banking: Savings/high-interest savings and chequing accounts.
  • Personal Borrowing: Mortgages, home equity line of credit, personal line of credit.
  • Personal Investments: GICs, TFSAs, RSPs, RIFs, personal investing portal with guided and direct investing.
  • Business Banking: Business savings, business loans, cannabis business and investment accounts.

Alterna Pros And Cons

ProsCons
– Competitive interest rates
– Qtrade welcome bonus incentive
– Variety of account options including no-fee eChequing and high-interest savings
– High deposit requirements for Qtrade bonus
– Savings rates may not be the highest available among online banks
– No credit cards

wealthsimple crypto

#7 – Wealthsimple Cash – Convenient Spending & Cash Management

Wealthsimple Cash earns you 1% cash back on spending. With no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements, it stands out for its simplicity and limited fees compared to traditional banks. The standout features of Wealthsimple Cash include its peer-to-peer lending functionality, auto-invest feature linked to direct deposits, and a round-up spending option that invests spare change. 

Wealthsimple has some key drawbacks, including a 2.5% withdrawal fee, daily deposit limits of $3,500, occasional platform glitches, and the absence of a desktop application. Despite these limitations, Wealthsimple Cash is beneficial for individuals seeking a simple spending solution with rewards, and unique features.

Key Features

  • Limited fees and no monthly account minimums
  • 1% cash back on all spending, which can be directed to investment accounts
  • Interest rates up to 5% based on account balance
  • Peer-to-peer lending functionality within the platform

Types Of Products And Services Offered

  • Personal Everyday Banking: Digital account and cash access card.
  • Personal Borrowing: N/A
  • Personal Investments: Stocks, EFTs, options trading. Self-guided investment platform.
  • Business Banking: N/A

Wealthsimple Pros And Cons

ProsCons
– Minimal fees and no account minimums
– Earn 1% cash back on spending
– Integration with other Wealthsimple accounts for streamlined investing
– 2.5% fee for instant withdrawals
– Daily deposit limit of $3,500
– Limited merchant acceptance for prepaid cards

Pros And Cons Of Online-Only Banks

Online-only bank advantages

Pros

Online banks often offer higher interest rates on savings compared to traditional banks due to lower operational costs. They typically provide various account options like high-yield savings and GICs, often without minimum balance requirements or service fees. 

Moreover, direct banks generally charge fewer fees for account maintenance, direct deposits, or transactions, making them more cost-effective. 

Cons

Traditional banks prioritize personal relationships and face-to-face assistance, beneficial when seeking extra financial services or making account changes. On the other hand, online banks might face limitations with transactions like cash deposits and international transfers, relying on external ATM networks that may have accessibility issues and potential fees.

Furthermore, online banks may not offer a complete range of services available at traditional banks, such as insurance, brokerage accounts, and wealth management. 

How To Open An Online Bank Account

Opening a fully digital bank account with an online-only bank is typically quick and convenient:

  1. Visit the bank’s website and browse through the options
  2. Click on “Open Account” option, or the equivalent
  3. Provide two pieces of personal identification information, one indicating your name and address and another indicating your name and date of birth. These can include government-issued identification, tax assessments, benefit statements, utility bills, bank statements, or foreign passports.
  4. Make an opening deposit electronically via a linked bank account
  5. Start accessing your new online bank account!

Bottom Line

Online banking brings the same regulated and insured services Canadians expect from a bank but at lower costs and with more convenience and flexibility. With no fees, higher interest rates and easy digital access, the above banks represent Canadians’ premiere online banking choices in 2024. Their secure platforms, innovative features and focus on digital customer experience will continue driving online banking adoption in the years ahead.

Online Banks FAQs

Is online banking safe?

Yes, online banking is safe in Canada with chartered financial institutions. Reputable options offer CIDC deposit insurance to protect you. 

Do online banks have ATMs?

Most online banks do not operate their own ATM networks. Some provide free or discounted access to third-party ATMs like THE EXCHANGE Network, MoneyPass, or Acculink. Others fully reimburse any ATM fees incurred at Canadian ATMs. Simplii and Tangerine have established parent companies, letting you piggyback on the network of CIBC and Scotiabank.  

What is the best online bank in Canada?

The top options are Simplii Financial and Tangerine, which offer robust no-fee accounts. EQ Bank leads for savers focused on everyday interest income. Motusbank provides full-featured digital chequing.
Trevor O'Hagan avatar on Loans Canada
Trevor O'Hagan

Trevor is a personal finance, SEO, and technical sales expert. He received an Honours BAA (Economics) degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. Trevor previously worked at Salesforce and used his personal finance knowledge to become a homeowner in Ontario by age 25. Aside from Loans Canada, Trevor contributes to Forbes Advisor and Hardbacon. He also serves as the chairman of the Schwartz-Reisman Alumni Association and is a content specialist at Croton Content.

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