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Given the sky-high costs of tuition, books, and room and board, students enrolled in college or university have a big financial burden on their shoulders. And since most students either don’t work or only have time for a part-time gig, incoming funds are usually at a minimum. Considering this, any way to keep other costs to a minimum would be welcome.

At the same time, students should have some type of banking account on the go, even if there isn’t a lot of money flowing in and out. Not only does a bank account give students a safe place to park their money, but it also serves as a way to develop financial literacy. But many traditional bank accounts come with fees, which can eat into your already-skimpy financial stash.

As a post-secondary student, you should consider looking at chequing accounts that are designed specifically for students. They come with low or zero monthly fees, plenty of debit transactions, and other perks that can help take your money further. 

What Is A Student Chequing Account?

A student chequing account is designed with students in mind, particularly when it comes to saving money and helping your dollar go further. These accounts typically come with lower fees and additional perks that you may not find with your average chequing account. 

Students who take on jobs while maintaining their studies will need a chequing account to deposit their paycheques, so it makes sense to sign up for a chequing account created specifically for students to get the most out of their banking. 

Features That Make A Student Chequing Account Special 

What is it about student chequing accounts that make them unique? Here are a few factors that set them apart from conventional chequing accounts:

Low Or No Monthly Fees

Chequing accounts typically come with a monthly fee to cover perks like debit transactions, Interac e-transfers, and maintaining balances below the minimum. You could be looking at anything from as low as $3.95 a month for basic accounts to up to $30.95 for premium accounts that offer several perks. But with a student chequing account, you can take advantage of much lower fees — and in many cases, zero fees.

High Transaction Limits

Many student chequing accounts offer unlimited debit transactions, so you can withdraw from your account as many times as you need to without having to worry about getting dinged with a fee every time you make a purchase.

High E-Transfer Limits

Like debit transactions, Interac e-transfers are often unlimited with student bank accounts. This can save you money when sending or receiving funds virtually.

Learn how to spot and avoid e-transfer scams.

Welcome Bonuses

Just for signing up for a student chequing account, you can be rewarded with some pretty neat perks, like bonus points, a higher interest rate for a period of time, or even cash. 

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Do Student Chequing Accounts Earn Interest? 

Traditional chequing accounts aren’t known for interest paid out on funds deposited. In many cases, no interest is paid out at all. Savings accounts pay out some interest, which is why they are designed to hold your money in place to allow it to grow with interest. 

Check out why you should use a tax free savings account

But with some student chequing accounts, you may be able to take advantage of the flexibility of a chequing account and the interest that typically comes with a savings account. While not all student chequing accounts pay out interest, some do, which is something to look out for.

Best Student Bank Accounts Canada

FeeFree TransactionsInterestWelcome Bonus
BMO Performance Chequing Account$0*Unlimited N/A– Earn a $100 bonus*
Tangerine Chequing Account$0Unlimited Up to 0.10%– None
RBC Student Banking Account$025 a monthNot specified– Earn 5,000 SCENE or Scotia Rewards points when you first sign up.
Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan$0Unlimited Not specified– Get $60 when you first open an RBC Student Banking account.
– Earn 5,000 RBC Rewards.
CIBC Smart for Students$0Unlimited Not specified– Get $60 when you first open your account; automatically enroll in the SPC rewards program.
– Enter for a chance to win $35,000.
Motusbank No Fee Chequing Account$0Unlimited 0.25%– None

BMO Performance Chequing Account

BMO’s most popular featured chequing account is the BMO Performance Chequing Account. This account offers unlimited transactions and e-transfers for a monthly fee of $16.95. However, students and recent grads for up to a year after they graduate* can enjoy no monthly Plan fees. Those who maintain a minimum monthly balance of $4,000 can also have the monthly fee waived.

The BMO Performance Chequing Account is a great option for students as you get the benefits and flexibility of a regular unlimited chequing account with no monthly Plan fees. Moreover, students who open an account can earn a $100 cash bonus for a limited time only*. Other perks that come with opening a BMO Performance Chequing Account as a student include up to a $40 rebate on the annual fee for eligible BMO credit cards*.

  • Monthly fees: $0 for students in school and up to 12 months after they graduate. After that, the monthly fee is $16.95, however, the fee is waived if you maintain the minimum monthly balance of $4,000.
  • Transactions: Get unlimited* everyday banking transactions including daily debit card purchases, bill payments, and transfers. 
  • E-transfers: Get unlimited Interac e-Transfer transactions (send or receive) each month as a student*. 
  • Welcome Bonus: For a limited time only, earn a $100 cash bonus* when you open a BMO student chequing account by May 31st, 2023
  • Extra Perks: Standard overdraft protection is only $5 a month. You also get a free Canadian non-BMO atm withdrawal each month.

*Conditions apply.

Tangerine Chequing Account

While not technically a bank account dedicated solely to students, the Tangerine Chequing Account is certainly one that post-secondary students may want to check out. 

There are no monthly fees to pay, no limit on debit transactions, and Interac e-transfers are free. Plus, there are plenty of bonuses that come with this account, like the ability to earn up to 0.10% interest on balances to help your money grow. 

The Tangerine Chequing Account is one of the few accounts out there that acts like a hybrid account that pays out interest while providing you with all the perks of a chequing account.  

  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited  
  • E-transfers:  Unlimited

Check out how minimum wage and student wages differ from province to province

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

The fewer the fees that students need to cover every month, the better. And the Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan fits the bill thanks to its zero monthly fees, unlimited debit transactions, and unlimited e-transfers at no extra cost. Plus, students who open this account will have the opportunity to earn Scotia Rewards or SCENE points. 

If you’re a movie buff, then the SCENE points will definitely take you a long way. There’s also the SCENE Student Banking Bundle available, which combines the Student Banking Advantage Plan, the Momentum Plus Savings Account, and the SCENE Visa card. With this bundle, you can earn as many as 12,500 additional points. 

Otherwise, Scotia Rewards points can be collected and redeemed for travel, gift cards, and merchandise. 

You can also use your mobile device to make purchases using Google Pay, Apple Pay, or Samsung Pay without having to take out your debit card. 

  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited  
  • E-transfers:  Unlimited
  • Welcome bonus: Earn 5,000 Scotia Rewards points or SCENE points when you first sign up

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RBC Student Banking Account

Another great option for students looking for a no-fee account is the RBC Student Banking Account, which comes with unlimited Interac e-transfers and some great perks when you first sign up. You’ll have the opportunity to get $75 upon opening your account, and enjoy fuel savings at Petro-Canada and extra Petro Points when you link your debit card to your account. 

Plus, if you choose to open an RBC credit card at some point, you can get back as much as $39 from the card’s annual fee, where applicable. 

There’s no minimum balance required to avoid fees. And while you won’t have unlimited debit transactions with this account, the first 25 every month are free. 

  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: 25 debits/month; $1.25 afterwards
  • E-transfers:  Unlimited
  • Welcome bonus: Get $100 when you first open an RBC Student Banking account (deadline to apply is May 31, 2023).

Looking for a credit card with great perks? Check out these credit cards for mobile device insurance

CIBC Smart For Students Chequing Account

The CIBC Smart for Students Chequing Account is an attractive option for students who appreciate zero monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements. The account also features unlimited transactions and e-transfers. 

When you first open an account, you can get $60 back when you make 3 Visa debit purchases over the first 2 months. Plus, you’ll be entered into a contest to win $35,000 that you can put towards tuition. 

Having trouble paying off your student loan debt? Check out the student loan repayment assistance plan.

And who doesn’t love to get deals when they shop? With a CIBC Smart for Students Chequing Account, you can get discounts on your favourite brands, like Foot Locker and American Eagle. 

Even after you graduate, you can still enjoy the perks of the CIBC Smart For Students for up to 6 months after your post-secondary education comes to an end. 

  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited
  • E-transfers: Free
  • Welcome bonus: Get $60 when you first open your account; automatically enroll in the SPC rewards program; enter for a chance to win $35,000

Motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account

Motusbank is an online-only bank that lacks brick-and-mortar branches. Instead, clients do all their banking online. Without all the overhead that typically comes with a traditional bank, the savings are passed on to customers like you who can take advantage of lower fees. 

Like the Tangerine Chequing Account, the Motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account is not a student bank account per se. That said, it comes with all the perks that cash-strapped students appreciate, including no monthly fees, free and unlimited e-transfers, and no minimum balance requirements. 

You can deposit cheques without having to visit an ATM by simply taking a photo with the Deposit Anywhere feature on the mobile app, and you can withdraw or access cash from more than 3,600 ATMs across Canada at no charge. The money in your Motusbank account will earn 0.25% interest, and deposits are insured up to $100,000 by CDIC.

Watch out for these bank withdrawals fees.

An interesting perk that you can tap into when you open a Motusbank account is the Price Drop feature, which you can access for free and without limitation. This feature allows you to find better deals on the products you purchase. All you need to do is submit your receipts via the app or email and Motusbank will search for better prices. And if a lower price is found, you can claim your money back.

  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited
  • E-transfers: Unlimited
  • Welcome bonus: None

Applying For A Student Chequing Account

To take advantage of a student chequing account, you’ll need to be enrolled in a post-secondary institution and provide proof of your enrollment. There may also be a grace period after you graduate that will allow you to continue to benefit from the perks of a student bank account for a certain period of time. 

Each financial institution will have its own specific eligibility requirements. For instance, the CIBC Smart for Students Chequing Account allows you to take advantage of the perks of the account for up to 6 months after graduating.

Final Thoughts

If you don’t already have a bank account, now is the time to get one. But rather than just opening an account, why not open one that offers perks specifically for those in college or university? Student chequing accounts are designed to help you take your money further and come with bonuses that you may not find with other account types. 

Plus, they can give you more practice with money management while helping you establish a bit of a financial cushion that can come in handy when you leave school. Consider any one of the above-mentioned accounts meant for students.

Lisa Rennie avatar on Loans Canada
Lisa Rennie

Lisa has been working as a personal finance 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.

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