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In Canada, bank accounts range in all sorts of prices. Generally, all-inclusive accounts cost more than others but, they come with added benefits like free safety deposit boxes, cheques, and unlimited transactions. With some account packages, you might even gain access to free rewards points credit cards that normally cost upwards of $100 a year. 

However, are these benefits worth the price tag? Many cheap or free bank accounts in Canada offer other perks. 

So, if you think you’re paying too much for your current bank account, or you’re just interested in knowing how to get a cheaper, possibly free one, keep reading.

What Is A Bank Account? 

A bank account is a product where you can store your money safely and conduct transactions including withdrawals, bill payments, money transfers, and more. 

What’s Considered A Low Cost Or Free Bank Account?

Generally, bank accounts with a fee of $4 a month or lower are considered to be low-cost. These accounts can usually be accessed for free if you fall under the senior, student or youth category.

Similarly, many bank accounts will waive your monthly account fees if you maintain a minimum balance in your account.

Financial Institutions That Offer Free Bank Accounts In Canada

As we mentioned, there are certain cases where a customer at one of the major Canadian banking institutions will be eligible for no-fee banking. However, unless you’re a student, a minor, or are receiving one of the above benefits, you’re not likely to qualify for a no-fee traditional chequing or savings account from most of the big-name banks. 

So, if you are the average Canadian and are looking to get free banking, there are places where you can find such services. Most of these operations are based online and are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to traditional banking. 

Simplii Financial

Simplii™  No-Fee Chequing Account

Simplii Financial is another popular online bank that offers a no-fee chequing account. As the digital extension of CIBC, Simplii™ offers a wide variety of services and products to Canadians looking for affordable and convenient banking solutions. 

Clients of Simplii will receive free daily banking with their No-Fee Chequing Account. Whether you’re new to Canada, a young adult, or simply want something that fits into your budget, Simplii Financial is a great option to consider.

Welcome Offer

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.

What Does The Simplii No-Fee Chequing Account Offer?

  • No monthly fees
  • $400 welcome bonus
  • Earn up to 0.10% interest on your balance
  • Unlimited debit purchases
  • Unlimited bill payments 
  • Unlimited withdrawals
  • Unlimited Interac e-Transfers
  • Overdraft protection
    • A fixed rate of 19% will be applied as well as a monthly fee
  • Direct payroll and pension deposit
Neo logo

Neo Money™ account

The Neo Money™ account combines the benefits of a chequing and savings account. You can also use the account to earn rewards and interest all without any monthly fees. Right now, you can earn a hefty 2.25% on your account balance, which is much higher than the average savings account. 

Sign Up Bonus

Open a Neo Money™ account today and receive a $5 bonus.1

What Does The Neo Money™ account Offer?

  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum deposit or balance
  • Earn 2.25% interest on every dollar
  • Earn unlimited cash back rewards
  • Comes with the Neo Money™ card
    • Earn 2.25x interest
    • No credit check needed (it’s not a credit card!)
    • Get up to 15% cash back on your first-time purchases at over 10,000 Neo partners
    • Earn up to 5% cash back with Neo partners
    • Earn 1% everyday cash back 
  • Track all transactions and account balance on the Neo app  
  • Free daily transactions 
  • Set up automatic savings with the Auto-Save feature 
Tangerine Logo

Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account

While Tangerine does charge its clients for some general banking services, such as additional cheques (the first booklet of 50 cheques is free, but any subsequent are $20 per booklet), non-sufficient funds and negative balances, with their No-Fee Daily Chequing Account, you won’t be charged for any transactions or debit purchases you make. They also offer other traditional banking products, such as mortgages, savings accounts and mutual funds. Like any normal bank, customers will also be given a personalized debit card. 

What Does Tangerine’s No-Fee Daily Chequing Account Offer?

  • No monthly fee
  • No minimum balance required
  • Earn up to 0.10% interest on your balance
  • Unlimited transactions
  • Free Interac e-Transfers
  • Overdraft protection
EQ Bank Logo

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

EQ Bank is a trademark of Equitable Bank. While they have offices located in Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Halifax, and Vancouver, EQ Bank is an online-only bank (no physical branches or locations for customers). They offer several personal banking services including their Savings Plus Account. 

What Does EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account Offer?

  • Earn 4%* interest on everyday banking (2.50% plus an additional 1.50% when you set up direct deposit for your paycheque) 
  • No monthly fees 
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Free bill payments
  • Free Interac e-Transfers® and electronic funds transfer 
  • Deposits are insured under CDIC 
  • Free mobile cheque deposit
  • Affordable international money transfers

Motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account

Motusbank is an online-only bank in Canada owned by Meridian Credit Union. You can access a wide range of banking products, including a no-fee chequing account to handle all your daily banking needs. 

What Does The Motusbank Chequing Account Offer?

  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance required
  • Unlimited free Interac e-Transfers®
  • Unlimited bills payments
  • Unlimited debit purchases
  • Unlimited withdrawals 
  • Earn 0.15% interest on every $1
  • First 25 cheques are free

Credit Unions

A credit union is similar to a bank, in that its clients can open chequing and savings accounts, as well as access other kinds of financial products like loans. Where credit unions differ from traditional banking institutions is how their profit margin works. Where a bank earns a profit from their customers paying for their services, credit unions are nonprofit cooperative organizations, owned and operated by the members themselves, rather than by stockholders. The profits they do make are gradually returned to their members through lower lending rates, more reasonable banking fees, etc. 

When it comes to chequing and savings packages, some credit unions, such as Conexus and Coast Capital do offer no-fee accounts. Another appealing incentive is their high-interest savings accounts, which often have higher rates than the average bank. However, for most credit unions, potential members need to pay a certain fee for the membership itself. 

Things To Consider When Choosing Free Bank Accounts In Canada

  • Does It Offer Interest?  Many online banks offer hybrid bank accounts. It lets you earn interest on your balance like a savings account but also gives you the freedom to make transactions, pay bills and make withdrawals like a chequing account. 
  • Does It Have Overdraft Protection? If you’re likely to go into overdraft, it’s best to look for accounts that include overdraft protection
  • How Many Transactions Are Included? Many low-cost and free bank accounts come with limited transactions. If you go over the limit you’ll usually be charged a fee for each extra transaction you make. 
  • How Much Does It Cost? Most bank accounts have a monthly fee. While some can be as low as $4, others can go as high as $30 or more a month. If you’re looking for a free bank account in Canada, ensure you meet the minimum balance to have your fees waived or look for an account that simply does not have any fees. 
  • Do You Meet The Minimum Balance Requirements? Many bank accounts have a minimum balance requirement to waive your monthly account fees. If your account goes below the minimum balance, you’ll be charged a fee. 
  • Are There Any Welcome Bonuses? Before opening an account, find out if any banks are offering a welcome bonus. Some offer new clients a cash bonus when they open an account while others may offer cash back on your purchases or interest on your balance.   

No Banking Is 100% Free

It’s important to keep in mind that no banking is completely free. Once again, all banks are businesses, whether they’re based out of physical locations or entirely online. While Tangerine’s chequing accounts are free, they do charge you $45 if you want to transfer your funds to another banking institution. Then again, like any bank, they’ll throw in some incentives to earn your business, such as a $25 signing bonus for opening a new account. 

Consider Having Multiple Bank Accounts

You also don’t have to keep all your money in one place. While one bank might offer better rates for their accounts, another might offer better rates for lending. This means you could store your money in one bank and secure a mortgage through another. In the end, every bank or credit union comes with benefits and drawbacks, so be sure to shop around before making your decision.

Maintain A Minimum Balance To Save Money

As we mentioned earlier, many chequing accounts come with an option to maintain a minimum monthly balance to have fees waived. Keeping this up is a good way to promote healthy spending habits. Not only will you be saving on banking fees by not spending the money in your account, but you’ll also be forcing yourself to save more in general.

Bottom Line On Free Bank Accounts In Canada

The type of bank account you should get depends on your financial situation and what you consider to be cheap or convenient. Some people don’t wish to pay anything for their banking needs and have no issue doing their business completely online. Others prefer to visit their local branch and deal with things in person. Either way, if you’re about to open a new account or are thinking about switching to a cheaper one, be sure to research all your available options.

Free Bank Account FAQs

Which banks offer free bank accounts?

Tangerine, Simplii Financial, and EQ Bank are some banks that offer no-fee bank accounts. 

Are there any banking discounts?

If you’re a student, a senior citizen, or a youth (under 18), you may be eligible for certain low-cost bank accounts for free. 

Can I ask my bank to lower my bank account fees? 

If you’re unhappy with your bank’s services you can ask your bank to lower your fees. Sometimes if you mention that you’re thinking of closing your account and signing up with one of their competitors, they may waive certain fees or throw in some additional perks to get you to stay. 

*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.

Priyanka Correia, BComm avatar on Loans Canada
Priyanka Correia, BComm

Priyanka Correia is a Marketing Coordinator and personal finance expert at Loans Canada. Priyanka completed her Bachelor's degree in Marketing at Concordia University and has published work that has been mentioned in various news media. She is passionate about money management and educating Canadian consumers about how to take control of their financial lives.

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