Best Banks in Canada for December 2023
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Fact Checked: Scott Birke
Updated: December 04, 2023
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To determine the best banks in Canada, we’ve compared the big 6 banks to some smaller online banks and credit unions to determine which financial institutions shine in the most important categories to Canadians. Not only will this help you find the best Canadian bank for you, but it can also help you decide if you’re going to keep all of your accounts together with one bank, pick and choose products and services from different institutions, or some combination of both.
Methodology: How we chose the best banks in Canada
In our evaluation of the best banks in Canada, we focused on several key factors: bank fees, customer service, ease of use, and digital banking capabilities. This comprehensive approach ensures that we identify banks that not only offer the best rates and low fees but also excel in providing quality customer support and a wide range of financial products. Our ratings were not influenced by any partnerships we may have with listed banks or financial institutions. For more read our full review methodology.
Best bank in Canada for chequing: Scotiabank
If your top concern right now is just finding a place to park your cash, you’re going to want to focus on Canadian banks with the best chequing accounts. Scotiabank is also an excellent option for anyone searching for one bank they can trust with many of their financial needs.
Also called the Bank of Nova Scotia, Scotiabank sets itself by doing more than other banks. It’s available in more countries, has more products, and tends to give its customers more features and benefits than a lot of other Canadian banks. But most importantly for Canadian consumers, this Big Five bank (the third-largest in the country) has a lot of chequing accounts.
Scotiabank is unique for its multi-product packages. Chequing account options are:
○ Ultimate Package – $350* welcome bonus plus earn up to 5.40% on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account for 5 months3 with unlimited debit transactions2 and ultimate rates for select GICs, free equity trades at Scotia iTRADE, and more; monthly fee of $30.95 waived for chequing account balances with a daily closing balance over $6,000 or a combined $30,000 in your Ultimate Package and MomentumPLUS Savings account.
○ Preferred Package – $350* welcome bonus and up to 4.95% interest on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account for 5 months3 with unlimited debit transactions2, and select perks for interest accounts and a first year annual fee waiver (up to $150) on select credit cards2; monthly fee of $16.95 waived for chequing account balances with a daily closing balance over $4,000.
○ Basic Plus Bank Account – 25 free debit transactions4 per month; monthly fee of $11.95 waived for chequing account balances with a daily closing balance of $3,000 in your account.
○ Student Banking Advantage® Plan – Open a student account today and get up to $1005, Unlimited debit card transactions6 ability to earn Scene+TM rewards program points; no monthly fee if enrolled full-time as a student in a post-secondary institution in Canada or the U.S.
○ Getting There Savings Program for Youth – Unlimited debit card transactions and Scene+ rewards program points; no monthly fee if 18 years old or younger.
○ Basic bank account – 12 free debit transactions7 per month; monthly fee of $3.95 with no option to waive.
All of these packages are different. Basic accounts are chequing accounts not rolled into packages, and they have limits on the number of free transactions you can make per month without paying a fee. The packages offer perks like better savings account interest rates3, unlimited transactions2, fee waivers for credit cards2, preferred rates on mortgages, and even investing benefits like a number of free trades through Scotia iTRADE. The Preferred Package is a step below the Ultimate Package.
If all-in-one banking appeals to you and you don’t mind the occasional fee, consider not just opening a chequing account with Scotiabank but going for a package instead.
- Welcome bonuses of up to $550
- Unlimited free international money transfers
- Unlimited debt transactions
- Monthly fees on most accounts
- Higher balance requirements to waive fees (but not required to keep account)
* For Ultimate Package: To qualify, certain conditions must be met. Visit here for full terms.
* For Preferred Package: To qualify, certain conditions must be met. Visit here for full terms.
1 Foreign currency exchange rate also applies. Subject to daily limits and additional Terms and Conditions found in the Scotiabank International Money Transfer Agreement.
2 For Ultimate Package: Conditions apply. Visit here to learn more.
2 For Preferred Package: Conditions apply. Visit here to learn more.
3 Conditions apply. Actual interest rate will vary based on the savings period (the Premium Period) that applies. Visit scotiabank.com/mpsa to learn more
4 For Basic Plus Bank Account: Conditions apply. Visit here to learn more.
5 Conditions apply. Visit here for full terms.
6 For Student Banking Advantage® Plan: Conditions apply. Visit here to learn more.
7 For Basic Bank Account: Conditions apply. Visit here to learn more.
† Interac e-Transfer is a registered trade-mark of Interac Corp. Used under license. TM Trademark of Scene IP LP.
® Registered trademarks of The Bank of Nova Scotia
Best bank in Canada for saving: EQ Bank
Savings accounts are an important part of any long-term financial goal you might have.
Savings accounts are an important part of any long-term financial goal you might have. You pretty much need a savings account to get from point A to point B whether you’re working on putting your kids through college, buying a house, or retiring (or all of the above). But compared to a standard savings account that earns next to nothing in interest, a high-interest savings account is the way to go. EQ Bank is a good choice for earning while you save.
EQ Bank is an online bank with better rates and features than many traditional banks. If you’re looking for a high-interest savings account, the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is a fee-free option with no minimum balance requirements. As one of EQ Bank’s hybrid bank accounts called everyday banking accounts, it combines the usability of a chequing account with the earning potential of a savings account. You can use it to make bill payments, deposit cheques, and make free transfers to other accounts while earning 2.50%* interest on your balance. EQ Bank also has competitive rates on its TFSA savings accounts and RSP savings accounts.
EQ Bank has been named the best bank in Canada on the Forbes 2023 list of the World’s Best Banks, making it a three time in a row consistent winner. EQ Bank is the direct banking sector of Equitable Bank. But while Equitable Bank does have branch locations across Canada, EQ Bank is online only. As a subsidiary of Equitable Bank, EQ Bank is a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) by extension with deposits aggregately eligible for CDIC protection up to $100,000, per insured category, per depositor.‡‡
We recommend EQ Bank for flexible high-interest savings accounts to anyone comfortable with digital banking.
Read our full review or open an account with EQ Bank.
- No monthly fees
- No minimum balance requirements to earn interest or avoid fees
- Free Interac e-Transfers® and electronic fund transfers
- No in-person branch locations
- Fewer products to choose from
* Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.
‡‡ Equitable Bank is a member of CDIC, which means your deposits with Equitable Bank and EQ Bank are eligible for deposit insurance from the CDIC.
Best bank for investing: BMO
You’ll be able to choose from the following individual investment accounts:
Registered accounts such as TFSAs and RRSPs
Non-registered accounts such as individuals or margin accounts
Locked-in accounts for retirement savings such as LIRAs and LRSPs
Non-personal accounts such as corporate accounts and trusts
You can invest in an impressive number of GICs, stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds with BMO. If you’re investing on your own online with BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed, you’ll pay low trade fees and have full access to tools and resources to inform your investing. Another option is to trade online with the help of a professional with BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect, which opens you up to personalized advice and trade recommendations but does come with an annual fee charged as a percentage of your portfolio. Or if you’re looking for something hands-off then check out BMO SmartFolio. You can pay a BMO investment professional to create and manage a portfolio of ETFs for you for an advisory fee between 0.4% and 0.7%.
Even if you’re not quite sure what kind of investing you want to do right now, BMO is a good place to start. And as an added bonus, most product pages ask questions about your personal goals that can help point you in the right direction.
Chequing and savings accounts with this bank won’t offer the best interest rates, so this might not be your top choice for all of your banking, but BMO would be worth signing up for just to invest.
Open an account with BMO.
- Discounts for students, seniors, foreign workers, and more
- Lower interest rates on deposit accounts including chequing accounts and savings accounts
- Monthly fees
Best bank for mortgages: RBC
RBC offers four different types of mortgage products. These are:
Fixed rate mortgages
Variable rate mortgages
RBC Homeline plan
The Royal Bank of Canada or RBC is the largest bank in Canada by market capitalization, and it probably comes as no surprise that a lot of consumers choose this bank when they need to take out a loan to buy a house. Not only is this bank trustworthy and reputable as any bank you’re thinking about borrowing from should be, but RBC does right by its customers with fair interest rates on all terms (not the lowest but also not the highest) and an easy application process.
Both fixed-rate and variable-rate mortgages are standard offerings, but the RBC Homeline Plan and Cashback Mortgage are different. The Homeline Plan lets you combine your mortgage with a Royal Credit Line so you can access credit using the equity you build in your home, borrowing more as you pay off your mortgage. This is ideal for new homeowners who plan to make costly changes to their homes. The Cash Back Mortgage can help you cover some of the expenses that come with purchasing a home with a lump sum payout from RBC at the time of closing. You can get up to 7% of your mortgage in cash and the only catch (other than higher rates) is that you must pay off your mortgage with RBC.
There are other unique advantages to choosing RBC for mortgages as well such as the option to purchase homes in the U.S. with advice and guides from experts and the ability to potentially transfer your mortgage over from another financial institution to RBC at no added cost. Newcomers to Canada will also appreciate the fact that this bank does not require you to have a credit history in Canada to get approved for a mortgage.
Whether you’re looking to buy a new home, purchase an investment property, or refinance your current mortgage, you might want to look more into RBC. Royal Bank also has an extensive list of RBC credit cards to consider.
Best bank in Canada for loans: TD Bank
This is the best bank for loans of many different kinds because it offers faster funding than many other Canadian banks with a good range of terms and limits to choose from.
Whether you need to borrow money to buy a house or car, for debt consolidation, to pay for a large purchase or project, or for something else entirely, you should be able to find a loan or line of credit to meet your needs with TD Bank. Interest rates with this bank are typically on the low end of average for most borrowers, but a better credit score will give you the best shot at TD’s best terms and rates.
TD Bank is known for its RSP loans, which can help you save for retirement while lowering your tax obligation, including an On-the-Spot RSP Loan that you can use for this year’s contributions and a CarryForward RSP Loan that you can use for past years’ contributions. Other notable loan products with this bank/lender include auto loans and personal loans thanks to repayment flexibility and transparency. TD Bank does not charge origination or prepayment penalty fees for its loans or lines of credit.
Toronto Dominion Bank also has an extensive selection of TD credit cards for shorter-term borrowing with perks like cash back and travel discounts. If you want to borrow money for any period of time and you’re looking for a bank with plenty of options, you might want to look into TD Bank.
Open an account with TD Bank.
- No monthly fees on most accounts
- No minimum balance requirements to earn interest or avoid fees on many accounts
- Most loans require at least good credit
Best bank for small business: CIBC
CIBC is a “Big Five” bank, meaning it is one of the five largest by assets and market capitalization. This translates to a wider reach and more options to choose from for your banking needs.
While there are a variety of products and services available with this bank, we find its business accounts to be especially impressive. CIBC’s suite of business banking products is comprehensive to say the least, ranging from its BMO credit cards and everyday chequing accounts to investment accounts and other growth accounts for yourself and your employees. Whether you’re just starting your business and need support in the form of advising, cash management tools, and financing or you run an established company and you’re looking for ongoing services like marketing and merchant services, you should find what you need with this bank.
While CIBC does charge a monthly fee on many of its accounts, many of them can be waived with qualifying activities or balances. Usually, the most premium business bank accounts have the highest fees but include money-saving perks like unlimited transactions and higher cheque deposit limits.
Open an account with CIBC.
- Good interest rates on deposit accounts
- Discounts on account bundles for different needs and professions (e.g. starting a business, Black-owned businesses, banking for franchises, etc.)
- Monthly fees on most accounts
Best for online banking: Tangerine
Tangerine combines the low fees of a branchless bank with some of the advantages of a traditional bank. For example, although there are technically no branches, Tangerine’s “cafes” in major cities allow for face-to-face support. And for a digital bank, Tangerine’s range of services is quite broad, offering chequing, savings, credit cards, GICs, mortgages, lines of credit (including HELOCs), TFSAs, and more.
Its standout bank account is the No-Fee Daily Chequing Account, which comes with unlimited debits, bill payments, and Interac e-Transfers® – all without monthly fees. It earns some interest (rare for chequing accounts). Its Tangerine Money-Back Card also deserves a shout-out as it allows you to choose your top earning categories. This is one of Canada’s best rewards cards for anyone who wants to earn on their own terms.
Unlike Scotia, Tangerine has fewer options for bundling products, and its savings interest rates aren’t as strong as other direct banking competitors like EQ Bank. To get the most benefits possible with the least amount of headache, consider banking across multiple institutions and adding Tangerine Bank to the mix for its convenient products. This bank is ideal for anyone comfortable with managing their money digitally but might not be best for full-service banking.
Open an account with Tangerine.
- No monthly fees on most accounts
- No minimum balance requirements to earn interest or avoid fees on many accounts
- Lower interest rates on deposit accounts including chequing accounts and savings accounts
- No in-person branches (some "cafes" in select major cities in Canada)
Biggest banks in Canada by market cap
What are the biggest banks in Canada? Here's a list of the largest Canadian banks by market capitalization as of November 6, 2023 according to Simply Wall St
Which is the oldest bank in Canada
How to choose the best bank in Canada for you
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing the best bank for you to make sure that your bank accounts and products are compatible with your lifestyle — and won’t end up being a burden. Since transferring funds and closing out accounts can be such a headache, you want to make sure you’re making this decision carefully to avoid a messy breakup down the road.
To help make your life easier, we’ve put together a few of the top things to look for when picking a bank to separate the good from the bad.
Look at a bank's features and benefits
Features and benefits can look like a lot of different things. It can look like a great mobile app that never crashes or loyalty bonuses and relationship interest rates.
But not all benefits hold the same weight from one person to the next. Some benefits that wouldn’t be important to you right now, like ATM rebates or waived fees for trading, would be really important to someone else.
If you’re thinking about opening any type of financial account, make sure to look into what the bank will offer you beyond the basics like safety and security. Feel free to be hard to impress here, since banks need you, not the other way around.
Compare bank fees
Monthly fees can vary greatly from one account to the next, but it’s a good idea to try to get a feel for what kind of fees a bank might charge you before you commit to a relationship. The only thing worse than fees you know about are fees that sneak up on you, especially when it comes to banking.
So what banking fees should you be on the lookout for? You’ve got your per-incident everyday banking fees for things like overdrafts, wire transfers, and excessive withdrawals and then you’ve also got monthly maintenance fees that you have to pay just for having an account and inconvenient penalty fees you could get charged if your balance drops below a certain threshold.
In general, a bank or credit union either charges fees on most of its products or it doesn’t. And often when a bank has a monthly fee for an account, you can waive it if you keep enough money in there. If you’re looking to avoid fees and you don’t have a lot of cash to deposit (a requirement for most big banks to waive maintenance fees), go with an online bank.
Bank interest rates: Are you looking to save or borrow?
If your top priority is earning the most interest possible on your chequing and savings accounts, compare rates side-by-side for any and all banks you’re interested in. You’ll quickly notice a difference between online banks and traditional banks.
This is because often, the best online banks blow traditional banks out of the water when it comes to interest earning and are also less likely to charge account fees, which can quickly cancel out any dividends you make.
But virtual banks can come with drawbacks. For example, they tend to have fewer account types to choose from compared to larger brick-and-mortar banks and may not offer as many ATM locations for easy cash access. Keep this in mind if you’re focused on interest. It’s fairly common to see people opening separate accounts for the sake of earning interest rather than just choosing their regular bank.
Read more: Best high-interest savings accounts in Canada
Compare a bank's range of products
Even if you’re only looking for one type of bank account right now, you never know when you’re going to want to open another one. And for a lot of people, sticking with a bank you know is easier than seeking out a different institution altogether and learning how to use a new platform.
Virtual/direct banks frequently have lower fees and better interest rates than their larger, brick-and-mortar counterparts, but they also have smaller product suites. Likewise, credit unions may have more limited selections of services, especially for things like investment accounts.
But sticking with one bank isn’t the right choice for everybody. If you don’t mind having a savings account with one bank, a credit card with a different bank, and a chequing account with another, you can mix and match to get the absolute best deal possible for each type of banking product you need. But if you prefer to keep all your financial ducks in the same pond, you might opt for a larger traditional bank within, say, the Big Five, which will offer the full spectrum of banking services.
Banking customer service
Another important factor to consider when choosing a bank in Canada is customer service. This means not only how easy it is to get support but also what options you have for contacting representatives. Many banking consumers are complaining about extended wait times when trying to contact their bank by phone or chat.
According to J.D. Power's banking customer satisfaction surveys for 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023, there is an erosion in customer satisfaction among all Canadian banks. The largest percentage drops belong to the older banks like RBC, Scotiabank, and TD. Newer entrants into the banking market like Tangerine, Simplii, and ATB Financial indexed the highest on customer satisfaction, with almost a 100 point spread between the bottom performer (TD) and the top performer (Tangerine).
J.D. Power Canadian retail banking satisfaction study
The newest entrant into the banking market is EQ Bank. Launched in 2016, EQ Bank is making big noise in the customer satisfaction space. Customer service can make a massive difference when you trust a single bank to manage much of your wealth. As we become a more and more connected country, it's important to have great customer service that can help us navigate the complexity. Read the EQ Bank review here.
I switched to EQ Bank from a big bank, where I've been a client since I was a child. Unlike my old "Big 5 bank", I've never been on hold for more than two minutes with EQ.Kris Bruynson, VP Marketing, Money.ca
Account management preferences
Once your account is actually set up, what will you need to do to access it? How easy is it to make bill payments, transfer funds, or get help with issues? Consider your preferences for account management.
Start with this question: How often do you currently handle your banking needs in a branch vs. online? If you strongly prefer face-to-face interaction with a banker, switching to a branchless bank might not be worth the savings you’ll get in reduced/eliminated fees and better interest rates. On the other hand, if you can’t remember the last time you were inside a physical bank branch, you would probably benefit from looking into online banks.
And whether you’re interested in an online bank or the biggest bank in Canada, check out the mobile apps for these institutions as this can be an instant dealbreaker. What are users saying about the app’s usability? How does it look compared to your other banking apps? These are all good questions.
Best banks for different types of Canadians
If you’re still not seeing a bank that feels like a good fit for you, you might want to start your search with banks that specialize in meeting the needs of people in situations similar to your own rather than looking only at products.
These are the best banks in Canada offering support for people of various backgrounds and lifestyles, starting with those who split their time between Canada and the U.S.
Best bank for frequent visitors to the U.S.: TD Bank
TD Bank is one of few Canadian banks that also operates in the U.S. So if you sometimes work in the United States but are based in Canada or vice versa, you can still access your bank accounts when travelling back and forth without any hiccups or surprises.
TD allows for cross-border banking with many of its chequing accounts and credit cards and also has a few financial accounts that let you keep money in U.S. rather than Canadian dollars. For example, the U.S. Daily Interest Chequing Account earns interest on your USD balance and lets you exchange between Canadian and U.S. money at low exchange rates.
For easily moving your money across North America and not having to worry about opening separate chequing accounts in two different countries, consider joining TD.
Best bank for newcomers to Canada: National Bank of Canada
The National Bank of Canada offers a variety of solutions for Canadian transplants and others new to the country. For one thing, you can bank for up to three years without paying any monthly fees. This bank provides services in seven different languages including French, English, Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Persian, and Punjabi and gives you access to immigration experts who can help answer your questions about residence and citizenship.
The National Bank of Canada will even support you in moving to Canada and understanding the immigration process if you haven’t yet relocated. You can open your accounts with the National Bank up to 90 days in advance of moving and make international funds transfers so your money is ready for you when you get there. This bank is friendlier than most to those moving to Canada and a great option for starting off right, and saving money, in a new country.
Best bank for Indigenous Peoples: First Nations Bank of Canada
Indigenous populations face unique challenges when it comes to personal finance and may prefer alternative banking solutions to traditional ones. For indigenous peoples, the First Nations Bank of Canada is a great option. This bank is over 80% Indigenous-owned and prioritizes the personal and financial health of Indigenous peoples. This means putting a focus on making banking more accessible as well as promoting businesses and initiatives that move Indigenous wealth-building forward. The First Nations Bank of Canada also supports and donates to causes that directly benefit Indigenous community members.
You do not have to identify as Indigenous to join the First Nations Bank of Canada, but if you do, we strongly recommend looking into this one-of-a-kind bank. Also worth noting is that the First Nations Bank has branch locations in Nunavut, where there are large populations of Indigenous peoples. Not many banks in Canada are located in Nunavut.
Best bank for seniors: CIBC
In many ways, seniors have different banking needs than the rest of the population. People over the age of 60 or 65 often don’t have the same financial goals as younger consumers. For example, while someone in their thirties might be looking for investment accounts they can use to save for retirement, seniors might already be retired and looking for accounts that can offer them passive income now. While many banks in Canada have dedicated senior chequing accounts and/or savings accounts, the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce or CIBC is potentially the best bank in Canada for seniors because it takes its senior-focused products a step further.
The CIBC Smart for Seniors account is a good example of how banks should be taking care of older customers. This program provides chequing and saving benefits such as reduced monthly fees and free money orders as well as resources to help seniors avoid common scams they might be most vulnerable to. There are also over a thousand bank branches across Canada, so those who prefer in-person banking to digital banking can continue getting the help they need one-on-one by visiting a branch.
Best Canadian bank summary
The best bank understands what you’re looking for, aligns with your financial goals, and definitely doesn’t give you a stress-induced ulcer.
If you’re looking for the best banks in Canada, you’ll find them right here. We hope our list helps you choose the next bank you sign up for whenever you need to bank, save, borrow, or invest.