Best chequing accounts in Canada

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Updated: July 04, 2024

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Chequing accounts are a vital part of a healthy financial life and usually supports functions like ABM transactions, electronic deposits for your salary, bill payments, and money transfers.

Most chequing accounts offer little to no interest, with some rare exceptions. They’re generally designed to make it easier for you to oversee money as it comes in and out of your possession, not to save money for long-term growth.

Summary of the best chequing accounts in Canada

Canada’s Big 6 banks all offer attractive chequing accounts, and today a number of online-only accounts are giving the big players a run for their money. These are the best Canadian chequing accounts that we recommend, based on our research.

Chequing account Promo Apply now
BMO Performance Chequing Account Get a cash bonus of up to $600!* Get started
Scotiabank Ultimate Package Earn up to $400 with an Ultimate Package and an investment plan.2 Get started
EQ Bank Earn 4% interest on your balance Get started
Simplii No Fee Chequing account Earn $400 Get started

** No monthly account fee by maintaining a minimum daily closing balance of $5,000 in your Ultimate Package, or a combined balance of $30,000 across your Ultimate Package and your MomentumPLUS Savings Account

1 Conditions apply. Actual interest rate will vary based on the savings period (the Premium Period) that applies. Visit scotiabank.com/mpsa to learn more.

2 Conditions apply. Visit here for full offer details.

Best chequing account in Canada from a big six bank

BMO Performance Plan
  • Promo: Get up to $600* in cash bonuses. Terms and conditions apply.
  • Fees: $17.95 waived with $4,000 min balance*
  • Transactions per month: Unlimited*
  • Global Money Transfer: No fee*
  • Standard overdraft protection: $5/month*
  • BMO ATM withdrawals: $0, Non-BMO ATM Withdrawals: 1 free per month, then $2 in Canada and $5 outside of Canada*.

BMO’s Performance Chequing Account is our favourite unlimited chequing account in Canada for its family bundle offer. Although there is a monthly fee of $17.95, you can waive that as long as your minimum monthly balance is at least $4,000*.

Here's how to earn that $600 bonus.

Earn $350 when you open a new BMO Performance Chequing Account and make a deposit by October 31, 2024. Then complete two of the following: (1) set up a recurring direct deposit, (2) make two online bill payments of at least $50 and/or (3) make two pre-authorized debits of at least $50 to different billers.

Earn another $200 when you open a new Savings Amplifier Account by October 31, 2024, and complete the following: (1) Deposit $10,000 or more within the first 30 calendar days of opening the Savings Amplifier Account and (2) After the initial 30-calendar day period from the Savings Amplifier Account open date maintain a daily closing balance of $10,000 or more at all times for an additional 90 calendar days.

Your final $50 is unlocked when you invite a family member as part of the BMO Family Bundle and have them open an account by October 31, 2024*.

You'll have to do all three steps to get the full offer, but as far as big five banks go, BMO's chequing account is top notch. You'll get access to over 3,300 ATMs, award-winning digital banking, and unlimited transactions and Interac e-Transfers.

* Terms and conditions apply.

Best bank account in Canada from a big six bank

Scotiabank Ultimate Package
  • Promo: Earn $350 when you open a new Ultimate or Preferred Package account before July 31st, 2024 and within 60 days set up a recurring direct deposit and either two recurring pre-authorized transactions of at least $50 (e.g. mortgage payment) or one bill payment (e.g. phone, utility) of at least $50.
  • Promo step 2: Earn an additional $50 when you open an RRSP, TFSA, or FHSA within 60 days of opening your account and set up a pre-authorized contribution of at least $50 per month and make a minimum deposit of $3,000 in your new registered account (and hold it for 6 months)*.
  • Fees: $30.95 per month or $0 if you hold $6,000 in your account or $30,000 combined balance in your chequing and savings account.

Scotiabank has multiple different chequing accounts on offer, including a student chequing and a youth chequing account. The monthly fees for Scotiabank’s chequing accounts range from $0*–$30.95 depending on your balance, with seniors enjoying a discount. Every Scotiabank Chequing account comes with a debit card, allowing you to earn rewards on debit transactions with the Scene+ TM Program.

Scotiabank’s standout chequing account is its Ultimate Package, which offers a world-class combination of benefits particularly suited to those interested in bundling different banking needs under the Scotia roof. Notable account features include: unlimited debt transactions, Unlimited no-fee Scotia International Money Transfers± , and Interac e-Transfer transactions.

This Ultimate Package means you'll bundle your chequing account with your savings account. Your MomentumPLUS Savings account will earn an additional 0.10% interest with the bundle plus you'll get 10 free equity trades at Scotia iTrade in yoru first year.

You'll also get free personalized cheques, an ongoing annual fee waiver on some of best credit cards from Scotiabank, unlimited free Global non-Scotiabank ABM withdrawls, a free small safety deposit box (think of how cool you'll look among your friends), and all part of the Scene+TM program where you're always earning rewards.

Best chequing account in Canada with the highest everyday interest rate

EQ Bank details
  • Promo: Earn 4% interest for 12 months (2.50% everyday interest +1.5% interest when you set up direct deposit).

EQ Bank is the no-fee bank. No monthly fees, no minimum balances, free unlimited bill payments, interact e-transfers, and free withdrawals from any ATM in Canada with the EQ Bank card.

EQ Bank's chequing account doubles as a savings account because while you can set up bill payments and direct deposits, they'll also pay you money for having money in your account (up to 4%). EQ launched a prepaid Mastercard that earns 0.5% cash back on all your spending (and you'll continue to earn 4% with the money you transfer onto that card).

The best part of that card is EQ Bank's dedication to their no-fee promise. You can use any bank or ATM and they'll refund you whatever you were charged. Quite literally, any bank is your bank—no more shopping around to find your bank's nearest ATM.

Best chequing account in Canada with no fees

Simplii Financial Chequing Account
  • Promo: Earn $400 when you open a No Fee Chequing Account by October 31st, 2024 after you add an direct deposit of at least $100 a month for 3 straight months.

Say goodbye to fees with this No Fee Chequing Account.

Enjoy unlimited debit purchases, bill payments and free withdrawals from CIBC ATMs. You can add overdraft protection if and when you need it at $4.97 per month when you use it plus a fixed rate of 19% on overdraft balances.

Unfortunately, the interest rate is akin to the big six banks where you'll earn 0.01% on balances between $0.00 and $50,000. However, you can open a Simplii High Interest Savings account with no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirement and earn up to 0.40% on balances less than $50,000.

Who needs a chequing account?

Almost everyone.  A chequing account is an efficient tool to receive payments, like monthly earnings, and hold them securely. Keeping your money in cash under your mattress isn’t a safe option. With a chequing account, you can make it easier for your employers and friends to pay you and you can rest assured that your money is safe.

Most of us are eligible for at least a basic chequing account, but a bank might reject an applicant who has a history of mismanaging prior accounts at other banks. Those who find themselves in this position can consider other options for making payments, like prepaid debit cards.

If you are interested in getting a chequing account, keep in mind that different account types are suited to different individuals. In order to pick the best chequing account in Canada for you, we recommend that you compare the options out there with an eye for the specific features you require.

Types of chequing accounts

Most Canadian banks offer different variations on the below account types, with each account type serving a slightly different purpose.

Personal (basic) chequing account

A personal, or basic chequing account is the standard account in Canada. You’ll get a certain number of monthly transactions along with extra features, depending on which account you choose. You’ll generally have to pay a monthly fee of between $4–$30, which varies according to the features and number of transactions on offer.

No-fee chequing account

A no-fee chequing account is a personal free chequing account. Although this is great for anyone who wants to save money, it tends to come with strings attached. You won’t get nearly as many features as you might with a fee-paying account, and you’ll usually be limited to a set number of transactions per month. You might also have to keep a minimum average bank account balance in order to avoid paying fees. Direct/virtual banks are an exception to this rule, as their lower operation costs might allow them to provide a chequing account for no monthly fee and few if any transactional fees.

Hybrid/alternative accounts

Some digital financial institutions offer accounts with essential payment and cash management functionality, combined with the earned interest, cash back or rewards that you would associate with a savings account or credit card. Like a chequing account, these hybrid accounts will often equip the accountholders with a debit or prepaid card, while also supporting bill pay, Interac e-Transfers, and direct deposit of paycheques. Unlike a chequing account they typically will not issue paper cheques, support overdraft, process wire transfers, or provide customer service in traditional bank branches. Most consumers use these accounts in addition to rather than instead of a traditional chequing account, but this may change as the world becomes more and more cashless and cheques grow obsolete.

A good example of these new hybrid account types is KOHO, which allows accountholders to load money and then spend it via a KOHO Prepaid Mastercard® or by withdrawing cash at an ATM. KOHO is attractive because it comes with an unusual perk for such an account type: cashback rewards. The no annual fee subscription version, KOHO Easy, offers 1% on Groceries + Transportation and up to 5% cash back extra at partnered merchants, and allows you to earn 0.5% interest on your entire account balance (with no minimum deposit requirement).

Student chequing account

Student accounts are designed especially for students, usually only those in full-time education. Most student accounts have age restrictions, typically requiring that you be between 18 and 25, although these do vary. Student chequing accounts generally charge lower or no banking fees and might offer limited perks and rewards.

Youth chequing account

Youth chequing accounts are for people under their provincial age of majority. Accountholders will usually pay no or low bank fees and might earn some interest on their money.

U.S. dollar chequing account

U.S. dollar chequing accounts are designed for individuals who want easier cross-border transactions. They usually let you withdraw your money in U.S. dollars from the right ABM without any currency exchange fees and make it easy to pay for transactions in U.S. dollars.

What to look for in a chequing account

Before you open a chequing account, ask yourself these questions:

How many transactions do I need per month?

If you need a lot of monthly transactions, you might go with the Scotiabank Ultimate Package, which offers unlimited debit transactions3 for a monthly fee of $30.95. The fee is waived with maintaining a minimum daily closing balance of $5,000 in your Ultimate Package, or a combined balance of $30,000 across your Ultimate Package and your MomentumPLUS Savings Account.

On the other hand, if you need relatively few transactions you might opt for an account like the CIBC Everyday Chequing Account, which allows you up to 12 transactions per month for a low fee of $3.90.

3 Conditions apply. Visit here to learn more.

Do I carry out most of my banking transactions over the phone, via the internet, or in person?

Different banks offer different banking platforms: the Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing account charges $0 per month for unlimited daily and email transfers, e-statements and online banking, but Tangerine offers little in-person service, so users need to feel comfortable executing their banking needs online.

Other bank accounts still support in-person service, like the RBC No Limit Banking account: unlimited teller-assisted transactions for $10.95 per month.

What will be my average monthly minimum balance?

Some bank accounts provide benefits for maintaining a minimum monthly balance: the TD Minimum Chequing Account rebates its monthly fee if account holders maintain a minimum balance of $2,000 or more. BMO’s Premium Plan sets the bar a bit higher, waiving its $30 monthly fee if your monthly balance is over $6,000, and offering other substantial account perks.

Do I want a no-fee chequing account?

Some accounts charge no monthly fee whatsoever, regardless of the account holder’s account balance. EQ Bank and Simplii charge no monthly fee for unlimited self-serve transactions.

Do I need features such as free Interac e-transfers?

If you anticipate doing a lot of Interac e-Transfers, make sure your chequing account won’t charge you a fee for these. BMO offers free Interac e-Transfers on all its chequing accounts, including the Practical Plan which charges a fee of $4 per month.

Do I need easy access to US dollars?

If you travel frequently to the US, you might opt for an account specifically geared for that lifestyle. The TD Borderless Plan offers quick and easy exchange between US and Canadian dollars, unlimited transactions and a monthly charge of $4.95.

Is it important that I earn interest on my chequing balance, or rewards/cash back on my purchases?

If it’s important to you to make some money on your account balance or purchases, there are some chequing accounts out there that provide those features. Tangerine’s No-Fee Daily Chequing account offers interest on its account balances, and all Scotiabank chequing accounts can earn rewards on debit transactions with the Scene+ TM Program.3

Conditions apply. Visit here to learn more.

Cheque your options

The advent of digital banking has brought a number of new, competitive online chequing accounts to Canadians. If you’re tired of paying annoying fees for basic banking transactions, now is a great time to consider more competitive offers from financial organizations vying for your business. Some people are even opting to close their bank account and move to digital accounts altogether. If you don’t have a chequing account of any kind, you might explore the security and access to commerce that a chequing account can provide.

How to choose the best Canadian bank account

Chequing accounts are, for the most part, something you really don’t have to think about on a day-to-day basis if everything is set up properly. However, here’s a handy cheat sheet of when you should spend a few minutes making sure that, yes, your best cheuqing account still fits your need:

  • Graduating school (high school or university), especially if you’re no longer going to be a student and no longer eligible for a student account
  • Leaving a full time job to work for yourself
  • Starting a business (even a side hustle, like freelancing on an online marketplace) where you need to accept multiple kinds of payments
  • Combining finances with someone (like after getting married)

If you’re in one of those situations — or another one that led you here! — here are the steps that can help you figure out whether your trusty account is still the right fit for your life.

1. What features do you need in a chequing account?

This is a list that, most of the time, you don’t even need to think about. For a lot of us, it’s very simple. We need to be able to put money into our accounts and take money out. 

Here in Canada, that usually looks like:

  • Get direct deposit from an employer
  • Pay with your Interac card
  • Send e-Transfers
  •  Pay bills online
  • Automate your savings contributions

For many, that is the only list of requirements, and it’s pretty standard for any chequing account, free or paid. So you might compare banks based on whether they offer free e-Transfers, or whether you can earn points or interest on the balance in your chequing account.

But there are plenty of other services you might need (or want!) in a chequing account, and that’s where you’ll start to see differences between accounts that matter more than just “free” or “paid.”

If you need occasional access to in-person services like bank drafts or certified cheques, that alone might be worth getting an account that gives you branch access, like a Scotiabank Basic or Basic Plus account.

There are also some less common situations that might be incredibly common in your life, like accepting international wire transfers. If even one piece of your financial life that relies on them isn’t compatible with your free account, you will want to keep a separate, paid account at an in-person branch, and pay the fee.

2. What’s a good rate for the products you need?

Comparison shopping, unlike comparison itself, is not the thief of joy. It’s something you should definitely do before committing to an account.

Once you know what you’re looking for, do a bit of poking around to check out what different banks will charge you for the services you need. It’s worth knowing what a competitive rate is for each service, like the fee for a wire transfer or the price of an unlimited chequing account, even if you don’t want to decide on price alone. Knowledge is power, my friends.

However, while you’re doing this shopping, remember there are ways that you might be able to get a great deal with absolutely zero hassle. If you already have other services with a bank, the packages they offer for chequing might work out beautifully in your favour. 

Here’s an example. If you signed up for a Scotiabank Ultimate Package, you might be able to pay a cool $0 if you keep a certain amount in savings with them, and the package boosts the rate you get on those savings, too. And for a limited time, earn up to 4.50% on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account. 

Plus, they waive the annual fee on a Scotiabank credit card if you have one, up to a certain dollar amount, every year.

3. What can you get if you switch chequing accounts?

If you’re in the market for a new chequing account you should know that there are some great promotions on the table. If you know you need to switch anyways, it’s worth doing your research.

Right now, Scotiabank is offering a $350 welcome bonus for eligible customers who sign up for an Ultimate package. If you were in the market for an account anyways, and those ones fit your needs and your overall financial life, why not take the free money?

Especially since, let’s be honest, most of us don’t switch accounts every day because it is a hassle. Your chequing account should, rightly, be a long-term companion in the game of life, if for no other reason than it will save you time and — if you shopped around well! — money.

With files from Desirae Odjick

Best chequing accounts in Canada FAQs

  • What's a chequing account?

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    A chequing account—also known as an ‘everyday banking account’—is a cash account held with a bank or financial institution. A chequing account entitles its account holder to perform immediate financial transactions, including deposits, withdrawals, debits, bill payments and money transfers. Transactions may be executed online or in person at a bank branch.

  • Do I need to pay for a chequing account?

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    A chequing account’s administering institution may charge the account holder a monthly operating fee, as well as fees for exceeding a specified number of financial transactions per month. Some chequing accounts may charge few or no fees to the account holder, particularly if the account holder maintains a minimum account balance.

  • Do chequing accounts earn interest?

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    A select few chequing accounts in Canada may earn small amounts of interest, though these interest levels will not be comparable to the interest earned from a high-interest savings account. Interest-earning chequing accounts are more likely to be offered by online banks than traditional brick-and-mortar banks.

  • What is the difference between a chequing and savings account?

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    Chequing accounts are designed to facilitate everyday banking transactions, like ABM withdrawals, debits, and cheque deposits. Savings accounts are designed as long-term repositories for cash, which can be accessed in case of emergency. Banks use the money held in savings accounts to make loans, and they reward savings account holders with regular interest payments. You can learn more about savings accounts by reading our in-depth article: https://money.ca/blog/what-is-a-savings-account/

  • Which bank account is best in Canada?

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    It really depends on your wants and needs. For Money.ca, we love EQ Bank for its high interest rates on your balance, but if you need a brick-and-mortar operation, BMO and Scotia are great so pick one that's nearest to you. Ask yourself, what do you look for in a bank account and weigh your options accordingly.

Sarah Pritzker Freelance Contributor

Sarah Pritzker has been writing for Money.ca since 2017, and loves learning about the latest trends in Canadian personal finance.

Tyler Wade Content strategist & writer

Tyler Wade has worked in personal finance for over 5 years writing for brands like Ratehub, Forbes, KOHO, and now Money.ca.

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