Best Chequing Accounts Canada

November 30, 2020 | Editorial Team

Best Chequing Accounts

If you are new to Canada or are simply looking to open a new chequing account, you’ve come to the right place. With so many Canadian banks available, it can be overwhelming. You may not even be sure what a chequing account is and what you can do with it. But don’t worry, we’ve put together an extensive guide to help you learn more about the best chequing accounts in Canada.

Before we dive into specific chequing accounts, it is important to know what chequing accounts in Canada are. A chequing account is a day-to-day account you can use for your basic transactional banking needs. It is possible to open a chequing account with either a bank, a credit union, or even small lenders.

Most people use their chequing account as their main account for receiving payments. They can then use that money to make transactions with their debit card. This can be bill payments, grocery shopping, dining out, or whatever else you need!

As a chequing account is a basic type of account, all Canadian banks offer one. They often have varying interest rates, monthly fees or minimum balance, and sometimes even transaction fees. Here are some things you should look out for when looking for the best chequing accounts in Canada.

Table of Contents

  1. Choosing a Chequing Account
  2. EQ Bank Savings Plus Hybrid Account
  3. Wealthsimple Cash Hybrid Account
  4. Alterna Bank No Fee eChequing Account
  5. National Bank The Chequing Account for Newcomers to Canada
  6. Scotiabank Basic Bank Account
  7. National Bank The Modest Chequing Account
  8. Scotiabank Basic Plus Bank Account
  9. National Bank The Connected Chequing Account
  10. Scotiabank Preferred Package
  11. National Bank The Total Chequing Account
  12. Scotiabank Ultimate Package
  13. How to Pick the Best Chequing Account for You
  14. What is a Chequing Account?
  15. How Do Chequing Accounts Work?
  16. Types of Chequing Accounts
  17. Why You Need a Chequing Account
  18. Which Type of Chequing Account is Right For Me?
  19. What is the Difference Between a Chequing Account and a Savings Account?
  20. Common Chequing Account Fees
  21. The Bottom Line

Choosing a Chequing Account

Unfortunately, choosing the best bank in Canada is not so straightforward. Each bank will have different monthly fees, interest rates and fees for transactions. Sometimes unlimited free Interac e-transfers, a varied minimum balance, and varying interest rates. This means you will often need to shop around for the best chequing accounts in Canada.

That being said, we did the work for you! We looked at the best chequing accounts in Canada and created a comprehensive list that compares and contrasts the best out there.

You may be wondering what gives us the right to decide what the best chequing accounts in Canada really are. Our team of writers have been researching and writing about money and finance in Canada extensively for a number of years. We share the goal of helping Canadians become financially literate.

We want to empower Canadians to make their own financial decisions. We aim to help educate you on topics such as credit cards, insurance products, and in this case, chequing accounts!

So, when our team were choosing the best chequing accounts in Canada, they took into account how reputable the bank is. As well as what interest rates the bank offers, what their transaction fees are if any, and what monthly fee or minimum balance there is.

Want to learn more about what types of chequing accounts EQ Bank, Wealthsimple, Alterna, National Bank, and Scotiabank have to offer? Keep reading! We researched all of their chequing account options to save you the hassle. Start your journey to financial literacy today, and continue reading.

EQ Bank Savings Plus Hybrid Account

Although it may seem strange to start off our list of the best chequing accounts in Canada with a high-interest savings account of sorts, we are! EQ Bank’s Savings Account Plus is a hybrid. This includes a higher interest rate, similar to a savings account. But with some of the conveniences of a no-fee, transactions unlimited, chequing account.

If you have never heard of them before, EQ Bank is one of the online Canadian banks, meaning there are no branches, and all banking is done online. With low overhead costs, EQ Bank is able to offer higher interest rates than many other banks in Canada. For the EQ Bank Savings Account hybrid, the account currently earns an interest rate of 1.70%.

The most important thing to note is that it is a hybrid account, you will not get a physical debit card. You do most of your banking online rather than making debit transactions in person. It has unlimited, free self-serve transactions and unlimited cheque transactions. There is also no monthly fee and unlimited Interac e-transfers per month.

Our Top Pick Is the Hybrid Chequing/Savings Account Offered by EQ Bank.

Here are other top picks for you to consider.

Wealthsimple Cash Hybrid Account

The next no-fee chequing account on our list of the best chequing accounts in Canada is another hybrid account by Wealthsimple. It is similar to EQ Bank’s hybrid account. You get the benefits of a savings account with a high-interest rate but can still use the account as a no-fee chequing account.

Wealthsimple’s hybrid chequing account/savings account currently offers an interest rate of 0.90%. You will also receive a visa-debit card when opening the account. It can be used like a prepaid credit card as well as the perks of a good no-fee chequing account.

This includes:

  • no monthly fees and free transactions
  • unlimited Interac e-transfers
  • free withdrawals within 1 business day
  • unlimited free transactions
  • make bill payments for your credit cards

Unlike EQ Bank’s hybrid account, you will get a physical card that you can use when making debit purchases in stores or use a credit card online. You can also use the card at any bank’s ATM, and Wealthsimple will reimburse whatever fees you were charged to use the ATM.

Your balance with Wealthsimple is covered by CIPF insurance up to $1,000,000 as well. So, banking with them is not only safe, but it is basically a free chequing account with a decent interest rate as well!

Alterna Bank No Fee eChequing Account

Do you want an award-winning no-fee chequing account? Look no further than the Alterna No Fee Chequing Account. It’s called a no-fee chequing account because you get all day-to-day transactions free. Essentially, this makes it a free chequing account!

The account has no monthly fees, unlimited debit transactions, and unlimited Interac e-transfers. There is also no minimum balance necessary. The interest rate for this no-fee chequing account is not as high as the two-hybrid savings accounts we discussed. But, it is still decent with a 0.05% annual interest rate.

One important thing to note is that this no-fee chequing account is an online account, hence why it is called an eChequing account. Alterna does still provide a debit card with these no-fee chequing accounts. So, you can easily make your daily, unlimited debit transactions with your free access to one of their 3300 ATMs or branches across Canada.

Alterna Bank is also a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), which means your money is safe and secure up to $100,000 per entity.

If you don’t mind online banking, which you shouldn’t since it is available 24/7 and extremely convenient; Alterna Bank’s No Fee Chequing Account is a great choice!

National Bank The Chequing Account for Newcomers to Canada

Canada frequently welcomes newcomers. So, National Bank created a chequing account specifically for them (or maybe you!)

This chequing account is a great option for newcomers to Canada because it can be opened online from another country to get the ball rolling! Once you’ve arrived and settled in Canada, you can schedule an appointment at any National Bank branch near you. Then, you can activate your chequing account, pick up your debit card, and you’re all set!

It is also a great chequing account option for newcomers as National Bank waives all of their monthly fees for the first year. This means it will be a free chequing account, and you won’t have to worry about keeping up with fees. Years 2 and 3 also receive a discounted monthly fee rate before you need to start paying the full $14.95 per month in year 4.

National Bank also offers unlimited debit transactions and unlimited Interac e-transfers. They also have free paperless statements and access to credit cards as well.

Newcomers need support in their banking needs, so an online bank may not suit many. You will have free access to National Bank’s 3,300 ATMs and 440 branches across Canada. This means you won’t have any trouble opening your new chequing account in Canada.

Scotiabank Basic Bank Account

As the name suggests, Scotiabank offers a basic chequing account. It includes enough to get you through your daily debit purchases. But, it is the first chequing account on our list from one of the Big Five banks in Canada.

With Scotiabank’s basic chequing account, you will get 12 free transactions per month and 2 free Interac e-transfers. For this, Scotiabank charges a $3.95 monthly fee. Compared to the other chequing accounts we’ve talked about, it’s not a great offer.

That being said, Scotiabank does have a great reward system. You can earn either Scotia Rewards or Scene Points on all of your debit transactions. You can then use Scene points at any participating cinemas or restaurants across Canada. With them, you can purchase things like movie tickets, snacks, or meals. You can use Scotia Rewards points on bigger ticket items like travel, tech, and gift cards.

If you’re over 60, this is a great chequing account as there will be no monthly fee. If you’re not, there are definitely better chequing account options out there.

This may not be the account for you unless you are looking for a very basic chequing account. Or, you already have Scotiabank credit cards you want to connect with your account. Go with a chequing account with unlimited transactions and unlimited free Interac e-transfers.

National Bank The Modest Chequing Account

Next on our list of the best chequing accounts in Canada is another one from National Bank, The Modest Chequing Account. For a modest monthly fee of $9.95, you can open this chequing account. It is even possible to get this monthly fee waived if you have over $3000 in your account per month.

With National Bank’s modest chequing account, you will be charged self-serve transactions free. You’ll receive unlimited cheque transactions and unlimited Interac e-transfers. In addition to 30 free monthly transactions. You will also receive a debit card to make debit purchases in stores. Or, to make withdrawals by using your free access to National Bank’s ATMs or branches.

National Bank’s modest chequing account also allows you to access a free online statement or a statement by mail for $2.50. You can also access foreign currency bank drafts and Canadian bank drafts for a small fee.

Overall, National Bank’s Modest Chequing Account is a great option for those who want to make a moderate monthly transaction. Or those that have at least $3000 per month to ensure they don’t have to pay a monthly fee.

Scotiabank Basic Plus Bank Account

You may have considered banking with Scotiabank, but their basic chequing account wasn’t enough to meet your banking needs. The good news is, they also have a basic plus chequing account.

Scotiabank’s basic chequing account has 12 free transactions per month. In contrast, this Basic Plus chequing account has 25 free debit transactions. The basic chequing account has only 2 free Interac e-transfers per month. While the Plus chequing account has 10 free Interac e-transfers.

As the Scotiabank Basic Plus chequing account has a bit more to offer, its fees are a bit higher as well. The monthly fee for the Basic Plus chequing account is $10.95 a month, while the basic chequing account only had a $3.95 monthly fee. That being said, if you have a minimum balance of $3000 in your chequing account, Scotiabank will waive the $10.95 fee for the Basic Plus account.

You can also earn Scotia Rewards and Scene Points on all of your debit purchases with this basic plus account.

Ultimately, this is a great chequing account for those who can maintain a minimum balance of $3000 in one bank account. It is also good for those who don’t make many debit transactions or e-transfers each month. As this account does not offer unlimited debit transactions, you will have to pay $1.25 for all transactions over your allotted amount each month. As there is no unlimited Interac e-transfers either, for any additional one, you have to pay $1.00.

National Bank The Connected Chequing Account

National Bank’s Connected Chequing Account could be a good option for anybody’s banking needs.

The monthly fee is a bit steep at $14.95 per month, but it can be waived if you have a minimum balance of $4,500 each month. This chequing account also offers unlimited debit transactions, but not unlimited Interac e-transfers. Each e-transfer is one dollar.

You get a debit card with this account, and National Bank is popular across Canada. So, it is a good option for your daily transactions with the unlimited debit transactions available. You can also connect your debit card to your smartphone with Apple Pay or Google Pay to make your banking even easier.

Creating any chequing account with National Bank is super easy as you can apply via an online form. Once you’re approved, your chequing account will be opened within two days. So, if you’re looking for an easy to use and access chequing account with unlimited transactions, look no further. National Bank’s Connected Chequing Account is a great choice!

Scotiabank Preferred Package

Yet another Scotiabank chequing account on our list of the best chequing accounts in Canada. Here is Scotiabank’s Preferred Package chequing account. It’s a bit of a step up from the basic and basic plus chequing accounts in that it offers more, but the fee to maintain it is also more.

The monthly fee is one of the highest of all the chequing accounts we discussed today at $15.95 per month. But, although its steep, Scotiabank will waive the monthly fee if you maintain a monthly balance of $4,000, thus encouraging you to save.

Scotiabank’s Preferred Package chequing account also offers unlimited free transactions. As well as unlimited Interac e-transfers every month, you can also send money globally for a small fee of $1.99.

With Scotiabank’s Preferred Package chequing account, you will also get access to Scene points and Scotia rewards. These are based on your transactions. So, you will get one point for every five dollars you spend.

If you can maintain a minimum balance of $4,000 to avoid the steep $15.95 monthly fee, the Preferred Package chequing account is a great option. As it has unlimited Interac e-transfers and transactions unlimited free each month.

National Bank The Total Chequing Account

The last National Bank chequing account on our list of the best chequing accounts in Canada is the Total Chequing Account. It is called the Total Chequing Account because it has everything all the other National Bank chequing accounts were lacking. Such as unlimited transactions, but with a high monthly fee.

To maintain National Bank’s Total Chequing Account, you will have to pay a monthly fee of $25.95. This fee may seem steep, and that’s because it is. But, the good news is that the monthly fees can be waived if you maintain a minimum balance of $6,000.

$6,000 is quite a lot, and many people may choose to put that much money into a high-interest savings account instead. So, National Bank’s Total Chequing Account may not be for everyone.

That being said, this chequing account does have great offers. With this chequing account, you will get:

  • unlimited transactions per month
  • unlimited Interac e-transfers
  • unlimited transactions for cheques
  • unlimited transactions with a teller as National Bank
  • branches and values customer service

So, if you can maintain the minimum balance of $6,000 to get your monthly fees waived, this is a good chequing account. It has plenty of great free transactions and unlimited Interac e-transfers.

Scotiabank Ultimate Package

Ending our list of the best chequing accounts in Canada is another Scotiabank account. It is called the Ultimate Package chequing account. This chequing account is aptly named. Scotiabank included all the things their previous chequing accounts didn’t have. This includes offerings such as:

  • unlimited free transactions
  • unlimited Interact e-transfer
  • unlimited no-fee Scotia international transactions

With so many great offerings, you may be wondering what the monthly fee is. Rightly so, seeing as the monthly fee is steep at $30.95 a month, the highest monthly fee of all the chequing accounts in Canada we’ve discussed.

Although it is a high monthly fee, it can be waived if you maintain a minimum balance of $5000 in your chequing account at the end of each day. There is an option. This is for people who have an Ultimate Package Chequing Account and one of Scotiabank’s Momentum Plus Savings Account. You can maintain a combined balance of $30,000 to get the monthly fees waived.

The Ultimate Package chequing account does have great deals on free transactions. For example, unlimited Interac e-transfers. But, if you don’t have enough money to waive the high monthly fees, this chequing account may not be worth it, depending on your banking needs.

How to Pick the Best Chequing Account for You

Since we have laid out some of the best chequing accounts in Canada with a variety of banks, you may be overwhelmed by all the information. Here are some frequently asked questions. They are about chequing accounts, banks in Canada, and banking transactions in general. This should help you make an even more informed decision on what the best chequing accounts are.

What is a Chequing Account?

If you are new to Canada, or maybe new to banking, you may not know what chequing accounts are. In Canada, most people have a bank account in order to keep up with their day-to-day transactions. Chequing accounts tend to be the go-to type of account as they are readily available from banks, credit unions, and even small lenders.

Many chequing accounts are also free or have minimal monthly fees to maintain the accounts. As they are day-to-day accounts to meet your basic banking needs, chequing accounts typically don’t have an interest rate. If they do, they are not high. This is because chequing accounts are meant to be a place for you to store money you want to access easily by withdrawing it. Or, quickly making Interac e-transfers with minimal fees.

Chequing accounts are a safe place to store your money, no matter what bank you’re working with. This is because the CDIC in Canada protects your balance deposited up to $100,000. They are quite versatile bank accounts; there are plenty of transactions you can do with them. Typically, with little to no fees.

Users are able to make cash and cheque deposits into their accounts. They can make withdrawals at the bank if your bank has a branch or at ATMs. You can also make debit transactions in shops. They can make bill payments to credit cards, mortgage, or utilities. Finally, they can e-transfer money between multiple accounts or e-transfer money to other people even if they use a different bank.

How Do Chequing Accounts Work?

Despite the name, chequing accounts can do more than just allow you to write cheques to people. Especially since nowadays, transactions via cheques are rare.

They work simply by giving you one of the most secure places to store your balance, sometimes even earning interest on it.

The two main types of transactions you can make with your bank account is deposit money into the account. Or, have someone else deposit money into the account such as an employer paying your wages. There is typically no fee to make deposits into your bank account to bring the balance up. There is typically no limit, or if there is, it will be high. Be mindful of how much you deposit into your chequing bank accounts as interest tends to be minimal.

The second of the main types of transactions is withdrawing. You can withdraw money from your accounts’ balance in a variety of ways. Such as using your debit card to make purchases, withdrawing money from the banks’ ATM machines or tellers. Or, writing a cheque, paying your bills, or making an e-transfer.

Making deposits typically has no fee, depending on whom you’re banking with. But, withdrawing from your bank accounts may incur a fee, and there is typically a limit to how much you can withdraw in a day. Afterwards, the banks will prohibit you from making any more transactions.

Chequing accounts work best as a short-term bank account. Meaning they are one of the best places to store your balance safely with a reputable bank. But, having all of your money in a chequing account will not earn you much interest, and you may end up losing a lot of your balance to fees.

Types of Chequing Accounts

Depending on who you are banking with, most banks offer a variety of chequing accounts to meet everyone’s banking needs. The main type of chequing account is a basic one. We’ve discussed it with accounts such as Scotiabank’s basic bank account and National Bank’s modest bank account.

Basic chequing accounts for banking typically have a fee to maintain and use the account. As this type of account is basic, you will likely have a limited number of transactions each month as well. If you pay a low monthly fee, you will likely have fewer transactions. You can still make transactions outside your limit, but you will need to pay a fee each time you do.

That brings us to one of our next types of chequing accounts, a no-fee or unlimited chequing account. These accounts are just as they seem, without transaction fees. No matter how many transactions you make every month. These accounts will typically not have a monthly fee either, so you can do all of your banking cheaply and easily.

There are also specialized chequing accounts made for specific groups of people in Canada. Some of which we’ve gone over like the chequing accounts for newcomers to Canada. There are also chequing accounts for both seniors and youths, which tend to have lower fees to help with their banking.

To get one of the banks’ senior accounts, you typically need to be over 60 in Canada. To get a youth account, you need to be below the age of majority in your province.

In a similar vein, many banks also offer student accounts for full-time students. Student accounts typically have little to no monthly fees and unlimited transactions. This helps keep student banking fees low.

The last type of chequing account which we did not cover on our list of the best chequing accounts in Canada are US chequing accounts. US chequing accounts are best for those who do a lot of banking in the United States. The account will allow you to deposit and withdraw American money with minimal fees.

Why You Need a Chequing Account

As chequing accounts are one account type that tends to have the most fees, depending on whom you’re banking with, many people are hesitant to open one. Paying one bank to store your money does not sound like the best option for many. Unfortunately, it may be.

If you have lived and worked in Canada for a while, you will quickly realize how strong an emphasis there is on banking, especially online banking. Many places prefer debit or credit transactions. Sometimes businesses only take debit or credit cards. Most jobs will not be able to pay you unless you have at least one type of account.

So, if you don’t have a chequing account, how can you function in a society that is quickly going cashless? It’s really tough. But most banks offer chequing accounts with low fees; some even have no-fee chequing accounts if you are okay with, or prefer online banking. So, you won’t be spending money just to store your cash safely.

Having a chequing account will also make your life easier. You will be able to quickly and easily make transactions. You can pay your bills directly from your account. You can make online transfers to anyone you want, even to your own accounts.

Banking with a chequing account is much easier compared to a saving account. They are made for daily use and multiple transactions. In contrast to a savings account that has a higher interest rate because they don’t want you to take cash out.

If you are banking with an institution that has monthly fees, there are often ways to get them waived so you can further save money. If you keep a certain minimum balance, a bank will likely waive your monthly fee. This is a great way to help you save your money as well to continuously meet that minimum balance requirement.

If you are more interested in banking with an institution that offers interest rates on their chequing accounts, get a hybrid account! It is the best mix of saving/ earning money from decent interest rates, but still being able to use the account for daily transactions.

Lastly, banking with a chequing account is the best way to keep your money safe. Keeping it stored in a shoe box under your bed isn’t cutting it. The CDIC in Canada will protect whatever you deposit into your chequing account up to $100,000. You can rest easy knowing your money is in the best place possible.

Which Type of Chequing Account is Right For Me?

As there are so many types of chequing accounts out there, knowing which one is the best for you can be hard. The best place to start is to see if an institution you want to do your banking with offers an account tailored to you.

For example, are you a student, a youth or a senior? If you are, chances are there will be a chequing account available that is tailored to you. Student, youth, and senior accounts tend to have lower monthly fees as well as lower transaction fees, so it is best to take advantage of them while you can!

If you are new to Canada, getting a newcomer account or one similar is the best option because they will have your specific interests in mind.

If you don’t fall under any of those categories, you will need to decide between the other types of chequing accounts. Basic accounts, no fee/unlimited accounts, hybrid accounts, or US chequing accounts. To help you decide what the best option for you is, you should consider the following questions.

How do you want to conduct your banking? Do you prefer online banking, or do you like having a branch to go to when you need help or want to make transactions? Online banking has come a long way, and they often offer the best/ lowest monthly fees, transaction fees, and sometimes interest rates.

How often do you want to withdraw from your account? Many chequing accounts have a limit on how many withdrawals you can make and for how much you can withdraw. You first need to consider how often you want to withdraw your money. If it’s a lot, go with an unlimited account as you can often withdraw daily if you need to.

How many transactions do you want to make monthly? This can be hard to know if you have never had a chequing account. But, if you see yourself using your account to make transactions a lot, the best option for you may again be an unlimited account. If you don’t need to frequently make transactions, a basic chequing account will suffice.

Do you want to earn interest? The last thing you should consider when opening a chequing account is whether you want to earn interest, albeit minor. If you do, the best option is a hybrid account as your money will be accessible, but will still be earning interest.

What is the Difference Between a Chequing Account and a Savings Account?

A chequing account is a type of bank account meant to be used for transactions. This could be:

  • Bill payments
  • Credit cards
  • Interac e-transfers
  • Debit purchases
  • Deposits
  • Withdrawals

As the money in chequing accounts can be accessed by the owner at any time, the bank will typically not touch that money.

The same can not be said for savings accounts. Savings accounts tend to have a high-interest rate, especially compared to a chequing account. The bank will use your savings balance to then loan out to other people who need the money at the time. The bank will charge that borrower higher fees than they are paying you in interest in order to make money.

Savings account are unlike your chequing accounts. You will not be touching the money frequently, if at all, so you can take advantage of the high-interest rate. This is why banks tend to charge a fee to withdraw a large portion of your savings account balance.

So, if the bank is not making money from loaning out your chequing accounts’ money, how do they get anything? This is why there tend to be so many fees! Banks will charge fees for many types of transactions. It includes fees for withdrawing, fees for Interac e-transfers, fees for maintaining the bank account and fees for closing it.

The bank makes money on chequing accounts by charging you fees to use them. This is completely different from savings accounts, that loan out your money as they do with savings accounts.

Common Chequing Account Fees

Unless it is a no-fee bank account, to maintain and make transactions with your chequing account, you will likely have to pay a variety of fees.

The first and most common type of fee is the monthly fee. For your day-to-day banking, you may need to pay a certain fee every month. This fee ranges anywhere from $3.95 to as high as $30.95, which we discussed earlier. Some banks will waive this fee, though, if you keep a certain minimum balance in your account.

Some banks will give you a certain number of transactions every month without a fee, but if you go over that number, you will have to pay a transaction fee for all the transactions that go over.

Other banks may allow you to make a free e-transfer, but some will charge a fee of $1 to $2 per e-transfer.

You will likely also have to pay an ATM transaction fee if you are banking with a certain bank but using other banks’ ATM.

Smaller fees you may have to pay to include:

  • A fee for a monthly paper statement
  • A cheque ordering fee
  • A non-sufficient funds fee

The Bottom Line

Now that you have read our guide on the best chequing accounts in Canada, you should hopefully feel more informed, if not a little overwhelmed. The biggest takeaway is that no matter what bank you go with, there are great options for everyone.

Ultimately, each bank and account type has its pros and cons. Deciding which one is the best for you is highly subjective and based on what your needs are.

You should think about what your financial goals and needs are before considering opening a bank account. Do you want to focus on saving with a hybrid account? Do you want to have a basic account just to store money and get paid? Or do you want to be able to use your account whenever and wherever you want?

Whatever your financial needs are, there is a chequing account that will match them. This guide outlines many of the best ones in Canada, and these are the best out there.

If you still feel like you need more financial information, INCOME.ca is here for you! We have a talented team of financial writers and researchers whose goal is to help Canadians become financially literate. If you want to learn more about other types of bank accounts, credit cards, insurance products, small business tips, and more!