Best Free Bank Accounts

December 14, 2020 | Editorial Team

Best Free Bank Accounts Canada

As there are so many great, reliable banks in Canada, choosing who to do your banking with can be tough. Often, the point of opening an account is to be able to monitor your finances as well as save money. Saving money can be harder when you are charged to complete your banking. Many account types come with a variety of fees for maintenance, transactions, transfers, and more.

Thankfully, many banks now offer a free account, better known as a no-fee account. With this account, you can use them just as you would any other type of account. Spend, receive a direct deposit, transfer, and withdraw your money as you wish for free. You won’t be charged to complete any transactions or to maintain the account.

You may think this sounds too good to be true, but it is true! These types of accounts are often offered by online banks. As online banks do not have to worry about paying for overhead costs, they can afford to offer you a better, cheaper option.

Many people are hesitant to work with online banks, but they are just as reputable. Especially since all of the ones we are going to discuss today are insured by the CDIC, so your money is safe.

Let’s take a look at some of the best free bank accounts in Canada.

What is a No-Fee Bank Account?

A no-fee bank account is exactly as it sounds, one with little to no fees. Many types of accounts have bank fees such as monthly fees or an annual fee to maintain the account. Some even have transaction fees, withdrawal fees, Interac e-transfer fees and more.

With this account, you won’t need to pay these bank fees. Online banks, such as Tangerine or EQ, are the ones that tend to have this type of account. This is because they don’t have any overhead costs to worry about, so they are able to offer unlimited free transactions with no monthly fee or annual fee.

This account is available as savings or chequing accounts, depending on the bank or credit union. In addition to having no fees, they also offer things like an annual interest rate, bonus interest, or an interest rate per dollar. This will help you save even more.

The best no-fee accounts also offer unlimited transactions and allow you to make an Interac e-transfer for free. Having free unlimited transactions and e-transfers will again help you save even more in the long run.

What to Look For in a Free Bank Account

As there are so many great free bank accounts available in Canada, finding the perfect one for your banking needs can be hard. When you’re looking, here are some of the features you should consider.

  • No fees per month or year.
  • Unlimited transactions for free. This should include things like debit purchases, pre-authorized payments for credit card bills, and free Interac e-transfer.
  • Access to ATMs for free.
  • Mobile banking via an app that can be used for cheque deposits.
  • No minimum balance is required.
  • Customer support should be readily available.
  • CDIC insurance, so your deposits up to $100,000 are protected.
  • Electronic statements should be available for free.

At the very least, these are the features your free account should have. As a bonus, it may have a monthly or annual interest rate, overdraft protection or free cheque books. Some accounts may have promotions for students or seniors. If you’re eligible, look for one that does.

The important thing to remember with a free account is that you likely won’t be able to visit a physical branch. Your banking transactions will all be done online. This is the trade-off of having no fees.

Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account

Even if you have never heard of Tangerine Bank, you have likely heard of its parent bank, Scotiabank. Tangerine is an online bank that offers great, affordable accounts. The no-fee daily chequing account tends to be the most popular option. This is because Tangerine’s chequing account has no account fees and is extremely easy to use.

Interac e-transfers, ABM deposits and withdrawals are all free. There is no monthly fee or minimum balance either. As Tangerine is a subsidiary of Scotiabank, you also have access to their 3,500 ATMs across Canada with your debit card. So, even though Tangerine is an online bank, you get many of the perks of using a physical bank but at no cost to you.

The interest rates are quite low with this account, starting at 0.10%, but this is to be expected with a chequing account. If you need higher interest rates, Tangerine’s savings account is a great option. Tangerine thus offers one of the best no-fee chequing accounts in the country.

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account – No Monthly Fees

Equitable Bank, better known as EQ Bank, is another great online bank in Canada. EQ offers one of the best accounts in Canada as it has no monthly fee but one of the highest interest rates. As it is not a chequing account, it does not come with a debit card that you can use for daily transactions or ATM withdrawals. That being said, it is a great savings account.

The best part of the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is that the interest rate is 1.50%. Of all accounts in Canada, this tends to be the highest interest rate. As the account has no monthly fee and no minimum balance required, you can simply focus on saving.

As you get free unlimited Interac e-transfers and electronic fund transfers, sending money wherever you need it is easy. You can easily connect this account to your chequing account or credit cards. This will help you easily transfer your money whenever you need it.

The only downfall of this account is thus that the maximum balance is $200,000. Until then, save to your heart’s content.

Simplii No-Fee Chequing Account

Another one of the best chequing accounts in Canada is the Simplii Financial no-fee chequing account. Simplii Financial, formerly known as PC Financial, does not have any physical branches as the bank is a division of the Big Five Bank CIBC. This means that you can access over 3,400 ATMs across Canada.

As Simplii’s chequing account has no monthly fee and no minimum balance, it is a great chequing account option. You will get a physical debit card to use with this chequing account. This is especially helpful as you get unlimited debit purchases. You will also get unlimited Interac e-transfers and can make bill payments pre-authorized to come out of your chequing account automatically.

This is also a great chequing account for those who live abroad or have family abroad. Global money transfers are free, and you can order foreign currency and get it delivered to you.

The interest rate with this account is low, at only 0.05%. Thankfully, Simplii Financial has great high-interest savings accounts that offer a competitive interest rate.

Alterna Bank No-Fee eChequing Account

Alterna Bank is a great online bank owned by the credit union Alterna Savings. Alterna Bank has made it to our list because they offer one of the best online chequing accounts in Canada. With this chequing account, you get unlimited debit transactions and free e-transfers. There is also no monthly fee or minimum balance required.

Although Alterna’s chequing account is called an eChequing account, you still receive a debit card. This makes it easy to complete your unlimited free transactions, including debit purchases. As Alterna Bank has 3,300 ATMs across the country, you will easily be able to access your funds.

As with the other chequing accounts we discussed, Alterna does not offer a high-interest rate with this account. It is 0.05% but can easily be paired with a savings account to earn even more.

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

Alterna Bank’s e-chequing account is thus one of the best options of chequing accounts available. The chequing account has even won awards for being the best, so your money is in safe hands. Download Alterna’s mobile app from any app store to make banking even easier.

Motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account

Another online bank owned by a credit union is Motusbank. Motusbank is owned by Meridian Credit Union, the largest credit union in Ontario. Motusbank is a completely online bank that offers a great no-fee chequing account.

With this account, there are no monthly fees or balance requirements. You will receive free Interac e-transfers, unlimited debit purchases, withdrawals, and bill payments. The interest rate is also one of the best rates offered by an online bank at 0.25%.

Although Motsubank is online, they send a card that can be used to access ATMs on the Exchange Network. The Exchange Network is one of Canada’s largest ATM networks with over 3,600 ATMs.

Mobile cheque deposits are a great way to deposit money into your account. Deposit cheques straight into your account by taking a picture of them with Motusbank’s mobile app.

As Motusbank is completely online, some Canadians are hesitant to do their banking with them. No need to worry, though, as Motusbank is a member of the CDIC, so y9our money will always be protected. Meridian Credit Union has also been around for more than 75 years, so they have built up a great reputation.

Scotiabank Basic Bank Account

If you prefer accounts from brick and mortar banks rather than online banks, this account by Scotiabank is a great option. It is aptly named a basic account because transactions are limited. Every month, you receive 12 free transactions and 2 Interac e-transfers for free. There is also a monthly fee of $3.95 to maintain this account. Canadians over 60 do not have to pay this monthly fee.

As we have discussed plenty of great free chequing accounts, Scotiabank’s basic account doesn’t quite have the same benefits. That being said, Scotiabank redeems themselves with a great rewards system, Scotia Rewards.

When you make any debit transactions with this account, you earn points called Scene Points. Scene Points can then be used at participating cinemas or restaurants across Canada. You can purchase snacks, meals, movie tickets, and much more. You can use the mobile banking app to track your transactions and points, so you know when you’re ready to use them.

If you prefer banking with a brick and mortar bank, this is one of the best chequing accounts available. If not, one of the other free accounts we discussed may be better suited to your needs.

The Bottom Line

Nobody wants to pay to do their banking, but many people believe it is a necessity to utilize the services that banks offer. With the inception of online banks, however, banking has not only become more efficient but cheaper as well.

Many of the banks with the best no-fee accounts that we discussed today are online banks. As they do not have the overhead costs associated with a brick and mortar branch, these banks offer great free account options. There tends to be no fee to pay per month or year, and most transactions are free as well.

An online savings or chequing account also functions in the same way as a normal account would. You can receive direct deposit, transfer money, set up pre-authorized payments to your credit card, whatever you need! Most online banks will also still provide debit cards that you can use for daily transactions and ATM withdrawals.

Ultimately, there are little to no downfalls to using a free account. If you want to start saving even more, open one as soon as you can. Tangerine, EQ, Simplii, Alterna, Motusbank, and Scotiabank are all great options. For more information on each account, head to the respective bank’s website.