Best Student Bank Accounts

October 20, 2020 |

Best Student Bank Accounts

It is essential for students to have their own student chequing account. Like most other members of society, your average student has finances to manage and bills to pay.

For many students, every dollar is vital. Finding the right chequing account will help to save money on monthly fees, Interac e-Transfers and using ATMs. That’s our motivation when writing this article. To help students save as much money as possible.

The good news is, there are student chequing accounts designed specifically for the needs of students. However, with so many options on the market, it is not always easy to know which student chequing account is the best option for you. Many students end up going to one of the big five banks in Canada. They are well-known, their parents use them, and they don’t require any real research. You can pick one and head over to the nearest branch.

At INCOME.ca, we don’t take anything for granted. The big five banks do have some great offers, and one made our list. In our experience, some of the online banks match the big banks, and in some cases, have better offers. Online banks are able to waive many of the chequing account fees. Online banks don’t have the same expensive infrastructure of traditional banks. They don’t have to run branches in towns and cities across Canada, so they can afford to pass the savings they make to their customers.

We researched all the banks offering chequing accounts in Canada. We picked our top three student chequing accounts. They all are great accounts, and all offer something different for student banking.

We have also answered the most popular questions students ask. Questions like:

  • What to look for when selecting the right bank account?
  • What do you need to open an account?
  • Why you need a student bank account?

Our goal is to give you all the information you need to find the best bank account for you. Let’s jump straight into it with our top three student bank accounts available on the market right now.

The Best Student Bank Accounts

Scotia Bank Student Banking Advantage Plan

We just discussed exploring banks and financial institutions outside the big five banks of Canada. However, our first pick is one of the top five. We are going to start with Scotiabank, Canada’s third-largest bank (when based on market capitalization).

We absolutely love this student-specific chequing account from Scotia Bank. The Student Banking Advantage Plan is Scotia Bank’s no-fee student bank account. It comes with great features, including unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-Transfers. You even get the opportunity to earn points on everyday purchases.

Pros

  • There are no fees with this chequing account. Many accounts require you to spend $5-$10 a month in fees for the privilege of running the account. Not with this account. It is specific for students, and sensibly has no monthly fee.
  • Unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-Transfers. This means that as a student, your limited funds are not being whittled away every time you need to make a banking transaction or transfer.
  • If you sign up for a new account, you could potentially qualify for 5000 reward points, which you can redeem on free movies, food, travel and shopping.
  • Access to 4000 branches and ATMs all across Canada.

Cons

There aren’t really any cons with the Student Banking Advantage Plan. You don’t earn interest, but it is a student chequing account, not a savings account. Most student chequing accounts don’t offer interest. That’s because most users don’t really keep a balance high enough to be worthwhile earning interest.

However, most student chequing accounts are used daily for transactions like Interac e-Transfers, cash withdrawals and paying bills. They are free transactions, that’s a real benefit.

Summary

If you didn’t read any further, clicked over to Scotia Bank and signed up, you would not be disappointed. It’s a quality bank, it is a great package for students, and it has no obvious drawbacks.

They’ve stripped out pretty much all types of fees, offering free transactions for most everyday activities. They have access to ATMs all across Canada, making it easy to withdraw money. If that wasn’t enough, they have a great reward system starting with 5000 points when you sign up.

In terms of student bank accounts, this is our top pick from the big five banks. However, if we had to pick a fault, we would argue that the Scotia Bank Student Banking Advantage Plan doesn’t offer any real interest. This is not really big news; most chequing accounts, students or otherwise, don’t really offer interest.

We have other great options to explore. Other banks we’ve chosen do offer interest rates on balances, so keep reading if that’s important to you.

Tangerine No-Fee Chequing Account for Students

Here’s the deal with Tangerine bank. It is both an online bank, and it is “owned” by one of the big five banks. This is great because you get the best of both worlds. You get the benefits of an online bank, including no monthly fees and free transactions. You also get the perks of a traditional bank, such as having access to Scotia Bank’s 4000 ATMs, which you will not be charged for using.

Pros

  • As we’ve mentioned, you have no monthly account fees together with unlimited debits, bill payments, pre-authorized payments, email money transfers and Interac e-Transfers.
  • You can earn a small amount of interest on your chequing account balance. This is not normal for chequing accounts, especially student chequing accounts.
  • You have access to Scotia bank’s ATMs as well as being able to use their global ATM alliance. This gives you access to 44,000 ATMs around the world.
  • You could qualify to get a $200 bonus when you open your new account.

Cons

It almost feels like we are missing something when we don’t have anything critical to say. The Tangerine No-fee Chequing Account for Students is near perfect. They don’t have a points program, so that’s a point of difference worth highlighting. However, a welcome gift of $200 makes up for that.

Summary

You get a chequing account specifically for students. It not only offers free transfers but has unlimited Interac e-Transfers, and cash withdrawals. Plus, there is no monthly fee. What makes this bank account stand out from other bank accounts is the interest they offer. Finally, you get to use Scotia Bank’s ATM infrastructure both across Canada and with its partners across the world.

Students are also invited to sign up for their high-interest savings account. It has one of the best interest rates on the market, as well as their Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card, which has no annual or monthly fees. You can potentially receive up to 2% cashback on purchases.

It takes a lot to impress the INCOME.ca team, and this really is a great bank account for students.

EQ bank hybrid savings account

So far, we have looked at what we consider to be the best offering from the top five big banks in Canada. We have also spoken about our favourite pick from the online banking community. EQ Bank hybrid savings account is something a little different and might be perfect for you.

EQ bank is what is known as a digital bank or online bank, and it is owned by Equitable Bank, which is one of the largest independent banks in Canada. One of the most respected outside the top five banks.

EQ Bank decided to think out of the box. Rather than having a separate chequing account and a savings account, they brought those two types of accounts together to give students the best of both worlds. That is what the EQ Bank Hybrid Saving Account represents.

Pros

  • Just like the other two banks that made this list, there is no monthly fee. You are not asked to pay to use this bank.
  • Unlimited transactions. There are unlimited and free monthly transactions and Interac e-Transfers.
  • It’s also a savings account. You can get up to 2.3% interest on your account balance with no minimum deposit required, and all deposits are CDIC insured.
  • What we love about this account is that you can use it on its own, or you can use it combined with one of the other two banks. It is completely free to use and completely free to transfer cash between accounts.

Cons

  • The account does not include a debit card. So, you can’t withdraw cash at ATMs. This isn’t ideal, but you do get relatively high interest. It is free to transfer cash into a traditional chequing account that does have a debit card.
  • No freebies. This account doesn’t offer you any rewards or cash bonuses for joining. Not a big deal to many, but for some, it could be the reason to pick one of the other two great options that made our list.

Summary

It’s not a conventional chequing account because you can’t withdraw the cash directly. However, there are no monthly fees and unlimited transactions. Especially when making Interac e-Transfers. Most importantly, it has great interest rates that encourage people to save money, which is a good habit to build as a student.

What’s more, it works perfectly with either of the two other banks on this list, giving you the best of both worlds.

What to Look for in a Student Bank Account?

If you pick any of the three bank accounts for students that made our list, you will have all boxes ticked. Especially Tangerine Bank and Scotia Bank. But, if you’re not convinced or want to do your own research, we have you covered too.

As we mentioned before, a bank account that does not ask for monthly fees has to be your starting point. None of the three student bank accounts that made our list ask for a dime in monthly fees.

Unlimited transactions. Frankly, as a student, it is unlikely you would need unlimited transactions. How many Interac e-Transfers does the average student make? But be aware of any limitations. Again, all these accounts offer unlimited and most have free transactions.

Access to ATMs. Both Tangerine and Scotia Bank have access to the same network of ATMs. There are over 4000 across Canada.

If you live in a location where the most convenient ATM happens to be at another bank, and you don’t need to make Interac e-Transfers, then consider that bank. There is nothing better than being able to pop out to the ATM to get the cash you need and not being charged for it.

Finally, there is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t expect some kind of welcome gift or perk. Banking for students is a competitive market because banks want to target customers as young as possible. Students will tend to stick with the bank they are familiar with when they are no longer a student.

Part of their strategy is to entice you with generous welcome offers and free transactions. Look out for those because it is rare banks will give anything away for free, so why not take advantage of it?

How to Open a Bank Account?

In the past, opening a bank account required you to jump through numerous hoops. These days, it couldn’t be easier.

Pretty much all bank accounts require you to have two forms of ID to be able to prove who you are. Student accounts require proof of enrolment in a full-time post-secondary program. This is because there is usually no monthly fee, and you get free transactions on transfers and Interac e-Transfers. People would abuse these accounts if they could.

All you need to do is fill out a simple form either online or in the branch to get started.

It is important to remember that many banks will only allow their student accounts to be open for a maximum of four years. This is the length of most college and university programs. If you need to stay enrolled at college or university for longer, you will need to reapply for your student bank account with proof of enrolment. It is normally a quick and painless transaction.

Why Do you Need a Bank Account as a Student?

We can’t speak on behalf of all students. However, most students will have to pay for everyday expenses, including food, drink, transport and accommodation.

This could be the first time as young adults, students have to manage their own finances. Having access to a chequing account that allows you to make Interac e-Transfers and pay bills is ideal. Especially if the bank account is online so you can access via your mobile devices or laptops.

And if that hasn’t persuaded you, why not take advantage of some of the excellent welcome gifts. After all, living as a student is not cheap. Who doesn’t like freebies?

The Bottom Line

We have scoured the Internet and picked out our top three favourite student bank accounts on the market today. We’ve looked over the fine details with a magnifying glass, and these three stand out by a considerable distance.

Scotia Bank and its Student Banking Advantage Plan have no monthly fees and unlimited transactions. Including unlimited Interac e-Transfers. If that hasn’t persuaded you, they offer 5000 bonus points when you join. Their rewards program can be redeemed in a variety of stores and restaurants across Canada.

Tangerine Bank also made our list. Their No-fee Chequing Account for Students doesn’t require a monthly fee (the name is a giveaway). It also offers unlimited transactions, Interac e-Transfers and withdrawals.

They even offer the opportunity to earn interest on your chequing account balance. They don’t have a reward system like Scotia Bank. They do offer a $200 bonus when you open a new account.

Finally, there is the EQ bank savings plus account. This is not a classic student bank account. It’s called a hybrid chequing and savings account. EQ Bank has tried to give customers the best of both worlds. There are no fees and unlimited transactions. However, what’s different is the hefty 2.3% interest rate you can earn on your bank balance, with no minimum monthly requirement.

There are no frills, you won’t receive any welcome gift or reward points, and you don’t have access to ATMs because you’re not given a debit card to use. However, you can definitely use the savings account together with one of the other two bank accounts. You’ll have high-interest savings together with a chequing account to get you started.

If you pick a student bank account on this list, you’ll get everything you need. Everything from e-Transfers to free cash withdrawals. If we had to recommend just one, we’d opt for the Tangerine No-fee Chequing Account for Students. It’s the best overall student bank account. But it was a close call.