The best bank in Canada is an eternal debate that will rage on till the end of time. Most Canadians know of the Big Five: TD, RBC, Scotiabank, CIBC, and BMO. This exclusive list often expands to six, seven, or eight, with Laurentian Bank, National Bank of Canada, and HSBC sneaking in every once in a while.
But even after accounting for these traditional behemoths, there are still quite a few banks offering excellent boutique banking services. “The best bank” is, at best, an ambiguous term because it depends on the customer’s needs.
However, there are still a few banks that stand out from the rest. This list will be looking at these banks, leaving it up to you to pick the one that works “best” for your finances.
Best Banks in Canada
Best Everyday Bank: (Winner) Scotiabank
Established in 1832, Scotiabank is a financial institution worth more than C$850bn, firmly holding onto the third spot amongst the Big Five by asset capitalization.
The result is a robust and reliable bank with a broad range of financial products. Scotiabank has a wide footprint, as can be seen by its vast network of 3500 ATMs across Canada’s length and breadth, with thousands of physical branches to boot.
While all the Big Five can boast of similar feats, Scotiabank excels in the finer margins. They have six different accounts with features designed for Canadians in the various stages of life. Canadians below the age of 18 and students in college can sign up for the no-fee account.
Scotiabank also offers four variety of bank accounts for adults starting from the Basic Banking Account at C$3.95 monthly to the full-service Ultimate Account that allows customers to earn rewards and receive cashback offers for C$30.95 per month.
Scotiabank also has a glut of credit card options – 18 to be precise, and these cards are designed to meet the needs of all types of Canadians, from high-flying travellers to cashback collectors.
Importantly, Scotiabank is the only bank amongst the Big Five to offer credit cards devoid of foreign transaction fees.
The bank takes it a notch further by providing lines of credit, mortgages, and loans. For customers interested in investing, Scotiabank has its investment platform, including investment products like RRSPs and TFSAs.
A notable benefit of banking with the Big Five is that all your financial products and services can be provided by one bank. In this regard, Scotiabank has the broadest portfolio of banking services, perks, and benefits.
- Bank Accounts: 6
- Credit Cards: 18
- ATMs: 3500+
- Optional products: insurance, mortgage, lines of credit, loans, RRSPs, TFSAs, and other investment products.
Best No-Fee Bank For Daily Banking: (Winner) Tangerine
In the past decade, banks operating online are getting traction, appealing to most of the 76% of Canadians who do most of their banking online. Customers do not need to walk into the lobby of a physical bank to process their transactions. Instead, Online-only banks run their operations strictly through the web, on mobile apps, or phone.
The distinct advantage of online-only banks is the absence of physical infrastructure, which helps these banks cut down overhead costs and offer more value to the customer. Many online-only banks offer no-fee banking, including Tangerine – a subsidiary of Scotiabank.
While operating as a virtual bank, Tangerine has a handful of Cafes in the largest Canadian cities such as Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto, where customers receive assistance and advice in-house.
Tangerine’s standout feature is its No-Fee Daily Chequing Account that gives account-holders all the features they can ever need for their day-to-day banking at no charge.
However, customers will need to link externally to another account to transfer funds. You can also receive a debit card that makes you withdraw or deposit funds at any of Scotiabank’s ATMs.
Transactions are exclusively online, ensuring you do not need to visit a physical bank. The No-Fee Chequing Account offers unlimited Interac e-transfers and debit transactions as well as automated bill payments.
Like its parent bank, Tangerine offers investment products like GICs and savings accounts like TFSAs and RRSPs. Indeed, Tangerine provides lines of credit, loans, and mortgages, ensuring users have all their accounts in one virtual bank.
The Tangerine MoneyBack Card gives users up to 2% cash back in three different categories of ten:
• Recurring Bill Payments
• Public transportation
• Home improvement
If you earn a minimum of C$60,000 yearly, the World Mastercard will give you car rental, smartphone insurance, and Boingo Wi-fi access, including Mastercard Airport Experiences. Neither card charges a yearly fee.
Best Bank for Special Discounts: (Winner) BMO
One of the Big Five and the fourth on the list, BMO offers a vast selection of banking products, but it is mainly of immense benefit to the following category of people living in Canada:
• Students and recent university graduates
• Foreign workers and permanent residents
• Members and relatives of members of the Canadian defence community
• Senior citizens above 59yrs
• Kids between the ages of 13 to 18yrs
People lucky enough to fall under this category can get enormous benefits, discounts, and waivers on anything, including interest rates, special rewards, yearly discounts on BMO cards, monthly chequing account fees, including reduced interest rates on mortgages, and lines of credit.
While its suite of credit cards and bundled chequing accounts appeal to the groups mentioned above, BMO has a lower rate for GICs and RRSPs than other physical banks. If you want savings products, consider online banks like Oakes Financial and EQ Bank.
Best Bank For Local and International Banking Needs (Winner) HSBC
HSBC is one of the few banks in Canada with a substantial international reach, enabling account-holders to transfer money globally with ease. For instance, the HSBC Premier Chequing Account is an excellent example of a bank account with an international advantage.
Some of the benefits of this account include:
• Signing up for an account internationally before relocating
• No Fee for transactions less than C$10,000
• Unlimited withdrawal fee rebates charged at rival bank ATMs in Canada
• C$0 banking fee for six consecutive months after sign-up
• Personal Investment Manager to assist with investment opportunities
The only disadvantage with this account package is that it isn’t for the average account-holder. To be eligible, you must have a minimum of C$100,000 in deposits and other investment products with HSBC or any of its subsidiaries.
Other options to qualify include having a monthly income of at least C$6500 or C$500,000 in mortgages. Canadians who don’t qualify can still enjoy other HSBC products like HSBC Advance.
Best Bank in Canada For High-Interest Savings (Winner) EQ Bank
Established less than half a decade ago, EQ Bank is fast becoming the bank of choice for Canadians that enjoy online banking. An online-exclusive bank, EQ bank divests some of the money meant for overhead cost and returns the same to the account-holder in the form of better interest rates and no-fee banking.
The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account has continued to offer Canadians exceptional value at a 2.00% interest rate while retaining chequing account features, including electronic transfers, automated bill payments, and free Interac transfers. After partnering with TransferWise, customers can expect to send or receive international money transfers at affordable rates.
If there is any downside to speak of, it is the lack of diversity in its financial products. EQ Bank has a lot less to offer than the likes of Scotiabank or BMO. The bank has only two varieties of accounts in the form of a high-interest account and GIC.
Customers do not have access to debit cards, ATM access, or physical cheques. If you enjoy doing all your banking in one institution or love physical banking, you should consider signing up for any one of the traditional banks reviewed above.
What is the Number 1 Bank in Canada?
The Royal Bank of Canada, also known as RBC, is the number one bank in Canada based on market capitalization and total assets worth C$1.43 trillion.
Which Bank is the Safest in Canada?
Canadian banks are amongst the safest banks in the world. All chartered banks in Canada are incredibly safe. However, amongst the 17 safest banks globally, Toronto Dominion (TD) is considered Canada’s safest bank.
Which Bank in Canada has the best interest rate?
EQ Bank’s Saving Plus is the best bank for interest rates and no-fee services.
What are the Big Five Banks in Canada?
The Big Five Banks in Canada are:
• Royal Bank of Canada
• Toronto-Dominion Bank
• Bank of Montreal
• Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
These banks are considered Canada’s biggest banks because they dominate the market and have the largest combined capital and assets.
What is the Best Online Bank in Canada?
The best online bank depends on your needs. That said, Tangerine, EQ Bank, and Simplii are some of the best online banks in Canada. They offer no-fee services for transfers, withdrawal, and Interac purchases. Both banks also provide unlimited withdrawals courtesy of their parent bank (CIBC for Simplii and Scotiabank for Tangerine)