5 Best Banks in Ontario 2021

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Curious about which banks are among the top 5 in Ontario? We’ve done our research and the results aren’t surprising especially if you’ve been living in Canada for a while.

The emergence of new payment channels and crypto-currencies have greatly impacted how we handle money. These events have changed our banking needs and forced the mainstream banking industry to either adapt or miss out. While we cannot absolutely say that any bank is better than the others, we can tell you what each bank is best at.

As of 2019, RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO and the CIBC all ranked within the top 35 most stable banks globally, and unsurprisingly, they make our list.

Disclaimer: Rates and product offerings are always changing so this article might not reflect the current market situation. Please contact your financial advisor before making any financial decisions.

1. CIBC

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) is one of Canada’s most successful banks. This is because it has consistently and continuously invested in the future. CIBC takes self-improvement seriously. This is evident because its mobile banking app has ranked highest in the Forrester ranking for functionality and user experience for the sixth year running.

CIBC is client-focused and is a trendsetter in the Canadian banking industry. The CIBC chequing account has evolved with the times and adequately meets its customers’ needs, giving them the freedom to the bank just how they want to. In addition to this, CIBC has one of the largest ATM networks in the country; it has Apple Pay and a high ranking mobile app as previously mentioned, this gives you options.

For more information about CIBC, see their website here.

2. Scotiabank

Canada’s third-biggest bank, Scotia, has a wide range of products typical to the other big Canadian banks but combined with increased accessibility and innovation you’d expect to find at a startup. 

Proof of this is the Scotiabank StartRight Program, which allows you to open a bank account before you even arrive in Canada, with unlimited no-fee international money transfers. You can receive your first year of banking with Scotiabank for free for newcomers to Canada without any monthly fees. Plus, you can also avail yourself of a variety of products and services tailored to newcomers.

Find out more about the Scotiabank StartRight® Program here.

Now, not all of Scotia’s products are individually competitive, but when bundled and assessed together, they can save you a lot of money. Scotia is unique because it reduces waive fees and gives account holders a flurry of extra benefits to entice them. 

  • Scotia’s most promising multi-product deal is its Ultimate Package, which consists of unlimited, no-fee chequing transactions; 
  • There is an annual fee waiver for a Scotia credit card of the account holder’s choice; 
  • They offer a debit card that earns “Scotia Rewards” or “SCENE” points as you use it;
  • Scotia also offers extra earned interest on a Momentum plus Savings Account; 
  • Free annual trades via the self-directed trading platform Scotia iTrade; and more. 

The bundle costs about $30.95 monthly, but the fee is waived for those that maintain a minimum daily closing balance of $5,000 in their chequing account.

That said, if you already have accounts with other banks, then using Scotia to fill in a few gaps may leave you unsatisfied. Scotia is more appealing as a packaged deal. For example, Scotia’s savings interest in comparison to branchless direct banks’ rates is quite low. 

3. BMO

Canada’s oldest bank, even older than Canada. Bank of Montreal is viewed by many as one of Canada’s best banks. This institution has 200 years’ experience in helping newcomers settle in Canada. Their NewStart program offers people who arrived in Canada within the last five years 12 months of free banking with no minimum balance required and a free safety deposit box, unlimited electronic and Interac E-transfers.

BMO offers student, military and senior discounts, but their monthly fees range from $4.00 to $30.00 a month. Their online banking interface is intuitive, and one of its special features is its Air Miles bank account, allowing you to earn Air Miles with your debit purchases. And for its savings account, the best bet is the Savings Builder, which can get you up to 0.5% interest when you deposit at least $200 in your account each month.

4. TD bank

Toronto-Dominion Bank, another of the banking heavyweights in Canada, offers a wide range of services, similar to the other big banks profiled in this article. But unlike the other banks, TD offers pretty standard rates, services and products, with nothing to really set them apart from the rest. The table below gives you a glimpse of their services.

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TD’s most promising feature is that it’s big enough to offer you standard and adequate service without interruption, but most of its individual products are bested by one of the other banks on this list.

5. RBC

The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has well over 1,200 branches all over Canada, which makes it the largest and one of the best banks in Ontario.

RBC has 4 savings accounts for you to choose from, including a USD account if you frequent the US. Their best option is the RBC High-Interest eSavings account, which currently gives you 0.05% interest. They also have the NOMI Find & Save account, which will automatically save you based on your spending habits; this one is particularly cool.

On par with its savings account, RBC has 4 chequing accounts as well, and it has fees ranging from $4 to $30 per month. RBC allows for monthly fee waivers on the two lower-end accounts with a multi-product rebate. The Royal Bank does not extend this offer to the top two accounts as you will always need to pay a fee on them. However, the bank does still offer discounts on premium accounts if you operate multiple products.

For credit cards, RBC has some good options, from their WestJet line that gets you companion vouchers to save money to their RBC Avion Visa Infinite, where you’ll earn travel rewards on every dollar (which you can then use on a redemption chart)

Every bank reviewed here is, without a doubt, one of the best banks in Ontario. Questions? Check out the FAQs below.

FAQs

How do I know which bank is best for me?

  • Banking fees

Most Ontario banks charge a fee of about $5 – $30 monthly on chequing accounts. However, these fees can be refunded if a sizeable account balance of about $1,000 is maintained.

  • ATM charges

You can use your own bank’s ATM free of charge, but using another bank’s machine may cost you $5 per transaction.

  • Interac e-transfer

The Interac e-transfer system is a collection of Canadian banks and merchants who use the same payment system. Money can be transferred simply by entering the receiver’s email address – no bank details are required. Transactions cost $1 per transfer.

Below is a table that illustrates the charging system of each of the top Ontario banks:

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Kareena Maya

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.