CIBC vs. RBC Canada Banks Comparison

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It’s another head-to-head between two of Canada’s largest and finest financial institutions – CIBC and RBC. CIBC results from the merger between The Canadian Bank of Commerce and the Imperial Bank of Canada on June 1, 1961. With an asset total of C$769 billion in 2020, 11 million customers,  and almost 44,000 employees, CIBC is firmly one of Canada’s Big Five Banks.

RBC, or the Royal Bank of Canada, is well known across North America, and indeed the world with 83000+ employees and C$1.62 trillion in total assets in 2020, it is fair to say the Royal Bank of Canada is almost twice the size of CIBC.

But with 10 million customers compared to CIBC’s 11 million, it seems RBC has a more high-value clientele. Read on to find out how these financial giants match up against the other.

Website (Winner – CIBC)

The CIBC website is a white background with red font, easy on the eyes, and functional. The menu sits at the top left corner, but there are other helpful links on the screen for customers looking for something specific like Accounts, Cards, Buying a Home, Building wealth, Banking for Students, and loans or line of credit.

The CIBC also has a mobile banking app that’s ranked number one in customer satisfaction among the Big Five Banks. On the other hand, the RBC website is fluid and seamless, with a comprehensive menu on the upper right with features that allow customers to take care of all their banking needs. With a white background and blue and yellow font, the RBC website is aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

Still, more importantly, it has the highest security protocols to ensure customers’ financial information is secure. The RBC website also has a mobile app for Android and iOS customers and a feature that allows clients to find the nearest physical bank. 

Both websites offer a similar standard of service with almost equal levels of functionality, but CIBC comes out on top with its more practical offerings.

Banking Products

Both financial institutions have a boatload of banking products, making it impracticable to completely compare the two banks. However, it is still vital to see how their services compare by checking out some of their most popular products to see how they do in their respective categories.

RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account (Winner)

The RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account is arguably RBC most used chequing account. It features unlimited transactions and a suite of other benefits at a reasonable C$15.95 fee monthly.

Other notable perks include free personalized cheques, bank drafts, and zero monthly overdraft fees. Customers also get a specific amount of Interac e-Transfers monthly for free and reimbursements for non-RBC ATM withdrawals.

You should go for this account if you want to enjoy comprehensive RBC banking services at a reasonable price.

Benefits

  • Unlimited transactions: make unlimited transfers, recurring bill payments, and purchases without worrying about hidden fees.
  • Unlimited Interac e-Transfers: Send money to loved ones with free unlimited Interac e-transfers monthly 
  • Non-RBC ATM discounts: ATM fees are returned when you withdraw cash from non-RBC ATMs (maximum three times monthly)
  • Special discounts: lower account fees monthly for customers with multiple RBC accounts or eligible for senior’s discount
  • Free bank drafts: up to six free bank drafts annually
  • Free cross-border debits: enjoy five free cross-border debits monthly and 1C$ after exceeding the limit.
  • Credit card fee discounts: up to C$39 savings after registering for an eligible card.
  • Safety deposit box discount: rent deposit box with up to C$12 in rebate annually
  • Free cheques: collect unlimited personalized cheques at no extra cost
  • Overdraft protection: customers protect themselves from NSF Charges when the bank balance is red.
  • Fuel Savings at Petro-Canada worth three cents per litre and 20% Additional Petro-Points.

CIBC Smart Account

The CIBC has a Smart Account that is ideal for customers who make frequent or infrequent transactions. The fees depend on the volume of monthly transactions with 12 transactions or less priced at C$4.95 per month.

Transactions over 12 and up to 20 costs C$1.25 each, while 20+ transactions will set you back C$14.95. However, you can waive the monthly fee with a minimum of C$3000 in your chequing account.

Benefits

  • Up to 10 cents at designated gas stations when your credit card is linked to the Journey Rewards Program
  • Unlimited free transactions
  • Unlimited free Interac e-Transfers
  • Pay for only services that you use
  • Seniors 65 and older don’t pay a monthly fee and a C$10 cap for unlimited transactions.

This category isn’t a contest; RBC comes out best in the bank account comparison.

Popular Credit Cards (Winner – CIBC)

The most popular credit card on the RBC chain is the RBC Avon Visa Infinite Card, while for CIBC, the most sought after is the CIBC Dividend, Visa Card.

RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card

The RBC Avion Visa Infinite Card provides flying customers with an easy way to get rewards for every dollar spent irrespective of the flight or airline they’re using.

Additionally, customers receive a 15,000 Welcome bonus for signing up. You should go for this credit card if you often travel on different airlines but still want to receive rewards. The Avion Visa Infinite has a C$120 annual fee which is reasonable for a card of such value.

Benefits

  • Welcome Bonus of 15000 points equivalent to a free flight to designated destinations
  • No limited blackout periods and limited restrictions
  • Loaded extras with lots of perks, including essential value-added services
  • 100 reward points earn you C$1 that you can use for flying and other perks

CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card

The CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card is arguably the most popular CIBC card because of the possibility of earning 4% cashback and no caps on how much you can make.

The credit card provides various means of earning rewards, including 4% on eligible groceries and gas purchases, 2% on suitable restaurant and office purchases, and 1% on any other eligible purchases.

The dollar worth of your rewards is based on what you choose to redeem and the specific rewards program. For customers who spend upwards of C$2000 monthly, they can expect to get C$492 worth of rewards which more than makes up for the C$120 annual fee.

Benefits

  • 4% cashback on groceries and gas
  • 2% cashback on restaurants and transportation, including recurring bills
  • 1% cashback on every other purchase
  • No Limit on cashback rewards
  • Five different types of purchase and travel insurance 

In the battle of the popular credit card products, CIBC takes this one with the unlimited earning rewards potential.

GICs (Draw)

CIBC and RBC boast a vast selection of GICs tailored to track stock market indexes like the S&P/TSX 60 or the S&P 500. The ROI depends on what type of index is tracked, and while the returns are capped, you’re guaranteed not to lose money if the market goes south.

RBC has five kinds of GICs to CIBCs four, but it isn’t about quantity but quality. While RBC comes out on top with a slightly higher interest rate than CIBC, you’d need to invest at least C$1000 for an RBC GIC compared to C$500 for CIBC.

HISA (Draw)

CIBC and RBC both have high-interest savings account with the CIBC eAdvantage and the RBC High-Interest eSavings Account.

CIBC eAdvantage Features

  • 0.05% interest per dollar
  • Zero monthly fees
  • No transactions included
  • C$5 per transaction
  • Free paperless statements
  • C$2 per non-CIBC ATM withdrawals
  • Overdraft Protection
  • C$1.50 Interac e-Transfer fee for sending money and free receiving
  • 1.25% bonus rate for opening first eAdvantage Savings Account

RBC High-Interest eSavings Account Features

  • 0.05% interest per dollar
  • Zero monthly fees
  • C$1 per Interac e-Transfer
  • Free paperless bank statements
  • One free RBC ATM cash withdrawal monthly
  • C$5 per debits past the monthly limit
  • Free electronic self-service transfer  to RBC personal deposit account in your name

Both HISAs are virtually the same, with RBC edging slightly on the welcome bonus rate. Nonetheless, this category will go down as a draw.

Conclusion 

As the biggest of the Big Five, RBC is one of the top choices for personal banking, chequing and business accounts. Most customers prefer a more personalized banking experience, and RBC provides the connection they need with world-class customer-centric service.

CIBC is an established financial conglomerate with bank branches spread across Canada and the US. CIBC has one of the best online banking experiences with full-service banking features.

In sum, either bank has a broad selection of financial products, and you wouldn’t be losing any sleep if you prefer one to the other. 

FAQs

Is RBC better than CIBC?

Both banks deliver world-class banking products, with each bank providing everything you can ever need for your finances. While RBC is renowned for its business products, CIBC remains an excellent option for online banking.

What is the Safest Bank in Canada?

Canada boasts one of the safest banking systems in the world, with RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO, and CIBC ranking among the top-35 most stable banks in the globe.

Why are Canadian Banks so Strong?

Canadian banks are strong because of the strict regulatory framework and conservative approach to banking.

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Kareena Maya

Personal Finance and Travel Rewards Expert Contributor

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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.