Canada is known to have one of the most expensive banking systems in the world. Having a chequing account with some of the big five banks in Canada can cost you more than $200 a year in bank fees, simply for having the account.
There are, however, some great options for free chequing accounts in Canada that give you more or less the same amount of benefits and features as your paid accounts do.
So, to help you make those extra savings each year we have compiled our list for the 5 best free chequing accounts in Canada.
What is a chequing account?
Your chequing account is a bank account that you use for all of your day-to-day transactions like shopping, monthly bills, money transfers, etc.
The account gives you access to a debit card that you can use for purchases in shops and online, as well as cheques for making payments.
There are many different types of chequing accounts; personal, joint, student, senior, business, the list goes on. They all function in basically the same way and are your primary bank account for your day-to-day money needs.
What to look out for from a free chequing account?
When looking for a free chequing account you are of course wanting to match as closely as possible the features on offer from paid accounts but that isn’t always possible.
So, we wanted to list some essential features you want to be looking out for from your free account.
- No monthly account fee – this goes without saying really.
- Unlimited free transactions – Ideally you want unlimited free transactions for all of your spending needs including debits, pre-authorized bill payments, transfers, POS payments, etc.
- No minimum balance – There are ways of reducing account fees to zero by holding a minimum balance for some chequing accounts. But for a truly free account, there should be no minimum balance requirements.
- Access to ATMs – You want to be able to access your money easily through free ATMs both nationally and internationally.
- Mobile and Web banking – You want access to a good and easy-to-use mobile app and website for online banking.
- Free money transfers – sending money shouldn’t cost you anything.
- CDIC insurance – up to $100,000 per category of deposit should be standard on your account.
- Electronic statement – Having access to free electronic statements.
As a bonus, you should also look out for an account that offers interest earnings on your balances and free chequebooks.
Can you get a free chequing account from the Big 5?
It is possible to get a chequing account from some of the top five banks in Canada, and with them come some great premium perks. To get them, however, you need to maintain some hefty minimum balances, which are arguably out of reach for many of the population.
In order to qualify for the accounts, there are also some other pretty stringent requirements. HSBC, for example, needs you to have an international account or a mortgage with them of at least $150,000.
For these reasons, we haven’t included any of these accounts in our list as, in our opinion, they are not truly free.
5 best free chequing accounts
Without any further ado here are the 5 best free chequing accounts in Canada:
The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account makes it to the top of our list and is definitely one of the best free chequing accounts in Canada.
You get all of the features you are looking for from the above list, which is great, as well as the bonus of also getting paid interest on your account balance. The interest is also a fantastic 1.25% which is actually incredible. Essentially the bank is paying you to have this account!
We love hybrid accounts like this as they keep things simple and are honestly the best of both worlds when it comes to chequing and savings.
As you’d expect, you get unlimited free transactions, unlimited free e-transfers, CDIC protection up to $100,000. They have no minimum account balance though it is worth noting they have a maximum account balance of $200,000.
Their security and fraud monitoring is also great and their mobile banking and online banking are easy to use. You can even pay in cheques through your mobile app for free too.
Tangerine is owned by Scotiabank and is an online-only bank that offers a great free chequing account.
They have no monthly account fees and free unlimited money transfers, which is great. They also give you 0.10% interest on your account balance as well as giving you access to a high-interest savings account if you have some savings you want to put to extra work.
Being part of Scotiabank means you have access to their 3500 ATMs network within Canada and 44,000 worldwide.
They do have an inactive account fee of $10 per year if you make zero transactions throughout the year.
Wealthsimple also offers an account that combines savings and chequing, though don’t quite match the EQ bank’s savings rate. Still, it is a solid 0.75% interest on your account balance, which is no small amount.
As you want, they have full CIPF protection and there are no fees for sending or receiving money or for deposits or withdrawals. They also don’t require any balance minimums so no worries there.
They have a unique system that allows you to transfer or receive money to and from anyone instantly.
They also have a great chat function for sending funds that allows you to personalize messages to your contracts and use emojis.
Motusbank is owned by Meridian Credit Union though they are one of the newer online banks in Canada.
Their no-fee personal chequing account also doesn’t have a minimum balance, offers unlimited debit purchases, bill payments, and withdrawals. You get 0.15% interest on your balance too.
Through them, you also get access to high-interest savings accounts, mortgages, personal loans, and investments too to name a few extra perks.
Their mobile app is also great and easy to use. You can also take advantage of their free cheque deposit function on the app.
You have access to over 43,000 surcharge-free ATMs across the whole of North America, which is also great.
Simplii Financial was previously known as PC Financial and is owned by CIBC.
They have a very versatile app and a great website for online banking, which makes managing your money nice and easy.
They offer unlimited debit purchases, bill payments, and withdrawals at over 3,400 CIBC ATMs across Canada.
They also have a small interest payment of up to 0.05% on your balances too.
If you need to add a feature to your chequing account they also offer these options and break down the cost for you. This is great if you’re wanting to tailor your banking experience or need certain functionality that your free account won’t give you.
It’s worth noting that they also have an inactive fee if you don’t use the account over a two-year period. The fee is $20 per year.
The bottom line is, there is no need for your chequing account to be another monthly fee that you need to be budgeting for. There are some great free options out there that offer all the functionality and services that you require for your day-to-day banking.
Hopefully, our list will help you find the right account for you.