No Fee Banking in Canada: Best Options For Day-To-Day

I’m a big fan of no fee banking in Canada. I hate paying banking fees and I actually never have (with exception of accidentally paying for the month a few times, but I managed to get it waived with a phone call).

I have a number of these big banks and online banks to maximize the convenience and maximize the interest returns.

Post last updated: October 2023

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When I think of a good no fee chequing account in Canada, I want an account where:

  • I can move my money easily
  • I can access my money easily (for example, ATM options available that don’t have a fee)
  • There is an option for a high interest savings account linked (not such a big deal but this is nice anyway)
  • I can get free cheques
  • There are free email money transfers
  • Bill payments are done easily
  • Mobile cheque deposits are available and work well
  • There are a reasonable number transactions that I am allowed ‘for free’ before I get dinged with a fee
  • There is no minimum balance (not a big deal for me but it’s a good thing to have)

Here are a few options to consider if you’re looking for no fee banking in Canada- all of these have no minimum balance unless otherwise stated.

All of these are CDIC covered (meaning your deposit is protected up to $100,000 CAD in the event the bank going under) unless otherwise stated.

Tangerine Chequing

This is the original ‘online-only bank’ and was originally called ING Direct (which opened up in 1997).  They are now owned by Scotiabank and have been renamed to Tangerine Bank.  I have had a Tangerine account for over 10 years and am a big fan.

  • Transactions: Unlimited number of debit purchases, bill payments, pre authorized payments.
  • Rate: Up to 0.10%
  • Email Money Transfers: Unlimited Tangerine Email Money Transfers and Interac e Transfer®  transactions.
  • ATM Access: Free access to 3,500 Scotiabank ABMs nationwide
  • Mobile Cheque Deposit: Yes, called Cheque-In. One of the first banks to do mobile cheque deposit on the mobile app.
  • High Interest Savings Option: The Tangerine Savings Account has a 1.00% rate
  • Cheques: 50 free cheques (your first cheque book)
  • Unique Perk: Visa Debit where you can pay directly with money from your chequing account for online and in-store purchases (kind of works like a credit card but isn’t one)
  • Promotional Offer: Sometimes there are Tangerine promo codes like EARNMORE when you sign up.

EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account

EQ Bank Card

EQ Bank is a trademark of Equitable Bank and they are a federally regulated Schedule I bank with over $35 billion in assets under management.  It is a Canadian company and has been around for over 45 years.  They still have one of the highest rates (non-promotional) in Canada. Click here to read my EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account review. I’ve been using it for a few years and am very happy with it.

  • Transactions: Free electronic fund transfers, debit purchases, bill payments, pre authorized payments, EQ to EQ payments
  • Rate: 2.50%*
  • Email Money Transfers: Free Interac e-Transfer®
  • ATM Access: As of 2023 yes! Free ATM withdrawals from anywhere in Canada (EQ Bank will reimburse the fee charged) and 0.5%** cash back on purchases AND no foreign currency conversion fee. You just load your EQ Bank card to the amount you want, and the balance on your card is CDIC protected.
  • Mobile Cheque Deposit: Yes, and it works well
  • High Interest Savings Option: The EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account is a hybrid chequing and savings account with a 2.50%* rate
  • Cheques: Unfortunately not provided
  • Unique Perk: The high interest rate of this savings and chequing combo account and they also have a USD account with a high interest rate

Motive Financial Cha-Ching Chequing Account

Motive Financial is a division of Canadian Western Bank, which is a member of the CDIC (Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation).  There was a CWB (Canadian Western Bank) online division called Canadian Direct Financial which was originally in place since 2008, and in April 2017, they rebranded to Motive Financial.

I’ve been using the Motive Financial Cha-Ching Chequing Account along with the Savvy Savings Account for a few years. It’s a great option for no fee banking in Canada, though I’ve been dinged a few times for keeping most of my money in my savings and not enough in my chequing and getting over drafted.

  • Transactions: Unlimited free transactions
  • Rate: 0.25%
  • Email Money Transfers: Unlimited Interac e-Transfer®
  • ATM Access: Unlimited at EXCHANGE Network ATM (basically credit unions and also a big bank- HSBC Bank)
  • Mobile Cheque Deposit: Yes, it works great
  • High Interest Savings Option: Yes, the Motive Savvy Savings Account offers 3.00% interest. You are only allowed 2 free withdrawals a month for the savings account
  • Cheques: Yes, you get 50 free cheques mailed to you
  • Unique Perk: 2 Free Non-EXCHANGE Network ATM withdrawals (then $1.50 afterwards)

Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing

Simplii financial used to be PC Financial (a joint venture with Loblaws) and now it is a trademark and division of CIBC bank. CIBC renamed it to Simplii Financial when it was created in 2017. Here are some details of the Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account. A very attractive offer if you go through personal cheques like water.

  • Transactions: Unlimited debit purchases, bill payments, and withdrawals
  • Rate: 0.05%
  • Email Money Transfers: Unlimited Interac e-Transfer®
  • ATM Access: Free at over 3,400 CIBC ATMs across Canada
  • Mobile Cheque Deposit: Yes you can deposit cheques with the mobile app
  • High Interest Savings Option: 6% rate until October 31, 2023 for the first 5 months on their High Interest Savings Account. After that it is only 0.10%.
  • Cheques: Free personalized cheques. When you run out you can order more (for free!)
  • Unique Perk: Mobile payments available (Google Pay, Apple Pay etc.) and you can order foreign cash and have it sent to you at home or picked up at the Canada Post post office!
  • Promotional Offer: You can earn a $350 cash reward by opening up a new Simplii chequing account when you set up an eligible direct deposit (within 120 days) of at least $100 a month for 3 straight months.

Big Bank With Minimum balance

Another way that you could opt for no fee banking in Canada is to use your typical big Canadian bank and keep a minimum balance. Normally these monthly fees are $16.95 at least a month.

For example, BMO has a chequing account package where you keep $3000 minimum and fees are waived.

Scotiabank has premium chequing account packages like the Preferred Package and the Ultimate package where you keep a minimum of $4000 a month for the Preferred Package and $5000 for the Ultimate Package.

For example with the Ultimate Package (normally $30.95/month), you get the fees waived AND you get access to a safety deposit box, free personal cheques, and get annual fees for premium credit card waived (that would normally cost over $150 a year), and 5 free trades with Scotia iTrade per year. This is in addition to the new online brokerage offer of up to $1500 when you open an account.

One of the ones that doesn’t have this feature are RBC chequing accounts, you can’t get the entire fee waived with a minimum balance from what I’ve seen.

The downside to keeping a minimum balance at the big banks is that some people don’t like their money tied up in this way and they would rather invest it. Personally I don’t mind and include it as part of my ‘emergency fund cash‘. I like the convenience that the big banks offer. I move my money out when I get paid and actually keep very little in the chequing account (almost just enough to cover the minimum balance).

  • Transactions: Depends on the banking package
  • Rate: Usually 0% interest paid
  • Email Money Transfers: Depends on the package, but usually they are Unlimited Interac e-Transfer®
  • ATM Access: Yes, free with the bank’s ATM network (which are ubiquitous)
  • Mobile Cheque Deposit: Yes
  • High Interest Savings Option: Some do, for example, Scotiabank has the MomentumPLUS Savings Account where you can earn up to 5.65% interest with the Ultimate account for a limited time.
  • Cheques: Depends on the banking package, the more premium packages usually includes cheques, for example, the Scotiabank Ultimate includes one book of 100 personalized cheques per year per account
  • Unique Perk: Many offer bonuses like the RBC iPad Offer or $350 cash for signing up. For example, opening up a new Scotiabank Preferred Account gives you $350 cash right now.

We had the Scotiabank Preferred Account as one of our joint accounts but we recently upgraded to the Ultimate Package. Check the link out for my review on the Ultimate Package.

PC Money Account

In 2020, Loblaw’s announced they are getting back into the no fee banking in Canada business and created PC Money. The PC Money Account rewards you in PC Optimum Points. Loblaw’s calls the PC Money Account an ‘online self-service money management account’.

  • Transactions: Unlimited debit purchases, bill payments, and withdrawals, but the card does not work with merchants that don’t accept Mastercard payments
  • Rate: Looks like it is 0% interest.
  • Email Money Transfers: Unlimited Interac e-Transfer®
  • ATM Access: Free from PC Financial ATMs (which are located in Real Canadian Superstores from what I’ve seen)
  • Mobile Cheque Deposit: None. Unfortunately you can’t deposit any cheques with the PC Money Account
  • High Interest Savings Option: None
  • Cheques: Unfortunately you don’t get any cheques with the PC Money Account.
  • Unique Perk: You get 10 PC Optimum Points per $1 that you spend on the card and a special 25 PC Optimum points at Shoppers Drug Mart

Related: PC Travel Review

motusbank Chequing Account

Motusbank is a relatively new game in town, they launched in 2019. They are a subsidiary of Meridian credit union, the largest credit union in Ontario and the third largest credit union in the country.

  • Transactions: Unlimited debit purchases, bill payments and withdrawals
  • Rate: 0.15%* interest
  • Email Money Transfers: Unlimited Interac e-Transfer®
  • ATM Access: Unlimited at EXCHANGE Network ATM (basically credit unions and also a big bank- HSBC Bank)
  • Mobile Cheque Deposit: Yes, with Deposit Anywhere™ take a picture of your cheque and money is deposited
  • High Interest Savings Option: motusbank’s high interest savings account offers 1.00% interest as of writing
  • Cheques: Your first order of 25 cheques are free
  • Unique Perk:  You can use their “Price Drop Feature”. When you submit receipts in the Motusbank app or through email and they look for better prices. If found, you can claim your money back! Also, if you purchase online with any of their 40 retailer partners, the price drop feature is automatic.

Wealthsimple Cash

The Wealthsimple Cash account is new and only available for Canadians (it used to be called Wealthsimple Save). You have to have a Wealthsimple Invest account or a Wealthsimple Trade account to have Wealthsimple Cash. The Wealthsimple Cash account is similar to the EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account where it is a ‘hybrid’ savings and chequing account.

Instead of a high interest savings ETF you can park your cash here.

Wealthsimple Cash Chequing Savings
  • Transactions: Unlimited debit purchases, bill payments and withdrawals
  • Rate: At the time of writing it is 0.75%
  • Email Money Transfers: Yes, they are included
  • ATM Access: Yes, from any ATM in Canada that has the VISA logo and Wealthsimple will reimburse you the fee that the other bank charges you (up to a limit)– this is once the Tungsten card is available
  • Mobile Cheque Deposit: No, and they don’t plan on offering this
  • High Interest Savings Option: It’s a hybrid type account with a 0.75% rate
  • Cheques: No, and they don’t plan on offering this
  • Unique Perk: There are no foreign currency exchange fees on purchases. Only the currency conversion and the fee that VISA charges.

No Fee Banking Canada Recap

To summarize, there are a number of enticing options out there for no fee banking in Canada.

  • Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account
  • EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account
  • Motive Financial Cha-Ching Chequing Account
  • Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing
  • Going with a Big Bank (e.g. BMO or Scotiabank) and keep the minimum balance
  • PC Money Account
  • Motusbank Chequing Account
  • Wealthsimple Cash

Would any one particular Canadian chequing account fit the long list of requirements at the beginning of this post? Is there a ‘one size fits all’ no fee chequing account in Canada?

The PC Money Account sounds good if you’re into collect PC Optimum points but I dislike going to Superstore already (it’s too big, overwhelming) and going there just to withdraw cash seems unappealing.

Simplii Financial and Tangerine accounts seem good except that for the linked savings account, after the promotional period it is 0.10% for savings. The free 100 cheques per year from Simplii is very appealing though.

I think I’ll continue to stick with my big bank chequing account for the convenience (and access to premium credit cards) and add on additional chequing accounts like EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account and Motive Financial Cha-Ching Chequing for the high interest rates.

If you’re looking for the best US dollar savings account click here.

Which no fee banking account in Canada do you use? (Or do you use a number of them, like I do?)

Any other No Fee Banks in Canada that you are a big fan of?

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8 thoughts on “No Fee Banking in Canada: Best Options For Day-To-Day”

  1. I’ve been using Tangerine for years now and am so happy with them. I had EQ for a while, but recently dumped it. My wife still has an account with them, so sometimes I send her money when my Tangerine interest rate drops.

    Reply
  2. Big fan of EQ Bank! ? I also keep a savings account with one of the big 5 banks, to cover me whenever I need cash. Although that has been very rare. It’s amazing how we can do almost everything online these days.

    Reply
  3. Tangerine being part of Scotiabank also gives you access to no-fee withdrawals (except for the 2.5% exchange rate) from the GlobalATM alliance (BNP, Bank of America, Deutschebank, Westpac, and Barclays ATMs).

    Reply

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