16 Best Banks In Canada

February 1, 2022
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Best Banks In Canada

Canadian banking institutions are one of the country's most important economic pillars. Banks contribute approximately 4% to Canada's total GDP, and they're known for having high dividend yields, continuous growth, and solid capital appreciation over time.

If you're looking for the lowest everyday banking fees and lowest monthly fees, you should go for an online bank, like Tangerine. It offers plenty of accounts and the lowest fees. If you're looking to make complex transactions, one of the big six brick-and-mortar banks like BMO might be for you.

Why Use Canadian Banks?

Canadian banks have a long history of offering banking services to individuals and small businesses. The strength of the Canadian financial system is based on strong funding and conservative consumer lending. Compared to other foreign banks, Canadian banks are more strict regarding the number of loans they can offer consumers.

Canadian banking institutions are one of the country's most important economic pillars. They're known for having high dividend yields, continuous growth, and solid capital appreciation over time.

After a two-year hiatus following the pandemic, Canada's top six banks are set to start increasing their dividend returns again, so if you're looking to open up an account, you should start looking at the big six.

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Canada's Big 6 Banks

The term “the big six banks” is used in Canada to describe the biggest six banks, the National Bank of Canada (NBC), the Royal Bank (RBC), the Bank of Montreal (BMO), the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS), and the Toronto Dominion Bank (TD).

  • The National Bank of Canada (NBC) is a Canadian commercial bank with branches in Canada's provinces. It is the 6th largest in Canada.
  • The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and its affiliated companies are a diversified financial services business.
  • The Bank of Montreal (BMO) is a multinational financial services company based in Canada. It is the eighth-largest bank in North America by asset size.
  • The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) has offices worldwide and serves more than 10 million clients.
  • The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank) is Canada's third-largest bank, with 25 million customers in Canada and abroad.
  • The TD Bank Group (TD) has over 26 million customers worldwide and over $1.7 trillion in assets.

Here's our list of the 8 best banks in Canada and the 8 best online banks in Canada:

The Best 8 Brick-And-Mortar Banks In Canada

1) Bank of Montreal (BMO)

The Bank of Montreal is Canada's fourth-largest and oldest bank, formed in 1817 in Montreal. The institution has 10 million customers in Canada and over 2,200 ATMs.

The Bank of Montreal offers different chequing and savings accounts, such as student accounts, newcomers to Canada accounts, and tailored banking for indigenous people.

The bank's chequing account costs range from $0 to $15.95 per month, depending on the type of account you want and its extra features, including a $350 deposit bonus and a free US dollar savings account with up to $1,000 in deposits.

Credit cards, loans, insurance, and financial planning are just a few other financial products available. BMO savings accounts, RRSPs and TFSAs are some examples of the bank accounts offered by the Bank of Montreal.

Type of AccountPerks
Chequing AccountOffers Premium, Performance, Plus, AIR MILES, and Practical. 
Unlimited transactions and free ATM withdrawals anywhere.
$150 rebate on credit card BMO World Elite Mastercard. 
Savings AccountOffers Smart, SavingsBuilder, Premium and U.S Premium.
0.05% interest rates plus 0.45% bonus for each $200 deposited. 
Credit CardsCashback, travel, low-interest and no-annual fees cards.

2) Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has operated in Toronto for nearly 50 years. It provides banking services to over 11 million customers worldwide and has over 4,000 ATMs in Canada.

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce provides chequing and savings accounts in various currencies, including student, senior, and US dollar accounts and ones for foreign workers.

Chequing account costs range from $3.90 per month to $29.95 per month, depending on the type of account you choose. Traditional financial services such as mortgages, loans, and insurance are CIBC's services. CIBC Savings Accounts, RRSPs and TFSAs are three examples of bank accounts offered by the CIBC.

Type of AccountPerks
Chequing AccountOffers Smart, Smart Plus, and Everyday.
12 free transactions each month (Everyday).
Unlimited transactions, free ATM withdrawals, fee rebates (Smart Plus).
Savings AccountOffers Bonus Savings, eAdvantage, Premium Growth, and US$.
Both CAD and USD accounts offer a 0.05% interest rate.
Credit CardsOffers 21 different Visa credit cards.

3) Royal Bank Of Canada (RBC)

The Royal Bank of Canada is Canada's largest bank, established in 1864. It has earned a solid reputation for financial security and has over 16 million customers worldwide.

Accounts include a chequing account, savings accounts, student accounts, new immigrant accounts, and US dollar accounts. For chequing accounts, fees range from $4 per month to $30 each month, with new customers receiving benefits.

Its size and tradition of stability make it a popular institution in Canada. Especially given that it provides customers with competitive RBC credit cards and over 50,000 no-fee ATMs all over Canada.

Type of AccountPerks
Chequing Account12 free transactions each month (basic account). 
No-limit debits, Interac e-transfer, free drafts (VIP account).
All accounts offer 3 cents off per litre of gas (Petro-Canada). 
Savings AccountBoth CAD and USD accounts offer a 0.05% interest rate.
Automate transfers.
Credit CardsCashback, travel, low-interest and no-annual fees cards.

4) HSBC Bank Canada

HSBC Bank Canada is part of the global HSBC network and is among the best banks in Canada. It has branches in many countries across the globe. 

HSBC offers banking services in over 130 countries. The majority of their branches are concentrated in Canada's major cities. One of its biggest perks is a feature called “Global view,” it is a big draw for individuals who already have accounts in the same bank in other countries. This feature makes cheap international money transfers between their personal HSBC accounts across joint accounts simple.

Type of AccountPerk
Chequing AccountUnlimited transactions (basic account)No fees when sending Interac e-transfers. (Premium)No-fee access to over 3000 ATMs in Canada (Premium)
Savings AccountOffers HISA, TFSA, Youth, and foreign currencies SA.No monthly fees, no minimum balance.
Credit CardsHSBC Travel, Cash, Premier World Elite Reward cards. 

5) The Bank Of Nova Scotia

Also known as Scotiabank, the Bank of Nova Scotia has been operating since 1832 and serves nearly 25 million clients in over 170 countries worldwide. It offers a large selection of financial solutions, a track record of solidity, and over 4,000 ATMs across Canada make this organization an excellent choice.

Scotiabank has six distinct types of bank accounts, including a chequing account, savings accounts, student accounts, and senior accounts. It also offers over 15 different types of credit cards, including no-fee cards and cash-back cards. In addition to traditional banking accounts and credit cards, it also offers savings accounts and debt repayment plans.

Scotiabank offers mortgages, loans, and credit lines. It has its investing platform and offers investment accounts, including RRSPs, TFSAs, and high-interest savings accounts (HISA).

Type of AccountPerk
Chequing Account12 free transactions each month (basic account).
Unlimited transactions (Ultimate Package).
All accounts offer SCENE and Scotia reward points.
Savings AccountOffers Momentum, MoneyMaster, and foreign currencies SA.
Interest rates start at 0.05%.
Credit CardsOffers Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards.

6) TD Canada TrustBank

The TD Canada Trust Bank is the second-largest bank in Canada, with over 25 million clients worldwide. TD Bank offers a variety of bank accounts, including a chequing account with costs ranging from $3.95 to $29.95 per month and TD savings accounts, student accounts, and US dollar accounts.

TD is a multinational bank with over 1,100 branches in Canada. It has a network of over 3,000 ATMs across Canada.

It also provides credit cards, home loans, mortgages, insurance, retirement savings such as RRSPs and TFSAs, and even provides investing opportunities.

Type of AccountPerk
Chequing AccountOffers Student, minimum, Unlimited, All-inclusive.
Unlimited transactions (All-Inclusive account).
$120 fee rebate on credit cards (All-inclusive).
Savings AccountOffers TD ePremium, Every Day, HISA accounts.
Interest rates range from 0.01% to 0.10%
Credit CardsOffers Visa cards. Cashback, Aeroplan miles, no fees.

7) National Bank of Canada

The National Bank of Canada is a major Canadian financial institution, and its been in the running for Canada's best bank.

It is based in Montreal and has branches in all Canadian provinces; however, it does not have as many offices outside Quebec.

National Bank provides newcomers with a personalized package of services worth up to $600. National Bank will also give newcomers a year of access to their Assistance service, which helps them get started on the right foot.

Type of AccountPerk
Chequing AccountOffers Minimalist, Modest, Connected, Total Account.
Unlimited transactions and free cheques (Total Account).
$150 fee rebate on credit cards (Total Account).
Savings AccountOffers TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, and HISA.
Interest rates start at 0.05%.
Credit CardsOffers Mastercard and Cash Advantage Solution.

8) PC Financial

PC Financial is a financial service provider established in 1996, and it is a subsidiary of Loblaw Companies Limited's President's Choice (PC) main brand.

Despite not being one of the big six, PC Financial does have some of the security and crossover features that you might find from other banks on the big six list. The bank's loyalty program, called PC Optimum Points, may be used to pay for various everyday items and services.

PC Financial has three credit cards: the PC Financial Mastercard, the PC Financial World Mastercard, and the PC Financial World Elite Mastercard. They all offer a no-annual-fee plan, and you'll gain Optimum points for every dollar spent at their partnered retail stores. You can exchange these points for everyday purchases, depending on which card you qualify for.

Type of AccountPerk
Credit CardsOffers PC Financial, World Elite, World, and PC Money.
Unlimited transactions and free cheques (PC Money).
Savings AccountOffers HISA, Interest Plus account.
4% interest rate when the balance is over $1,000.

The Best 8 Online Banks In Canada

Online banking is an online payment system that allows customers of a bank or other financial institution to make various financial transactions through the financial institution's website. Some benefits compared to traditional banks: they provide reduced everyday banking fees and usually come with unlimited free transactions.

1) Tangerine Bank (our full review)

Since being bought by Scotiabank back in 2012, Tangerine Bank has become one of the best online banks Canada offers by delivering its customer's competitive interest rates and no monthly account fees. Tangerine is a very thorough online bank that offers many bank account types and brings their customer's investment accounts and options with five different portfolios that aim to adapt to the customer's needs. 

The accounts offered by Tangerine are:

  • Tangerine Chequing Account – Interest rate: Up to 0.65%
  • High-Interest Savings Accounts – Interest rate: 2.75% for six months (1.10% regular)
  • Tax-Free Savings Account 
  • RSP Savings Account 
  • US$ Savings Account 
  • RIF Savings Account

Additionally, something pretty neat about Tangerine that stands out from traditional banks – and other financial institutions – is their Sign-Up bonuses. All account holders get 2.75% Interest on your savings account for the first six months when you sign up with them. You can also get a $50 referral bonus for you and a friend if you use their Orange Key. These perks flow and vary depending on the time of the year, but they do offer them often. Just google it beforehand and check if you can find some of these promotions.

2) EQ Bank (our full review)

EQ Bank is the online version of Equitable Bank, so it launched in 2016 with the backup of Canada's ninth-largest independent Schedule I Bank. Equitable Bank is arguably the best online bank, tied with Tangerine. It has over 900 employees across Canada.

The only account offered by EQ bank is their Savings Plus Account with a high-interest rate of 2.0% that is calculated daily and paid monthly. This account has one of the highest savings rates among online-only banks. 

You can read more about the Best High-Interest Savings Account and the best Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC) available in Canada here

Some of the features of this account include:

  • Zero Minimum Balance
  • Zero Monthly Fees
  • Unlimited Free Interac e-Transfers®
  • Unlimited Bill Payments
  • Free Electronic Funds Transfer
  • Free and Unlimited Day-to-Day Transactions
  • 10 Free Linked Accounts
  • Free Mobile Cheque Deposits
  • Mobile Banking App
  • EQ bank savings.

3) Oaken Financial (our full review)

Oaken Financial is another Canadian online bank that offers a high-interest savings account and GICs to its customers. It was launched in 2013 by Home Trust, giving customers both a long-established tradition of good service along with a fresh perspective on what they need to make the most out of their money. All Oaken deposits are insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).

Like EQ Bank, Oaken Financial only offers one account type: The Oaken Savings Accounts that have an interest rate of 2.30% along with some other cool features such as: 

  • Zero monthly fees
  • Free unlimited transactions
  • No minimum balance
  • It helps you build your savings
  • Setting up automatic contributions
  • Establish an emergency fund.

Other products by Oaken Financial are their GICs. These are the options available:

  • Non-registered GICs
  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Retirement Savings Plan (RSP)
  • Retirement Income Fund (RIF)
  • Commercial GICs

4) Motusbank (our full review)

Motusbank was launched in April of 2019, and it's one of Canada's newest digital online-only banks. Launched by the popular Meridian Credit Union that has been around for over 75 years. Motusbank is also a federally chartered bank in Canada and a Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) member. It is a completely digital bank with no physical location, and it is available in all provinces except Quebec. These are the accounts offered:

  • High-interest savings accounts – 2.25%
  • RRSP savings accounts – 2.10%
  • TFSA savings accounts – 2.53%
  • No fee-chequing – 0.25%

Other products include:

  • GICs
  • Personal loans
  • A personal line of credit
  • Secured Line of Credit
  • Mortgages

5) Motive Financial 

Motive Financial is an online-only Canadian bank, a direct bank arm of the Canadian Western Bank founded in 1984 in Edmonton. This bank was launched in 2008 but rebranded in 2017. Currently, it offers one of the highest interest savings accounts in Canada along with some of the best TFSA, RRSP and GIC rates in the country as well. These are the account and products offered:

  • Chequing Account Motive Cha-Ching Chequing Account 
  • The Motive Savvy Savings Account™
  • Motive Savings

6) Simplii financial (our full review)

Simplii Financial was launched in 2017 as a direct banking brand of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Like other online banks, Simplii Financial comes to the scene offering services that are just a click away while maintaining the good service tradition of its parent company. These are the accounts offered by Simplii Financial:

  • No-fee Chequing Account – Interest rate: 0.05-0.50%
  • High-Interest Simplii Savings Account – Interest rate: 1.05%

Other products include:

  • The Simplii Financial Credit Card
  • Mortgages
  • Investments (TFSA, RRSP, RRIF and RESP or a non-registered investment account)
  • Personal Loans

7) Alterna Bank

Alterna Bank has been operating since 2017, with most customers accessing their accounts through the bank's website.

This bank is the banking arm of Alterna Savings and Credit Union Ltd. It is an online bank so that you can do most of your transactions via the internet, but you also get to access their face-to-face service through Alterna Savings branch locations in Quebec and Ontario. These are the account types offered by Alterna Bank:

  • No Fee Chequing Account – Interest rate: 0.05% on deposits in an Alterna Bank Interest account.
  • High-Interest Savings Account – Interest rate: 2.20%

Other products include:

  • GICs
  • TFSA
  • RRSP

8) Outlook financial 

Like Alterna, Outlook Financial is also a direct banking arm of a credit union, in this case, the Assiniboine Local Credit Union, which was founded back in 1943 and it's one of Manitoba's second-largest credit unions.

An interesting fact about Outlook Financial is that customers of Outlook Financial get the chance to become members of the Assiniboine Credit Union and get the right to vote for the Board of Directors, along with having a say in how the annual profits of the firm are distributed. Here are the account types and products offered by Outlook Financial:

  • High-Interest Savings Account – Interest rate: 2.40%
  • GICs
  • TFSAs
  • RRSP
  • RRIF

In Summary

Canadian banking institutions are one of the country's most important economic pillars. Banks contribute approximately 4% to Canada's total GDP, and they're known for having high dividend yields, continuous growth, and solid capital appreciation over time.

If you're looking for the lowest everyday banking fees and lowest monthly fees, you should look at some online banks listed here. If you're looking to make complex transactions, more traditional brick-and-mortar banks might be for you.

How To Choose The Best Bank For You

We have covered some of Canada's best banks and best online banking options, and even the best business bank accounts. You can read more about the best business bank account available in Canada here. When looking for the best bank for you, these are some of the questions you should be asking:

#1 Fees: Are you willing to pay a premium to have your money stored in a bank? On the other hand, a no-fee chequing account might be all you need if you do most of your banking online. If you want to take advantage of additional features or require access to a branch from time to time, it might be worthwhile to keep the minimum balance to avoid paying an account fee at your bank.

#2 Availability: Check if the account offers access to free ATMs at convenient sites. You don't want to save money on the monthly expenses only to later pay it in transaction fees.

#3 Insurance Safety: All the banks listed here are active Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) members. Your deposit accounts are fully protected up to $100,000.

#4 Interest Rates: What minimum deposit amount is required to open an online savings account with your chosen bank? When you put money in traditional bank savings accounts, do you get paid anything for doing so? On an online bank, you may earn ten times as much on interest alone while waiving most monthly fees and everyday banking fees.

#5 Bonuses: A package that includes free cheques, drafts, safe deposit box rentals, credit card fee rebates, loyalty points, and other perks may influence your decision.

#6 Watch out for misleading promotions: Banks and credit unions frequently run special promotions to attract new clients. While these sign-up bonuses may sound very attractive, they are usually short-lived.

How To Open A Bank Account In Canada

You have the legal right to open a bank account at a bank or a federally regulated credit union in Canada as long as you show valid identification.

To establish an account, you must usually go in-person to a financial institution and provide a valid form of identification.

Some acceptable forms of identification include:

  • Your driver's licence.
  • Your Canadian passport.
  • Birth certificate (issued in Canada).
  • Your Social Insurance Number card.

You can usually head to the bank's official web page to read the full list of requirements.

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