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Compare the Big Five Canadian banks

Unlock a range of personal and business financial products from the largest banks in Canada.

The 5 largest banks in the Canada, dubbed the Big Five, include TD Bank, RBC, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, and Scotiabank. Banking with these heavy-hitters gives you access to a variety of chequing and savings accounts and other financial products.

What are the Big Five banks?

  1. RBC (Royal Bank of Canada)
  2. TD Bank (Toronto-Dominion Bank)
  3. Scotiabank (Bank of Nova Scotia)
  4. BMO (Bank of Montreal)
  5. CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce)

The Big Five banks in Canada serve millions of customers each year, and are the largest banking institutions by assets held. These powerhouses offer a wide range of personal and business financial products and together own the largest ATM networks in Canada.

RBC

First incorporated in 1869, RBC now has 17 million clients worldwide. It is Canada’s largest bank by market share, and second largest by assets, as of 2020. RBC has over 86,000 employees who serve customers in Canada, the US and in 34 other countries around the world. It has over 2,600 ATM and branch locations. In 2020 RBC was named the North American Retail Bank of the Year for the third year in a row by Retailer Banker International.

TD Bank

TD is the second biggest bank in Canada by market share and the largest by assets as of 2020. Since its founding in 1855 in Toronto, Ontario TD Bank has grown to serve over 25 million customers around the world. It has over 1,900 ATM and branch locations. TD is the only Canadian bank since 2014 to be listed on the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.

Scotiabank

Scotiabank is Canada’s third largest bank by both market share and assets as of 2020. Scotiabank has over 90,000 employees, and serves more than 10 million small business and commercial banking customers across Canada. It has 953 branches and over 3,632 ATMs. Since beginning in 1832, Scotiabank has primarily focused on serving countries in North America and parts of South America, but still operates in over 55 countries around the world.

BMO

As Canada’s fourth largest bank, BMO serves 12 million customers globally, including 8 million in Canada alone. It has over 45,000 employees, and over 3,000 ATM and branch locations. BMO has been recognized as the most sustainable ban in North America, as of 2020. Because it was founded in 1817, BMO has the distinction of being Canada’s oldest of the Big Five banks.

CIBC

Even though CIBC is the smallest of the Big Five banks, it still has over 40,000 employees who serve more than 10 million customers across Canada and globally. CIBC has over 1,000 bank branches and 3,000 ATMs. With its founding in 1867, it’s Canada’s second oldest of the Big Five banks. CIBC’s banking app has been ranked 1st by J.D. Power for Customer Satisfaction among Canada’s largest banks’ Mobile Banking Apps.

The Big Five banks’ market share

As of December, 2020, RBC has the largest market capitalization out of the Big Five banks, with TD Bank coming in at a second, well ahead of third-place Scotiabank. Regardless of which bank you choose, all of the Big Five banks, and most other Canadian financial institutions, are backed by CDIC deposit insurance, which protects eligible deposits up to $100,000.

BankMarket capitalization (2020)
RBC$116.8 billion (USD)
TD Bank$102.5 billion (USD)
Scotiabank$65.5 billion (USD)
BMO$49.2 billion (USD)
CIBC$38.2 billion (USD)

Which is the best bank in Canada?

There’s no one bank that is “best” overall, as what’s best for you will depend on your financial situation and goals. However, here are a few differences between the Big Five that may help sway you one way or another.

  • RBC. Largest bank in terms of market share, most branches and ATMs.
  • TD Bank. Awarded safest bank in North America.
  • Scotiabank. Most international with a presence in 55 countries.
  • BMO. Canada’s oldest bank (institution number is 001).
  • CIBC. Number 1 rated mobile banking app.

Choosing between the Big Five

Deciding on the best bank for you depends on your personal financial needs. The Big Five banks all offer a similar range of products and services, but there are a few key differences. First, consider the accounts and services you wish to use. For example, you might be interested in a high-yield savings account and a low-fee chequing account. Once you have this in mind, compare what each bank has to offer in terms of interest rates, fees, customer support and more.

Compare products offered by the Big Five banks

RBC Bank logo

RBC

TD Canada Trust bank logo

TD Bank

Scotiabank logo

Scotiabank

BMO, Bank of Montreal logo

BMO

CIBC logo

CIBC

Accounts
Popular accountsRBC Signature No Limit Banking Account

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TD Unlimited Chequing Account

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Scotiabank Preferred Package

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BMO Performance Chequing Account

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CIBC Smart Account

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Lending
Popular credit cardsRBC Avion Visa Infinite Card

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TD Cash Back Visa Infinite Card

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Scotia Momentum Visa Infinite Card

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BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard

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CIBC Dividend Visa Infinite Card

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Investing

How to compare bank accounts from the Big Five

When you’re looking at chequing accounts offered by the Big Five, consider the following features:

Fees

From monthly fees to overdraft charges and everything in between, be sure to compare fee schedules between accounts. Some banks will waive your monthly fee if certain conditions are met, whereas others may charge you regardless. Be sure to consider how you will be using your account when considering the importance of fees. For instance, if you plan to frequently withdraw cash from ATMs, look into the fees associated with ATM transactions.

ATM access

Convenient access to the money in your chequing account is another key factor in choosing the right product for your needs. Check out whether the account provides free access to ATMs, how many ATMs are in the bank’s network and where those ATMs are located. Also consider whether the bank will reimburse you for out-of-network ATM charges.

Online banking

The Big Five banks all have Internet and mobile banking access, so it comes down to which offers the best customer experience. CIBC’s mobile banking app has a great reputation, but you may want to compare mobile banking apps to find out which would be best for your needs. Make sure that the bank and app you choose is compatible with your mobile device if you like banking on the go.

Interest rates

Although extremely rare, an interest-bearing chequing account can put your money to work when it’s not being used. Interest rates on chequing accounts at Big Five banks may not be much, but it can still grow your account balance. Interest rates may also be higher on balances that are above a certain threshold.

Minimum deposit and balance requirements

Minimum deposits and balance requirements may vary depending on which bank you choose. Plus, if you don’t meet the balance requirements, you might be charged a fee, which could eat into your balance. Shop around to find an account with a minimum deposit in your budget and balance requirements you can easily meet each month to avoid unnecessary charges.

Perks

Some banks offer incentives and perks to attract customers, including signup bonuses, free linked accounts, rewards programs and fee-free ATMs. Compare the features and signup bonuses of each account in order to make the most of your money.

Branch locations

If you prefer to do your banking in person, you might want to think about how many branches are in your area. There’s no point in opening an account with a bank if most of its branches are on the other side of town.

Compare Big Five chequing account options

Name Product Interest Rate Account Fee Debit Transactions Interac e-Transfer Transactions
Scotiabank Preferred Package
0%
$16.95 per month ($0 if requirements met)
unlimited
unlimited
Earn a $300 welcome bonus. Plus, for a limited time, earn up to 1.75% on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account.
Scotiabank Ultimate Package
0%
$30.95 per month ($0 if requirements met)
unlimited
unlimited
Earn a $300 welcome bonus. Plus, for a limited time, earn up to 1.80% on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account.
Scotiabank Basic Plus Bank Account
0%
$11.95 per month ($0 if requirements met)
25 free per month
Free
Pay no monthly account fee by maintaining a minimum daily closing balance of $3,000 for the entire month.
Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan
0%
$0
unlimited
unlimited
Sign up today and get up to 5,000 SCENE or Scotia Rewards Points. Terms apply. Apply by April 30, 2021.
Scotiabank Basic Bank Account
0%
$3.95 per month
12 free per month
Free
With a low monthly account fee, you can choose between earning points toward the SCENE or Scotia Rewards reward programs.
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When you’re looking at savings accounts offered by the Big Five, consider the following features:

Interest rates

Interest rates determine how quickly your savings can grow. Look at the interest rates of each account to determine which one has the best value. With the Big Five, you may be able to get an introductory rate, which offers higher interest for a set period of time. Interest rates may also be higher on account balances that are above a certain threshold.

Online banking

The Big Five banks all have Internet and mobile banking access, so it comes down to which offers the best customer experience. CIBC’s mobile banking app has a great reputation, but you may want to compare mobile banking apps to find out which would be best for your needs. Make sure that the bank and app you choose is compatible with your mobile device if you like banking on the go.

Fees

From monthly fees to overdraft charges and everything in between, be sure to compare fee schedules between accounts. Some banks will waive your monthly fee if certain conditions are met, whereas others may charge you regardless. Since you’re most likely opening a savings account to save money, it’s important to consider how fees might affect your savings goals.

Minimum deposit and balance requirements

Minimum deposits and balance requirements may vary depending on which bank you choose. Plus, if you don’t meet the balance requirements, you might be charged a fee, which could eat into your savings. Shop around to find an account with a minimum deposit in your budget and balance requirements you can easily meet each month to avoid unnecessary charges.

Perks

Some banks offer incentives and perks to attract customers, including signup bonuses, free linked accounts, rewards programs and fee-free ATMs. Compare the features and signup bonuses of each account in order to make the most of your savings.

Branch locations

If you prefer to do your banking in person, you might want to think about how many branches are in your area. There’s no point in opening an account with a bank if most of its branches are on the other side of town — unless you prefer an online savings account.

Pros and cons of banking with the Big Five

Pros

  • More access to your money. By choosing one of the Big Five, you’ll have easy access to your money through a large number of branches, ATM networks and online banking.
  • 24/7 customer service. Depending on the Big Five bank you choose, you’ll likely have access to 24/7 customer service, which can come in handy if you have a financial emergency.
  • Easily link your Big Five bank account. If your chequing account is already with one of the Big Five, you’ll find it easy to link your new savings accounts.
  • Financial stability. The Big Five have the largest market share of all banks, meaning you can trust that your money is safe. And even if any of these banks were to fail, they’re insured by the CDIC, meaning you’re protected for up to $100,000 per eligible deposit.

Cons

  • Other brands out there. The Big Five are all well-known institutions, but you should still look at other banks when making your comparisons. This helps to ensure that your savings are working as hard as possible toward your financial goals.
  • Lower interest rates. The Big Five have a reputation for having the lowest interest rates in the market for their savings accounts. You can compare high-interest savings accounts here.
  • Not the most competitive. Due to their popularity, the Big Five banks aren’t always as competitive with their rates and fees as smaller banks and credit unions.

Alternatives to the Big Five banks

Although the Big Five banks have the biggest financial footholds in Canada, they are not the only banking options. In fact, depending on your financial needs, other banks may be a better fit for you. A popular alternative to the Big Five are credit unions and online banks like Tangerine or EQ Bank. Online banks and credit unions often offer fee-free account options and some of the most competitive interest rates on the market.

The downside to Big Five alternatives is that they may not offer a full suite of financial products. For example, you may not be able to get a mortgage from an online bank. However, you could save a lot of money on your everyday banking by switching to a no-fee chequing account or high interest savings account at an online bank for example.

Compare online banking products in Canada

Interested in opening your first online bank account? Compare the products below from some of the best online banks in Canada.

Name Product Interest Rate Promotional Interest Rate Min. Bal / Min. Deposit Account Fee
EQ Bank Savings Plus Account
1.25%
N/A
$0 / $0
$0
Enjoy zero everyday banking fees, free transactions and no minimum balance with a Savings Plus Account from EQ Bank.
CI Direct Investing High Rate Savings Account
0.50%
N/A
$0 / $0
$0
With no fees and no restrictions, you'll earn 0.5% interest with the CI Direct Investing High Rate Savings Account.
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Bottom line

If financial stability is your number one priority when choosing a bank, then opening an account with one of the Big Five could be right for you. These powerhouses aren’t likely to fail any time soon and offer a wide range of financial products to meet your personal and business banking needs. However, these institutions aren’t known to have the most competitive interest rates or fees.

Compare the Big Five banks with smaller providers and credit unions to find the savings account that best fits your needs.

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