Compare the Big Five Canadian banks

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

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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?

The Big Five banks in Canada — TD Bank, RBC, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, and Scotiabank — are the largest banking institutions by assets held and serve millions of customers each year. These powerhouses offer a wide range of personal and business financial products and together own the largest ATM networks in Canada. As of 2018, the largest of these banks, RBC, holds 1.28 trillion in assets followed closely by TD Bank at 1.26 trillion.

The Big Five’s market share

As of December, 2019, RBC has the largest market capitalization out of the Big Five, with TD Bank coming in at a second, well ahead of third-place Scotiabank. Since the Big Five hold such a large market share, they’re a popular choice among consumers thanks to their high levels of financial security. Regardless of which bank you choose, most Canadian financial institutions are backed by CDIC deposit insurance, which protects eligible deposits up to $100,000.

BankMarket capitalization (2019)
RBC$116 billion (USD)
TD Bank$104 billion (USD)
Scotiabank$68 billion (USD)
BMO$47 billion (USD)
CIBC$39 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.

Comparing the Big Five

Choosing 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.

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.

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.

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.

Frequently asked questions

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