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Compare fees & features of popular chequing accounts
A truly free chequing account will waive the monthly fee no matter how much you deposit into the account. Here’s how some popular chequing accounts compare on monthly fees.
|Bank account||Monthly fee and account features|
TD Every Day Chequing Account
TD All-Inclusive Banking Plan
CIBC Everyday Chequing Account
CIBC Smart Plus Account
Scotiabank Basic Plus Bank Account
Scotiabank Preferred Package
BMO Performance Plan
BMO Premium Plan Chequing Account
RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account
RBC VIP Banking Account
Other free bank accounts may waive ATM fees, lost card fees and other fees or could offer cash back rewards. Most free chequing accounts still have backend fees for certain transactions, like overseas withdrawals and international transaction fees.
|What fee do you want to avoid?||Bank accounts that avoid this fee|
|Monthly fees (no minimum balance required)|
|Monthly fees (minimum balance required)|
|Domestic ATM withdrawal fees|
Do free bank accounts earn interest?
It depends on the account. Most free chequing accounts won’t reward you with interest, though you might get lucky and come across one that does, such as the Tangerine Chequing Account. If not, there are many free savings accounts that reward you with higher interest rates to help grow your balance.
How do I compare free chequing accounts?
Read the fee-free conditions
Some bank accounts will waive monthly fees when you meet conditions like balance requirements or making qualifying direct deposits each month. Requirements and conditions may vary, so you should read the terms and conditions to ensure that you won’t be charged.
Determine if your income can cover the direct deposit
If an account requires a direct deposit each month, your paycheques may be enough to waive the monthly fee. Find out what the requirements are, then sign up for direct deposit with your employer.
Look at the other fees that apply
Free chequing accounts will often waive the monthly service fee, but other fees could still apply. You may be charged for using your bank account overseas, sending or receiving money transfers, ordering cheques and more. Read the terms and conditions or fee schedule for a full breakdown of your bank’s charges.
Linked debit card access and credit card functionality
Many financial institutions will give you a debit card with a credit card logo called a Visa debit card, a debit Mastercard, or sometimes simply a virtual debit card. These cards are not combined debit cards and credit cards – they are simply debit cards designed so that payment machines will recognize them as credit cards wherever debit cards are not accepted. This allows you to pay even if you don’t have a credit card. Besides getting a Visa debit card or a debit Mastercard, find out if you can link other accounts, such as your savings account, to your debit card for easier access.
ATM network and fees
Most banks charge a fee when you make an ATM withdrawal from an ATM outside of the bank’s network, like if you use a TD machine to access funds from a CIBC account. These fees often range from $1 – $5, with private ATM networks (not operated by a financial institution) typically costing more than ATMs operated by financial institutions such as banks. You can save money by getting an account with the financial institution that has the largest ATM network, but you can also find banks that don’t charge ATM fees.
Other products offerings
Find out if the institution offers other products so that you can do all of your banking in one place and make instant transfers between your accounts.
How to avoid fees
Whether you open a fee-free chequing account or find an account that will waive the monthly service charge, there are still other fees to watch out for. Here’s how you can avoid getting charged fees on your chequing account:
- Ensure you meet the conditions. If your bank will waive fees when certain conditions are met, ensure that you always meet the requirements.
- Get cash back from purchases. Instead of visiting an ATM, consider getting cash back from retail locations when you shop in order to avoid ATM fees.
- Avoid foreign transactions. Using your card abroad could rack up foreign transaction charges. Consider taking out cash before you travel, using a prepaid card or explore other types of travel money. Find out more about the best credit cards to use overseas here.
- Don’t overcharge your account. You’ll likely be charged about a fee every time you make a transaction that brings your balance below zero. While overdraft protection can ensure that these purchases are covered, the type of protection you get can still mean you end up paying fees, although such fees might be reduced.
- Use in-network ATMs. Try to avoid using out of network ATMs, as you’ll be charged by the ATM owner and again by your bank.
- Make sure your deposits go through. Returned item fees can eat into your monthly budget even though you did nothing wrong. Try to avoid depositing cheques that might bounce, as you’ll be on the hook for this fee.
- Pass on paper statements. Instead of getting a monthly statement in the mail, opt for online or e-statements and you could save a few dollars per month. Many types of account offer free e-statements.
- Keep an eye on your transactions. Find out if your account has a transaction limit and make sure to stay below it to avoid unnecessary fees. On the contrary, make sure to make at least one transaction per month to avoid inactivity fees.
- Minimize wire transfers. Most banks charge for outgoing wire transfers, while some will even charge for incoming ones. If possible, try to use Interac e-Transfers, email transfers or money transfer services from private providers to avoid wire fees.
What are the pros and cons of free chequing accounts?
- There are no monthly fees. By choosing a free chequing account, you can save money every month.
- You get ATM access. Some give you deals on domestic and international ATM transactions outside the bank’s network, while others don’t charge for transactions at non-partner ATMs.
- Other benefits. Waiving the monthly service fee is the least you should expect. Some bank accounts give you other incentives like cash back or free cheques.
- You still get charged other fees. Unfortunately, truly free chequing accounts aren’t common. Banks will still charge for certain activities, like foreign transactions, going into overdraft or sending e-transfers. However, it’s possible to get by without incurring any of these fees by choosing an account with the right benefits and by managing your activity.
- You could give up perks. Fee-free chequing accounts are a low-cost option designed for people looking to save. By choosing this account, you might be giving up valuable features found in more premium-level accounts that might be worth paying a monthly fee for.
Fee-free chequing accounts are a great way to cut down on your monthly expenses without sacrificing the convenience of having a bank account. And while it is possible to find a free chequing account available, you can also find plenty that will waive the monthly fee when certain conditions are met. Compare bank accounts to find one that fits your financial situation.
Frequently asked questions
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