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Save more money with fee-free bank accounts

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Banks charge fees for a number of things — not meeting minimum balance requirements, using out-of-network ATMs, monthly maintenance fees and more. Finding a chequing account that doesn’t charge any fees can be tricky, but they do exist. But if you can’t find a fee-free account, many banks will waive fees if certain conditions are met. Compare fee-free bank accounts and check out these tips on how to save money on bank fees.

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
Tangerine bank logo, icon only

Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account

  • No monthly fee
  • Earn from 0.15% – 0.65% interest on your balance, calculated daily and paid monthly (no minimum balance required)
  • Unlimited transactions
  • Free Tangerine email money transfers ($1.00 for each Interac e-Transfer)
  • First book of 50 cheques free ($20 per book afterwards)
  • Free use of 3,500 Scotiabank ATMs in Canada ($1 for other ATMs in Canada) and free use of over 44,000 ATMs worldwide ($2 for other ATMs internationally)

TD Canada Trust logo

TD Canada Trust Everyday Chequing Account

  • $10.95 per month
  • Fee rebate with minimum $3,000 balance
  • 25 free transactions ($1.25 for each transaction after that)
  • Unlimited Interac e-Transfers

TD Canada Trust logo

TD Canada Trust All-Inclusive Banking Plan

  • $29.95 per month
  • Fee rebate with minimum $5,000 balance
  • Unlimited transactions
  • Unlimited Interac e-transfers
  • Annual rebate on select TD credit cards up to $120
  • No TD fee on ATMs worldwide

CIBC bank logo

CIBC Everyday Chequing Account

  • $3.90 per month
  • No option for fee rebate with minimum balance
  • 12 transactions per month ($1.25 for each transaction after that)

CIBC bank logo

CIBC Smart Plus Account

  • $29.95 per month
  • Fee rebate with $6,000 daily balance or $100,000 in savings and investments
  • Unlimited transactions
  • Unlimited Interac e-Transfers
  • Free ATM withdrawals in Canada, the U.S. and internationally

Scotiabank logo

Scotiabank Scotia One Chequing Account

  • $13.95 per month
  • Fee waived with minimum monthly balance of $4,000
  • Unlimited transactions
  • 2 free Interac e-transfers per month
  • Earn Scene points on debit purchases, and earn exclusive rewards including free movie passes, $10 off food and drinks at the movies and $10 off meals at one of 800+ restaurants including Swiss Chalet, Montana’s, Kelsey’s, Harvey’s and Milestones. (Earn 1 point for every $5 debited and 1 point for every $1 debited at participating Cineplex Entertainment theatres.)

Scotiabank logo

Scotiabank Basic Banking Plan

  • $10.95 per month
  • Fee waived with minimum daily balance of $3,000
  • 25 free transactions per month
  • 2 free Interac e-Transfers
  • Earn Scene points on debit purchases, and earn exclusive rewards including free movie passes, $10 off food and drinks at the movies and $10 off meals at one of 800+ restaurants including Swiss Chalet, Montana’s, Kelsey’s, Harvey’s and Milestones. (Earn 1 point for every $5 debited and 1 point for every $1 debited at participating Cineplex Entertainment theatres.)

BMO logo, icon only

BMO Performance Chequing Account

  • $15.95 per month
  • Fee waived with constant minimum balance of $4,000
  • Unlimited transactions per month
  • Unlimited Interac e-transfers ($3,000 daily maximum)
  • Includes free OnGuard Identity Theft Protection (annual value approx. $180)
  • Includes free U.S. dollar Savings Account

BMO logo, icon only

BMO Premium Chequing Account

  • $30.00 per month
  • Fee waived with constant minimum balance of $6,000
  • Unlimited transactions per month
  • Unlimited Interac e-transfers ($3,000 daily maximum)
  • Includes free OnGuard Identity Theft Protection (annual value approx. $180)
  • Free U.S. dollar Savings Account
  • Free cheques, money orders and bank drafts
  • Rebate on annual fee for select BMO credit cards up to $150
  • NO BMO fees on ATMs worldwide
  • Free overdraft protection

RBC logo

RBC Signature No Limit Banking

  • $15.95 per month (through RBC’s Multi Product Rebate program, pair this account with 2 other eligible RBC accounts in the same geographic region and get cashback some or all of your monthly fees waived – only pay $9.95/month for this account)
  • Unlimited transactions
  • Unlimited Interac e-Transfers
  • 6 free bank drafts per year ($8.50 each afterwards)
  • 5 free cross-border debits ($1.00 each afterwards)
  • Free personalized cheques
  • Up to $12.00 per year off the cost of a safe deposit box
  • Rebate on annual fee of select BMO credit cards up to $39
  • If you have an RBC credit card that accumulates points for rewards, link your RBC debit card to a Petro-Points card and earn 20% more rewards points on your RBC credit card. Additionally, save 3 cents per litre at Petro-Canada gas stations.
RBC logo

RBC VIP Banking

  • $30.00 monthly fee (through RBC’s Multi Product Rebate program, pair this account with 2 other eligible RBC accounts in the same geographic region and get cashback some or all of your monthly fees waived – only pay $19.95/month for this account)
  • Unlimited transactions
  • Free cross-border debit transactions
  • Unlimited Interac e-Transfers
  • Unlimited ATM usage worldwide
  • Free RBC VIP Style personalized cheques
  • Includes up to 2 additional Canadian dollar accounts and 1 U.S. dollar account
  • Rebate on annual fee of select BMO credit cards up to $120
  • Free overdraft protection
  • f you have an RBC credit card that accumulates points for rewards, link your RBC debit card to a Petro-Points card, and earn 20% more rewards points on your RBC credit card. Additionally, save 3 cents per litre at Petro-Canada gas stations.

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)
  • Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account
Monthly fees (minimum balance required)
  • TD Everyday Chequing Account
  • TD Canada Trust All-Inclusive Banking Plan
  • CIBC Smart Plus Account
  • Scotiabank Scotia One Chequing Account
  • Scotiabank Basic Banking Plan
  • BMO Performance Chequing Account
  • BMO Premium Chequing Account
Domestic ATM withdrawal fees
  • Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account
    (free within Scotiabank’s network of over 3,500 ATMs; withdrawals from ATMs outside the network cost $1 each)
  • TD Canada Trust All-Inclusive Banking Plan
  • CIBC Smart Plus Account
  • BMO Premium Chequing Account
  • RBC VIP Banking
Transaction fees
  • Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account
  • TD Canada Trust All-Inclusive Banking Plan
  • CIBC Smart Plus Account
  • Scotiabank Scotia One Chequing Account
  • BMO Performance Chequing Account
  • RBC VIP Banking
Interac e-Transfers
  • TD Canada Trust Everyday Chequing Account
  • TD Canada Trust All-Inclusive Banking Plan
  • CIBC Smart Plus Account
  • Scotiabank Scotia One Chequing Account (only 2 free per month)
  • Scotiabank Basic Banking Plan (only 2 free per month)
  • BMO Performance Chequing Account ($3,000 daily max.)
  • RBC VIP Banking
Overdraft fees
  • Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account
    (no monthly fee; service is pay-per-use, so you don’t pay unless you use it and you won’t ever be charged more than $5 per month + interest. Annual interest rate is 19%.)
  • TD Canada Trust All-Inclusive Banking Plan & Everyday Chequing Account
    (you can either (1) pay a flat fee of $4 per month or (2) pay-per-use, where you pay no monthly fee and only get charged when you use the service; max. charge per day is $5 + interest. Annual interest rate is 21%.)
  • BMO Premium Chequing Account
  • RBC VIP Banking (interest rate is 22%)

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?

fees, terms and conditions icon
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.

calculator icon
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.

coin and payment icon
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.

debit card, credit card icon
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.

wallet with money icon
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.

icon of a smartphone financial app
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?

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.

Bottom line

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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