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Can I open a bank account with bad or no credit in Canada?

You can open an account with any credit score, but banks typically run a soft credit check to verify your identity.

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Canadian banks usually perform a credit check to verify your identity when opening an account. But there’s no minimum credit score, so you can open a bank account even with bad or no credit.

Can you open a bank account with bad credit or no credit?

Yes, regardless of whether you have bad credit, no credit history or a good credit score, you can still open a bank account in Canada. Banks in Canada do not require hard credit checks in order to open a bank account.

That said, banks will typically run a soft credit check when you open an account in order to verify your identity. Unlike a hard credit check, this will not impact your credit score.

After you’ve opened an account, some banks will run a hard credit check to see if you qualify for overdraft protection, reduce the holding period on your deposits and other reasons for which a risk assessment may be required. If you don’t consent to this, you probably won’t get overdraft protection.

Free bank accounts for bad credit and no credit check

The following free bank accounts allow people with bad credit to sign up and do not do hard credit checks when opening an account:

Best forAccountOpen an Account
Simplii LogoBest overall free chequing account:Simplii No Fee Chequing AccountGo to site
EQ Bank logo, smallBest free bank account with interest:EQ Bank Personal AccountGo to site
KOHO logo, smallBest banking account for building credit:KOHO Earn InterestGo to site
Neo logoBest free bank account with cash back:Neo Money AccountGo to site
Scotiabank logoBest free chequing account for students:Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage PlanGo to site
Coast Capital logoBest free chequing account from a BC credit union:Coast Capital Free Chequing, Free Debit, and More AccountGo to site

How to open a chequing account if you have bad credit

The main reason banks run a credit check when opening an account is to verify your identity, not check your credit score. But your credit score and debt history will be checked if you want to add overdraft protection to your account.

Whether you have good or bad credit, here are your chequing account options in Canada:

Traditional chequing accounts

If you’re more into old school banking and prefer to manage your funds in-person at a branch or via desktop app, a chequing account offered by a major, established bank might be what you need.

Banks offer basic and upgraded (or premium) chequing accounts. Basic accounts come with the lowest monthly fees and usually include little else than a debit card and a few free transactions a month as well as with access to online and mobile banking.

Designed for active spenders, premium chequing accounts typically include unlimited free transactions and extra perks like free cheques, waived monthly fees on additional accounts, free withdrawals from out-of-network ATMs and discounted safety deposit boxes. But all these benefits come with a higher monthly fee.

Compare chequing accounts for any credit score

Simplii No Fee Chequing Account

Earn $400
Bonus Offer
$0
Monthly Account Fee
unlimited
Free Transactions
The Simplii No Fee Chequing Account comes with no monthly account fee, no transaction fees, no e-Transfer fees, no minimum deposit requirements and a chance to earn interest on your account balance, and a debit card. Plus, pair The Simplii No Fee Chequing Account with a no-fee Simplii High Interest Savings Account and you can earn more on your savings.
  • Earn a welcome bonus of up to $400
  • Enjoy unlimited free transactions and e-Transfers
  • No monthly account fee
  • Earn 0.01% to 0.1% interest on your balance
  • No minimum deposit requirements
  • Earn a referral bonus
  • Simplii is an online only provider
  • You can only earn the welcome bonus if you're a new Simplii customer
  • Residents of Quebec cannot open a Simplii account
Min. Age 18
Min. Age Teen Account 12
Account Fee $0
Overdraft Fee $4.97
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $1.50
International ATM Fee $3

EQ Bank Personal Account

Earn 4.00% interest
Bonus Offer
$0
Monthly Account Fee
unlimited
Free Transactions
If you're looking to save and spend, the EQ Bank Personal Account is a powerful hybrid savings and chequing account option. Earn interest on your savings and grow your money faster.
  • Unlimited monthly transactions
  • Interac e-Transfers
  • Earn high interest on your savings
  • No fees on everyday banking
  • No minimum balances.
  • 100% online bank with no bank branches.
Min. Age N/A
Account Fee $0

BMO Performance Chequing Account

Earn $600
Bonus Offer
$16.95
Monthly Account Fee
unlimited
Free Transactions
The BMO Performance Chequing Account comes with unlimited free transactions and Interac e-Transfers. Get up to a $600 cash bonus. Earn $350 when you open a new BMO Performance Chequing Account and $200 when you open a Savings Amplifier Account. Plus, earn an additional $50 when you add a second member and make it a BMO Family Bundle. Valid until July 2, 2024. Plus, earn a 5.50% promo interest rate when you open a Performance Chequing and a Savings Amplifier Account.
  • Unlimited monthly transactions
  • Interac e-Transfers
  • $40 fee rebate on the BMO Mastercard annual fee
  • BMO will reverse the first accidental fee charged to this account
  • Up to 20 accounts can be included in the BMO Family Bundle
  • Get up to a $600 cash bonus. Earn $350 when you open a new BMO Performance Chequing Account and $200 when you open a Savings Amplifier Account. Plus, earn an additional $50 when you add a second member and make it a BMO Family Bundle. Valid until July 2, 2024. Plus, earn a 5.50% promo interest rate when you open a Performance Chequing and a Savings Amplifier Account.
  • Monthly fee of $16.95
  • You won't earn any interest on the money in your account.
Min. Age 18
Min. Age Teen Account 13
Account Fee $16.95
Youth Account Fee $0
# of Accounts Included 20
Overdraft Fee $5
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $2
U.S. ATM Fee $5
International ATM Fee $5

RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account

Get Apple Watch Series 9
Bonus Offer
$16.95
Monthly Account Fee
unlimited
Free Transactions
The RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account comes with unlimited transactions and $0 Interac e-Transfers. Get the new Apple Watch Series 9 when you switch to RBC & open an RBC Signature No Limit Banking Account. Valid until April 1, 2024. The monthly account fee is $16.95, but this can be waived if you meet the requirements.
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Unlimited transactions
  • $0 e-Transfers
  • Monthly fee
Min. Age N/A
Account Fee $16.95
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $2

Scotiabank Preferred Package

Earn $400
Bonus Offer
$16.95
Monthly Account Fee
unlimited
Free Transactions
The Scotiabank Preferred Package comes with $0 transactions, $0 Interac e-Transfers and a generous welcome bonus. The monthly account fee is $16.95, but this is waived with a minimum balance of $4,000+. Earn up to 5.60% interest for 3 months on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account.
  • Generous welcome bonus
  • Unlimited transactions
  • $0 e-Transfers
  • Monthly fee
Min. Age 16
Account Fee $16.95
Overdraft Fee $5
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $2
U.S. ATM Fee $3
International ATM Fee $5

Coast Capital Free Chequing, Free Debit, and More Account

Earn 20% cashback
Bonus Offer
$0
Monthly Account Fee
unlimited
Free Transactions
The Coast Capital Free Chequing, Free Debit, and More Account comes with a $0 monthly fee, no minimum balance requirement and unlimited transactions. But Interac e-Transfers cost $1.50 each.
  • No monthly fee
  • Unlimited free transactions
  • No minimum balance required
  • Deposit cheques on the app from your phone
  • Withdraw money free of charge from 4,000+ ATMs across Canada.
  • e-transfers cost $1.50 each
  • Only available to BC residents.
Min. Age 19
Account Fee $0
Overdraft Fee $5
ATM Out-of-Network Fee $10
U.S. ATM Fee $2.50
International ATM Fee $5
Dormancy Fee $1.50

According to survey data from the Finder: Consumer Sentiment Survey Q2 2023, almost 3 out of 4 Canadians (73%) spend more than they save, each month .


Online banks

Digital banks with well-designed apps and low fees are becoming more common in Canada. A notable perk of online banks is that they tend to offer free accounts whether or not you bad credit or no credit history at all.

EQ Bank and Neo Financial are popular options, and both are federally regulated just like the Big Banks. Backed by CIBC, Simplii Financial is a great option if you need to send international money transfers, as it comes with $0 transfer fees.

The benefits of opening an account with a digital bank include:

  • Low fees. Without the overhead costs of traditional banks, online banks can afford to slash fees. Many digital banks offer accounts with no monthly fees and unlimited free transactions.
  • Great mobile apps. Big Banks have often lagged behind digital banks when it comes to mobile app design. Apps like Neo Financial get high ratings for being easy to use, while other apps like Tangerine Mobile Banking come with convenient features like fingerprint login. Learn more in our guide to best money management and investing apps.
  • Budgeting features. Many digital banking apps automatically categorize your spending, telling you where your money is going.

You can’t go to a branch for in-person service. But many online banks partner with major banks for some tasks, like depositing cash via ATM. Scotiabank, which owns Tangerine, lets Tangerine customers use Scotiabank ATMs at no extra cost. Similarly, CIBC owns Simplii Financial, so Simplii customers can use CIBC ATMs for free.

Compare online bank accounts for bad or good credit scores

1 - 4 of 4
Name Product Promo Rate Regular Interest Rate Transaction Fee 1 Year Return Offer
EQ Bank Personal Account
EQ Bank Personal Account
4.00% for 12 months
2.50%
$0
$400.00
KOHO Earn Interest
KOHO Earn Interest
N/A
5.00%
$0
$500.00
Simplii High Interest Savings Account
Simplii High Interest Savings Account
6.00% for 5 months
0.40%
$0
$269.89
Neo High Interest Savings Account
Neo High Interest Savings Account
N/A
4.00%
$0
$400.00
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More Canadians are turning to online banks for their banking and bank account needs. According to survey data from the CST Q2, 7.18% of respondents planned on opening a digital bank account between April and June 2023 — up from 3.59% of respondents who planned to open a digital bank account between January and March 2023.


Prepaid cards

Some financial institutions like KOHO and Mydoh compete with digital banks, but aren’t technically banks. These companies offer prepaid cards and accounts for everyday spending. Often, you can get rewards like cashback on your purchases. You can’t go to a branch for in person service, but you can manage your funds via mobile app.

Compare prepaid cards

1 - 3 of 3
Name Product Monthly Fee Cost per transaction Foreign transaction fee Rewards Feature
EQ Bank Card
$0
$0
0%
0.5% cash back
Get 2.50% - 4.00% interest on your money and get 0.5% CashBack on every purchase.
Neo Money Account Prepaid Card
$0
$0
2.5%
5% cash back
Earn 2.25% interest on your balance + get up to 15% cashback on first-time purchases with your Neo Money card.
BMO Prepaid Card
BMO Prepaid Card
$6.95 annually
$0
2.5%
N/A
Get a reloadable and secure card with the same benefits as a standard credit card.
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How much do chequing accounts cost?

Digital bank accounts and prepaid cards often come with no monthly fees. Chequing accounts offered by major banks usually come with monthly fees ranging from around $4 to $30, but this may be waivable if you keep minimum monthly balance or if you qualify for a discount (often available for seniors, students and newcomers to Canada).

Banking dos and don’ts if you have bad credit

Do

  • Keep an eye on your spending. Whether you get instant notifications on your phone or simply check your statement regularly, it’s a good idea to know exactly how much you’re spending each month.
  • Make a budget and stick to it. If your online or mobile bank app offers budgeting features or an automatic savings plan, use this to stay on track.
  • Check your credit score regularly. Access your credit score from TransUnion or Equifax, Canada’s main credit bureaus. Keep an eye on your debts and repayment history, and report any errors.

Don’t

  • Use an overdraft. Overdraft funds come with an extra cost (interest and ongoing fees), and paying it back won’t help your credit score.
  • Borrow more if you can avoid it. Taking out loans will worsen your debt-to-income ratio, hurt your credit score and add monthly repayments to your budget. Avoid this option if you can.
  • Miss payments. Missed and late payments will further damage your credit score.

The bottom line

In Canada, there’s no credit score requirement for opening a bank account. But most banks conduct a soft credit check to verify your identity when you open an account, so it’s difficult to avoid a credit check altogether.

Your chequing account options are the same whether you have bad or good credit. Traditional banks offer basic and premium chequing accounts, while digital banks and prepaid cards usually offer low fees and easy-to-use apps.

Frequently asked questions

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