Compare free savings accounts

"No fees" means every dollar brings you closer to your financial goals.

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When you’re saving up for a goal, you don’t want to end up losing any money to fees. Most banks offer free savings accounts — but you have to know how to find them. Here’s what to look for when shopping around for and how to compare free savings account.

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

2.00 % APR

rate

  • Zero everyday banking fees
  • Free transactions
  • No minimum account balance

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

With no everyday banking fees and free transactions, open an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account and get an interest rate of 2.00%.

  • Account fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 2.00%
  • Min. deposit amount to open account: $0
  • Account type: Savings
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Where can I open a free savings account?

Both online banks and brick-and-mortar financial institutions offer savings accounts with no monthly account maintenance fees:

  • Online banks. Online banks — and online divisions of traditional banks — slash their overhead costs and pass these savings onto you in the form of high APYs and low fees. You’ll typically find the highest rates at online institutions, but you won’t be able to withdraw cash in-person and your account may not come with an ATM card.
  • Brick-and-mortar banks. Free savings accounts from physical banks usually have the lowest APYs. You won’t earn much on your money, but you may be able to withdraw cash at a local branch or using an ATM card.

How to compare free savings accounts

When weighing the benefits of a free savings account, look at such factors beyond the monthly fee:

  • Interest rates. If you want the highest APY, consider online banks. They have lower overhead than traditional banks, so they tend to offer the highest interest rates with little to no fees.
  • Signup bonuses. Some banks offer introductory bonus rates, extra features, free gifts or other rewards for opening a free savings account with them. Carefully read the conditions of the perk so that you don’t miss out.
  • Account access. Consider whether your bank offers a mobile app or an extensive network of ATMs and branches for easy access to your money.
  • Miscellaneous fees. Many savings accounts are considered “free” as long as they don’t have a monthly fee. But that doesn’t mean you won’t pay fees for excessive withdrawals, ATM usage, transfers or transactions. Read the account’s fine print to see what you could be on the hook for.

Compare free savings accounts

Compare free savings accounts by sorting the table by APY and minimum deposit. View your favorites side-by-side by clicking the “Compare” box next to each one.

Name Product Interest Rate Promotional Interest Rate Min. Bal / Min. Deposit Account Fee
Tangerine TFSA
0.25%
2.5%
$0 / $0
None
Earn 2.50% interest in your first Savings Account for 5 months (up to a maximum of $1,000,000) as a new Tangerine client. Offer expires October 31, 2020.
Wealthsimple Cash
0.90%
N/A
$0 / $0
$0
Earn 0.90% on any money you invest and withdraw your funds at any time.
HSBC High Rate Savings Account
0.25%
Up to 2.25%*
$0 / $0
$0
Earn up to 2.25%* interest on New Deposits* until August 6, 2020. *Terms and conditions apply.
EQ Bank Savings Plus Account
2.00%
N/A
$0 / $0
$0
Enjoy zero everyday banking fees, free transactions and no minimum balance with an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.
Tangerine Savings Account
0.25%
2.5%
$0 / $0
$0
Earn 2.50% interest for 5 months (up to a maximum of $1,000,000) as a new Tangerine client. Offer expires October 31, 2020.
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What other fees do I need to look out for?

Savings accounts are designed to help you save money, but you won’t be able to avoid all fees. Depending on your bank, you could face:

  • Transfer fees. Your bank may charge you to transfer money to an account at another bank.
  • Overdraft fees. If a transaction drops your balance below $0, you could be charged a fee.
  • Paper statement fees. Unless you sign up for digital statements, your bank may charge a small fee to mail them.
  • Transaction penalties. To encourage customers to save, many banks only allow a certain number of free transactions. If you exceed that limit, you face fees that can really add up.

Potential fees with linked chequing

Your bank may require you to link your free savings account to a chequing account, which could have monthly fees. When comparing savings accounts, make sure you understand the fees that may come with the chequing account you link it to:

  • Monthly service fees. Fees usually range from $4/month up to $30/month, but some accounts waive the fee if you deposit a specific amount of money into your account each month. Make sure you can realistically meet any conditions before signing on.
  • Local ATM fees. If you make frequent withdraws, you’ll want to choose an account with a large ATM network. Usually, you aren’t charged for using ATMs within your bank’s network, but if you use an ATM from another bank or an independent ATM provider, you’ll be charged a fee.
  • Overseas ATM fees. If you travel a lot for business or pleasure, learn how much you might pay at international ATMs. Some banks, like HSBC and Scotiabank, have large global ATM networks that can help you save.
  • International transaction fees. Charges could be as high as 5% of each transaction you use your card for overseas. Look for a linked chequing account that charges low or no international transaction fees.

How fees can affect your savings

James has $10,000 set aside and wants to open a high-interest savings account to grow his money, but he’s stuck between 2 different accounts. After weighing his options, here’s what he finds:

Account #1Account #2
Initial deposit$10,000$10,000
Interest rate2.00%2.00%
Fees$23 monthly fee + $2 paper statement fee = $25 per month$0 monthly fee, enrolled in e-statements
Balance after 1 year$9,898.57$10,201.84
Total interest earned$198.57$201.84

If James chooses the second option, he’ll earn over $300 more given monthly service fees and paper statement charges.

But what about minimum balance requirements and the fees that come with failing to meet them? Let’s say account #1 requires a $10,000 monthly minimum balance or else James has to pay a $15 fee. Now take a look at how fees would impact James’ savings:

Account #1Account #2
Initial deposit$10,000$10,000
Interest rate (compounded monthly)2.00%2.00%
Fees$23 monthly fee + $2 paper statement fee + $15 balance requirement fee = $40 per month$0 monthly fee, enrolled in e-statements, balance requirement met
Balance after 1 year$9,716.61$10,201.84
Interest earned$196.61$201.84

In this case, James would earn nearly $500 more by choosing account #2, which would allow him to avoid monthly fees, statement fees and a minimum balance requirement.

How is interest taxed on a free savings account?

Interest earned from a savings account balance counts as part of your taxable income, which means you’ll need to declare this along with the rest of your income on your personal tax return. You won’t pay tax on the balance in your account — only on the interest you earned in that year. For example, if your income is taxed at 25% and you earn $200 in interest, you’ll pay $50 in taxes.

Learn more about income tax and savings accounts.

Bottom line

Free savings accounts are a solid option for growing your money. You’ll likely find the highest rates and lowest fees at online banks — but that doesn’t mean you should avoid brick-and-mortar institutions, which may provide better access to your money. Compare savings accounts until you find one that balances cost with the features you need to manage your money.

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