The best student bank accounts in Canada for 2023

Post-secondary students should look at traditional student accounts, as well as low- or no-fee online bank accounts with enough free transactions to cover their monthly banking activity.

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Canada’s best bank accounts for students

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Presented by Embark Student Corp.

With the cost of tuition and books—not to mention rent, food and transportation—Canadian students bear a significant economic burden. Plus, they want transfers from the Bank of Mom & Dad to be seamless (no fees, please). To ease the financial strain, savvy young adult scholars take advantage of student discounts offered by many major retailers, on some modes of transportation, and on some services or attractions, like gyms and museums. But what about bank accounts? Which bank is best for students in Canada?

For a long time now, traditional banks have also offered various types of student accounts, in the form of chequing accounts and savings accounts, which charge lower fees and come with different perks than regular accounts. The emergence of online banks has also been a boon, thanks to cost-conscious students. Though they don’t tend to offer accounts specifically for students, many offer attractive, low-cost options with features similar to traditional student bank accounts. 

The best bank accounts for students in Canada

Young Canadians looking to open a student account often turn to the major banks, which offer special accounts available only to registered students. Big banks are also established and secure, and frequently offer valuable promotions or rewards.

Best bank for students in Canada

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan*

At a glance: Scotiabank offers its Student Banking Advantage plan, which gives students unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-Transfers while boosting their buying power by allowing them to earn Scotia’s popular Scene+ points, which they can redeem for groceries, travel and more. Plus, the Scotiabank student bank account comes with a welcome bonus of $100 for new applicants and great news for those who can bundle services from Scotiabank: If you use this plan, a Scene+ debit card, and a Momentum Plus savings account, the big rewards can be up to $360 in value. 

  • Welcome bonus: Earn a $100 welcome bonus when you open the account and make either an eligible automated and recurring direct deposit, or a recurring pre-authorized transaction of $25 for a minimum of three consecutive months. Plus, you can earn up to $149.90 in savings with Scotia iTrade.  Offer ends February 29, 2024.
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited  
  • E-transfers:  Unlimited
  • ATM networks: Interac, Plus, Cirrus, Union Pay, Pulse
  • Benefits and perks: You can earn points on your everyday purchases in the Scene+ program
  • Grace period after graduation: You must provide proof of enrolment every academic year; the account will be converted to the Preferred Package on November 30 of the year following graduation.

Pros:

  • Just like with the Scene+ credit card, account holders can collect Scene+ points with transactions on this bank account, all of which can be converted into all sorts of stuff that students want, such as groceries, travel and merchandise.
  • Those young adults who want to bundle services can get an excellent banking package and a generous welcome bonus.
  • Although students can’t hang onto this account after graduation, Scotiabank does offer one year fee-free on the Preferred Package bank account.

Cons:

  • This account is only available to full-time students; if you’re studying part-time you won’t be eligible.
  • There are fees for services like bank drafts or overdraft protection.
  • There’s no way to maintain the benefits of this account after you leave school, so you will have to close the bank account and open another account at another bank, or switch for a different Scotiabank account.

Best bank account for post-secondary students

RBC Advantage Banking for Students*

At-a-glance: RBC gives Scotiabank a run for its money by offering a student-focused account with no monthly fees, unlimited transactions, and no extra fees for using out-of-network ATMs. Those wanting a student credit card can get a rebate on the annual fee of up to $48, and students can earn Avion points when they use their debit card. 

  • Welcome bonus: $100 when you complete an eligible transaction in your account
  • Monthly ees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited
  • E-transfers: Unlimited
  • ATM networks: Interac, Plus
  • Benefits and perks: Get a rebate of up to $48 on the annual fee of an eligible credit card 
  • Grace period after graduation: Expires after graduation date, as indicated by student upon opening account

Pros: 

  • Young adults can earn Avion points on debit purchases.
  • Account-holders get some targeted perks like access to student-specific mobile app and NOMI Insights for budgeting and saving.

Cons: 

  • Although this is a no-fee account, there are fees for some services, like PLUS system ATM use, bank drafts and overdraft protection.
  • The Avion program isn’t as flexible as others on this list, like Scene+, and it may not be as useful to students.
  • There’s no way to maintain the benefits of this account after you leave school so you’ll either have to pay for a different RBC account or switch banks.

Best bank account for young adults and older students

TD Student Chequing Account

At a glance: The TD Student Chequing Account offers unlimited free transactions and Interac e-Transfers for no monthly fee until you’re 23 years old. And that’s whether or not you’re a student. If you’re older than that before you graduate, you just need proof of enrollment. Although the account is not linked to a specific rewards program, you can get 50% more Starbucks rewards (a.k.a. stars) at Starbucks locations.

  • Welcome bonus: Up to $200 in value when you open a chequing account and a TD Rewards Visa Card.
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited
  • E-transfers: Unlimited
  • ATM networks: Interac
  • Benefits and perks: Earn 50% more stars rewards at participating Starbucks
  • Grace period after graduation: Expires when you turn 23 years old or after graduation at which point it automatically switches to a regular account based on your usage, unless you provide proof of enrollment.

Pros:

  • This is the only account on this list that is available to students and youth and young adults, up to 23 years old, regardless of school enrollment status. Those in school after that age can continue to receive free services with proof of enrollment.
  • The account comes with automatic overdraft protection at no extra charge.
  • The boosted earn rate on Starbucks rewards may appeal to students, especially those who study at the café chain.

Cons:

  • There are fees for some services, such as using non-Interac ATMs.
  • You won’t earn rewards or get many perks with this account.
  • When you graduate, your account is automatically, and without a reminder, switched over to a regular account that the bank chooses based on your account usage. 

Honourable mention

CIBC Smart Account for Students*

At a glance: The CIBC Smart Account for Students includes unlimited transactions and Interac e-Transfers for no monthly fee for as long as a student is in school—plus six months after graduation. Holding this account also automatically enrolls students in the SPC rewards program, a popular student discount app. 

  • Welcome offer: Earn up to $125 when you open the account and complete the eligible transactions, plus enter for your chance to win $35,000 in tuition 
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited
  • E-transfers: Unlimited
  • ATM networks: Interac, Plus, Cirrus
  • Special features: Get student discounts and deals with SPC
  • Grace period after graduation: Six months

Pros:

  • Students can hold onto this account, for free, for six months after graduation.
  • When you link your card with Journie Rewards you can save up to 10 cents per litre on gas.
  • You can enter to win $35,000 in tuition.

Cons:

  • The SPC rewards is one of the weakest programs on this list, only offering discounts and specials at retailers.
  • There are fees on some services including money orders, wire payments, and non-CIBC ATM use.

The best online bank accounts for students in Canada

In recent years, online banks have gained traction with Canadian students and those opening their first adult bank account. While each account on our list requires a certain level of comfort with moving money via phone- and web-based apps, accounts at online banks frequently offer good rates and options with lower or no fees. While the concept of a “student account” is the domain of traditional banks, these accounts at online banks have a lot to offer students as well.

The best online bank for students

Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account*

At a glance: Though not specifically marketed as a “student chequing account,” the Simplii No Fee Chequing Account has lots to love for young people on a budget. There are zero monthly fees and unlimited free transactions, even for international transfers, which is a real benefit for international students. New account holders can also earn $400 with the welcome bonus, 6% on a high-interest savings account for five months—or both.

  • Welcome bonus: New clients—students, young adults or otherwise—can earn $400 when they open an account by February 29, 2024. To receive the bonus, you’ll need to have at least three eligible direct deposits going into your account in the first three months. Conditions apply.
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited
  • E-transfers: Unlimited
  • ATM network: Interac, Plus, Cirrus
  • Special features: None

Pros:

  • Unlike with the student accounts at the big banks, a Simplii account gives you all the benefits of its regular account, whether you’re enrolled in school or not. 
  • Account holders get free international money transfers, so international students will appreciate that, and so may their parents.
  • This account lets you do almost all your everyday banking without fees or minimums.

Cons:

  • Simplii is known for offering great incentives but they usually only apply to new account holders, shutting out existing members.
  • There’s a fee of up to $3 per transaction for using non-CIBC ATMs.
  • Simplii is not available to residents of Quebec.

Best online chequing account for students

Tangerine Chequing Account

At a glance: Like the other online banks on this list, the Tangerine Chequing Account offers unlimited transactions and Interac e-transfers for no monthly fee, but it makes this list because of an attractive welcome offer that will appeal to students on a budget: 20% cash back (up to $400) on purchases made online or in-app, and a whopping 5.25% savings interest rate for five months.

  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited
  • E-transfers: Unlimited
  • ATM network: Interac, Plus, Cirrus, Union Pay, Pulse
  • Benefits and perks: None

Pros:

  • With no graduation date to keep track of, the features and services are available—for free—for as long as you have the account.
  • Like the bonus offer from Simplii, there are some good incentives to open a new account.

Cons:

  • After the promotional period, the interest rate on savings accounts goes back down to the posted rate, currently set at 1.00%.
  • There are significant fees for some services including insufficient funds ($45), overdraft ($5) and a one year of inactivity ($10).

Best online savings account for students

EQ Bank Personal Account*

At a glance: The selling point worth highlighting in yellow of this account is an everyday, permanent high interest rate of 2.50%. For those with large deposits (such as student loans disbursements), this could be a winning feature, but the account also offers affordable international money transfers through a partnership with TransferWise and no foreign exchange fees which are both attractive perks for international students. With the EQ Bank Card you get unlimited free transactions plus cash back on every purchase and you can use any ATM in Canada for free.

  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited
  • E-transfers: Unlimited
  • ATM network: Any in Canada, for free
  • Benefits and perks: No foreign exchange fees, affordable international money transfers (attention international students!), cash back on purchases

Pros:

  • With a regular interest rate of 2.50%. Get 0.50% additional bonus interest when you set up an eligible recurring direct deposit or preauthorized debit withdrawal of at least $500 each month., this is a very high interest everyday banking account.
  • Unlike most banks offering “free” ATMs use across networks, EQ Bank will actually reimburse you for fees you incur from other banks. 
  • The ability to earn cash back on purchases is a welcome option.

Cons:

  • There is no welcome bonus or other incentives with this account.
  • The EQ Bank Card is not currently available to residents in Quebec.

Honourable mention

Motusbank No Fee Chequing Account

At a glance: This chequing account will appeal to students for its free unlimited transactions and Interac e-Transfers, and no minimum balance required. Unlike many banks, Motusbank pays out interest on its chequing account, but at 0.15% it’s a negligible benefit.

  • Welcome bonus: None
  • Monthly fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited
  • E-transfers: Unlimited
  • ATM network: Interac, Accel, Cirrus
  • Benefits and perks: 25 free paper cheques; 0.15% interest on every $1 in the account

Pros: 

  • This account offers free everyday banking with no minimum balance requirement.
  • It’s unusual for a chequing account to pay any interest, but there’s 0.15% on every $1 in the account.

Cons:

  • This account doesn’t offer rewards or cash back like some other online accounts in this category.
  • While the interest is better than nothing, it comes nowhere near the 2.5% being paid by EQ Bank.
  • There are fees for some services like out-of-network ATM use and sending and Interac e-Transfer from your savings account.

Frequently asked questions

A student bank account is a chequing or savings account offered to students and sometimes young adults, but usually it’s offered to those enrolled full-time in a post-secondary institution. These accounts typically carry reduced fees and may have special features or perks tailored for students. These could include membership in points programs, like Scene+ or Avion, as well as access to special discounts, rebates or higher interest rates.


When opening a student bank account, you will typically need to provide some sort of proof of enrollment status. These requirements vary between institutions and can be as simple as showing a student card but some banks require a declaration, including expected graduation date. Students should check with the institution prior to applying. 

For accounts at online banks, there is no proof of student status required, as these are typically open to everyone in Canada. Students can simply open an account online, in minutes.


Which is the best student bank account? The answer depends largely on the student. Those wanting to earn points or perks will be interested in the student accounts tied to the big banks, while those seeking to capitalize on no fees and higher interest rates may prefer to look to online institutions. Reviewing our list Canada’s best banks may help you narrow your selection.

If your number-one concern is finding a no-fee account, neither type of bank has the edge, but online banks have a slight advantage in that they do not require proof of student status so won’t expire or be converted to a different (and possibly less attractive) account on or after graduation. 

That said, students with an existing relationship to a big bank might be able to bundle services for big savings and perks. Be sure to ask before you sign up.


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This is an editorially driven article or content package, presented with financial support from an advertiser. The advertiser has no influence on the creation of the content.

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About Keph Senett

About Keph Senett

Keph Senett writes about personal finance through a community-building lens. She seeks to make clear and actionable knowledge available to everyone.