The best chequing accounts in Canada for 2023

Most people expect little from their chequing accounts—but we’ve scouted out options that offer surprising features, from breaks on fees to rewards programs.

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While the physical chequebook may be considered a relic of the past, a chequing account is still a necessity to carry out day-to-day banking—even in 2023. Your chequing account, or even a hybrid chequing/savings account, is designed to handle ATM transactions, bill payments, point-of-purchase sales and money transfers; some can even earn you some cool rewards. We’ve outlined some standout chequing accounts to help you find the best one for you.

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Our picks for the best chequing accounts in 2023

CategoryChequing account
Best no-fee chequing accountSimplii Chequing Account
Runner up: Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing
Best student chequing accountScotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan
Best premium bank account for bundlingScotiabank Ultimate Package
Best rewards accountPC Money Account
Best online-only accountsMotive Chequing Account
Runner up: motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account
Best hybrid accountEQ Bank Savings Plus Account
Best chequing account for newcomersNational Bank of Canada Chequing Account

Best no-fee chequing account

Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account

Simplii’s no-fee chequing account provides account holders with free unlimited transactions for everyday banking without having to keep a minimum balance. This includes bill payments, transfer, withdrawals and Interac e-transfers, and free personalized cheques. Although Simplii is an online-only bank, it offers 24/7 web and mobile access and telephone banking so you never have to wait until a branch opens to get help. And since Simplii is associated with the CIBC, account holders have access to their money through CIBC’s network of more than 3,400 ATMs across Canada. Plus, the Simplii Financial bank card now comes with Mastercard Debit, so you can shop online or in person anywhere Mastercard is accepted, at no additional charge.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • # of cheques: Unlimited
  • # of transactions: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfers: Free
  • Extras: Mobile banking app for Apple and Android; pay-per-use overdraft protection
  • Service charges: None
  • Welcome offer:

    New clients could 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.

Pros:

  • Simplii’s Global Money Transfer tool lets you send international money transfers for free and without deductions.
  • The bank’s website and mobile app are easy to use and offer access to your money 24/7.
  • You can use any CIBC ATM in the country for free.

Cons:

  • If your account goes into overdraft, you’ll be charged $4.97 plus 19% interest on the amount you’ve gone over.
  • You’ll earn low interest rates on the money in your account: 0.01% on up to $50,000 in the account, and 0.10% on any portion above $100,000).
  • You’ll be charged up to $3 per transaction for using a non-CIBC ATM.

Runner up:

Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account

Tangerine offers a no-fee chequing account with the similar advantage of Visa Debit. That means you can use your debit card like you would with a credit card, to shop online, for instance. But the money comes directly from your chequing account, instead of paying a monthly bill. You’ll also earn interest on every dollar in your account, up to 0.1%, which is calculated daily and paid out monthly. Withdrawing money is never an issue, since you’ll get free access to 3,500 Scotiabank ATMs nationwide and 44,000 ATMs worldwide through Scotiabank’s Global ATM Alliance. You can also use its customizable budgeting tool to help organize your spending and stay on track financially.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • # of cheques: First chequebook free, $50 for additional chequebooks
  • # of transactions: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfers: Free
  • Extras: Zero-liability protection, pay-per-use overdraft protection
  • Service charges: Some, including $1.50 for using a non-Scotiabank ATM in Canada, $12.50 for stop payments (you get 1 free per year), $45 for non-sufficient funds fee
  • Welcome offer:

    Sign up with the promo code EARNMORE and receive 20% cash back for 60 days (up to a maximum bonus of $400) when you shop online or in-app. When adding a Tangerine Savings Account within 30 days of becoming a customer, get a 5.25% interest rate on your savings account for five months.

Pros:

  • The Visa debit card is a useful perk, allowing you to use your debit card on Visa credit networks.
  • Tangerine’s Left to Spend budgeting tool can help you create and stick to a budget.
  • Unlike Simplii, Tangerine is available to account holders in Quebec.

Cons:

  • While Simplii issues unlimited complimentary personalized cheques, Tangerine only offers the first 50 for free. You’ll pay $50 for each additional chequebook. 
  • You’ll pay $45 in non-sufficient funds fees and $5 if you overdraw your account.
  • While account holders have free access to Scotiabank ATMs, there’s a charge of between $1.50 and $3 to use other bank machines.

Best student bank account

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

A student chequing account has unique features that cater to a low balance, with minimal (or no) fees and, hopefully, some rewards, too. The Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan is an attractive no-fee account for students that sweetens the pot by earning you Scene+ points on your debit purchases: Get 1 Scene+ point per $5 spent on everyday purchases, and 1 point per $1 spent at Cineplex. While the earn rate isn’t as good as you’d get with a student credit card, it’s a nice extra to have, especially on a no-fee student account. The nuts and bolts of the plan will make many Canadian students happy: no monthly fee, unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-Transfers, overdraft protection, access to a massive network of over 4,000 ATMs.

  • Monthly fee: None, as long as you’re enrolled in a post-secondary institution
  • # of transactions: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfers: Unlimited
  • Extras: Earn Scene+ points on debit purchases; free paperless or paper statements; Apple and Android mobile banking apps
  • Service charges: None
  • 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. 

Pros: 

  • The ability to earn Scene+ points on debit transactions is a big advantage as these can be redeemed for groceries, entertainment, travel, and more.
  • Account holders get free access to their TransUnion credit score, giving you the information you need to track and build your credit score.

Cons:

  • This account is only available to full-time students. Account holders have to verify their status every year. Without it, you’ll be automatically upgraded to a paid account.

Best premium bank account for bundles

Scotiabank Ultimate Package

If you’re looking to bundle up on services to get a better deal, check out the Scotiabank Ultimate Package. Like many premium accounts, it offers perks like unlimited transactions, unlimited Interac e-Transfers and free cheques, but the Ultimate goes a couple of steps further. Perhaps the biggest advantage of this account is that you can receive an annual fee waiver of up to $150 on select credit cards from Scotiabank, like the Scotiabank Gold American Express or Scotiabank Momentum Visa Infinite. The Scene+ points you earn on everyday expenses and purchases at Cineplex are good, too. Or, you might like the unlimited free global non-Scotiabank ABM withdrawals, the free safety deposit box, the 10 free equity trades at Scotia iTrade in your first year or the interest rate boost on your Momentum Plus Savings Account. You get the idea: This is a valuable bundle with perks that easily pay off the fees of $30.95 per month. And, if you don’t like the rate, simply waive it by keeping a minimum of $5,000 in the account. 

  • Monthly fee: $0 or $30.95 (monthly fees waived by maintaining at least $5,000 in your account) 
  • # of transactions: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfers: Unlimited
  • Extras: Get 10 free equity trades at Scotia iTrade in the first year and free access to a safety deposit box; earn 1 Scene+ point per $5 spent on everyday purchases and 1 point per $1 spent at Cineplex.
  • Service charges: Some, including $2.25 for paper statement
  • Welcome bonus:

    You can earn a $350 welcome bonus when you open an account. Conditions apply.

Pros

  • If you can maintain $5,000 in your account, you’ll get a premium account with perks for free.
  • The account includes 10 free Scotia iTrade transactions in the first year.

Cons

  • The $5,000 threshold for an account waiver is a lot to hold in a low-interest chequing account, and the regular account fee is significant.
  • There are charges for some services, such as $2.25 per paper statement.
  • Out-of-network ATM use will incur charges.

Best rewards chequing account

PC Money Account

The PC Money Account offers a solid slate of services like free, unlimited monthly transactions. However, there are no actual chequebooks with this account. Instead of writing a cheque, you’ll have to e-transfer the money instead. The headline feature, though, is that rewards are applied to your everyday spending. When you use your PC Money Account card, a prepaid card that effectively works like a debit card, you’ll earn valuable (and easy-to-redeem) PC Optimum points

Use the PC Money Account bank card at Shoppers Drug Mart and get 25 Optimum points per $1 spent (equivalent to 2.5% in rewards). You’ll earn 10 points per $1 (1%) at Loblaw grocery stores, and 5 points per $1 everywhere else. These points can be used to buy grocery, drug store and gas at Loblaw banner stores and partners, like Shoppers Drug Mart, No Frills and the Real Canadian Superstore. Simply redeem at checkout.

Optimum points are redeemable starting at 10,000 points. That’s worth $10—a threshold you’ll quickly hit with the PC Money Account. You don’t have to worry about accessibility, either. The PC Money card is accepted everywhere that takes Mastercard, making this a terrific alternative to a credit card for everyday spending with rewards. There are no monthly fees, charges or limits for transactions or Interac e-Transfers. There are some service charges, such as $20 for inactivity, but that is easily remedied by using the account at least once a year. 

  • Monthly fee: $0
  • # of transactions: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfers: Unlimited
  • Extras: Earn 25 PC Optimum points per $1 at Shoppers Drug Mart, 10 points per $1 at Loblaw banner grocery stores and 5 points per $1 spent everywhere else
  • Service charges: Some, including $1.50 for ATM withdrawals at non-PC machines, $3.50 for cancelling Interac e-Transfers, and $40 for insufficient funds
  • Welcome offer:

    You can earn up to 150,000 PC Optimum points.

Pros

  • This account lets you earn flexible and valuable points that you can redeem for groceries, clothing, drugstore items and more.
  • Your debit card is accepted anywhere that accepts Mastercard. 

Cons

  • Unlike the other accounts on this list, you can’t use an ATM to deposit cheques or cash. All deposits are made electronically.
  • There’s no option to order paper cheques. 
  • If you don’t use the account for a year, you’ll be charged a $20 account inactivity fee.
  • There’s a $1.50 fee per withdrawal at a non-PC ATM.

Best account from an online-only bank

Motive Chequing Account

This online-only bank touts itself for its simple but effective suite of products. The Motive Chequing Account grabs accolades in this category for its free, unlimited transactions and no daily banking fees, an interest rate of 0.15%, and access to more than 3,600 ATMs on the Exchange Network—all accessible with a physical debit card with no monthly fee. Sending Interac e-Transfers will set you back $1 each, although receiving them is free.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • # of transactions: Unlimited, except for Interac e-Transfers
  • Interac e-Transfers: $1 each to send; free to receive 
  • Extras: 50 cheques; free withdrawals from the Exchange Network’s surcharge-free ATMs (this group of banks and credit unions allows each other’s customers to share use of ATMs at no charge)
  • Service charges: $1.50 for withdrawals from non-Exchange Network ATMs
  • Welcome offer: None

Pros

  • The 0.15% interest rate is higher than that of most other banks on this list, and you don’t need a minimum balance to receive it.

Cons

  • There’s a $1 fee to send Interac e-transfers.
  • There’s a fee for inactivity of $20 for two years. 
  • Not available to residents of Quebec.

Runner-up:

motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account

Owned and operated by Meridian Credit Union, motusbank doesn’t have any brick-and-mortar locations, which means you need to be comfortable with doing all your banking on your electronic devices. The no-fee account includes unlimited transactions and Interac e-Transfers, 25 free cheques, and an interest rate of 0.15%. With motusbank, you’ll get only 25 free cheques, but sending money by Interac e-Transfer is free, so how you prefer to pay will factor into your choice (for example, some people prefer to use cheques because you’re able to stop payment if necessary and use the digital cheque images for record-keeping). For those who want to do their day-to-day banking through a credit union, the motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account is an excellent choice.

  • Monthly fee: None
  • # of cheques: First order of 25 free; cost after that starts at $40.56 + tax for 25
  • # of transactions: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfers: Unlimited
  • Extras: Mobile cheque deposits; Apple and Android mobile apps
  • Service charges: None for daily banking, but there are some fees, including $30 for an inactive account
  • Welcome offer: None

Pros

  • Offers the same 0.15% high interest rate as Motive.

Cons

  • You only receive 25 free paper cheques. The next book of 25 costs $40.56 plus tax.
  • There’s a $30 inactive account fee.

Best hybrid account

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account*

This account pairs the highest interest rate on this list (2.50%) with unlimited transactions and no monthly fees, making it a strong choice for those who want to maximize convenience, keep costs low, and earn cash back. Considered a hybrid chequing/savings account, the EQ Bank Savings Plus account comes with a Mastercard debit card you can use at any ATM in Canada and anywhere that accepts Mastercard—for free. Plus, you get 0.5% cash back on every purchase. 

  • Monthly fee: $0
  • # of cheques: None
  • # of transactions: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfers: Unlimited
  • Extras: 0.5% cash back on every purchase; mobile cheque deposit; joint accounts; international money transfers through Wise; U.S. dollar accounts
  • Service charges: None
  • Welcome offer: None

Pros

  • The 2.50% interest rate is the highest of any products on this list, and account holders receive it without having to maintain a minimum balance.
  • Unlike accounts tied to a bank or network, the EQ Savings Plus Account eliminates all ATM fees. No matter which machine you use, EQ will reimburse you the charges.
  • When you use the debit card to make purchases, you earn 0.5% cash back.
  • There are no foreign exchange fees when you use the bank card. 

Cons

  • Paper cheques are not available.
  • Paper statements are not available.
  • This account is not available to citizens in Quebec.

Best chequing account for newcomers

National Bank The Chequing Account for Newcomers to Canada

The newcomers package by the National Bank of Canada is designed to help those who just moved to Canada set themselves up financially, while also offering broader support services. Available for up to five years after arrival, this offer includes The Connected chequing account—no fees for up to three years. The account comes with unlimited Interac e-Transfer and digital transactions. With this package, newcomers can apply for a National Bank Mastercard without having a Canadian credit history, so they can start building their credit score right away. And, account holders get one year of free access to National Bank’s Assistance for Newcomers support telephone line, so they can get answers to questions related to immigration, housing, finances, legal issues and other aspects related to life in Canada.

  • Monthly fee: $0 for up to three years ($15.95 thereafter)
  • # of cheques: 100 free
  • # of transactions: Unlimited digital; in-branch withdrawals and transfers are $1.50 each and bill payments are $2 per bill
  • Interac e-Transfers: Unlimited
  • Extras: Assistance to Newcomers line; mobile cheque deposit; eligibility for a National Bank Mastercard without having a Canadian credit history
  • Service charges: Some, including in-branch transactions and paper statements ($2.50/month/account)
  • Welcome offer: None

Pros

  • The Assistance to Newcomers Line provides information on broad topics including housing and legal issues.
  • The ability to apply for a National Bank Mastercard without a credit check helps newcomers overcome the challenge of having no local credit history.

Cons

  • Account holders have to sign up for a credit card, online bank statements, and payroll deposit in the second year in order to keep receiving the account free. Without signing up, you will receive a discount on the monthly fee. 
  • In-person assistance costs extra.
  • International money transfers are $5.95 each.

Our methodology: How we determine the best chequing accounts

The MoneySense editorial team selects the best chequing accounts by assessing the value they provide to Canadians across various categories. Our evaluation is based on an extensive list of account details and features, including fees, service charges, number of transactions and cheques, ATM access and welcome offers. Our rankings are an unbiased source of information for Canadians. The addition of links from affiliate partners has no bearing on the results. Read more about how MoneySense makes money.

How to use a chequing account

Most Canadians open up a savings account when they’re young, to stash away allowances and birthday money. As they get older, however, banking needs change and they require something that allows them to move money in and out of their account easily. Often savings accounts will have higher interest rates and fewer free transactions while chequing accounts accrue less interest but have more free transactions, allowing them to use their chequing account as the main hub of activity for finances.

For your chequing account, you may choose to have one that allows recurring payments, such as phone and utility bills, to come out of your account. You may also want to have repeat deposits, such as payroll and GST rebates, set up to go into your account. When you look at your monthly cash withdrawals from ATMs, Interac e-Transfers and cheque deposits, the transactions can really add up, hence why having a large number of free transactions (or unlimited transactions) can be advantageous. Most people have at least two accounts (say, a savings and a chequing account), so they can reap the rewards of high interest as well as flexibility with multiple transactions.

How to choose the right chequing account

Given that nearly Canadian needs a chequing account, regardless of income level and financial goals, financial institutions offer a huge range of options. Different people use their accounts in different ways, so it’s important to consider what your individual needs are. If you will never write cheques, for example, then you shouldn’t pay monthly service fees on an account that includes them. We’ve broken down the various aspects you should consider before signing up for an account.

Fees

  • Banks have traditionally charged monthly service fees for chequing accounts. Higher fee accounts generally include more features, while lower-fee accounts offer those same services on a pay-per-use basis. With the advent of online-only banking services that don’t have to cover the costs of operating physical branches, some banks pass on those savings by offering no-fee chequing accounts. Many of these no-fee accounts even come with great features like unlimited transactions. If you don’t need to do your banking in person, these options are worth looking into. 

Features

  • Interac e-Transfers allow you to send money easily to anyone with an email address or cell number. Some chequing accounts provide these transfers for free; others allow you to receive them for free, but charge a fee to send them.
  • Transactions generally include debit purchases, deposits, withdrawals, bill payments and transfers. You’ll want to consider whether there are charges for transactions after you’ve made a certain number per month.
  • Some banks may offer loyalty debit cards that accrue rewards for programs like Scene+, Air Miles or PC Optimum.

Accessibility

  • Banks with more ATMs will provide easier access to cash withdrawals or ATM transactions. Note that using ATMs outside your own bank’s network usually results in additional fees.
  • Branch access may be important for people who prefer to conduct banking in person or need assistance with transactions.
  • Access to foreign currency may be important to newcomers, frequent travellers or those who do business abroad. Some banks also provide foreign currency or borderless accounts, which offer favourable exchange rates.

Promotions

  • Student accounts are usually no-fee accounts with no transaction limits.
  • Seniors can often qualify for discounts on existing accounts or low-fee senior accounts.
  • Small-business owners can find business accounts that cater to their needs.
  • Banks are always looking to lure new customers. Look for cash signing bonuses or giveaways such as TVs or iPads.
Video: How to open a bank account

Types of chequing accounts 

There’s a wide range of chequing accounts, each with their own features. Here we look at some of the most common ones.

A personal chequing account is held by one person. This is likely the most common kind of chequing account. You can have any variety of personal chequing account, such as online only, hybrid, student, no-fee etc. Its features will depend on your bank and the package you choose. 


An online-only chequing account doesn’t offer any in-person services. The major benefit is that since the providers save on overhead, they can offer their accounts with low or no fees. As technology has evolved you will likely find an online-only account can easily meet your needs. You can deposit a paper cheque through your phone app, take out cash through an ATM (for example, Simplii customers have access to CIBC’s ATM network, and Tangerine’s customers can use Scotiabank machines), sign up for direct deposit with your employer and pay bills with a few clicks of a button.  


A hybrid account is an option at some newer financial institutions. It combines elements of a savings account and a chequing account. Hybrid accounts usually pay high interest compared to chequing accounts, while also allowing you to complete daily transactions. They are a great option if you are trying to simplify your life, as long as you are disciplined enough to not spend the “savings” portion of your money. Depending on the account, you may also only have limited access to ATMs and cash withdrawals.


Joint chequing accounts are held by two or more people, who each have full access to the account and its privileges. Typically held between spouses, or a parent and child, these accounts are great when you are trying to combine funds or pay household bills. You can hold both a personal and a joint chequing account. 


A student chequing account is an option at some banks. Students receive a discount on account fees  as long as they are enrolled in a post-secondary institution. Some banks offer promotions like cash or gift cards to encourage students to open an account, as they know many Canadians stick with the same banks or financial institutions throughout their lives.  


Some banks have started offering accounts designed specifically for newcomers to Canada. These accounts often offer reduced fees for a limited time, provide services in a variety of languages, and boast some free high-value perks, such as international wire transfers. Like with student accounts, you will often receive a promotional offer for opening this kind of account. 


Many Canadians earn income in U.S. currency, live in the U.S. for part of the year, invest in American stocks or like to do cross-border shopping. Having a USD account makes all these options much easier. Many financial institutions offer USD chequing accounts where you can withdraw and deposit U.S. dollars.


Canada used to have limited competition for banks, which meant consumers paid high prices in monthly fees—and many still do. But now there are plenty of no-fee or low-fee chequing account options, some of which give you unlimited transactions without a monthly fee; others come with certain restrictions, such as fewer monthly transactions. No-fee chequing accounts are often offered by online-only banks, so if you’re comfortable receiving service over phone or chat, you could save hundreds of dollars per year. 


How to close a chequing account 

Closing a chequing account is simple. But before you do that, it’s best practice to open a new chequing account. First, transfer any funds in your old chequing account, or set up an online link between the accounts. You can also get your old bank to transfer your balance to another institution but they may charge a fee. 

Next, set up all your pre-authorized deposits and withdrawals, including government benefits, employment paycheques or mortgage payments. The last thing you want is to be dinged with an exorbitant non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee or miss out on wages.

Finally, contact your bank, either by phone or in-person at a local branch, and inform them that you want to close the account. It should only take a few minutes to do.

Chequing vs. savings vs. hybrid accounts

A chequing account is meant for transactions, while a savings account is meant for accumulating funds. With a chequing account you can pay bills, accept deposits, withdraw cash or make purchases with your debit card. You rarely earn interest with a chequing account. 

In contrast, a savings account is meant for stashing away money to pay for short or long-term goals, such as a car, vacation or a down payment. You always earn interest in a savings account—though the interest rate can be modest, depending on the account. 

Some newer Canadian financial institutions now offer a hybrid account, which give you both the transactional features of a chequing account with the high interest of a savings account. 

Chequing SavingsHybrid
May charge a monthly feeOften freeOften free
Rarely pays interestPays interestPays interest
Multiple features available like bill payments, automated transfers, e-Transfers, deposits and withdrawals, debit card purchases, cash withdrawalsLimited features, usually just transfers to and from a chequing account, debit card purchases and cash withdrawalFeatures of a chequing account and savings account
Designed for daily transactionsDesigned to accumulate fundsDesigned for both transactions and accumulation

Frequently asked questions

Some chequing accounts do earn interest, especially at online banks and credit unions. It’s rare, however, and the interest rate is almost always lower than that of a savings account


Yes, you likely need a chequing account, both to earn money and pay bills. Most landlords and mortgage lenders don’t accept cash, so you would need a chequing account to pay for housing. And legitimate employers and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will either write a cheque or do a direct deposit into your chequing account to pay wages or distribute government benefits.


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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.
About Danielle Kubes

About Danielle Kubes

Danielle Kubes is a freelance journalist living in Toronto. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University.