The best banks in Canada for 2023

With so many options, finding the right bank can be a daunting task. We outline the best banks in Canada for different banking needs.

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Best big bank
Best bank for students
Best bank for seniors
Best big bank (runner up)TD
Best online-only bankTangerine
Best no-fee bankSimplii Financial
Best bank for savingsEQ Bank
Best bank for newcomersNational Bank of Canada
Best bank for international studentsCIBC

Why trust us

MoneySense is an award-winning magazine, helping Canadians navigate money matters since 1999. Our editorial team of trained journalists works closely with leading personal finance experts in Canada. To help you find the best financial products, we compare the offerings from over 12 major institutions, including banks, credit unions and card issuers. Learn more about our advertising and trusted partners.

The best banks in Canada

Most Canadians are aware of the Big Five banks: RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO and CIBC. And, some may even know that occasionally National Bank of Canada sneaks in and expands that list to six. But even with these accounted for, there are dozens of banks in this country—including a growing number of fintechs and neo banks—each offering its own suite of personal banking products and services. 

Finding the best one is tricky, especially since it depends on your specific needs, covering everything from your everyday banking habits to your savings goals, if you need or have a mortgage, as well as investments and more. In this article, we take a look at the standout banks, so you can decide which one works for your personal banking needs. 

The best big bank in Canada: Scotiabank

What Scotiabank offers

Why it’s the best bank overall

All of Canada’s Big Five banks offer customers stability, a broad portfolio of financial products, and the convenience of thousands of physical bank branches and ATMs. That said, Scotiabank offers rare banking flexibility, and it’s why we’ve picked it as the best large-scale bank for Canadians. 

In terms of everyday banking options, Scotiabank has five different types of accounts, each with perks and benefits designed for Canadians at any stage of life. Customers who are 18 years and under and students enrolled in a post-secondary institution can apply for a no-fee account. For adults, Scotia offers four options that balance banking needs and benefits, from the minimal Scotiabank Basic Banking Account* with its fee of $3.95 per month, right up to the perk-laden Scotiabank Ultimate Package Account* that earns you rewards and credit card rebates, among other benefits, for $30.95 monthly in fees. 

Individually, these accounts are on par with other Big Five offerings, but Scotiabank will reduce or waive fees entirely with bundled services. The Ultimate Package, for example, includes everyday banking with unlimited transactions, the ability to earn Scene+ points, a boosted savings interest rate, an annual fee waiver for select credit cards, free trades on Scotia iTrade, and a welcome bonus of up to $350 cash. That’s a lot of banking perks, but it gets even better. Those who maintain a minimum of $5,000 in chequing or $30,000 combined with the Momentum Plus Savings account don’t have to pay the monthly fee.

Scotiabank carries 16 credit cards, including some of the highest-earning rewards cards in Canada. As with its bank accounts, Scotiabank has credit cards tailored to a variety of Canadians, from travellers to cash-back collectors. Notably, Scotiabank is the only Big Five bank to offer cards with no foreign transaction fees.

In addition to everyday banking accounts and credit cards, Scotia provides mortgages, loans, and lines of credit. It also has its own investing platform, Scotia iTrade, and offers investment accounts including RRSPs and TFSAs. 

One of the main benefits of banking with a Big Five bank is that you can keep all of your financial products with one, trusted institution. With this in mind, Scotiabank offers the widest variety with the best perks and benefits, and has options to help you save on fees.

Also wins: Best bank for students and for seniors

Why it’s the best bank for students

Students have specific banking needs, and we’ve selected the Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan* as the best banking product to meet them. This package includes unlimited debit and Interac e-Transfer transactions, the ability to earn points in the Scene+ program, and overdraft protection—all without a monthly fee. Plus, new account holders are eligible for a $100 bonus when they set up and clear an automated and recurring direct deposit, like payroll, within the first two months.

Why it’s the best bank for seniors

Bank accounts for seniors are typically available for those aged 60 and older, offering a pared down set of features with the monthly fees waived. All five Big Banks offer seniors accounts with very similar features, but Scotiabank edges out the competition by allowing account holders to earn on their debit card through the Scotia Rewards or Scene+ program. Seniors receive a discount on all Scotiabank accounts and/or they can use the Basic Bank Account for free. This account includes 12 free monthly transactions, free Interac e-Transfers and overdraft protection. 

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Runner up for best big bank in Canada: TD

What TD offers

  • ATMs: 3,000+
  • Branches: 1,100+
  • Bank accounts: 10
  • Credit cards: 14
  • Standout product: TD All-Inclusive Banking Plan
  • Other products: Chequing and savings accounts; mortgages; insurance; loans; lines of credit; RRSPs, TFSAs, and other types of investment accounts

Why it’s one of the best banks

Each of the other five big banks has its own strengths. However, for its suite of services, North American coverage and outstanding customer service, TD is the runner up for best bank overall.  

TD Bank has regular chequing and savings accounts, plus ones designed for students, newcomers to Canada and for people who want to use U.S. dollars. Plus, in addition to more than 3,000 ATMs in Canada, there are more than 2,600 in the United States, making it extremely convenient for those who spend time in both countries. TD offers 14 different credit cards designed for different needs, including cash back, travel rewards, low rates or no annual fee. As an Aeroplan partner, TD can help you build up points quickly. Small investors can work with TD Waterhouse, and the bank is known for good, 24/7 customer service.

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Watch: How to find the best online bank account

The best online bank in Canada: Tangerine

What Tangerine offers

  • ATMs: 3,600+
  • Branches: 0
  • Bank accounts: 6
  • Credit cards: 2
  • Standout product: Tangerine World Mastercard*
  • Other products: Savings accounts; business accounts; RRSPs, TFSAs, and GICs; mortgages; insurance; loans and lines of credit

Why it’s the best online bank

Online banks deliver their services through their website, on the phone, and on their phone apps so customers don’t speak to a teller or visit a branch. 

Our pick for best online Canadian bank is Tangerine, an online-only bank owned by Scotiabank. Tangerine’s No-Fee Daily Chequing Account gives you all of the functionality you’ll need for everyday banking—for free. Transactions take place online, on the phone or at any of the more than 3,600 national Scotiabank ATMs (and 44,000 associated international ATMs), so you don’t have to visit a physical bank. With the No-Fee Chequing Account, you receive unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-Transfers, as well as pre-authorized withdrawals and bill payments. 

Tangerine also offers savings accounts (including RRSPs, TFSAs, US dollar, and registered retirement income funds) and investments, such as guaranteed investment certificates (GICs). And, even though it is an online bank, it provides mortgages, loans and lines of credit, so you can take advantage of having all your accounts with a single financial provider. You can even operate a business account through Tangerine—the bank has four accounts tailored for businesses.

Finally, Tangerine offers one of the best cash-back credit cards in Canada. The Tangerine Money-Back Card* lets you earn 2% cash back in up to three spending categories out of 10: groceries, restaurants, hotel-motel, furniture, gas, recurring bill payments, home improvement, entertainment, drug store, or public transportation and parking. For those who earn a minimum income of $60,000 annually (or $100,000 for the household), the Tangerine World Mastercard* adds free Boingo Wi-Fi access, car rental and mobile device insurance, and Mastercard Airport Experiences. Neither card charges an annual fee. 

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The best no-fee bank in Canada: Simplii Financial

What Simplii Financial offers

  • ATMs: 3,400+ (Customers can use CIBC ATMs without a fee)
  • Branches: 0
  • Bank accounts: 4
  • Credit cards: 1
  • Standout product: Simplii Financial Cash Back Visa
  • Other products: Chequing and savings accounts; mortgages; insurance; loans; lines of credit; RRSPs, TFSAs, and other types of investment accounts

Why it’s the best no-fee bank

Simplii Financial has a lot on offer for a no-fee bank including chequing and savings accounts, investments, mortgages, loans, lines of credit, and a no-fee Visa credit card that offers a whopping 4% cash back on purchases at restaurants and bars and 1.5% back on gas, groceries, drugstore purchases and pre-authorized payments. You can invest in registered or non-registered accounts with Simplii, or even take out a mortgage. They also have offers and banking packages designed for students, international students, and newcomers to Canada. 

Backed by CIBC, Simplii customers have access to CIBC ATMs without fees and can rest assured that their money is covered by the CDIC. The online banking portal allows you to manage everything in one place, making keeping track of your finances easy and accessible. 

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The best bank in Canada for savings: EQ Bank

What EQ Bank offers

  • ATMs: Free withdrawals from any ATM in Canada
  • Branches: 0
  • Bank accounts: 3
  • Credit cards: 0
  • Standout product: EQ Savings Plus Account*
  • Other products: Guaranteed investment certificates (GICs), TFSAs, RRSPs, FHSAs, international money transfers, mortgages through Mortgage Marketplace

Why it’s the best bank for savings

EQ Bank is an online-only bank owned by Equitable Bank, the ninth largest bank in Canada, and it is an absolute standout for its savings options. Its focus is on savings, so it doesn’t offer credit cards. However, the EQ Bank Card is a prepaid reloadable Mastercard that functions like a credit or debit card, offering cash back on every purchase and no foreign exchange fees.  

The EQ Savings Plus Account* is EQ’s standout product. With an interest rate of 2.50%, the account offers a higher return than what you’ll find at other banks—exciting news for those wanting to park their money in a safe and secure place without withdrawal restrictions. The Savings Plus Account comes with no minimum deposit, no everyday banking fees, and free Interac e-Transfers, electronic fund transfers and bill payments. Every customer is eligible for up to $200,000 in deposits, and the accounts are set up to be used with a partner as a joint account. Plus, EQ Bank partners with Wise to give you affordable international money transfers. Deposits are federally insured for up to $100,000, just like with the big banks. If you’re looking for safety and security, as well as a great savings rate, the Savings Plus Account is the best option.  

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Best bank for newcomers to Canada: National Bank of Canada

What National Bank of Canada offers

  • ATMs: 1,904

Why it’s the best bank for newcomers

Newcomers to Canada will find several reasons to bank with the National Bank of Canada. Get the National Bank Connected chequing account for no monthly fee for up to three years (afterwards, you’ll pay $15.95 per month). The account can be opened 90 days before your arrival in Canada, and it comes with unlimited digital transactions and Interac e-Transfers. With the newcomer package, you can apply for one of eight National Bank Mastercards—no Canadian credit history needed—so you can start building your credit score right away. On top of that, account holders get one year’s worth of free phone assistance through the Assistance for Newcomers service, available seven days per week. This means you can have have questions answered about many different aspects of moving to and living in Canada, free of charge.

Best bank for international students in Canada: CIBC

What CIBC offers

  • ATMs: 3,000+
  • Branches: 1,000+
  • Bank accounts: 17
  • Credit cards: 24
  • Standout products: CIBC Smart for Students
  • Other products: Chequing and savings accounts; mortgages; insurance; loans; lines of credit; RRSPs, TFSAs, and other types of investment accounts

Why it’s the best bank for international students

CIBC makes banking easy for international students with the CIBC Smart for Students account. This no-fee account includes free Interac e-Transfers, CIBC Global Money Transfer, which has a $0 transfer fee on international money transfers, and a no-fee credit card with no credit history required. Plus, applicants can earn up to $150 when they open an account and $25 for every friend they refer. Free membership in the SPC+ discount program, which can save students up to 30% on major brands, is a valuable extra perk.

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How we determined the best banks

The MoneySense editorial team selects the best banks by assessing the value they provide to Canadians across various categories. To come up with our top picks, we compared an extensive list of offerings, including features, freebies and inclusions, and identified stand-out elements that we believe puts one bank above all others in a given category. 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.

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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.