Banking

The Complete Guide to Canada’s Best Online Banks

A comprehensive guide to the best banking services of the best banks in Canada and how to find the best bank account in Canada.

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The world is going digital, and banking is no exception. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, 78% of Canadians do their banking through digital channels (online and mobile apps). It was also reported that 65% of Canadians used a mobile app for their banking in 2021, up from 56% in the previous year. This means Canadians seek online banks for their daily banking needs.

The good news is that online banks in Canada are competing for our business by improving features, pricing, and convenience. We decided to figure out what the best online banks in Canada are so that you know where to look for a banking account that suits your lifestyle.

Finding the Best Online Bank in Canada

Traditional banks are being left behind by online banking in Canada. The only services online banks can’t offer that traditional banks can are safety deposit boxes, counter service, and in-person advice.

With that being said, online banks like Tangerine Bank have opened up cafes instead of traditional brick-and-mortar locations. Online banking also offers financial advice through customer service contact options, and it has the distinct advantage of being available 24/7 from wherever you are.

Decreasing service fees, increasing interest rates, and a wider selection of convenient services make online banking attractive.

Online BankBest For
EQ BankBest Overall
Scotia OnlineRewards Accounts
HSBC BankGlobal Banking
RBC OnlineBundles
BMO OnlineSenior, Student, & Military Discounts
TD OnlineMobile App
CIBC OnlineSeniors
TangerineBest Convenience

EQ Bank: Best Overall

With no branches and no ATMs, EQ Bank is accessed entirely through the web and mobile app only – a totally unique model. Instead of using personal cheques, a debit card, or an ATM, clients can move money between their Savings Plus Account and linked accounts.

For those willing to try a new way of banking, the benefit is clear: the Savings Plus Account offers no everyday banking fees, free Interac e-Transfers®, free day-to-day transactions, and a 2.50%* everyday interest rate — which is the best rate by far on our list of online banks. You can also earn 5.10% on a 1-year GIC. You also can’t ignore that Forbes has ranked EQ Bank as the top bank in Canada for two consecutive years.

EQ Bank offers the same great everyday rate on its Joint Savings Plus Account, TFSA Savings Account, and RSP Savings Account for those looking to tax-shelter their interest income.

Furthermore, EQ Bank has partnered with Wise so that clients can send quick and cheap international money transfers directly from their Savings (or Joint Savings) Plus Account to make sending money abroad a whole lot cheaper.

While EQ Bank may not be as well known in Canada, it’s certainly a trustworthy bank to stash your cash (EQ Bank is brought to you by Equitable Bank, which has been around since 1970). One thing to note: while EQ Bank does not offer a chequing account, the Savings Plus Account functions like a chequing account in that you can use it to pay bills and transfer money instantly with no transaction or account fees. You also get free bill payments and Interac e-Transfers®, which can be challenging to find with Canadian online banks.

* Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.

EQ Bank GICs: Rates are calculated on a per annum basis and are subject to change at any time.

Tangerine: Best for Convenience

Tangerine, formerly known as ING Direct Canada, is one of the first banks to offer free online banking services. With over 2 million customers and about $40 billion in total assets, this online bank has earned the trust of Canadians. As a subsidiary of Scotiabank, Tangerine doesn’t have any physical bank branches, but they offer “cafes” in some major cities like Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Calgary. You can learn about Tangerine’s services at this cafe while asking for financial advice for your unique situation.

For the 11th year in a row, Tangerine Bank has reached the top of the charts for customer satisfaction among Midsize Banks in the J.D. Power 2022 Canada Retail Banking Satisfaction Study. Tangerine has earned accolades for its account offerings, how they help save time and money, the banking options available for users, and the digital channels (mobile app and website).

Tangerine accounts come with no fees for any daily banking services. They also offer a variety of products (credit cards, mortgages, different investment options, and all of the savings account options you could want). Tangerine Bank strives to offer the everyday banking products Canadians want.

The chequing account comes with no monthly fees, unlimited daily transactions, and free access to 3,500 ATMs in Canada. With over 1,200 employees in Canada, Tangerine Bank prides itself on customer service.

Scotia OnLine: Best for Rewards Accounts

As one of Canada’s “Big 5″ banks, it’s not surprising that Scotiabank’s online (web and mobile app) banking options are feature-rich and intuitive to use. Although most customers pay a monthly service fee of between $3.95 and $30.95 (accounts with a minimum balance and students accounts are free, and seniors get a discount, conditions apply), the interface and offerings were enough for Forrester to name Scotia OnLine as “The Best Consumer Digital Bank in Canada.”

Scotiabank has been acknowledged for banking features that free up your time, the ability to open up accounts quickly, and helpful tips for making the most out of your new banking account.

But what’s unique is that some Scotiabank offers chequing accounts that allow you to earn rewards — a rarity in the banking world. For example, the Ultimate Package comes with $350* in welcome bonuses, the ability to earn points on everyday purchases with the Scene+™ program¹, and eight additional premium perks.

If you’re just looking for a basic online banking account, you can sign up for the Basic Plus Bank Account, which will give you access to 25 debit transactions per month² and free Interac e-Transfers†. for $11.95/month. You can have this feed waived by maintaining a balance of $3,000 for the entire month.

Where ScotiaBank shines is the options available for seniors and students. There are also many accounts to choose from based on your lifestyle and financial goals, so there’s an account for everyone. There aren’t many online banks in Canada that offer all these options for rewards and membership perks.

* To qualify, certain conditions must be met. Offer ends April 30th, 2022. Visit here for full terms.

¹ For Scotiabank Ultimate Package: Conditions apply. Visit here to learn more.

² For Scotiabank Basic Plus Bank Account: Conditions apply. Visit here to learn more.

†Interac e-Transfer is a registered trade-mark of Interac Corp. Used under license.

TM Trademark of Scene IP LP.

®Registered trademarks of The Bank of Nova Scotia

HSBC: Best for Global Banking

As one of the largest banks in the world, you can expect to receive a full range of services and expert advice at HSBC. For global citizens who have frequent international transactions, the HSBC Premier Chequing Account offers unlimited withdrawals and deposits in both Canadian and U.S. funds, as well as waived* Interac e-transfers® and $0 global wire transfer fees for transactions under $10,000* — a bonus if you send or receive money abroad on the regular. Plus, you’ll pay $0 in monthly banking fees* if you can meet the eligibility criteria and conditions that apply: maintaining $100,000 or more in combined personal deposits and investments with HSBC Bank Canada and its subsidiaries, or a $500,000 mortgage, or monthly income deposits of $6,500 with confirmation of $100,000 or more in assets under management, or qualifying for HSBC Premier in another country. You can also qualify for Premier based on the Household Qualification Program.**

Earn up to $500* when you open an HSBC Premier Chequing Account. *Terms and conditions apply. Offer value is composed of multiple products, offer ends December 31, 2022.

The HSBC Advance Chequing Account is another solid option for frequent Interac e-Transfer® users who also want a lower monthly fee. With this account, you get unlimited transactions and waived* Interac e-Transfer® transactions. You pay $0 monthly banking fees* for the first 6 months, and the $25 monthly fee is waived beyond that if you maintain $5,000 minimum balance in combined deposits and investments, including chequing, savings, RRSPs, TFSAs and more, or if you hold a personal mortgage with them with an original amount of $150,000 or more.

Earn up to $400* when you open an HSBC Advance Chequing Account online. *Terms and conditions apply. Offer value is composed of multiple products, valid from May 16, 2022 to December 31, 2022.

Issued by HSBC Canada

*Terms and conditions apply.

**Refer to hsbc.ca/householdqualification for details.

®Trade-mark of Interac Inc. Used under license.

RBC Online: Best for Bundles

Another “Big 5″ bank, RBC Online, offers numerous account options at different levels with a wide range in monthly fees (from $4.00 to $30.00). The Royal Bank of Canada has been around since 1864, so you don’t have to worry about trusting them with your money. This online bank is the ideal option for Canadians looking to go with one of the big banks or those who want to bundle their services with one bank.

Though they don’t waive fees for maintaining certain balances, customers can cut down their service charges by bundling RBC products (such as credit cards, investments, and/or mortgages). There are better options for online banking if you’re looking for free accounts and other perks.

The RBC online banking option includes all the typical features, like transfer and bill payments, but there’s not much outstanding in their portfolio. The unique features of RBC online banking that stick out are that you can order foreign currency through the platform and pick it up at your closest branch. You can also get free access to your credit score without impacting your credit rating. You won’t find these two rare perks with any other Canadian online banks.

BMO Online: Best for Senior, Student, & Military Discounts

In line with the other “Big 5” banks on this list, BMO offers a standard set of features with standard rates, though customers with the Savings Ampflier Account can reportedly earn up to 4.50% with bonus interest. BMO Online offers extensive online services ranging from mobile cheque deposits to connecting all of your accounts (credit card, savings, and so on) under one umbrella.

Although they offer discounts to seniors, students, and armed forces, the monthly fees range from $4.00 to $30.00 month. The online banking interface is intuitive and has all the typical features.

It allows you to choose the right chequing account based on your situation and offers the Performance Chequing Account and the Premium Chequing Account with monthly fees of $16.95 and $30.00, respectively. You can get the Performance account for free if you’re new to Canada* and have the monthly fee waived by maintaining the account minimum*.

You can also earn up to $400* in bonuses for opening up either of these accounts. With the Performance Chequing Account: earn $350* plus get an extra $50* when you make it a Family Bundle³. Both accounts will allow you to add family members without extra charges* and come with identity theft protection*.

If you’re looking for a simpler option, you can go with the Plus Plan Chequing Account for $11.95 per month. All chequing accounts are connected to your BMO Online, where you can also take advantage of the savings account.

* Terms and conditions apply.

³ Conditions apply. Visit bmo.com/350 for full offer details.

TD Online: Best for Mobile App

When it comes to the best online banks in Canada, TD Online has been working on improving its product offering. TD Online is the name for all the online services that TD Canada Trust offers. The online platform, EasyWeb, has been around since 2007.

Your online banking account can be connected to your TD WebBroker account to access the online trading and investing platform. This popular platform contains trading tools, market information, and research reports to help you manage your online investments. You can build a portfolio of stocks, ETFs, options, and more in Canadian and U.S. markets.

Neither the account options nor the interest rates tempt with TD Canada Trust, but this bank does offer several decent no-fee savings accounts. They have a mobile app for online banking and handy add-on features like TD MySpend that help customers track and improve spending habits.

TD Online offers two options for checking accounts: TD Unlimited Chequing and TD All-Inclusive Banking Plan, with account fees ranging from $16.95 to $29.95 per month, without any free options like Tangerine or EQ Bank unless you’re a student up until 23 years of age.

TD Online is one of the best online banks in Canada because you can have all your financial services under one umbrella, from your mortgage to your RRSP accounts and your daily banking. Convenient banking allows you to connect your credit card and every account you want in one place.

CIBC Online: Best Overall for Seniors

CIBC offers a full portfolio of account options designed for people at different stages of their lives and careers. In terms of fees and interest rates, CIBC is in line with the other Big 5 banks.

One notable difference here is that unlike the other institutions on our list, CIBC offers five account types for seniors. That includes a simple chequing account, a bundle with a premium credit card, and a US dollar account for seniors.

CIBC offers two types of premium online chequing accounts: CIBC Smart™ Account and CIBC Smart™ Plus, with monthly fees ranging from $16.95 to $29.95. Both accounts also come with up to $400 in introductory offers. You can waive the monthly fees if you maintain an account balance of $4,000 and $6,000, respectively. If you’re under 25 years old, you can take advantage of the free banking offer with CIBC Smart™ Start.

CIBC has started to offer the CIBC Everyday® Chequing Account, which comes with a monthly fee of $4, which includes 12 transactions per month and a charge of $1.50 per Interac e-Transfer.

Comparison of the Best Banks Canada 2022

When you’re ready to consider opening an online bank account in Canada, use this chart to compare the best online banks in Canada with the best online banking services.

EQ BankScotia OnLineHSBCRBCBMOTDCIBCTangerine
Chequing AccountsNoYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Savings AccountsYesYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Student/Youth AccountsNoYesYesYesNo, but special students/youth ratesYesYesYes
Senior AccountsNoNo, but special seniors ratesYesNo, but special seniors ratesNo, but special seniors ratesNo, but special seniors ratesYesNo, but special seniors rates
Brick and Mortar BranchesNoYesYesYesYesYesYesNo, but has “cafes”

The Bottom Line

The best bank account in Canada for you is the one that helps you save money by not charging you to access your own money while offering convenience and other features.

If you’re looking for a trustworthy online bank without fees and an easy-to-use mobile app, you can’t go wrong with EQ Bank or Tangerine. Although the banks don’t have brick-and-mortar branches), they offer the benefit of 24/7 online or mobile access, superior pricing (can’t beat no-fee!), and a complete feature set including unlimited transactions, paperless cheque deposits, and Interac e-Transfers®.

Ultimately, EQ Bank stands out as the best online bank in Canada. It’s offering no-fee savings and joint savings accounts, TFSA and RRSP savings accounts, outstanding customer service, and innovative banking technology. With the best interest rates available, EQ snags our top spot as the best online bank in Canada.

You’ll enjoy a full range of banking services while keeping more money in your wallet where it belongs.

Still can’t decide? Take a look at the best chequing accounts and the best high-interest savings accounts.

Frequently Asked Questions

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How safe are online banks in Canada?

Every bank on our list is well-established in Canada and a credible financial institution. Like traditional banks, the odds of online banks failing are very slim. In any case, you can rest easy: the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) covers eligible deposits in your own name, joint accounts, trust accounts, TFSAs, RRSPs, and more up to $100,000.

It does not apply to investment products such as stocks, bonds, or mutual funds.

Security breaches of online accounts are rare, but it's always wise to choose a unique and complex password and PIN.

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Why use an online bank?

If you haven’t yet tried online banking, you might wonder what the fuss is about. After all, traditional face-to-face branch banking has served Canadians well for decades. Before you make up your mind, consider these three areas in which online banking in Canada exceeds in-person branch banking:

Convenience

With online banking, your account is accessible from your computer, tablet, mobile app, or telephone. This means an end to searching for a brick-and-mortar branch or an ATM, and renders the concept of “banker’s hours” obsolete. If you want access to your money 24/7, online banking is the way to go.

Pricing

Some brick-and-mortar banks offer customers “low-fee” accounts, but even these command a base monthly fee which can add up fast. In fact, Canadians are still paying an average of $200 per year in banking fees. With online banking, customers have the option of a no-fee account — usually coupled with extremely competitive rates for common services like Interac e-Transfers® and a high-interest rate on savings accounts. If you don’t want to pay for the privilege of accessing your own money, an online account might be just the solution.

Special Features

Imagine asking a teller to deposit a cheque using a smartphone photo or to send money by email? They’d probably look at you like you have two heads – but Mobile Deposit and Interac e-Transfers® are services that many online banks offer. In addition to all the traditional features to which customers have become accustomed, online banks offer special features that are simply unavailable elsewhere.

Related: The Best Robo Advisors in Canada: A Complete Guide

Keph Senett

Keph Senett is a Canadian freelance writer with an interest in helping people make solid choices towards debt-free living. Her work has appeared in publications including Al Jazeera America, Greedy Rates, BBC News, and The Globe & Mail.



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