Banking

The Complete Guide to Canada’s Best Online Banks

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

The world is going digital and banking is no exception. According to the Canadian Bankers Association, in 2019, more than 76% of Canadians were doing their banking online and through mobile — and that number is rapidly rising.

There are many solid reasons to consider any of the online banks in Canada including convenience, features, and pricing.

Read on to learn about this emerging trend in personal finance management, including our top picks for the best banks in Canada.

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.

That said, online banking does offer advice over the telephone or email and 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 an attractive choice.

Online BankBest For
EQ BankBest Overall
Scotia OnLineBest For Rewards Accounts
HSBCBest For Global Banking
RBC OnlineBest For Bundles
BMO OnlineBest For Senior, Student, & Military Discounts
TD OnlineBest For Mobile App
CIBC OnlineBest Overall for Seniors

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 1.50%* everyday interest rate — which is the best rate by far on our list of online banks.

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 it can be used to pay bills and also transfer money instantly with no transaction or account fees.

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


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), the interface and offerings were enough for Forrester to name Scotia OnLine as “The Best Consumer Digital Bank in Canada.”

But what’s unique is that some Scotiabank offers chequing accounts that allow you to earn rewards—a rarity in the banking world. Earn rewards on debit transactions with the Scene+™ Program.²

² Conditions apply. Visit www.scotiabank.com/ultimate300 to learn more.

TM Trademark of Scene IP LP.

®Registered trademarks of The Bank of Nova Scotia


HSBC: Best For Global Banking

HSBC logo

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* for the first six months.

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, TFSA’s and more, or if you hold a personal mortgage with them with an original amount of $150,000 or more.

*Terms and conditions apply.

®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).

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 mortgage).

The RBC online banking option includes all the typical features, like transfer and bill payments, but there’s not much outstanding in their portfolio.


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

BMO_210x100

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 Builder Account can earn up to 1.6% interest.

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


TD Online: Best For Mobile App

TD_Bank_210x100

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 along with handy add-on features like TD MySpend that helps customers track and improve spending habits.


CIBC Online: Best Overall For Seniors

CIBC

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 — everything from a simple chequing account to a bundle that includes a premium credit card to US dollar account for seniors.


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 OnLineHSBCRBCBMOTDCIBC
Chequing AccountsNoYesYesYesYesYesYes
Savings AccountsYesYesYesYesYesYesYes
Student/Youth AccountsNoYesYesYesNo, but special students/youth ratesYesYes
Senior AccountsNoNo, but special seniors ratesYesNo, but special seniors ratesNo, but special seniors ratesNo, but special seniors ratesYes
Brick and Mortar BranchesNoYesYesYesYesYesYes

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

The Bottom Line

The best bank account in Canada for you is the one that helps you save money — not the one that costs you money to use.

Based on that criterion alone, look for a trustworthy online bank without fees, like EQ Bank. Although the bank doesn’t have brick-and-mortar branches (so you’ll have to store your family jewels elsewhere), it offers the benefit of 24/7 online or mobile access, superior pricing (can’t beat no-fee!), and a full feature set including unlimited transactions, paperless cheque deposits, and Interac e-Transfers®.

Ultimately, EQ Bank stands out as the best online bank in Canada. Offering no-fee savings and joint savings accounts—as well as TFSA and RRSP savings accounts—outstanding customer service, innovative banking technology, and just about 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

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.

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.

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