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Most Canadians are aware of the Big Five banks: RBC, TD, Scotiabank, BMO and CIBC. And some may even know that the National Bank of Canada occasionally sneaks up and expands that list to six. But even taking these into account, there are dozens of banks in this country – including a growing number of fintech and neo-banks – each offering their own suite of personal banking products and services. Finding the best one is difficult, especially as it depends on your specific needs, covering everything from your daily 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 top banks so you can decide which one works for your personal banking needs. We will also cover if these banks are covered by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), which means that deposits held at said banks are insured up to CAD 100,000 in the event of a bank failure. Here are the best banks in Canada for 2022.
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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’s flexibility to save money is rare, which is why we chose them as the best large scale bank for Canadians.
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In terms of everyday banking options, Scotiabank has five different account types; each with benefits and perks designed for Canadians at any stage of life. Customers under the age of 18 and students enrolled in a post-secondary institution can apply for an account at no charge. For adults, Scotia offers four options that balance banking needs and benefits, from the minimum Scotiabank Basic Bank Account* with $3.95 monthly fees, all the way up to the Ultimate Scotiabank Benefits Account* that earns you rewards and credit discounts cards. among other benefits, for $30.95 per month in fees.
Individually, these accounts are on par with other Big Five offerings, but Scotiabank will reduce or waive fees with bundled services. The ultimate package, for example, includes daily banking with unlimited transactions, the ability to earn Scene+ points, an increased interest rate on savings, 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 checking or $30,000 combined with a Momentum Plus Savings Account do not have to pay the monthly fee.
Scotiabank carries 16 credit cards, including some of the highest earning rewards cards in Canada. As with their bank accounts, Scotiabank has cards tailored to a variety of Canadians, from those looking for a no-fee card to travelers to cashiers. Notably, Scotiabank is the only bank of the Big Five that offers cards with no foreign transaction fees.
In addition to everyday bank accounts and credit cards, Scotland provides mortgages, loans and lines of credit. They even have their own investment platform, Scotia iTrade, and offer investment accounts including Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs).
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One of the main benefits of banking with a Big Five bank is that you can keep all 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.
Checking and savings accounts; mortgages; insurance; loans; lines of credit; RRSPs, TFSAs and other types of investment accounts; Scotia iTrade platform
Over the past few years, online-only banks have grown in popularity, appealing to many of the 76% of Canadians who do most of their banking digitally. Online banks deliver their services through their website, on the phone and on their phone apps so customers don’t have to speak to a teller or visit a branch.
Our pick for best online Canadian bank is Tangerine, an (almost) only online bank owned by Scotiabank. Although Tangerine is virtual, it does operate a face-to-face Tangerine Café in North York (although this location is currently closed to the public until further notice).
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Tangerine’s no-fee daily checking account gives you all the functionality you’ll need for everyday banking—for free. When you open an account, you must link it to an external account before you can transfer money to it. You will then receive a debit card in the mail, which you can use to make purchases or withdraw cash. Transactions take place online, over the phone or at any of Scotiabank’s more than 3,600 national ATMs (and 44,000 affiliated international ATMs), so you don’t have to visit a physical bank. With a fee-free checking account, you get unlimited Interac debit transactions and e-transfers, as well as pre-authorized withdrawals and bill payments.
Tangerine also offers savings accounts (including RRSPs, TFSAs, USD and Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs)) and investment accounts such as Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs). And, even though it’s an online bank, it provides mortgages, loans and lines of credit, so you can take advantage of having all your accounts with one financial provider. You can even manage 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: grocery, restaurants, hotel-motel, furniture, gas, recurring bill payments, home improvement, entertainment, pharmacy or public transportation, and parking . For those earning a minimum annual income of $60,000 (or $100,000 for a household), the World Mastercard adds free Boingo Wi-Fi access, car rental and mobile device insurance, and Mastercard Airport Experiences. Neither card charges an annual fee.
Again, Tangerine takes the crown in this category because it charges $0 for services that most other banks charge for. For example, there are no monthly or annual fees, and debit transactions, pre-approved payments and email money transfers are unlimited. Although there are no physical branches, you’ll get free access to 3,500 Scotiabank ABMs and 44,000 ABMs worldwide through the Scotiabank Global ATM Alliance.
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EQ Bank is an online-only bank owned by Equitable Bank, Canada’s ninth largest bank, and is an absolute standout in its savings options. It knows its focus is on savings because it doesn’t offer credit cards or checking accounts (its Everyday Savings Plus account doubles as a checking account).
It also offers the USD savings account, but the one that stands out for general purposes is the EQ Savings Account Plus. With an interest rate of 2.50%, this account has a higher yield compared to that of other banks – exciting news for those who want to park their money in a safe and secure place with no withdrawal limits. The EQ Savings Plus account has no minimum deposit, no everyday bank fees and free interactive e-transfers, electronic funds transfers and bill payments. Each customer is eligible for deposits of up to $200,000, and the accounts are set up to be used with a partner as a joint account. Plus, EQ Bank has partnered with Wise to bring you affordable international money transfers. Deposits are federally insured up to $100,000, the same as with major deposit insurance banks. If you are looking for safety and security, a great rate and no volatility, the EQ Bank Savings Plus account is the best option.
EQ also offers GICs, which are essentially term deposits where you can benefit from higher interest rates while keeping your principal safe. GICs can be held in registered (for RRSP or TFSA investments) or non-registered accounts, and the amount of interest you earn depends on how long you commit. EQ Bank has very competitive GIC rates.
EQ also stands out in this category. If you need to access and manage money with someone else, a joint account is for you. Our top pick is the EQ Bank Joint Savings Plus account, a no-fee account that gives you unlimited transactions with no minimum balances and lets you earn a high interest rate of 2.50%. Balances are protected by
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Students have specific banking needs, and we’ve chosen 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 with no monthly fee. Plus, new account holders qualify for a $75 bonus when they set up and clear automated and recurring direct deposits, like payroll, within the first two months.
The best bank for budgeting tools may not be a bank at all. Coho is a financial management technology company that offers a prepaid card to be used instead of a savings account, rewards card, credit card. Koho’s RoundUp feature lets you automatically put money into your savings every time you use the card. The app’s budgeting tool lets you see where your money is going. And