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, each offering its own suite of personal banking products and services. Finding the “best” is tricky, especially because it depends on the individual’s needs. Nonetheless, there are some standouts. In this article, we take a look at customer offerings from some of the best, so you can decide which works for your personal banking needs.
Best best banks in Canada
The best big bank for everyday banking: Scotiabank
Scotiabank was founded in 1832 and has since grown its assets to more than $850 billion, which puts it in the number three spot among the Big Five by asset size. For its customers, this translates into stability, a broad portfolio of financial products, and the convenience of thousands of physical bank branches and a network of more than 3,500 ATMs across Canada.
While any of the Big Five could claim similar advantages, Scotiabank shines in the details. They’ve created six different types of accounts with perks and benefits designed for Canadians at any stage of life. Customers under 18 years of age and students enrolled in a post-secondary institution can access its no-fee account. For adults, Scotia offers four options that balance banking needs and benefits, from the minimal Basic Banking Account at $3.95 per month, right up to the perk-laden Ultimate Account that lets you earn rewards and get credit card rebates, among other benefits, for $30.95 monthly.
Speaking of credit cards, Scotiabank carries 18, including some of the highest-earning rewards credit 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 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. They even have their own investing platform and offer 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.
- ATMs: 3,500+
- Bank accounts: 6
- Credit cards: 18
- Other products: Mortgages; insurance; loans; lines of credit; RRSPs, TFSAs, and other types of investment accounts
Best bank for no-fee everyday banking: Tangerine
Over the past several years, online-only banks have grown in popularity, appealing to many of the 76% of Canadians who do most of their banking digitally. Online-only banks operate their services through their website, on the phone, and on their phone apps. You don’t speak to a teller or visit a branch. Without having to meet the massive investment in those overhead costs, online-only banks have been able to offer customers no-fee everyday banking. Our favourite no-fee bank is Tangerine, an (almost) online-only bank that’s owned by Scotiabank. Although Tangerine is virtual, it does operate a handful of Tangerine Cafés in Canada’s largest cities (Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver), where customers can get in-person advice and assistance.
Tangerine’s No-Fee Daily Chequing Account gives you all of the functionality you’ll need for your everyday banking—for free. When you open an account you have to link it to an external account so you can transfer money in. Then you’ll receive a debit card that you can use to make purchases or withdraw money. All transactions take place online, on the phone, or at any of the more than 3,500 national Scotiabank ATMs (and 44,000 associated international ATMs), so you don’t have to visit a bank in person. With the No-Fee Chequing Account, you receive unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-transfers, as well as pre-authorized payments and bill payments.