Canada’s Best Banks

Find Canada's Best Banking Solution With Rate Genie

WRITTEN BY
Lisa Rennie
Updated September 15, 2020

Canada’s Best Banks

Unless you like to stash your cash under your mattress for safekeeping, you’ll want a secure place to house your money, which is exactly why banks exist. But these days, not only are banks useful for depositing money, but they’re also important for many other aspects of financial life for Canadians. 

All that money you have deposited in your bank is not only kept safe and insured, but it can also earn interest in many cases. Banks are also a primary resource for loans and mortgages when some financial assistance is required for a large purchase. These financial institutions also offer investment vehicles to help your money grow and even provide various insurance products. 

Types of Products Banks Offer in Canada

The most basic type of account that banks typically offer is a savings account, which is a safe and secure place to park your capital that can slowly grow thanks to the account’s posted interest rate. 

But banks offer a lot more than just a common savings account. The following is a list of banking products that these financial institutions offer:

  • Savings accounts
  • High-interest savings accounts
  • Chequing accounts
  • Mortgages
  • Loans
  • Lines of credit
  • Insurance products
  • Investment products
  • RRSPs

Keep in mind that not all banks will have the same offerings. The bank that you choose should offer the exact type of products and services that you require.

Best Banks in Canada

The following make our list for the top banks in Canada.

TD Bank

TD Direct Investing

TD Bank is a multinational bank that serves both Canadian and American clients. It is the largest of Canada’s “Big Five” banks with the highest amount of total assets. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, TD has a particularly expansive network of branches in the province. Nationwide, TD has approximately 1,100 branches and over 11 million clients.  

TD offers a mobile banking option for digitally savvy consumers who prefer to do their banking online, as well as a full suite of banking products, including:

  • Bank accounts (chequing, savings, US dollar, student)
  • Credit cards
  • Mortgages
  • Loans
  • Investments
  • Insurance

RBC

Royal Bank

RBC (Royal Bank of Canada) is another one of Canada’s five largest banks and serves Canadians and international clients. The bank currently serves more than 16 million clients and is considered one of the most trusted and respected banks in Canada. RBC is particularly attractive to Canadian clients who frequent the US, as it offers cross-border banking services to travellers and expatriates. 

RBC is a full-service bank that offers a myriad of banking products, including:

  • Bank account (chequing, savings, US Dollar accounts, youth)
  • Credit cards
  • Mortgages
  • Loans 
  • Lines of credit
  • Investments
  • Insurance

Scotiabank 

Scotiabank

Scotiabank is Canada’s third-largest bank with a heavy presence in the eastern provinces, though it’s quite popular throughout the rest of the country. The bank offers a broad range of products, including:

  • Bank accounts (chequing, savings, US dollar, student, seniors)
  • Credit cards
  • Mortgages
  • Loans
  • Lines of Credit
  • Insurance

Scotiabank has been attracting an increasing number of clients thanks to its suite of digital products that can be accessed online or via a mobile device and offers savings that are associated with less overhead. Clients who bundle their products with Scotiabank can take advantage of reduced fees and extra benefits. 

BMO

BMO

BMO ranks number four among the Big Five in terms of size in Canada with over 900 branches nationwide and more than 7 million customers. The bank operates as BMO Financial Group in the US where it has significant operations and many clients. 

BMO offers a full spectrum of banking products, including:

  • Bank accounts (chequing, savings, students, newcomers to Canada, Canadian Forces, Veterans and RCMP)
  • Cross-border banking 
  • Credit cards
  • Mortgages
  • Loans
  • Lines of credit
  • Investments 
  • Insurance

BMO is known for its product discounts, rewards, and special interest rates for seniors, students, and members of the Canadian Defence Community. 

CIBC

CIBC

CIBC is another one of the Big Five banks in Canada and is headquartered in Toronto, Ontario. It’s also one of the two major banks initially founded in Toronto, along with TD Bank. In conjunction with its personal and small business banking sector, CIBC is also heavily involved in commercial banking, wealth management, capital markets, and US banking. 

Like other big Canadian financial institutions, CIBC offers a number of products, including: 

  • Bank accounts (chequing, savings, youth, seniors, foreign workers, newcomers)
  • Credit cards
  • Mortgages
  • Loans
  • Investments
  • Insurance

Tangerine

Tangerine

Originally known as ING Direct, Tangerine is an online-only bank in Canada that was acquired by Scotiabank in 2012. Thanks to its low overhead business model, Tangerine is able to pass on its savings to its clients in the form of low or no fees. The digital bank is known for its high-interest saving account, though it offers a variety of other products, including: 

  • Savings accounts
  • Chequing accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Investments
  • Business accounts
  • Mortgages
  • Loans
  • Lines of credit
Learn More

EQ Bank

EQ Bank

EQ Bank is another online-only bank and is the branchless digital arm of Equitable Bank. EQ Bank is popular for its high-interest rates paid out on its savings accounts, as well as its low or no everyday banking fees. 

In fact, EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account is one of the highest-interest personal banking accounts in Canada, with an interest rate currently running at 1.70%. The account can be considered somewhat of a hybrid account as it supports some of the functions of a traditional chequing account, such as free bill payments and electronic money transfers.

EQ Bank’s product offerings are rather sparse. Aside from its savings account, EQ Bank’s only other product is a GIC. 

Learn More

Simplii Financial

simplii Financial

Formerly known as PC Financial, Simplii Financial is affiliated with CIBC and is another branchless option for online banking for Canadians. The bank’s philosophy is to simplify banking – hence the unique name – which is evident with its one chequing and one savings account. Both accounts come with zero monthly fees, unlike personal banking accounts with traditional brick-and-mortar banks. 

While Simplii Financial is a branchless bank, clients can still access CIBC ATMs to withdraw funds at no charge. In addition to its no-fee chequing and savings accounts, Simplii’s other financial offerings include:

  • Credit cards
  • Mortgages
  • Loans
  • Investments
Learn More

Overview of Canada’s Big Five

TD BankRBCScotiabankBMOCIBC
Chequing Accounts 2 types4 types6 types5 types9 types
Savings Accounts6 types4 types5 types4 types5 types
Min – Max Savings Rate0.05% – 3.2%0.05%0.05% – 0.10%0.01% – 1.60%0.05%
Student/ Youth AccountsYesYesYesYesYes
Monthly Fees$3.95 – $30$4.95 – $29.95$3.95 – $30.95$4 – $15.95$3.90 – $28.95
ATMs2,6004,2003,6002,2003,400

Overview of Canada’s Best Online Banks

TangerineEQ BankSimplii Financial
Chequing Accounts 1 typeNone1 type
Savings Accounts5 types1 type1 type
Min – Max Savings Rate0.20%1.70%0.20%
Student/Youth AccountsYesNoNo
Monthly Fees$0$0$0
ATMs3,600 Scotiabank ATMsN/A3,400 CIBC ATMs

Features to Consider When Choosing a Bank

With so many banks in Canada to choose from – both online and brick-and-mortar – which one should you do your banking with? There are a few factors that you should consider before making your choice, including the following:

  • Fees. Most traditional banks charge a monthly maintenance fee for their accounts, which can increase in price if you don’t maintain a certain minimum balance. Be sure to check the fee associated with holding an account with the bank you’re considering opening an account with. 
  • Interest rate. While chequing accounts don’t usually come with an interest rate, savings accounts do. Obviously, the higher the rate offered, the more money you can make from your deposited funds. 
  • Accessibility. How many bank branches are available for you to do your banking in? Is the bank’s network of ATMs vast? How easy is it to access your banking products online or via a mobile device? Consider the accessibility of your banking products when choosing a bank. 
  • Customer service. Look into the type of customer service channels that the bank offers, and how easily it is to get in touch with someone if you have questions or concerns.
  • Product variety. Depending on what you need, you’ll want to choose a bank that can offer you the exact banking products and services that you need, whether it’s a chequing account, mortgage, investment vehicle, or other.
  • Interac e-transfers. Do you frequently send or receive money electronically? If so, find out what the limits or costs are associated with this particular service. 

Online Bank vs. Traditional Bank

These days, you have the option to stick with a traditional brick-and-mortar bank or go with a bank that does business completely online.  Before making the decision on which route to take, be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each first. 

Benefits of a Traditional Bank

No deposits. With no physical location available, depositing your money can be a hassle. Depending on the online bank you choose, you might have the option to mail your deposits in, make wire transfers, or take a photo of your cheque and upload it to your account through an app. And if your online bank is not affiliated with a physical bank, there may be no ATMs to withdraw your money from without having to pay a fee. 

Customer service. Traditional banks take on a more personalized approach when it comes to dealing with their clients. These banks place a lot of importance on building personal relationships with their clients, including through face-to-face interaction. If you’re the type to deal with someone who is familiar with your financial history, then a brick-and-mortar bank maybe your best option.

Product variety. Traditional banks have a full suite of banking products and services that they have been offering for decades. With the exception of a couple of online-only banks, you’d be hard-pressed to find a branchless bank that offers as many products as a conventional bank, especially those that are part of the Big Five.

Benefits of an Online Bank 

Lower fees. Since online banks have little overhead compared to conventional banks, they have far fewer operational expenses to deal with. In turn, these virtual banks can pass on these savings to their clients in the form of much lower fees. In fact, many online banks offer accounts with zero fees, making banking a lot more cost-effective.

Convenience. One of the great things about online banks is their convenience. There’s no need to physically visit a bank branch to do your banking. Instead, everything can be taken care of remotely from the comfort of your home or wherever you may happen to be. You can even do your banking through your mobile phone via an app on the go.

Higher interest rates. Brick-and-mortar banks aren’t exactly known for their high-interest rates on their savings accounts. But many online banks are. You can get rates as high as 2.0% or more with an online high-interest savings account, which can help your money grow faster. 

Final Thoughts

When it comes to Canadian banks, you have plenty of choices, including whether to bank with a traditional financial institution or an online-only bank. But in addition to the decision to go online or not, there’s also the decision about the types of products and services that various banks provide, as well as any perks they offer. Do your homework on the different banks in Canada before you open your first account. 

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