No-Fee Banks in Canada: Best Online Banks with No Monthly Fees

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more info.

Are you banking with one of these 6 no-fee banks in Canada? If not…WHY NOT?

If there’s one thing that really grinds my gears, it’s paying bank fees! I can’t stand paying $10-$15 per month (or more) just for the privilege of having a chequing account at a particular financial institution. That’s why I want to share my top 6 picks for no-fee banks in Canada that offer free chequing accounts (no minimum balances required!), that quite honestly offer the same features and value as many of the big banks.

Why Bank Fees Don’t Necessarily Equal More Value

Before I continue, I want to address something I always hear when I talk to people about banks that charge fees: “Don’t you get more value with those monthly fees, like access to a bank branch and financial planner?”

Sure, it’s true that with those bank fees you get access to a bank branch and financial planner, but for me, those don’t constitute more value than what a no-fee bank can offer. I’ve personally been banking online for years and never need to go to a branch. If I need help, I call or email their customer service. If I need cheques, they mail them to me. If I want to deposit a cheque, I use the bank’s app on my phone or go to an ATM. For all my other banking needs, I can do everything online.

In terms of access to a financial planner, you probably already know my sentiments on this. I personally prefer using a fee-only financial planner who does not work for a financial institution and cannot sell me products. I’d much rather pay out of pocket for unbiased advice. And if you’re in search of a no-fee financial planner, I made a list on my recommendations page you can check out.

When it comes to investing, I do DIY investing and use robo-advisors for all of that (I’ve got recommendations for discount brokerages and robo-advisors on my recommendations page too).

I wasn’t always this savvy though. Back in the day, I did pay bank fees and I did use a financial planner at a bank. And I 100% didn’t get more value than what I get now banking at various no-fee banks in Canada.

With all that said, this is of course just my personal opinion. If you feel like you’re getting your money’s worth with those monthly fees, you do you. But for me, when I calculated that I’d spent $540 on monthly bank fees over 3 years, when I could have put that money to better use (like towards a trip or into my investments), that’s when I made the switch and have never looked back!

What Is a No-Fee Bank

In case you’re wondering what exactly constitutes a no-fee bank, I’m talking about banks in Canada that charge you no monthly fees with no minimum balance requirements. I also don’t count banks that waive or reimburse monthly fees if you bundle multiple financial products with them (i.e. chequing account, savings account, line of credit, credit card, mortgage, etc…).

So, if you want a concise list of different online banks you can open no matter where you live in Canada (with some exceptions, sorry Quebec!) that charge zero monthly bank fees, here are my top 6 no-fee banks in Canada in alphabetical order.

1. Alterna Bank

First on the list is Alterna Bank. You may think the name “Alterna” sounds familiar, and that’s because it is. If you live in Ontario, you may already be familiar with Alterna Savings, which is a credit union in Ontario that’s been around for 110 years. Alterna Bank is actually a subsidiary of Alterna Savings, and launched in the year 2000.

That being said, it operates as a separate bank than Alterna Savings. That means that Alterna Bank is completely online and does not have any of its own branches. Moreover, even though they have similar names, as an Alterna Bank customer, you can’t walk into an Alterna Savings branch and ask for help with your Alterna Bank products. If you need help, you have to contact Alterna Bank’s online customer service team.

Here’s a breakdown of Alterna Bank’s No-Fee eChequing Account.

Alterna Bank No-Fee eChequing Account

  • No monthly fee and no minimum balance required
  • Free, unlimited day-to-day transactions
  • Free, unlimited Interac® e-Transfers
  • Free access to over 3,300 ATMs in THE EXCHANGE® Network
  • Eligible deposits are insured up to the maximum amount through the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)
  • 0.05% annual interest rate

Alterna Bank also offers a fairly high annual interest rate (for today’s standards) on their savings accounts at 1.20%.

Alterna Bank is available to customers in all provinces.

2. Motive Financial

Next, we’ve got Motive Financial, which was formerly known as Canadian Direct Financial before it rebranded and relaunched into Motive Financial in 2017.

Motive Financial is a division of Canadian Western Bank, which means that your deposits with Motive Financial are actually held at Canadian Western Bank, a CDIC-insured financial institution. The annoying thing is, you can’t use any of Canadian Western Bank’s branches for help. As a Motive Financial customer, you must use their online support team.

To learn more about Motive Financial, check out this blog post I wrote about it when it first launched.

What’s unique about Motive Financial is they offer two different types of chequing accounts: the Motive Cha-Ching Chequing Account and the Motive Chequing Account.

Motive Cha-Ching Chequing Account™

  • No monthly fee and no minimum balance required
  • Free deposits
  • Free and unlimited monthly withdrawals
  • Unlimited free transactions and Interac® e-Transfers
  • First 50 personalized cheques free
  • Free access to over 3,300 ATMs in THE EXCHANGE® Network
  • 2 free non-Exchange Network ATM withdrawals (after that, $1.50 per withdrawal)
  • Eligible deposits are insured up to the maximum amount through the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) via Canadian Western Bank
  • 0.25% annual interest rate

Motive™ Chequing Account

  • No monthly fee and no minimum balance required
  • Free deposits
  • Free and unlimited monthly withdrawals
  • First 50 personalized cheques free
  • Free access to over 3,300 ATMs in THE EXCHANGE® Network
  • Non-Exchange Network ATM withdrawals cost $1.50 per withdrawal
  • Interac® e-Transfers cost $1 (but receiving e-transfers is free)
  • Eligible deposits are insured up to the maximum amount through the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) via Canadian Western Bank
  • 0.60% annual interest rate

As you can see, the differences between the two are that the Motive Chequing Account offers a higher interest rate than the Motive Cha-Ching Chequing Account, but you have to pay $1 for Interac e-transfers and $1.50 if Non-Exchange Network ATM withdrawals.

In terms of Motive Financial’s savings accounts, they offer pretty high interest rates (considering the low interest environment we’re currently in) of 1.25% for their Motive™ Savings Account, and 1.55% with their Motive® Savvy Savings™ Account.

Motive Financial is available to customers in all provinces EXCEPT Quebec.

3. Motusbank

Motusbank is a relatively new bank on the block, having launched in April 2019. I even wrote a post all about it, so if you want some more in-depth info about Motusbank go check it out. Similar to Alterna Bank, Motusbank is also a subsidiary of a big Ontario credit union. Ontario’s largest credit union in fact — Meridian Credit Union.

Here’s what you should know about the Motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account.

Motusbank No-Fee Chequing

  • No monthly fee and no minimum balance required
  • Free and unlimited Interac e-Transfers®
  • Unlimited debit purchases, bill payments and withdrawals
  • First 25 personalized cheques free
  • Free access to over 3,300 ATMs in THE EXCHANGE® Network
  • Mobile cheque deposits with Deposit Anywhere
  • Eligible deposits are insured up to the maximum amount through the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)
  • 0.25% annual interest rate

As for Motusbank’s savings accounts, they offer 1.00% on their regular high-interest savings account, but if you tuck that cash into their tax-free savings account (TFSA), you could earn 1.10%. But in my opinion, the best use for a TFSA is investments, not cash savings.

Motusbank is available to customers in all provinces EXCEPT Quebec.

4. PC Financial (New!)

For a brand new bank account, I’ve got PC Financial’s new no-fee bank account — the PC Money Account. I wrote an in-depth blog post all about this new bank account, so make sure to check it out.

So if you’ve been around as long as I have, then you may remember that not too long ago PC Financial offered a chequing and savings account. What you may not know is that back then, CIBC actually provided their back-end banking services and did so for nearly 20 years.

But in 2017, both companies decided to go their separate ways. CIBC took over all of PC Financial’s customer accounts and transferred them over to their new online bank brand called Simplii Financial. After the transition, PC Financial only offered insurance products and their suite of credit cards to customers.

Fun fact about all this, back in the summer of 2016, about a year before this transition took place, I actually interviewed to work at PC Financial! This was before I made the decision to quit my job to start my own full-time business (which I’ve now been doing for almost 4 years). Back then, I was looking to jump ship from my marketing job at a law firm and interviewed to work for PC Financial’s marketing team. As you may guess, I didn’t get the job. I think part of it could have been because I told them I was a personal finance influencer and wouldn’t give that up if I was hired. In retrospect, everything worked out how it should have.

But now let’s talk about PC Financial’s new bank account, the PC Money Account. So, technically it’s not a chequing account and your bank card isn’t a debit card. Interac actually owns the term “debit”, so since the PC Money Account card is run by Mastercard, it’s called simply a bank card. And the reason it’s not a chequing account in the traditional sense is that you can’t write or deposit cheques with the account. Another thing to know is this account does not offer deposit interest. It does however help you earn PC Optimum points.

Here’s a breakdown of the different features and benefits:

  • Unlimited everyday transactions
  • Free Interac e-transfer®
  • Free PC Financial ATM withdrawals across Canada
  • Card is accepted anywhere Mastercard® is accepted worldwide
  • Card can be linked to Google Pay and Apple Pay
  • Receive monthly digital bank statements
  • App allows for fingerprint or facial recognition sign-in
  • App provides in-depth spending insights to help you budget better, including personalized savings goals
  • Can easily access your PC Optimum points balance within the app
  • Optional overdraft protection available
  • Can earn 10 PC Optimum points for every dollar you spend (anywhere, including online shopping)
  • Eligible deposits are insured up to the maximum amount through the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)

The PC Money Account is available to customers in all provinces.

5. Simplii Financial

As I mentioned above when sharing info about the PC Money Account, Simplii Financial launched in 2017 after President’s Choice Financial folded its banking division to focus solely on its credit cards and insurance products. At the time, CIBC managed the back-end of PC Financial, so when in the transition, CIBC took all of PC Financial’s customer accounts and transferred them over to its new online bank called Simplii Financial.

What this means is that Simplii Financial is a division of CIBC, but like all the other banks I’ve mentioned, you can’t go to a CIBC bank branch and ask for help with your Simplii Financial accounts or products (I think you get the picture by now).

Here’s what you need to know about the Simplii No Fee Chequing account.

Simplii No Fee Chequing

  • No monthly fee and no minimum balance required
  • Free and unlimited Interac e-Transfers®
  • Unlimited debit purchases, bill payments and withdrawals
  • First 25 personalized cheques free
  • Free access to CIBC ATMs across Canada
  • Mobile cheque deposits with Simplii Financial Mobile Banking App
  • Eligible deposits are insured up to the maximum amount through the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)
  • Annual interest rates:
    • $0 – $1,000 = 0.05%
    • $1,000.01 – $5,000 = 0.10%
    • $5,000.01 – $25,000 = 0.15%
    • $25,0001.00 and up = 0.15%

Much like the low interest they offer for their chequing accounts, they also don’t offer the best annual interest rate for savings accounts at just 0.20%.

Simplii Financial is available to customers in all provinces EXCEPT Quebec.

6. Tangerine

This is one of my long-time favourite banks — Tangerine. I first banked with Tangerine when it was known as ING Direct in my 20s. ING Direct was first founded in 1997, but in 2012 it was acquired by Scotiabank, and then Tangerine emerged in 2014. I honestly remember this acquisition so vividly too.

There was so much buzz and excitement when it all went down, including an epic launch party featuring a performance by Macklemore (at the height of Thriftshop‘s popularity!). A ton of personal finance influencers were invited and had an amazing time…from what I could tell from Instagram. I guess my invite got lost in the mail? But I’m not bitter. Nooooo, no, no, no. And certainly not bitter that even though the party took place in Toronto (WHERE I LIVE!), they paid for flights/hotels for a number of out-of-town influencers to attend. But that’s all in the past now. Not. Bitter. At. All.

Regardless of my FOMO, after years of bank and credit union hopping, I decided to make Tangerine my main bank and have been happily banking with them for over 4 years. If you want to sign up with them too, feel free to use my promo code 35764439S1 to get $50 upon registration (yes, I also get $50 when you sign up). When you sign up, you also get a promo code that you can share with friends and family, so when they sign up both of you get $50.

Here are the most important things you should know about the Tangerine Chequing account.

  • No monthly fee and no minimum balance required
  • Free Interac® e-Transfers
  • Unlimited debit purchases, bill payments and withdrawals
  • First 50 personalized cheques free
  • Free access to Scotiabank and Tangerine ATMs across Canada
  • Mobile cheque deposits with Tangerine’s mobile banking app
  • Eligible deposits are insured up to the maximum amount through the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)
  • Annual interest rates:
    • $0 – $49,999.99 = 0.05%
    • $50,000.00 – $99,999.99 = 0.10%
    • $100,000 or more = 0.15%

For Tangerine’s savings accounts, the current annual interest rate is 0.15%.

Tangerine is available to customers in all provinces.

What are your thoughts on no-fee banks in Canada? Or do you pay bank fees? I would love to know your thoughts, share in the comments below!

No-Fee Banks in Canada: Best Online Banks with No Monthly Fees
Disclosure: Nothing on my website or affiliated channels should be considered advice or an endorsement, and some content may include affiliate links in which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Please read my disclaimer to learn more.
Showing 19 comments
  • Maggie
    Reply

    Hello Jessica, thanks for the recommendation. I have a question that you maybe able to help: I travel to USA quite often, but I don’t want to carry a US dollar credit card, so do you know if there’s any debit card (or prepaid card) that is in USD but without transaction fee and monthly fee? Thanks a lot!

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      If you want a USD debit card, you’ll have to open up a USD chequing account with one of the big Canadian banks (those are the only ones I can see that offer them). I think the TD one looks pretty good, but take a look at your options. Prepaid cards, I know if you sign up for KOHO Premium, although it’s still a CDN funds card, they won’t charge you foreign transaction fees. You can learn more about KOHO in one of my latest posts: https://jessicamoorhouse.com/koho-review/

  • Dave Carroll
    Reply

    Thanks Jessica…
    I can save a few hundred dollars a year just by switching from big banks

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Exactly, and over the course of years/decades it could add up to thousands of dollars in savings. Just think, if you banked at a no-fee bank and saved that $15/month bank fee the big banks typically charge, that’s $15 x 12 months = $180 x 20 years = $3,600 in savings.

  • Matthew Rigby
    Reply

    I don’t know when this was last updated, but Tangerine offers free e-tranfers as of Dec 1, 2019. Also, I find it a bit disingenuous that you don’t tell everyone that you’re making 50$ each time someone uses “your” promo code (everyone has one) for signing up to Tangerine.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Thanks for the reminder to update that, since I originally wrote this post (I believe in 2019 or 2018) Tangerine charged $1 for Interac e-transfers, but you’re right they are now free. I’ve updated that. And thanks for sharing. I have affiliate disclosures at the top and bottom of the post, but I’ve updated the language so it’s more clear.

  • Sandy
    Reply

    Hi, do you know if any of this banks works for foreign people? People how doesn’t have a Canadian social security number, thanks

  • Cyndi
    Reply

    Hi Jessica. I was hoping to set up a joint account at Tangerine to track our rental property income separately but they told me that this would be a business account and couldn’t do it with a personal account. I then spoke to their business account services and they said they couldn’t open a business account with me because I would need to already have another business account with someone else. Strange. I was really hoping to start using my Tangerine account after opening it and really not doing anything with it for a few years. Oh well. Any recommendations for online banks that are okay with rental income / deposits / expenses?

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Ya they only offer business savings accounts, not business chequing accounts, which I find so odd. Is your business incorporated? If it’s not and you’re just running your rental property business as a sole proprietorship, you should be able to use just a regular chequing/savings account. And in that case, I would look at other no-fee banks like Simplii, Motive, Motusbank, EQ Bank, etc… If you do need a specific business account, you’ll have to look to the big banks as they are pretty much the only ones who offer them. Credit unions may also offer them.

  • Cyndi
    Reply

    Thanks for the great response. No we are not incorporated at all. We found an account with Manulife (All in Banking) that has no fees for end of month balance min of $100 which is pretty good so likely will go with that.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      Hmm that’s really strange that Tangerine would say you need a business account then. I mean unless your sole proprietorship is registered under a name different than your personal name? For me, I use BMO’s eBusiness Plan for my business account. I’m a sole proprietorship but have my business registered under Jessica Moorhouse (I have a different legal personal name). I just use that account to cash cheques written out to Jessica Moorhouse, then transfer the money once it’s deposited either into my personal chequing account at Tangerine or my EQ Bank account.

  • Cyndi
    Reply

    Actually we’re not even registered as a Sole Proprietorship (if there is a requirement to set that up – or is it simply assumed when you don’t register in any other category?)

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      You don’t need to register to become a sole proprietor unless you wish to run your business under a different name than your personal name. If you are running your business under your personal name, then you are automatically a sole proprietorship.

  • Steven D'Sa
    Reply

    I’m wondering if you still consider Tangerine as one of your favorite banks? I’m considering them but I’m also reading a lot of negative reviews. I’m not keen on their login/pin security but I’ve heard they are coming out with an MFA solution.

    • Jessica Moorhouse
      Reply

      I still use them as my main bank and really like them. I wish they offered higher interest on their savings accounts, but I use EQ Bank for that. So ya, I still really like them.

      • Steven D'Sa
        Reply

        Thank you. I’m only interested in a chequing account from them as I can’t find another (online) bank that has an equivalent of their orange alerts. I like to get alerts on all deposits and withdrawals. I’ve been told Tangerine can offer that whereas other banks don’t get to that level of detail in their alerts.

  • Jim Schultz
    Reply

    Hey is there a no fee bank or even a low fee bank that allows international money transfers?

    Thanks
    Jim

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Start typing and press Enter to search