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Unlimited Chequing Accounts in Canada

There are a number of options for unlimited banking in Canada. These are a few from Canada’s most popular banks. I was disappointed to hear recently that citizensbank no longer offers a personal banking option. Share with us here if you know of other Canadian banks that offer unlimited free transactions or where it’s possible to have the fee waived.

Name of Account Monthly Fees Notes
Royal Bank of Canada RBC No Limit Banking $10.95 Fees are waived with a multiproduct rebate. To qualify, an account holder must have a RBC Visa card, a mortgage or home equity loan and a qualifying investment. If the account holder is over 60 than they only need a RBC Visa card and a qualifying investment.
CIBC Unlimited Chequing $12.95
TD Canada Trust TD Infinity $12.95 Fees are waived if a minimum balance of $3000 is kept throughout the entire month.
Scotiabank Scotia One $9.95 Fees are waived if a minimum balance of $3500 is kept throughout the entire month.
Bank of Montreal Performance Plan $13.95 Fees are waived if a minimum balance of $3000 is kept throughout the entire month. Youth, students and young adults pay $5.45 monthly fee.
Vancity E-Package Chequing $7 Unlimited electronic banking. Only one free in person transaction per month. .70 cents for each additional in-branch transaction. Fees are waived if minimum of $1000 held in account.
President’s Choice Financial No Fee Chequing Account $0

I was surprised to see that CIBC is the only bank without any option to waive their fees. I even called their customer service line inquiring about this specific account. I asked if there was any way to have to fee waived, any multi-product discount or a minimum balance required. The representative apologized and said that no, it wasn’t possible to have the fee waived under any conditions with their unlimited chequing account.

What is even more surprising is that President’s Choice Financial is a division of CIBC. I bank with PC Financial and regularly use CIBC machines at no cost. When I put my card in, the screen on the ATM at CIBC welcomes me to President’s Choice Financial. I even deposit cheques and withdraw money at no charge from CIBC ATMs. Why is it then, that they can’t offer their own customers free banking?

I was also surprised to see how complicated eligibility is for the RBC No Limit Banking Account. I understand the idea of a multi-product rebate and agree that it encourages loyalty. I have our children’s RESP accounts at RBC and have a RBC Visa card. It makes me eligible for a multi-product rebate on their Day to Day Banking Account which would give me 15 transactions a month. In order to receive unlimited free transactions I would also have to hold a mortgage or equity line. Fifteen transactions a month is not enough for my daily banking needs.

There is so much information available easily online. I’m surprised with so many other options out there, banks can continue to charge such high fees when their competitors have other alternatives. I understand that some people like having a brick and mortar bank. Internet banking isn’t for everyone. I’ve always been happy with it but I know for the first few months using it, I was a little bit uncomfortable with the idea of virtual banking. It’s been over 10 years now, and I’ve never had an issue. I’ve even ordered bank drafts, deposited US cheques and used my debit card internationally, all without any issues.

If I were to choose a brick and mortar bank today, I would choose one where, for a minimum balance, I could have my monthly fee waived.

The types of people who read personal finance blogs are probably already pretty careful with their money. It wouldn’t surprise me if most Million Dollar Journey readers pay no fees for unlimited banking in Canada. What continues to surprise me is that hundreds of thousands if not millions of Canadians continue to pay these fees when there are other options.

If you are looking for banking options in Canada, you have a choice. If you’re unhappy with your current bank, it’s easy to switch.

Are there other Canadian banks you want to tell us about? Feel free to share in the comments.

Kathryn works in public relations and training for a non profit. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Her passions include personal finance and adult education. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.

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About the author: Kathryn has been a staff writer for MDJ since January 2009. During the day she works in an office. In her off hours, she volunteers as a financial coach helping ordinary Canadians with the basics of money management. Kathryn, along with her husband and two children live in Ontario.

{ 69 comments… add one }

  • Jayson November 27, 2009, 10:27 pm

    I live in BC and have been very happy with Coast Capital’s “free chequing account”. The best part is I can withdrawal AND deposit at any credit union in Canada for free (free debit too). This enables me access to a much greater supply of banking machines than being stuck with just one major bank. On top of that HSBC is part of than network and they have banks all over the world. It sure was nice withdrawing money in Mexico for free!!

  • Aaron November 28, 2009, 7:53 am

    Hi,

    Just stumbled on your site, via another financial blog.

    I bank with Scotia Bank. I was trying to transfer money to another bank (online) and was told that Scotia Bank does not support such service. Is that true?

    Just read all the good stuff about PC Superstore Bank, as a customer of this bank, can I transfer to another bank, without going to the store?

    Also hear lots of good stuff about ING. Question: how do I transfer money into an ING account, if my (Scotia) Bank does not do transfers?

    Yes, I just signed up for yout blog. Good Stuff

    aaron

  • Melanie Samson November 28, 2009, 11:21 pm

    PC Banking is not a good option for rural Newfoundland. I live two and a half hours from the nearest PC ATM (nope, no CIBC either). I was with them for a month, but I found getting access to my money very difficult and the customer service (over the phone) mediocre. In the end, it just wasn’t worth it for me and I decided to stay with RBC. They are far from perfect, but I’m enjoying the multi-product discount.

  • Kathryn November 29, 2009, 11:04 am

    Great to hear such good things about Coast Capital for those living on the west coast.

    Melanie: You make a good point about rural areas. Happy to hear about your multi-product discount.

    Aaron: I regularly transfer money online from PC to ING. I would go in and talk with a Scotiabank rep about whether it’s true that you can’t transfer money online. It seems odd that you can’t. They may be able to help you more than someone on the phone could.

  • mini laptop November 29, 2009, 12:32 pm

    Hey Kathryn,
    One quick question. I am a guy who travels often to Canada for business trips. I have been longing to have an account in Canada. I am a citizen of United States and will it be possible for me to have an checking account in Canada that I can operate from home country and US. Please reply and this would be of great help. Thanks.

  • Willow November 29, 2009, 3:36 pm

    “I guess I still like to have a feeling that if I get in a jam, I can walk in to that building and as a longtime good customer, they will work hard to help me out. Those few extra bucks I pay a month give me peace of mind. Naive?”

    I don’t think it’s naive at all. I had switched to PC Financial but was very frustrated at the limitations on the account. I had made a transfer from my PC account to another, only to realize after the fact that I had transferred the wrong amount (yes, my fault.) I called them in a panic as this was going to cause my rent cheque to bounce. They were not able to cancel the transfer since it was after hours. I couldn’t make a deposit at the ATM as they held my deposits for TEN business days (even cash deposits — ridiculous), I couldn’t do an Interac transfer from another account as they don’t do those, and I couldn’t make the deposit in a bank since they don’t have any. That’s a lot of “can’t” for a bank, when all I wanted to do was put money in my account.

    I also found the PC Financial interface clunky, and hated that when you made a transfer, it did not reflect in your balance immediately nor could you see any record of it until it had cleared.

    For me, it was worth it to switch to unlimited banking with RBC and pay the fee. They provide a level of service and peace of mind I am willing to pay for.

  • walk November 29, 2009, 7:28 pm

    Just to be clear, PC Financial is NOT owned by CIBC. CIBC only provides the banking infrastructure for PC Financial, which is a completely separate company (Loblaws, Inc.). In other words, PC Financial outsourced some of their banking stuff to CIBC (and CIBC outsourced a lot of the IT to Hewlett Packard Canada).

    Although I still use PCF for day-to-day banking, I canceled my PCF MasterCard recently due to poor service and the constant lowering of my credit limit.

  • walk November 29, 2009, 7:29 pm

    Forgot to mention – this is a useful article as I am considering switching from PCF to TD Bank or something similar for day-to-day banking. Thanks for posting.

  • Matt November 30, 2009, 1:50 pm

    Paying fees for banking? But why? I bank with Buduchnist Credit Union here in Ottawa. It’s a ukrainian-canadian credit union. I have never payed fees for anything, ever. Cheques are free, unlimited transactions, a no-cost (but online-only) “high-interest” savings account. Also, the ability to make deposits and withdrawals at any ABMs on the Exchange Network of which Alterna is the largest member. This is no special, time-limited deal. This is and has always been their business model. However, as with other commenters, I’m just amazed that I haven’t been able to convince a single lonely sole to switch!

  • Kathryn November 30, 2009, 4:34 pm

    mini laptop: I called today to inquire about your question. The answer I received was yes as a non-Canadian, you can set up a Canadian account in person (not over the phone). You need to bring 2 pieces of ID, one of which is a photo ID and you may be offered only “minimal banking” (200 ABM, limit $500 Interact Limit and a 7 day hold on your deposits).

    If you travel to Canada a lot for business you may find it advantageous to set up a bank account here.

    Hope that helps.

  • cannon_fodder November 30, 2009, 4:44 pm

    Matt mentions something that should be of interest to those looking at Credit Unions. There are, I believe, two CU networks that allow members (i.e. cardholders) to use ATMs from any CU in that network for free. This can greatly expand one’s ability to access their account if in suburban or rural areas. I don’t find that Toronto lends itself well to accessing CU ATMs – they are much harder to find than the big banks (or even foreign banks) when downtown. If you are in one of Toronto’s many ethnic communities, you will see a greater representation of CU branches and ATMs.

    I have had a TD account for so long I only need to maintain a minimum of $1,000 or maybe its $1,500 in order to avoid any typical fees. International ATM withdrawals are $5 – I don’t know how much it costs to W/D money from a non-TD ATM in Canada since I never do that.

    Our joint account with BMO also rebates the monthly $4.95 fee as long as we maintain a minimum balance of $2,000.

    Of course, it has been a long time since I saw any interest being paid in either account so it is definitely a give and take (… and take, and take).

    That’s why it is not a bad idea to own bank shares. I profit when they profit!

  • Laptop Briefcases December 1, 2009, 6:33 pm

    I personally take advantage of the unlimited RBC chequing account. Due to a multi-product rebate, I also get my fees waived. You don’t have to have a mortgage to qualify for this. I qualified just by having a car loan and a RBC Visa.

  • somaie December 15, 2009, 8:16 am

    Small Business owners are largely forgotten. Thats why I only focus on them. I have experience several members of my family file bankruptcy due to small business failures. I also I suffered through 2 destroyed businesses due to failure however, in my failings I have learned some of the secrets to success. (Who can say they know it all?)
    What I like about small business owners is that they are not afraid to take huge risks and lay it all on the line. But, I agree they do need a lot of help with their marketing. I think having them go the social media and email route is not only the least expensive but its also the most effective. Thanks for the stats!
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  • R. Murthy December 15, 2009, 4:44 pm

    I was able to negotiate a waive account with CIBC (Toronto Main Branch) back in 2002. I still have it even though CIBC does not have these anymore. All it took me to continue having this was a simple response letter to their VP. It is surprising that no one fires back to the banks when the service charges are raised or account policies are changed. Appears the banks do go back to whatever you negotiated earlier to keep you a happy customer.

  • davidbaer January 27, 2010, 10:15 am

    6. Anyone experience anything about the easy google profit kit? I discovered a lot of advertisements around it. I also found a site that is supposedly a review of the program, but the whole thing seems kind of sketchy to me. However, the cost is low so I’m going to go ahead and try it out, unless any of you have experience with this system first hand?

    7.
    http://www.onlineuniversalwork.com

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    Affiliate Marketing is a performance based sales technique used by companies to expand their reach into the internet at low costs. This commission based program allows affiliate marketers to place ads on their websites or other advertising efforts such as email distribution in exchange for payment of a small commission when a sale results.

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  • Walter Cohen August 15, 2011, 2:19 pm

    Off topic – someone sent me a ‘proof of funds’ statement from CIBC (actually, it is just the first page of a CIBC Unlimited Chequing Account Statement).
    I’m a bit skeptical on the authenticity of this document as I’m thinking it might have been doctored.

    Does anyone have a CIBC Unlimited Chequing Account Statement they could view and respond to this thread.

    The transaction period on the statement top states ‘For April to July 28, 2011′.
    I’ve never seen statements like that before showing just the start date as a month. I’ve only ever seen bank statements from any bank being something like ‘For Period April 30 thru July 28, 2011′ always showing a specific from and to date.

    Also, the transactions on the statement are out of the date range. I see a Feb 3 balance and a Feb 20 deposit but the statement date range is ‘April to July 28, 2011′.

  • Tim Mahoney August 16, 2011, 11:53 am

    Walter, you didn’t say if you received it by email or on paper. In any case, your best bet is to call CIBC. You’re right that it looks fishy! A bank statement doesn’t prove that the funds are available. The account holder could borrow $10k from an LOC, drop it into a savings account long enough to print the statement, and then spend the money. If the person wants to do business with you, insist on a certified cheque or bank draft.

    I am not a professional in the field, just a slightly savvy customer.

  • Wayne May 24, 2012, 5:18 pm

    These people at pc financial really do suck. They will take your money from your account and give it to a third party without your knowledge and consent and without a court order. That’s a criminal offense with jail time and a fine. AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE!

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