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Free Chequing Accounts

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Free Chequing Accounts

I thought it would be helpful to have a list of free Canadian chequing accounts, since this is a somewhat common question. The list is in the thread summary. If you notice something missing or out of date, hit the Edit button below the thread summary and update it.

Beyond the list, this is just a thread for discussing free chequing accounts. It may be especially useful for banks that are too small to warrant their own threads.
Thread Summary
Free accounts have not been included if they require you to be a certain age, maintain a minimum balance, have a recurring direct deposit, or do anything else annoying. Some still charge for a few things, such as e-transfers, and most have inactivity fees if the account is dormant for a year or two.

An effort has been made to mention all the limitations on residency, ATM networks, e-transfers, required membership shares, writing cheques, and mobile cheque deposit. So if an entry doesn't mention one of these things, it's probably not restricted. For example, if an entry doesn't mention e-transfers, they're probably free and unlimited.

List of Free Canadian Chequing Accounts

1Q Bank - 1Q Chequing
• Not available to Quebec residents.
• On the Exchange ATM network.

1st Choice Savings and Credit Union - Digital Chequing
• Only available to Alberta residents.
• Has branches in Alberta, but the Digital Chequing Account charges you for teller service.
• On the Acculink ATM network. However, while using a 1st Choice Savings ATM is free, the Digital Chequing Account charges you 75¢ to use other Acculink ATMs.
• Requires a $1 membership share.

Alterna Bank - No-Fee eChequing Account
• On both the Exchange and Acculink ATM networks.

Coast Capital Savings - Free Chequing, Free Debit, and More Account
• Not available to Quebec residents.
• Has branches in BC.
• $1.50 to send an e-transfer.
• On both the Exchange and Acculink ATM networks.
• Requires a $5 membership share.

Conexus Credit Union - No-Fee Chequing Account
• Only available to Saskatchewan residents.
• Has branches in Saskatchewan.
• 30 free outgoing e-transfers/month, then $1.50 each.
• On the Acculink ATM network.
• Requires a $5 membership share.

DUCA - Daylight No Fee Banking
• Only available to Ontario residents.
• Has branches in Ontario.
• 5 free outgoing e-transfers/month, then $1.25 each.
• On both the Exchange and Acculink ATM networks.
• Requires a $1 membership share.

Equity Credit Union - No Fee Banking
• Only available to Ontario residents.
• Has one branch in Ajax, Ontario.
• 4 free outgoing e-transfers/month, then $1 each.
• On both the Exchange and Acculink ATM networks.
• Requires $20 in membership shares.

FirstOntario Credit Union - Everyday Convenience Account
• Only available to Ontario residents.
• Has branches in Ontario.
• 2 free e-transfers/month, then $1.50 each.
• On both the Exchange and Acculink ATM networks.
• Requires a $25 membership share.

First West Credit Union - Simply Free Account
• First West is comprised of Envision Financial, Island Savings, Valley First, and Enderby & District Financial, which are in different regions of BC.
• Only available to BC residents.
• Has branches in BC.
• On both the Exchange and Acculink ATM networks.
• Requires a $5 membership share.

IC Savings - Perfetto
• Only available to Ontario residents.
• Has branches in Ontario.
• On both the Exchange and Acculink ATM networks.
• Requires a $5 membership share, but they cover it for you.

Innovation Credit Union - No-Fee Bank Account
• Not available to Quebec residents.
• Has branches in Saskatchewan.
• On the Acculink ATM network.
• Requires a $5 membership share.

LBC Digital / B2B Bank - Chequing Account
• You can no longer open a B2B account unless you do it through an advisor. So go with its doppelganger LBC Digital instead.
• On the Exchange ATM network.
• No app, so no mobile cheque deposit.

Motive Financial - Cha-Ching Chequing Account
• Not available to Quebec residents.
• On the Exchange ATM network. Also provides 2 free withdrawals at non-Exchange ATMs each month, then charges $1.50/withdrawal thereafter. (The non-Exchange ATM may impose its own fee, though.)
• No mobile cheque deposit.
• They also offer a different free chequing account. But it has no advantages and several disadvantages compared to the Cha-Ching Chequing Account.

Motusbank - No-Fee Chequing Account
• Not available to Quebec residents.
• On the Exchange ATM network.

Pace Credit Union - Virtual Chequing Account
• Only available to Ontario residents.
• Has branches in Ontario, but the Virtual Chequing Account charges you for teller service.
• On both the Exchange and Acculink ATM networks.
• Membership costs $175. Pace will cover this at sign-up, with the assumption you will stay for a period longer than 5 years. You will be paying this if you leave/cancel membership within 5 years. If you leave after 5 years, you get to keep the $175.

Simplii Financial - No Fee Chequing Account
• Not available to Quebec residents.
• The debit card is a Debit Mastercard, which can be useful for online and out-of country transactions. (In-person transactions in Canada are still processed through Interac, like with other debit cards.)
• You can get unlimited free cheques.
• On the CIBC ATM network.
• No branch service at CIBC except for a few rare things, like picking up a rushed bank draft.

Tangerine - No-Fee Daily Chequing Account
• The debit card is a Visa Debit card, which can be useful for online and out-of country transactions. (In-person transactions in Canada are still processed through Interac, like with other debit cards.)
• On the Scotiabank ATM network.
• No branch service at Scotiabank.

TCU Financial Group - No Fee Chequing Account
• Only available to Saskatchewan residents.
• Has branches in Saskatchewan.
• On the Acculink ATM network.
• Requires a $5 membership share.

Honourable Mentions

Alterna Bank - High Interest eSavings Account
• Technically a HISA, but functions like a chequing account in most ways.
• Has a decent interest rate.
• Can't write cheques from this account or do point of sale debit card transactions. So use their No-Fee eChequing Account for these things.
• On both the Exchange and Acculink ATM networks.

CIBC - Personal Line of Credit
• Technically not a chequing account, but functions like a chequing account with a large, relatively cheap overdraft.
• You can get unlimited free cheques.
• You can fund this account via bill payment using the payee "CIBC PLC" from a CIBC or Simplii account, but not from an account at any other financial institution. Of course, all the other typical ways of funding a chequing account also work.
• On the CIBC ATM network.
• Has branches all over the country.

EQ Bank - Savings Plus Account
• Technically a HISA, but functions like a chequing account in most ways.
• Has a decent interest rate.
• Provides a prepaid Mastercard rather than a debit card. Although EQ is available to Quebec residents, this card is not.
• Not on any ATM network, but they reimburse ATM fees charged in Canada.
• Can't write cheques from this account.

Koho
• Technically not a chequing account.
Has a decent interest rate, but they'll only give it to you if you have a direct deposit with them.
• Provides a prepaid Mastercard rather than a debit card.
The process for receiving an e-transfer is different and more limited than it is with other financial institutions.
Has more limits than other financial institutions.
Inactivity fees kick in after 90 days with no transactions, unlike the one or two year thresholds most financial institutions have.
• Not on any ATM network.
Can't make deposits at ATMs. Only withdrawals are allowed.
• Can't write cheques from this account.
• No mobile cheque deposit.

Motive Financial - Savings Account
• Not available to Quebec residents.
• Technically a HISA, but functions like a chequing account in almost all ways.
• Has a decent interest rate.
• Can be linked to your debit card for point of sale and ATM transactions.
• Charges $1 to send an e-transfer. So when you want to send an e-transfer, first transfer the money to your Cha-Ching Chequing Account, which provides free e-transfers.
• On the Exchange ATM network.
• No mobile cheque deposit.
• Not to be confused with their Savvy Savings Account, which has a higher interest rate, but only provides 2 free withdrawals per month.

Neo Financial - Neo Money Account
• Not available to Quebec residents.
• Technically a HISA, but functions like a chequing account in most ways.
• Has a decent interest rate.
• Doesn't provide a debit card, though they do offer a credit card.
• Not on any ATM network.
• Can't write cheques from this account.
• No mobile cheque deposit.

PC Financial - PC Money Account
• Technically not a chequing account.
• Provides a prepaid Mastercard rather than a debit card.
• Free withdrawals at PC Financial ATMs, which are in Loblaws-owned stores.
Can't make deposits at ATMs. Only withdrawals are allowed.
• Can't write cheques from this account.
• No mobile cheque deposit.

Simplii Financial - Personal Line of Credit
• Not available to Quebec residents.
• Technically not a chequing account, but functions like a chequing account with a large, relatively cheap overdraft.
• You can get unlimited free cheques.
• On the CIBC ATM network.
• No branch service at CIBC except for a few rare things, like picking up a rushed bank draft.

TD - Personal Line of Credit
• Technically not a chequing account, but functions like a chequing account with a large, relatively cheap overdraft.
• 50¢ to send an e-transfer of up to $100. $1 to send an e-transfer of over $100.
• You can get unlimited free cheques.
• You can fund this account via bill payment using the payee "TD Canada Trust Line of Credit". Of course, all the other typical ways of funding a chequing account also work.
• On the TD ATM network.
• Has branches all over the country.

The government's account comparison tool can also be marginally useful.

And you may want to a look through @dmehus' spreadsheet of Canadian no-fee chequing accounts. It's detailed, but some entries are out of date.
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No alterna bank savings?

Savings works like chequing with no cheques (like EQ)
Last edited by Shawguy on May 23rd, 2021 9:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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[OP]
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Here2day2 wrote: IC Savings has a Perfetto chequing account for no fee:

https://www.icsavings.ca/personal/banki ... ng-account
Thanks, I added it. Everyone should feel free to edit the thread summary, though.

I'm pretty sure it's on both Acculink and Exchange, since it's in the Ding Free app and it says I can use Manulife ATMs, which are only on the Exchange network
Shawguy wrote: Just Ontario residents or everyone?
If you go through the application, Ontario is the only option for your province, so I guess it's only available to Ontarians.
Shawguy wrote: No alterna bank savings?

Savings works like chequing with no cheques (like EQ)
I'm not familiar with how that account works myself, so feel free to add it under Honourable Mentions.

Edit: I added the account to the list, but please fix the entry if I missed something or got something wrong about it.
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Oct 3, 2004
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Don't bother with the ones that charge for etranfsers.
[OP]
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champ91 wrote: Don't bother with the ones that charge for etranfsers.
All the ones that charge for e-transfers have branches. Having a free chequing account at a brick and mortar bank can be very useful and convenient.
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someweirdo wrote: I thought it would be helpful to have a list of free Canadian chequing accounts, since this is a somewhat common question. The list is in the thread summary. If you notice something missing or out of date, hit the Edit button below the thread summary and update it.

Beyond the list, this is just a thread for discussing free chequing accounts. It may be especially useful for banks that are too small to warrant their own threads.
The thing that I found out recently about TD Canada Trust's unsecured line of credit is that they will give customers personalized cheques for free.

I haven't written a cheque in ages (I can't remember the last time I wrote a cheque to pay for something or give to someone) but if I ran out of cheques for my chequing account which probably won't happen, I would use my TD Canada Trust's unsecured line of credit to order personalized cheques (which is currently free), transfer the money from my TD chequing account to the line of credit and then write the cheque on the unsecured line of credit for that amount and send it or give it to the person.
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Mar 1, 2019
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They don't seem at all keen to advertise it, but BMO has an "AccountLink" service that provides you a chequing account(s) linked to a non-registered Self-Directed InvestorLine account. Essentially the chequing account holds any cash balances (CAD and USD) you might have in your InvestorLine account, and serves as the only way to withdraw money out to a non-BMO bank account from your brokerage account. They even send you a unique debit card if you don't already have a BMO debit card, that you can use to access the cash in your brokerage account (CAD and USD too). As far as I can tell the chequing accounts are just normal chequing accounts that can do anything a normal chequing account could. I plan to try getting my payroll sent to the linked chequing account and using it for my daily banking and seeing if I run into anything weird.

It's not entirely free as the brokerage does have a quarterly fee for accounts with balances under $15,000, BUT unlike the minimum balances to waive fees for normal chequing bank plans I'm 99% certain it doesn't have to be cash. So if you were going to be holding at least $15,0000 worth of index funds or whatever outside of registered accounts anyways it becomes essentially a free chequing account with 2 free transfers a month. In the account paperwork they mention that it's possible to get a premium bank plan if you want to avoid the per-transfer fees you'd have to pay once you've used your two free transfers for the month. I believe in that case in order to get the monthly fees waived for the bank plan you would have to maintain the minimum balance for that bank plan, in cash, in a separate chequing account then the AccountLink one and have that other chequing account designated as the lead account.

There are two interesting features the AccountLink offers beyond normal chequing.
  1. You can send money to your brokerage account using bill pay. But then the cash you bill payed to your brokerage account becomes accessible through the linked chequing account. Essentially, you're able to bill pay money into a BMO chequing account.
  2. This one I'm not sure how it'll work in practice. But you can get an AccountLink to a margin account. In the paperwork it says the standard $5 overdraft fee will apply if you withdraw more money then there is in the chequing account unless you have the premium banking plan. So then, if you do have the premium banking plan are you essentially able to use margin loans as overdraft/line-of-credit? Or do you just end up with an overdraft loan on the chequing account separate from the margin in your brokerage account? BMO's interest rate for margin tops out at 3.85% at the moment. Be warned though, it does mention in the paperwork that the margin loans are only supposed to be used for buying investments. If you're planning to invest using margin you're far better off going to IBKR to get their 1.6% interest rate, but if you could use the BMO margin for overdraft that might be interesting.
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Mar 27, 2013
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lmcjipo wrote: The thing that I found out recently about TD Canada Trust's unsecured line of credit is that they will give customers personalized cheques for free.

I haven't written a cheque in ages (I can't remember the last time I wrote a cheque to pay for something or give to someone) but if I ran out of cheques for my chequing account which probably won't happen, I would use my TD Canada Trust's unsecured line of credit to order personalized cheques (which is currently free), transfer the money from my TD chequing account to the line of credit and then write the cheque on the unsecured line of credit for that amount and send it or give it to the person.
I have an LOC, and was thinking of using this as my chequing account to pay bills, do transfers, etc. since my account now raised the minimum monthly balance to $5K.

Is it easy to do this?

Thanks!
Member
Mar 18, 2006
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abuela wrote: I have an LOC, and was thinking of using this as my chequing account to pay bills, do transfers, etc. since my account now raised the minimum monthly balance to $5K.

Is it easy to do this?

Thanks!
It is a breeze to use the LOC as a chequing account. Same process to ...
- "add payees" and then make payments
- send / recieve interac e-transfers (I do not think sending etransfers are free at TD, confirm this before using)
- deposit cheques
- withdraw from ATM

Essentially you don't need to change your banking habits - only use the LOC and enjoy free banking.

Only thing you can't do is pay a TD mortgage from the TD LOC.
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Mar 27, 2013
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GTA
sprinter wrote: It is a breeze to use the LOC as a chequing account. Same process to ...
- "add payees" and then make payments
- send / recieve interac e-transfers (I do not think sending etransfers are free at TD, confirm this before using)
- deposit cheques
- withdraw from ATM

Essentially you don't need to change your banking habits - only use the LOC and enjoy free banking.

Only thing you can't do is pay a TD mortgage from the TD LOC.
My gosh, that is awesome! So no minimum monthly balances, no fees whatsoever?
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Dec 12, 2016
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VerticalTab wrote: They don't seem at all keen to advertise it, but BMO has an "AccountLink" service that provides you a chequing account(s) linked to a non-registered Self-Directed InvestorLine account. Essentially the chequing account holds any cash balances (CAD and USD) you might have in your InvestorLine account, and serves as the only way to withdraw money out to a non-BMO bank account from your brokerage account. They even send you a unique debit card if you don't already have a BMO debit card, that you can use to access the cash in your brokerage account (CAD and USD too). As far as I can tell the chequing accounts are just normal chequing accounts that can do anything a normal chequing account could. I plan to try getting my payroll sent to the linked chequing account and using it for my daily banking and seeing if I run into anything weird.

It's not entirely free as the brokerage does have a quarterly fee for accounts with balances under $15,000, BUT unlike the minimum balances to waive fees for normal chequing bank plans I'm 99% certain it doesn't have to be cash. So if you were going to be holding at least $15,0000 worth of index funds or whatever outside of registered accounts anyways it becomes essentially a free chequing account with 2 free transfers a month. In the account paperwork they mention that it's possible to get a premium bank plan if you want to avoid the per-transfer fees you'd have to pay once you've used your two free transfers for the month. I believe in that case in order to get the monthly fees waived for the bank plan you would have to maintain the minimum balance for that bank plan, in cash, in a separate chequing account then the AccountLink one and have that other chequing account designated as the lead account.

There are two interesting features the AccountLink offers beyond normal chequing.
  1. You can send money to your brokerage account using bill pay. But then the cash you bill payed to your brokerage account becomes accessible through the linked chequing account. Essentially, you're able to bill pay money into a BMO chequing account.
  2. This one I'm not sure how it'll work in practice. But you can get an AccountLink to a margin account. In the paperwork it says the standard $5 overdraft fee will apply if you withdraw more money then there is in the chequing account unless you have the premium banking plan. So then, if you do have the premium banking plan are you essentially able to use margin loans as overdraft/line-of-credit? Or do you just end up with an overdraft loan on the chequing account separate from the margin in your brokerage account? BMO's interest rate for margin tops out at 3.85% at the moment. Be warned though, it does mention in the paperwork that the margin loans are only supposed to be used for buying investments. If you're planning to invest using margin you're far better off going to IBKR to get their 1.6% interest rate, but if you could use the BMO margin for overdraft that might be interesting.
Did you verify if this works as a chequing account?
Newbie
Mar 1, 2019
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Here2day2 wrote: Did you verify if this works as a chequing account?
It does but the lady at the branch seemed quite against the idea lol. But aside from not being able to order cheques for it online it does seem to function as one in every way, including being able to make debit purchases with it. (The InvestorLine fee schedule clearly implies that you can write cheques against the account, so presumably it would still be possible to order cheques for it, it's just not a button that shows up in online banking for InvestorLine linked accounts)

I was able to use it for debit purchases, bill payments, setting up PAP for my BMO card against it and I even got my payroll sent into it.

But I did end up paying the $30 monthly fee because the teller had set it up with the "Premium Plan" for me without making a traditional chequing account, and you need to keep the $6000 minimum balance in a traditional chequing account designated as the "lead account" to get the plan rebate. Thankfully the person I had my appointment with to open a normal chequing account reversed that charge.

I suspect if I really wanted to I could totally go ahead and keep using it as the main chequing account, and as long as I maintained the minimum balance in the traditional chequing account I wouldn't have to pay the monthly fees for the Premium Plan. But I've switched over to using the normal chequing account now because 1) the person I met with was quite against the idea of the AccountLink being used that way and 2) to meet the criteria for BMO's current $300 offer for opening a Premium Plan. Although the AccountLink account is still the one tied to my debit card.

One last thing, the "Available Funds" (as in, not the actual cash balance but how much I could overdraw) shown in online banking does seem to be how much I could borrow on margin, since it's a large and "rough" number (like, not at all an increment of $100). I'm not sure how it's calculated, and more importantly I'm not sure what interest rate would be charged if I were to overdraw the account (maybe I'll experiment with that towards the end of the month). Plausibly it could be set up that if you overdraw the account by withdrawing through the linked chequing account you would be charged standard overdraft rates instead of margin rates (the InvestorLine account agreement does seem to imply as much, but I wouldn't be surprised if it didn't actually work like that).

PS. Apparently the debit card they send you for the AccountLink account is just one of BMO's Private Banking debit cards. Or at least so similar that staff will think it is one.
Newbie
Mar 1, 2019
51 posts
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At the end of the day my impression is that BMO doesn't actually want/plan to offer a 2-in-1 chequing/brokerage account, but they haven't built the infrastructure to be able to offer brokerage accounts to clients who don't also have BMO chequing accounts. The teller and the staff on the phone lines seemed just confused and unaware that this is a thing BMO does, but the more senior person I ended up having an appointment with did actually know what was up, at least.

I wouldn't really recommend it as a "free chequing account". In theory it could be a compelling product if they were actually trying to offer such a product, and not just haphazardly duct-taping different business lines together.
[OP]
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abuela wrote: My gosh, that is awesome! So no minimum monthly balances, no fees whatsoever?
Yes—except for sending e-transfers.

A TD LOC will still charge you 50¢-$1 to send an e-transfer. If you want a LOC that functions like a chequing account and doesn't charge for sending e-transfers, you need CIBC or Simplii.
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someweirdo wrote: Yes—except for sending e-transfers.

A TD LOC will still charge you 50¢-$1 to send an e-transfer. If you want a LOC that functions like a chequing account and doesn't charge for sending e-transfers, you need CIBC or Simplii.
Thanks. I wonder why none of the financial advisors ever told me about it.
[OP]
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abuela wrote: Thanks. I wonder why none of the financial advisors ever told me about it.
Because TD (and CIBC) don't want you to use your LOC as a chequing account. They would much rather you pay $4-$30/month or maintain a $3000-$5000 minimum balance. A long time ago, they structured their LOCs as chequing accounts with large overdrafts, and now they're too lazy to change them.
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............

Meh, I'll call it in.
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