How does your account measure up? Look at the features and perks when comparing chequing accounts.
1. What’s the minimum balance requirement?
Some chequing accounts have a monthly fee. Banks and other financial institutions may waive the fee if you keep a minimum balance—typically a few thousand dollars—in your account. Others, like the Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account*, have no minimum account balance.
Even if your chequing account features no minimum balance, keep in mind how much money you need on hand to cover automatic bill payments, such as streaming subscriptions or a gym membership. If you don’t have enough money, you will be charged a non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee. It could be $45 or even more, depending on the fine print of your account.
2. What are the account fees?
Chequing accounts have three main types of fees: monthly fees, transaction fees and international money transfer fees. Check these fees when shopping around for your next account.
As mentioned, some banks and other financial institutions charge a monthly fee simply for using the chequing account. However, they may waive this charge if you maintain a minimum account balance, usually a few thousand dollars, as noted above. Others, like the no-fee chequing account offered by Simplii Financial, have no monthly fee—even if your balance falls to $0 or is overdrawn. However, if you are overdrawn—that is, you have a negative balance—overdraft charges will apply.
It is possible to find a chequing account in Canada with unlimited e-transfers, bill payments and ATM withdrawals. But some financial institutions do charge fees for these services. Those fees can vary based on the number of transactions, as well as on frequency. This can really add up if you use your account often for things like paying a roommate or partner for shared expenses, for instance, on top of other expenses like bill payments or everyday spending.
How much would that cost you? Say you make 10 e-transfers and two bill payments a month, and your bank charges $1.50 per transaction. That’s $18 in a month. If you make roughly the same number of transactions each month, that adds up to $216 spent on transaction fees in one year. It may not seem like much, but wouldn’t you rather have that money in your account?
Also check for ATM fees. Some banks charge up to $2 for ATM transactions, and if you use an ATM outside your debit card’s network, you may have to pay an access fee on top of a convenience fee, too. For a single transaction, that could cost as much as $9.