I have a confession.
I'm a new grad and I still pay monthly fees for my chequing account.
And I have to watch how many transactions I do per month so I don’t go over my limit, resulting in even more fees...
And every month, I ask myself, "Why do I still pay fees when no-fee alternatives exist?"
And today, that’s what I’m asking you, too
Sure, many Big 5 accounts offer free services...with the caveat that a monthly minimum balance is maintained. But this ties up money that could otherwise be growing as an investment or in a higher-interest savings account.
Outside the Big 5, there are alternative institutions that offer accounts with unlimited transactions and no fees.
And they’ve been expanding their ATM network, so you don’t have to worry about being condemned to constant ATM-withdrawal fees.
Interested? Here are 4 no-fee, Canada-wide chequing accounts for you to consider:
- Tangerine No Fee Daily Chequing Account,
- Alterna Bank No-Fee eChequing Account,
- Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account, and
- Manulife Advantage Account.
No-fee chequing accounts at a glance
|Name||Tangerine||Alterna Bank||Simplii Financial||Manulife Advantage|
|Account Name||No Fee Daily Chequing Account||No-Fee eChequing Account||No Fee Chequing Account||Advantage Account|
|ATMs||Scotiabank (3.6k), Global Alliance (44k)||Alterna, The Exchange (3.3k)||CIBC (3.4k)||The Exchange Network (3.3k)|
|Mobile Cheque Deposit||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Minimum Balance||None||None||None||$1,000 (to have all transactions free)|
|Interest Rate||<50k = 0.15% <100k = 0.55% >100k = 0.65%||0.05%||<1k = 0.05% 1k-5k = 0.10% 5k-25k=0.15% >25k=0.50%||1.40%|
|Non-Bank ATM Fee||$1.00||$1.90||$1.50||$1.50|
|Foreign ATM (Inside US/Mex)||$2.00||$3.00||$3.00||$3.00|
|Outside ATM (Outside US/Mex)||$2.00||$5.00||$3.00||$3.00|
|Transfer to Accounts at other Institutions||Free||Free||Free||Free|
|Interac e-Transfer||$1.00||Free||Free||$1.00 (No charge with min balance)|
|Overdraft Fee||$5.00||$2.50 (monthly)||$4.97||$45.00|
|Cheque Image Return||Free (Online)||$2.00||Free (Online), $5 printed||Free (Online)|
|Other Benefits||$200 cash bonus until 1/31/19, First chequebook free||$200 cash offer until 1/31/19, Free personal cheques|
Plus a travel bonus worth another $150.
Only 200 gift cards left.
What they all can offer you
All 4 of these accounts will give you the following benefits:
- $0 monthly fee: Of course, or else they wouldn’t be here.
- No minimum balance: You won’t need to keep a minimum balance in your account in order to make use of that precious $0 monthly fee.
- Mobile cheque deposit: Simply take a picture of your cheque with your phone in order to deposit it into your account.
- Free paperless statements: Access to your bank statements online so there’s no monthly waiting or paper waste.
- Canada-wide service: None of the accounts have any region locks other than Canada.
- CDIC insurance: All your deposits (up to $100,000) are covered by the Government’s service.
- Unlimited transactions: No cap for transactions, via cheque, online, or otherwise.
Tangerine No Fee Daily Chequing Account
The Tangerine option is a no-fee daily banking account that earns tiered interest, from 0.15% all the way up to 0.65%.
Since Tangerine is owned by Scotiabank, you can use all 3,600 Scotiabank ATMs in Canada for free. And you get access to Alliance members ATMs worldwide, giving you another 44,000 ATMs when travelling, all free of charge.
The account comes with a free book of 50 cheques. Once you run out, you'll have to pay $20 for each new book of cheques.
Right now, they’re running an offer of up to a $200 cash bonus offer.
The first $50 you get from setting up your account before January 31, 2019 using the OrangeKey "Orange50," and depositing at least $100.
Open A Tangerine Account: Click Here
Use This Orange Key: Orange50
For the next $150, you just need to switch your payroll direct deposits to your Tangerine Chequing Account by November 30, 2018, and the $150 will be paid to you after 3 months of deposits.
OR you can switch 2 pre-authorized payments (at least $50 each) to your Chequing Account by November 30, 2018. Again, your $150 will be paid to you after 3 months of payments.
The Alterna No-Fee eChequing Account
Though Alterna Savings is a credit union, its subsidiary, Alterna Bank, extends their service across Canada using The Exchange Network’s ATMs.
It offers free, easy banking that’s accessible online and through their mobile app.
Its interest rate (0.05%) is the lowest among the 4 I’m comparing today, but since it's a chequing account, this shouldn’t play too big of a role.
The account also has the lowest overdraft fee ($2.50), but that’s because it’s not a fee at all, it’s a protection feature that’s charged monthly.
The other banks have overdraft protection that is only charged when you use it, leaving Alterna alone on this one.
So keep in mind that if you want overdraft protection, the account isn’t no fee anymore.
Simplii Financial No Fee Chequing Account
Simplii Financial is owned by CIBC, one of the Big 5 banks in Canada.
Like Tangerine, you get access to all ATMs Canada-wide that are owned by Simplii’s big brother. This gives you about 3,400 CIBC ATMs to choose from, at no fee to you.
Also like Tangerine, Simplii’s interest rates are given based on the amount of money in your account. With less than $1,000, you’ll only be getting 0.05% interest, but this can be increased tenfold once you reach more than $25,000.
Something cool about this account: you get personal cheques for free.
Simplii has a great cash-bonus offer for up to $200 going on until January 31st, 2019.
For the first $100, all you have to do is set up your chequing account, then set up payroll or pension direct deposits. You’ll get your $100 after you receive 2 payments.
And for the rest of the money, you need to complete one or more the following:
- set-up and complete a recurring pre-authorized bill payment,
- add your Simplii debit card to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, or Google Play, or
- register for Interac e-Transfer Autodeposit.
Each activity is worth $25, and you can repeat them until you reach $100.
Note: All activities must be completed within 3 months following the month you opened the account.
Manulife Advantage Account
Manulife’s no-fee chequing account option is definitely a unique one.
It works as a combination chequing AND savings account, giving you the withdrawal options of a chequing account, but with an interest rate of 1.40% – by far the highest offered by the 4 accounts we’re looking at, and relatively-high even for savings accounts standards.
Like Alterna, it uses The Exchange Network ATMs, giving you free access to about 3,300 ATMsCanada-wide.
Though you don’t need to keep a minimum balance in order to qualify for the $0 monthly fee, you do need to maintain $1,000 to get all your transactions free, including Interac e-Transfer.
Choose the account that best meets your needs
Free everyday banking can bring in savings close to or exceeding $200 a year when compared to the fees of an unlimited chequing account offered by a Big 5 bank.
And the services they offer are similar, if not better, than conventional banking accounts with monthly fees.
Choosing one of the free banking options can also free up money tied up in minimum balance requirements, allowing savings to grow faster either through higher savings rates or investments.
Ultimately, the right account is the one that best suits your individual needs, but if you’re not fully using the features of a monthly fee account, there are many compelling alternatives that are worth looking into.
Do you think the fee is worth it?
What can you do with your monthly fee bank account that you couldn’t with one of these no-fee alternatives?
Are you considering switching to a no-fee account?