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The best student bank accounts in Canada for 2022

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At a glance, finding the right bank account as a student seems dull and monotonous, but it’s still one of the most vital aspects of ensuring your success as a student outside of the classroom.

Believe it or not, there are quite a few perks that come with student bank accounts that should be taken advantage of during your time on campus. Some of these benefits include no monthly account fees, student-tailored promotions, and unlimited point-of-sale transactions, to name a few.

The average bank account can cost you around $15 each month or $180 per year. That’s why a student bank account can save you a lot of money and is worth looking into. Whether you’re part-time or full-time, a college freshman or university grad, finding a bank account doesn’t need to be a difficult process.

Below are Ratehub.ca’s picks for the best student bank accounts in Canada, which include options from brick-and-mortar and digital-only Canadian banks. Depending on how often you withdraw cash, whether you prefer to earn points on your debit purchases or want unlimited transactions and Interac e-transfers, the list of accounts below should have an option for you. We’ve also added a few savings and investment options that can set you up for a better financial future early on.

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The best student chequing accounts in Canada for 2022

The majority of Canada’s financial market is dominated by six big banks, all of which offer accounts with special benefits for students.

Below, you’ll be able to find the best bank account with options catered for a student’s financial needs. In most cases, you can open a bank account online from the comfort of your own home.

The best student chequing accounts at a glance (+/-)

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

 

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Are you a movie lover? What about a foodie? Why not both! The Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan rewards you for regular use. Using a Scotiabank Student account, you can enjoy a sign-up promotion of $75 cash and up to 7,500  SCENE points, redeemable at various restaurants and movie theatres.

In addition to those perks, the student bank account comes with no monthly fees or usage limitations while you’re an enrolled student. That means unlimited debit transactions, Interac e-transfers, bill payments, and much more.

You can also use over 3,400 Scotiabank ATMs at no additional charge. If you find yourself travelling abroad, you can use your Scotiabank debit card to avoid some ATM fees by using the Global ATM Alliance, which is available in several countries across the globe.

As part of the Global ATM Alliance, Scotiabank clients have access to fee-free cash withdrawals at more than 44,000 cash machines in over 40 countries around the world, making it perfect for studying abroad.

 

Pros:

  • No monthly fee
  • Sign up offer of $75 cash bonus and up to 7,500 Scene+ points - one of the most impressive for a student bank account
  • Unlimited monthly transactions
  • Unlimited Interac etransfers

Cons:

  • Account is only available to full-time students, meaning part-time students need to look elsewhere
  • You'll need to reconfirm your status as a full-time student every year before November 30, which is a bit of a hassle
  • You can still be charged a fee for things like bank drafts, overdraft protection, and wire transfers

 

CIBC Smart for Students Chequing Account

 

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The CIBC Smart for Students Chequing Account is another student bank account that offers no fees or minimum balance requirements. That means no registration fees or monthly fees for being a cardholder. The account also offers unlimited Interac e-transfers. You can also any of the 3,800 CIBC ATMs currently available in Canada.

Graduating soon? No worries. You can continue enjoying the no-cost benefits of this account for an additional six months after your studies have ended.

Did we mention that you can also get a cash bonus of up to $150? Simply complete up to three of the following actions within two months of opening your account:

 

Pros:

  • No monthly fee
  • Sign up bonus of $150 is incredibly easy to earn - you'll get it just by using your account normally
  • Unlimited monthly transactions and Interac e-transfers

Cons:

  • Some service fees still apply for things like non-CIBC ATM withdrawals, wire transfers and insufficient funds

 

TD Student Chequing Account

 

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TD Bank’s Student Chequing Account is another chequing account offered by one of Canada’s most prominent banks. The account offers no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements and comes with unlimited transactions per month (including Interac e-transfers). It also has no monthly overdraft protection fee, ensuring you'll be covered in emergencies for no extra cost.

Plus, the account's signup offer of a $75 Amazon.ca gift card can come in handy for household necessities (or just something fun to treat yourself with). Offer ends October 31, 2022.

 

Pros:

  • No monthly fee
  • Get a $75 Amazon.ca gift card just for signing up. Offer ends October 31, 2022.
  • Unlimited transactions, including Interac e-transfers
  • No monthly fee for overdraft protection - a rare perk for chequing accounts

Cons:

  • Those over the age of 23 must provide proof of full-time student status in order to qualify
  • Fees do remain for certain things, such as non-TD ATMs, wire transfers, and non-sufficient funds

 

Tangerine No-Fee Daily Chequing Account

 

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A Tangerine chequing account isn’t a student account per se, but beneficial to students nonetheless. The bank account comes with no monthly fees and tons of perks that make banking as a student that much easier.

The chequing account offers free and unlimited debit purchases, bill payments, pre-authorized payments and Interac e-transfers. Plus, new users who sign up using the promo code EARNMORE can get up to $400 cash back and a 3.25% savings rate.

Cardholders can also use any of the 3,600 Scotiabank ATMs available across Canada, or visit Tangerine Cafes, located in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.

 

Pros:

  • No monthly fees
  • Sign up offer: use the code EARNMORE and get up to $400 cash back and a 3.25% savings rate
  • Unlimited free monthly transactions
  • Use of any Scotiabank ATM or Tangerine Cafe nationwide

Cons:

  • Tangerine is an online-only bank, meaning you won't be able to get in-person support at a branch
  • The account does come with certain fees for things like non-Scotiabank ATM usage and non-sufficient funds
  • Doesn't offer wire transfers - those wanting to send money overseas may be better off with a different bank

Looking for a student chequing account?

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The best student hybrid bank account in Canada for 2022

An excellent chequing account is essential, whether you’re a student or not; but using the right savings account with your chequing account can help you stretch your dollar much further. In many cases, it can even earn you money.

Instead of operating two separate accounts, however, you can effectively get two-in-one by opening a hybrid account -  one that combines the perks of a checking account with the interest-earning potential of a savings account, allowing you to bank more easily and efficiently.

 

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

 

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The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is effectively a savings account with certain chequing account features.

While it offers you the ability to earn high interest on your savings, it also allows you to make unlimited e-transfers and bill payments, as well as direct deposit and mobile cheque deposits. The best part? It’s entirely free to use and requires no minimum balance.

That said, you can use this high-interest savings account with any of the free accounts listed above.

 

Pros:

  • Can be used as both a savings and chequing account
  • Unlimited transactions (e-transfers, bill payments, direct deposit, mobile cheque deposits)
  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance

Cons:

  • Doesn't offer a debit card or cheques, meaning you'd have to combine it with a stand-alone chequing account to get the best of both

Find your perfect credit card in under 60 seconds - No SIN required

  1. Tell us a bit about yourself

    Answer some questions so we can personalize our recommendations - this won't impact your credit score

  2. Check your eligibility

    We confirm your eligibility with our partner, TransUnion. This will be a ‘soft credit check’ which you can see but lenders cannot

  3. Find your perfect matches

    We show you the cards you’re most likely to want and most likely to get

let's get started

How to open a student bank account

Opening a student bank account online couldn't be a quicker and easier process. Most banks will guide you through the steps on their website and have your account ready to use within minutes of signing up.

That being said, if you're opening a student bank account, some institutions will request documentation to prove that you're actually in school. Below, let's take a closer look at what you'll need to have ready:

 

What you need to open a student bank account

To open a student bank account, you'll typically be asked for documentation to prove not only your identity, but your status as a student as well. This can include:

  • Your passport
  • Your driver’s license
  • A copy of your rental agreement (if you live in an apartment or housing unit)
  • A recent bill with your current address listed
  • A copy of your student timetable or some other proof of enrollment in a post-secondary institution (acceptance letter, etc.)

The specific documentation you'll require may differ from bank to bank, especially if you're an international student, so be sure to research what you'll need before you begin the process of signing up. If you have questions, you can always call your bank's customer service for clarification.

 

What to look for in a student bank account

If you're a student, you're most likely living on a pretty fixed income, so you'll be looking for a bank account that ideally offers you lots of flexibility for little to no cost. On the same token, you'll most likely be leaning towards a chequing account you can use for everyday spending (unless you happen to have a large amount of savings or you're getting enough income to put a chunk away every month).

Once you're ready to start shopping around, here's a few things to keep an eye out for when choosing the right bank account for you:

 

Monthly fees

You'll find that most student bank accounts have little-to-no monthly fees, as banks generally understand that young people in school don't have a lot of money for regular charges. With that in mind, it should be easy to find an account that meets that criteria.

On the same token, it should be noted that even student bank accounts tend to charge fees for things like wire transfers, ATM usage outside of their network, and non-sufficient funds, so make sure to avoid incurring those whenever possible.

 

Unlimited transactions

Along with no monthly fees, you'll also want to prioritize bank accounts that offer unlimited transactions. Because so much of our banking is done through debit transactions, e-transfers, automated bill payments, and the like, getting nickel-and-dimed for regular account usage isn't ideal and can add up to a big monthly expense. Because of this, seek out accounts that offer an unlimited amount of these services for free. That way, you'll be able to use your debit card and mobile app without the fear of bank fees eating into your balance.

 

Convenient ATM locations

As much as most of our banking transactions are done online these days, there are still occassions when you're going to need cold, hard cash. And when this happens, you'll want to bank with an institution that has a good amount of branded ATMs scattered around your city or town. After all, having to pay fees for using random ATMs is no fun and can quickly get expensive.

When you're considering opening an account with a particular bank, check out their map of ATM locations near you. If you're not seeing a lot (or any), you're probably better off somewhere else.

 

Sign-up offers

Most banks feature incentives to get you signed up for their accounts. These can vary from cash bonuses to gift cards, so take a look at each account's offerings and compare to find out which one is most attractive to you. 

That being said, going with a particular bank account simply because of it's sign-up bonus isn't the wisest decision. Once the promotion dries up, you don't want to be stuck with a provider you're not happy with, so make sure that bonus also comes with other desirables (no fees, unlimited transactions, etc.)

 

Student credit cards

Getting your first credit card as a student isn't only a big milestone, it's also a great way to begin building your credit at an early age (providing you use it responsibly).

Your credit history and score will play a major part in later-life steps such as applying for a mortgage or personal loan, so creating a solid financial base while you're still in school is a big gift to your future self. And the best part? It's easy to accomplish. All you have to do is spend within your means and pay off your bill in full and on time every month.

With this in mind, take a look at what your chosen bank offers in the way of student credit cards. Many of them come with their own attractive signup bonuses and perks, and having your credit card under the same umbrella as your bank account will make keeping track of your finances much easier.

 

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