When you sign up for a credit card, you’ll usually get a packet with information about all the included benefits. Credit card holders get perks like points, free insurance on travel and rental cars, and extended warranties.
When you sign up for a chequing account, though, it feels like all you get is a debit card and a list of all the fees you might incur. But chequing accounts come with benefits, too. They might not rival some of the freebies you can get with a new credit card, but chances are your chequing account has some cool features you didn’t know about.
Looking for a chequing account?
Let’s dive into some of the hidden benefits you might find in your chequing account.
Free Interac e-Transfers
This convenient way to send money to friends by email has been around since time immemorial. (Actually, they came about in 2002). Since their inception, they’ve cost anywhere between $1.25 and $2.00 to send, but in the last year or two most banks have started including free Interac e-Transfers for some chequing customers. Check with your bank to see if your account is one of the lucky ones.
Points and rewards
If you bank with one of the Big Five, there’s a chance your chequing account offers reward points. For example, most Scotiabank chequing accounts let you choose between Scotia Rewards points or SCENE points, and BMO has an account that rewards you with Air Miles Reward Miles.
Points aren’t exactly a hidden benefit. But if you’ve been mindlessly collecting SCENE points with your debit card for the last decade you may find you’ve built up quite a stash.
Another hidden benefit of your chequing account could entitle you to discounts on products and services. For example, RBC chequing customers can save 3¢ per litre on gas at Petro-Canada by linking their debit card with their Petro-Points card and using it to pay.
With your chequing account, you can also sometimes get discounts on other products offered by the same bank. These are typically small savings like a rebate on the annual fee for a credit card.
However, it’s generally a myth that your chequing account is a ticket to better rates on products like mortgages and GICs. The way to get the best rate is to comparison shop online and go with the provider offering the most favourable rate.
While this benefit is most often offered to credit card customers, there are some bank accounts that actually do protect the purchases you make with your debit card. For example, Luminus Financial chequing customers get 120-day protection against loss, theft or damage, and an extra year of coverage on most manufacturer’s warranties.
Your chequing account may offer an automated savings program that transfers money into your savings account every time you make a debit transaction. Examples include Scotiabank’s Bank The Rest program, which rounds up ever debit purchase to the next multiple of $1 or $5 and deposits the extra in your savings account. There’s also the TD Simply Save program, which allows you to choose an amount between 50¢ and $5 to deposit to savings every time you use your debit card.
Another interesting savings program is Meridian Credit Union’s Sweep feature. Sweep lets you set a maximum balance for your chequing account, and automatically transfers any additional money to savings.
The drawback to these programs is they only work with your bank’s own savings accounts, which probably only pay a fraction of the interest you could earn elsewhere. You’re better off to and sign up for a high interest savings account and make regular deposits a part of your monthly budget.
We’re almost at the point where you can forget your wallet for a day and get by with your phone alone. You can take a car share to work, and order lunch from an app. Your chequing account might also allow you to make mobile payments, which allow you to tap your phone instead of your card to make purchases at shops and restaurants. To access this hidden benefit, you’ll likely need to download your bank’s mobile app and have a newer phone.
Mobile cheque deposits
Here’s another one that might have snuck up without you noticing. Most banks now allow you to deposit cheques by taking a picture with your phone, rather than taking the 6″ x 2-3/4″ slips of paper to an ATM or teller. You’ll need your bank’s mobile app to take advantage of this chequing feature.
Many banks offer free budgeting apps that help you keep track of your spending. These apps break down your purchases and bill payments by category, track changes over time, and can sometimes alert you to unexpected changes. Look in your bank’s mobile app or online banking to see what they have to offer.
Most Canadian banks offer services to make banking easier for people with disabilities. Wheelchair-accessible branches, ATMs with audio prompts, telephone banking via TTY, and personal service with an ASL interpreter are among the many services provided. If you have a disability, ask your bank about the services available for you. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Some banks also offer chequing accounts specifically for people with disabilities. For example, VanCity offers their members with disabilities a free account with 40 included transactions per month, including teller-assisted transactions.
Your chequing account probably has more to offer than meets the eye. To get a better idea of the benefits your account has to offer, check with your bank. If you find you’re not getting everything you should, compare chequing accounts online to find an account with the benefits you need.
- Reasons to Upgrade Your Chequing Account
- How to Avoid Common Chequing Account Fees
- What Types of Chequing Accounts are There?