When looking for a chequing account, one of the first things you should do is to determine your banking needs.
Depending on your needs, different features will be more or less important. For example, if you make a lot of Interac e-Transfers every month you may want to consider choosing an account with a set number of free transfers. Additionally, there are some other general features that should be looked into.
After you’ve determined your banking needs, you’ll want to compare the number and type of transactions included with the accounts you’re comparing (a chequing account comparison tool will help in this case).
Some accounts offer unlimited transactions while others offer 40 or fewer transactions per month. The types of transactions included can also differ depending on the account. Typically, debit purchases or ATM withdrawals are included while teller-assisted withdrawals and bill payments aren’t included in the allocated transactions.
The more variety and number of transactions included in an account typically results in an increased monthly fee. Ideally you’ll want an account that has the most number of included transactions for the lowest monthly cost. No-fee accounts typically offer unlimited self-serve transactions for no monthly fee. However, assisted transactions may not be available for these accounts or will incur a transaction fee.
An important feature to look for when comparing accounts is whether interest is earned on the account. Some chequing accounts don’t provide any interest on the funds held in the account. Instead, the monthly fee is waived if you maintain a certain balance. Other accounts will offer interest (either a tiered or flat rate) on the balance held in the account. With a tiered interest rate, the interest rate earned varies on the amount of funds in the account. Whereas with a flat interest rate, you receive the same rate no matter how much money is in your account.
Many providers will offer rebates to decrease or eliminate the monthly fee associated with a chequing account. For example, some providers offer a multi-product rebate that reduces the monthly fee on a chequing account if you have another product with the provider (such as a credit card or a mortgage). Other rebates include youth, student, and senior rebates that typically result in at least one chequing account option to be free. Instead of rebates, some providers will offer specialized accounts for youths, students or seniors that have no monthly fee. These accounts typically offer transactions that are of interest to certain groups of people, such as unlimited self-serve transactions for students or free paper statements for seniors.
ATM network and fees
ATMs are by far the easiest way to deposit and withdraw cash. However, using an ATMs that isn’t owned by your bank or using one abroad can result in many fees. Therefore, when looking at a chequing account, you’ll also want to see how large the network is and the fees for using another provider’s ATM or using an ATM abroad.
If you travel to the United States frequently, you may want to look for an account that includes unlimited ATM usage south of the border. Some providers will also rebate you a certain amount of ATM fees depending on your plan. And if you travel abroad frequently, you may want to look into whether your chequing account provider is part of a global network as this will reduce your ATM fees abroad.
Ways to bank
Having a chequing account that’s accessible via various devices or methods is another feature that should be looked into. Typical banking options include: In-branch transactions, telephone, ATM, online, and through an app. Some online chequing account providers don’t have branches and therefore in-branch teller-assisted transactions aren’t available.
If you require teller assistance, make sure teller-assisted transactions are included in your plan. Depending on the provider, some also offer the ability to deposit cheques on your phone by taking a picture. To determine which chequing account is right for you, try and determine the most common methods you use to conduct banking transactions to find a provider who offers those services.