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The Best Student Chequing Accounts in Canada for 2024

Get the most out of your chequing account - whether you're looking to save on fees, earn rewards or access more perks.

A guide to student bank accounts

Students can get special discounts on bank accounts when they are attending a post-secondary institution, and long past the age of 19. The average bank account can cost you around $15 each month or $180 per year. Whether you’re part-time or full-time, a college freshman or university grad, finding a student bank account doesn’t need to be a difficult process.

Below we highlight a few details to keep in mind when selecting the best student bank account for you.

How to choose a student bank account:

While the student bank account you choose will depend on your specific priorities and spending habits, there are some general features you'll want to look for.

1. Compare monthly fees

Being a student is expensive enough without having to pay extra fees on your bank account every month. Many student bank accounts offer no fees with no minimum balance requirements, so try to avoid banks that will hit you with these kinds of charges.

2. Look for unlimited transactions

Because a large amount of your account activity will be debit transactions and e-transfers, you'll want to look for bank accounts that offer either unlimited transactions or, at the very least, a high number of free ones.

3. Look into ATM access

While most places use debit machines these days, there are still times where you'll need physical money, like when you’re going to cash-only bars and takeout spots. That's why you'll want to make sure your chosen bank has ATMs close by.

4.  Choose banks that also offer student credit cards

When used wisely, credit cards are a great way to build your credit score and learn financial skills that will come in handy as you get older. When shopping around for the right student chequing account, it may be worth it to investigate a bank's student credit card options as well.

5. Consider extra perks like rewards

While some student bank accounts don't offer a lot in the way of sign up incentives and benefits, many do feature perks. These can sometimes be a small cash bonus or the opportunity to earn rewards points from your purchases. For example, with the Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan, you can earn 1 Scene Point for every $5 spent on everyday purchases with the Scotia debit card connected to your account. You could save up your points for large future purchases or redeem them at the grocery store at a rate of 1,000 points = $10 off your bill.

6. Consider overdraft protection

If you are tight on money and think there’s a chance your account could go into the negatives, overdraft protection will ensure you aren’t charged NSF fees (which can be as high as $40-$50) or have transactions declined. If you perform transactions that exceed your account balance and go into overdraft, your bank will take the amount you owe off of your next deposit. You may also be charged interest. Overdraft protection is sometimes included with your account. If it’s not included, it will be either a monthly or pay-per-use cost. Pay per use is more expensive because you may be charged a small fee every time you go into overdraft, regardless of the amount. Monthly overdraft protection costs about $5 per month, on average.

How to open a student bank account

In general, opening any bank account is an easy process. The vast majority of financial institutions will let you sign up online, and your new account will be ready for you to use within minutes. That being said, there is documentation you'll want to have ready to help confirm your identity and student status. This can include:

  • A driver's license or passport
  • A valid student ID with an expiration date
  • A copy of your renter's lease (if you're living in an apartment)
  • A utility bill or other official mail with your current address listed
  • A copy of your timetable or proof of enrolment letter

How to open a bank account in Canada for international students

To open an international student bank account in Canada, you may be required to provide your Canadian visa or study permit, proof of enrollment at your college or university, and one piece of valid photo ID like a passport. You may be able to open a bank account online or through a phone call, but it might be easier to visit a bank branch in person to sort things out.

The best bank account for international students in Canada

Similar to other types of student bank accounts, the best bank accounts for international students in Canada offer low or no monthly fees, unlimited transactions, and small cash bonuses, like the CIBC Smart Account for students. You can even qualify for this account before arriving in Canada. Plus, with this account and others like the RBC Advantage Bank Account, you may be able to qualify for a student credit card without a Canadian credit history, so you can start building up your score.

Frequently asked questions

What’s the best bank for students in Canada?

Who’s eligible for student bank accounts in Canada?

Is CIBC or RBC a better bank for students?

What happens to student accounts after graduation?

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