I’m always working hard to improve my finances and to save money wherever I can.  One of the first places I started was with my chequing account.  It bugs me that I have to pay a monthly fee to keep my money in a chequing account.

And since Canadians use their debit cards more than anyone else in the world, our banks have been raking in the profits from these monthly chequing account fees and additional transaction charges.

I’ll admit that I fell into this category once I got out of school and was no longer eligible for a free student chequing account.  I used my debit card for everything, so my bank recommended that I sign-up for the “unlimited” chequing account for $12.95 per month.

Since I lived paycheque-to-paycheque in my first few years out of school it didn’t even occur to me how much money I was wasting, and that I could have these fees waived by always carrying a minimum balance, or that a free chequing account alternative even existed.

So I happily paid $155 per year for the privilege of using my own money in my chequing account until I got wise and changed my approach.  Now I always carry a balance over $1,000 in my chequing account and I use my MBNA Smart Cash MasterCard for all of my monthly purchases in order to avoid paying debit card fees.

It helps to be aware of all your options, so I have put together a chart comparing the basic chequing account options offered at the big five Canadian banks as well as the two free chequing account alternatives offered Canada wide.

Canadian Chequing Account Comparison: The Big Banks

Basic Account Monthly Fee $3.95 $4.00 $3.95 $4.00 $3.90
Fee Waived with Minimum Balance $1,500 see note* $1,000 $1,000 $1,000
Free Debits Per Month 10 15 12 10 10
Upgraded Account Monthly Fee $10.95 $10.95 $8.85 $8.50 $8.95
Minimum Balance to Waive Fees $2,500 see note* $2,000 $2,000 n/a
Free Debits Per Month 25 Unlimited 25 30 25
Additional Transaction Fee $0.65 $0.65 $0.65 $0.60 $0.65
Interac ABM Fee $1.50 $1.50 $1.50 $1.50 $2.15
PLUS System Fee $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $3.00 $2.15
Email Money Transfer $1.50 $1.50 $1.50 $1.50 $1.50

*fee waived if you hold an RBC Investment and RBC Rewards Card (plus mortgage for upgraded account)

PC Financial No Fee Banking

With the President’s Choice Financial no fee bank account, you get free unlimited daily banking, and you don’t have to keep a minimum balance. You will even earn interest on whatever balance you have, and earn PC Points if your balance exceeds $1,000.  Other features included with this no fee bank account are:

  • free daily banking – online and by phone, 24/7
  • free transactions at over 3,800 President’s Choice Financial and CIBC bank machines
  • unlimited cheques and free chequing
  • pay bills online for free
  • free InteracDirect Payments
  • free online access to your monthly statements
  • free cheques and chequing

ING DIRECT THRiVE Chequing Account

Recently, ING DIRECT announced the wide availability of their new THRiVE chequing account across Canada.  The account is an online, daily no-fee account with several unique features such as free email money transfers (first in the industry) and Whoops! Protection which covers clients up to $250 when they are a little short on funds for future dated transactions with no fee or interest, provided funds are paid back within 30 days.  Other features included are:

  • no fee daily chequing
  • pays interest
  • 24/7 live support
  • free email alerts
  • free ABM access through The Exchange Network
  • free Whoops! protection
  • mobile banking

Now that having a free chequing account is becoming more common in Canada hopefully we will wise up and stop paying these ridiculous fees for our daily banking.

Do you pay monthly fees for your chequing account?

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