How to Open a Bank Account Online with No Fees: The Easy Way 2023
Looking to open a bank account online? Opening a bank account online might seem tricky, but you do have a few great options from traditional banks and also digital alternatives like Wise.
Whether you’re looking to manage your account fully using online and mobile banking, or simply want to skip waiting in line in a branch to get your account opened, we have the solutions for you.
We’ll walk through all you need to know about how to open an account online (and for free), the documents you need, and the options available. We’ll also compare traditional banks to less complicated solutions, such as Wise. But more on that later, read on.
Can you open a bank account online for free?
Yes. The good news is that there are accounts you can open with either a traditional bank or an online provider for free. However, even when it’s free to open an account, it’s important to remember that there are pretty much always service and transaction fees to pay when you actually use it.
Usually the type of account you can open online and for free in Canada will come from either a traditional bank with a full local banking licence, a newer local digital bank like Tangerine - or an online specialist service, like Wise.
Traditional banks which offer digital account services can be handy if you want to access a broad range of financial products - but may come with higher fees compared to specialist services. Traditional banks will also usually only provide accounts to people with a local proof of ID in Canada - while specialist services may accept ID and address information for a broader range of countries.
What do I need to open a bank account online?
Exactly what you need to open a bank account online varies by bank and provider.
To open a bank account online with a traditional bank you’ll usually be asked to provide:
Your name and date of birth
Your Canadian address - proof may be required depending on the account
A valid government issued proof of ID - like your passport
A selfie, for verification of your ID
An opening deposit may also be required
If you’re interested in opening an account online which can be used to transact in Canadian dollars, but don’t have a physical address in Canada, you can also look at a specialist online provider like Wise instead. Wise offers accounts to people based almost anywhere in the world, with only a short list of unsupported countries. More on this later.
To open a Wise account you’ll usually need:
Your government issued ID
A proof of address from wherever you call home
Online account with zero fees: Characteristics
If you pick an online account which has no opening or maintenance fees, you’ll find there are various different features and characteristics depending on the provider you select.
Some digital only banks have broad product ranges - but some services may be restricted. Tangerine for example has some great products, but doesn’t support international transfers which can be an issue if you need to send money overseas.
Specialist providers tend to have specific features, based on their customers’ needs - Wise, for example, offers low cost international payments and currency exchange with the Google exchange rate.
How to open a bank account online
Different banks and specialist services have their own processes for online account opening. However, your application can be managed from your computer or smart device in most cases - at least when you choose a digital only provider. If you’re thinking of a digital account with a traditional bank with a branch network you may still be asked to pop into a branch to show your ID before you can transact.
Here’s how to open a bank account online in Canada:
Download the bank’s app, or head to their desktop site
Select the account you want to open and double check you meet the eligibility requirements
Click Apply online and enter your personal details following the onscreen prompts
Upload images of the required documents for verification
Read through and confirm your agreement with the account terms and conditions
Once your account application is approved you’ll often need to make a minimum deposit amount, which you can pay by card or bank transfer from another account
Which provider is best for online accounts?
You’ll be able to open an account online with either a regular bank, or a specialist provider. Both have their own pros and cons, and offer a varied range of features and fees. Here are some of the key account features from specialist service Wise, and some more mainstream traditional and digital-only banks.
|Service||Tangerine No Fee Daily Chequing||RBC Day to Day Banking Account||TD Minimum Chequing Account||Wise Account|
|Currencies covered||CAD only||CAD only||CAD only||50+ currencies including CAD|
|Opening fee||No fee||No fee||No fee||No fee|
|Maintenance fee||No fee - but a one year inactivity fee of 10 CAD applies||4 CAD - can be waived by fulfilling eligibility criteria||3.95 CAD - can be waived by fulfilling eligibility criteria||No fee|
|Fall below fee||No fee||No fee||No fee||No fee|
|International transfers||Not available||6 CAD - 10 CAD + exchange rate markup||Up to 25 CAD||Low fee, varies by currency|
|Close account fee||No fee||No fee||No fee||No fee|
|Is it safe?||Yes - regulated and trusted bank||Yes - regulated and trusted bank||Yes - regulated and trusted bank||Yes - regulated and trusted provider|
Digital bank, Tangerine, offers a selection of accounts for personal customers, including the no-fee Daily Chequing account. There’s no maintenance fee for this account, and you can earn interest on the balance you hold. Unfortunately, Tangerine doesn’t offer international transfers, which could be a problem if you need to send payments overseas.
No fee for many day to day transactions
Some local fee free ABM withdrawals
Linked Visa card for easy spending
Budgeting and analytic tools
RBC Day to Day Banking Account
RBC is a large Canadian traditional bank, but it offers online and in-app account opening services to eligible customers. To benefit from online account opening you’ll need to be an adult, living in Canada, and opening an account in your own name - not a joint account. Once you have your account, you can find ways to have the monthly fee waived by meeting minimum eligibility requirements, including signing up for the Value Program.
Some fee free transactions every month
Free Interac transfers locally
Easy ways to have the monthly fee waived, with no extra charge
Linked card for day to day spending
TD Minimum Chequing Account
Similar to RBC, we picked TD Bank as a large traditional bank which has online and mobile account opening options for eligible customers. TD has a good range of account options - we selected the cheapest monthly fee account, the Minimum Chequing Account. However, if you plan to keep funds in your account you might also find another higher tier account suits you, as monthly fees can be waived when you maintain a minimum balance.
Low cost account for people with limited banking needs
Open and operate online, and access branch services if you ever need to
Linked card for daily spending
Ways to earn rewards as you spend
Wise isn’t a bank, it’s a financial technology company. However, it’s fully globally regulated for the services it provides, and so is safe to use - just like a traditional bank. With Wise you can hold 50+ currencies, send low cost payments overseas with fees from just 0.41%, and spend with your linked Wise card in 170+ countries. You can also get local banking details for 10 currencies so you can have people send you money, fee free.
Multi-currency support for 50+ currencies
Manage your account online and in app
Send payments to 80+ countries, from 0.41%
Some fee free international ATM withdrawals every month
Things to consider when choosing an online checking account with zero fees
Getting a low cost account is great - but only if you can transact the way you need to, and there are no other hidden costs you need to consider. Here are a few things to think about, before you pick the online bank account for your needs:
ATM (ABM) access: How many ATMs can you use, and what are the out of network or international fees?
Customer support: How easy is it to get help if you need it?
Other costs and commissions: No accounts are completely fee free - go through the fee schedule carefully, looking for tricky fees like foreign transaction charges (often about 2.5%), overseas payment fees (up to 25 CAD in some cases), inactivity charges and other one off costs
Security: How is your account protected, both in terms of regulatory oversight, and online security and anti fraud measures?
What are the other costs?
Opening an account online is usually free, but traditional banks may ask you to deposit a fixed minimum amount as soon as your account is approved. There are also ongoing and transaction costs - which can include:
Maintenance or fall below fees
Out of network withdrawal fees
Foreign transaction fees
International transfer fees
Account dormant fees
Can I open an online bank account in Canada from abroad?
You might struggle to get full account access with traditional Canadian banks, if you’re not already a resident.
If you don’t have a local proof of address, mainstream banks tend to point you towards their expat and international banking divisions which can mean high fees or restrictive eligibility requirements. Alternatively, some banks offer ‘newcomer’ services for people moving to Canada. However, often this only means you can start the account opening process remotely - you still need to visit a branch with your ID on arrival in Canada to get full account access.
If you’re looking for an easier way to get CAD bank details without a Canadian proof of address, check out Wise which has online and in-app account opening for people from a broad range of countries.
You can open a bank account online and for free in Canada with either a traditional bank which has online opening options, a digital only bank or a specialist provider. Mainstream banks - including digital banks like Tangerine - usually ask you to have a Canadian residential address to access account products.
If you’re new to Canada, or looking to open a non-resident account, and you don’t have this available, you can still get an account up and running with online specialist services like Wise. Just use your proof of address from wherever you call home, to get your account up and running, and access CAD bank details and more.
Lots of Canadian major banks allow you to open an account online as long as you fulfil their eligibility requirements. This usually means having a local proof of address in Canada, and being a full legal resident. If you don’t have this to hand, you can still get a CAD account with online specialist services like Wise.
Yes - if you meet the eligibility requirements for a traditional bank you’ll often find you can register an account online or through an app. If not, try Wise for easy online and in-app account opening which can be done from almost anywhere in the world.
Many banks let eligible customers open accounts easily online - which is easiest for you depends on your personal situation. If you have all the documents to hand, Tangerine can be a good bet, with easy in-app account opening you can do on the move.
A lot of banks ask for a minimum opening deposit, which you’ll need to access account features. Look out for basic accounts from traditional banks which may waive this requirement - or check out online specialist services instead.
Most traditional banks charge a monthly fee - although this is often waived for certain customers, like pensioners. You may also be able to have your fee waived by maintaining a minimum balance. If you want a digital bank in Canada, try Tangerine which has some accounts with no monthly fees - or get an account with an international specialist like Wise, which has no ongoing charges and great international features.