How to Open a Checking Account in Canada: The Easy Way 
Chequing accounts are designed for day to day spending, and usually offer a broad range of ways to deposit, withdraw, manage and spend your money. If you’re looking to open a chequing account for yourself or your business, this guide is for you.
We’ll look at some popular accounts from major Canadian banks, as well as from alternative providers like Wise and digital banks like Tangerine, and cover how you can open an account online (and for free) as well as the features and fees you can expect to encounter. Let’s get right into it.
Can you open a chequing account for free?
Yes, many major Canadian banks and alternative providers offer chequing accounts you can open for free. However, in some cases you’ll need to hit eligibility requirements or deposit a minimum opening amount - and transaction fees are likely to apply to some services you need to access.
Generally you’ll have a couple of clear options if you want to open a Canadian account to manage your money on a daily basis: traditional banks, or digital services, which can include neobanks and specialist providers.
Traditional banks can be a good option if you prefer a face to face service, or if you need to deposit cash to your account. However, chequing accounts from regular banks can come with some surprisingly high transaction fees, especially when you’re sending or spending in a foreign currency.
Digital banks and specialist online account providers don’t have a branch network. Instead you’ll transact online or through an app, which can be convenient and mean you have an intuitive 24/7 service right from your phone. Different digital account services have their own features and fees, which can be lower than traditional banks thanks to their lower overheads.
What do I need to open a chequing account in Canada?
All financial service providers in Canada are obliged to complete certain verification checks before they offer an account to a new customer. One important requirement is that banks must verify customers' identity and address. While different services have their own rules, this usually means you’ll need:
Proof of address - such as a passport or driving licence
Proof of address - such as a utility bill in your name
You may also need additional paperwork depending on the account type. If you’re opening a student account, you’ll have to prove your student status for example.
How to open a chequing account
If you’re a Canadian resident with a full set of ID and address documents, you’ll often be able to open your account online. Alternatively you’ll have the option of popping into a local branch if you choose an account with a traditional bank.
In most cases the process to open a chequing account includes the following steps:
Confirm and gather the documents needed for the specific account you’ve picked
Check if you’ll need to make a minimum deposit at the time you open your account
Complete the account application online or in branch
Show your paperwork in person, or upload images if you’re opening online
The bank or provider will complete verification - this may be instant or take a day or two
You’ll be given or posted your account materials, including a debit card if you’ve chosen to get one
Your account is ready to use
Which provider is best for opening a chequing account ?
To help paint a picture, let’s look at how a few different chequing account options compare. We’ve picked TD Bank and RBC as traditional Canadian banks, specialist account provider Wise, plus digital bank Tangerine.
|Service||TD Bank (Everyday Chequing)||RBC (Day to Day Banking)||Wise||Tangerine|
|Opening fee||No fee||No fee||No fee||No fee|
|Fall below fee||Hold 3,000 CAD to avoid maintenance fee||Rebates on some fees may apply, depending on your specific account||No fee||No fee|
|Maintenance fee||10.95 CAD/month||4 CAD/month||No fee||No fee|
|Multi-currency features||Not available||Not available||Hold 50+ currencies||Not available|
|International money transfers|
25 CAD online
50 CAD in branch
Exchange rate markups apply
6 CAD - 10 CAD depending on value
Exchange rate markups apply
|From 0.41%, with the Google exchange rate||Not available|
|Foreign transaction fee||3.5% for Visa cards||2.5% + any relevant cross border debit fee||None||2.5%|
It’s pretty common to find chequing accounts from traditional Canadian banks come with a monthly fee - although you may get some fee free transactions as part of your account bundle. There’s a very broad range of account options out there - from products with no monthly fee, which may have higher transaction costs or limited services, through to full service account bundles which have a good range of transactions and services as part of the monthly fee you pay.
Digital specialists like Wise may be a better option if you don’t want to risk any ongoing fees - or if you’re looking for an account which can be used conveniently do transact internationally with low fees and the Google exchange rate.
Here’s a quick look at some key features of the account options we compared above.
Wise is a specialist in international payments, currency exchange and multi-currency accounts for individuals and businesses. A Wise Account offers options to hold, send and receive payments in 50+ currencies, with a linked card for easy spending and withdrawal. Currency exchange uses the Google exchange rate, with no markup.
Hold 50+ currencies, send to 80+ countries, spend in 170+ countries with the Wise card
No account opening charge and no maintenance fee to pay
No minimum balance and transparent transaction charges for the services you need
Transact online or in the Wise app for convenience
Digital bank Tangerine has a no-fee daily chequing account which comes with a linked Visa card and no fee for lots of everyday transactions. You’ll be able to get money fee free from in network ABMs, and spend online and in person easily with your card. You can’t directly make or receive international transfers with a Tangerine account, which can be a drawback if you need to transact overseas.
Fee free CAD accounts for everyday banking needs
No account opening charge and no maintenance fee to pay
Secure online banking and budgeting features, plus overdraft protections
No international transfers available
TD Bank chequing accounts are available in different tiers, depending on your banking needs. You can choose to pay a low fee but get fewer transactions included in the account bundle - or pick an account with a higher monthly fee which offers more fee free transactions every month. We’ve picked out the TD Bank Every Day Chequing Account in our comparison above - recommended for budget friendly banking.
Large branch presence for face to face service
Accounts available in CAD and in some cases USD, for cross border spending
TD Bank Every Day Chequing Account offers 25 free transactions/month as part of the account bundle
Foreign transaction fees apply when you spend with your card overseas
RBC has a good selection of chequing accounts, including USD accounts, and products aimed at students. For our comparison we selected the RBC Day to Day banking account, which has a fairly low fee, and 12 free transactions per month included. Depending on your circumstances you may also qualify for some fee rebates which can offset the ongoing costs of your account.
Broad range of accounts available for different customer needs
Earn reward points and discounts with your account
No minimum balance for the RBC Day to Day banking account
6 CAD - 10 CAD fee for international transfers
Opening a business chequing account
If you’re looking for an account for your Canadian registered business, you’ll also be able to choose between chequing accounts from traditional banks, digital banks like Tangerine, and specialist providers like Wise.
Which suits you best will depend a lot on the transaction types you need to make. If you’ll be depositing cash, for example, a traditional bank may be the best bet - while customers looking for extensive low cost international services may benefit from a specialist digital account instead.
If you need an account for your business, a bank isn’t your only option. If you prefer to manage your business finances digitally, a specialist service like Wise could give you all you need - plus low cost international transactions and some business friendly perks.
Wise Business accounts are opened online or in the Wise app, with a one off low fee, and no ongoing charges. You’ll be able to hold 50+ currencies and get paid from 30+ countries with local bank details. As well as all the Wise features available to personal customers, you can make batch payments, make bookkeeping easy with Xero integrations, and add team members to your account with multi-user access and permissions settings.
What are the costs for opening a chequing account ?
In most cases you won’t pay a fee to open a Canadian chequing account . However, once your account is up and running, there are usually monthly maintenance and transaction charges to pay, which can include:
Account maintenance fees
ABM withdrawal fees
International payment charges
Foreign transaction fees
Service fees for paper statements
Account closure fees
Can I open a chequing account in Canada from abroad?
To open a Canadian chequing account with a regular bank you’ll usually need to have a Canadian address - which can prove tricky if you’re not in the country yet.
However, there are alternatives. Specialist account services which offer local Canadian bank details, and ways to hold, send, receive and spend dollars can help. Check out the Wise Account as a good option you can open with your local address details from most countries around the world, which provides you CAD bank details and easy ways to manage your money in dollars, even if you’re not in Canada yet.
Opening a Canadian chequing account for yourself or your business shouldn’t be too tricky. However, as account features and fees vary widely, you’ll need to shop around to make sure you’re picking the account that works best for your specific needs.
Compare chequing accounts from traditional banks, as well as from neobanks and digital account providers, to find a Canadian chequing account which suits your needs.
FAQ - How to open a checking account in Canada
If you have a Canadian proof of address and ID you can often open a bank account online or in the bank’s app without needing to call in. Specialist digital services like Wise also offer ways to get CAD accounts without needing to stand in line in a physical bank branch.
You can usually open a Canadian chequing account for free, but there may be maintenance fees and charges for the transactions you need to make.