The Best Student Bank Accounts in Canada for December 2022

Posted on November 23, 2022 by Jack Hauen

Students in Canada can get great deals on banking if they know where to look.

Banks want to get customers into their system when they’re young because many people will stick with the same bank for life. That translates to no-fee student accounts that often give you free cash just for opening a student account.

Because you’re a savvy deal hunter, you want to know how the banks’ offers stand up, and which ones are the best.

Read on for an in-depth guide to the best bank accounts for international and domestic students in Canada.

Do I Need a Student Bank Account?

There’s no law that says students have to use student bank accounts. But you probably should.

Student bank accounts generally have no monthly fees or minimum balance requirement.

They often come with perks like cash bonuses for signing up, as well as free unlimited Interac e-Transfers, and free advice tailored to students.

Once you graduate, most big banks will automatically convert your student account into a regular adult one. This usually comes with fees and fewer perks. So make sure you shop around for better options before this happens.

What Should You Look for in a Student Bank Account?

When you’re looking at student bank accounts, you want to make sure you’re not getting ripped off. Here are some things to keep in mind: 

  • Monthly fees: Different banks have different price points.
  • e-Transfers and monthly transactions: If you’re always splitting bills with friends, you’ll want a lot of free e-Transfers. Some student accounts have limits on these or other transactions like debit purchases.
  • Sign-up bonuses: Some banks will give you free cash to get you into their ecosystem.
  • Other perks: Things like reward points, exclusive offers, or even a smaller interest rates could be a huge help for students.
  • Most bank accounts will have options to obtain a cheque book. Make sure you know the basics when it comes to paper cheques, like how to read a cheque.

How to Open a Student Bank Account in Canada

Banks make opening an account easy for students. Most allow students to open accounts online.

Usually, all you’ll need is:

  • Proof that you’re a full-time student (registration letter and/or student ID)
  • Government photo ID
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)

How international students can open a bank account in Canada

If you’re from another country and studying in Canada, you can open a student bank account. The process is just as easy, but you’ll need a couple of extra documents. Sometimes you can get approved before you even land in Canada.

Make sure to read the specific bank’s requirements, but in general, you’ll need

  • Canadian visa or study permit
  • Government photo ID, like your passport
  • Proof of school registration (registration letter and/or student ID)
  • Expected graduation date


Best Student Bank Accounts in Canada 

  • RBC Advantage Banking for students
  • CIBC Smart for students
  • BMO Student Banking
  • TD Student Chequing Account
  • Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan
  • Tangerine Everyday Chequing
  • MotusBank
  • Simplii No Fee Chequing
  • EQ Savings Plus Account
  • PC Money
  • Wealthsimple Cash
  • KOHO

RBC Advantage Banking for students 

Royal Bank dividend
  •  Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Up to 999 per month for free
  • Other perks: Rewards, specific app, $60 intro offer

RBC’s student account comes with free unlimited debit transactions and some opportunities to earn rewards.

Its debit card comes with loadable offers from H&M, Apple, Indigo, and more.

RBC has a separate app for its student accounts that prioritizes e-Transfers, personalization, and simplified banking terms.

You can also get a rebate of up to $39 per year on some credit cards’ annual fees. And RBC will provide you with a virtual Visa debit card, which is safer for online shopping. 

RBC doesn’t charge you a fee to use other banks’ ATMs in Canada. (Those banks may still charge you, though.)

And you can earn a minimum of 1 RBC Rewards point for every $10 you spend by enrolling in the bank’s Value Program.

RBC will give you one free book of 50 cheques.

CIBC Smart for Students

CIBC Investors Edge
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free
  • Other perks: Unlimited transactions, Student Price Card (SPC) membership

CIBC’s Smart student account comes with unlimited free e-Transfers and all other transactions.

Right now, CIBC is offering $75 if you open a new account, register for online or mobile banking, and make at least 2 Visa Debit purchases within 2 months of opening your account.

CIBC student account holders get a free SPC membership, which comes with hundreds of discounts for students.

You get one free withdrawal at a non-CIBC ATM per month. Outside of that it’s $2 each time.

International students have to show a valid student ID, foreign passport, and study permit (IMM 1442) to open this account.

CIBC also offers specialized accounts for medical, dental, and optometry students.

BMO Student Banking

Bank Of Montreal
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free
  • Other perks: Free credit score anytime

The Bank of Montreal's student account gives you an extra year of fee-free banking after you graduate. It comes with 25 free transactions per month, plus unlimited free e-Transfers.

Its CreditView tool allows you to see your credit score anytime without impacting it.

International students can also open a student account with a Canadian visa or study permit, government photo ID, and proof of school registration.

Chinese international students can apply for a chequing account before they even arrive in Canada. They can also apply for a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) to help get a study permit.

BMO has specialized accounts for medical and dental students that offer loans geared towards those students.

The bank has a suite of no-fee credit cards — like the CashBack Mastercard — to help you build your credit for the future. This is important for when you want to get a mortgage, an auto loan, or even rent an apartment that requires a credit check.

TD Student Chequing Account

TD stock dividend
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: 25 free
  • Other perks: Teensy interest rate

TD will give you a no-fee student account until you’re 23, or for as long as you can prove you’re enrolled in full-time post-secondary classes.

The account comes with just 25 free transactions per month. Unlike other banks, that includes e-Transfers. So if you’ve made 20 debit purchases, you only have 5 free e-Transfers left that month. Transactions are $1.25 each after that.

It’s one of the few student accounts with an interest rate, though it is tiny (0.01%).

The TD Access Card comes with Visa Debit for online and in-person shopping.

TD charges $2 for every non-TD ATM withdrawal in Canada.


Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

ScotiaBank
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free
  • Other perks: Earn Scene+ points on debit purchases

The Scotia rewards partnership with Scene+ means you’ll earn 1 Scene point for every $5 you spend. Due to a recent overhaul, you can use those points for travel, shopping, dining, banking, and of course, movies.

The account comes with unlimited free transactions, including e-Transfers.

Scotia provides advice for international students through its StartRight program.

Right now Scotiabank is offering $60 for new accounts opened by April 30, 2022. New account holders have to set up and clear one automatic direct deposit; or one recurring pre-authorized transaction, like a bill payment, for two months.

You can earn $60 more by bundling your student account with a Scene Visa card and a Momentum Plus savings account.

Best Online Bank Accounts in Canada

If you don’t need to do brick-and-mortar banking often, these can be solid choices for your student life and beyond.


Tangerine Everyday Chequing

Tangerine Bank
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free
  • Other perks: Tiny interest rate

Tangerine doesn’t advertise its chequing account as a student one, but it has many of the same perks.

It’s free and comes with unlimited transactions (including e-Transfers) and an itty bitty interest rate (0.01% for up to $49,999.99), which is more than most other student accounts.

You can use Scotiabank ATMs for free with no limits since the bank owns Tangerine.

You get one chequebook for free, and they’re $50 after that.

Motusbank

Motus Bank
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free
  • Other perks: Solid interest rate

Like Tangerine, Motusbank doesn’t advertise itself as a student account. But the online chequing account comes with unlimited free transactions, including e-Transfers, and zero fees.

It offers the highest interest rate of any non-hybrid account on this list at 0.15%. 

You can use any ATM on the Exchange Network for free. That’s the network of choice for credit unions and smaller banks like National Bank, HSBC, and more.

Simplii No Fee Chequing

Simplii Financial
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free
  • Other perks: Up to $700 welcome bonus, little interest rate

Simplii is a major player in the online banking world, with unlimited debit purchases and other transactions, including e-Transfers.

Since it’s owned by CIBC, you can use those ATMs for free.

It also offers a 0.05% interest rate.

Simplii also offers international students access to its GIC Program, to help them get a study permit or visa quicker.

Best Hybrid Bank Accounts in Canada

Canada has seen an explosion in so-called “hybrid” financial institutions, like Koho and Wealthsimple Cash, that combine chequing and savings into one online-only account. 

While not specifically marketed as student accounts, they have low fees and cash back at some retailers. 

They often lack some of the more advanced features of traditional accounts, like bill payments or direct deposits, but they can be a great option for students just starting out. 

EQ Savings Plus Account

EQ Bank
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free
  • Other perks: PC Financial ATM access; earn Optimum points

EQ Bank’s account isn’t a chequing account, but you can still pay bills and make e-Transfers from it. It also has the best interest rate on this list, at 1.25%. 

There are also no overdraft or dormant account fees.

It’s a popular choice for people who want a combined high-interest savings account and an account you can use to pay bills.

PC Money

PC Money
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free
  • Other perks: PC Financial ATM access; earn Optimum points

PC Money is a good choice for heavy PC Optimum points users. You can get up to $250 worth right off the bat by spending money in PC stores and referring friends.

Its prepaid Mastercard gives you 10 Optimum points for every dollar you spend. You also get 1,000 Optimum points per $50+ bill payment, up to 5 per month.

PC Money is one of the rare hybrid accounts with free ATM access, at PC Financial ATMs.

Wealthsimple Cash

Wealthsimple
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free Cash transfers instead
  • Other perks: Easy peer-to-peer transfers, cash back

Wealthsimple Cash’s prepaid Visa has no annual fees and gives you 1% cash back on all purchases. 

It doesn’t have bill payments or direct deposits yet. The company says both features are on their way.

Cash’s major plus is that it allows people to send and receive money to each other much more easily than e-Transfers. You can send up to $5,000 daily and $20,000 monthly.

Koho

KOHO
  • Fees: $0
  • e-Transfers: Unlimited free
  • Other perks: Cash back, great interest rate

Koho has no fees and gives you 0.5% cash back on every purchase. You spend using a prepaid Visa card. Koho is one of the rare hybrid accounts with a solid interest rate (1.2%) if you set up direct deposits.

FAQs

Can people under 18 open a bank account in Canada?

Yes, many banks offer bank accounts for kids under 18, with parental consent. These include RBC MydohScotiabank Getting ThereCIBC Advantage for Youth, and more.

Can international students open a bank account in Canada?

Yes, foreign students studying in Canada can open bank accounts here. Most banks encourage this, as they want to keep international students who stay in Canada as customers.

You’ll just need to prove that you have a valid visa or study permit, and are enrolled full-time at your post-secondary institution.

Can part-time students open student bank accounts in Canada?

Most banks require proof that you’re a full-time student, as defined by your post-secondary institution. The federal government defines a full-time student as one taking at least 60% of your program’s “usual courseload.”

Disclaimer: The writer of this article or employees of Stocktrades Ltd may have positions in securities listed in this article. Stocktrades Ltd may also be compensated via affiliate links in this post.

Jack Hauen

About the author

Jack Hauen is a journalist, freelance writer, and aspiring professional credit card churner. His reporting has appeared in Canada's top publications, including the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star and National Post. When he's not lurking r/PersonalFinanceCanada he can often be found in the Algonquin backcountry, wheezing through a portage that looked smaller on the map.

[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]
[class^="wpforms-"]