Best Bank for Students in Canada

If you’re a student, you may want to start working on getting credit as part of your overall future plans. There are some great perks to being a student with some banking institutions like free accounts with unlimited transactions. There are usually rewards as well with banks trying to get your business. You may find that you’re ready to take on personal loans. A certain bank may be able to help you out with that more than another.

When you’re going through college, you want to save every penny you can. Having a bank account that doesn’t have huge costs attached to it is one of the perks of being a student. The bank knows that someday, you’ll be potentially looking for loans because you’re making good money. So low-cost bank accounts for students are to their benefit. This means there are competitive offers that might make your life easier while you’re focused on your studies.

What to know about student bank accounts

A student bank account lets you take care of banking needs without any fees or payment of individual transactions. You may be able to obtain perks like low-interest student credit cards. This will help you build your credit.

Types of student bank accounts

You can find options as a student with many of the Canadian financial institutions. They fall under two categories including:

Student Chequing Accounts

These are student plans that can include chequing and savings account along with additional financial services. This could be anything from credit cards rebates or a line of credit specifically for students. With a chequing account, you may get special offers that can help you out financially like rewards programs. This is something that is given to students only so take advantage of these details that have been tailor-made for you while you have eligibility.

Savings Accounts

Savings accounts aren’t usually set up for a student’s needs but you can take advantage of a high-interest savings account or an account that doesn’t involve fees. If you have a lump sum of money, this could be advantageous in making you a little bit of money while it sits in an interest savings account. Just make sure that you know the minimum amount of money that must be in there and don’t go below it. Charges may incur.

How to Choose a Student Bank Account For Your Specific Needs

If you want to get the best chequing account for students, look through the everyday banking features and the benefits.

Look for an account that offers the services you really need like branch, ATM, and online banking. You want to be able to access your money without paying any fees.

As you compare benefits, choose the ones you’ll use the most. Maybe it’s a cash bonus that help you pay for school or a rewards program where you can earn points towards purchases.

Considerations For a Student Chequing Account

You want to make sure you meet any of the requirements related to a student chequing account. This includes age, residency, and education status requirement. Look to see if you can get overdraft protection if you have to stretch your budget out for a short period of time, it’s good to have this. Also see what bonuses are offered for your student account.

Although chequing and savings accounts offer separate features, they both serve to help consumers achieve their financial goals.

Account Types and the Pros and Cons

When you go to the bank, you want to have some idea of the account you’d prefer. Here are the account types that would typically be appealing to students along with the pros and cons.

Account Type

No Fee Chequing

No monthly fees and it’s common that you get
unlimited transactions

You may not get access to branch banking
and there are no low to no interest options.

Student Credit Cards

Helps to build credit with the opportunity to
earn rewards and special perks as a student.

Can lead to debt if you don’t use responsibly.
Fees and high-interest may incur.

Hybrid Bank Accounts

Can be used as savings or chequing with
competitive interest rates.

The availability in Canada is limited and frequent
ATM use could incur extra charges.

High Interest
Savings Accounts

Earn a high rate of interest that usually doesn’t involve fees.

You may have to keep a minimum
account balance.

Chequing Accounts

In person and online services are available.
You can often link accounts and get perks from this.

A monthly fee is usually involved.

Opening a Student Chequing Account

It’s easy to open a student chequing account. You can even do it online while other banks may ask that you make an appointment so you can speak with a banking representative.

When you apply online, you’ll need to give the bank the following:

  • When you expect to graduate (the date)
  • Details around your account uses and residential status
  • Full name and contact information.
  • Government-issued photo ID.

Who Can Get a Student Account?

You must be a student to be eligible for a student account. There are varying criteria when it comes to the banks as to what a student means. You usually have to live in Canada and be enrolled in full time post secondary school to be eligible for student accounts. You’ll have to prove enrollment, which can be your student cards, an acceptance letter, or a transcript that’s fairly recent. Even if you’re in high school, some banks are willing to offer you a student chequing account.

What’s the Benefit of Having a Student Bank Account?

You’re not required to use a student bank account but there are benefits. There are perks offered to students and you get to take advantage of no monthly fees or minimum balance requirements. You may have access to free Interac e-Transfers and guidance. There are often a sign up bonus in cash, which is always helpful for students.

A student bank can get you a credit card with access to other credit products. In the future, you may want to open your own business. If you start working on your credit, you’ll have access and eligibility to business loans later down the road. You can get a lower borrowing rate as a student and there’s also a budgeting program that helps you to manage finances responsibly.

Your student account can be changed into a standard adult account when you’ve graduated but this will often involve extra costs and less rewards. It’s always recommended to shop around before you need to change your account. You can let the bank know what the competition is offering you and they may match it if possible.

What to Look for in the Bank You Choose

You want to know what you need from your banking experience before deciding how to choose. There are some things to consider before you open a bank account including:

Fees and Transactions

If you don’t have income or you’re not working a lot, money matters. You don’t want to spend money if you don’t have to. When you’re looking for a student account, you want to choose a bank that doesn’t make you pay monthly fees. You should also look to see if there are unlimited transaction and what types of transactions are included.

Savings Accounts & Interest Rates

If you have some money coming in that you can put into your account, an interest earning savings account could be a good idea. If your income doesn’t stay in your account for long, you should focus on any costs for transactions. Some savings accounts will also have fees for transferring and take a few days to transfer through.

You want to have an account that quickly transfers money from your bank as students will often need to gain fast access to funds. Look for a no minimum account balance savings account. With many savings account, if you have a minimum balance, you may not be charged a monthly service fee. However, if your balance does fall below, you could end up having to pay for the account. The best bank should offer you an account that doesn’t require you to keep a minimum balance. There are many online banks that offer a no limit on transactions. A student account isn’t always the best option so make sure you do a good search for all account types.

In order to be eligible to open a bank account within Canada there are certain documents must be provided in order to prove your identity. Learn how to open a bank account here!

Essential Features of a Bank Account for Students

When you choose the right bank account for you, it helps you to manage money. It shouldn’t have minimal or no transfer costs so you can pay for things related to your education. The bank account should support education grant, scholarships, and transactions related to being a student.

Reward points

A student account can often include a rewards program. These are often schemes that don’t last long so choose one that speaks to your needs. If there’s no real value added, there’s no point in signing up for it.


You want to be able to access an ATM for the bank involved in your student account. You want to be sure you can use an ATM in your area that has no fees or are at the very least, minimal.

Sign-up Bonus

You want to take advantage of sign-up incentives as banks want your business. Look around your campus to see what offers a bank is advertising for signing up with them. There is a lot of competition between banks to get your business and they offer some very generous bonuses. The best-case scenario is having a bank that gives you a big sign-up bonus with an account that offers all the features that match your needs.

Interac eTransfers & Other Transactions

As a student, you have the luxury of choosing an account that gives you free, unlimited transactions. You want to consider the fact that you’ll probably be making a lot of transactions. That’s why the transaction limit should be limitless or high. You need to pay for things like tuition, books, and everything you need for your life. It’s good to have the freedom to not worry about going over on your transactions.

Credit Cards & Credit Score

It’s good to have a student credit card but you do have to be mindful about spending and paying it off quickly. You should use it so you can gain a credit score but make sure you’ll have the funds to pay it down. As you progress through your credit history, you can enjoy perks later down the road like installment loans or mortgage loans. However, if you fail to pay your credit card off, you could end up in debt before you even get out of school. This makes it a challenge to get the apartment you want later on down the road and can even get in the way of obtaining certain jobs.

If you do start using a credit card and can develop good spending habits, you’ll come out with a strong credit score. See if you can find a card that offers features like cash back so you can make the most out of your credit card.

The Best Banks for Students in Canada

Based on the features, rewards, and transaction limits, we found these to be the best banks for student accounts in Canada.

Scotiabank – Free Unlimited Account

The Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan is totally free. It gives you unlimited transactions and Interac eTransfers. There are plenty of branches throughout Canada, so you’ll always have access to getting money out at ATM’s and banks. It’s open to students in Canada or for US students that are studying in either Canada or the US.


You can earn points through their Scene+ program and get movie tickets along with perks for dining, shopping, and traveling. You use your student account and this gains you points. It’s something you’d be doing anyway but you get rewarded for doing so.

How to Qualify

You have to be able to provide proof that you’re a full-time student in s post-secondary school to get this plan.

Credit card

There’s a credit card offered specifically for students who have a bank account with Scotiabank. The no fee SCENE Visa credit card can be used to earn points that will get you free movie passes and dining out. There is also a $75 cash bonus for all new customers that meet requirements.

Free CIBC Chequing Account

If you’re a student, you can open up a free chequing account through CIBC, known as the Smart Account. You get unlimited e-Transfers and unlimited transactions, eliminating any need to worry about how much your monthly transactions may be costing you. There is a 4.5 year limit for this account, which will instantly become a traditional bank account with fees included. As a new customer, you get a welcome offer. It’s a bonus offer that usually involves the bank giving you cash.


Besides the welcome offer, there is also the SPC membership, which you automatically become a part of when you open up your Smart Account. This is going to give you discounts and promotions for goods and services with merchants throughout Canada.

How to Qualify

If you’re enrolled in a post-secondary institution, college, or CEGEP, you can open up a Smart Account with CIBC. There are over 1,100 branches and 4,000 ATMs throughout Canada so you have great access to get money out or walk into one of their banks. The Smart Account is open to Canadians and non-Canadian students.

Free Student Account at TD Bank

The TD student chequing account is free and with it, you’ll get 25 free transactions every month. Interac eTransfers are free and unlimited. Every extra transaction beyond 25 will cost you $1.25 so if you make a lot of deposits and withdrawals throughout the month, you’ll want to keep track. This account is special in that it offers students an interest rate of 0.01%. The main advantage of opening up an account at TD is the personalized service you get.

Line of Credit

If you’re a student and studying certain programs, you can qualify for up to $20,000 over the term of four years. This is a total of $80,000, which can be extremely helpful for those studying intensively that don’t have time to work. Post-secondary school is expensive and once you’re out, you can start paying off debts incurred throughout your education process. If you’re studying in professional or graduate programs, TD offers you even more money. For those in a medical program, you can qualify for up to $350,000.

Credit cards

TD offers four different student credit cards that don’t come with any annual fees. Check out their credit card options as some offer cash back while others offer you reward points. With your TD Access Card, it will be a Visa Debit so you can use it as a credit card.


TD Bank has over 1,000 branches throughout Canada and over 3,000 ATMs. If you use a bank machine that isn’t a TD machine, it will cost you $2 per transaction however.

RBC’s Free Banking Account and No Limit Banking

There are two different accounts that students can choose at RBC. There’s an Interac e-Transfer account that’s free with 25 transactions available per month. There’s a better account that comes with a one-year free waiver, the No Limit Banking for Students account. It usually costs $11.95 per month but you can have it for one year without paying the monthly cost. There’s no limit on how many transactions or Interac eTransfers you do.

Bonus for New Accounts

When you sign up a new account with RBC, you get a $60 free cash bonus. They award you other bonuses and promotions on a monthly basis as well. If you care about your community, you’ll also enjoy the perk of RBC donating $60 to a charity of your choice. To get in on the promotions, you have to do at least two of the following: mobile check deposit, any transaction, or an Interac eTransfer.

RBC Credit Card Offers

If you’re eligible, you may be reimbursed up to $39 annually on credit card annual fees. If you like purchasing things online, RBC offers a virtual Visa Debit card.


RBC has the largest number of branches and ATMs. There are over 1,200 branches and more than 4,200 ATMs.

The BMO Student Account

The Bank of Montreal offers students a $10.95 discount on their most popular accounts including Plus, Performance, and Premium. The Plus account ends up being free with the discount and comes with many benefits. The banking app offers a tool where you can check your credit anytime. It’s a soft credit check so it doesn’t affect your credit score. You get unlimited Interac eTransfers with the Plus account while the Performance account offers unlimited transactions. It costs $5.00 per month with the discount but you get all the transactions you need for free.

How to Qualify

You must be a full time student at an accredited post secondary school. The student discount can be extended for up to a year after your degree program ends. International students are welcome to open up a student account with their Canadian visa or permit for studying along with evidence of enrollment. Students coming from China are able to open up an account before arriving into Canada.

Cash back perks

With the student chequing account, BMO gives you a $70 bonus. If you obtain a BMO cash back Mastercard, you get a $125 bonus. With the line of credit rewards, it equals up to $500 in bonuses. To be eligible for these perks, you have to be new to BMO and do four Interac eTransfers with your new account.


BMO has about 900 branches throughout Canada and over 2,200 ATMs.

EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account

A Canadian Schedule 1 bank, Equitable Bank is the parent company of EQ Bank. For several reasons, its Savings Plus Account isn’t the kind of account you’re searching for when it comes to your regular banking and spending. Due to the lack of a debit card and bank machine access, electronic transfers are the only means to get money out of the account once it has been deposited.

To get around this, you can link your EQ Bank Savings Plus Account to another chequing account. You can also send and receive Interac eTransfers. The quickest way to withdraw money from your EQ account is to eTransfer it to yourself and deposit the funds into another account of yours that has a debit card. Or you can write a cheque to yourself and deposit it in another bank account.

Interest on deposits

Despite the accessibility downside, The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account offers a competitive interest rate if you need a safe place to store your money, which is a huge pro. You earn up to 1.65% on your account balance, which is 165x more than what most other banks offer.

A student loan hack

Keep the money from your student loans or any other funds in the Savings Plus Account at EQ Bank, where it can grow rather than sit in another account and not earn anything. Then transfer it to some different bank account in portions when required. This will help any interest you may have to pay on a student loan.

HSBC Bank’s Free Account

HSBC Bank Canada is one of the largest financial institutions in the country. With your student account, you can take advantage of no monthly fees with unlimited transactions. There is no minimum balance required either. You get free interac eTransfers, free mobile cheque deposits, and free withdrawals from ATMs. There are 130 locations throughout Canada but it’s their amount of ATMS that really impress with over 3,650 throughout the country.

How to Qualify

You have to be at least 18 years old and be a Canadian citizen who is enrolled in full time post secondary education.

Credit cards

The HSBC credit card that’s best for students is the HSBC + Rewards Mastercard. Benefits include a low interest rate with perks that are tailor made for students.

Tangerine Bank

Tangerine is a digital bank, which is overseen by Scotiabank’s online division. You won’t see advertising for this as a student account but the benefits that come with it are similar. There is never a monthly fee and never will be. It’s free to everyone. You get a free chequebook and usually as a new sign up, you earn $50. If you get other people to sign up with your unique ID, you can stand to get even more free cash.

There are great features like bill payments, unlimited transactions, Interac eTransfer, and pre-authorized payments. You get really good interest rates for having money in your chequing account. It’s easy to sign up for a savings account as well, which can earn you up to 0.40%.


When you use a Scotiabank ATM, it’s always fee free. There are over 3,500 ATMs with the Scotiabank name on it so it’s very accessible. There are Scotiabank ATMs throughout the world as well with the Scotiabank’s Global ATM Alliance.

Credit cards

You can apply for the Tangerine Money Back Credit Card, which has no annual fees. You get a limitless 2% cash back on purchases.

With the banks above in mind, you can see what benefits and details work best for you. It should help you narrow down the right plan for your needs. If you want totally free banking, you can open up an account with CIBC, Scotiabank, and Tangerine. This may not fill in all the gaps when it comes to your banking needs so there’s no shame in opening up a secondary account that gives you the extra features you want.

It’s actually suggested that you have two bank accounts to start off with as a student. You want a chequing account for spending with a high interest savings account. If your parents are sending you money, leave what you don’t need in your savings account so it can make you a bit of money. Make sure you know what the minimum balance is on a savings account so you don’t get charged penalties. Being a student offers excellent perks at Canadian banks for a limited amount of time. Make sure to take advantage of it while you can.

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Loraine Couturier

Loraine Couturier is a Canadian that has been working as a freelance writer for the past ten years, specializing in topics that include personal finance, medical journals, and the online gaming industry. She is a published author, digital marketing expert and an authority in the fields in which she writes about.