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Best Student Bank Accounts in Canada: 9 Bank Accounts for Post-Secondary Students

Best Student Bank Accounts in Canada: 9 Bank Accounts for Post-Secondary Students

Whether you’re a student currently enrolled in a post-secondary institution or you’re beginning post-secondary studies in the near future, you want a bank account that works with your life. Thankfully, Canada’s banks offer chequing accounts designed specifically for students. I’ve compiled a list of the best student bank accounts in Canada, so you can easily compare features and benefits and choose the right account for you.

The Best Student Banking Accounts: Must-Have Features

Banks are known for enticing new customers with various account benefits and other perks, and students are no different. However, some perks are worth more than others. Before we get to our list, here are five must-have features I think every student should look for in a bank account. If the account you’re looking at doesn’t offer these, keep searching.

No Monthly Account Fees

Most Canadian students are living on a low income while they go to school, so monthly bank account fees of $15 or $20 can add up quickly. Check to make sure your student bank account has no monthly fees or, at the very least, your bank rebates the fee each month for students.

Unlimited Debit Transactions

Students may not have a lot of money, but they can rack up daily transactions easily by spending on small amounts. Spending on fast food, groceries, ride-share, or transit fares, you’d be surprised how quickly it can add up. Make sure your student bank account doesn’t limit your number of monthly debit transactions. The last thing you want to see is extra bank fees at the end of the month because you went over your limit.

Free e-Transfers

Most Canadians have embraced e-Transfers as the fastest and easiest way to transfer money between friends and family members. Every student bank account should offer unlimited, free e-Transfers.

Credit Card Offer (for older students)

Not all banks have a dedicated student credit card, but most have a no-frills credit card that’s suitable for a young person with a low income who may be new to credit. These cards are usually no-fee and don’t have a minimum income requirement. Often, they will come with basic rewards, allowing you to earn up to 1% in cash back or other rewards.

For older students who meet the minimum criteria, it’s a good idea to have a credit card for the purpose of building credit or in case of a financial emergency. You never know when you might have to purchase a last-minute plane ticket home.

Welcome Offers

As you’ll find out in this article, most big banks will entice students with welcome offers. They are usually for a limited time and are often seasonal. Welcome offers can be very lucrative – it’s not uncommon for them to be worth up to $400 or more. However, to qualify, you will have to jump through a few hoops.

In addition to opening a student bank account, you may have to also open a savings account or a credit card, set up a recurring direct deposit, etc. Either way, try to take advantage of a welcome offer when you open a student bank account.

Keep in mind that welcome offers are almost always for new clients only. You won’t qualify if you open a new account with your existing bank.

9 of the Best Student Bank Accounts in Canada

For this list, I’ve selected nine student bank accounts from Canada’s top financial institutions, including seven of the biggest banks and two leading digital banks. While many of the features are similar between the different accounts, each bank finds its own way to add extra value.

CIBC, for example, offers free stock and ETF trading for students who are over 18 years of age. BMO will reverse a fee that was the result of an accident or oversight. And Simplii Financial has an international student program that makes it easier for students to qualify for a Student Direct Stream (SDS) study permit. With that in mind, let’s get to the list.

RBC Advantage Bank Account for Students

Current Offer: Until May 31st, you can receive $100 if you open an RBC Advantage Bank Account for Students. To qualify, you must complete one of the following transactions by July 31, 2023: conduct at least three debit transactions, register for e-Transfer Auto Deposit and send one e-Transfer, enroll for a Virtual Visa Debit card, and complete at least one transaction. If you meet the conditions, RBC will deposit the $100 into your student bank account.

For ages: 13+ (full-time students)

Account Features:

  • $0 Monthly fee for full-time students
  • Unlimited debit transactions
  • Free Interac e-Transfers
  • No RBC for using another bank’s ATM (in Canada)

RBC Advantage Banking for students rebates the monthly fee on the RBC Advantage Banking account for full-time students. The standard account fee is $11.95, so it’s a nice saving for students. The account comes with unlimited debit transactions and free e-Transfers. In addition, you get free eStatements, one free NSF fee rebate per year, and a free cheque order (50 cheques).

RBC Student Credit Card

RBC recommends the RBC ION Visa as one of their top cards for students. The card has no annual fee, and cardholders can earn 1.5X Avion points for every $1 they spend on groceries, rides, gas, streaming, subscriptions, digital gaming, and more.

TD Student Chequing Account

Current Offer: Until May 31, 2023, you can get a $100 Amazon Gift Card when you open a TD Student Chequing Account. The first step is to open a TD Student Chequing Account. If you set up a recurring direct deposit by August 31, 2023, you can receive 500 Starbucks Stars. Finally, if you open a new TD Rewards Visa Credit Card, you can get $50 in Amazon Shop with Points value.

For ages: up to age 23 (annual proof of full-time post-secondary enrollment after age 23)

Account Features:

  • No monthly fee
  • Unlimited monthly transactions
  • Free Interac e-Transfers
  • Free paper statements
  • Non-TD ATM Fees are $2 each
  • Foreign ATM Fees (U.S. and Mexico) are $3 each
  • All other Foreign ATM Fees are $5 each
  • No monthly fee for the Overdraft Protection service

TD Canada Trust has blended its youth and student accounts with a single TD Student Chequing Account. It’s free until you’re 23 years old – and you can keep the account beyond 23 as long as you can provide proof of full-time enrollment at a post-secondary school. When you open a TD Student Chequing Account, you can use the TD MySpend mobile app to track your spending every month.

International students can get a 1-Year Amazon Prime Student Membership by bundling a TD Student Chequing, TD Rewards Visa Card, and a TD Savings Account together.

TD Student Credit Card

TD recommends three of its credit cards to students: the TD Cashback Visa Card, TD Emerald Flex Rate Visa Card, and the TD Rewards Visa Card. The TD Cashback and Rewards cards are no annual fee, while the Emerald Flex Rate card charges a $25 fee in exchange for a preferred interest rate.

For students, I like the TD Rewards Visa the most. In addition to no annual fee, you’ll earn TD Rewards points, which can be redeemed for travel and at and Starbucks. It also comes with Mobile Device insurance coverage of up to $1000, which should put most students’ minds at ease.

CIBC Smart for Students

Current Offer: CIBC is currently offering up to $150 to students who open a new chequing account with CIBC Smart for Students. To qualify, you need to complete up to 3 of the following within two months of opening your account: Earn $50 when you provide your email address, earn another $50 when you set up one recurring direct deposit, and earn $50 when you set up two different pre-authorized debits; make 2 Visa Debit purchases, or make two online bill payments of at least $50 each.

For ages: Up to age 25 and beyond

Account Features:

  • No monthly fees
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Unlimited monthly transactions
  • Free Interac e-Transfers
  • One free non-CIBC ATM withdrawal per month.

Students who are graduating before age 25 can get unlimited banking from CIBC through their Smart Start program. To qualify, Canadian residents must provide proof of ID, as well as proof of enrollment (student ID, confirmation of registration, or an enrollment letter). International students can also qualify by providing a valid student ID, a foreign passport, and a study permit.

Even if you’re still in full-time school after age 25, you can receive free banking under the CIBC Smart for Students program.

Free Stock Trading for Students

One of the best features is free stock trading for students between the ages of 18 and 24. If you open a CIBC Investor’s Edge online brokerage account, CIBC will waive the trading commission for Canadian and U.S. stock and ETF trades. They will also waive the annual account fee, where applicable, and any minimum balance requirement.

CIBC Student Credit Cards

CIBC lists four credit cards for students: the CIBC Aventura Visa Card for Students, CIBC Aeroplan Visa Card for Students, CIBC Dividend Visa Card for Students, and the CIBC Classic Visa Card for Students.

The Dividend Visa card may be best suited for students, as it offers 2% cash back on eligible grocery purchases and 1% cash back on eligible gas, transportation, and recurring payments, all of which can be significant expenses for college students. You also get a free SPC membership and extended warranty protection.

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan

Current Offer: Not to be outdone by its banking peers, Scotiabank also has an offer for students who open a new bank account: Up to 12,500 Scene+ points ($125 value) by bundling a student bank account (Student Banking Advantage Plan), a Scotiabank Scene+ Visa Card, and a Momentum Savings Account.

For ages: No age requirement. Must be enrolled full-time in a post-secondary institution in Canada or the U.S.

Account Features:

  • No monthly account fees
  • Unlimited debit transactions
  • Unlimited free Interac e-Transfers
  • Earn Scene+ rewards on daily purchases

If you are enrolled full-time in a post-secondary institution in Canada or the U.S., you qualify for free, unlimited banking through the Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan. The account features unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-Transfers, and membership in the Scene+ rewards program.

About Scene+ Rewards

Scene+ is a joint loyalty rewards program between Scotiabank and Cineplex. You can earn rewards when you shop at many popular retail stores and redeem your points at Cineplex (movies), the Rec Room and Playdium, Scene+ Travel Powered by Expedia, and hundreds of retailers and restaurants. In other words, it’s the perfect loyalty rewards program for students.

Scotiabank Student Credit Cards

Scotiabank lists two student credit cards on its website: the Scotiabank Scene+ Visa Card for Students and the L’earn Visa Card. Both are no annual fee cards. The L’earn Visa Card is a straightforward cash back rewards card. You can earn up to 1% cash back on purchases, but it’s a tiered earn rate. On the first $500 in annual spending, you earn 0.25%, 0.50% on the next $500, and 1% money bank on any amount over $1000.

With the Scene+ Visa Card for Students, you’ll earn 2 Scene+ points on every $ you spend at Sobeys, Safeway, Foodland & Participating Co-ops, FreshCo, Cineplex theatres, and more. You also save money on car rentals.

BMO Student Chequing Account

Current Offer: With their 2023 Student Spring Campaign, BMO is offering college and university students a $100 cash bonus for opening a new Student Chequing Account and 5% cash back for three months (up to $125) if they open a new Student BMO Cash Back Mastercard. The offer expires on May 31st, 2023. Visit BMO’s Student Spring Campaign page for full details.

For Ages: No age requirement. Must be enrolled full-time in a post-secondary institution.

Account Features:

  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited monthly transactions
  • Unlimited monthly e-Transfers
  • One non-BMO ATM withdrawal per month is included
  • Up to a $40 annual fee rebate on eligible BMO credit cards
  • Eligible for Easy First Fee Reversal (see details below)

Bank of Montreal has two student bank accounts (Premium and Performance), but it’s the latter that will appeal to most college students. It’s a free bank account with unlimited monthly transactions and e-Transfers. You can earn a $100 cash bonus for signing up, and you get a respectable $40 rebate on the annual fee for eligible BMO credit cards. However, most students will opt for a credit card with no annual fee.

The Premium account offers a $150 rebate on the annual fee for an eligible BMO credit card and waives the non-BMO ATM fees worldwide. But unless you travel extensively or never find yourself near a BMO ATM, the $13.05 monthly fee isn’t worth it. Overall, it’s a sound offer from BMO.

Easy First Fee Reversal

Because BMO knows that accidents happen from time to time, they have an Easy First Fee Reversal program that reverses the first accidental fee incurred on a new student account. The following types of fees are eligible for fee reversal:

  • A monthly plan fee on a primary chequing account when the balance drops below the minimum
  • A non-sufficient funds fee (NSF)
  • An overdraft fee
  • A fee for transactions over your monthly plan limit

BMO Student Credit Cards

Like Scotiabank, BMO lists two no-annual-fee credit cards for students: the BMO CashBack Mastercard and the BMO Air Miles Mastercard. As I’m not a fan of the Airmiles program, I prefer the BMO CashBack Mastercard. There’s currently a welcome offer that pays 5% cash back on purchases for the first three months (conditions apply).

Beyond that, you get 3% cash back on grocery purchases, 1% cash back on recurring bill payments, and 0.5% cash back on all other purchases. Not bad for a no annual fee card.

National Bank Student Bank Account

Current Offer: None found

For ages: 18-24

Account Features:

  • The Connected Bank account is for anyone 18-24, student or not
  • No monthly fees
  • Free e-Transfers
  • Free ATM withdrawals (at over 3,300 ATMs)
  • Free online statements

National Bank, Canada’s sixth-largest bank, has credit offers for students depending on their field of study. But anyone between the ages of 18 and 24 can qualify for a free banking package called The Connected. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a student or not; you only need to meet the age requirement.

There are no monthly fees, unlimited transactions, or e-Transfers, and you get free access to National Bank’s ATM network. When you turn 25, National Bank will begin charging the regular account fee, which is $15.95/month (free with a minimum balance of $4,500).

National Bank Student Credit Card

I couldn’t locate a specific student credit card recommendation from National Bank, so I took a look at their no-fee credit cards. They offer three in total: the mycredit Mastercard, the MC1 Mastercard, and the Allure Mastercard. All three cards are no-fee and offer a standard purchase interest rate of 20.99%.

While they are subject to credit approval, none of the cards has a minimum income requirement. The mycredit Mastercard offers solid value, with up to 1% cash back rewards, Mobile protection, and Purchase protection. Extended Warranty coverage is also included.

Canadian Western Bank Student Account

Current Offer: None found

For ages: Full-time post-secondary students

Account Features:

  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited monthly transactions
  • Free Interac e-Transfers
  • non-Exchange Network ATM withdrawals are $1.50

Canadian Western Bank (CWB) has a no-frills student bank account that covers the most important features: no monthly fees, unlimited debit transactions, and free Interac e-Transfers. Being a smaller bank, they don’t have the same credit card offering as the larger banks, including a dedicated student credit card. However, their CWB Rewards Mastercard comes with no annual fee and a rewards program that earns 1 point on every dollar you spend. It’s likely enough to satisfy most students who bank with Canadian Western Bank.

Online Bank Student Account Offerings

Canada’s online-only banks seem like they’re perfectly suited to post-secondary students, most of whom are young and tech-savvy. So, it only makes sense that they would offer banking products that are specifically geared toward students. Let’s take a look at two online banks, Simplii Financial, and Tangerine:

Simplii Financial Student Banking Offer

Current Offer: Enter the Simplii Financial Student Banking Contest for a chance to win $50,000. If you apply for the Student Banking Offer before Feb 28, 2024, you’ll automatically be entered for a chance to win.

For ages: Free banking for all ages

Account Features:

  • Free no-fee chequing account
  • Students can earn up to $400 when they open an account and set up a direct deposit
  • Earn $125 when you refer a friend (see details below)
  • International Student GIC Program

Simplii Financial doesn’t have a dedicated student bank account because all of its accounts are free and unlimited. That’s the beauty of online banks. However, they do offer post-secondary students up to $400 for signing up. In addition, their Simplii Financial Student Banking Contest runs until Feb 2024 and offers a chance to win $50,000. Their offers also extend to international students.

Refer-A-Friend Bonus

Simplii Financial will pay you $125 if you refer a friend and they open an eligible account using your referral link. Your friend will receive $50 for signing up.

For more information on Simplii Financial, check out our full review.

Tangerine Student Banking

Current Offer: Students who open a new chequing and Savings account with Tangerine can earn up to $400 cash back when they shop online or in-app for 60 days. They will also earn 5% interest on their Tangerine Savings Account balance for the first five months.

For ages: Free banking for all ages

Account Features:

  • Free no-fee chequing account
  • No monthly fees
  • Unlimited debit transactions
  • No-fee ATM withdrawals via Scotiabank ATMs

Tangerine, the Official Bank of the Toronto Raptors basketball team, offers free, unlimited banking to all customers, not just students. But students who open their first free chequing and savings account with Tangerine can earn up to $400 cash back, as well as 5% interest in a Tangerine high-interest savings account for five months.

One of the perks of banking with Tangerine is getting free access to Scotiabank’s massive Canada-wide ATM network. (Tangerine is the digital banking arm of Scotiabank).

For more information, check out our Tangerine review.

Final Thoughts on the Best Student Accounts in Canada

There you have it, our list of the best student chequing accounts in Canada. No matter where you are in your studies, as long as you’re a full-time student and meet the age requirement (if there is one), you can get free, unlimited banking. You may even receive an attractive welcome bonus. If you know of any other great student bank accounts that I didn’t include on our list, please let me know in the comments below. I’d love to hear about them.

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