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With so many chequing account options available, choosing the right one for you can be complicated.
What is a chequing account? Most of our day-to-day banking is done through our chequing or savings accounts. Whether it’s ATM transactions, deposits, money transfers or bill payments, you can meet most of your banking needs with a chequing account. Each bank has its services and fees, so you need to evaluate all aspects of the account before signing up and check out the list of the best chequing account offers available today.
It is essential to choose a bank that you have regular access to. If you like to have access to cash often, you don’t want to pay the extra fees for withdrawals at other banks’ ATMs. Consider the location of the bank and the number of ATMs available to consumers, so you don’t have to worry about adding extra fees. If you’re vacationing in nearby cities, ask about the accessibility of ATMs. Even if you don’t always have your bank nearby, it’s important to check the extent of its reach.
Type of account
What type of chequing account would you like?
- The personal chequing account is the most common and is used for everyday purposes such as bank deposits, bill payments, check cashing and transfers. Some allow you to earn a little interest, others have a monthly service fee and allow you to make a limited number of transactions per month. Regular chequing accounts generally have a monthly service fee, unless you maintain a certain amount in your account.
- Online chequing accounts are offered by online banks and have the same features as a traditional chequing account, but only allow you to access your account online. There is no in-person banking. You can do most things like a regular chequing account, such as cashing checks, making direct deposits and money transfers.
- A hybrid chequing account – A savings account can double as a chequing account at some financial institutions. This account offers benefits such as interest on your funds, which is not available with a regular chequing account. With a hybrid chequing account, you can do everything in one account, so you don’t have to open a separate savings account.
- A USD chequing account – If you often make transactions in U.S. dollars, consider opening a USD chequing account to save on currency exchange fees. This account allows you to deposit and withdraw funds in USD without any exchange fees.
What are the fees for a chequing account?
Fees are a key consideration when choosing a chequing account. There are many other fees to consider in addition to your regular monthly fee.
- Transaction Fees – Chequing accounts may have a limit on the number of free transactions. After that, you may end up paying $1.25 per transaction. You may want to consider an unlimited transaction chequing account depending on your transaction needs.
- ATM fees – It’s in your interest to understand the costs associated with withdrawals from your bank’s ATMs and third-party ATMs. You can avoid costly fees with this additional knowledge!
- Interac transfer fees – You can save a few hundred dollars a month on fees if you find a bank that offers unlimited wire transfers.
- Overdraft fees – Consider opening an overdraft protection chequing account to protect yourself from overdrafts.
- Insufficient Funds Fee (NSF ) – An insufficient funds fee will be applied if your bank account falls below zero. The cost can easily reach a staggering $40, depending on the bank!
Additional features of chequing accounts
Now that you understand what type of account meets your needs, you can start narrowing down your options based on other features:
- Availability and convenience – Do you prefer to bank in person and use ATMs or online and with mobile capabilities? Each bank has unique features that make them convenient for the user. If you bank online, there should be no problems with their software and online payment system. When banking in person, you need to decide how many branches there are in your area.
- Customer Service – These days, we live by reviews. Have you ever read a list of bad reviews on a restaurant and decided to go to a fast food restaurant instead because you know what you’re getting? Read consumer reviews and see if you can live with the inconvenience and determine if the customer service is good.
- Product Selections – Make a list of the features offered by the bank. If you plan to invest, save or take out a loan, you want to make sure the bank offers all of these features. The good thing is that if you add other features, you can get lower rates.
- Minimum balance rate – Many banks require you to pay a monthly service fee if you do not meet their monthly balance requirement. This means that you must have the minimum amount set by the bank in your account. Get access to better features and save money on those service fees!
- Promotions – Banks tend to offer promotions throughout the year. You can earn cash bonuses or free gifts when you join the bank or as an existing customer.
Choosing a chequing account can be quite daunting as there are so many options available to Canadians. Think of your chequing account as a mobile plan, and only take what you need. Avoid paying fees for transactions that are add-ons, which will become expensive in the long run.
Consider making a list of what is important to you in a chequing account, such as payments, withdrawals, deposits, etc., and plan how many of these transactions you could potentially make in a month. By doing this type of planning, you can see how much you can afford on monthly bank fees and essentially help you make the right choice for yourself.
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