Image credit: Juliette Leufke via Unsplash
Everyone has a chequing account. There’s a good chance your parents helped you set up your first account (and that you opened it at the same bank they use), or that you got one as soon as you landed your first job.
There’s nothing wrong with using a bank you’re familiar with, but what you might not realize is that there dozens of chequing accounts out there. Luckily, RateHub’s new chequing account comparison tool makes it easier than ever to find the best account for your needs.
Before diving in, consider the following things so you can get the most out of your chequing account.
Define your needs
Every chequing account has different features, so you need to figure out what’s most important to you by asking yourself the following questions:
- How many transactions do I make each month?
- Do I carry a large balance or tend to keep the money to a minimum in my account?
- Are e-transfers something I use on a regular basis?
Knowing how many transactions you make is the most important factor because chequing accounts are built with that number in mind. A basic chequing account will have a limited number of monthly transactions, while higher tier ones may offer unlimited transactions.
Knowing how much money you tend to keep your account also matters—many chequing accounts waive the monthly fee when you maintain a minimum balance.
Finally, e-transfers have been growing in popularity. With e-transfers, you can send someone (or yourself) money in 30-60 minutes. If this appeals to you, you’ll want to make sure the account you choose offers at least some free e-transfers.
Think about the fees you’ll have to pay
Banking fees are one of the most annoying things people deal with. Fortunately, there are ways to manage how much you pay as long as you know what to look out for.
Having a chequing account can cost you anywhere from $0 to $30 a month. Normally, accounts with a low fee offers limited features while the ones with higher monthly premium offers additional perks. However, some of the best chequing accounts have no fees at all since they’re operated online and are built with the client in mind.
Beyond the monthly account fees, you need to think about the transaction fees. Depending on the account you have, you can be charged anywhere from $0.65 to $2.50 per transaction once you go over your monthly limit.
Remember, transactions count for everything. Deposits, withdrawals, auto payments, direct deposits, and e-transfers all count as transactions. You can see how these add up fast even if you’re not going to your branch much.
Don’t worry, the chequing account comparison tool will be able to help you estimate monthly costs before suggesting an account that’s a good fit for you.
Features and fees matter, but sometimes convenience is the most important thing to consider when picking a chequing account. It makes no sense to bank with someone because they have the lowest fees when you don’t live or work anywhere near their branch or ATMs.
Although online banks don’t usually have any bricks and mortar stores, some of them have partnerships with certain banks so you can access their ATMs without having to pay any fees. You just want to make sure that you have easy access to those partner ATMs. Pick an account where you can easily access your money.
Do you qualify for special accounts or discounts?
If you’re a student or senior (age 60+), you’ll most likely instantly qualify for an account with low or no fees. These accounts are popular since you get the same service with no fees, but here’s a tip: you don’t always have to be a student or senior to qualify for these accounts.
If you’ve been a loyal customer, you could always threaten to leave because you’re tired of the high fees. There’s a good chance the provider will offer to switch you to one of the free accounts or they’ll rebate your monthly fees just to keep your business.
Now if you prefer to not be confrontational, you could still ask for a rebate. If you have multiple products with the same bank such as a credit card, mortgage, or investments, they may agree to giving you a discount.
Consider additional benefits
Some people will instantly balk at accounts with high monthly fees, but you need to think about the additional benefits you get. Many of these higher end accounts will waive the annual fee of a premium credit card, offer free cheques, give you a safety deposit box, and much more.
This may not appeal to everyone, but there’s no denying that higher end accounts do have quite a few extra perks—with a higher fee, of course.
Remember, you can often get those monthly fees waived as long as you maintain a minimum balance, so you could technically get a higher end account for “free.”
Take a breath—this is a lot to take in. But at least there’s finally a tool to make things easier.
RateHub.ca is an independent financial product comparison site that empowers Canadians to make smart financial decisions by comparing rates on mortgages, credit cards, chequing accounts, savings accounts and insurance.