So, you’ve endured 60 years of ups and downs, booms and busts, triumphs and challenges, now it’s time to kick up your feet, relax, and enjoy your retirement. You want a simple bank account to handle your day-to-day banking, but there are so many choices out there. Which should you choose? Which is the best bank for seniors in Canada?
We here at Million Dollar Journey believe that the free online chequing accounts are still the best value for most Canadians. Check out FT’s recent comparison of Canada’s best chequing accounts or the best online bank in Canada article. But if you want the personal in-branch experience, then read on to find out about banks with the best chequing accounts for seniors.
Big Banks, Little Discounts
The five big Canadian banks TD, BMO, RBC, CIBC, and Scotiabank all offer senior discounts on their regular chequing accounts. You need to reach age 60 to qualify for the TD, BMO, and Scotiabank discounts but have to wait until age 65 to qualify for the RBC and CIBC discounts. Scotiabank offers a fixed discount across all their accounts and the others banks offer discount amounts proportional to their regular account fees.
One thing in common is that for seniors, all the big banks fully rebate the fee on their most basic chequing accounts. Those basic accounts are all very similar across the big five banks. They all offer 12 free transactions.
One sneaky caveat with the TD Minimum Chequing account is that a branch visit is classified as a “full service transaction.” Only 2 of the 12 free transactions per month can be the full service kind. So if you want to keep your account fee rebate, you can only have two in person banking experiences per month.
As for Interac e-Transfers, the TD Minimum Chequing account charges $0.50 to $1.00 per transfer. The Scotiabank Basic Bank account offers 2 free Interac e-Transfers per month then charges $1.00 for each additional transfer. The CIBC Everyday Chequing account charges $1.50 per Interac e-Transfer. The RBC Day to Day Banking account and the BMO Practical account offer free Interac e-Transfers.
CIBC does offer additional perks to their seniors chequing account package, like free bank drafts and money orders as well as a $5 discount on annual safety deposit box rentals.
Besides the CIBC perks for seniors, there really isn’t much benefit to seniors beyond the $4 to $5 dollars per month rebate on the account fees.
Bigger Accounts, Still Little Discounts
If you need more features, you can use your senior discount on one of the higher tier offerings from the big banks. The following table summarizes the fee structure and senior discount for some fancier accounts from the big banks.
Fee after senior discount
TD Every Day Chequing
25 free transactions. Unlimited Interac e-Transfers.
TD Unlimited Chequing
25 free transactions. Unlimited Interac e-Transfers.
Unlimited transactions. Rebate on BMO credit card fees.
RBC No Limit Banking
Unlimited debits. Discount on safety deposit box.
CIBC Smart Account
$4.95 - $14.95
$0 - $10.00
Flexible, monthly fee depends on how many transactions.
Scotiabank Basic Plus
25 free transactions. 10 free Interac e-Transfers.
Scotiabank Preferred Package
Unlimited transactions. Waive first year fee on select credit cards.
As you can see, the big bank offerings are all very similar. Frankly, the higher tier accounts from the big banks don’t offer much features that can’t be found in the free online bank accounts. The only benefit of the brick and mortar banks is the in-person service but there is an ongoing cost for this luxury.
So, as it stands, the best option for a seniors account is Scotiabank. That is, if you really want to use one of the big banks of course. It is still miles behind EQ Bank – the hands down best bank in Canada.
Best Bank Accounts for Seniors at Your Neighbourhood Credit Unions
Credit unions can be a good middle ground between the amazing value of the free online chequing accounts and the in-person experience of the brick and mortar banks. For example, Meridian offers a free senior chequing account with useful features:
- Unlimited transactions.
- Free access to thousands of EXCHANGE Network ABMs across Canada.
- Free access to thousands more ABMs in the U.S. through the Allpoint network.
- 4 free Interac eTransfers per month.
- 1 free basic cheque order per year.
- 4 free bank drafts a month.
- Free certified cheques
Meridian also offers many financial products similar to the big banks. Its senior chequing account could be a one-stop-shop connection to other services like the GIC savings accounts, investment accounts, RRIF accounts, and credit cards. Credit unions like Meridian may be a good place to consolidate all your banking and financial services needs.
Meridian only has locations in Ontario, mostly in large urban centres. If you happen to live close to a branch, then a Meridian senior chequing account could be your access to a full featured chequing account as well as the personal, in-branch experience.
Meridian is the largest credit union in Ontario but there are dozens of other choices like Alterna Savings, FirstOntario Credit Union, or one literally called Your Neighbourhood Credit Union. Look for one near you.
There are hundreds of credit unions across Canada. Here are the largest credit unions by province:
- Vancouver City Savings credit union in British Columbia
- Servus credit union in Alberta
- Conexus credit union in Saskatchewan
- Steinbach credit union in Manitoba
- Many local credit unions (caisses populaires) under the Desjardin Group in Quebec
- UNI Financial Cooperation in New Brunswick
- East Coast credit union in Nova Scotia
- Newfoundland and Labrador credit union in Newfoundland and Labrador
- Provincial credit union in Prince Edward Island
So check out a credit union near you. You may find the best senior chequing account that meets your needs.
Savings Accounts for Seniors
The big banks also offer savings accounts for retirees and seniors. But those savings accounts are typically offered to everyone for free anyway so there are no senior benefits to be had. Besides, the typical big bank savings account offers laughably low interest rates, no one should bother with such an account, senior or otherwise.
Credit unions typically offer slightly better interest rates on their savings accounts compared to the big banks.
The Free Online Choice is Still the Best Choice
Spending so much of 2020 socially distancing from each other has made us all yearn for human connection and the in-person banking experience sure feels enticing. But the value of free online banks like Tangerine and EQ Bank simply cannot be beat.
Tangerine’s free chequing account includes basic features like unlimited transactions, free Interac e-Transfers, and a free first cheque book. Tangerine also frequently doles out bonus cash rewards for setting up pre-authorized deposits and automatic bill payments. Keep an eye out for those reward offers.
As for savings accounts for seniors, EQ Bank offers the highest interest rate at the moment. Checkout Kornel’s recent review of Canada’s best online savings account. EQ Bank’s Savings Plus account is free for all so there isn’t a senior discount per se. Regardless, it’s a top choice for savings accounts, senior or otherwise.
If you value the in-person experience of a brick and mortar bank, then choose one of the big banks or your local credit union. You’ll need to be careful not to exceed your limited number of transactions.
But if you’re comfortable doing all your banking online or through a mobile app, then the free online banks are definitely the best choices.
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