My article on "Shopping in the US" has gotten me thinking about USD bank accounts. These accounts can certainly come in handy when you need a few US dollars in your pocket.
Below is a little comparison table I created to get a feel for what the big banks are offering in term of US bank accounts.
|Bank||Min Balance for no fee||Monthly Fee||Cost per Debit|
|Royal Bank||$0||$0||1 free/mo then $0.75/debit|
|Scotia Bank||$200||$1 if balance < $200||2 free/mo then $0.60/debit|
|Bank of Montreal*||$1,500||$4 if balance < $1,500||10 free/mo then $0.60/debit|
|Toronto Dominion||$0||$0||$1.00/debit, free if balance > $1,000|
*BMO allows USD in their regular chequing accounts. This makes the fee structure a little more complicated to summarize but you can see all the details on this BMO page. The fee structure in the table above is for the BMO "Practical Plan", which is a "low transaction" account.
Going through the table above, it seems that for someone who doesn't do a lot of USD transactions, Royal Bank provides the most cost effective USD bank account with no monthly fee or minimum balance and 1 free transaction / month.
For a frequent US travellor who does a fair number of USD transactions / month, then TD will most likely be your most cost effective choice. They will allow unlimited free transactions provided that you keep a $1,000 USD balance.