As I mentioned in a list on the steps in setting up a corporation, obtaining a business bank account is a good idea.  The reason being is that the customers can pay you via company name instead of personal name.  As well, it helps during tax season when business income/expenses are separated from personal income/expenses.

I’ve discovered that most small business bank accounts are expensive.  The big banks really try to scrape every penny out of business owners via business products, it’s almost nauseating.  Thankfully, I own shares in most of the big banks which helps calm my stomach.

The small business accounts offered by the big banks really vary in terms of cost and features.  I went through the lowest cost accounts possible (I don’t like bank fees) and what they offered.

Generally speaking, all the banks offered both a set monthly fee plan where you get so many transactions per month in addition to offering “pay as you go” plans.

As of August 2009:

CIBC Royal Bank TD Bank Scotia Bank BMO
Min Balance for No Fee
n/a n/a $8,000 $5,000 (paygo only) $4,000
Flat Fee / Month $11 / 10 trans $20 / ~ 20 debit 10 credit 20 deposits $12 /5 deposits 7 debits $12 – $16 / 15 trans $9.50 for 15 trans /month
Extra Cheque Dep $0.16 + $1.25 $0.20 + $0.95 $0.18 + $1.00 $0.18 + $0.85 $0.18 + $1.00
Extra Cash Dep $1.80+ $1.25 $2.15+ $0.95 $2.15 + $1.00 $2.25 + $1.00 $2.15 + $1.00
Pay Go Monthly Fee $10.00 $6.00 $7.95 $9.00 $6.00
Cheque Dep $0.16 + $0.90 $0.20 + $0.95 $0.18 + $1.00 $0.18 + $0.85 $0.90
Cash Dep $1.80 + $0.90 $2.15+ $0.95 $2.15 + $1.00 $2.25 + $1.00 $2.15
Extras 1 free trans for every $500 in account Monthly paygo fee is waived if trans fees are greater than $6 1 free trans for every $1,000 in account

For me, I was looking for something as low cost as possible, even if it meant keeping a relatively high balance.

Looking at the table, it was a no brainer to go with the BMO small business account as it offered free banking if I keep a balance of $4k.  In addition, they waive the fee for the first 3 months for new start up businesses.

Do you have a business account?  If so, who did you go with?

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wow, this post really exemplifies the saying, “in order to make money, you need to spend money” – such a stark contrast with personal accounts!

Banks are literally wealth killer when it comes to commercial banking!
I actually do most of my business through a Paypal account (since it cost way less than doing wires!) and I have a business account at RBC.

I have decided to take a bank account with no package. I think I pay about $1.50 to $2.00 per transaction and I limit them to 4 or 5 per month. You will probably be able to do the same with your site ;-D

Wait until you want financing to grow your business, it’s even worst! Along with paying higher interest rate than personal loans, they also charge an opening and maintaining facility charges ;-D

My local credit union has/had by far the most supportive basic business start-up package around. I began in 2004, no minimum balance, had no fees for 6 months. Since then, I pay $5 a month for my statement and $0.75 each for the 2 cheques I write. I deposit through the ATM. Thus, a whopping $6.50 a month. If I needed further services, each fee on Vantage One’s schedule was comparable or less than other big bank (please…) or local CU packages. AND I get a free turkey every Christmas!

I have my small business account with TD. I switched to it a while ago from ATB (Alberta Treasury Branch). Since switching I have saved so much money it is astonishing.

TD offers free online banking (& phone) with their business accounts which is quite helpful for myself. They also have free business to business money transfers if your customers also bank with TD. Since almost all of my customers do bank with TD I get paid on time with no mailing of cheques or hold times. No need to worry about a customer accidently bouncing a cheque and it has saved me about a dozen bank trips per month.

I also like the business hours for TD bank. Since I like many other small business owners are often busy during “banking hours” I actually can now go and do my banking without having to sacrifice customer service or too much pre-planning. Actually the hours are quite honestly the best part of TD.

I have been quite happy with my experience with TD bank so far.

“My local credit union has/had by far the most supportive basic business start-up package around. I began in 2004, no minimum balance, had no fees for 6 months. Since then, I pay $5 a month for my statement and $0.75 each for the 2 cheques I write. I deposit through the ATM. Thus, a whopping $6.50 a month. If I needed further services, each fee on Vantage One’s schedule was comparable or less than other big bank (please…) or local CU packages. AND I get a free turkey every Christmas!”

Thanks for that comment. I don’t have a business banking account, but I would like to have get one for a few projects I have been working on. So I should definitely look at a local credit union it sounds like?

When I wanted to be able to accept USD credit card and cheque payments through Moneris, Moneris required that I have an account with one of RBC, HSBC or BMO.

Where I cannot use a credit union (to support more of my local economy), I prefer RBC because (a) there seems to be a branch in every neighbourhood I relocate to, and (b) their employees seem very happy (this a criteria I use when determining what businesses to support).

I use RBC’s $6/mo CAD account and also a US one to receive US dollars through. Even though my business is very small ($25,000/yr) *and* I pull everything out every month *and* I look grunge, they treat me very well and have rational, honest conversations with me (not like my credit union).

Minimum monthly balance at any bank does not interest me because I draw all of the money into my personal account, as my wages, every month.

I have been considering HSBC for their apparently even wider global presence, but my happiness at RBC makes me reluctant to switch.

Rates are significantly different if you are a professional like an Accountant, Dentist, Lawyer, Notary, Optometrist , Osteopath ,Physician ,Podiatrist ,
Surgeon , or Veterinarian (other banks offer Engeneers as well)

CIBC is who I bank with and see the above link but a summary is here:

One low monthly fee of $35 ,Unlimited transactions1 such as withdrawals, deposit transactions, transfers and bill payments
Cash, coin and cheque deposit package2
Unlimited access at CIBC with no additional cost – Access your accounts 24/7 through our network of bank machines plus CIBC Telephone and Online Banking, and INTERAC® direct payment at no additional cost
Free initial cheque order

It may be worth it to research the banks if you are a “professional”


We have our business accounts through RBC… I’ve dealt with TD before and RBC is, by a mile, a far better bank for business. Fees are only a small part of a business/bank relationship, so be very conscious of this fact. Do they have a business banking teller? When is it manned? Is there always a lineup? Do the tellers know what they’re doing? Nothing worse than walking in to do your business banking and then waiting 20 minutes while some inexperienced teller tries to stumble through a transaction. Time is money.

My business banking is with Scotia – it was a decision made of many parts:

1) Our personal banking is there so I can transfer funds between (dividends) with ease
2) Our accountant is familiar with the commercial banker and it’s amazing how smoothly stuff goes especially at year end/dividend time.
3) We have minimal transactions and the plan supports that (i.e. pretty cheap)

So far so good. If I’ve ever felt overcharged or like I wasn’t made aware of a charge, I told them and they so far have had them reversed.

I considered getting a business bank account for my small business. Unfortunately I was not willing to carry the balance that they wanted. So in the end I just put all business purchases on my personal bank account or credit card. Tax time would be much easier to have all my business purchases all separated. I guess this is something that I will have to come back to once my business is more established. Thank you for this bank account comparison. It should come in handy when I am ready for a business account.

Hi there,

Also, never ever buy cheques from your bank directly. They soak you for orders. The best pricing I have seen is from where the pricing is as below

Business Voucher (cheque on top, 2 stubs below) Computer Cheques for inkjet and laser printers.
100- $40 | 250- $76 | 500- $100 | 1000- $154 | 2000- $229 | 4000- $379

I use the Caisse Populaire d’Ontario. It requires a monthly $5.00 statement fee and 80 cents per transaction fee. Depending on the month, I pay between $9 to $12.00. There is an initial $10.00 fee to open the account (you are buying membership in the Caisse). They handle either Corporation or Partnership or Sole Proprietors.

I was quite disturbed by the fees of mainline banks.

Though I disagree with Sarlock about the Business Banking being better at RBC (we recently switched to TD after endless difficulties with RBC) I think that the most important thing you can do is build a relationship at ONE particular branch.

In my experience, the second I stray from our local branch things always become a little more difficult, whether it be at TD or RBC. We choose to maintain a minimum balance at TD to obtain most of the services we require at no charge, but I would rather pay a few $$ more a month for the extra service we receive once becoming a familiar face/business name to them (our “local” branch is 1 1/2 hours away-and we do most of our transactions via internet/mail.)

I have a small consulting business and I use a basic Scotia account, pay as you go. I keep the minimum $5,000 in it and I can usually offset all or 90% of the fees. Last month I paid a total of $1.50 (which is for getting a paper statement, which I prefer).

Why Scotia? Mainly they are close to the office so easy to access. I echo the comments about service and building a relationship. I rarely need help but when I do I do not have that relationship. They always want me to book a time int he middle of the day in a week or more. So now I just walk in on Thursday night (when they are open late) and ask for help. I always get it (after a short lecture about there being no business reps around).

Thanks for the tip about cheaper cheques. I always ask for free cheques or else I move my account. I always get them. And they always throw in a stamp, pre-printed deposit slips, and once a nice cheque binder.

I usually have a flyer or ad for another bank with me. And if possible I transfer in a larger than normal chunk of change from my ING account before I ask! I think they wanted $120 for 250 cheques! Outrageous. Yes, I am shameless. These are BANKS – they have no problem charging me, so I have no problem being foreceful (but nice) in return.

thanks for the tip re: BMO’s account but for the $2 or $3 average I have its not worth the switch (less convenient). But when I need more cheques next year … haha!

CIBC just changed all the business accounts.

Pay as you go for $8, unlimited for $35.

My business account is at TD because our personal banking account is there as well, though I also hold a business savings account at ING

I find all of the business accounts seem to be oriented towards retailers. My business only does 5-6 transactions a month, so I’m seriously overpaying for my transactions.

We have Coast Capital Savings CU here in BC. They have a $20 business chequing account, unlimited transactions (I do 100+ transactions a month). They also have a pay as you go account for $0.85 per transaction not including deposits which are free. I’ve been using it for over 2 years and never paid more than the $20 fee and cost of printing cheques.

sorry, internet went wonky before I could finnish.

The $35 is Unlimited for transactions, but it also includes $15 000 in bill deposits, etc.

All I can really say, is read the fine print, ask questions because, take it from someone who actually opens account for a living, you will pay for it.

If you see the trend, you’ll note that credit unions are the way to go. Some even have no fee personal accounts that go well with the very low fee business accounts. If you know about the make up of a credit union, you will know that when you open an account, you become a member with voting rights, all profits go towards your local community and anything remaining goes back to members in the form of dividends, or even rebates on the interest you have paid over the year. A great way to become an owner and supporter of your community.

Have any of you looked into icici bank ? It has unlimited business banking for CAD 15 per month and no hidden fees.

Have you considered HSBC? They have a new Business Account called “Business Direct”. No monthly fee and 20 free transactions (ATM, online, phone banking only). Seem like no min balance as well. OK for my small business with few transactions and can do most with ATM or online banking.

Hi bcrmt,

We found the best deal with our local credit union as well. We have pay only $5/month for all banking, as long as we keep a minimum $1,000 balance.


Hey Simon,

I don’t think the HSBC account “Business Direct” is currently offered in Canada. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I can’t locate it on the Canadian site.

HSBC is switching my existing business account to “Business Direct” in Nov. It’s something new they are offering and here’s the web info, kinda of hidden now…. maybe more available till next month?!

Thanks, Simon,

I’ve been researching business accounts and that HSBC Business Direct account is exactly what I’m looking for. No monthly fee! 20 free checks deposited each month, 18 cents for each one after that. I deposit right around 20 each month, and if I go over a few it’s still cheap! I’d have to deposit 53 checks to rack up $6 in charges, which will never happen. However the account doesn’t start until Nov. 2, which is only a couple weeks away.

Thanks again for posting that link!

Hello everyone, I was going to RBC this afternoon until I saw the HSBC offer, I can’t thank you enough for your feedbacks. Its available in Canada and it’s all free. HSBC Business Direct is the way to go if you are comfortable with electronic banking. I have no feelings for the big 5 banks, they meet every quarter to see how to get an extra penny out of you!!!

I’m currently trying to get a business account set up and have seen the HSBC Business Direct account which sounds perfect for me. HOWEVER, I have not been able to talk to anybody to get an appointment to set up an account! This is turning into a headache and I’m not even banking with them yet. Granted the idea of the account is to be indepentdent (online, telephone, & atm) but it shouldn’t be this challenging to talk to an actual person when you need.

Last week before I left for work I called the number for their business division. After being on hold for quite some time I opted for the option to leave my name and number and have them call me back in turn. Never got a call back. Tried to apply online but I was missing one piece of information at the present time and it wouldn’t let me proceed. Finally emailed them stating that I want to make an appointment to set up a buisness account when I’m back in town. Got a reply saying to use the branch locator to locate my nearest branch and call the same number I already tried again! Tried calling my nearest branches direct number, during the day, no answer. Tried to reply to the email that they said to reply to if I had any other questions, not able to.
I guess I’ll give it one more shot once I’m home, I’ll just go to the “branch” (which is inside a canadian tire apparently…) and see if they are able to assist me on the spot, otherwise I’ll pay a monthly fee for some customer service!

Please tell me how it goes with HSBC. I read through everything I could find on their website, but ominously could find no mention of a minimum deposit. And the branch information was just plain confusing.

I have no problems with HSBC tele-banking. With this account, I get basic account services which I need and not paying for bells and whistles that cut into the bottom line.

I also live in a city with many HSBC branches and therefore, it’s not a problem finding a HSBC ATM machine. I am not saying this account is “THE” one, it might not fit with your own unique business/life situation. For me, it’s a good fit!

Donna, I suggest phoning HSBC to ask them directly: 1 866 808 HSBC (4722).

I have an ING business account; it’s similar to their personal accounts, but the interest rate is 1%. I want a business savings account. Is their a business account with a higher interest rate?

Just to add to the HSBC question. Yes they do indeed have free business chequing available in Canada now. You can apply right on their website, which I did. I already had an account with them for one of my other businesses and I am starting up a new business in partnership with my wife.

The free chequing would have been ideal as it’s an online venture and the only thing we would be using the account for is taking in cheque payments and direct deposits. I guess we will just have to go with a fee based account.

I was shocked to find out that HSBC REJECTED our application because she doesn’t meet their minimum credit requirements. I asked them what they are, but the lady on the phone said its just a number that wouldn’t mean anything to me. Fact is, I have a 770 credit score myself, but my wife just got Permanent Residence status in Canada late last year, so she doesn’t have any history at all here.

Afterwards I hassled her a little about what was going to be done with the information in the application for payback on the condescending remark about the number meaning nothing to me.

All of you looking to take advantage of HSBC free chequing, just make sure you have a good credit score, otherwise they don’t want your business.

We will be going to BMO and RBC tomorrow to find out which one we will be doing business with. I already have a long history with BMO but not much with RBC. I prefer to diversify my relationships with banks so that I never get treated like a stranger when I want a product/service from any of them. It is indeed a lot easier to get things done, and you get more offers when banks have had a chance to do business with you over time.

Thanks for this comparison post. I ended up here while searching for a comparison to save me the trouble of figuring out what each of them has to offer.

I was considering signing up with Coast Capital with their “Deposit-for-free” account.

You only pay $.85 per transaction and all deposits are free with no monthly fees. I do freelance graphic design so I don’t have a lot of transactions monthly. Has anyone else used Coast Capital?

My business account is with TD for several reasons.

a) My personal checking account is with TD (their hours are the best – they are open till 8PM in most branches and are open till late on Saturdays)

b) It’s easy for me to electronically transfer money from my TD business account to my personal account without incurring any charge for the EFT Transfer (the EFT costs in a HSBC Business Direct account are a lot).

c) It’s free to pay taxes (other banks charge a one-time setup fee for this)

d) There’s absolutely no hold on cheques – even when the cheques are above $15-$20K. (does depend on branch to branch, but few branches in Victoria, Vancouver, BC and my main branch are perfectly okay with no holds). So, I can deposit a $20K cheque, and transfer the money to my personal account immediately. How many days is the cheque-hold-time in other business accounts?

The only disadvantage is the $8K minimum and the months that I am unable to keep the minimum it hurts for 2 months at a stretch (because if I am unable to keep the minimum this month, when the next month starts the minimum is not met on the 1st day of the month, so effectively I would end up paying $11.95 for 2 months.

I opened HSBC business direct account without problems.

But I haven’t been able to write cheques. The first time I called their line I was told because I don’t have a signature on my card, so I was sent to a nearest branch to sign one. The branch told me that I do have one in their system! I quietly signed a second one. A few weeks later, cheques were still getting returned, I called the business direct number and I was told I don’t have a signature! Worse, the guy on the phone asked me to submit copies of article of incorporation! I told him that I’ve done that already, and he asked me for the name of the guy I sent gave the articles to. When I told him I couldn’t possibly remember the names of those I’m dealing with, and asked him instead to please check in their system or files, he said, I quote, “we keep records in a lot of different places. Without the name of the person I sent the articles to, he has no way of locating my documents”. I protested, threatening to close my account if they can’t properly keep customer’s records. They guy just said fine, I can go to a branch and close!

When I asked at a local branch to close my account and transfer my deposits to another branch, the branch manager personally came to apologize, asked me to sign yet another signature card, and promised to resolve the issue. I did that. In the meantime, I was forced to pay $15 for drafts because I can’t get cheques cleared.

One month later, cheques were still getting returned. I called the business direct number again, and I was told they now do have my signature, but there’s no record of any cheques being received or returned!

I’ve now decided to open a regular TD account.

Also, be warned that, even when you physically go to a local branch, they have to call the same business direct number to be able to serve you. That means, you still have to wait 1/2 to 1 hr to get through to someone.

I am not sure where to go – I have been with TD for eight years and they treat me like garbage. THey will not even give me overdraft protection or a line of credit for my business, and the other day when I tried to cash a $3500 cheque from a client they were going to hold it for 30 days! I went to another branch and it was cashed no problem. I want to go somewhere else, but am not sure where. Anyone else tired of being treated like crap as a small business owner? I make $80 000 per year in my business. IF they don’t want me, I’m sure someone else will.

Im with ScotiaBank for my business. They are not very user friendly, I’ll try BMO given your review.

Joanna, probably too late now, but I use the Coast Capital Savings high-interest savings account for business. Unlimited withdrawals and deposits for free with no monthly fees and 1.35% interest on top!

To write cheques, transfer money to the Deposit-for-free chequing account online for free and pay $0.85 per cheque. You can also file and pay CRA returns online for free too.

Hi Kenneth,

Coast Capital Savings account sounds a great option. Questions:

a) can one open a Coast Capital account from Alberta? (because it looks like they are only in greater vancouver/victoria at the moment.)

b) how easy will it be to link the Coast Capital deposit-for-free chequing account to an ING Business Savings account because that also allows free deposits, no monthly fees, no minimum balance. (because they may offer better interest rate than the coast capital savings)


I believe Coast Capital Savings can only operate in BC as a credit union.

I have no problems transferring funds to my personal account (required to open a business account) and then linking that to my personal savings accounts at CTFS and ING.

TD raises fees again..because as a manager said…fees go up. Unlike inflation and wages I guess.

Gouge gouge gouge. TD banks call centre offers typical Canadian service, helpful attitude until they actually have to take responsiblity for their mistakes. Then defensive and unapoletigic. I’ve had enough.

TD treated me like a garbage too.
I make over 50K per year.
I am changing my bank

I have banked with TD for a very long time (10+ years). I opened the business account with them, b/c I have my personal HLOC with them.
– the business advisor is friendly, but not that knowledgeable IMHO
– Service Plan fee just went up to $19.95/m (very expensive)
– Overdraft fee is $25/m plus interest charged (very expensive)
– had no trouble securing business financing

I average 8 transactions per month (combo on-line / teller). The most transactions in the past 10 months being twelve. The balance varies, but on average over the 10 months it is $11,366. I don’t know what the minimum is, but I’ve only had the fees waived twice.

I don’t wear expensive clothes, but between the mortgage & home equity line of credit, I owe the bank a ton of money and have never defaulted, so they treat me real nice. I can have the hold on cheques waived, if I deposit in person at my main branch.

The bank is not sympathetic to complaints of high fees. :P I think after hearing the advice above, I should stick with TD and either try and minimize transactions and switch to a different product, maintain a min. balance, or find a credit union in Toronto!

What bothers me most is they make it very hard to analyze. I can’t find the products listed on their website for comparison purposes, I had to do my own number crunching in Excel to determine my average transaction rate / month and average balance per month, etc.

There’s a lot of marketing saying they support small business, but in reality they don’t do a lot to make it easier on you to manage your money wisely…they hope you don’t pay attention and that means more money for their bottom line, not ours.

Service Plans:
Pay-As-You-Go $9.95/m + $3 for transactions over plan limits
Option 1: $14.95/m min. bal: $8K
Option 2: $19.95/m min. bal: $10K
Option 3: $29.95/m min. bal: $15K
Option 4: $39.95/m min. bal: $20K
Option 5: $49.95/m min. bal: $25K
Option 6: $74.95/m min. bal: $30K
Option 7: $89.95/m min. bal: $35K
Option 8: $124.95/m min. bal: $40K
If you maintain a minimum daily closing balance of ___________, your monthly Plan Fee of $___________ is rebated back to you.

I’ve been banking at HSBC for years and loved them for their highly personalized account management but about two years ago a new regime came in and centralized all small business accounts through web/phone. It used to be that they were looking out for me – now they seem to be looking for anyway possible to stick me with a fee. They are cheap, but there are other considerations (like not bouncing cheques for 25 cents when you have a large personal balance at their bank). All banks seem to go through pendulum swings from customer friendly to customer be screwed and HSBC seems to be at a very low ebb. I have also noticed that employees are much less happy there too.

@FrugalTrader: Is there a post in which you can compare the Merchant Services accounts that Small Business owners use?

My choice of using TD for my Business Account is also in part because of 2 reasons tied to the Merchant Services fees. I use a TD machine to accept Credit cards or debit cards from my customers. TD links it seamlessly to the TD Business account and instead of waiting for 3 days to get my money (as is the case if I had used any other Merchant Service account) I get the money the next working day. Also, every time I do an “end of the day” transaction, because I am using TD Merchant Services, it’s not counted as a “transaction” towards my allowed number of transactions by TD, thus keeping my monthly fees down. If I had used any other Merchant Services, each end of the day transaction would have counted towards my monthly allowed transactions and my monthly fees would have been quite high.

It will be good to see a post on a comparison chart for all Merchant Services accounts available in Canada.

After having a HSBC Business Direct account for the past 2 years (and a regular HSBC business account for 4 or 5 years before that) I just got a letter from HSBC notifying me that they were giving me 30 days to close the Business Direct account. No explanations, no reasons !! I’ve never had the account overdrawn (I never write cheques on it), and so I’m absolutely floored at the caprice of them to have closed it.
I realize that HSBC Canada is pulling out of the consumer loans business, but closing a normally-operating business account with no attached loans seems a bit off over the edge, for my money.

I have been banking with HSBC corporately for over 15 years – I always carry a line of credit on one of my bank accounts – just got the renewal app and was surprised to see that they are now charging $300 each and every year for this service. I have told them I will be moving all our bank accounts if this fee is not rescinded immediately. I’m guessing we will be moving – who cares about the small guy anyway?

I’m in the process of ditching HSBC. They centralized all their business banking so you can no longer actually talk to a human being face to face (yes I’m old fashioned). I noticed that they were taking $20 per month from my account that was not authorized. When I asked them about it, they wouldn’t even talk to me because the info in their computer was wrong (and I can’t prove who I am by presenting identification to another living human). Good riddance HSBC. Coast Capital sounds interesting

As a follow up to my post number 47, HSBC pulled my corporate line of credit from me which I have had for over 15 years. We have a net worth of over million dollars and the LOC was for only $20k. The only debt we have is a small mortgage – we just returned from a 3 year sailing sabbatical so their excuse to me was I didn`t have any income. Guess I wasn`t successful enough before our trip to step out for 3 years and not work… I guess their computer systems don`t work well with my scenario and a human would never step in and review the background of the account.

We will be pulling the 2 corporate accounts and 3 personal accounts and moving to a local credit union. My assigned account manger (some guy sitting in a cubicle who knows where) was completely rude to me and quite frankly I was livid about this. Down with HSBC!!!.

Forget trying to deal with HSBC. Their website is not up to date, customer service is lacking and one spends way too much time having their calls re-routed. I don’t have time to run around.

Their business account is not worth all the headache encountered. This bank is possibly a bit too big to care.