9 Best Digital Banks in Canada by Account Type (2023)

Written By Adrian Volenik

Canada is, quite frankly, years behind the US, Europe, and Asia when it comes to independent digital banking apps. In fact, you can count them on the fingers of one hand. 

There are, however, many traditional banks that offer separate digital banking apps, as well as big banks that offer online banking.

For instance, Tangerine is an online-only bank that’s owned by Scotiabank, The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) owns Simplii Financial, and Motusbank is actually a subsidiary of Meridian Credit Union.

For those reasons, online-only banks in Canada, honestly, aren’t that good. The worst part about them is, arguably, their horrible customer service. So it’s no wonder that Canadians’ satisfaction with their banks and apps is declining.

Nevertheless, here are the best digital and online-only banks in Canada – tried and tested. 

Best Digital Bank Overall – Tangerine

Wide range of accountsInterest rates vary
Many options for savings accountsOverdraft fees can add up if you aren’t in the opt-in overdraft protection program
Credit cards are available with perks Investment portfolios are hands-off for the customer, so if you like to be involved, this may not be right for you
Options for investment portfolios are available for any level of investor
Mortgage and loan services with good interest rates
CDIC insured up to $100,000

Tangerine Bank started out as ING Direct in 1997.

15 years later, it was acquired by Scotiabank, its current owner, and had its name changed from ING Direct to Tangerine.

Tangerine is, as I already mentioned, not an independent digital bank, as it’s owned by one of the biggest banks in Canada.

It also isn’t a completely online-only bank because there are a few in-person locations you can visit. 

From my experience with Tangerine, I never had to visit a bank branch as Tangerine’s app is well-equipped to handle all my demands.

I know a few people that were instructed by customer service to visit a physical location to clarify some things. 

Tangerine is an atypical digital bank (not for Canada, though) as it offers a wide variety of financial products, such as:

  • Savings and chequing accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Business accounts
  • GICs
  • Investment funds
  • Mortgages
  • Other types of loans, etc

Chequing accounts are free, and pay a tiny interest on your balance. The interest rate varies from 0.01%-0.10%, depending on how much money you keep in your account. 

Although there are overdraft fees, you can apply for overdraft protection, which costs $5 per use. Without it, you’d have to pay $45 for non-sufficient funds.

I also love the no-annual-fee credit card as it comes with purchase assurance that covers loss, theft, or damage for 90 days after purchase. Something we’ve seen from Revolut.

If you aren’t aware, many Tangerine clients are pre-approved for this credit card. That’s because you only need an annual income of $12,000 to be approved.

On the other hand, the Tangerine World Mastercard has a 60,000 dollars per year minimum.

Tangerine also has five options for savings accounts. These include:

  • A USD savings account
  • A standard savings account
  • A tax-free savings account
  • A RSP account
  • A RIF account

Although it has its flaws, and some people argue that it’s going in the wrong direction, Tangerine is still my first choice.

It has a wide variety of services, an excellent app, and solid chequing and savings accounts, as well as credit cards.  

Best for Savings Accounts – EQ Bank

eq bank accounts
No monthly feesNo chequing account
Free transfers and bill paymentsNo mortgages or loans
Cheap international transfers
Cash back
$200,000 maximum deposit
High interest rates
CDIC insured up to $100,000

EQ Bank is part of the Equitable Group. The digital bank was founded in 2016 and has since attracted more than a quarter of a million customers. 

I prefer EQ Bank for its savings accounts. They’re easy to open, have no monthly maintenance fees, and have high interest rates. 

Granted, they don’t beat the inflation rates, but that’s because the inflation rates are exceptionally high at the moment for known reasons.

EQ Bank accounts include:

  • Savings Plus Account
  • Joint Savings Plus Account
  • TFSA Savings Account
  • US Dollar Account
  • RSP Savings Account
  • GICs

Since the last time I reviewed EQ Bank, they have introduced the EQ Bank Card that lets you withdraw your savings for free at any ATM in Canada.

I love that it doesn’t have foreign exchange fees, monthly fees, or any other hidden fees. What I don’t like about it is the fact that it still isn’t available in Quebec. 

The mobile app is highly rated on the app stores and is responsive and nice to work with. 

All in all, EQ Bank is a solid, no-frills digital banking account that’s best used for saving your funds and not much more. 

You can open an EQ account by going to their website or downloading their app from Google Play Store or the App Store. You’ll have to input all the usual personal details such as name, email, address, and SIN, and you can choose a password and recovery questions. 

You’ll also be able to link your other bank accounts at that point. And that’s it, basically. You’re ready to save some money.  

READ ALSO: KOHO Vs. EQ Bank (Completely Different Online Accounts)

Best for Chequing Accounts – Motusbank

motus bank
No monthly feeNo credit cards
No minimum balance requirements
Mortgages and lending
High interest savings
GICs and investing
CDIC insured up to $100,000

Founded by the Meridian Credit Union, Motusbank offers a full service that includes saving and chequing accounts, investing, loans, and mortgages. Meridian Credit Union is, in fact, a 75-year-old institution and one of the largest credit unions in Canada.

Motusbank has everything you’d expect from a Canadian bank:

  • Free, unlimited Interac transfers
  • Unlimited purchases and bill payments
  • Fee-free ATM withdrawals
  • $100,000 CDIC deposit insurance

It also boasts features that are mostly unique to digital banks:

  • No maintenance fees
  • Almost no daily banking fees
  • High interest savings rates
  • Mobile check deposits

I prefer Motusbank for its fee-free chequing account, 43,000+ fee-free ATMs in North America, and the vertical debit card. I just like the look of it for some reason.

Beyond that, Motusbank offers a variety of banking services that allow you to get all the products you’d expect from a traditional bank but with all the convenience of online-only banks.

Best for Range of Products – Alterna Bank

alterna bank
No-fee chequing accountAdditional fees
No minimum balanceLow rates for GICs
Free unlimited transactionsNeed to have a bank account elsewhere to open Alterna account
High-interest savings and investing
Mortgages and lending

Alterna is an interesting online bank that was established by Alterna Savings as far as 1992. We have known it as Alterna since the year 2000.

I prefer this popular bank for its breadth of products and services.

From chequing and savings accounts to investing, guided portfolios, mortgages, and small business accounts. 

The bank has savings rates that are comparable to other banks on this list, and if you’re looking for an even better rate, you’ll have to lock your money for one to three years in a term deposit. 

There’s one thing that still doesn’t make any sense to me. And that is that in order to open an Alterna account, you need to have an existing account in another bank already. What’s the point, Alterna?

Best for Building Credit Scores – KOHO

Free account availableUnresponsive customer support
Early payroll1.5% foreign transaction fee (free account)
A choice of different card designs
Overdraft protection
Cash back
Credit builder
Free ATM withdrawals

KOHO is an independent digital banking account that delivers a reloadable Visa card and a mobile banking app with spending insights that can help manage your finances.

I’ve written about KOHO many times, usually as an alternative to big banks.

It brings a typical digital banking experience to Canada with no fees but plenty of features such as instant cashback, budgeting tools, and distinct Visa cards.

Opening a KOHO account won’t affect your credit score in any way – positively or negatively. 

KOHO’s main feature, in my opinion, is the ability to improve your credit score. For $7 per month (paid annually), KOHO will report your progress to a major credit bureau that can help you improve your score in six months.

1% cash back on groceries, bills & services1% cash back on groceries, bills & services, eating & drinking and 0.25% back on all other purchases2% cash back on groceries, transport, eating & drinking, and 0.5% cash back on all purchases
0.5% interest1.5% interest2.0% interest
Credit Building for $10/monthCredit Building for $7/monthCredit Building for $7/month
Extra cash back at selected merchantsExtra cash back at selected merchantsExtra cash back at selected merchants
Virtual cardVirtual cardVirtual card
No fx fees
1 free international withdrawal/m

You can now build up your credit score in three ways:

  • Use a KOHO line of credit (Credit Building)
  • Use a secured line of credit (Flexible Credit Building)
  • Use both

Apart from the monthly fee, there’s no interest, no applications, and you get guaranteed approval.

The line of credit works by taking out a line of credit, repaying it on time, and building your credit history. 

With Flexible Credit Building, you deposit your own money as a line of credit, also repay it on time, and subsequently build your credit history.

Best for International Money Transfers – EQ Bank

eq bank

I’ve chosen EQ Bank as the best bank for international transfers. You see, EQ uses Wise for its currency exchange and the transfers themselves.  

Wise, still known as TransferWise by some, has been around for more than 12 years. 

It’s best known for its international transfers that include an exchange rate and a minimal fee on top. The sender saves on costs, and the recipient receives the money for free in his or her local currency. 

With over 10 million customers worldwide, Wise moves around $6 billion each month in over 50 different currencies.

As you can see on this screenshot, international money transfers, in this case, CAD to USD, are even cheaper with EQ Bank than they are with the Wise app itself! Compared to mainstream banks, the difference is shocking. 

Best New Bank – Neo Financial

neo financial
No monthly feesStill not available in Quebec
Cash back
Savings accounts earn high interest

Neo Financial is one of the latest digital banks to hit the Canadian market as it was launched in 2019.

Do you remember SkipTheDishes, the popular food delivery app that was sold to Just Eat?

The founders of Neo Financial also co-founded the SkipTheDishes app. 

This Prairie-based fintech is closely working with Concentra Bank, ATB Financial, and Mastercard to bring an all-in-one account plus a secured credit card.

The savings and spending account will earn you a lot more interest than a traditional bank.

There are also investment portfolios with dedicated portfolio managers making custom products that fit you and not those awful one-size-fits-all portfolios.

Unlike many independent digital banks, Neo Financial also offers digital mortgages with fast decisions that are additionally more accessible and more affordable.

The credit card comes with rewards, perks, and unlimited cashback but without annual fees and welcome bonuses.

Although the Neo Financial app is a relatively new product, I found it to be just as good as any other bank in Canada, but because of its modern design, it will be more appealing to younger crowds, which is a shame as it’s a fit for everyone. 

READ ALSO: 5 Digital Banking Alternatives to Chime in Canada

Best for Investing – Wealthsimple

Commission-freeConversion fees on deposits and withdrawals
No minimumsSlow email and telephone support
Trade instantly with up to $250 in instant deposits
Many account options
Crypto investing
Protected by CIPF

Wealthsimple is a Toronto-based online investment management service founded in 2014 by Rudy Adler, Michael Kitchen, and Brett Huneycutt and lets you trade stocks, ETFs, and crypto. 

You can sign up on their website or simply download the mobile app to start trading. I chose Wealthsimple because it offers commission-free investing, just like Robinhood in the US.

You can trade USD stocks, as well as fractions of stocks, without FX fees; however, you will have to pay conversion fees on deposits and withdrawals.

There are also no minimum balances. That means you can start investing even if you don’t have a lot of money. 

If you have no idea how and where to invest your money, choose a managed portfolio built for long-term growth. 

Wealthsimple also offers a Mastercard card, and a spending and savings account in one. The card gives you 1% back in stock, crypto, or cash on almost everything.

From my experience, Wealthsimple is a solid digital banking account and an investment app that has some excellent features. See my other favourite investment apps too. 

Best for GICs – Oaken Financial

oaken financial gics
No monthly maintenance feesInvestment limited to GICs, and high-interest savings account
High interest ratesFees for dormant accounts
No minimum balancesSlow withdrawals
CDIC insuredNo debit card

Oaken offers some of the highest interest rates in Canada, and therefore, they’re my choice for the best GIC offering. Their range of GICs are available in registered and non-registered plans and include:

  • Non-registered GICs
  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Retirement Savings Plan (RSP)
  • Retirement Income Fund (RIF)
  • Commercial GICs

The terms range from 30 days to 5 years, so it’s easy to find one that matches your timeline. Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC) are a safe way to invest your money because your principal and interest rate are both guaranteed.

Long-term GICs see an annual rate of 4.15% for a 5-year term. Long-term GICs are non-redeemable and require a minimum deposit of $1,000. Registered GICs (RSP, TFSA, RIF) start at 5.05% for a 1-year term and up to 4.15% for a 5-year term. 

Oaken’s savings account has one of the highest rates available, with no minimum balance and no fees.

Best for Business – Alterna Bank

Most digital banks in Canada don’t even offer a business account, unfortunately.

Therefore, if you’re the owner of a company, you have a very slim choice at the moment. 

There is one digital bank that offers small business bank accounts, and that bank is Alterna. 

It offers a chequing account but also payment processing and small business loans.

From my experience, the account is free as long as you keep more than $3,000 in your account. However, even if you don’t, the fee is only $5. 

Your funds are insured for up to $100,000. So, if you have more than that, it’s best to keep it in several banks in light of the things happening with some banks at the moment. 

Best for Getting Paid Early – KOHO

koho get paid early

This is another feature that KOHO offers that’s not traditionally available in Canada, even from digital-only banks; early payroll. There are two options here:

  • Immediate access to $100 and a financial coach for 15 days for $5
  • Access to $100 up to 3 days before your paycheque for free

To become eligible for early payroll, you’ll have to set up a direct deposit.

You can put a portion or all of your paycheque through direct deposit. The $100 will be debited automatically the day your paycheque goes into your account.

Best for Immigrants & International Students – Simplii Financial

simplii financial
Open an account online before arriving in CanadaNot available in Quebec
No monthly maintenance fees
No minimum deposits
Welcome bonuses
Alipay, UnionPay, MoneyGram

Simplii has been around since 2017 and is a great addition to the Canadian banking landscape. It’s, in fact, the subsidiary of CIBC, the smallest of the big five banks in Canada. 

Simplii offers a full range of products but with little to no fees and competitive savings interest rates. 

However, I prefer it for the ability to open a bank account online even if you’re not in the country yet. You can apply within 12 months of your arrival date to Canada with a passport and a selfie.

Within days, you should get a confirmation with further instructions on how to deposit between $1,000 and $ 50,000. 

International students can also apply for a no-fee GIC Program that helps them meet the GIC requirements for a study permit.

Once you open an account and transfer funds, you can access $2,000 right away. The bank will invest the rest of your money into a 1-year GIC Program.

Best Digital Wallet – Apple Pay

apple pay app
No monthly feesWorks only with Apple devices
No transaction feesLimited features
No internet connection required
Easy to use with an Apple Watch
Excellent privacy

Apple Pay is an incredibly popular digital wallet. I use it to pay for things and services online and in-store without using my debit or credit card. 

I love that I can use it with my Apple Watch, too, so I don’t have to bring my wallet or even my phone everywhere. 

I sometimes use it to send cash to my friends. I can do that from messages, from the wallet app, or even by using Siri. Simply wake Siri up and tell her to “Send 50 dollars to Mark using Apple Cash.” Then tap Send. It couldn’t be any easier. 

RELATED: Avoid Embarrassment: How to Use Apple Pay at Restaurants

Digital Banks in Other Regions

About the Author

Chief Editor at TopMobileBanks

Adrian is a fintech expert who has tested hundreds of financial apps, cards, and accounts. His love for testing digital banks, payment apps, and financial products, in general, is unmatched.

How many digital banking accounts can one man have?

Not enough, if you ask Adrian. As his wallet will soon explode if he doesn’t cut back on the number of cards.

On the plus side, they have enabled him to create awesome How-To Guides that you can read on our site.

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