Finance

Best Business Bank Accounts in Canada

Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
/
April 11, 2023

Affiliate disclosure

We get a lot of questions asking which business bank account we recommend. This article will provide an outline of the best options we’ve found and our recommendations for businesses of different sizes.

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Best Business Bank Accounts in Canada

We get a lot of questions about which business bank account that we recommend to our clients.  This article will provide an outline of the best options we’ve found and our recommendations for businesses of different sizes.

How This Article Works

There are five major banks in Canada, plus a few decent sized credit unions.  These make up the majority of the business banking options.

There are also some newer, digital banking options for business that are quite attractive as well.

In this article, we’ve broken down the business banking offerings into three categories based on the size and stage of your business.

  • Digital Only or Startup - The first options center around the newer, digital banking offerings that are typically less expensive.  The downside is that there are usually no physical bank branches and the offerings tend to be less flexible than the larger financial institutions.
  • Startup to Medium Sized Business - In the second section we outline the choices that are best suited for startup businesses but could also scale for larger businesses as well.
  • Larger Business or More Transaction Volume - The third section shows the options that are suitable for larger businesses or businesses that have higher transaction volumes. 

We’ve reviewed the offerings and have conducted research with small business owners across Canada to come up with the most attractive options that provide the best service.  

In each section, we list the most suitable choices and then provide our guidance on which option we think is the best of the bunch.

TL;DR Summary

If you just want to get our recommendations and not read every word, then here they are!

General Recommendation

Before we get into the specific recommendations, it’s important to consider whether you already have an existing relationship with a financial institution.

If you do, and you’re already happy with the service that you’re getting, our general recommendation is to speak to your current representative about setting up business banking.

The offerings from Canadian banks are quite similar when it comes to price and features. If you’re already satisfied with your financial institution, then they’re probably the best place to start your search for business banking.

If you’re not satisfied with your current bank or are curious to learn about other options, read on!

Here are our specific recommendations based on our research and feedback from numerous small business owners across Canada.

Smaller Business Banking Recommendations

For startup businesses or those that only require digital banking (no physical bank branches), we recommend checking out the RBC Digital Choice Business Account for its low cost and easy upgrade path.

We also recommend combining that with the Wise Business Account because it is free to use and offers excellent exchange rates when you need to send or receive money internationally.

Medium Business Banking Recommendations

For small to medium sized businesses we recommend either the RBC Flex Choice Business Account or the TD Every Day Business Account.

Both of these options provide a reliable business banking experience at a reasonable cost.

RBC's Flex Choice Business Account is great if you're looking for a straightforward fee structure that leans more towards “pay-per-use” then the other accounts. 

Whereas TD’s Everyday Business Account has a higher monthly fee but has more transactions included.  Plus, you can waive the monthly fee if you maintain a minimum daily balance in your account.

Both options generally receive high praise from business owners and Avalon team members that we’ve spoken to.

Larger Business Banking Recommendations

For medium to large businesses in Canada we again recommend the offerings from RBC and TD.

The TD Unlimited Business Account and the RBC Unlimited Business Account are both good places to look if your business has a higher volume of transactions.

The fees and included transactions are quite similar between the two options.  However, to waive the monthly fees, TD has a lower minimum balance requirement of $65,000 compared to RBC's $75,000. 

So if we’re splitting hairs, you might consider RBC over TD if you’re not expecting to maintain the minimum balance each month. Or choose TD if you’re confident that you’ll maintain the minimum balance.

Banking for Startups and Digital Businesses

These are the best options that we’ve seen for startup businesses or businesses that only require a digital banking option. 

We’ve reviewed the alternatives, and in no particular order, we recommend checking out Alterna Bank, Wise, and Tangerine. These options are budget-friendly and easy to use.

Alterna Small Business eChequing 

Alterna Bank is an Ontario-based digital bank owned by the credit union, Alterna Savings. Their financial solutions are designed for both personal and business use. They also have services such as electronic chequing, debit cards, savings accounts, and mortgages.

Small Business eChequing Account

Their Small Business eChequing Account is an excellent, cost-effective option for digital-only businesses. You get an unlimited number of electronic transactions and the account is free to use as long as you keep a minimum daily closing balance.

Cost

There is no monthly fee for this account but you need to maintain a minimum $3,000 daily closing balance throughout the month. If the minimum balance is not maintained, the account will cost you $5 per month.

Additional fees include:

  • 6 free Interac e-Transfers per month ($1.50 per transaction after)
  • $2 per $1,000 in-branch cash deposit
  • $3 per paper statement
  • Free e-statements

What You Get

  • Free online transactions - unlimited electronic debit and credit transactions
  • 24/7 online banking - pay bills, transfer funds, and deposit cheques
  • Mobile banking - available for both Android and Apple users
  • ATM - for withdrawals, deposits, and balance inquiries with 3,300 surcharge-free ATMs

Wise Business Account (formerly TransferWise)

Wise is an online money transfer service that offers both personal and business accounts. Since its founding in 2011, the UK-based financial tech has been a major disruptor in the peer-to-peer money transfer space.

Wise Business Account

The Wise Business Account provides you with a borderless account to send, spend, and receive money around the world. It is a great option for businesses that need to transact in multiple currencies as it can manage funds in over 50 currencies.

Cost

The monthly fee is zero dollars, with no set-up fees, and no required minimum balance. There are some per-transaction fees that we’ve listed below.  You can also use their intuitive Wise Calculator to check the fees before transacting.

Here’s a summary of transaction fees:

  • Sending money in different currencies starts from 0.41% depending on currency (fee calculator here)
  • Free money transfers between Wise Business accounts
  • Free to receive money from AUD, CAD, EUR, GBP, HUF, NZD, RON, SGD, TRY and USD (non-wire)
  • Fixed fee of USD 4.14 per payment to receive USD wire payments

What You Get

  • Manage multi-currency funds - hold and manage funds in over 50 currencies
  • Competitive exchange rates with no hidden fees
  • Expense management - track your expenses in real-time
  • Integration with Xero and QuickBooks

Tangerine Business Savings

Tangerine is a Toronto-based bank founded in 1997 and later acquired by Scotiabank in 2012. It is now operating as an online bank offering services such as GICs, mortgages, chequing, savings, and business accounts.

Business Savings Account

Tangerine does not currently have a chequing account for businesses. However, you can still open a Business Savings Account as a good option to grow your business funds. You will need to link your chequing account at another financial institution to open a Business Savings Account.

Cost

There are no monthly fees for the Tangerine Business Savings Account. There are no minimum balance requirements and it also includes competitive interest rates so your money can earn while it sits.

What You Get

  • Online and mobile banking
  • Get competitive interest rates for you to earn interest on your savings (see rates here)

RBC Digital Choice Business Account

Since its founding in 1864, RBC has grown to be one of the largest banks in Canada and in the world. The Toronto-based bank offers a wide range of financial services for businesses of all sizes.

RBC Digital Choice Business Account Package

If you do most of your banking online, the Digital Choice Business Account is an excellent option. It has a low monthly fee that’s worthy of consideration because of its features.

Cost

This account’s monthly fee is $5 per month without many additional fees if you’re mostly making online transactions. You also get unlimited electronic debit and credit transactions and mobile and ATM cheque deposits.

Here’s the breakdown of other transaction fees:

  • 10 free Interac e-Transfers, then $1.5 per transfer after
  • $2.50 per paper deposit and credit transaction
  • $5.00 per $1,000 cash deposits in-branch
  • $2.25 per $1,000 cash deposits via ATM
  • $2.25 per $1,000 deposit (Night and Day)

What You Get

  • Free online transactions - unlimited electronic debit and credit transactions
  • 24/7 online banking - pay bills, transfer funds, and deposit cheques
  • Mobile banking - available for both Android and Apple users

Avalon's Recommendations

We’re going to recommend a couple of options here because these accounts are inexpensive and have different strengths.

Wise for Multi-Currency

If your business only needs digital banking and to transact in different currencies, consider the Wise Business Account. This account lets you send and receive money across borders easily at a reasonable cost. Plus, you can save money on exchange rates with their low fees. If your business frequently conducts international transactions, this account is a must-have.

RBC to Build a Relationship with a Larger Bank

RBC’s Digital Choice Business Account is a great option for businesses that are just starting out and looking to establish a relationship with one of Canada's major banks. While RBC's Digital Choice account may be relatively basic, it is reliable and offers an easy upgrade path if needed. 

If you're not yet in need of a more comprehensive banking solution, the Digital Choice Business Account may suit your basic needs indefinitely.

A combination of Wise’s Business Account and the RBC Digital Choice Business Account can offer a good starting point for businesses. 

The free-to-use Wise account that offers excellent exchange rates on international transactions plus RBC’s reliable and straightforward digital account is a good combo. You’ll get a flexible and cost-effective banking solution.

Banking for Small to Medium Sized Businesses

The following accounts are tailored for small to medium-sized businesses. These chequing accounts are also best for businesses that need both digital and in-branch transactions. We’ve reviewed the options and recommend checking out accounts from RBC, TD, Scotiabank, CIBC, and BMO.

RBC Flex Choice Business Account

The Royal Bank of Canada offers a variety of business chequing accounts to accommodate businesses of various sizes. The account we’ve highlighted is designed for small to medium-sized businesses.

RBC Flex Choice Business Account Package

If you do online banking but also need access to in-branch transactions, then this account is a good option. The Flex Choice Business Account is also suitable for businesses that prefer a “pay for what you use” style of fee structure.

Cost

The Flex Choice Business Account costs $6 per month. This fee includes unlimited deposit items and unlimited Moneris deposits.

There are additional per-transaction fees that depend on transaction type. 

Transaction fees include:

  • $0.75 per electronic deposit
  • $1.25 per paper transaction
  • $1.50 per Interac e-Transfer
  • $2.50 per paper deposit and credit transaction
  • $2.50 per $1,000 cash deposits in-branch
  • $2.25 per $1,000 cash deposits in ATM
  • $2.25 per $1,000 deposit (Night and Day)

What You Get

  • No minimum or maximum transaction limits
  • Online banking and RBC mobile app
  • Instant Fuel Savings at Petro-Canada
  • A number of other perks from RBC’s partners that might be applicable to your business.

TD Every Day Business Account

TD (Toronto-Dominion Bank) is a well-established Canadian bank founded in 1955. TD offers a variety of financial solutions ranging from personal banking to large commercial businesses banking.

TD Every Day Business Plan

TD offers a few different plans to accommodate various businesses. We’ll call them “Plan A”, “Plan B”, and Plan C. These are good options for startups looking to grow or for small businesses that don’t have a huge volume of transactions.

You can also use TD Bank’s account selector tool to help you choose which one works best for your business.

Cost

The monthly fee for Every Day Business Plans ranges from $19 to $72. However, the monthly fee can be waived if you maintain a minimum balance throughout the month.

The main difference between offerings is the number of transactions included with your monthly fee. Here’s a summary of the fees:

Monthly fee

  • Plan A - $19, FREE when you maintain $20,000 throughout the month
  • Plan B - $39, FREE when you maintain $35,000 throughout the month
  • Plan C - $72, FREE when you maintain $45,000 throughout the month

Number of transactions per month

  • Plan A - 20 transactions
  • Plan B - 60 transactions
  • Plan C - 120 transactions

Other fees and transactions

  • $1.25 for each additional transaction
  • 2 free Interac e-Transfers (send or request), $1.50 for each additional e-Transfer
  • 50 deposit items per month, $0.22 for each additional deposit item
  • $5,000 cash deposits included per month, $2.50 per $1,000 for additional cash deposits

What You Get

  • $10 monthly fee rebate on Business Overdraft Protection
  • Flexible banking using in-branch and automated services
  • The ability to waive your monthly fee if you maintain the required minimum balance throughout the month

Scotiabank Select Account for Business

Scotiabank is the second oldest Canadian bank. This 190-year-old bank offers accounts that are well suited for small to medium sized businesses looking for reliable banking.

Select Account for Business Plans A, B, and C

Similar to TD Bank’s offering, Scotiabank has different tiers that could be a good fit for growing businesses. 

Cost

Scotia’s “Select Account for Business” has four tiers: Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and Unlimited. 

This account is designed so that businesses can upgrade easily from one tier to another depending on their needs. 

Similar to TD’s offering, the monthly fee is waived if you maintain a minimum balance in your account each month.

Monthly fee

  • Plan A - $20, FREE when you maintain $20,000 throughout the month
  • Plan B - $40, FREE when you maintain $35,000 throughout the month
  • Plan C - $75, FREE when you maintain $45,000 throughout the month
  • Unlimited - $120, FREE when you maintain $75,000 throughout the month

Number of transactions per month

  • Plan A - includes 25 transactions, $1.50 for each additional transactions
  • Plan B - includes 70 transactions, $1.50 for each additional transactions
  • Plan C - includes 125 transactions, $1.50 for each additional transactions
  • Unlimited - Unlimited included transactions

Number of deposit items per month

  • Plan A - 50 items, $0.25 for each additional deposit item
  • Plan B - 60 items, $0.25 for each additional deposit item
  • Plan C - 85 items, $0.25 for each additional deposit item
  • Unlimited - Unlimited included deposit items

Cash deposits included per month

  • Plan A - up to $6,000, then $2.50 additional for every $1,000 of cash deposits
  • Plan B - up to $8,000, then $2.50 additional for every $1,000 of cash deposits
  • Plan C - up to $10,000, then $2.50 additional for every $1,000 of cash deposits
  • Unlimited - up to $30,000, then $2.50 additional for every $1,000 of cash deposits

What You Get

  • Multiple tiers to choose from depending on your business needs
  • The ability to waive the monthly fee when a minimum balance is maintained
  • Higher cash deposits included per month compared to other banks

CIBC Everyday Business Operating Account

The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce is a well-established bank and one of Canada’s oldest. Their financial services cover both personal use and businesses of all sizes.

Everyday Business Operating Account

The Everyday Business Operating Account is fit for growing startups looking for reliable banking at a reasonable cost. You can also waive the monthly fee by maintaining a minimum balance throughout the month.

Cost

This account costs $20 (self-service access) or $25 (full-service access) per month depending on the type of transactions you access.

Self-service access includes online transactions and transactions not assisted by a bank representative. It also includes cheques written as well as transactions completed through an ATM or POS terminal.

Full-service access usually refers to any transaction completed with a CIBC representative's assistance. This includes transactions completed through the regular Wallet Depository Service or in-branch.

CIBC will waive the monthly fee when you maintain a $15,000 daily balance throughout the month.

Monthly fee

  • Free if the $15,000 daily balance is maintained throughout the month
  • $20 per month if all transactions are self-service
  • $25 per month if any of the transactions is a full-service transaction

Number of transactions included per month

  • 30 transactions 
  • $1.00 for each additional self-service transaction
  • $1.25 for each additional full-service transaction
  • $1.50 for each additional Interac e-Transfer
  • Cash deposits amount to research

What You Get

  • Lower minimum monthly balance required to waive your monthly fee compared to other banks
  • No minimum or maximum transaction limits
  • Deposit up to $3,000 cash, $300 coin and 25 cheques each month at no extra cost

BMO Business Builder Account

The Bank of Montreal is the home to 8 million Canadian account holders. BMO offers services that are tailored to a wide variety of financial needs.

We took a look at their “Business Builder” tier of accounts.

Business Builders 1 and 2

Business Builder 1 and Business Builder 2 are suited for small businesses that are growign. BMO also offers higher tiers that are suitable for larger businesses which we’ll cover in the next section. You can also use BMO’s account choosing tool to help you decide which option may work best for you.

Cost

The Business Builder account costs from $22.50 up to $120 per month. Unlike some of the other banks, there is no option to waive the monthly fee if you maintain a minimum balance.

Here’s a rundown of the fees:

Monthly fee

  • Business Builder 1 - $22.50
  • Business Builder 2 - $45

Number of transactions included per month

  • Business Builder 1 - 35 transactions, 25 deposit items, $2,500 cash deposit
  • Business Builder 2 - 70 transactions, 45 deposit items, $4,000 cash deposit
  • Unlimited Moneris transactions for Builders 1 and 2
  • Two free Interac e-Transfers for Builders 3 and 4

Additional fees

  • $0.60 for each additional electronic transaction
  • $1.25 for each additional transaction through the bank or BMO bank associate
  • $1.50 for each additional Interac e-Transfer
  • $2.25 for every additional $1,000 of cash deposits

What You Get

  • Online Banking for Business - online bank and cash management platform
  • No minimum balance required but also no option to waive monthly fee
  • Affordable additional fee for electronic transactions and cash deposits

Avalon’s Recommendations

The monthly fees are fairly similar between the chequing accounts we recommend here. So if you already have a good relationship with one, then it often makes sense to stick with what's working. 

With that said, we do recommend RBC and TD’s solid options. Anecdotally, we’ve received the best feedback from our clients about these two banks compared to other offerings.

RBC Flex Choice Business Account

RBC's Flex Choice Business Account is great if you're looking for a straightforward fee structure that leans more towards “pay-per-use” then the other accounts. 

The monthly fee is only $6 and then you pay for what you use on a per-transaction basis. You do also receive unlimited deposit items and Moneris transactions. 

TD Every Day Business Account

On the other hand, TD Bank's Every Day Business Plan offers three different packages (A, B, and C) with varying levels of monthly inclusions. 

While the monthly fees are higher than RBC's, you have the ability to waive the monthly fee when you maintain the minimum monthly balance. 

The TD plans come with more transactions included each month than RBC, so this may be the better option if you are able to maintain the minimum balance to waive the monthly fee.

Banking for Medium to Large Businesses

These are the best options for medium to large businesses with a higher volume of transactions. 

Scotiabank Select Account for Business (Unlimited)

Scotiabank’s highest business banking tier can be a good choice if your high-volume business is looking for a more robust financial solution.

Select Account for Business Unlimited

This is Scotiabank's top tier account for businesses. The Select Account for Business Unlimited allows for unlimited transactions and offers a higher cash deposit limit, making it suited for businesses with high transaction volumes.

While it comes at a higher cost, the benefits may outweigh the expenses for businesses with larger transaction volumes.

Cost

The monthly fee for the Unlimited plan is $120. The fee is waived when you maintain $75,000 throughout the month.

The Unlimited plan includes:

  • Unlimited transactions
  • Unlimited deposit items
  • Cash deposit for up to $30,000, $2.50 additional fee per $1,000 for every cash deposit

What You Get

  • Larger monthly cash deposit
  • This account includes Scotia’s Digital Banking and ScotiaCard, for which additional charges may apply
  • Interac e-Transfer using Digital Banking for business™ costs $1 per transaction

BMO Business Builder (Tiers 3 and 4)

Opening a business account with BMO can be a good choice for larger businesses. They offer flexible account packages that suit a growing business.

Business Builder 3 and Business Builder 4

BMO’s Business Builder 3 and Business Builder 4 are fit for businesses with a higher volume of transactions. Similar to other banks, you can waive the monthly fee if you maintain the minimum monthly balance.

Cost

Builders 3 and 4 cost $80 and $120 a month respectively. The monthly fees include a set number of transactions. If you have more transactions in a month, then there are additional per-transaction costs that arise.

Monthly fee

  • Business Builder 3 - $80, maintain $35,000 throughout the month to waive the fee
  • Business Builder 4 - $120, maintain $80,000 throughout the month to waive the fee

Number of transactions per month

  • Business Builder 3 - 120 transactions, 65 deposit items, $8,000 in cash deposits included
  • Business Builder 4 - 160 transactions, 90 deposit items, $12,000 in cash deposits included
  • Unlimited Moneris transactions 
  • Two free Interac e-Transfers per month

Additional fees

  • $0.60 for each additional electronic transaction
  • $1.25 for each additional transaction through the bank or BMO bank associate
  • $1.50 for each addition Interac e-Transfer

What You Get

  • Online Banking for Business - online bank and cash management platform
  • Your monthly fee is waived when you maintain the required monthly balance

TD Unlimited Business Account

Toronto-Dominion Bank offers its own take on the unlimited plan for businesses. This offering from TD is more suited for larger businesses with high transaction volumes. 

Unlimited Business Plan.

The TD Unlimited Business Plan provides unlimited transactions and unlimited deposit items per month for a fixed fee. 

Cost

TD Unlimited Business Plan costs $125 per month. However, this fee is waived if you maintain a balance of $65,000 throughout the month.

The transactions and deposit items are unlimited but the included monthly cash deposit is limited to:

  • $25,000 cash deposits included per month
  • $2.50 additional fee per $1,000 for every cash deposit

What You Get

  • Free Interac e-Transfers
  • Receive $149 rebate of the annual fee for TD Aeroplan Visa Business Card or TD Business Travel Visa Card
  • Waived monthly fee for TD Merchant Services

RBC Unlimited Business Account

RBC also offers a competitive offering for high-volume business banking.

Ultimate Business Account Package

RBC’s Ultimate Business Account Package lets you access unlimited electronic transactions. Businesses with a consistently high volume of monthly transactions could consider this account.

Cost

The monthly fee is $100 which is waived if you maintain a $75,000 daily balance throughout the month. 

The monthly fee includes:

  • Unlimited electronic debit and credit transactions
  • 100 paper transactions, $1.25 for each additional paper transaction
  • Unlimited number of items deposited
  • Unlimited Moneris deposits
  • Unlimited Interac e-Transfers
  • Unlimited mobile & ATM cheque deposits
  • Includes up to $25,000 of cash deposits. Additional cash deposits cost $2.25 per $1,000 deposited at an ATM or $2.50 per $1,000 deposited in-branch.

What You Get

  • 10,000 bonus Avion points if you have RBC Avion Visa Infinite Business or RBC Commercial Avion Visa card
  • Link your eligible RBC Business cards to your Petro-Canada card to save 3¢/L on gas at Petro-Canada locations

Avalon’s Recommendations

The offerings are fairly similar between banks with only slight differences in monthly fees and included transactions. 

RBC Unlimited or TD Unlimited Business Accounts

RBC and TD Bank offer solid chequing account packages that are worth considering in our opinion. Both provide a competitive package for high-volume transactions.  Plus, we’ve received the best feedback from our clients about these two banks compared to other offerings.

One key difference between them is the minimum balance requirement to waive the monthly fee. TD requires a lower minimum balance of $65,000 compared to RBC's $75,000. However, RBC's monthly fee is slightly lower than TD's.  

So if we’re splitting hairs, you might consider RBC over TD if you’re not expecting to maintain the minimum balance each month.  Or choose TD if you’re confident that you’ll maintain the minimum balance.

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Article by
Paul Sharpe, CPA, CA
.
Originally published
April 11, 2023
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