The good news is that most Canadians take advantage of digital banking for their everyday banking needs. And increasingly they are signing up for financial services with virtual online banks instead of visiting physical branches. Online-only banks and credit unions are a faster and more convenient way to manage bank accounts, credit cards, investment accounts, and more. And digital banks in Canada are now highly accessible across a range of devices, making mobile banking available to nearly everyone.
Online banking has revolutionised the banking experience in Canada by providing customers with secure, convenient access to their funds at a low cost and with competitive interest rates.
To make the most of the excellent services offered by digital banks in Canada, it's essential to know what they offer. Here are some tips for easy management of your finances.
Note: This article focuses on both all-digital banks. However, it also discusses online banking in general, which all of Canada's big banks offer.
Types of online accounts
Many people are unaware of the numerous virtual banks and account options available. In terms of services, online banks are just as resourceful as brick and mortar banks, and sometimes even more so. The following are some of the digital account options you can choose from:
- Savings: Most banks offer a savings account to access online and use for transactions.
- High Interest Savings Account (HISA): A typical online savings account interest rate is quite low. With a HISA, you'll get a higher interest rate. Neo Financial currently has a HISA rate of 3.4%!
- Chequing: This is your day-to-day spending account. You'll get all the elements of a chequing account, like a debit card, paper cheques, bill payment options, and more. In most cases, you will be able to open a no fee chequing account or joint account with any of the Canadian online banks. The account also comes with free INTERAC e-Transfers, unlimited transactions, and direct deposit.
- Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA): This account provides the opportunity to make investments exempt from taxes. If you are interested in long-term growth, a TFSA is probably the best option in Canada. With a TFSA, you can invest in mutual funds, GICs, stocks, and other investment options.
- Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP): If you aim to save money for your retirement or other long-term financial objectives, an RRSP is an ideal choice.
- Senior, student, or youth: These accounts are customised to the customer type. With many account, minimum balance requirements, monthly fees, overdraft fees, and ATM fees are typically waived. Student bank accounts generally offer low monthly account fees, lower interest rates on credit products, and free financial planning.
Need more information, check out the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) website.
Your online bank account comes with ATM access
Whether you call them Automated Bank Machines (ABMs) or Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), you'll be able to access your funds from nearly any ATM in Canada, North America, and the world. Though most all-digital banks do not offer cash deposit services, you can still withdraw cash whenever you need it.
With any of the big banks in Canada, you'll be able to access service from physical locations and online. So whether you need to check your accounts balances, complete international money transfers, or deposit money in a High-interest Savings Account, you will have complete flexibility and control over how you bank.
The benefits of digital banking in Canada
Digital banks in Canada are increasingly becoming all-virtual. Why? Because it costs a lot of money to operate even one bank branch. Digital account holders can expect high interest rates for their online savings accounts, lower fees, free access to financial advice, and no annual fee. These are only some of the advantages of digital banks not having the overheads of brick and mortar branches.
The main draw of digital banking is the ease of use and accessibility it offers. You can wake up in the morning, pop open a web browser or app, and view your account balances, deposit cheques, pay bills, move funds to a student bank account, look at past transactions, and monitor your credit score—all in one place. You can even get the latest news from the Bank of Canada and invest in the Canadian market or international markets!
Online banking offers Canadian residents better rates because they do not have the same operational costs of physical branches. These savings are then passed onto the customer, resulting in higher interest rates on term deposits, lower monthly transaction fees, or even direct cash rewards.
Online banking is much faster than waiting in long lines at the bank, and you still get all the help you need with just a few clicks. You can also talk to a customer service rep or chat. Though all types of banking customer satisfaction have been declining, you will find that online banking remains much simpler and takes less time than in-branch transactions.
Setting transaction limits
Whether you have a Koho account, an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account, a chequing account with Alterna Bank, or your standard Manulife Bank or EQ Bank card, you likely have pre-set transaction limits. These pre-set limits are for your protection from any fraudulent activity or glitches.
If you try to make a transaction and it doesn't go through, contact your bank and request them to raise your daily or monthly transaction limit. Some digital banks in Canada even allow you to resolve this issue in real-time from their mobile banking app.
You can generally request both temporary and permanent limit adjustments.
There are many digital banks in Canada
There are various digital banking options in Canada—exclusively online and mixed with physical locations. When deciding on a bank, look into fees, interest rates, account types, and minimum account balance requirements. Several of the leading Canadian banks offering online services include the following:
- Neo Financial
- Rogers Bank
- National Bank of Canada
- Coast Capital
- Tangerine Bank (a subsidiary of Scotiabank)
- TD Bank (TD Canada Trust)
- Bank of Montreal
- PC Financial
- Simplii Financial
Canada has a range of banks provide similar services so it is crucial to choose the one that has the best features for you.
Your bank's security is probably good
Some Canadians are hesitant to put faith in others when handling their personal and financial information. However, the banking sector is highly secure, despite the occasional report of leaked financial data or compromised privacy.
Canadian online banks are known to be reliable and secure and provide customers with modern and convenient services—all without compromising their data.
You can be sure that your funds and private information are safe and secure.
Protect yourself when you bank online
You should always be aware of your personal security measures and online banking security to protect your identity and guard against potential fraud. Here are some simple measures to protect yourself when banking online.
- Keep your password secure by switching it up often and using a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid common words, names of relatives, pet names, and any other directly identifiable information when choosing your password.
- Avoid logging into online banking when on public WiFi networks.
- Review your bank statements regularly for any errors or suspicious activity.
- Invest in antivirus software and keep it up to date to protect your data.
- Set up online identity monitoring services to ensure you are notified immediately if your data or identity is stolen.
By taking these easy steps, you can feel confident that you are protected when using digital services. We strongly believe that everyone using digital services should follow these safety measures.
Evaluating the value of digital banking in Canada
Certain digital banking services are free and others will likely have fees. These fees are generally paid per transaction, on a monthly basis, or as an annual fee.
Although there is generally a small fee associated with online banking services, the value being provided should be evaluated when deciding which provider to choose. If you use any Canadian bank, chances are you're getting access to the following:
- INTERAC e-Transfer (free and, occasionally, with an associated cost)
- A bank website and corresponding mobile app
- Tap, Apple Pay, and other pay features
- Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) options and capabilities
- ATM, ABM, and branch access, where available
- A debit card that can be used nearly anywhere
- A credit card account
- A line of credit (if applied for and approved by the financial institution)
In the long run, online banking pays for itself. It provides an exceptional banking experience and allows for maximum flexibility and convenience.
Online banking is less personal
It is important to remember that digital banking does not offer the same level of personalisation as traditional direct banks offer. For instance, you cannot get face-to-face interactions when using online banking, and you may not be able to get tailored advice or information. It can sometimes be nerve-wracking to resolve a problem or gain further details on a transaction.
If you are in a challenging situation, don't worry! You can get help quickly by calling the customer service line or engaging in a customer support chat through your digital bank's mobile or web application. When speaking to the representative, fully explain your issue, and they will provide appropriate advice.
Banks hire experienced financial personnel to staff their telephone services, providing customers with the same information available in a traditional bank setting. However, the convenience is that you can do this from the comfort of your home, while out shopping, or even travelling internationally.
Take advantage of all of the available online resources
Confused about how to access your bank's digital services? Financial institutions commonly offer educational materials that can be used to simplify the learning process. In addition, various forms of content, such as visual guides and video tutorials, are typically available to help make transitioning to online banking easier.
If you're having difficulty, visit your bank's website to quickly and easily find the necessary information.
Digital banks in Canada exist for your convenience
The truth is that it is 2024 and 8 out of 10 Canadians are already using digital channels for most of their banking needs. And it is understandable why that is the case. Digital banking provides Canadians with a convenient and completely accessible way to manage their personal finances, those of their business, and to help our younger generations join the Canadian banking ecosystem.
Financial Technology, or Fintech, is slightly different from online banking but still provides financial services such as BNPL. However, many banks are combining services with Fintechs to further ease the issuance of loans, collect payments, accept deposits, and facilitate transfers, anytime and anywhere.
Learn more about personal finance and financial well-being
Creditpicks offers tailored financial education and access to some of the best Canadian financial products available. We keep up with all the latest digital banking trends in Canada. Whether you want to create a budget and stick to it or invest in a TFSA, Creditpicks is the Canadian go-to for personal finance tips.