The best bank accounts for students in Canada 2020

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With the cost of tuition and books—not to mention rent, food and transportation—students bear a significant economic burden. To ease the financial strain, savvy Canadian students take advantage of student discounts offered by many major retailers, on some modes of transportation, and on some services or attractions, like gyms and museums.

For a long time now, traditional banks have also offered student accounts, which charge lower fees and come with different perks than regular accounts. The emergence of online banks has also been a boon to cost-conscious students; though they don’t tend to offer accounts specifically for students, many offer attractive, low-cost options with features similar to traditional student bank accounts.

The best bank accounts for students in Canada

People looking to open a student account often turn to the major banks, which offer special accounts available only to registered students. Big banks are also established and secure, and frequently offer valuable promotions or rewards.

Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan*

Money’s tight for students, so having a full-featured account that commands no fees is a top priority. The Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage plan gives students unlimited debit transactions and Interac e-Transfers while boosting their buying power by allowing them to earn either SCENE or Scotia Rewards points.

For those most interested in movies, food and entertainment, SCENE Rewards offer great value—and if you go for the SCENE Student Banking Bundle (the Student Banking Advantage Plan plus a SCENE Visa card plus a Momentum Plus Savings Account), you can earn up to 12,500 additional reward points. 

Students looking to collect flexible Scotia Rewards points they can redeem for travel, merchandise and gift cards are in luck, too. Just like SCENE collectors, they can earn points on their everyday purchases, and redeem them in the category of their choice.

  • Monthly Fees: $0
  • Transactions: Unlimited  
  • E-transfers:  Unlimited
  • ATM networks: Interac, Plus, Cirrus, Union Pay, Pulse
  • Special features: Allows you to earn points on your everyday purchases in either the SCENE or Scotia Rewards program
  • Sign-up promotion: Get 5,000 SCENE or Scotia Rewards points when you sign up
  • Grace period after graduation: You must provide proof of enrollment every academic year; account will be converted on November 30th following  graduation

Learn more about the Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan*

RBC Student Banking Account

This is another strong no-fee option and very well-suited to those already banking with RBC. There’s a tasty welcome bonus of 5,000 RBC Rewards, plus the ongoing perk of a discount of $0.03 per litre and accelerated earn rate on Petro-Points when you fill up at Petro-Canada—perfect for car commuters. And, for those also using a Signature RBC Rewards Visa or WestJet RBC Mastercard, a reimbursement of the $39 annual fee could be on your way. Although this package doesn’t offer unlimited transactions, the first 25 per month are free and the account includes unlimited Interac e-Transfers, which should cover the spending habits of most students.

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