Small-business banking has become a competitive market in Canada. Nowadays, there are plenty of low-fee options for businesses. Given that most companies should have a business bank account, it's worth comparing the choices.
Here are the best business bank accounts for Canadian small businesses—based on their monthly costs—so you can compare and decide which is the best bank for you.
Business Bank Accounts for Low-Volume Businesses
RBC Digital Choice Business Account
If you do most or all of your transactions electronically and don't need to write or deposit many checks, RBC's Digital Choice Business Account may be a good option. Features include:
- $5 monthly fee
- Unlimited electronic debits and credits
- No minimum balance required
However, standard fees apply to all non-electronic transactions:
- $2.50 charge for every paper debit or credit transaction
- $5 fee for every $1,000 cash deposited in a branch
- $2.25 per $1,000 charge for ATM deposits
Bank of Montreal (BMO) offers a similar eBusiness Plan, with the added bonus of no monthly fee at all.
If you expect to need more hands-on transactions, though, there are several inexpensive options.
RBC Flex Choice Business Account
- $6.00 monthly fee
- Unlimited items per deposit
- $0.75 per electronic deposit
- $1.25 per paper transaction
- Deposit fees: $2.50 per $1,000 (branch), $2.25 per $1,000 (ATM)
TD Basic Business Plan
- $5.00 monthly fee
- Includes five free transactions and five free deposit items per month
- After the first five, each transaction is $1.25 and each deposit item is $0.22
- Cash deposit fee: $2.50 per $1,000
Scotiabank's Right Size Account for Business
- $6 monthly fee
- Four free transactions per month
- Transaction fees over four per month: $1-$1.25 each depending on how many transactions you make—more transactions mean lower per-transaction fees.
Scotiabank Basic Business Account
- Monthly fee of $10.95 a month—waived if your minimum monthly balance is $8,000 or more
- One free transaction for every $1,500 kept in the account
- Additional transactions charged on a pay-per-use basis. Each check or branch deposit, for instance, costs $1.25.
- Available as a Canadian or U.S. dollar account
BMO Business Start Bank Account
- $6 monthly fee
- No minimum balance requirement
- Seven free transactions a month
- Fees for transactions past the limit: $0.60 per electronic transaction, $1.25 per check, $2.25 per $1,000 deposited
CIBC Basic Business Operating Account
- $6 monthly fee
- No free transactions
- $1.25 fee for each full-service transaction
- $1.00 fee for each self-service transaction
Accounts for Higher-Volume Businesses
If your business needs a lot of monthly transactions, you're going to pay more for your business bank account. Sometimes a lot more. Each bank offers a slate of business account offerings with comparable service charges.
While there are no banking bargains for bigger businesses, many Canadian banks offer a business account at the $20 monthly fee level, which might work for you if you run a small retail business.
Here are some examples of a few different levels of larger business accounts:
TD Everyday Business Account
This is your best bet for a low-cost account that allows for more volume. For $19 a month, it gives you 20 transactions, 50 deposit items and up to $5,000 in cash deposits, more than any other of the big banks. They offer larger options as well.
From there, all the banks offer accounts with increasing monthly fees based on the number of monthly transactions.
CIBC Unlimited Business Operating Account
As the name suggests, this account gives you unlimited transactions with a cash, coin, and check deposit package for a $65 monthly fee. Looking at how few monthly transactions are included in most of the more inexpensive business bank accounts and how quickly additional transaction fees stack up, this may well be the most inexpensive option if your business has a lot of monthly transactions. CIBC also offers a smaller plan for a $35 monthly fee, which includes 100 transactions per month.
RBC Ultimate Business Account
At the top end, this all-inclusive account offers unlimited debit and credit transactions, unlimited items deposited, $25,000 in cash deposits and 100 paper transactions per month, all for a $100 monthly fee. Additional transactions are $1.25 each.
Most accounts in this tier will offer to waive your monthly fee when you maintain a certain daily balance, which can range from $20,000 to $75,000.
Small-Business Banking Packages
One way to get a better banking deal is to bundle your personal and business banking services.
Scotiabank's combo small-business banking packages are of particular interest. The bank offers several business bank accounts, such as its ScotiaOne Account Plan, that combine personal and business banking with other services. Besides the personal checking and business bank account, the plan includes a business Visa card, a ScotiaCard, and electronic banking for business. Fees start at $49.95 per month.
Check With Your Credit Union
There are also a great many credit unions operating in different regions of Canada. Check with your local branch to see what kinds of business bank accounts it offers. Historically, credit unions have had a strong interest in small-business banking and have offered accounts and services that are very competitive.
Small-Business Banking Isn't All About the Fees
The most important feature of small-business banking is the relationship you have with your bank or credit union manager, not the cost of your small-business bank account. Sooner or later, almost all small businesses need a business loan or a line of credit. That being said, there's no point in spending money every month on small-business banking services you’re not using or paying relatively high small-business bank account fees and not getting the small-business banking services you need.