One thing to note is that you wont have access to a full-service branch if the need arises. For example, if you ever need a bank draft, certified cheque, etc. you will need to phone in and have it sent out to you (not exactly a speedy option). I've gotten around this by keeping my old BMO account open, and because I'm not putting any transactions through I can have it on their no-fee plan (pay per transaction) and then if I do need teller service for whatever reason I can simply email transfer money between the accounts.
Setting up a new bank account is simple enough, we were able to just do it in the kiosk at our local Superstore. The hassle comes in when you have to swtich over all your pre-authorized payments. If you are anything like me you hate having to actually deal with bills so everything possible is withdrawn automatically from your bank account. Before making any changes you'll want to go through your bank statement and make a list of all the companies who are set up for automatic withdrawals. It's worth checking back a full year in cae there are annual payments you may be forgetting. Another good tip is to temporarily keep a balance in your old account just in case. The last thing you want is to have to pay NSF charges (that defeats the whole purpose of getting rid of bank fees).
Let's take a look at the two main options for us Canadians:
1. PC Financial
- I'll start here since it's what I use and am most familiar with it. We originally chose PC Financial because of an offer for PC Points (I think it worked out to about $300 in free groceries). We do most of our grocery shopping at Superstore so this made sense for us and since we're there regularly we can use the ABM / small customer service kiosk in the store. You can also use any CIBC ABM's for no charge. The online access platform is easy to use, has a simple layout and I haven't found it to be missing anything that I used through BMO. I don't use many cheques but you also get free cheques with PC.
- Right now they have an offer on where you receive 10,000 PC points if you set up your account for direct deposit of your pay cheque or pension (that's the equivalent of $100).
- Lots of the same features as PC Financial and if you don't shop at Superstore this would be one to look at. They let you use Scotiabank ABM's for no charge and also have a well laid out website. I've obviously never used their online access but based on the rest of the website I'm sure it's fine. Tangerine does offer free email transfers and $1 Interac E-Transfers, which is less than I pay! You will get your first pack of cheques for free but additional books will cost you $12.50 (but really, who uses cheques anymore). One great offer Tangerine has that PC doesn't is their referral program; you'll get a referral code and when someone uses it and deposits at least $100 you will both get $25.
- Right now you can use the orange code ORANGE25 when you open a chequing account and deposit $100 or more and get $25 of cold hard cash. Then earn an additional $75 by setting up payroll direct deposit. If you are wanting to set up a new savings account as well, you can get a promotional interest rate of 2.4% for the first 6 months (get that emergency fund topped up!)