Last year we switched over our everyday banking to PC Financial to take advantage of a really great intro bonus and get rid of our monthly banking fees. I’ve been really happy since the switch and don’t see any reason to switch back. Before (I was with BMO) I was paying the lowest monthly fee and pretty much always went over the number of transactions I was allowed so was usually paying about $10/month in banking fees. It may not seem like a lot by why throw away $120 a year for no reason.
One thing to note is that you won’t 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. For online banks you can usually do it right on their website. The hassle comes in when you have to switch 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 If you are anything like me, you hate having to actually deal with bills, so everything possible is withdrawn automatically from your bank account.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 case 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:
Simplii Financial is associated with CIBC and took over from PC Financial. We initially 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. When it switched to Simplii Financial we stayed with it because although the points offers are gone, the free banking is a thing.
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.
You get free access to any CIBC ATMs and Interac E-Transfers are free.
I’ve been considering switching to Tangerine because I’ve heard such good things. Simplii hasn’t had the smoothest transition and now that they aren’t aligned with PC Points there isn’t much advantage to me staying.
Tangerine lets 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 you can get 50 cheques for free. They also have a great referral program. When you sign-up you get an ‘OrangeKey’ that you can pass on to friends and family. If anyone uses it and deposits at least $100 in their new account you each get a $25 bonus.
Right now they also have a $100 bonus offer if you set up a payroll deposit on your account.
Check out the website links above to see if one of these no-fee accounts would work for you. How many of you have already switched over, and if not, would you consider it?