Are you still paying for your everyday banking needs? Stop! Paying bank fees is so over. More and more companies are offering free banking services that will cover the needs of almost everyone. It is definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already switched.
I’ve been using Simplii Financial (previously PC Financial) for the last few years and have no regrets switching from one of the big Canadian banks. The fact that I no longer have to pay fees is obviously the biggest perk, but they also have a way better website and app to make depositing money, e-transfers, transfers, etc. super simple. The current options available to Canadians are online only. They can avoid fees by not building and operating physical branches. That’s important to understand, because if you do rely on the services of your branch, then the fees you pay might be worth it.
There have been a couple of times since I made the switch when having a branch would have been helpful. I needed a bank draft when we purchased our house and had to order and have it shipped. It was fine, but if you are on a tight deadline that could be a problem. One option is to keep your existing bank account but switch it to the cheapest possible option. Many banks have a pay per transaction option, and if you’re not using the account, you won’t rack up fees. Doing so will give you the option to transfer money into that account if you need to use a branch.
Making the Switch
Setting up a new bank account is simple enough. For online banks you can usually do it right on their website. When I signed up for Simplii, the process was quick and easy, and my debit card was mailed out within a few days.
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 If you are anything like me, you hate having to deal with bills, so everything possible is withdrawn automatically from your bank account.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 you miss something. The last thing you want is to have to pay NSF charges. Kind of defeats the whole purpose of eliminating bank fees.
Let’s take a look at the no fee banking options that are currently available to Canadians:
Simplii Financial is associated with CIBC and took over from PC Financial. I initially chose to switch over to PC Financial because of a promotion they were running. At that time they you could collect PC Points through their banking platform, and I was tempted by an offer for $300 worth of points for signing up. We do the majority of our grocery shopping at Superstore, so I couldn’t pass up $300 of free groceries.
Now that Simplii has taken over the points are no more. I still think the banking services are fine but have been thinking about trying something new (aka seeking out a new promo) because the points were the main reason I switched in the first place.
Both the website and app are easy to use and have user-friendly layouts. You can deposits cheques by taking a picture, set up automatic bill payments, transfer between accounts, etc. And of course, all of this can be done with no fees.
With Simplii you can use any CIBC ATM for free, and Interac E-Transfers are also free.
Tangerine offers almost all of the same no fee banking services that Simplii offers but tends to have better promotions that make it tempting to switch to. You still get unlimited daily transaction, access to Scotiabank ATM’s across Canada, and unlimited email money transfers at no cost.
I haven’t used the Tangerine online access or mobile app, but their website looks seamless and easy to navigate, so I’m sure both work well.
The biggest perk for Tangerine right now is that you can get a $150 bonus for signing up. You will get $50 for opening a chequing account and depositing at least $100 and then an additional $100 if you set up payroll direct deposit or two pre-authorized payments.
If you do sign-up for a Tangerine account, you can participate in their referral program. You will get an ‘Orange Key’ that friends can use to open an account, and if they do and deposit $100, you’ll each get $50.
EQ Bank is a newer option for Canadians and works a bit differently than the first two options. It’s not meant to be used for your everyday banking but does offer free bank accounts that are meant for saving. It can be an excellent option for your emergency fund or other short-term savings. Basically, any funds that need to be kept safe but also readily available. Right now you can open a savings account and get a 2.30% interest rate. That’s really good for a savings account!
You aren’t going to get a debit card you can use when you’re out shopping, but you do get free transactions that make moving your money around simple. This includes five free email money transfers each month so you can easily transfer funds to your other no fee chequing account. EQ Bank isn’t made for daily transactions, but it’s a fantastic option for your savings.
Have you made the switch to a no fee bank? I highly recommend it if you haven’t already done so. I’d love to hear about your experiences, and if you have an institution you would recommend.
This post was proofread by Grammarly.