Are you still paying monthly service fees to your bank? If you are, I urge you to read this post and STOP wasting your money.
There is absolutely no reason for you to continue paying those hated bank fees. At least three banks and/or credit unions now offer completely FREE chequing accounts with no charges for depositing and withdrawing your own funds. Doesn’t that just make SENSE?
COAST CAPITAL SAVINGS NO-FEE CHEQUING AND SAVINGS ACCOUNTS
I admit, I was wary there must be a catch when I inquired about Coast Capital Savings’ no-fee chequing and saving accounts. But there was no trick, no gimmick. I’ve been a member now since 2010, and every month since I joined, I have saved the nearly $11/month I had been paying in service fees for my old Royal Bank chequing account.
I’m completely happy with the customer service I get from Coast Capital, and I’ve never had a problem with my account. The online banking services they provide are excellent. I love being able to pay all my bills online for free. It’s also very handy, when I’m checking my monthly online statement, to be able to look at online images of cheques that have cleared my account. It’s amazing how easy it is to forget to whom I wrote a particular cheque to and why!
If I have any complaint — and it’s a small one — it’s that I’ve had to adjust to more limited access to automated banking machines. That was the one real benefit of being a Royal Bank client: they have a lot of ATMs around Victoria.
At the same time, I find I have little need for paper cash anymore, now that I’m not charged service fees for making debit payments from my Coast Capital account. That’s right: you get UNLIMITED monthly debits using Interac or ATMs in the EXCHANGE network. (That’s the network of affiliated credit unions.) Do avoid the PLUS network machines affiliated with the big banks, though, as you will get dinged with charges for using those.
ING DIRECT NO-FEE THRIVE CHEQUING
While I haven’t used ING Direct’s free Thrive Chequing service, from what I see on their website, their no-fee chequing accounts appear to work just like those at Coast Capital. They also offer unlimited debits and free use of ATMs on the EXCHANGE network. I have been saving with ING Direct for years, as they were among the first to offer genuine interest accrual on their basic savings accounts.
While ING has only a handful of actual bricks-and-mortar bank locations in Canada — and none in Victoria — I’ve never found that a problem. Their telephone banking and online banking services are excellent.
One unique feature offered with Thrive Chequing is ING’s free 30-day “Whoops!” protection. This could save you both the embarrassment and punitive cost of bouncing a cheque. Rather than penalize their clients with an insufficient funds fee, ING will cover you for up to $250 — so long as you pay back the overdrawn funds within 30 days. Even if you don’t, they charge just a $2.50 late fee for every 30 days that your balance is below $0. The Whoops! service is available for future-dated bill payments, e-mail money transfers, pre-authorized debits, and cheques.
PRESIDENT’S CHOICE FINANCIAL NO-FEE BANK ACCOUNTS
I have no personal experience with President’s Choice Financial, but a reader tipped me off about them when I first wrote about the benefits of free chequing at Coast Capital. I associate the brand primarily with President’s Choice foods, so I can’t help but picture a big jar of tomato sauce when I think of President’s Choice banking.
That said, I checked out the company’s banking website, and it appears that no-fee banking with President’s Choice has all the benefits of either Coast Capital Savings or ING Direct — and maybe a little more. In addition to the usual freebies, banking with President’s Choice gives you the opportunity to earn PC Points that you can use to save money on groceries. Collect 20,000 PC Points to save $20. Another nice touch: physical paper cheques are provided for free with PC.
Unlike the other two providers, President’s Choice no-fee accounts are linked to a network of CIBC and President Choice Financial automated bank machines (though I see a little caveat on their website claiming that “some CIBC bank machines are not capable of accepting deposits.” Interesting.) One drawback here is that you would be charged fees to use any other bank machines on either the EXCHANGE or PLUS networks.
So, what’s it going to be? Keep on paying $11 or more per month to your current bank, or switch to one of the three above to get all the same services for FREE? It’s the easiest — and smartest — choice you’ll make this year.