Expenses – Banking

I envy the Americans. Banks competing, and paying bonuses for their customer’s business caught my eye on BusinessInsider recently. The American banks, in my opinion have much better packages than their Canadian counterparts. Even Canadian banks like TD operating in US offer the customers free chequing accounts with zero balance, something that is unheard of, in Canada, unless your account holds a minimum balance totaling a couple of thousand dollars.There are only a couple of small banks in Canada (although both were bought by the Big-6 recently) which really allow you to have free accounts without maintaining any balance: PC Financial and ING Direct. PCF is owned by CIBC and ING is owned by Scotiabank. Problem with PCF is that your cheques are on hold for a period of 5-days, unacceptable in my opinion.

My Story

I had been a Royal Bank of Canada customer for over 10 years and paid $4/month without fail. Rain or shine, I paid the fees to the bank to hold my own hard-owned money. I finally decided that it was time to switch and started looking around and found that ING has the best package out there. Some of the feature include:

  • Free banking – there are no fees whatsoever
  • Free chequebook (first 100 cheques)
  • Free ABM access on the Exchange network
  • Free e-mail money transfers
  • Free overdraft protection upto $250
  • Better interest rates than most other banks
  • Plus they have an added incentive periodically. For e.g., when you switch your payroll, you get a $100 bonus.

Some may see ING as a hurdle since its mostly a self-serve bank. I do most of my banking online and seldom had to go into a branch and did not see this as a hurdle and perfectly fits my needs.

With the switch to ING, my annual banking costs have gone down from $48 to $0.