Sarah Deveau: Money Matters


The Best in Free Banking

The Best Bank Accounts are Free

How much do you spend each month in banking fees?

If it’s more than $0, you’re probably overpaying.

I’m a proponent of free chequing accounts for personal banking. After all, why throw away $50, $75, or $100 or more a year on service fees, when the bank is already getting to use your money to make money at high interest rates while paying you super low interest rates? There are only a few true free chequing accounts in Canada, where you don’t have to meet a minimum balance each month or have your mortgage and investments with the bank as well. PC Financial and ING Direct offer a no-strings attached free bank account, while RBC, CIBC, Scotiabank, BMO and TD Canada Trust have some requirements Canadians must meet to qualify for a no-fee daily chequing account. Presidents Choice Financial is the top choice for Canadians when it come to no fee chequing account. Built on a partnership between CIBC and Loblaws Superstores, customers can use any CBIC bank machine or PC Financial bank machine in Loblaws stores to deposit cheque, pay bills or withdraw cash. Their free PC Points program is included in their free chequing account, and earns you free product at their stores.

Though you can’t bank at the counter in a CIBC bank if you’re a PC Financial customer, you can still access things like certified cheques by ordering them on the phone and picking them up a few days later in a CIBC branch.

ING Direct used to be known as simply an online savings bank, but it has recently added a chequing product called Thrive. You can access your cash through their partnership with the Exchange ATM Network. The Thrive chequing account has no monthly fee and requires no minimum balance.

If you do have more complicated banking needs, such as depositing foreign cheques or using foreign currency, check into the pricing of using these services individually through a currency exchange or through another bank. You might find it more expensive per service, but if it’s only a service you use two or three times a year, the overall annual savings could more than cover the individual fees.

Want to learn more? Check out No Fee Banking, a website devoted to decoding bank account fees in Canada.

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