I am writing this blog, partly to share some money-saving tips. For years, I’ve been sick of the big banks charging monthly fees, transaction fees, ATM fees and an arm and a leg for a cheque book. Recently, I took the plunge and opened an account with President’s Choice and found it to be a very good deal.
I had to go to the local Loblaws store to open the account and they sent me a free chequebook in the mail in a few weeks. So far, I haven’t paid a single penny in bank fees. There is no fees for using the debit card in stores, no fees for internet banking or paying bills and no ATM charges if you withdraw from CIBC or PC machines. They even give me PC Points for paying bills over the internet.

This article has 42 comments

  1. Another capital commentary! I said the same thing in my BLOG, do you think people are going to listen? I hope so!

    http://canajunfinances.blogspot.com/2005/04/vultures.html

  2. I switched to President’s Choice Financial years ago. I was a bit leery of banking with a grocery brand, but figured if after 6 months I didn’t like it, I’d stay with CIBC. Ha! I never looked back and have spent the last 9+ years trying to convince everyone I know to switch. Most don’t. The most common excuse? Oh, but it’s such a pain to switch. I always say, “I guess you’ve got enough money then”. For maybe 1-2 hours of your time, you can save easily, $500 per year as a couple by switching. I’ve even had people accuse me of drumming of some secret commissions for myself! HA! I do not work for PC, CIBC or even Loblaw. I just hate to see people pay for nothing! Oh well, I guess my experience shows most people have more money than they have brains.

  3. Canadian Capitalist

    Steve: I am very happy with the PC Financial account. In over three years now, I haven’t paid a penny in fees. It’s one of the best banking deals out there.

  4. We have been with the Cookie Bank (President’s Choice) since they started up years ago. We have our credit cards and mortgage with them. It was with great satisfaction that I left The Royal all those years ago. Banks use our money to make money and then charge us for the priveledge. The nerve. Forget that noise. Who can resist the amazing rates, lack of fees, and free groceries. Points from our debit and credit cards cover our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner and then some. The down side is there’s no teller to take in my loose change. No biggie.

  5. Don’t worry Smart Cookie, PC has your back on the small change as well. I just take a pocketful of change and shove it into one of their self checkouts. It’s one of my favorite things about self checkouts.

  6. I’m listening! We’re paying $10/mth for each of our accounts x3 is $30/mth = $360/yr! Just because we wanted a Credit Union…not worth it. We’re switching!

  7. What’s a “self-checkout”?

  8. I can’t wait to see PC offering the no fee account to Quebec residents.

  9. I think that No fee Bank is the best way to save money!!!
    fees are not permitted in many religions including ISLAM,
    Many economist says that 0% fee banks are recommanded at those hard moments…’me I think in all times.’
    Thnks…

  10. I tried PC Financial, but discovered they had a $1000 daily withdrawal limit that also applied to cheques being cashed. I bounced several rent cheques, car payments and pre-authed withdrawals because they all landed on the same day. After attempting to contest this limit being applied to cheques and pre-auths as well as withdrawals I make, I left the bank.

    They are backed by CIBC too. . . the only thing that would draw me back is if they wouldn’t cap what can be withdrawn on a single day.

  11. @ Marilynn: I don’t think that’s true about the cheques. I have cheques over $1000 go through monthly with no problem so far.

  12. I also have had a PCF account since 2001. Never a single problem with PC. As far as daily banking, LoC and savings accounts, it can’t be beat!!

    I also have had a Citizens Bank account since 1997 – when they started – no problems with that either, until yesterday when I received a notice that their banking operations are being sold to TD.

    Anyone have any suggestions for an alternative to Citizens – other than PCF, of course?

  13. TO JEAN:

    You can open a PC bank account even if you live in Quebec. The thing is, you have to open your account it in a neighboring province If you live near the Ontario border, a weekend trip to Cornwall or Ottawa might be worth it.

    That’s what I did back in 2005, and never regretted my move. I have access to ATMs through the CIBC network. THe drawback is no teller when you need one but there are ways around it.

  14. I am also looking for a new bank because of Citizen’s Bank closing. What a shame – we have been very happy Citizen’s Bank customers since 1998. So now I’m looking at PC, and trying to figure out if there are any better alternatives. We have always liked the idea of a credit union (Citizen’s Bank was owned by VanCity credit union). We are in Winnipeg.

  15. I have also been a great fan of Citizen’s Bank and am now looking for an alternative. We spent a year travelling the world and didn’t pay 1 cent for using bank machines in 14 difference countries. So far PC Financial seems to win for lowest cost but I’d love to hear any other comments or ideas.

    • Canadian Capitalist

      @John: I don’t know of any alternative to PC Financial now. Other than the now defunct Citizen’s Bank Chequing account, PC Financial is the only game in town unfortunately.

  16. icicibank.ca

    doesn’t charge for international withdrawals.

    i too used citizens extensively overseas

  17. I am tired of PC financial my self, the minimum days I have to wait is 5 days for a deposit and because of that even if I have the cash to cover a part of my account I can not prevent a nsf by depositing my money in to my accont if I am short in the account.

    @ Aaron yes there is a cap, it is daily so if you end up going over your cap that day you can have bounced cheques for that reason too. The caps and the wait times have made me wish to go somewhere else.

  18. I have used PC Financial for several years and find them great, except for two issues. As has been mentioned, cheques that are not directly deposited, but deposited by ATM will have any amount over $1000 held for several days until cleared by the bank. If you have to deposite amounts over $1000 you can break it up, and do up to a thousand each day (PC Finance says every 24 hours). Not the best solution but workable. My other issue is since I live rurally, there are no CIBC ATMS or banks in my area and I need to travel 75 minutes to deposite any cheques. You would think with all the money PC is making they could afford to put some more ATMs. Especially the ones you can deposite to in more locations.

  19. Two points:

    1) Every 6 months you can up the limit of cash available via deposits… I went from 500 to 1000 to 1500 to 3000.
    – All you have to do is ask to have your amount immediately available increased every six months

    2) Occasionally I need to make a money order or bank draft. I do this via 2 methods.
    – Go to my CIBC branch and do a bank draft based on my CIBC visa
    – Have PCF wire the money to a CIBC branch
    both cost about $10 but it is a lot cheaper than the monthly fees.

  20. I like PCF except for the caps on money, I have plans for my money the moment I get paid and the fact that there is a daily withdrawl limit prevents me from doing such. My girlfriend had over 8,000 dollars in her account for over a year and they wouldn’t raise the amount for her to take out because “her credit wasn’t sufficient enough.” its completely stupid that once you prove yourself to the bank they still run it off of numbers with your OWN money. For now I have 2 PC accounts but cannot use them due to the fact of not being able to deposit money and have most of it readily available.

    Sigh I will await for them to still have no fees but have the service of TD Canada Trust, I pay 12.95 a month at TD but all my other issues are taken care of.

  21. PC has totally lost my respect and consequently my business. After more than 10 years as a loyal customer they have started charging me $30+ interest on my PC Mastercard over the last two months. I paid the bills online on the due date, but they claim they didn’t receive the funds until many days later. Hours over the phone have not managed to resolve this issue in my favour and I am fed up now. I will be opening our new accounts with icicibank.ca this weekend. They are handing out $40 bonuses for referring a friend to their no-fee savings account ($20 each for you and your friend)! I would not recommend PC to anyone at this point.

  22. I have been with pc financial for 8 years and have never had a problem until now. I have found that they are stingy on how much then will lend me – mo other bank extends more credit. They also do not have a low-interest MC option, so be careful if you are looking for their credit card.

    Last month I bounced a cheque and was charged a $40 NSF fee! Afrer talking to multiple people I find they will NOT remove or reduce any charges. I applied for an small ($100) overdraft for future cases. I also sent a letter to their VP telling them that I was not impressed with the way they treat long-time customers and have not received even a courtesy reply over a month later.

    This week I wrote a post-dated cheque to a small business. They cashed my cheque in error, it was cleared by their bank and PC is again slapping me with another $40 NSF fee. I called and was told that the date on a cheque is irrelevant, as soon as it is written it can be cashed. I have to go after the other bank if I want to try and recoup the fees. THEN they had the nerve to try and upsell me a mortgage and/or line of credit!

    I am seriously thinking about moving to another bank, but then the monthly services fees are not something I want to start paying again.

    I guess PC is great is you are only doing basic banking and NEVER make mistakes! Daily banking is free but check out the other service fees – MUCH higher than other banks!

  23. Hi. I am thinking of switching my savings and chequing accounts to PC so I can stop paying the $12 service fee per month at my current branch.

    I am wondering if PC let’s you subdivide your accounts. For examples, can you have a fund called “vacation” and “new car” under your chequing account like some other institutions let you do? That would really help me keep things organized!

    Thanks.

  24. Yes, me again. What is this I’m reading about daily caps? Is that just for the amount you can withdraw from the ATM or is that a spending limit? So for example if I had a $500 cap and I went to buy something at a store with my debit card that was $600, I wouldn’t be able to do it? Or what if I bought something for $400 on debit and I had a cheque coming out later the same day for $300, because the cap is $500, the cheque could bounce and I would have to pay an NSF fee? Or am I reading that totally wrong?

  25. I have been banking with PC for years and have had none of the problems stated by the others. They gave me a $1000.00 overdraft. I had the choice of how much I wanted when I opened the account. They never hold my checks no matter how much I deposit. Before my wedding, I deposited 13,000.00 and immediately had to pay for the reception with no problems. I believe that they use the credit rating system to establish the limits they will give you. My car insurance is also with them and at the time they were the best rate in town. I would suggest asking them about increasing the limits. They usually up the limits, provided you have a good rating. I see them as a bank that pays their customers to bank with them. I usually end up with over $200.00 in points yearly which I use for groceries.

    If you travel, depending on the ATM used, you can get hit with a $3 fee per transaction. Make sure you research which bank they partner with to avoid the fees.

  26. I have been with PCB for many years. I have my mortgage, credit cards and TFSA with them. The issue I have with them is the chequing acct overdraft protection. I dipped into my overdraft in the amount of $13 for 2 days and they charge me$4.97. that is almost 40% penalty.
    In any month that you use your overdraft protection, a minimum charge of $4.97 will apply plus a fixed rate of 19%per annum will also apply on overdraft balances.
    I think this is outrageous and ridiculous. I imagine thousands of their clients dip into the overdraft unintentionally then put some money into the account soon to make it positive abd get charged $4.97. That’s a lot of money for doing nothing.

  27. i’ve got some questions!

    A) What kind of “fee-free banking” does it provide:
    1. does it provide free cheques?
    2. how many bank card uses do we get/month

    B) What % do they give in return for us loaning them our money to make investments?

    C) What security is provided for our money?

  28. I only pay $7 per month at Scotiabank for unlimited use of everything and have never had a problem. Sounds like the $84.00 per year is well worth it.

  29. I’ve been a customer of PC for 10 years now, and I’ve had my mortgage with them. Now after getting off the phone with a supervisor, I am moving my business elsewhere. I was slapped with a $40 NSF fee (fees they only recently introduced) and they wouldn’t even consider reversing it. It seems like a little thing, but it is the last straw for me.

    PC used to be no fee. Now, they are about on par with other banks, if you keep a minimum balance, except they have lousy customer service. At this stage in my life I always have a minimum balance anyway, so there is absolutely no reason to prefer them over other banks.

    STAY AWAY FROM PC FINANCIAL IF YOU EVER PLAN TO BUY A HOUSE or a car and you need a bank draft within a few hours notice — they will make your life a living hell while you wait for days and get charged 3X what other banks charge for this. (And if you buy a house you are stressed out and cannot wait days.) I’ll never forget how I once had to live on ramen for 60 days because they took that long to cash a cheque from the US. Any other other bank would have done it in 5 — believe me, I had plenty of time to ask around.

    Goodbye, PC. You used to be great. Enjoy your $40.

  30. PC Financial doesn’t seem to believe in the adage that “the customer is always right”…I deposited a very sizeable CERTIFIED cheque (which makes it just like cash) and I called them to have just a small portion of it released to pay bills and cover a cheque coming out on Monday…Cathy (#2577 – they refuse to give last names) refused because she basically accused me of being a criminal saying that she couldn’t be sure that I had actually put it in the envelope. DUH! If I had a large certified cheque (I offered to fax a copy) why the hell wouldn’t I put it in the envelope??!!
    Cathy will have to order the deposit envelope to verify I’m not a criminal (I have no past criminal behaviour) and that will take a few business days so now my cheque will bounce (if it’s cashed on time), my mortgage payment may bounce and ……they REFUSE to reimburse NSF charges even though there’s plenty in the account to cover the cheque. Apparently EVERY PC customer has a hold on their account…hmm…my parents have an account at TD and they have no hold. I was told the highest amount they release to their customers is $5000….well! That would cover the cheque coming out. But since I currently only get $1000 released I would have to work my way up like the star/points system in kindergarten because it’s a “lateral system”. “Well, TD doesn’t offer the same services”…No, that’s true…they offer BETTER services. My parents go in to a TD branch and the service is fantastic! Granted they do have to pay service fees but maybe it’s worth it to avoid these hassles and to have tellers who remember you as a person, not just a number, and apparently they assume we’re all criminals. TD would NEVER treat my parents as criminals. Apparently history doesn’t mean much at PC.
    So now I await a call from Customer Care (which will also take 1-2 business days) to lodge my complaint. Facebook is probably an easier method to lodge a complaint. And it’s a shame, I used to rave about PC’s service and products despite the long list of complaints I heard from others who had also had difficulties with PC Financial. Now I’m starting to reconsider my stance. Perhaps I should take my hard earned money to a bank that will actually allow me to access it when I need it, and perhaps one that won’t consider me to be a criminal. Any recommendations? I know there are other financial institutions with low or no service fees…has anybody found one that they really like?? Also, anybody know of some really good complaint websites so I can help other non-criminals avoid the hassle that PC puts their customers through? Or perhaps I should make my own…this is already posted on the PC facebook page – total DISLIKE! Of course my attitude may change it they’re willing to fix this and apologize, but I’m not counting on it. Cathy was very firm in her/PC’s stance. So if you want easy access to your money and avoid NSF charges, look elsewhere. I’ve had more NSF charges because they’ve refused to release my money to me so I think they’ve made up the service fees I could have been paying at a bank with better service.

  31. I have figured out that by swithching to PC financial, I have saved over $1700 inm banking fees for the course of it and if you are having limit problems then you can call and have the capas increased after 6 months of good activity! I recommend it to everyone!

  32. I am also on my way out…. I have minimum balances enough to keep me from paying fees with other banks. Besides, it’s not like you can earn decent interest in any savings account.

    PC has bilked me out of $180, one was an unauthorized paypal transaction that was NSF, and then another NSF charge because the first $40 put me into overdraft. I had $5000 in my interest plus account at the time. I will also be cancelling my PC credit card, and taking my mortgage elsewhere.

    Enjoy your $180 PC….. Too bad you will be losing thousands in mortgage interest, and money to gamble with.

  33. After being dinged 3 NSF fees for $40 I was tempted to shut down PCF… However:

    1) Every other bank has NSF fees and actually most are 42.5 or 45 so that doesn’t help
    2) The “no fee” bank accounts with minimums aren’t no fee… I have a second account with a big 5 and they charge me as soon as I have more than 5 bank machine transactions per month
    3) I’ve had my caps increased consecutively up to $3000 which is now reasonable.

  34. I’ve been with PCF since 1997, and it’s been fabulous. I used to have a bank account with a big Canadian bank, and I was annoyed with the monthly fees. PCF was exactly the answer I was looking for. In those 14 years, the only real penalty I’ve had is the $5 overdraft fee once, which is completely reasonable if you are dipping into money that you don’t actually have.

    With free debit transactions and access to your money through every CIBC machine, it’s great. How often do you really need to see a teller? Never. You can pay bills online, at a bank machine, on the phone, you can make deposits at a machine, and even the bank draft situation is fine – they mail it to you within a couple of days.

  35. banksRuntrustable

    Every bank has its ups and downs. Im currenlty with Scotia – and its no fees until Im 19.
    They are about 10$ a month for basic banking if your over 19. But its worth it.
    Great customer service and always willing to help with any confussion.

    I was with TD – and had a fraud situation for concert tickets in the amount of $250.00. I called and told the bank, and they said they would stop the transaction and give me the money back.. They stopped the trasaction and handed all the money to the ‘company’.. Then told me ‘oh well your loss’ and refused to help me at all…. I closed my account with them 5 min later.

  36. I have been with PCF for a few years now, including having a PC Mastercard. I went into CIBC to see if they had found my debit card that I’d lost, and they tried to get me to switch over to banking with them. A quick look at their terms of service showed me that they just could not compete with PC in terms of fees.

    The people complaining about PC on here seem to have similar issues.

    My comments on these complaints:

    1) don’t go into overdraft with any bank, unless you have overdraft protection. Might be tough if you are living paycheque to paycheque.

    2) if you are making a huge purchase like a house or car, maybe do some advance planning and find out how long it’s going to take you to get a bank draft or whatever you need.

    3) every bank charges you for NSF cheques. The difference with PC is that you can afford to have 3 NSF cheques per year and still be saving money over paying $12/month in fees. Or, try not writing cheques if you don’t have enough money.

    For me, it is not worth paying hundreds in fees per year to have teller access. I don’t know how often any of you are actually stepping into a bank, but I do that less than once a year. I’d rather have the extra money and the free groceries. CIBC and the other big banks can keep falling all over themselves trying to figure out how to get my business, it’s kinda funny.

  37. Well now, Royal is charging me a small fortune. After reading so many positive posts, I think I will pay PC a visit tomorrow to talk about switching banks!

  38. I have been banking with BMO for many years, then I switched to Coast Capital Savings, no fees and no hassle I have thought of switching to PC, as Coast Capital does not exist in Regina, too bad for me 🙁
    however, PC sounds great, but no branch if we ever needed to see someone in person.

    ING Direct is great that way too.

    Thanks

  39. Hello savers,

    My wife and I switched from a so called “cooperative” here in Quebec to ING Direct. No fees anymore, plus we are given a 0.25% interest rate on our checking account. Not huge but at least we are the one to collect the fees, not the bank ! It also comes with 20 free cheques.

    Also, for small business owners, HSBC offers a merchant account with no fees.

    I am usually not the one who would give good words about banks but I think those two do their job by not stealing our money with fees.

    Thank you,
    Stephane (QC).

  40. I was afraid at the beginning about a hidden banking fees ,but after opening the PC bank account at Loblows near Scarborough Town Centre I got 2 check books free of cost, I paid many bills online free of cost. Wonderful feeling and unbelievable. Finally I enrolled my monthly paycheck to PC Bank. I deposited and withdrown money through CIBC Bank Machine very easily and modern way ( Bank Machine interface is excellent and very fast ). I am now greatfull to PC / CIBC Bank and wish them a very successfull and profitable Bussiness .

    Hamidur Rahman

  41. I just surprisely found that PC Financial closed my chequing account without notifying me, even though there was a balance in it.
    I was told that it’s because my account was inactive for 2 years, so they closed my account!!!
    Be careful to deal the “free” banking.