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Aug 24

PC Financial Free Online Banking – Not For Everyone

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PC Financial offers a no fee bank account that gives you free unlimited daily banking.  A great deal for some, but not for me.

I posted recently about no fee banking.  One of our readers, Linda, responded with a great comment that got me thinking about why I don’t bank at PC Financial.  Her statement is a compelling and intelligent one:

PC Financial Logo

“Hello.  I’m surprised surprised you didn’t mention the President’s Choice Financial bank account…no fees, free cheques (like the paper itself, not just checking transactions), free interac, abm transactions through CIBC machines, and no minimum balance… sounds like something someone as frugal as you should look into. After all, why hold a minimum balance – you can put that money into something that pays a bit of interest”.

PC Financial sounds like it has a lot to offer a frugal person who has banking needs.  It does, in fact.  One of my dearest friends also banks at PC Financial and has touted the myriad of benefits from banking there on numerous occasions.  I should also add, that I am completely comfortable with online banking and using ATMs.

Here, however, are the main reasons why I do not bank with PC Financial:

1)  The ATM Network – You do all of your banking through CIBC or PC Financial bank machines.  I believe that CIBC, in fact, has the largest ATM network in Canada.  So, what’s the problem?  I have always found that CIBC ATMs have never been close to my home or to my workplace.  They seem to be placed at a lot of locations, just not any good ones for my needs.  The inconvenience of having to tool around town to do my banking just has never seemed worth it to me.  If you live and/or work close to a CIBC ATM then, of course, you may have a different experience.

2)  The Benefits of Face-To-Face Banking – I have always dropped by my branch everyone once in a while for some face-to-face contact.  The long-term benefits of being known in your branch are significant.  PC Financial does not have branches.  As such, there is no face-to-face contact.

What are the benefits of popping into your branch every once in a while?  Well, just today I went to my branch to open up a US Dollar account and to deposit some coins.  I asked for some coin rollers and got a whole bundle of coin tubes for free just by asking.  I was also offered the option of moving my mortgage back to them at 70 pbs (0.7 percent) less than what I am currently paying (which is already a dirt cheap rate). Walking into my branch saved me a couple of bucks in coin tubes and, potentially, a very significant savings on my mortgage interest costs.  I do not see the opportunity for things like this to happen at a branchless bank like PC Financial.

3)  You may need to use a regular bank anyways – Do you have a safety deposit box?  Do you ever need to make US Dollar deposits?  Do you ever need to exchange foreign currency?  How about traveller’s cheques, money orders, or bank drafts?  Do you use any other banking services like a brokerage account, etc?  If you answered yes to any of these above questions, you may very well find yourself going to a regular bank with a branch network anyways as PC Financial does not offer these services (At least to my knowledge.  Someone please correct me if I am wrong).  If so, you will be paying all of their associated fees.  Are there real savings here from banking with PC Financial? Not for me, no.

4)  Regular Banks Reward Loyalty – All of the fees listed above are negotiable.  In fact, everything is negotiable.  If you do a lot of business with your bank and you are a long-term customer, many of these fees will be waived, or at least reduced, for you.  Simply ask.  State that you are a long-term customer and mention all of the different business that you do with them (politely and respectfully, of course) and you are likely to get many of these fees reduced or eliminated.  Going into the branch every so often will make sure that they know you and that you are a regular client.  Once they know you, you may not even need to ask.  I do not see how this could be done at the branchless PC Financial.

PC Financial offers a great thing if you do not have any need for any of these other services now or in the the future.  Otherwise, I feel that it is a good idea to have some face time at your local branch.  The banking industry is very competitive in Canada.  Banks value long-term clients who do a lot of various things with them very highly.  The opportunity to take advantage of your upper-hand with banks by doing so, is eliminated to a very large (if not, total) degree, when you do not have an opportunity for a face-to-face.  PC Financial does not allow you to do this.   This is why I do not bank with PC Financial, and am not likely to bank there in the future.

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Frugal dad – focusing my money and energy towards happiness and the things that matter most since around 1985.

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2 comments

  1. Gary

    I do understand why some people won’t go to PC. The thing that puzzles me is when they don’t use any of the services you mentioned, and the only reason they don’t switch is they are too lazy to do so!

  2. Jason

    Thanks for your post, Gary. Maybe they just don’t understand the extent of the savings that they could be getting? Otherwise, they are missing a good opportunity.

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