No Fee Banking, No More Excuses

I’m fed up with paying bank fees!  I’ve banked with TD CanadaTrust my entire life and have always been treated pretty well.  Not only have I held my regular bank accounts with TD, I’ve also opened my investment portfolio and hold my mortgage there too.  Now I’m exploring some no fee banking options.  Here’s why:

I’ve always believed that it was beneficial to have a relationship with a full service bank, one that would benefit me as my assets built up over time.  But I’m still waiting for those perks to kick-in.

Meanwhile, TD just announced changes to the monthly account fees on their different chequing account options.  The following changes took effect on August 1st, 2011:

  • Value account – minimum balance increases from $1,000 to $1,500
  • Value plus account – monthly fee increases from $8.95 to $10.95 and minimum balance increases from $2,000 to $2,500
  • Infinity account – monthly fee increases from $12.95 to $14.95 and minimum balance increases from $3,000 to $3,500

Other changes include increasing additional transaction fees from $0.65/each to $1.00/each and increasing overdraft protection fees from $3/month to $4/month.

The Case For No Fee Banking

The more I thought about it, I realized that I no longer needed this relationship.  I have the Value Account with TD, and it’s a struggle trying to limit my transactions to just 10 per month.

And now their telling me I need to keep a $1,500 minimum balance to waive the account fees?  Plus they’re increasing the additional transaction fees.  It’s too much!

Enter ING Direct, the pioneer of no fee banking in Canada.  I was already a big fan of ING, having recently opened a high interest savings account last month.  A few weeks ago I came across a promotion for their new THRiVE chequing account.

If I opened the account and switched my payroll over to ING I would get a $100 bonus.  As I sized up the offer I thought, why not?  This was the excuse I was looking for to finally switch over completely to no fee banking.

Everything is Online

There really was no need for me to have a full service bank account anymore.  I already pay for all of our monthly purchases with my PC MasterCard, getting away from the poor Canadian habit of paying for everything with a debit card.

I went from having a chequing account with unlimited debit transactions (for a high monthly fee) to rarely using my debit card except for the odd withdrawal from a cash machine.

I pay bills online using ePost, and set-up automatic monthly bill payments on my credit card whenever possible.

With ING Direct’s no fee banking account I can still do everything that I used to do with my TD account, but without having to worry about keeping a minimum account balance or limiting my transactions to 10 or fewer.  They even have free email money transfers and a mobile banking app to keep track of my account on the go.

The only negative with moving to a virtual bank is that there is literally only 1 ABM in the entire city where I live.  But this is easily overlooked when you consider how infrequently I withdraw cash.

No More Excuses

Finally switching over to a no fee banking account was a no-brainer for me.  ING was offering the right incentive at the right time, but PC Financial offers similar benefits when it comes to no fee banking.

Related: Free Chequing Account Comparison

At the end of the day, having to monitor my chequing account every month to ensure I wasn’t paying any fees was becoming more of a hassle than it was worth.  I wasn’t receiving any tangible benefits for keeping my daily banking accounts with TD, so it was an easy decision to leave.

I think I stayed with TD for so long out of some sort of feeling of loyalty.  Do you have a beneficial relationship with a full service bank?  Would you consider completely switching to a no fee banking account at an online bank?

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  1. Jim Yih on July 11, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Hey Robb! You won’t regret it. I’ve been using Manulife Bank for my chequing account since 2003 and I’ve never looked back. Congratulations!

    • Echo on July 11, 2011 at 9:43 am

      Thanks, I’m happy with the choice and wonder why I didn’t do this sooner. Have you always been such an early adopter?

  2. Angelo on July 11, 2011 at 6:39 am

    I am in exactly the same position with TD Canada Trust, but I’ve already got the ING account open and running as my main checking account. I’ve been with them since it was just Canada Trust, too.

    Now I just have to figure out what to do about my safety deposit box and RRSP mutual funds (both with TD).

    • Echo on July 11, 2011 at 9:46 am

      I’m not sure what to do about my investments either. I’m with TD Waterhouse and while their fees are high I don’t trade very often and I like their platform and research.

  3. Geoff Vincent on July 11, 2011 at 7:25 am

    We switched to PC Financial a couple of years ago and haven’t paid a cent in fees since (nor will we). I’m bewildered why folks haven’t flocked to no or no fee options.

    • Echo on July 11, 2011 at 9:48 am

      Bewildered is a good way to describe it. I’m convinced it’s our love for debit cards and ATM’s that keep us hooked on full service banking.

  4. Sustainable PF on July 11, 2011 at 8:26 am

    We prefer PC Financial. I admit, i’ve ignored THRiVE mostly, but PCF gives access to CIBC bank machines which are everywhere it seems. Prior to THRiVE I disliked having to wait a few days for ING to transfer my money to an account where I could withdraw cash.

    • Echo on July 11, 2011 at 9:51 am

      For me it was a toss-up between ING and PC Financial. I went with ING because of the promotional offer and the fact that convenient access to an ATM wasn’t a huge priority.

  5. Gary on July 11, 2011 at 9:30 am

    What will you do about your investment accounts?

    • Echo on July 11, 2011 at 9:55 am

      I’m undecided. I don’t have any real complaints with TDW, although I would be open to using an online brokerage like Questrade.

      I still have my mortgage with TD and will stay with them since they have offered me prime minus 0.85.

      My biggest beef was the bank fees on chequing and savings accounts. One of the perks I’ve heard of for holding your mortgage (and investment assets) with a full service bank is that sometimes you can negotiate free banking. That just hasn’t been the case for me, so it was time to look out for my best interests.

  6. The Passive Income Earner on July 11, 2011 at 11:09 am

    I guess that’s how they keep up with dividend increases 🙂 ScotiaBank did the same thing back in February.

  7. Krantcents on July 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I wonder who will be left at regular banks? Perhaps the business people who need cash services or have a borrowing relationship.

    • Boomer on July 13, 2011 at 4:19 pm

      @Krantcents: The people left at the regular banks are the ones wanting full-service banking. I pass by a TD bank almost every day and see at least 20-30 people waiting in line. I don’t see why they are not the ones being charged more.

  8. Marissa on July 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    Way to go! Welcome to the ING club. I switched recently and haven’t looked back. With the exception of recently opening an TD account to E-series fund, I don’t have anything with TD.

  9. Scotiabanker on July 12, 2011 at 11:40 am

    This isn’t released yet will be on Monday but Scotia is coming out with a money-back account. You do have a monthly fee but get an annual credit back. 14.95 a month and 1% cashback. Max cash is $300 but that means you would net $120 for the year or it works out to 10 a month

  10. My Own Advisor on July 12, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    You’ll love the switch. My wife and I have been with PCF for about 7 years, and love ’em 🙂

  11. Olga L. on July 17, 2011 at 9:18 pm

    I am with PC for at least 7 years, and love it.
    I am not sure why you say (in comments) that “I’m convinced it’s our love for debit cards and ATM’s that keep us hooked on full service banking.” ?
    I love debit cards, and that’s exactly the reason I am using PC Bank: all of the debit card transactions are free. Also, I often take out from ATM (I prefer to take small amounts often rather than large amounts rarely). You use free any CIBC ATMs, as well as additional PC ATMs at Fortinos, Loblaws, Superstores, where you can also see their reps if you need to replace your lost card, open a new account, line of credit or whatever…

    • Echo on July 17, 2011 at 10:14 pm


      You’re right, the PC Financial card does make it easy to use debit and ATM’s. I was thinking about ING with that comment.

      What I meant was that Canadians use debit cards more than any other country in the world, and most people I know pay for an unlimited debit use plan from a full service bank.

  12. ray on July 22, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    You can do free ATM transactions within the “Exchange” group, which includes HSBC & Coast Capital. That’s where I do my withdrawals 🙂

    • ray on July 22, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      for ING’s THRiVE chequing, that is.

      • Echo on July 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm

        There is only 1 ATM in my city (Lethbridge), but you’re right, that’s where I can do free withdrawals.

  13. Rob S on July 22, 2011 at 5:43 pm

    TD offering this Select Service-All Inclusive Banking account which you dont pay for any transaction at all, plus you get free safety deposit box, waive fee for their first class infinite visa card (which you can earn travel miles 3x). The only catch is you have to maintain $5000 on this account. PCF is great, I’m with them for almost 10 years now and its my main chequing.
    However since i use TDW, i can’t quit TD though.

    • Echo on July 26, 2011 at 11:04 am

      Hi Rob, my problem is carrying the minimum balance. I don’t like carrying all of that cash for the unlimited account, and the value account gives you too few transactions per month (10).

  14. Matt on October 9, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I’m in the same situation as you – TD bank investments & mortgage and stuck paying monthly fees or maintaining a high balance that I would like to use more effectively. (or take a holiday!)

    Do you contribute monthly to your investments & if so, was it easy to change the checking account from which these funds are taken?

    Also, and more importantly, I work on commission so I regularly prepay a lumpsum on my mortgage – is it possible to still prepay a TD mortgage through an ING account?

  15. Shawn on February 24, 2012 at 9:44 am

    I’d been using ING Thrive for about a month, and I love their service too, just waiting for 1 last cheque to clear my old bank (TD) and I’m closing my account there.

  16. peppa on January 26, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    I have been a PCF customer since inception and have saved a ton of money in bank fees, 2 years ago i found a no fee business bank account from HSBC and switched immediately, works like a charm, everything is online which i was already doing anyways, i never use the teller.

  17. John Ryan on August 25, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    I finally gave up on TD Canada Trust last week as well! I’ve been their customer for DECADES – before Canada Trust merged with TD.

    It felt GREAT closing that account. I never found any benefit to me from the “relationship” either – that seemed to flow exclusively in their direction.

  18. Carlos on February 13, 2016 at 10:43 pm

    Scotiabank has a no fee chequing account for seniors (60+). You have to ask for it. It doesn’t happen automatically. I can’t remember if it has a limit on the number of transactions.

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