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Senior Discounts Vanishing From Our Banks

When my husband turned 60, being the cheapskate that I am, I was eager to check out what senior discounts we could expect from our TD Bank.  I wasn’t expecting a whole lot – and that’s exactly what was offered, not a whole lot.

Related: Free Chequing Account Comparison

When I worked for the bank the seniors plan – Plan 60 – offered:

  • Unlimited transactions
  • Free cheques
  • 0.5% bonus interest on savings accounts and GICs
  • No charge for money orders, drafts and travelers cheques
  • $5 discount on safe deposit boxes

To my surprise this plan was eliminated in March 2012.  The new seniors benefits are:

  • 25% discount on selected accounts that offer unlimited transactions, but with fees of $14.95 – $29.95 and minimum balance requirements of $3,500 – $5,000.
  • 0.25% bonus interest on two savings accounts, one of which calculates and pays interest (.05%) semi-annually.  Both of these accounts are no longer for sale.

I’m sure the other major banks are not far behind in eliminating their seniors’ perks.  For now, RBC and BMO offer free basic accounts to seniors and they’ll automatically apply a $4 seniors discount once you turn 60.

Related: Why More Banks Are Opening On Sunday

CIBC and Scotiabank customers must ask for senior discounts, it won’t be automatically applied to their bank account.  Scotia offers seniors one free booklet of 50 cheques per year, however CIBC no longer offers free cheques to seniors.

It seems like we’re a lot better off staying with what we already have.

Seniors are too wealthy (?)

In a Globe and Mail article written by Rob Carrick last year he gives this quote from David McVay of McVay and Associates, a financial services consulting firm:

“Why are we discounting banking services for what turns out to be our wealthiest customers?”

In the same article TD spokesperson Barbara Timmins says:

“We have to balance (diverse situations) with the bank’s longer term needs for continued growth.” 

Considering the bank has almost all of my money, I’m quiet and cause no trouble, do the majority of my transactions on-line so I don’t require personal attention, have signed up for e-services so the bank saves on postage and envelopes, and I use my own paper if I need to print a statement, it saddens me that they think it will greatly impact their profitability and growth to give me a free chequing account.

Related: Using Epost To Manage And Organize Your Bills

There are alternatives

We also have accounts with PC Financial.  My husband likes the unlimited debit transactions as opposed to the ten I have with TD.

I’m sure he was fed up with me always stating “Let me know if you need to withdraw money because I only have one more available debit this month.”

By contrast look at what I get with them:

  • Free cheques
  • No fee chequing account with unlimited withdrawals (plus at least .05% interest)
  • High interest savings account paying 1.35% vs 1.1%
  • 5-year GIC at 2.081% vs 1.85%

Plus these accounts are available to everyone, regardless of age.

Concluding thoughts

Some of the perks of reaching our “golden years,” besides life experience and age defying wrinkle creams, have always been discounts offered to seniors.

Related: How CARP Benefits Aging Canadians

Thank goodness for the merchants that still offer them:

  • I can shop at The Bay and get a 15% discount on the 1st Tuesday of each month.
  • The last Thursday of the month saves me 20% at Shoppers Drug Mart.
  • I can eat at McDonalds and Dairy Queen for 10% less.
  • Alas, I will have to wait a few more years to get the 30% discount at the Cineplex (65 years)

Otherwise I might suspect that businesses no longer have any respect for their elders.

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34 Comments

  1. Elizabeth on April 24, 2013 at 5:10 am

    I’m of two minds about this issue. People age 60+ is a big demographic, and going to get much bigger as the baby boomers push through. People are also living a lot longer than when many of these discount policies were implemented that’s a LOT of years of discounts ahead, especially when many people now work beyond age 60.

    And yes, older generations tend to have a lot more money than the rest of us — they’ve had more time to work and save. But that’s not true of all seniors. Many are not wealthy and those discounts really do help — and banks continue to make record profits.

    Many of us do our banking electronically, but that infrastructure and technology takes money to develop and maintain — it’s not “free”.

    This whole situation sounds like a no-win to me?

    • Boomer on April 24, 2013 at 11:36 am

      @Elizabeth: I’m fully aware that setting up the technology infrastructure is costly – but just initially. It’s a lot more cost effective to have a large call centre than fully staffed individual branches in every neighbourhood.

      Credit Unions and non-banks such as ING and PC Financial don’t seem to be hurting profit-wise from their free services and they are becoming increasingly popular.

  2. Robert on April 24, 2013 at 5:48 am

    A business offers special prices because it views it as a path to increasing profits in the end. The quote from David McVay I find incredible – he honestly believes the banks were acting this way to assist with social welfare?

    Banks like to attract clients with money. Hence they have gone after people who have saved for 40 years. This is no mystery. All of the banks did it because all the others were doing it. If the benefits are drying up it is because it is no longer viewed as the path to capturing these clients. This is no mystery either when I read your examples. With the exception of short term savings people with a lot of money cannot do any better than their big bank. For example, I use TD and have not paid for chequing in a decade as a non-senior, and not needed a minimum balance.

    I just turned 60 and plan to grab deals from those that want to get my attention from them. I just will not believe it is because they are trying to help seniors.

    • Boomer on April 24, 2013 at 11:32 am

      @Robert: I understand that seniors’ discounts were originally instituted because most retirees were on a fixed income and it gave them a break and brought them in to the store to shop, etc., but saying that seniors (boomer seniors) are all wealthy is as much a stereotype as expecting them to be on a low fixed income.

      I would be more in favour of low cost products and free services as an option for everyone no matter what the age. You can’t tell me that a thirty year old wouldn’t jump at getting a discount just as much as a sixty year old.

      TD’s watered down plan makes me wonder why they even bother. As I mentioned I’m better off with what I already have.

      • Robert on April 24, 2013 at 1:13 pm

        @Boomer:

        I’d be very cautious about thinking discounts were ever designed to help consumers of any demographic, although they are advertised in such a way. They are designed for profit, and wise consumers can use them to benefit. If designed well, they profit the company offering them.

        I’m not sure who suggested seniors are all wealthy. On the other hand, they as a group have the biggest nest eggs out of necessity. They are also a darn big group. If I were selling to consumers I’d be after that money.

  3. Lynne on April 24, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Interesting, thanks!

    I strongly suggest that you not RUSH to 65, to get that 30% at Cineplex, ha ha!

    Lynne

    • Boomer on April 24, 2013 at 11:38 am

      @Lynne: I have a few years to go before getting that movie discount. We like to go on cheap Tuesdays. We have a matinee date to avoid all the teens checking their phones every five minutes – very distracting!

  4. Bet Crooks on April 24, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Some seniors already have “hidden” discounts: they opened the accounts years ago and are receiving certain benefits for free because their accounts are “grandfathered.” The bank no longer offers those types of accounts to new customers. So seniors should be very wary of closing an old account without talking to the branch in detail about what they are not paying for now, and what they might have to pay for in the future. For e.g. I have a relative who gets free paper statements mailed from BMO because of her ancient type of account. They warned her that if she tries to make the account joint with her husband, she will no longer qualify for free statements.

    • Robert on April 24, 2013 at 9:38 am

      Does anyone want paper any more? Banks have been sending us useless statements for almost a decade now. I have been trying for years to get all that recycling stopped, and I think I have almost succeeded.

      If my only way to stop the annoying flow of paper was to lose a seniors discount, I might do it just for that reason!

      • Boomer on April 24, 2013 at 11:49 am

        @Robert: TD e-services provides on-line statements, confirmations, etc that you can print yourself if you choose. I usually don’t bother.

        The only thing I’ve printed lately are the T-slips for my taxes.

      • Bet Crooks on April 24, 2013 at 6:04 pm

        Yes, my Mom does. She can’t computer bank for a variety of personal reasons, nor is it easy for her to get to her branch. Given how many seniors seem to get scammed, I’m glad she gets statements and takes the time to go through them.

    • Boomer on April 24, 2013 at 11:45 am

      @Bet Crooks: Some accounts are grandfathered with their original features and are no longer available such as the savings accounts I mentioned. However, that’s not always the case. I have had the same chequing account for over thirty five years and a lot of changes have been made over the years regarding fees, minimum balances, charge for paper statement, etc. So far I have kept the account and just adapt the changes to suit me.

      • Bet Crooks on April 24, 2013 at 6:06 pm

        True. From what I’ve seen (but I only have much experiences with 3 major banks) BMO seems to be the one that most often grandfathers account types.

  5. Rosemary Wells on April 24, 2013 at 8:05 am

    Also depends on where you live. Wendy’s in our area has Discount Tuesdays for seniors (15%) and a regular everyday seniors discount of (10%). AND a senior is 55+
    CARP has great discounts on just about everything including a great cellphone plan (disclosure: shameless plug follows – use my Ambassador code 21613 for the cell phone deal and CARP membership (only available for those 45+)
    I have noticed the age of a senior varies widely. CARP is 45, Wendy’s is 55, Bank of Montreal is 60, Hudson’s Bay is 55, Zellers is 55. Somebody needs to make a list and share!

    • Boomer on April 24, 2013 at 11:58 am

      @Rosemary Wells: CARP is a great resource – well worth joining especially if you travel a lot.

      Most seniors discount lists are about businesses in the US.

      http://www.frugalliving.about.com has a partial list for Canadians – click frugal seniors.

  6. LoonieLover on April 24, 2013 at 8:19 am

    I’d like to echo what Bet Crooks said about not being too hasty to open a new account.

    When I was teaching overseas, I added my father to my bank account in case there was anything that needed to be done while I was out of the country. Until then, I had had free banking, provided I maintained a minimum balance. When I added my father to my account, the account type was switched. I didn’t realize it at the time, because my banking was still free, because I was getting a seniors’ discount because of my father’s age. When I came back to Canada, I went to remove my father from my account, and was surprised to discover that, no matter what account type I chose, I would be paying monthly fees.

    Needless to say, I changed my mind, and have been taking advantage of this situation ever since.

    The takeaway is this: before you change your bank account, be very sure that what you’re going to is better than what you’ve currently got. Older account-types are often much more generous than what is on offer these days.

  7. thefiscallyfit on April 24, 2013 at 11:30 am

    Not to say what the banks are doing is good or bad but it is good business. The banks are in business to make money. If eliminating some perks to encourage minimum balances to increase brings in more dollars… they are happy. They also know the average person will not change banks as it is too much of an pain in the butt. As for the bonus interest rate, the margins are much “slimmer” now compared to what they used to be so that is not a surprise. And those small fees that they charge… make up almost half their revenue… crazy

  8. krantcents on April 24, 2013 at 2:16 pm

    All companies are looking at their expenses and determining if the program is worth it. I think they just decided there was not enough profit to continue it.

  9. Diane on April 24, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Thank you for your continuing good financial advice…please tell seniors that they don’t have to get their GICs from BANKS.. they could perhaps try credit unions…why not encourage the good guys
    not the ones who are trying to gouge all the seniors in Canada.   

    • Gary on April 25, 2013 at 6:57 am

      Very good point Diane and a great post Boomer. I am going to check out my mothers account to see if she is getting charged any fees. Banks could use some good PR but I doubt it will benefit us seniors. I have had my account with CIBC for 35 years and so far no fees so “mums” the word!

  10. Joe on April 25, 2013 at 3:07 pm

    I don’t think Seniors are, as a demographic, particularly in need of discounts. Often, stores run such discounts on slow days to encourage intertemporal substitution of certain consumers (e.g. seniors) who generally have the time to shop during slower times to actually do so. It captures some needy seniors but also some of the wealthiest among us, with the greatest amount of disposable income. To help the elderly, look to government policies or charities rather than free market participants voluntarily discriminating based on age with broad brush discounts.

    With that said, anybody who is still dealing with one of the Big 6 is the author of his/her own misery.

  11. fraser on April 26, 2013 at 9:43 am

    We signed up for the 60 plus discounts at CIBC and Royal immediately after turning 60 in order to secure the discount-small as they may be. For us they have a value of $4. per month per bank, and of course we get that huge discount of $5. on our safety deposit box.

    But we have moved away from the big six banks. We moved out mutual funds out because of the high MERS and the poor quality of their so called financial advisors. Recently,we just ordered cheques-our first order in over 10 years (we seldom use them). I started to order from CIBC but found that the $45. charge, shipping included, was a little rich for 100 cheques. So we ordered them from ASAP cheques for $23. It only took a click of a mouse.

    Similarly, we have moved our daily interest savings accounts from RBC and CIBC to other on line institutions that offer 1.9 percent instead of the grand 1.2 percent on daily interest accounts that was offered by CIBC and Royal. The impetus was when we got that welcome note from RBC saying that they had purchased Ally, welcome to the Royal family and by the way your interest rate on your Ally account has dropped from 1.8 to 1.2. We realized a fifty five percent increase on what our banks were offering. All it took was a few clicks of the mouse, and a stamp.

  12. Eddie on April 28, 2013 at 8:08 am

    “Thank goodness for the merchants that still offer them…
    Otherwise I might suspect that businesses no longer have any respect for their elders.”

    Boomer: I find it distasteful how you equate a merchant giving you a discount with respect or implying that a merchant who does not offer a senior’s discount is showing any type of disrespect. I was raised to show deference and respect for my elders, hence, I refer to my wife’s parents as ‘Mr’ and ‘Mrs’ vice their first names. I do not speak over them and listen to my grandma’s advice and wisdom. Generation Y is often accused of having a sense of entitlement, to which I generally agree. However, that does not preclude other generations, social groups, or individuals from displaying the same behaviour. Your implication that a merchant that does not offer seniors discounts smacks of the same sense of entitlement. I think your dignity should be worth more than %10 at a fastfood restaurant.

    Personally, I don’t see the reason why students or seniors should receive any type of discount, but this is a free country and commercial enterprises can do as they please.

    • Boomer on April 28, 2013 at 9:25 am

      @Eddie: I’m sorry you find my comments distasteful. I was merely trying to inject a little humour – obviously falling flat. Please accept my apologies.

      I don’t believe certain people are “entitled” to anything, including discounts, but I won’t turn away if they are offered. I like to shop carefully to get the best price for my needs and often that doesn’t include businesses that offer discounts.

      • Lindsey on April 29, 2013 at 12:19 am

        I think @Eddie can probably settle down a little bit. I’m pretty sure a 10% discount doesn’t have to translate into the epic social commentary on “sense of entitlement” or “dignity” that he refers too. Oh, the melodrama.

        As far as I’m concerned, bring on the senior discounts. Bring ’em on until you have no idea what to do with all of them. Most seniors have worked and paid taxes for forty years. If anyone deserves the “10% discount” at whatever business, it’s seniors. If that’s entitlement, so be it.

        • Eddie on May 1, 2013 at 8:14 am

          Lindsey,

          I made a fairly innocuous observation about the expectation of a senior’s discount. When you say that I should “settle down”, who is being melodramatic and conveys epic social commentary.

          I have no problems with senior’s discounts. If I ran a business, I would not be inclined to offer them because I do not see why. Seniors, by nature of their age, do not deserve a discount. Loyal customers do.

          The reason why I felt compelled to write something is because it is a common attitude of entitlement that is pervasive in all age groups in society. I find the following quotation by Mark Twain to be quite endearing:

          “The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”

          • Lindsey on May 2, 2013 at 9:23 pm

            “Boomer: I find it distasteful how you equate a merchant giving you a discount with respect or implying that a merchant who does not offer a senior’s discount is showing any type of disrespect”

            @Eddie, there was nothing innocuous about your remark. Words like “distasteful”, “disrespect”, and “entitlement” are words with very strong connotations, very negative connotations, as I’m sure that anyone who understands that “innocuous” means harmless, inoffensive, or innocent would appreciate.

            Using large words does not “preclude” you from being judgmental and/or guilty of the wide-sweeping generalizations that you are making with your pointy little “Generation Y” finger directed at others around you.

            Now settle down or find some better way of communicating your “innocuous” ideas – I’m certainly not intimidated by your plethora of anything.



  13. Boomer on May 2, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Reduced prices have always been around for certain age groups on a variety of services –
    no charge for toddlers, half price for children, student and senior discounts.

    When I was paying full price (from age 20 to 50’s) I never begrudged anyone a discount even though I was probably subsidizing them. Neither did I wish I was 60 so I could save a couple of bucks on admission or get free cheques.

    Now that I’m approaching 60 I expect to take advantage of something I’ve seen all my life, so when it’s suddenly discontinued I think, “What the heck?”

    • Lindsey on May 2, 2013 at 9:27 pm

      Sorry Boomer, my little cat fight with your other commenter is ridiculously off topic.

      • Eddie on May 3, 2013 at 8:00 am

        Lindsey,

        Please allow me to address some of your points above.

        ‘Words like “distasteful”, “disrespect”, and “entitlement” are words with very strong connotations, very negative connotations…’

        ‘Distasteful’, ‘disrespect’, and ‘entitlement’ do not have negative connotations. I was being critical of boomer, but I did not insult her character or say anything that was way out of line. I could have used much stronger and more negative words, but that would not have been civil or an accurate representation of my views. I fail to see the big difference between Boomer’s use of the phrase “no longer have any respect for…” and my term “disrespect”. If Boomer felt personally insulted by my post, then I apologize; that was not my goal. Furthermore, it was not meant to intimidate anybody. I try to write with proper English (although I do make mistakes) and not degenerate down into text message speak like I have seen on some blogs.

        I find it interesting how there is absolutely no forum for any type of critical thought of personal finance blogs. We all have to agree with each other or be labelled as negative, virulent outcasts. I enjoy this blog so that’s why I have commented. Since there is no mandate for critical thought in personal finance, it’s no wonder why some commentators perceive that the vast majority of blogs out there are derivative, redundant, and irrelevant. Like I said, it was not my intent to personally attack Boomer, but I did take issue with her link between ‘respect’ and ‘discount’ and I thought that was worth a comment.

        • Eddie on May 3, 2013 at 4:45 pm

          PS I realize I made a typo: “‘Distasteful’, ‘disrespect’, and ‘entitlement’ do not have negative connotations.”

          There should be an ‘overly’ between ‘have’ and ‘negative’. My apologies for the oversight.

  14. Eddie on May 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm

    Boomer,

    I can certainly understand from where you are coming. There seem to be a plethora of discounts and gimmicks to appeal to all age groups. I believe in the market and economic freedom, so businesses are able to offer any discounts they please.

    The word I find most interesting in your last post is ‘expect’:

    ‘Now that I’m approaching 60 I expect to take advantage of something I’ve seen all my life, so when it’s suddenly discontinued I think, “What the heck?”’

    Businesses do not owe you or I or any other consumer anything. I think we can all do a better job of managing our expectations to minimize our disappointment.

    • Boomer on May 3, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      @Eddie: While I do agree that no-one “owes” us anything in life and I don’t have a sense of entitlement, and I certainly don’t expect everyone (or even anyone) to agree with my opinions, I don’t really understand your objections. Everyone (except, I guess, you) has certain expectations.

      Do you “expect” a birthday or Xmas gift from your spouse or parents?
      Do you “expect” an annual increase from your employer?
      Do you “expect” to receive your quarterly dividend payment?

      None of of these things is a certainty, but if they have always been forthcoming, unless you receive some notice of a change in circumstances, your expectations are that they will continue.

      • Eddie on May 5, 2013 at 8:44 am

        Boomer,

        I can understand from where you are coming. I just took issue with your phrase relating discounts to respect. Those are completely independent of one another and I can’t understand you linking those two concepts.

        About your last post:
        Do you “expect” a birthday or Xmas gift from your spouse or parents? – absolutely not. My love for my parents, wife, and friends is not dependent on material things. If they are kind enough to give me one, fine. If not, I would not be bothered in the slightest. I would nor lose any ‘respect’ for them if they chose to refrain from giving.
        Do you “expect” an annual increase from your employer? – absolutely not. My employer’s bonus to me is not a requirement for my happiness or my services. If I work hard and provide value to him, then a bonus is entirely because of his generosity. I would not lose any ‘respect’ for him.
        Do you “expect” to receive your quarterly dividend payment? – only if I am intelligent enough to invest in a company that has enough capital to pay a dividend. If no dividend is paid, I would not lose any ‘respect’ for the company or feel slighted.

        I do not “expect” anything in life from a pecuniary stand-point. Everything I receive should be because of my intelligence, ingenuity, industriousness etc, not because I have an expectation or a demand for something.

        I can only speak for myself, so I will avoid making assumptions about what everyone else thinks, however, it would be an interesting question to poll.

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