Full Service Bank Accounts

Last modified on October 3rd, 2013

I won’t lie: I hate banks.

Other than PC Financial (which has been my main bank since I was about 20 years old), the major banks absolutely gouge their customers. I remember once going into TD when I was in university and asking to open a savings account. Once they showed me their fee structure, I realized there was absolutely no way I’d actually be able to save money using that account, since the costs each month were greater than the interest they paid. Consequently I have been a member of PC Financial since that time, and haven’t paid a single fee.

That said, I’ve been strongly considering switching over to one of many full service bank accounts before I leave. While I’m sure a bank that’s affiliated with a grocery store makes complete sense up here in Canada, it probably makes way less sense in South America. So, rather than leaving my financial fate up to chance, I’m probably going to start using TD as my main bank account.

As it stands now, we do the majority of our business banking through TD, and also use ING Direct from time to time for any funds we don’t need immediate use of. If you leave a certain amount of money in TD, you don’t have to pay fees. But outside of that, you also don’t accumulate any interest. That’s why we also have an ING Direct account – they are a no-fee bank with relatively high interest rates, so it’s a better store of money than idling in a TD account.

Because our business banking is through TD, I also decided to move all of my investments over to TD a while ago. Right now I’m completely self-directed, and mostly taking advantage of TD’s low MER index funds. TD requires a person to have a checking account tied to their investment services, so right now I have a very basic TD account that has a requirement of holding $1,000 in it to avoid fees.

So right now I’m planning on moving my money out of PC Financial and into TD, which has already started to cost me money. For example, PC Financial offers free checks – TD doesn’t. So before I can move my rent and some of my automatic withdrawals over to TD, I need some physical checks. After filling out the order forms and paying for shipping, getting a batch of checks cost me nearly $40 with TD.

Looking at TD’s fee schedules, it’s pretty clear that the two value accounts are basically useless. I can easily do 5 interact transactions a day, which would put my overage charge at around $80 a month. Granted I could start using cash again, but that’s a complete pain in the ass. So, it’s either the Infinity Account or the Select Service account for me. Given that the $120/yr Visa card I pay for each year is included for “free” with the Select Service account, it probably makes sense to just grab that one.

Another advantage of TD over PC Financial is that TD allows for email money transfers, whereas PC Financial does not. One of my concerns with traveling abroad is not being able to pay myself each month. Right now I simply write myself a check once a month and take it down to the bank. But in countries like Argentina, there’s a 10 business day hold on all foreign checks, so that’s probably not going to work. So with a TD personal account, I can fairly easily do an email money transfer to myself in order to get paid.

So, I’m definitely probably going to end up bending over to TD in the long run, but hopefully it’ll provide me with a bit of peace of mind while traveling. What bank is everyone else using?

8 responses to “Full Service Bank Accounts”

  1. J Lane says:

    ING is “in Beta” with a no-fee checking account now. Luckily, I’m going to get to try it out.

    You get a debit card, that you can use for payments/withdrawals anywhere. Deposits can be made through select “partner” ATMs (hit their web site for a locator).

    It looks really promising, they have a lot of really cool features as well like e-mail notification on deposits (something my current bank, BMO, doesn’t offer).

  2. Duane Storey says:

    Email notifications would be pretty cool actually. Other than that, it sounds basically like PC Financial (you can use CIBC machines with them).

  3. J Lane says:

    …and the iPhone app. It’s way better than BMO’s app for doing things. BMO’s is just an ATM locator (lame).

  4. Alex Curylo says:

    “So with a TD personal account, I can fairly easily do an email money transfer to myself in order to get paid.”

    Don’t even have to do that. You can set up any other TD Bank account as a fee-free bill payee, even if you don’t want to combine your logins, which I recommend. Actually, I have quite the list of combined accounts: chequing/investment account sets for two corporations, personal checking/savings, WebBroker Canadian/US/SDRSP accounts, mortgage, line of credit, and VISA Infinite, all available with a single login and capable of transferring money between any of them instantly. Pretty handy.

  5. Kevin Baggs says:

    Having spent the last 18 months working in Europe and the Middle East. I would recommend HSBC as they seem to have the most presence.

  6. Duane Storey says:

    Someone else mentioned that to me as well, but it’s way less convenient for me since I do all my other banking at TD. I don’t imagine I’ll have much trouble with TD, as they support most of the international banking machines. But we’ll see!

  7. Duncan says:

    I’d check into ATM fees and any potential foreign currency conversion fees charged by the banks.

    I think the best thing to do would be to open a bank account over there and wire funds in monthly. Or just write yourself post dated cheques each for 2 months living expenses (to avoid the 10 day hold being a problem).

  8. Duane Storey says:

    Post dated won’t help, the hold is by the depositor to make sure the funds clear. Wire transfer might work, but international ones take a week and cost $20 or so.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *