Review – President’s Choice Financial no fee bank account for Canadians

Greetings everyone. Today’s post is mainly geared towards my fellow Canucks (slang for Canadians). I am going to do a brief review of President’s Choice Financial no fee checking account. As far as I know this is the only completely free checking account offered by a Canadian financial institution, but feel free to correct me if I’m wrong. When I come to think of it, it is really sad that PC Financial is the only bank offering this level of service. The major Canadian banks don’t even come close to providing the same “bang for the buck.” Simply put, everything with this checking account is free. This makes complete sense to me, as why should I be paying them to keep MY money when in fact the use that money to make a whole lot more money than they ever will offer me in the form of interest – this applies to all banks which operate on the fractional reserve banking principle.

Before I talk about the benefits offered by this bank, let me give you a bit of a background so you know who you’ll be potentially banking with.

President’s Choice Financial is a financial institution that offers banking services through a joint venture between Loblaw Companies (a supermarket chain) and CIBC (a major Canadian bank). There are a number of distinct organisations under the President’s Choice Financial umbrella.

Most standard bank products are provided by CIBC (a major Canadian bank). MasterCard services are provided by President’s Choice Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary of Loblaw Companies. Insurance is provided by PC Financial Insurance Agency Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Loblaw Companies.

PC Financial has no branches; rather, customer interactions are carried out over the Internet, the telephone, at ABM’s or at sales “pavilions” located in Loblaw-affiliated stores.

President’s Choice Financial was rated as the best mid-size bank by J.D. Power.

PC Financial, through CIBC, is a member of the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) and registered member with the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), a federal agency insuring deposits at all of Canada’s chartered banks. It is also an Interac member for its debit card.

Ok, now that you understand a bit more about President’s Choice Financial (from here on called PC Financial) I can start to discuss what it has to offer.

1: You pay no monthly service fee

2: You pay no transaction fees

3: Free checks (try to find a bank that will give you free checks without paying a monthly fee and come and talk to me then) When you run out of checks you just give them a call and they’ll mail you some more.

4: Free debits/deposits at President’s Choice Financial bank machines and CIBC bank machines across the country.

5: You can link your no fee checking account to their “Interest Plus” account and ear 4.25% on your money (I will review PC Financial’s Interest Plus account in another post)

6: Simple and easy to use online banking platform.

You should know that unlike your typical “big bank,” PC Financial has no branches. But it has “pavilions” where you can go and sign up in person.

For the nitty-gritty you’re going to have to check out PC Financial’s FAQ section over here. I simply do not have the time, space, or inclination to go over every possible question you may have.

Ok, that does it for this review. My next review will include another President’s Choice Financial product – their “Interest Plus” savings account. So stay tuned to this blog for more info.

To get more info or to open a PC Financial no fee checking account visit this link (opens in a new window):

http://www.pcfinancial.ca/

43 thoughts on “Review – President’s Choice Financial no fee bank account for Canadians”

  1. Alan,

    Thanks for the quick review. I’m tired of HSBC and am looking for an alternative. This sounds like a good one.

    Cheers

  2. You’re welcome. My wife plans to open an account with them and eventually later on so will I – a joint account may be a better idea.

    Thanks for visiting my blog!

  3. That is an useful post.

    Is there any way of transfering money from my current TD bank account to this account without paying any fee, other than having to manually withdraw money and deposit?

  4. Well you could write yourself a cheque, but other than that and taking out cash and redepositing there is not other methods of transferring your money over. PC Financial does NOT support e-mail money transfer (EMT) yet so that’s out of the question.

    Sorry, it seems your cheapest option would be to just take out cash and redeposit it into your PC Financial account – there is no charge for doing so.

    Hope this helps.

  5. I joined PC no fee account last week and transferred in exactly $2k but BUT only $1990 arrived in there and when I called up they fluffed around and said they don’t know where the $10 went and blamed an intermediary bank for the disappearance of the $10.

    My gripe is THIS SHOULD NOT HAPPEN! there should not be some laissez faire oh oops $10 disappeared … if collectively $10 was disappearing from every PC account then that would be a suspicious white collar crime tehre

  6. try $40 from citizensbank. I got a money wire transfer from them through moneybookers and it arrived almost $40 short.. There are intermediary banks when you do a wire , $10 is nothing compared to the others , and it was CIBC that took the $10 , pc makes it clear they don’t take more.

  7. We just switched to PC Financial as the options looked good as well as the grocery points. However we recently realized that when we used another bank machine to take money out we were hit with a double transaction fee. First the $1.50 that most machines charge which was expectedt and then on the back end when the money came out of our account PC Financial charged another $1.50….total $3.00 charge. So we don’t get that and now have to call PC to find out what is going on. Like we have the time to make follow up calls in our day.

  8. Hmm, that sucks Erika. I was not aware of that. To be honest I don’t use my PC Financial account all that much – nearly not at all.

    When you find out could you please post here letting me/everyone know what happened?

    Cheers!

  9. PC Financial is a JOKE!
    They claim “no fee banking” but have you ever inquired about being able to view your transaction history from an RRSP or a loan? It’ll cost you an arm and a leg. This might be acceptable if it were even possible to view it online, however; it is not.

    Their “online banking” only allows you to open up and view account activity in a chequing or savings account. Anything else will cost you AND you will have to wait for a paper copy in the mail.

    Has PC ever wrongfully withdrawn funds from your account? Happened to me. “No big deal,” I thought. “I’ll just waste a few minutes of my time to call their 24-7 telephone banking service and they can correct this error immediately.” NOPE! You are met with a representative telling you they “can’t help you with THAT at this hour. Call back for a supervisor tomorrow.” One day later: Get supervisor on the line. Can he help you? No. He has to contact head office and they have to tell this useless middle man what to do. Don’t worry. They assure you this will only take another two business days. Meanwhile your bank account has a negative balance, and you are left for a week with absolutely no money because of PC’s error. All the while you wait for a phone call that isn’t coming because there are no human beings you can talk to in person. Do they get back to you? NOPE! It is currently 5 business days later.

    If you need a bank account that you are not going to use but need to have some money lying around in, sure; go with PC. But if you actually need to perform the action known to the rest of the financial world as “banking”, or if you value customer service in the slightest, I would steer way clear of this… I’ll say “business?” because “financial institution” would be a vast exageration.

  10. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such a nasty experience with PC Financial. But your opinion will help others, and I hope that someone from their institution comes across this site and takes notice.

    I’m lucky that I haven’t ran into any problems, but than again my account is almost dormant. I found myself not using the account at all since I got an infinity account with TD Canada Trust. But I’ll keep it open and store a few bucks in there for emergencies and such.

    The wrongful withdrawals are simply unacceptable. I’ve never had any such thing happen to me with any bank that I’ve dealt with, and upon hearing this I’m a bit hesitant to use PC for daily banking transactions.

  11. I originally left TD Canada Trust for President’s Choice because of the “no fees” that PC offered. It was a huge mistake. I never had a problem with the service from TD. If there ever was an issue, it was corrected in seconds and usually with some sort of credit for my inconvenience.

    After having banked with PC, I know that the fees at other banks (although somtimes a little excessive) are there for a reason and backed up with some solid customer service.

    My current issue STILL has not been addressed by PC and I have informed them that my savings have been funneled into my chequing account so it is readily available for withdrawl when I switch banks (next week).

    I found this site by searching Google for “Customer reviews of PC Financial”. I told them (via email because there’s no human help) to Google the same thing. I said if they can find it, they’ll love what I have to say.

    So like you, I too hope someone from their side of the world stumbles across this site.

    I hope some of my experience (abridged though it may be) will help anyone before hastily jumping on board with PC.

  12. Still not resolved?! Damn. I would complain to the BBB or make as much noise as possible. Surely they hate to get bad PR.

    Well Michael, if I can get some more examples of bad customer service from PC Financial I’d like to create a separate post in which I’ll post everyone’s complaints for all the world to see.

  13. worst ever their website is updated and will not accept any information as it gets busy…. then they lock it after 2 tries and when you call 3rd day today from when i tried no one still picking up…. poor MC services…. PICK UP HUMAN IF ANY IS THERE I GUESS NO FEE MADE YOU NO PAY AND NOW NO CUSTOMER SERVICE.

  14. I’m surprised. I’m from Poland in Europe and we have there nice no fee bank – mbank.pl. I thought I’ll find something like than in Canada and I see it’s impossible. sad.

  15. I know mat..it’s sad indeed. You’d figure they would make enough money from our money to at least offer no account fees. The problem in Canada is the lack of competition.

    Welcome to the land of monopolies mat!

  16. PC bank is probablly the worst bank I have ever dealt with. STAY WAAAAAAAAAY AWAY FROM THEM. I have had my money locked up for almost a month now and still not resolved. imagine not able to access YOUR money. And for what? because I all of a sudden deposited some money chaning my blance from 0 to $4200. Oh wow! go ahead and lock up my account and not tell me why? Can you belive these guys have the nerve not to even give you a reason. Worst experience in history with any bank I have ever had. I am just waiting to get this cleared and never bank with them again.

  17. Wow! Sorry to hear and I hope they clear up your issue asap. The thing is that I bet they’re not the only bank that would do this. They have to follow anti money laundering laws set probably by the goverment or the Bank of Canada. Still though $4200 does not seem like a lot of money to send in at once so I find it too overly paranoid of them.

  18. 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.

  19. My day to day bank is TD, and I’m pretty happy. I’ve been with them every since I opened my first bank account. I’m not using their Infinity account which is awesome, but you do have to pay $12/month, but for me it’s worth it as I do a lot of debit transactions.

    I may write a review of TD’s infinity account soon too.

    I hope PC fixes things for you and apologizes. If not just dump them. There are other banks that would be more than glad to take your money.

  20. PC Bank – the worst “bank” to deal with. They hold funds for no reason, they allowed rogue withdrawls from my account because “they presented a pre-auth payment form” to the bank. Doesn’t matter that I disputed even completing a pre-auth form. To get them to even INVESTIGATE – I have to go into a pavillion complete a form and wait five to ten business days for them to determine….determine what, I’m not sure. Customer service provides no service – they can’t even tell me the name of the company that withdrew the money. Who cares that this rogue transaction will cause a bouncing effect from my mortgage to car payment….hell, I have $40 per bounce to pay them (so much for no fee chequing). Out of a company of 200 – I’m the one who’s pay doesn’t go in on time – but that’s due to the late transfer from my employer……doesn’t matter that I’m the person actually doing the payroll transfer…..and I KNOW it wasn’t late. FINALLY had a customer service rep acknowledge that “they process differently than a regular bank”….I guess that’s why my car payments that come out of the account on Wednesdays are always dated Thursday….they just “do things differently”. In future, it would be nice if the customers know that up front….. And I’m also TIRED VERY VERY VERY tired of being treated like a criminal before they even know my name. PC BANK isn’t a bank. If it were a bank, they’d know what the words “transaction date” means……

  21. Hmm, I’m surprised at the number of negative reviews of PC Financial. I guess it all depends on how you use them. If you use them as a day to day bank they suck? I never used their services on such a regular basis to run into any issues, but I am quite concerned about the comments above. I hope PC Financial cleans up their act. If not I hope the regulatory agencies and consumer protection institutions come down on them hard. If they wish to play the banking game they better act like one.

  22. Dont waste your time… credit card application never processed.. complains never replied.. newcomers who want to get credit history or looking to get money form overseas please go to other banks who will give you everything better but it is only free for one year.. you can switch to free ones like ING direct after 1 year

  23. bob, do you have any experience with ING Direct and international payments/transfers both sending and receiving?

    I’d also like to ad that if you’re trying to send money to India probably the best bank to deal with is ICICI Bank Canada. They offer cheap and quick transfers to their Indian branches.

  24. I have been with PC a long time, no fees are good but you get what you pay for which is possibly the worst service and bank ever. I have had numerous problems with them. My 2 biggest were:

    1) I live in Vancouver, to bank with PC I need to live on Toronto time, if I go to make a transfer after 9pm Pacific I am told it is already the next day. Tried calling got same response sorry this is how are system works. The worst part is when they are holding cheques they have no problem holding them until midnight Pacific time, surely this is a double standard that should not be allowed.

    2) Once deposited a foreign cheque from a relative for 5 pounds (about $7) along with my pay cheque which I have been putting in for the past 8 years every 2 weeks without fail. Whoever opened the envelop marked it all as foreign currency and they told me I would have to wait 2 months to get my money. Tried calling, of course common sense failed ended up taking 2 weeks to be resolved and had to rely on my line of credit to pay bills.

    If you are thinking of using them run! Dont get tangled up with them like me!

  25. These people really do suck. They will take your money from your account and give it to a third party without your knowledge and consent and without a court order. That’s a criminal offense with jail time and a fine. AVOID THEM LIKE THE PLAGUE!

  26. I’ve been with President’s Choice Financial for over eight years. I’ve had a PC MasterCard for four of those years. I use my PC debit card and PC MasterCard on a daily basis. In eight years I’ve had nothing but pleasant dealings with them.

    PCF charges few fees, pays competitive interest and has given me great customer service.
    They are strictly an online bank. They offer a no frills online user interface that can take some getting used to. I’ve found that their webpage lets me navigate to exactly what I need very quickly.

    What I’d most like to comment on though is their customer service.

    Two years ago I got sucked into a timeshare trial vacation package. I prepaid with my PC MasterCard and forgot about it for awhile. Many months later I looked into what I’d actually paid for and decided that I really shouldn’t have prepaid for a timeshare sales pitch. I called PC MasterCard and looked into having the charge disputed, even though I knew it was a long shot. Obviously I was way too late (many months had passed). But what’s key here is the level of service I received. I didn’t have any significant wait for an operator. The woman I talked to was courteous, pleasant, sympathetic, patient and thorough. She took the time to search my file all the way back to the actual charge, and then nicely let me know that it was way too late. This resulted in me taking the trip to try and salvage some value and consequently having a blast! While preparing for the trip I decided to get a new card number to avoid any “extra” charges the timeshare company might try to put on my card. Once again I got excellent service. I explained my situation to the operator, who said okay and sent me a new card. It took less than a week from the time I called.

    My most recent experience is what caused me to write this review.

    Recently I called PC MasterCard to dispute another transaction. I was careful to contact them within the 30 day transaction dispute timeframe. Once again I had zero wait time for an operator. This woman was pleasant, efficient and reassuring. I explained my situation, namely that I had not received the item I’d paid for, and she walked me through the dispute process. She got all the information she needed in a timely and courteous manner. Then my account was credited with the amount I’d paid and PC MasterCard handled everything with the selling company. It was great.

    In closing, I give President’s Choice Financial Services a 5 Star rating because they deliver a quality product and provided me with outstanding customer service.

  27. Hi Jeremy. Thanks for the feedback. I’m glad to hear that you haven’t had any problems with PC Financial. It is definitely valuable to have both sides of the story.

  28. Don’t bother with this so called bank – pay the measly $10 a month at a real one.

    I once incorrectly paid money to a wrong credit card number for a meager amount, and was told the amount to investigate and fix the bill payment would be more than the amount I paid.

    They process pre-authorised debits before the actual due date – which has resulted in numerous unnecessary NSF fees ($45!! each) as my money was always in the account when the actual bills were to be paid. No other banks pulls this crap.

    They place limits on the amount you can withdraw ($200 in cash a day??? Pathetic!). They require six months of being a customer before they will up it. I was a customer for a year and closed my previous checking account to open a new one to get rid of fraudulent gym membership charges that were pre-authorised. I was told the STILL wouldn’t up it as I didn’t have six months banking activity. Forgive me, but shouldn’t a bank KNOW when I’ve been a customer since?

    I signed up with TD and was able to withdraw $600 from a teller the first DAY to pay for a flight hassle free.

    Pass these guys up, they are useless.

  29. Thanks for sharing your views Michael. I definitely agree that TD is pretty flexible. I’ve never had any issues with withdrawal limits or any limits placed upon my account.

  30. Be wary of this bank! They lose your money and show no concern about locating it. A requst was made to transfer monies from a PC RRSP to a Rif at another banking institution. Appropriate paperwork was forwarded to PC and the monies were removed from the account, but no forwarded. PC including Customer Care cannot locate the money and the only response is they will look into this matter “sometime”. What does “sometime” mean?

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