Testing President’s Choice Financial No Fee Bank Account

Hello everyone. Today I went down to my local Superstore and opened a no fee bank account with President’s Choice Financial. First off I must state that this bank account is available to Canadians only. If you’re a regular reader of my blog you may recall that a while back I posted a review of President’s Choice Financial No Fee Bank Account. However, even though that review provided you with valuable information I unfortunately could not provide “first hand experience” information. That is about to change though. I now have an account and will let you all know how everything work out.

First Impressions:

The first thing you may be wondering is if it was difficult to open an account. I found the process very easy. What I had to do was show up to one of their banking booths – which can be found at all Superstore supermarket chain locations – and speak with one of their customer service representatives. I was scurried over to a little private area where the customer service rep logged on to some terminal, filled a few account forms, asked me the typical range of questions you can expect when opening a bank account, and then roughly 45 min later I was all set.

What you’re going to need to open an account:

Normally most banks will ask you for two pieces of ID – typically drivers license and social insurance number. PC Financial is no different so they too asked for my drivers license and SIN card. Unfortunately I screwed up and forgot to bring my SIN card. Thankfully though the lady that created my account said they will also accept an existing credit card with my name on it, so I quickly pulled out my VISA card which I have with a competitor bank and I was all set.I would still strongly recommend that you come prepared and bring two valid pieces of ID (passport, permanent resident card, drivers license and SIN card)

What I like so far:

– No fees! The lady that created my account seemed really eager to drive this selling point home. I’d have to agree with her that it’s definitely a good thing not to have to pay for any banking transactions.

– Their online banking interface is simple and straightforward.

–  I can use my PC Financial debit card at any CIBC (big Canadian bank with lots of branches) bank machine without paying any fees.

– I get something called “PC Points” which later on I can use towards groceries at any Superstore location.

What I do not like:

– No US Dollar checking account offering. It would’ve been really awesome if they offered a US Dollar denominated account. For now I guess I’ll have to stick with my normal US checking account at a competitor bank.

– Poor interest rates on their savings accounts and TFSA (tax-free savings account) offerings. If you want to earn the best interest rate look elsewhere.

OK, so now what follows is for me to use this bank account and see how it all works out. Eventually once I feel I have enough experience with the account to come to a solid conclusion I will post a final review of it, so stay tuned to this blog (better yet subscribe to the RSS feed or the mailing list)

By the way the PC Financial website can be found at http://www.pcfinancial.ca

If you already have experience with PC Financial and you’d like to share it with the rest of the world I invite you to share it over here at this financial forum:

http://www.moneyguruforum.com

Cheers,

Alan

17 thoughts on “Testing President’s Choice Financial No Fee Bank Account”

  1. Hi Alan,

    I find it curious that President’s Choice Financial customers can use CIBC machines free of charge. This is quite unusual. A quick look at the website turns up: “President’s Choice Financial services are provided by the direct banking division of CIBC.” Hmmm, so this is really just a rebranded/licenced version of CIBC banking?

    Maybe the best analogy would be to airlines, where President’s Choice Financial would be like the low-cost carrier to CIBC major airline. It sounds like with the reduced interest rates that that’s where PC/CIBC is taking it’s pound of flesh – so potentially what you save in fees, you lose in lost interest. This suggests to me that PC might be more suited to people who aren’t going to keep much money in their account but want to make lots of transactions. Alternatively, people with deposit levels above a certain threshold can get their fees waived by major banks like CIBC.

    But if you can’t, then something like PC is probably attractive these days as interest rates are so low that the difference is probably insignificant and pales next to what are often exorbitant fees. However, as interest rates rises in the future, there may come a point when the value proposition tilts and the lost interest starts to hurt, unless users really keeping very little money in deposits.

    Haven’t used PC, but these are just my thoughts of the top of my head – curious to hear what you think on this.

    Jab

  2. hey guys,

    just wanted to add that the interest rates at PCF are usually the highest in Canada (They were 4%+ end of last 2008) but with the current economic downturn and uncertainty in the market the rates are way down just like the other banks.

  3. Hi Jason. Thanks for sharing that with us. Personally I wouldn’t borrow money from PCF as you will most likey find better rates elsewhere, but I would recommend their no-fee checking account. I just got mine a week ago and so far so good :)..

    Best of luck to you.

  4. I have this PC account. Also I just moved to Quebec from Ontario and found out that this account is not compatible with the banking system here (I could not get a more specific answer that that). I tried setting up direct deposit to this account and was told that is not possible and that I need a different account. I would like another no fee bank account. Alan I would really appreciate if you have a word of advice for me. Thank you!

  5. gabriela, I’m afraid this is the only no fee bank account in Canada…I know, it’s sad..

    Another bank called Citizens Bank of Canada used to have a no fee bank account, but I don’t know what happened to them because they’re no longer accepting new accounts, so it looks like President’s Choice is the only game in town now.

    Sorry for the delay in responding…my e-mail box has been flooded lately and I just now finished going through all the e-mail and noticed your comment.

  6. Gabriela,
    Somebody misinformed you or you misunderstood them.

    We moved from ON to PQ back in 2000 and had no trouble using our PCF accounts there (you could not open a new one from PQ due to not having a French website and similar issues I believe, but the PCF website claims to be “now available in Quebec”). The banking system I believe is national – direct deposit should work anywhere in Canada as long as you have the correct transit and bank and account numbers, as printed on any of your cheques or available from the PCF phone number. We had a number of direct deposit and direct debits set up while we were in Quebec, with no issues at all.

  7. not chequing..I looked everywhere..there are many banks that offer no account fees if you maintain an account balance over a certain amount but so far I haven’t found any other banks that offer 100% no fees without any strings attached.

    @gabriela:

    johann is right, the banking system is national and as long as you have a valid account where in Canada you live should not be of any consequence.

    @johann beda:

    To be honest I haven’t checked out their website lately so I must’ve missed the announcement regarding their services being available to Quebec residents. But it is definitely good news and I thank you for letting me know. I’m going to for sure blog about it.

  8. Do not deal with this bank. They may not have fees, but you will encounter many other potential problems as a result, they are a virtual bank so you can only deal online or with a machine, they have lnger holding periods on your account because they are virtual. I put 600 in my account from a savings account after clearing a large cheq that i could access in 2-3 days. I was given 500 in advance so i had somemoney in hand, I put it into my Presidents Choice account thinking it would be better to use to pay bills and get my sons medicine. Little did I know that I was only allowed to use 100, the rest was being held for 5 bus days! There was nothign they woudl do for me, and to cancel my account they said I can write myself a cheq to get the exact funds out OR they can transfer it wirelessly, I said transfer it, they said well you ahve to wait 5 days, then it will take 7 days to close the account THEN you can have your money back.. None of this helped me. I had problems with them in the past years ago but thought I woudl try again since I hadnt been working after a car accident and didnt want to pay fees for an account. Now Im just trying to get it closed… Oh and in 6 mths time they will review whether or not they will take the holds off .. this is a new account, with no negative activity. Thanks alot for your help Presidents Choice… I will stick with Scotibank instead..

  9. Chantel, not that I’m trying to defend PC Financial, but I think most people that sign up for one of their accounts already know that there is a multiple day hold on any money deposited into their account. They also most likely know that in 6 months time they can get the hold removed – depending on account usage factors.

    When I opened an account they made me aware of all these factors. I think that the people who will go for this type of no-fee account will not mind these limitations. The selling point is the zero fees. Personally though I find them too limiting so I like you have decided not to use my PC Financial account as a daily banking account. Maybe when they remove the hold I may reconsider. But to be honest I haven’t put much energy into bugging them to remove it. I dunno, in the end it all comes down to consumer choice.

  10. I have been using PC banking for over 15 years and have had no problem with them. I have RRSPs, Credit Line, Savings & Chequing. Sure, I don’t deal with a human except on the phone or in a store but nonetheless they are fine. I hated paying fees for my account sitting there at other banks…..I know because I have a TD mortgage but would have gone with PC if it had been under other circumstances.

  11. I have a serious concern re: the ethical practice of PC Financial. I have just learned that is to delete one person from a joint account without the permission of that individual. Would you comment?

  12. Correction: it is possible to delete a person from the joint account without permission of said individual.

  13. Whether or not one signatory on a joint account can close the account without the consent of the other signatory depends on the terms on which the account was opened to begin with. If it was opened as a dual signature account for both writing checks and authorizing changes to the account status, then one person alone could not close the account.

    On the other hand, if the terms of the account are that either one of the two signers can change the status of or close the account, then your spouse could do this without your knowledge or consent.

    You should review the account agreement to see what the stated terms are.

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