September 02, 2003

Hey Canadians! A Selfish Qu...

Hey Canadians! A Selfish Question for You! I'd like to open a Canadian bank account, to collect my Canadian-denominated checks. Which bank should I choose? Here's what I'm looking for: 1) Someone who won't bum me out. No stupid fees, no secret screwjacks ... and hopefully an institution that could deposit my business with minimal involvement from moi (for instance, maybe the publication sends the check straight there, or whatever they can do nowadays with the nanotechnology). 2) A bank large enough so that when I visit Toronto or Montreal (or whatever salt mine Colby Cosh lives in), I can easily walk to an ATM and get some of that free money! 3) Hopefully, a bank fancy enough to handle all this account-opening business via the telephone, or the Inter-net.

Whoever gives the winning tip (i.e., one that I will use) gets an all-you-can-drink night at my expense, next time I'm in the Great White Tuque (sic), which will hopefully be sometime before the Endless Winter.

Posted by at September 2, 2003 10:19 PM
Comments

Perhaps some analogies might be helpful:


Royal Bank is the Canadian equivalent of Bank of America - monolithic, the most ATMs


Toronto Dominion is Washington Mutual - custmer service oriented


CIBC is more like Wells Fargo - with a special focus, similarly, on small businesses


In other words, blindfold yourself with two loonies and take your pick from these three. Any one of them will do.

Posted by: Brian at September 2, 2003 11:27 PM

Sorry to interject, but I couldn't resist.

Anyone know of any (american) banks that don't charge international ATM fees? or at least lower than $3. per usage...

Posted by: vlad at September 3, 2003 01:26 AM

I use TD and I'm quite happy. For strange historical reasons, their personal banking arm is called Canada Trust. Here's the one you probably need -- includes direct deposit, no fees if balance is greater than $500, and since you're unlikely to need to use an ATM more than twice a trip, no ATM fees.

http://www.tdcanadatrust.com/accounts/companion.jsp

Posted by: David Janes at September 3, 2003 04:49 AM

You might try one of the internet banks. In Canada the two most popular seem to be President's Choice (owned by the huge Loblaw's grocery chain) (www.pcfinancial.ca) and ING Direct (www.ingdirect.ca). Both offer completely no-fee banking (except for some rare transactions) and a fairly good interest rate on savings accounts. The good thing about PC, which is the service I use, is that the infrastructure is provided by CIBC, a large Canadian bank, so you can use their ATM's without additional charge.

The one drawback, of course, is that you cannot visit a teller in order to ask questions. But that may not be a big problem for someone who doesn't reside in Canada. I've found the telephone service at PC to be generally pretty good.

Posted by: Adrian at September 3, 2003 05:46 AM


Oh, you've hit a sore spot with we GWTers (Great White Tuquers (sic).

Canadians _hate_ banks. Unlike the US banking system, with anybody and his uncle opening up a bank, and relatively few national banks, we really only have 3 or 4 national banks, and next to no competition (local or otherwise).

I use TDCanadaTrust (excellent web-banking), and my SO uses PCFinancial (the grocery store one).

The thing is, you can't really go wrong; but you certainly cannot go right, either.

Ken

Posted by: Ken at September 3, 2003 07:00 AM

Well, my bank in Ithaca (M&T) charges $2 per cash advance internationally.

If you're in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington, Oregon, or California, you can always get an account with HSBC, which has lots of international locations.

Posted by: John Thacker at September 3, 2003 08:39 AM

>>1) Someone who won't bum me out.

Lack of competition within the Canadian financial sector might only bum you out.

>>No stupid fees

PCBanking.ca will charge you for ATM withdrawals from non-CIBC banks, but no-fee for in-store payments. As well, no US saving and/or cheque accounts.
ING only allows for ING machine withdrawals and the numbers of terminals are sparse.
(I have a US CIBC no-fee cheque account that I have emptied into ING US savings).

Toronto Dominion, Scotia Bank, Bank of Montreal, and Royal Bank all provide fee-for-service accounts, even no-fee accounts, depending on the total amount you wish to retain in your account.
For example, if you wish to keep CDN $5000 in your account, TD will provide a majority of its services at no-charge.

>>no secret screwjacks
What?

>>and hopefully an institution that could deposit my business with minimal involvement from moi (for instance, maybe the publication sends the check straight there, or whatever they can do nowadays with the nanotechnology)

I am not sure if creditors can auto-credit your account, although all financial institutions allow for auto-credit from payroll.

>>2) A bank large enough so that when I visit Toronto or Montreal I can easily walk to an ATM and get some of that free money!

There may be branches for all banks in both Toronto and Montreal, although the ease of accessibility will vary depending on the city/province.

>>(or whatever salt mine Colby Cosh lives in)

“Today he shares a home in Edmonton with his cat, Nigel.”
http://www.colbycosh.com/who.html

There may be branches for all banks in Toronto, Montreal and Edmonton, although the ease of accessibility will vary depending on the city/province.

>>3) Hopefully, a bank fancy enough to handle all this account-opening business via the telephone, or the Inter-net.

I am not sure that any Canadian bank will allow for you to open up an account over the phone, although you may just have to fill out the application, send photocopies of your passport and promise not to talk encouragingly about democracy, faith-based initiatives, and free-market capitalism while in Canada (government regulations).

For further information:

BMO www.bmo.com
CIBC www.cibc.com
ING www.ingdirect.ca/en
PCBanking www.pcbanking.cibc.com
RBC www.royalbank.com
Scotia www.scotiabank.com
TD www.tdcanadatrust.com

Posted by: Andrew Sefton at September 3, 2003 01:56 PM

I'm a Canadian living abroad and I use TD Canada Trust. Great internet banking, easy access, friendly service, etc..

The best thing is that they also provide an international toll-free number so that you can do all your banking over the phone from any country in the world. That's what I call service.

Posted by: Al Robinson at September 3, 2003 02:20 PM

There are only five banks of importance in Canada: Royal Bank, Toronto Dominion Bank, Scotiabank, CIBC, and Bank of Montreal. Despite the geographic diversity of the monikers, they are all HQed in Toronto.

YOu could pick any one of them. They should all provide decetn servie. BofM owns Harris bank, which may have offices in LA, which may make transactions easier.

And contrary to what the whiners above say, Canadain bansk generally offer better service at lower fees than the large US banks. But for your purposes, that does not matter.

Posted by: Ikram saeed at September 4, 2003 05:50 PM

HSBC. The only non-Canadian major league international bank that operates a retail network in Canada. You can find them all over the globe and their service is unmatched by any other bank I have come across.

Posted by: Pieter Dorsman at September 5, 2003 06:00 PM

The Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal have the biggest US presences of the five major Canadian ones. I know the Royal has pretty decent internet banking but all of the banks have something. You should be able to get direct deposit for any paycheques from the National Post into the eventual account. While I don't doubt that it would be possible to go to town comparison shopping, the fact is the Royal Bank is the biggest. In addition to that, there is plenty of interoperability in terms of being able to use the ATMs of other banks to grab cash no matter where you're starting from. If you really want to think outside the box then I agree that HSBC bears looking into.

Posted by: Andy at September 6, 2003 09:49 PM

Matt - I believe that Wells Fargo and US
Bank will cash Canadian currency checks and they discount them for the exchange rate - no other fees required. ... Check it out. Would be easier for you that way.

Posted by: Mark at September 10, 2003 11:52 AM
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#64;telia.com">Al Robinson at September 3, 2003 02:20 PM

There are only five banks of importance in Canada: Royal Bank, Toronto Dominion Bank, Scotiabank, CIBC, and Bank of Montreal. Despite the geographic diversity of the monikers, they are all HQed in Toronto.

YOu could pick any one of them. They should all provide decetn servie. BofM owns Harris bank, which may have offices in LA, which may make transactions easier.

And contrary to what the whiners above say, Canadain bansk generally offer better service at lower fees than the large US banks. But for your purposes, that does not matter.

Posted by: Ikram saeed at September 4, 2003 05:50 PM

HSBC. The only non-Canadian major league international bank that operates a retail network in Canada. You can find them all over the globe and their service is unmatched by any other bank I have come across.

Posted by: Pieter Dorsman at September 5, 2003 06:00 PM

The Royal Bank and the Bank of Montreal have the biggest US presences of the five major Canadian ones. I know the Royal has pretty decent internet banking but all of the banks have something. You should be able to get direct deposit for any paycheques from the National Post into the eventual account. While I don't doubt that it would be possible to go to town comparison shopping, the fact is the Royal Bank is the biggest. In addition to that, there is plenty of interoperability in terms of being able to use the ATMs of other banks to grab cash no matter where you're starting from. If you really want to think outside the box then I agree that HSBC bears looking into.

Posted by: Andy at September 6, 2003 09:49 PM

Matt - I believe that Wells Fargo and US
Bank will cash Canadian currency checks and they discount them for the exchange rate - no other fees required. ... Check it out. Would be easier for you that way.

Posted by: Mark at September 10, 2003 11:52 AM
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