PC Financial Is No More – But There Are Alternatives

PC Financial is no more - but there are alternatives

I’ve been a PC Financial banking customer banking customer almost since they opened their doors nearly 20 years ago.

It’s been a great experience for me, and even though I’m using other virtual banks like Tangerine, they were always a reliable no fee go-to bank. All the important stuff was free, the interest rates were higher than the Big 5, and the online banking experience has always been top notch.

I’ll tell it to you straight – I’m pretty bummed that they’re being completely taken over by CIBC and being rebranded as CIBC Simplii Financial on November 1st.

With 2 million customers hanging in the balance … I’m not the only one.

What does this mean for all PC Financial clients who can’t really imagine doing their daily banking anywhere else?

Banking As Usual In The Short Term

I logged into my PC Financial account the other day and saw a shiny new 2.5% interest offer on new deposits extending to October 31st. Quite the coincidence seeing as the very next day CIBC will take over, right?

CIBC is trying to hang on to as many clients as they can, and I’m happy to test the waters in the short term and see how this all shakes out – especially if they keep giving out rich bonus offers like this one.

The transition will be relatively seamless with your bank cards, online logins, and all other accounts and services remaining basically the same when the switchover happens.

You will eventually be sent a new debit card, but the old one will still work until that happens. There has been no announcement of any monthly account or other fees and interest rates will probably remain roughly the same, at least at first.

The biggest short term change is that they are going to be removing all Pavilions and bank machines from Loblaw owned grocery stores. You can kiss that convenience goodbye. But you can still bank at any CIBC ATM or pay a fee to use one from another bank.

There also won’t be any opportunities to earn PC points through everyday banking and your bank card will no longer be linked to your PC Plus card. Most of those opportunities dried up a while back anyway though, and paying with your credit card is much more profitable, so no big loss.

It’s also worth noting, if you’re a PC Financial Mastercard cardholder, this change won’t impact you in any way. This is only for daily banking clients.

Related: No Fee Banking Is Totally Worth It

Expect Increased Fees In The Future

That said, PC Financial isn’t the first bank that CIBC provided the back-end services for. It wasn’t profitable for them before, and still isn’t. CIBC will be taking a $100 million charge when they take full control.

What does that mean for you?

Well, this isn’t the first time a big bank has swallowed up a smaller player either … remember when Scotiabank bought up ING Direct and renamed it to Tangerine?

Although Tangerine is still a great bank and one I’m happy to continue using, it hasn’t been all gumdrops and lollipops for their customers.

They’ve increased the price of cheques, upped NSF fees from $25 to a whopping $40, and added a returned item fee, inactivity fee, and dormancy fee. They also launched a credit card with top-tier no fee cash back and then halved the everyday cash back shortly after, along with removing its sign up bonus.

Lesson learned.

We can expect CIBC to do many of the same things that Tangerine did. They’ll sneak in a few fees here and there to make sure they’re profitable and try to cut costs where they can.

But, will it be enough to make the hassle of changing banks worth it?

No Fee Banking Alternatives to PC Financial

No Fee Banking Alternatives to PC Financial

1) Tangerine

It’s always been PC Financial and Tangerine … Tangerine and PC Financial. They’re married in my head as the two top nationwide no fee banking choices.

They’ve always been neck and neck and this might be the change that gives Tangerine the edge … or CIBC could surprise us and actually increase competition. Don’t hold your breath on that, but stranger things have happened.

Here are Tangerine’s primary benefits:

  • Tangerine’s accounts are all free of monthly fees.
  • Unlimited free transactions of nearly every kind including bill payments, transfers to other banks, ATM withdrawals, and more.
  • Savings interest rates are much higher than the big 5 and were always lockstep with PC Financial’s rates.
  • Access to Scotiabank’s nationwide network of ATMs for easy deposits and cash withdrawals.
  • Regular bank-wide and targeted interest rate promotions for existing customers.
  • Mobile app and online banking are modern and easy to use.
  • Refer your friends and earn a cash bonus in your account.
  • Email money transfer fees are cheap at $1 apiece.
  • You get one book of cheques free ($20 after that).

If you’d like to be ready before all this Simplii Financial stuff goes down, now is a good time to open a free Tangerine account because they’re celebrating 20 years since they first launched in Canada as ING Direct.

That means you’ll get $25 for opening a chequing account + $25 for opening a savings account + a $100 bonus for setting up automatic payroll + 2.4% interest on all deposits up to $500,000 for the first 6 months.

That’s $150 in bonuses plus a very good interest rate promotion, which I believe is the richest offer they’ve ever had. But, it’s ending soon on August 31st, 2017, so don’t wait if you’re thinking about opening an account.

Use my link and enter this Orange Key (Tangerine150) and you’ll get the maximum possible bonus.

Link: Give Tangerine A Try For Free

2) Alterna Bank

Compared to Tangerine and PC Financial, the Alterna Bank website leaves a lot to be desired. Don’t expect a premium online banking experience here – but, if you don’t judge this book by its cover, there’s a lot to love:

  • No fee eChequing, and eSavings accounts that are all free of monthly fees.
  • Unlimited free “everyday” e-transactions of almost every type.
  • 2 free Interac e-transfers per month and only $0.95 after that.
  • Access to the The Exchange Network of over 3,300 ATMs nationwide.
  • Permanently high savings account interest rates – currently 1.90%.
  • Mobile cheque deposit.

The free virtual transactions and high savings rates are really nice, but the main downfall here is the fees start to pile up outside of what I listed above.

It costs $1.90 every time you want to make a withdrawal at an ATM for example, and you don’t get any branch access at all. You’ll also have to pay regular rates for cheques and the $42.50 NSF fee rears its ugly head again.

If long term high savings interest rates aren’t your top priority, then Tangerine is definitely a better choice.

3) EQ Bank

EQ Bank is still quite new to the personal banking world and their accounts are quite limited. They make up for that by pretty much doing away with fees of any kind (even NSF fees!)

Here’s what you can expect.

  • One of the best permanently high savings interest rates – currently 2.30%.
  • Unlimited transactions that includes funds transfers to other banks, bill payments, and mobile cheque deposits.
  • 5 free Interac e-transfers monthly, $1.50 after that.
  • Almost no fees of any kind (except the above).

Here are the main downfalls:

  • No access to any physical locations or ATMs – so no cash.
  • Really low maximum total balance of $100,000.
  • No cheques of any kind available – paid or not.
  • No access to TFSAs or RRSPs.

In short, you’re going to need another bank for some of your daily transactions. But, you can link up your other account with EQ Bank and profit from the higher interest rate and free transactions they give you.

4) Your Local Credit Union

Credit unions are a viable alternative to the big banks and the virtual banks.

You’ll get in-person service and many of them offer no-fee chequing accounts and savings accounts with high interest rates.

You can’t expect the online experience to be of the same calibre though – they just don’t have the resources to make that happen in the same way as national banks.

Features will also vary from one to the other, so I can’t really list them here. You’ll have to take a trip to your local branch and see what they can offer you. Report in the comments if your credit union has a particularly good deal.

Simplii Financial, Your Move!

I think what CIBC does with Simplii Financial over the next year is going to be telling and will decide what PC Financial customers like myself decide to do.

Remember to vote with your wallet if they take it too far and start tacking on way too many fees. We’ve been loyal customers for a long time, but that doesn’t mean we should remain that way forever.

Or will you even wait that long?

Disclosure: Some links in this article may be affiliate links. We're letting you know because it's the right thing to do. Here’s a more detailed disclosure on how HTS makes money.

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Comments

Jonathon MacLeod
Jonathon MacLeod's picture

I have been banking with PC for 14 years. I was surprised by the news when I got the email, but after reading and thinking about it, I'm not worried about anything changing. CIBC has been running the bank since inception, and now that they have control will be making more money now thaty they don't have to split revenues with PC. Losing the PC points with banking doesn't matter to me anymore - I can't remember the last time I got any from daily banking. To me this is nothing more than a re-branding. I think this will be similar to the Tangerine switch - much was made about it but nothing really changed other than the (what I would call) obscure fees as mentioned above. They have 2 million customers to try and win over with the switch and I can't see them doing anything to risk that.

August 22, 2017 @ 12:20 pm
Jonathon MacLeod
Jonathon MacLeod's picture

Forgot to mention - I will miss having the kiosks in stores when I did need to talk to someone or look for advice but I haven't been in one in 6 years so those aren't a big issue for me.

August 22, 2017 @ 12:23 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I hope you're right that not much will change. If they keep it to obscure fee increases like you said, it won't be all that bad.

August 22, 2017 @ 4:15 pm
Iris
Iris's picture

My husband and I have been PC Financial and TD customers since 2001,.
When my husband became 60 years old we began having perks with our TD joint account.
Our PC Financial activity has been lowering during the last 6 or 7 years and now we prefer to close the accounts. It is a matter of time for SImplii to become more expensive and it does not have any perk for us.

August 22, 2017 @ 12:24 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I should have mentioned Big 5 accounts with minimum balances or negotiated no fees as a 5th option.

Is that what you're doing with TD?

August 22, 2017 @ 4:16 pm
Kathryn
Kathryn's picture

I noted that recently TD discontinued its senior plan so those who already had it will be able to continue with it. (as with most existing accounts, as long as you keep them, they keep more or less the same benefits). BMO has a great seniors plan for 60 plus that they transfer your account to automatically - and virtually everything is free - have not run across anything with a fee so far - and I have had to put a stop payment on a couple of cheques in the past year - and *no fee*.

August 22, 2017 @ 4:30 pm
Mike
Mike's picture

Didn't like this sentence from the PC Bank Machines paragraph:

"As a CIBC banking customer, withdrawal fees will apply at any new in-store bank machines, and you will be notified of a fee at the machine."

August 22, 2017 @ 12:25 pm
Karen Golec
Karen Golec's picture

CIBC was just pointing out that any new ATM machines put into the Loblaw's locations, will not be owned by CIBC and therefore, will not be free of fees.

August 22, 2017 @ 3:04 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, and they announced they will be removing all the PC Financial machines eventually and replacing them with non-CIBC alternatives.

August 22, 2017 @ 4:17 pm
Steve Vesely's picture

I'm another original PCF customer having been with them their full 19 years of existence. I'm sorry to see the relationship end as I was always very happy to promote the PCF no-fee brand. If Simplii truly is just a branding change with no fee increases - then I'll stay. If I suddenly have to start paying for banking services - I'll explore other options.

I'm pretty certain that will be the same case for anyone who banks with PCF.

We went there for a reason.

August 22, 2017 @ 12:41 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I'd say it will probably be a mix of people who would make a change and another group that would stay. Even frugal folks who are looking for the lowest fees get entrenched, especially after so long, and just don't want to be bothered with the hassle of switching their everyday banking to a different bank.

August 22, 2017 @ 4:19 pm
alana
alana's picture

I too have been with PC financial and Tangerine and Alterna just in the last year because of their interest rate and use it for savings and TSFA. I have been with Tangerine the longest though. Not sure what I will do as I use PC for everyday banking. I do not have a PC mastercard. I have a Tangerine M/C and was quite annoyed when they changed the cash back rate! I also use Costco M/C and not quite sure which one now to stick with. I was in the states at Costco and they use a Costco Visa now and their benefits are 4% for gas and 2% for everything else. Too bad Canada was not included in that deal....Bottom line, I will wait and see what they change and will find another option if they start putting in higher fees and lowering interest rates.

August 22, 2017 @ 12:58 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

I admit the Alterna savings rates are tempting. Makes me want to try them out. Have you been happy with the service?

Why not combine your Tangerine MasterCard 2% with the 1% plus from the Costco MasterCard depending on what you are buying?

August 22, 2017 @ 4:20 pm
alana
alana's picture

As far as service goes with Alterna, I haven't done much, but so far so good as far as interests rates. I have moved most savings from them for the time being to Tangerine, but will go back when the deal is over.....Yes, I do use both mastercards for that reason. Too bad there wasn't one card. Tangerine had it!

August 28, 2017 @ 1:48 pm
Cheryl's picture

I've never had a PC account or done any type of banking with CIBC. I'm pretty sure that existing PC customers are about to be gouged by CIBC. Even though I've never had any financial products with CIBC they've hounded me unrelentlessly, phoning my number and looking for someone else, even waking me up a few times. How many times do you have to say "wrong number" before they get it and remove it? Dozens of times is the wrong answer. One time they left a message on my machine and at the end it said "CIBC student loan" before hanging up. I took to blowing a whistle into the phone every time CIBC phoned. Now you'd think someone would put a message on the computer saying don't phone this wrong number anymore or your ears will get blasted out, but they kept phoning and I kept blasting out their ears with a very loud whistle I use to call my dogs back in. I finally disconnected my landline. These are the fools you're dealing with at CIBC. Trying to collect an outstanding loan by phoning the wrong number and hounding the wrong person is something I don't understand. I will never use them or any bank associated with them.

As for Tangerine, I've had an account there for years. Savings and a small amount of mutual funds. I don't use any of their other banking services so I can't comment on that.Other than one time I was applying for a mortgage and I filled out their application but they took too long. By the time they approved it, RBC had beat them by a day and I'd gone with them. I hate their online banking log on. Hate it! The remember me feature has amnesia. If you don't log on after a few weeks, it'll make you start again from scratch entering your bank number and give your account a name. Which means I have to go to my files and dig up my account number. Very frustrating and I got into a big fight with them earlier this year about it. For that reason I took most of the money out and won't give them any more business.

My main banking is a credit union where I have free accounts including unlimited debit card transactions. And their online log in remembers me just fine. Every time I go to online banking, my number is prepopulated - yay they remember me! All I have to do is plunk in my password and away I go.

August 22, 2017 @ 1:23 pm
Cheryl H
Cheryl H's picture

There's a very good chance that it wasn't actually CIBC calling. Most likely a 3rd party collections agency. Still frustrating all the same.

We have had our phone number for 9 years and still occasionally get a call for a certain fellow's student loans. I think we get a call whenever the file is sold to another collections company.

August 22, 2017 @ 3:59 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

How do you find the online banking experience compares to Tangerine?

August 22, 2017 @ 4:21 pm
Kathryn
Kathryn's picture

Interesting comments about logging in to Tangerine.

I guess I have never used the remember me feature as I figured it just gets erased when I erase my history with my Webroot Secure and/or clear browsing data on Chrome. And I figure not using it just allows another layer of security. This is the only online banking account I have and use it for savings (automatic transfer once a month) and for TFSA only. So when I log in I have to have my account number (which is on my former ING card and handy) and go through the system. I only go on about once a month or more anyway. But I was having problems a year or so ago - for many months - and it would not let me log in, so finally got on the phone and they were very helpful, installing the extra security download, and also that in some time period they had changed the PIN from 4 numbers to 6 - so no wonder I could not log in. So fixed that. But I do appreciate the emails I get from them indicating deposits and withdrawals and monthly interest paid.

August 22, 2017 @ 4:26 pm
Barb's picture

I too have been with PC Financial and Tangerine since their inception. I wil miss the ATM in Loblaws stores. I also liked
pitting one against the other when it came to savings accounts. They often offered better rates but never at the same time and it was easy to transfer funds from one bank to the other. I'll wait and see what Simplii does in the future.

August 22, 2017 @ 1:37 pm
Rich Heureux
Rich Heureux's picture

I’m sorry but this just seems like a crass way to sell another institution’s products (Tangerine).
As you state:
• "I’ll tell it to you straight – I’m pretty bummed that they’re being completely taken over by CIBC and being rebranded as CIBC Simplii Financial on November 1st" – Why?
• "CIBC is trying to hang on to as many clients as they can" – why would they do anything different?
• "The transition will be relatively seamless with your bank card" - ”Good.”
• "There has been no announcement of any monthly account or other fees and interest rates will probably remain roughly the same, at least at first." - “Good.”
• "Pavilions You can kiss that convenience goodbye" – Never use, plus CIBC has over 4,000 ATMs
• "PC points - Most of those opportunities dried up a while back anyway" – yes, no change
• "We can expect CIBC to do many of the same things that Tangerine did." – why don’t we wait and see? Then make a choice, they are not the only game in town or as you put it – “I think what CIBC does with Simplii Financial over the next year is going to be telling and will decide what PC Financial customers like myself decide to do.”
• "They’ll sneak in a few fees here and there to make sure they’re profitable and try to cut costs where they can." – fact or opinion?
• "If you’d like to be ready before all this Simplii Financial stuff goes down, now is a good time to open a free Tangerine account…"
And now the kicker - "Use my link and enter this Orange Key (Tangerine150) and you’ll get the maximum possible bonus."
Enough said. I’m going to wait and see.

August 22, 2017 @ 3:35 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Thanks for the feedback. You can read more out how HowToSaveMoney.ca is funded here:

https://www.howtosavemoney.ca/terms

We put a disclaimer at the bottom of every article indicating that in some cases we do use affiliate links. It's true we are affiliated with Tangerine and will make a commission if people sign up using our link (thank you if you decide to do that).

That said, the first draft of this article had my personal Orange Key in it, then I removed it once I realized that it looks like a worse offer is being given to people who use personal Orange Keys. At first I thought the two could be combined for up to $200 in bonuses, but I no longer believe that to be the case.

I also found it less confusing to tell people to use my Orange Key when the offer page clearly states "use Tangerine150". So I removed my Orange Key until this deal ends next week, because its a better offer. 

All of that aside, I also gave plenty of other options for people to choose from and I do believe Tangerine to be the best full-service nationwide alternative to PC Financial.

I'm definitely not saying Tangerine is all roses - as I clearly outlined above how they have increased fees and made changes since Scotiabank took over. There is a long-established trend when these types of deals happen that it isn't usually positive for the consumer.

I'm already a Tangerine client, but I'm going to wait and see just like you if I move most of my business to them away from CIBC Simplii Financial.

August 22, 2017 @ 4:28 pm
Rich
Rich's picture

I appreciate your response. My point was it is very early in the game to be looking for alternatives and I feel the facts support that position. What happens in the future? We'll see. As you say it is definitely wait and see.

August 22, 2017 @ 11:40 pm
Liz T
Liz T's picture

"A CRASS way to sell another institutions products (Tangerine)." Wow! What side of the bed did you get up on? Stephen has been nothing but upfront and honest with everything on this site. He has disclaimers on all his articles. How honest of him. He has been a wealth of knowledge to many of us. I suggest you look up the meaning to the word crass, because Stephen is not lacking in intelligence, or sensitivity. I believe you owe him an apology.

August 22, 2017 @ 7:48 pm
Rich
Rich's picture

Give me a break. I did not say he was dishonest nor did I say he was not a wealth of knowledge. What I am saying (and he did too) is that the facts do not support a change to another institution at this time and he and I agree on that. To quote Stephen - "I'm going to wait and see just like you if I move most of my business to them away from CIBC Simplii Financial"

August 22, 2017 @ 11:41 pm
Liz T
Liz T's picture

Rich I get what you're saying. No problems there, as you bring up some legitimate points. All I was getting at is that your choice of the wording CRASS in that opening sentence should have been omitted. By using the word crass in that sentence you were basically saying to Stephen "This just seems like a stupid, mindless, ignorant way to sell another institutions products (Tangerine)." Then your kicker at the end draws us back to your opening sentence once again. Anyhow, enough said. This is an excellent, informative site, so lets keep it that way:) Thank You.

August 23, 2017 @ 1:43 am
Vivian McGee
Vivian McGee's picture

What about the Presidents Choice MasterCard. does that change? We just cancelled all our CIBC accounts including investments so we don't want to go down the CIBC road again.

August 22, 2017 @ 7:37 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

No Vivian, it will remain untouched and continue exactly as it was previously.

August 23, 2017 @ 8:06 pm
Stuart
Stuart's picture

I agree with everything you note about being wary and somewhat cynical about Simplii playing nice over the long term. I too am an original PC account holder and I have been with Tangerine for the past two years. After Tangerine reneged on their credit card reward levels I parked their credit card and went with MBNA. Also I moved most of my funds back to PC but it looks like I could be revisiting that decision as things play out.

Thanks for the heads up about the free first cheque book from Tangerine. When I opened my account with them this was never brought to my attention. I was mulling over whether a lack of free cheques (50 will do me for a long time) from Tangerine would influence my decision re staying with Simplii but now I can scratch that off my comparison grid. I will be interested in any updates you bring to us as Simplii becomes established.

August 22, 2017 @ 7:39 pm
L.Scott
L.Scott's picture

Whenever I was "solicited" in a Loblaws Cos. operation (or at the CNE) to sign up with PCF, I simply looked at them and said, "I have had my card so long it began as Vice-Presidents Choice".
Only 2 out of 10 of the sales shills would actually get the joke.

However, I do regard the change with a cautions eye, as we bailed on CIBC mainline years ago by dumping our Aerogold cards.
As mentioned above, may not want to go down that rabbit hole again.

Already have ING / Tangerine accounts, so I believe we will be missing the sign-up bonus boat.

As good as its been with PCF over the years, a mortgage (paid off now) a secured credit line (now paid off & closed) and an unsecured credit line (just sitting there unused), the fact they did not offer bank drafts, currency exchange, etc, made it a tad bothersome, so we also have TD for all that.

Last point, the PC Mastercard appears to be an instrument of the PC Bank (CIBC is in the Visa camp) and is not part of the upheaval.
It shall continue as always with no change at all.
Yet?

C'est la vie.........

August 23, 2017 @ 6:34 pm
EV
EV's picture

I too have been a long time PC Financial customer and I have been extremely happy with the service. I moved to get away from the ridiculous fees, so I will be interested to see what fees they will start charging. I have my reservations with Tangerine based on an experience with ING. My mom had car insurance with them and out of the blue and for absolutely no reason they sent her a letter advising they were getting out of car insurance. Little did we realize they were trying to get rid of certain car insurance customers but certainly not all car insurance customers. We had to scramble to obtain insurance as the car was an antique and difficult to insurance.

August 23, 2017 @ 10:48 pm
Becca
Becca's picture

Stephen, I've always banked with PC. I saw a poster of a credit union at my former employer's office but didn't pay much attention. Now you got me curious :)

Would you share some information of what they are, how they operate, etc. Can anyone open an account with them or are they attached to unions?

August 24, 2017 @ 2:45 pm
alana
alana's picture

Something to think about before leaving PC when the switch happens-When Scotia bank bought ING=Tangerine, they did not place fees etc, they actually made some positive changes. Time will tell, but so far so good.....

August 28, 2017 @ 2:02 pm
Don
Don's picture

IMHO I found Tangerine annoyingly cute.

I have used the Manulife Bank as a serious alternative, and used them for several years.

But to park funds for a longer period Achiva Financial has a higher interest rate. They are a Winnipeg credit union acting like an online bank so not covered by federal insurance, but by all the Manitoba credit unions together.

They accept out of province customers.

September 01, 2017 @ 3:12 pm

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