Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Frugal Focus Bank Shopping Part 1 - Intro

I promised myself that I would spend some time looking at everyday banking options in an effort to reduce costs and/or better capitalize on incentive programs. This is really the first in a series of posts that I will use to track my findings.

Before I start, I want to clarify that I’m most interested at this time in everyday banking needs, and not a high-interest savings account. Though my needs are fairly standard, I will be looking at a few criteria specifically:
  1. Obvious things like package fees and per use fees associated with direct debit purchases, ATM withdrawals, pre-authorized debits and pre-authorized deposits, and minimum balances.
  2. Any incentive programs offered with the account and/or corresponding credit cards.
  3. The robustness of online banking options.
I don’t have a lot of special banking needs, though I do make heavy use of my debit card as I don’t like to withdraw cash (just gets spent and have to guess the Microsoft Money categorizations). I would also need, ultimately, 2 additional youth accounts for my children.

The benchmark for my comparisons will be my current experience at TD Canada Trust, whose ‘Infinity’ account allows me unlimited self-service transactions with a minimum monthly balance of $3K, or a $12.95 monthly fee (I pay no real other service charges). They have quite a robust online banking solution, though no real incentive programs to speak of.

As part of this activity I’ll take a closer look at my short-list candidates – PC Financial and the Bank of Montreal.

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Disclaimer: These articles are for information only, and are not to be construed as financial advice, legal advice, or a solicitation to buy or sell securities.