It’s the little things that caused the relationship to fall apart. Missed calls, forgotten anniversaries (we’d been together 20 years!), feeling of invisibility, etc. My bank and I had been seeing each other since I was in high school ‒ back when I had my first job and the branch was open on Saturdays (how convenient!). But last year, after 20 years of loyal service, I was feeling pretty down about the relationship. With a lowly 0.75 per cent on my savings account and an ever-increasing roster of fees every month, I found I was paying hundreds of dollars a year and getting very little in return – they wouldn’t even send me free cheques.
So I decided to have an affair: I opened a new savings account with a no-fee bank offering a (comparatively) decent interest rate of 1.25 per cent. I started sending money on a monthly basis. It started slowly but today, I have more money at the new bank than I do at the old. Pretty soon, we’ll have cut all ties. It feels great!
Are you feeling unloved by your bank? Then follow these steps to see whether you’re ready to make the move and, if so, what to do:
- Understand there are other fish in the sea – as Canadians, we are stubbornly loyal to our banks. But there are tools and resources out there to help you see what the competition is offering. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has a bank selector tool that can help you compare interest rates and fees at all the big Canadian banks. Take a look and see how your bank measures up (it might not be as bad as you think!).
- Give your bank a chance to change – if you want lower fees, a better interest rate, etc., call your bank and tell them. They might be able to find you a better account option or they might bend a bit to retain your business. If that doesn’t work, then make your move.
- Be prepared to change – if you’ve decided to jump to another bank, then take stock of all of your pre-authorized deposits and payments from your paycheque to your phone bill or mortgage payments. This is the hardest part. Since your new bank wants your business, they’ll probably offer you a “switch kit” to make it easier, with a form and instructions for changing your bank with your billers.
- Be open to new experiences – good service doesn’t mean a physical bank branch. A lot of great companies exist 100 per cent online (think Amazon!). Same goes for banking – online banks might not operate out of branches, but they can offer low fees and decent customer service online or via phone. They’re worth checking out.
- Keep a balance in your old account just in case – don’t transfer all your money until you’re sure you’ve moved all your payments and billings. You might have missed something and the last thing you want to do is go into overdraft and get charged yet another fee!
- Close it up – once everything is going smoothly with the new account, follow your bank’s procedures for closing your account. Make sure you ask about any fees or penalties your bank has in place for closing an account and get written confirmation that the account has been closed.
What are your bank break-up tips?