I Write a Lot of Cheques. Is Tangerine’s Chequing Account or PC Financial’s No Fee Account Better for Me?
I find it a bit amusing to read posts on sites like RedFlagDeals where people brag that they never write cheques and they put all of their purchases on plastic to get points. I’m sure it works for them: I just doubt they have children. So far this new school year, I’ve written 17 cheques for my kids. That’s just in 3 months. And that doesn’t include all the cash sent in for various charitable “Toonie Tuesday” days and to buy milk tickets.
The cost of cheques from our “Big 5” Canadian bank was what led us to opening our President’s Choice Financial No Fee Chequing account. Believe it or not, you can order free cheques for your PCF No Fee account. As many as you need!
Tangerine, unfortunately, does not offer unlimited free cheques. You can get your first book free for a Chequing account. After that, though, you have to buy the cheques. They are reasonably priced compared to a “Big 5” bank, though.
Clear winner: PC Financial.
I Keep a Large Balance in My Chequing Account. Which Pays Higher Interest: Tangerine or PC Financial No Fee?
I Keep a Very Low Balance in My Chequing Account: Which Pays Higher Interest: Tangerine or PC Financial No Fee?
This one unfortunately can vary as both Tangerine and PC Financial like to offer short-term higher interest rates to lure in new customers. The following analysis is based on their regular posted rates.
The rates have changed since the post was written. Please check the article: Which Bank Offers the Best No Fee Chequing Account: PC Financial or Tangerine? for a comparison of the rates as of April 2017. The result if you prefer the summary is:
If you keep about this amount in your chequing account
- 0 – $12 000 you earn the most interest at Tangerine
- $13 000 and up you earn the most interest at PC Financial
Today, in December 2015 2013, [and still in June 2014] the regular posted rate for a Tangerine chequing account is 0.25 % for a balance between $0 – 49 999.99 0.65 % for a balance of $50 000 – 99 999.99 0.75 % for a balance of $100 000 or more the regular posted rate for a President’s Choice Financial No Fee chequing account is 0.05% for a balance between $0 – 1 000 0.1% for a balance of $1 000.01 – 5 000 0.15% for a balance of $5 000.01 – 10 000 0.25% for a balance of $10 000.01 – 25 000 0.5% for a balance of $25 000.01 and up In both cases you only get the higher rate on the amount of money you have in the account above the previous tier. For example, if you have $55 000 in your chequing account, you get about at Tangerine.ca
50 000 x .0025 + 5000 x .01 or about $175 per year at PCF
1000 x .0005 + 4000 x .001 + 5000 x .0015 + 15000 x .0025 + 30 000 x .005 or about $200 per year
Interest is actually calculated daily and paid monthly which means it will compound so these numbers are just approximations.
If you keep a low balance, say below $10 000, Tangerine will pay you more interest per year as it has a higher interest rate for low balances. If you keep a high balance of over $60 000, again, Tangerine will usually pay you more interest per year. Between $30 000 and $60 000, though, PC Financial pays you the most interest!
Winner? It depends on what balance you usually keep in your account.
I Bounce Cheques but Never by Much or For Long: Which is Better a Tangerine Chequing account or a PCF No Fee Account?
OK I have no personal experience with this one. I’ve never bounced a cheque and it’s unlikely I ever will. I’m also one of those obsessive people who arrives 7 minutes early for every meeting or gathering. (But don’t worry, I never ring the doorbell early because I know most hosts are running late.)
So this part is based on the information listed on the respective websites for Tangerine and PC Financial.
First, why are you bouncing a cheque? If it’s because of a miscalculation of a few dollars, then the following info may be useful. If it’s because you don’t have enough money to pay your bills and you’re bouncing a cheque for hundreds of dollars, you probably aren’t going to find a solution here.
The Tangerine Chequing Account Whoops Protection Plan
UPDATE: As of August 2015, Tangerine no longer offers free Whoops! overdraft protection. They do offer a for-fee and for-high-interest-charges overdraft protection but it is essentially the same as that offered by PC Financial. This article has more details about the new Tangerine overdraft protection.
If you pass a credit check when opening your Tangerine chequing account, you can qualify for
free Whoops protection overdraft protection that costs a fee and costs a high-interest daily charge for each day you owe them money. The Whoops plan covers an overdraft of up to $250. In other words, they will let the cheque clear your account so you won’t get in trouble with the person you paid or the other bank.
Next, they will email you a notice right away stating you are overdrawn.
You have 30 days from when the account balance dropped below 0 to pay the overdraft.
After that 30 days, you will be charged a $2.50 fee for every 30 days that the account balance is under $0. Once the account balance is under $0 no new cheques or payments will be allowed to clear. Whoops covers “future dated bill payments and email money transfers, pre-authorized debits, and cheques” as of December 2013. They can change these features, though, so check every so often that they still apply. [They still do as of June 14, 2014.]
PC Financial’s No Fee Chequing Account Offers Optional Overdraft ProtectioN
PC Financial’s No Fee account does not offer free overdraft protection.
When you open your account, you can apply for Overdraft Protection. The maximum protection available is for $5 000. Not all applicants will qualify for the maximum. We were told by the agent when we opened our account that a credit check would be necessary to apply for overdraft protection.
For clients with overdraft, the account balance must be brought above $0 at least once a month.
If you use the overdraft service, you will incur a charge and a fixed interest rate on the overdraft balance. In December 2015
2013, the charge is $4.97 each month that you have an overdraft. The interest rate charged on the overdraft is 19% per annum. Ouch! [This is still the posted rate on November 9, 2105 and June 14, 2014 and December 17 2015.]
As I described in Part One Moving Money, Transfers and Holds, it takes a full business day to get money from your PC Financial savings account to your PC Financial chequing account. That makes it much easier to bounce a cheque accidentally. Tangerine, however, lets you transfer money instantly from your ING investment savings account to your chequing account. That can help reduce the risk of a bounce. (Some customers have told me that if you telephone PC Financial you can actually get money moved instantly to your chequing account from your savings account if there is a really good reason; I have not personally tried this approach.)
Can I View My Used Cheques Online for Free?
With both the Tangerine Chequing and the PCF No Fee account you can look at a scan of your cashed cheques online for free. This is great for joint accounts where you can’t remember who wrote a specific cheque and what it paid for.
Can I Pay My Bills Online for Free?
With both the Tangerine Chequing and the PCF No Fee account you can pay bills online for free.
Can I Pay by Debit for Free?
With both the Tangerine Chequing and the PCF No Fee account you can pay by debit at stores for free.
Paying by debit with the No Fee account at a Loblaws or affiliate store will also earn you PC Points which can be redeemed for groceries.
What ABMs Can I Use for Free?
For PC Financial No Fee accounts, you can use the banking machines at PC Financial kiosks, and the banking machines owned by CIBC, for free.
For Tangerine Chequing accounts, you can use ABM machines that belong to the Scotiabank ABM Network for free. As of September 30, 2014, you will NOT be able to continue to use the Exchange network machines for free for Tangerine chequing accounts.
UPDATE December 2015
For a withdrawal from another bank’s ABM machines in Canada, Tangerine charges a fee. The bank that owns that ABM will probably charge another additional fee, often $3-7 so be careful!
Similarly, PC Financial will charge a fee for withdrawals from a non-PCF, non-CIBC terminal in Canada. There will be another additional fee charged by the bank that owns the ATM.
For a withdrawal from another bank’s ABM machine in the US and other countries, Tangerine charges a fee. The bank that owns that ABM will likely charge another additional fee and it may be quite high. Some ABMs belonging to the Global ATM Alliance will not charge a fee but you’d have to check with Tangerine about exceptions.
Similarly PC Financial will charge a fee for withdrawals in the US or other countries in addition to the fee charged by the bank that owns the ATM.
Email Money Transfers and Interac e-Transfer EMTs
I don’t understand the email money transfer system well enough yet to comment much on it. Tangerine says it offers no-fee free email money transfers for Chequing accounts. I’ll have to test what that means for another article.
It costs $1.00 to send an Interac e-Transfer EMT from your Tangerine chequing account. It is free to receive transfers in to your account. Again, I don’t understand these enough yet to comment.
PC Financial has Interac e-Transfer EMTs. It costs $1.50 to send an Interac e-Transfer EMT. (It’s not clear whether there is any charge to receive a transfer.)
Can I Get a Bank Draft?
At Tangerine you can order a bank draft but there is a fee. It will be couriered to you, not to the person you want to pay, nor can you pick it up except at one of their very few locations/Cafes. The Cafes cannot issue drafts: you can have a draft couriered to the Café for pickup though. In December 2013 [June 14, 2014] they quote a price of $10 for a draft and a requirement of 2-3 business days to courier it to most locations.
At PC Financial you can get a Bank Draft for $7.50 [Dec 2015
June 14, 2014] plus any required courier charges.
What Kind of Statements Can I Get for my Chequing Account
You can view and print your bank statements online for both Tangerine Chequing and PC Financial No Fee accounts.
For a fee you can also have a paper statement mailed to you for a No Fee account.
A Surprising Fee
OK this may just be surprising to me, but PC Financial charges a fee to negotiate a cheque written in US dollars or any other foreign currency. This is in addition to the fee built into the exchange rate for the foreign funds. The fee is $7.50 for a cheque for under $1000 and $15 for a cheque for over $1000.
I believe this means if you write on a cheque you issue that it is payable in, say, US dollars, they will charge this fee. I don’t think this fees applies to when you try to cash a cheque in US dollars payable to you. I’ve sent an email to ask for clarification.
So Which is Better: Tangerine’s Chequing or PC Financial’s No Fee Chequing Account?
Obviously, this one will depend on how you use your chequing account.
For us, I would say the Tangerine account is best except for one problem: they don’t offer free cheques. Until my kids outgrow the school system, this is a deal breaker.
Tangerine otherwise suits us best because
- I like the bill payment on screen layout
- it allows us to instantaneously transfer money from our investment savings account to our chequing account (and back!)
- a Scotiabank branch with an ABM is closer to us than a CIBC or PCF ABM
- we keep a fairly low balance in our chequing account and it does pay some interest
- we can deposit cheques online using their photo submission app but we can now do that at PC Financial too
PC Financial might suit others best who
- want lots of free paper cheques
- keep a very high balance (between $30 000 to $60 000)
- can reach a CIBC or PCF ABM easier than a
- need overdraft protection up to $5 000 and are prepared to pay for it (but you can get some overdraft protection for a fee from Tangerine too)
- would like to collect PC Points for paying by debit at Loblaws and affiliated stores
Of course since these are both no fee accounts with no minimum balances, you can even be like us and try one of each!
Be aware that both banks will charge a high fee if you have no activity in your account for 1 year (Tangerine) or 2 years (PC Financial). An easy way to keep an account active is to set up an automatic transfer of $1 in to or out of an account each six months.
Do you cheque with PC Financial’s No Fee account or do you use Tangerine? Please share your experiences with other readers by leaving a comment.
Yes, we bank with Tangerine.ca among other places. If you open your first account ever with Tangerine (or ING Direct) using our Orange Key below, and deposit $100 before August 31, 2017, you and we will both get a cash bonus of $50 each. (Yes, they did extend the promotion for another few months!) All you have to do is enter the Orange Key 46470587S1 when you are opening your Account, and you’re set to go.
Just copy our Orange Key, then click on this Tangerine link to see the details and apply for an account. (Note: it only applies to people with no existing or previous accounts with Tangerine or ING Direct.)