I seem to be on a defend the credit union kick. Let me start with the disclaimer of "I don't work for a credit union, these are my personal experiences and views only." as well as "My in person experiences are entirely based on the Chilliwack (Sardis) branch."
When TD Canada Trust, whom I'd been with for 21 years, wouldn't even consider me for a mortgage or tell me what I had to do to qualify for a mortgage, I was unhappy. When I went into the then local branch in my new town (post moving) and did a withdrawal and they didn't ask me for ID or a bank card or anything, I was very unhappy. I closed my account and I went to RBC. RBC and I did the round about and I left them rather unhappily about five years later. I went across the street to Scotia and was with them for three years.
I didn't leave Scotia unhappy with the staff or their practices. The simple reason I left Scotia was their fees. I was paying $13/mo to access my money. I found that flipping ridiculous. So when Coast Capital starting advertising their "Fee free chequeing!" I was cynical but decided to sign my butt up. Here's a quick point by point review. (Because it's hot and I'm tired and lazy.)
- It is really IS fee free. The ONLY fee I have received from CCS is when I rubberised a payment. (It bounced.) And my NSF was $25. Scotia's was $35. RBC's, and this was years ago, was $40.
- The people at Scotia WERE friendlier and happier. The tellers at CCS tend to seem withdrawn and not very friendly. I'm a fairly happy go-lucky, cheerful gal. I can find things to chat with with any customer service agent if I try, and nothing makes me want to try more than grumpy people. They resist all efforts. The people at Scotia knew my name by my third visit and I'm not in a branch very often. I guess when you have a black and bubblegum purple crutch you're remembered to most. Coast Capital's tellers don't seem to care what my name is. However, Coast Capital's phone agents are all friendly and happy, and have always had a pleasant experience. Their CSRs across the board have always been quite helpful and problem solving. Other than their tellers seem grumpy, I have no complaint.
- Yes, you need to do a credit check. I believe everywhere does these these days; it's two fold. One, to pre-analyse you for loans and credit cards and two, to see how much they can pre-authorize you to withdraw on deposits. I do believe there is never a hold on direct deposits (ie, pay cheques, tax refunds, etc) and never a hold if you give a government cheque to a teller to deposit. If you deposit via ATM or its a non-government cheque, a chunk of your deposit may get held until the deposit clears the system. Bad credit history, you may only be able to withdraw $50 of it. I don't know, mine is $200 I think, but I only ever get direct deposits or transfers.
- Their online banking is as good as anyone's else's. Easy to navigate, easy to use, straight forward and accurate. However, Coast Capital does not have Interac for online banking transfers. They say they're working on it, but they've been working on it for as long as I've been with them. They have a service instead called Hyperwallet which is a pain in the ass to use. Its also done by hand by people, so some transfers are done within an hour, some take 4 business days depending on their backlog. Interac is vastly superior even if its more expensive per use. However, it's .75 per transaction to send, nothing to recieve, so half the price of Interac.
I've never used their phone banking, so I can't rate it, but my guess based on the teller experience and the online experience is that its fairly system standard.
- There is rarely, if ever, a line-up! Since they switched to the card reader system from the fill out the paper system I've yet to have to wait to talk to a teller. I went in one day at 12.30pm and expected a line-up, I had none. I had my choice of two tellers! Wish I could say the same for any bank I've ever used at any time of day!
- Everyone has the same number of shares; everyone has the same voice in how the credit union is run. They seem quite 'money smart' and aware that the money they're spending on the bank and employees is money that comes from their members.
So, really, my over all view is "If you're sick of paying through the nose for usage fees, switch." Is the Credit Union necessarily the end all, be all? For personal banking, I'd say "probably." For business banking, I haven't a clue. I'd totally recommend them.
My bottom line is I'm no longer spending a minimum of $155.40 per year just for the pleasure of accessing my money and getting everything with Coast Capital Savings that I was getting with Scotia.