BREAKING THE BANK
Before the little piggy goes to market, here’s how to take account of the Big Six
RECENTLY, I RECEIVED an e-mail from an upset reader. She wrote in part: “Could you do a story about bank charges for seniors? I have just turned 65 and am shocked to learn that [my bank] does nothing for seniors. I have their basic banking account, which pays absolutely no interest and also charges me for dealing with the bank tellers.”
I posted her comment in the Q&A section of everythingzoomer.com, asking readers who had found good deals at their banks or credit unions to write in and tell me about them.
Given the level of response, I asked the six major banks to provide me with details of the incentives and discounts they offer to boomers. Here’s what the Big Six offer.
RBC offers seniors (65-plus) a full rebate on a basic day-to-day chequing account (regular monthly fee is $4) and a partial rebate on other personal banking account products, upwardsof$4amonth.Forexample, on a No-Limit Account, the fee for seniors is $6.95 a month compared to a regular price of $10.95. Seniors with an active credit card and investments receive a full rebate on the monthly fee. For a Signature No-Limit Account, the fee for seniors is $10.95 a month compared to $14.95. For a VIP Account, seniors get a $7.50 discount from the regular fee of $30.
The seniors’ rebate is automatically applied to an eligible client’s account, and the rebate will appear on the monthly statement. If a client qualifies for two rebates, they
automatically receive the greater of the two.
The CIBC Smart Account for Seniors (65-plus)offers a $4.95 monthly fee discount. The account pays no interest but allows up to 12 free transactions a month and a $10,000 capped fee for unlimited monthly transactions. Seniors with a Smart Account get a $3.90 monthly fee discount on a CIBC Everyday Chequing Account and a $4 monthly fee discount on a CIBC PremierService Account. There is also a CIBC Premium Growth Account that pays interest at a rate of 0.05 per cent and has no monthly fee. But you are only allowed two free transactions a month. As well, seniors are offered $5 off the annual rental charge for a safety deposit box.
Seniors who are 60 years of age or older can receive 25 per cent off the monthly fee for personal chequing accounts. Some conditions apply depending on the type of account held by the customer. For example, a senior customer who holds a TD Unlimited Chequing Account can get a rebate of 25 per cent against the monthly fee of $15.95, bringing it down to $11.95. They qualify for free banking if they hold a $4,000 minimum monthly balance. Account benefits include unlimited transactions, no TD ATM fees in Canada and free Interac e-transfers.
Scotia offers a seniors’ discount for those 60 or older, which includes a $4 monthly rebate on all chequing accounts, except for their Basic Banking Account. It has a $3.95 rebate, which covers the monthly fee. Seniors can also hold the bank’s U.S. Daily Interest account and Euro Daily Interest account for free.
This bank offers a variety of packages with varying levels of service. The Modest, The Connected and The Total packages all offer a $5 monthly discount to those aged 60-plus. The Total package, which costs $20.95 a month after the discount is applied, includes up to 100 free cheques a year (you have to pay taxes and shipping), overdraft protection, $5 off the price of a safety deposit box, unlimited transactions and free e-transfers. It requires a minimum balance of $6,000. The basic account, called The Minimalist, is a bare-bones service that carries a monthly fee of $3.95. However, that is waived for those 65-plus who qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
Bank of Montreal offers $4 off each of its five packages, bringing the monthly price range to zero for its Practical Account with minimal services to $26 for a Premium Account with all the bells and whistles. Customers are automatically switched to the senior rate when they turn 60. BMO also offers free paper statements to participants in the Practical Account. That’s a service that’s becoming increasingly rare these days.
NONE OF THESE incentives are very exciting, but they’re better than nothing. My survey only covered the major banks, but smaller ones and credit unions may offer better deals. Ask for details from the financial institution you deal with. Compare them with the incentives offered by the Big Six and choose the one that offers the services you want at the lowest price.