I’ve been with BMO since I got overwhelmingly annoyed with TD, but it has now reached the point where it is not worth continuing with them. The banks that blew up the global financial system through their own reckless behaviour are now trying to work their way back to gross profitability by raising their fees. Specifically, BMO is raising the amount you need to lend them, interest free, in order to avoid a monthly banking fee from $1,500 to $2,000. This is probably just the first such escalation. Plus, even with that interest-free loan to them, I would often get fees for performing tasks like moving money between my own accounts online ($0.50 a pop, if you go beyond your monthly ‘transaction’ limit).
So, I am going to ditch BMO and give President’s Choice Financial a try. Basic banking is a simple service for me: just somewhere to receive paycheques into and release rent cheques from. All my investing is done elsewhere (partly at ING Direct, which also has a no-fee approach). The fact that PC Financial offers free cheques, free bill payments, and accounts with no monthly fees is alluring enough even before I consider the interest you could earn on $2,000 annually.
[Update: 8 October 2009] I offered BMO the chance to make a deal and avoid losing a customer. On the phone, they told me that only in-branch managers could do that. When I spoke to one today, she said the only option they had was to switch to a cheaper plan (setting $1000 aside) with only ten transactions per month. In the end, she seemed to agree that switching to PC Financial made the most sense, given that they have no fees and there is interest otherwise to be earned on the money BMO wants you to set aside.
Unfortunately, opening a PC Financial account requires either a driverâ€™s license or a passport. I will therefore need to wait for my renewed passport to arrive, before I can do so.
[Update: 25 November 2009] My PC accounts are now fully up and running, and I cashed out and closed my BMO accounts. Surprisingly, the bank didn’t even ask for ID before handing me the bills and closing my account. They did charge me $8 in pro rated service fees for November – probably one of the more expensive $8 the bank ever collected, since I think they spend a lot more than that to attract a customer.