Feb 062013
 

(Edit: when you’re done here, go check out part 2 of the series. I promise it will be more exciting than meeting Batman.)

I was barely aware such a thing existed, but apparently there are people who hate banks. They think bankers are a bunch of greedy bastards, a sentiment they probably wouldn’t have if they owned shares of the banks in question. Remember folks, if you think a business is gouging you, maybe it’s a business you’d like to own.

Fortunately, there’s alternatives. Apparently these things called online banks exist, banks that don’t have any actual branches. I know, this is the first I’m hearing of these too. They just have one little problem – you can’t go into a branch and see somebody to deal with your problems. Or, you know, deposit actual cash or cheques. So we’re left with only one remaining option – credit unions.

There are a bunch of different credit unions across this cold, cold, country. Let’s see if we can figure out which is Canada’s best credit union. To make the comparison simple, let’s look at three factors – monthly account fees, five year fixed mortgage rates, and GIC rates. Feel free to add any notes in the comments, including the general attractiveness of their employees.

Vancity

Vancity is B.C.’s largest credit union, and the largest in the country, at least according to the knowers of all, Wikipedia. Upon browsing their site for the first time, holy crap is it colorful. It looks like a kindergarten classroom on crack.

Vancity basically has two options for your account. You can pay $7 per month for unlimited transactions, providing you keep $1000 in your account. Or you can pay 50 cents for debit purchases or 70 cents for in-branch services using their pay-as-you-go package. These fees also get waived if you have $1000 in your account. I’m confused. If you’re gonna have $1000 in your account, wouldn’t you do pay-as-you-go and not shell out $7 per month?

Vancity offers a 3.19% 5 year fixed mortgage to members, and a 5.24% fixed mortgage to non-members. Geez, only a moron would accept that. GIC rates are fair too, maxing out at 2.25% over 5 years. Meh. I’m less excited than Taylor Swift seeing me naked.

Coast Capital Savings

Up next is another credit union from the land of cannabis and hockey riots, Coast Capital. They’re upgrading their banking network during the upcoming long weekend, which is probably just code for “we’re going outside and getting wet and then coming back in and smoking a dube.”

Holy crap, I just got a little hard in the pants. Why? Coast Capital offers a legitimate no fee chequing account. There’s no minimum balance. And you actually get to go into the branch and do stuff. All for free. I’m almost tempted to move to B.C. to take advantage of this. I LOVE QUASI-COMMUNIST CREDIT UNIONS. ALL HAIL THE REDS.

Coast Capital offers a five year fixed mortgage at 3.09%, which is a pretty decent rate. You’ll need a low rate if you’re trying to buy some overpriced Vancouver house. Who would do such a thing? GIC rates are solid as well, you’ll earn a handsome 2.4% if you lock up your cash for 5 years. Handsome is somewhat of a relative term here. Kinda like when I stand next to George Clooney.

Servus Credit Union

Next up is Alberta’s largest credit union, Servus. Sometimes, when they’re trying to be funny, they say “no, you serve us.” And then they laugh hysterically, and you stand there all awkward.

They offer a free chequing account, providing you keep $1000 in the thing and only do online transactions. And even then, you’re limited to 75 per month. 75 is a lot, but still. If you keep $5000 in the account you get upgraded to having everything for free. That’s about as exciting as sexy time with a walrus.

Their mortgage and GIC rates are borderline embarrassing. Their 5 year “feel good mortgage special” is at 3.69%, meaning the mortgage feels good until you look around and realize you got ripped off by half a percent. The five year GIC is a little better, averaging out at 2.3% over the life in the investment. Geez, these guys must think all of Alberta is swimming in cash.

Oh also, their website is terrible. I had to leave it and Google the information I needed. Well done, Servus.

Conexus Credit Union

Conexus is Saskatchewan’s largest credit union, which is kinda like saying you’re the best looking out of all the cows. It’s not a very impressive achievement.

Conexus has a free chequing account but, like Servus’s, it kinda sucks. You have to keep $1500 in it, and even then you’re limited to e-transactions. I’m not sure if that includes buying porn online, let’s go with no just to be safe. But hey, they do pay you 0.05% interest if you maintain a $1500 balance. Hey, don’t scoff. That’s a whole 75 cents. Per year. Trent Hamm could buy toilet paper for a decade.

A five year fixed mortgage will cost you 3.99% a year, only a full 1% higher than any mortgage broker could get you. (Or, if you’re counting percentages, a full 33% premium) A five year GIC will pay you 2.1% per year.

I can think of 294028450 reasons why you’d want to leave Saskatchewan. Here’s one more: their largest credit union sucks. I just read on Wikipedia (same article I linked to above) that 60% of people from Saskatchewan are members of a credit union. If they all suck as much as Conexus than Saskatchewan folks are officially insane.

Assiniboine

Let’s quickly look at Manitoba’s largest credit union and then wrap this up until part 2 next week.

The first thing I noticed when looking at their website is an announcement that branches will be closed for Louis Riel Day. I’m convinced that’s not an actual thing, and I am being Punked. Ashton Kutcher is hiding in my kitchen right now, laughing his ass off.

Onto the account details. You can get up to 50 free transactions in a month, providing you maintain a $2500 balance. Or, if you’re more of a light user, you can get 30 free transactions with a $1000 minimum balance. Mortgage rates are decent, a five year fixed loan is 3.09%. Maybe they can tell Conexus how it’s done. Five year GIC rates are the highlight though, coming in at a robust 2.75%. Try not to spend it all in one place, big spender.

Okay, that’s it. Next week we’ll look at a few more, and then declare the winner and crown Canada’s best credit union. It’ll be the greatest honor in the history of ever.

 

 

Tell everyone, yo!

  3 Responses to “Canada’s Best Credit Union Part 1”

  1. Recent regulatory changes will soon make it possible for credit unions to operate federally, so we could see bigger credit unions like Coast Capital open up inter-provincially.

    A federal credit union would keep the essential characteristics of a credit union, but they’ll gain the benefits of being regulated by the Bank Act, allowing them to go head-to-head with Canada’s big banks. A credit union can’t own an insurance company or an investment firm under the current regulations.

    What would you classify ATB as – A credit union? A bank? A minor league baseball team?

  2. Sadly Louis Riel Day is all too real my friend. What better day though to wear my favorite Manitoba history T- Shirt: It says “Come Hang Around With Louis Riel” and shows the infamous criminal with a noose around his neck.

    I keep a Caisse Populaire account open from when I was a kid even though I don’t speak French. Awesome mortgage rates!

  3. [...] Even though the girls at my Credit Union are both attractive and competent, it’s become time to sever our fleeting relationship of me ogling and them being polite because they have to. They’ve instituted a $2 per month fee for just having an account, and they’ve upped the transaction charge to 75 cents, both charges that are OUTRAGEOUS, at least to this cheap bastard. So I’m forced to switch, and there are really only 2 free chequing account options in Alberta, PC Financial and ING Direct. It’s too bad I don’t live in B.C., which has a terrific free bank account offered by Vancity. [...]

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