Last week, I took a look at the western half of the country, trying to find Canada’s best credit union. Even though you should definitely click back on that link – mostly for the Louis Riel jokes – allow me to summarize. Coast Capital is a pretty good place to do your banking, assuming you live somewhere in or around Vancouver. The federal government has recently passed legislation allowing credit unions to operate across provincial borders, meaning the fine folks from Coast Capital can take their show on the road. Or Desjardins takes its might and forces us all to speak French while filling out a deposit form.
Anyway, let’s do part 2. Can Coast Capital be usurped as Canada’s best credit union? Let’s find out. Remember, we’re looking at 3 main factors: the cost of a chequing account, the 5 year fixed mortgage rate and the 5 year GIC rate. All other factors can go to hell.
Steinbach Credit Union
For some reason, Manitoba has 3 of Canada’s 10 largest credit unions. Geez Manitoba. Why don’t you elect a communist government and have military parades on May Day while you’re at it?
Hey, nice work Steinbach, making it damn near impossible to figure out how much a chequing account will cost. I think there’s one that gives you 15 debit transactions and 5 bill payments for free. I think. Their website is extremely not helpful, kind of like everyone from Manitoba.
The real highlight of their account offerings is their savings account interest rates. They pay 1.95% on savings up to $100,000, where it goes up to 2.00%. Or, if you’re impatient and want to get paid once a month, they’ll give you 1.2%. Those rates ain’t bad.
Steinbach’s 5 year mortgage is a respectable 3.10%, and their 5 year GIC pays 2.65%. If you want a special rate for your TFSA, Steinbach has you covered, offering a 52 month term deposit at 2.80%. No, I don’t get the significance of 52 months either.
Meridian Credit Union
Up next is Ontario’s largest credit union, Meridian. I like how Ontario’s largest credit union is only slightly bigger than Manitoba’s, even though Ontario has about 10 million more people. Once again, central Canadians sure do love their credit unions.
Meridian sure does have a spiffy website, making my job of finding rates easier than finding boobs on a Google image search. It’s obvious who’s paying for it, and that’s people with a chequing account at Meridian. They offer an account with only 15 monthly transactions for $5 a month, or you can upgrade to unlimited for $12. Their savings account rate is 1.35%, but you can only transfer money between it and your chequing account for free. Anything else will cost ya.
Meridian’s 5 year fixed mortgage will set you back 3.19% a year, which isn’t bad. It sure isn’t good, either. And their 5 year GIC rate is 2.20%. Yawn. No wonder nobody in Ontario cares about credit unions.
Ahh, Desjardins. Quebec’s massive credit union. I’m pretty sure Desjardins is French for “everyone banks with us.” If one of my French readers could confirm that, I’d be ever so grateful. And now, a picture of said credit union.
Anyway, let’s look at whether they’re any good. Their mid level chequing account plan gets you 25 free transactions in a month if you keep $2,000 in the account. If you don’t, that’ll set you back $6.95. They go up from there, giving you more perks for leaving more money in your chequing account. None of these options are particularly enticing, but they exist.
They’re currently offering a 5 year mortgage at 2.89%, but the rate resets every year. Or, if you’re so inclined, you can take out a 63 month mortgage for 3.39%. No, I don’t know why they picked 63 months. Maybe it has something to do with the Montreal Canadiens? STOP HASSLING ME.
Their 5 year GIC pays out a whopping 1.75%. Hang your head in shame, Desjardins. It’s a good thing you own the whole province. Just make sure the sign announcing that fact has the French letters bigger than the English ones.
Let’s throw ATB Financial into the mix, even though it’s not really a credit union. They’re 100% owned by the Alberta government, and I can personally attest that at least one of their employees is exceedingly attractive and won’t go out with me. Hussy.
Their chequing account is nothing to get excited about. $5.00 per month gets you 15 transactions, while $12.95 gives you the ability to pay your power bill in as many $0.05 increments as you want, assuming you have that much time on your hands. Or, you can sign up for a pay as you go account for free online and mobile banking. You’ll still have to pay to use your debit card if you go that route.
ATB is currently offering an “extreme discount” 5 year fixed mortgage at 3.19%, which is about as extreme as melba toast. Their 5 year GIC rate maxes out at 2.00% a year. Geez ATB, you kinda suck. I’m glad I never went out with your hot teller.
Aside: If you’re interested in credit union growth rates across Canada, this document is very interesting. And detailed.
Credit Union Atlantic
And finally, we have Nova Scotia’s largest credit union, Credit Union Atlantic. I’m impressed the people of Nova Scotia sobered up long enough to establish their own credit union. Good for them.
Let’s be quick, since I’m getting bored. They’ll give you 15 free transactions if you leave $2,000 in your account. (or else it’s $4.00) You can upgrade that to 40 transactions if your balance sits at $2,500. (or else it’s $9.00)
A five year fixed mortgage is less impressive than me with my shirt off. They’re charging 4.99%. Yikes. Payday loans almost seem cheap in comparison. Their 5 year GIC rate is equally unimpressive, coming in at 1.80%. Geez, maybe everyone in Halifax is drunk all the time. That would explain how CUA is able to get away with charging this much.
And The Winner Is…
Drumroll please. The winner of Canada’s best credit union is…
There’s no reason to create any false suspense. It’s Coast Capital. They rule. Enjoy your awesome bank, lower mainland.