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.

Because I love research and have no actual friends, I’ve spent a couple of hours comparing the offers of both financial institutions. Yes, my life is truly pathetic. Let’s look at the highlights, nicely summarized in this table that is more sexy than that time I caught a glimpse of my ass right after my weekly daily shower.

Feature PC Financial ING Direct
No Fees Yes Yes
Free Cheques Yes Yes
Sign Up Bonus* $10 $25
Number of ATMs 3400+ 2300+
Unlimited Email Transfers No Yes
Interest Paid Yes Yes
Banking Rewards Yes** No
Foreign ATM Charge $3 $2
Foreign Exchange Rate +2.5% 0

 

*Both banks make you jump through a few hoops to get your sign up bonus, but both are very easily achievable for anyone with a pulse and an iPhone. Oh, and you can only use your PC Financial bonus at the grocery store.

**Only if you buy stuff at a Loblaws store, but you get 5% back in points, which can then again only be used at a Loblaws store.

As you can see, the accounts are pretty comparable, and it really comes down to how you’re using your bank. If you’re slumming it through Europe like a certain someone I know, ING and their generous foreign exchange and foreign ATM charges are clearly the ticket. Or, if you buy about 14 different frozen pizzas from Extra Foods each week, you’re gonna do pretty well with the PC Financial account. Mostly though, they’re pretty comparable.

If you read other blogs (not that I’d recommend it), you’ll hardly see a mention of PC Financial when they mention no-fee chequing accounts. They’re all about ING, and maybe even Ally before it got swallowed up by RBC. ING offers a referral program, which might skew some people’s outlook.

I still don’t get why. Did they get a cold chicken from the deli? Did the pharmacist laugh at them when they brought in their Cialis prescription? Did they get mad cow from some tainted ground beef? Feel free to add your outrageous theories in the comment section.

It’s not that ING offers a bad product, I just think PC Financial’s is a little better. It’s almost like my peers in this space go out of their way not to mention PC Financial.

PC’s no-fee chequing account more than holds its own. First off, there are way more ATMs in PC Financial’s network compared to ING’s. Since I live in a town that makes an Amish collective farm look exciting, I have no ING supported ATMs in town, which is an obvious knock against Scotiabank’s newest jewel.

Another knock against ING is their proud new corporate owner, Scotiabank. The aforementioned Ally got gobbled up by RBC last year, and RBC has pulled the plug on Ally’s high interest savings account. Former Ally customers will either become RBC customers, or they’ll hit the road. Scotiabank might decide that ING’s free chequing account isn’t worth their time anymore, and punt its sorry ass. Sure, PC Financial might decide to do the same thing, but the risk of ING doing it is much higher.

There are all sorts of reasons why you should maintain an account at a traditional bank, and I’d recommend you do so. I’m going to see if I can sweet talk the girls at my credit union to waive my $2 a month fee. If my natural charm doesn’t work, I’ll just switch to a bank that will let me have an A la Carte account. (Ooh latin, I’m fancy.) Whether you need a bank draft, or a safety deposit box, there are all sorts of things that an online bank can’t practically offer.

You also might want to visit the cute girls and bring them chips, like a certain guy I know. For some reason it hasn’t gotten him a single boob grab, but whatevs. It’s not like he’s bitter.

So anyway, it looks like I’m going to join the ranks of the online banked. Much like my pop culture references, I’m about 5 years behind the times. You probably should too. Yes, switching up all your automated stuff is a pain in the ass, but the fees saved make it worth your while. I’m going to give PC Financial a try. I’m not sure if you should bother switching if you’re already an ING customer, but PC Financial is a pretty solid alternative if ING’s no-fee chequing loses some of its lustre.

Tell everyone, yo!