Why I Almost Switched Banks… and Then Didn’t

I have been an RBC customer since I was 12 years old. That’s more than half my life! I had one of those Leo Young Savers accounts, and in my little transaction book, I wrote that I was saving up for a horse.

Recently, RBC announced a lot of changes to their fee structure, despite a record profit in the last quarter. I was one of those raging customers that complained about their new pay-to-pay charges (e.g., for paying your mortgage). I don’t even know how those charges got approved in the first place as they are absolutely ridiculous, but that’s beside the point.

I had a meeting with another bank, gung-ho and fully prepared to do whatever it took to leave RBC. I had all the paperwork. I had gathered the necessary information. I was ready.

And then I cancelled the second meeting with the new bank and decided to stay with RBC.

I made this decision for a few reasons:

  1. RBC backtracked on their initial, stupid pay-to-pay charges, which were one of the things I took the most issue with.
  2. The information I had about my business banking account, from the mouth of an RBC rep over the phone, turned out to be incorrect. Based on the small amount of transactions I use per month for my business, the $6 small business account is actually my cheapest option at the moment. It’s even cheaper than the new bank’s $12 all-in account since I don’t need as many transactions as they offered each month.
  3. Their branches are more convenient for me than the new bank that was I going to switch to. I didn’t think this would be a big deal but the more I thought about it, the more I disliked the fact that there was not a local branch of the new bank near my house.
  4. The new bank (which is actually a credit union) does not offer no-fee money back credit cards or rewards cards.
  5. In most of my dealings with RBC, their customer service has been far better than other banks I have dealt with.

To make myself happy with what RBC now offers – and to avoid as many of their charges as possible – I had to change the way I spent and saved money.

  1. I downgraded both of our savings accounts (mine and a joint one with my husband). They are now Day to Day Savings accounts instead of High Interest e-Savings accounts. The e-Savings accounts now have a $5 fee each time money is moved out of them, including through online banking. No teller required, but that will still be $5 please. This may have been removed as part of RBC’s backtracking, but the last pamphlet I got included this fee. The Day to Day Savings allows one free transaction each month, and unlimited online access. We weren’t saving enough in these accounts to make use of the higher interest rate anyway – certainly not more than $5 a month!
  2. I am now spending on my credit card only. It is a free rewards card, so hopefully even the small purchases will add up to something decent by the end of the year. This year we used my points to book a rental car for an upcoming trip. The credit card gets paid off every month.
  3. Because of #2, I am going to downgrade my regular No Limit Banking account ($10.95 a month) to the lower use, 12-transactions-a-month Day to Day Banking ($4.00 a month). Credit card payments and online transactions to move money to other accounts are not counted in the 12 transactions.

It’s annoying to have to try to find ways around increasing fees, but in the end I decided that these are manageable changes for me and allow me to stay with a bank I have a good history with. I have always been pleased with RBC’s customer service and their branch locations are convenient.

It can seem like an easy choice to move banks based on charges. It is important, though, to weigh up more than just the money aspect when choosing – or staying with – a bank. My new credit union, though their fees were significantly lower, would have been least a 10 minute drive from my house. I would probably spend more on gas to get there each month than I would save. That’s not even accounting for my time, and that’s worth more than the minuscule savings.

If you are thinking of bailing on your bank because of increasing fees, consider how you may be able to make their services work for you instead. You may be able to modify your habits to avoid coughing up for access to your cash, and in doing so, staying with your current bank could save you more than moving. With a little bit of effort, I am actually coming out ahead in this situation. By downgrading my account level from No Limit Banking to Day to Day Banking, I will get the full amount of the monthly fee back as a rebate instead of just half ($4.00 on $4.00 instead of $5.00 on $10.95).

(I’m still on the fence about being an RBC customer because of the TFW issue, but that’s a story for another day.)

What changes can you make to to your accounts or spending habits to avoid banking fees?

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