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Alterna Savings and Credit Union is one of Canada’s largest credit unions and the first credit union outside of Quebec. Following Meridian Credit Union, Alterna Savings is the second-largest credit union in the province of Ontario.

This review of Alterna Savings and Credit Union covers the services and products they offer to members as well as the low to no-fee digital banking services available through their direct banking subsidiary, Alterna Bank.

Who is Alterna Savings?

Alterna Savings was founded in 1908. It has over 160,000 members, 35 branches in Ontario and more than $8 billion in assets under management.

In 2000, CS Alterna Bank was launched as a direct banking (online bank) arm of Alterna Savings and is a federally-regulated financial institution.

On April 30, 2019, Alterna Savings merged with City Savings and Credit Union. In December 2018, Alterna Savings merged with Toronto Municipal Employees’ Credit Union (TME Savings).

In 2016, Alterna Savings merged with Nexus Community Savings. In 2013, Alterna Savings merged with Ottawa Women’s Credit Union.

Members of Alterna Savings and Credit Union have access to over 3,700 surcharge-free ATMs across Canada though The EXCHANGE Network.

Related: 14 Financial Apps To Build Wealth

Alterna Savings Credit Union Review

Alterna Savings Accounts: Personal Banking

Alterna Savings offers a full suite of banking services to its personal and business members.

Chequing Accounts

Their chequing account offerings include:

  • Basic package: $4/month (waived with a $1000 minimum balance) with 20 ‘free’ transactions, free e-statement (or $1.50 for a paper statement).
  • Value package: $10/month including 35 transactions, 50 cheques/year, free American Express Traveler’s cheques.
  • Unlimited package: $14/month including unlimited transactions, unlimited Interac e-Transfers and 1 free ATM Interac withdrawal/month (free with a $1,500 minimum monthly balance), free traveller’s cheques, 1 free bank draft or certified cheque/month.
  • Student chequing account: $0 monthly fee, no minimum balance required, unlimited free day-to-day transactions, and unlimited Interac e-Transfers, 2 free ATM Interac withdrawals/month.
  • Youth Start package (for members who are 18 and under): $0 monthly account fee, 30 free transactions/month, free statements.
  • Pay As You Go: No monthly account fee – pay per transaction.
  • 59+ Club: Get a discount on the regular chequing accounts as follows: basic chequing (free), value package ($5) and unlimited package ($7).

Savings Accounts

  • Daily interest savings: Earn up to 0.10%*.
  • Investment savings account: Earn up to 1.00%*.

Borrowing

Alterna Savings offers mortgages, personal loans, lines of credit and credit cards. Their credit card offerings via Collabria Financial Services are:

1) Alterna Savings Cash Back Visa Card: No annual fees, 19.90% interest rate, earn 1 point per $1 spent (double on gas), purchase protection and extended warranty, mobile device insurance.

2) Alterna Savings Centra Visa Gold Card: $0 annual fee, 9.90% interest rate, earn 1 point per $1 spent, auto rental collision loss insurance, purchase protection and extended warranty, accident protection.

3) Alterna Savings Visa Classic Card: $30 annual fee, 11.90% interest rate, purchase protection and extended warranty, mobile device insurance.

4) Alterna Savings FlexRate Visa Card: $40 annual fee, variable interest rate up to 15.90%, earn 1 point per $1 spent, purchase protection and extended warranty, mobile device insurance.

5) Alterna Savings Visa Infinite Card: $120 annual fee, 19.90% interest rate, comprehensive travel insurance benefits, auto rental collision/loss insurance, purchase protection/extended warranty and earn 2 points per $1 spent.

6) Alterna Savings Student Visa Card: $0 annual fee, 11.90% interest rate, purchase protection/extended warranty, and mobile device insurance.

7) Alterna Savings Travel Rewards Visa Gold Card: $99 annual fee, 19.90% interest rate, extended travel insurance benefits, purchase protection and extended warranty, earn 1 point per $1 spent (double for foreign currency purchases).

8) Alterna Savings US Dollar Visa Card: $50 USD annual fee, 19.90% interest rate, travel insurance, auto rental collision/loss insurance, purchase protection/extended warranty and earn 1 point per $1 USD spent.

Related: The Best Credit Cards in Canada

Investments: You can invest using a term deposit inside a non-registered or registered account (e.g. RRSP, TFSA, RESP and RRIF).

Insurance: Travel insurance is available through CUMIS and Allianz Global Assistance Canada.

Alterna Savings Accounts: Business Banking

Chequing Accounts

  • Business Basic: $10/month including 15 transactions.
  • Business Value: $28/month and 50 transactions.
  • Business Premium: $55/month and 100 transactions.
  • Business Prestige: $100/month and 200 transactions.
  • Business Pay As You Go: $5 monthly fee and pay per transaction.
  • CHIP chequing account: reduced service fees and this account earns interest.
  • Community Plus chequing account: for incorporated non-profit organizations.
  • US chequing
  • Agricultural chequing
  • US Dollar Lawyer’s Trust account

Savings Accounts

  • Business Daily Interest Savings: Earn up to 0.10%* and 2 free transactions per month.
  • Business Investment Savings Account: Earn up to 1.00%*.

*Rates current as of September 2019.

Financing

They provide mortgages, overdraft protection, business credit cards, loans, micro-financing and letters of credit.

The line up of business credit cards offered by Alterna Savings are:

  • Alterna Savings Collabria No Fee Cash Back Visa Business Card
  • Alterna Savings Collabria Visa Infinite Business Card
  • Alterna Savings Collabria Low Rate Visa Business Card

Investing: Business members can also access investment assets such as mutual funds (via Qtrade Advisor), term deposits and brokerage services (through Qtrade Investor).

How To Open An Alterna Savings Account

New members can apply online, walk into a branch or call Alterna at 1-877-560-0100. The eligibility requirements for membership are that you must:

  • Be a resident of Ontario.
  • Be at least 18 years old.
  • Have a valid social insurance number.
  • Purchase a $15 membership equity share which gives you a stake in the credit union so you can vote and share in the profits.

Ways To Bank

You can conduct transactions online, in-branch and via telephone.

Branches: Alterna Savings has a network of 33 branches in Ontario including the Greater Toronto Area, Kingston, Ottawa, Pembroke and North Bay.

Online: Use their website or the Alterna Savings mobile app which is available on iOS and Android.

Telephone: Call 416-252-5621 (Toronto), 613-50-0100 (Ottawa) or Toll-free at 1-877-560-0100. The contact centre is open from Monday-Friday (8 am-8 pm) and Saturday (9:30 am to 4 pm).

Mail: Alterna Savings, 319 McRae Avenue, 2nd Floor, Ottawa, ON K1Z 0B9.

Related: Low-Fee Investing Options in Canada

Is Alterna Savings Safe?

Alterna Savings is a member of the Deposit Insurance Corporation of Ontario (DICO).

This membership means that deposits (savings, chequing, term deposits and GICs) with the credit union are insured up to a maximum of $250,000 per member (including interests and dividends).

Also, deposits held in a registered account (RRSP, TFSA, RESP or RRIF) are 100% insured with no maximum limit.

Note that foreign currency deposits and investments such as mutual funds, stocks and bonds are not insured by DICO.

Conclusion

Alterna Savings Credit Union is one of the largest credit unions in Canada. Other popular credit unions in the province of Ontario are:

  • Meridian Credit Union Limited
  • First Ontario Credit Union Limited
  • Libro Credit Union
  • DUCA Financial Services Credit Union Limited
  • Windsor Family Credit Union

This Alterna Savings review is a part of a series on the best credit unions in Canada.

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