On November 1, 2017, PC Financial was re-branded as Simplii Financial direct banking, with CIBC taking over the day-to-day banking services (chequing, savings, and mortgages) under the Simplii brand. Loblaws continued to manage the PC Financial-branded Mastercards and PC Plus loyalty program (now PC Optimum).
Online-only banks have grown in popularity due to their “no-fee” offerings for chequing accounts and significantly higher interest rates on savings accounts, compared to traditional banks.
Unlike traditional banks, online-only banks have few or no brick-and-mortar offices, and most banking transactions are conducted via online channels using your PC, tablet or smartphone. You can always reach a customer service rep via phone 24/7, and can use your debit card at ATMs like for any other bank.
Simplii Financial is one of a few other online (digital) banks operating in Canada. Others include EQ Bank, Tangerine, and Motive Financial.
Why Choose Simplii Financial Online Banking?
If anyone is leaving their brick and mortar bank to patronize an online-only bank, they must have some good reasons. For starters, let’s talk about the no-fee account options available with Simplii Financial:
1. Simplii Financial No-Fee Chequing Account
With the Simplii Financial no-fee chequing account, you get the following:
- Free, unlimited debit transactions – your account comes with a Simplii debit card
- Free, unlimited bill payments and withdrawals
- Free Interac e-Transfers
- Free, unlimited access to over 3,400 CIBC ATMs in Canada
- No minimum balance requirement
- Earn interest on your chequing account balance (0.05-0.50%)
- Free personalized cheques
2. Simplii Financial High-Interest Savings Account
Interest rates on savings accounts have been very low for the last few years. The best standard savings interest rate I could find among the six big banks as of the time of this writing was in the 0.50 – 0.90% range.
The Simplii Financial High-Interest Savings Account currently offers 1.15%. They sometimes offer higher promotional rates that run for a few months during the year for new accounts.
Other benefits that come with the savings account are:
- No minimum balance required
- No monthly fees
- Automatic savings plan
3. Simplii Financial Credit Card
Simplii recently introduced its Cash Back Visa Card which is very similar to the Tangerine Cash Back Credit Card. This card offers a ton of benefits for a no-fee card.
- No annual fee
- 4% cash back on eligible restaurant, bar and coffee shop spending (on up to $5,000 per year)
- 1.5% cash back on groceries, gas and pharmacy purchases (on up to $15,000 per year)
- 0.50% on all other purchases
- Free purchase security and extended warranty insurance
Qualifying for the card is easy with a minimum personal income of $15,000. You can read my complete Simplii Visa Cash Back review here.
4. Simplii Financial Mortgages
Their mortgage offering includes variable and fixed rate mortgages at competitive rates. If you are transferring your mortgage from another provider, they cover the appraisal fee and guarantee your rate for 120 days.
While you are it, check out their home affordability and mortgage prepayment calculators. To get preapproved for a mortgage rate, you can reach them at 1-888-236-6362.
It’s always a good idea to compare the best mortgage rates available in your area before you commit to any rate. You can literally save thousands of dollars in interest fees this way!
4. Simplii Financial Investments
Simplii has seven index mutual funds that you can invest in a registered account (TFSA, RRSP, RRIF and RESP) or non-registered investment account. These funds are made available through CIBC Securities and cater to investors with varying risk tolerances and investment objectives.
Portfolio types include conservative income, income, income plus, balanced, balanced growth, growth and aggressive growth.
Simplii Financial customers get a discount of 10 basis points on the fund’s management fee (MER) and you can invest as little as $25 per month. Read my complete Simplii Financial Investment Funds review here.
They also offer GICs of varying maturities and rates. The minimum GIC investment is $100 and they are protected by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) up to $100,000.
5. Simplii Financial Personal Loans
If you are looking to borrow money, check out Simplii’s secured line of credit, personal line of credit and personal loan offerings. Their secured line of credit requires a $150 one-time setup fee.
For very competitive rates on personal loans, you can also check out motusbank.
6. Simplii Global Money Transfer and Foreign Cash Service
Need to transfer money abroad? Check out Simplii’s Global Money Transfer service which allows you to easily send money to over 60 countries without transfer fees in as little as 1-3 business days. You can send up to $30,000 in a 24-hour period.
To send money, you will need your recipient’s name and address, the name and address of their bank, their bank account number, and bank code.
Need foreign currencies in cold-hard cash? You can use their foreign cash service and they will deliver the cash to you at home or you can pick it up at the Canada Post Office closest to you. They provide exchanges in up to 65 currencies and you can order cash up to $2,500 in a 24-hour period.
Another similar service for sending and receiving money (from) abroad and converting your funds into multiple currencies at the most competitive mid-market rate is Transferwise.
EQ Bank (a main competitor) currently offers 2.30% non-promotional interest rate on savings account.
Tangerine currently offers a 2.75% 6-month promotional savings interest rate when you sign up here.
You can do your banking from the comfort of your home, including sending and receiving funds through Interac (free), deposit cheques using your smartphone, and access thousands of CIBC ATMs across Canada. If you need to talk to someone, telephone reps are available 24/7 at 1-888-723-8881.
Your funds at Simplii Financial are held by CIBC. CIBC is a member of Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), thus your deposits are insured up to $100,000.
Fees at Simplii Financial
While you have access to free chequing and savings accounts, some fees apply when you need to conduct any of the following:
- Stop payments: $10 – $16.50
- Money Order and Bank drafts: $7.50
- Overdraft fee: $4.97 minimum
- NSF fees: $45
- Stop Interac e-transfer: $3.50
- Non-CIBC ATM withdrawal (Canada): $1.50
- Non-CIBC ATM withdrawal (foreign): $3.00 or more
- Inactivity fee: $20 per year
- Foreign currency conversion: 2.5%
- TFSA or RRSP account transfer: $50 per transfer
Cons of Simplii Financial Online Banking
The disadvantages below apply to not just Simplii Financial, they are downsides to online-only banks in general.
There is limited human interaction when you use online-only banks. For people who only feel comfortable when talking directly to a financial representative, online-only banking may feel awkward for a while.
When Simplii Financial was still PC Financial, they had PC Pavilions inside Loblaw stores, like the Real Canadian Superstore, where you could walk in and talk to a customer service rep. Following the re-branding in 2017, these pavilions have been closed.
Cash Deposits and Daily Limits
If you deposit cash into your bank accounts frequently, you may find it cumbersome if: (1) CIBC ATMs are not close by, and (2) You are not comfortable depositing cash through an ATM.
Additionally, there may be daily dollar limits to how much cash you can withdraw at an ATM.
My Final Verdict on Simplii Financial
My rating of Simplii Financial below is based solely on my personal experience banking with them over the last 5 years. I opened a chequing/savings account at Simplii Financial (then PC Financial) in 2012. It wasn’t intentional – I came by it after applying for the PC Financial Mastercard in-store at the Real Canadian Superstore.
I rarely use the Simplii Financial chequing/savings account since the divorce between Loblaws and CIBC. This is because I can just as easily pay off my PC MasterCard balance using my other banks, and also, there are no more rewards points (PC Optimum) to be earned by banking with them.
However, I have since obtained a line of credit which I use now and then. The rate offered for the line of credit was pretty good compared to other offers I received from TD, CIBC, and RBC.
Simplii has some really great and diverse offerings and can easily replace your traditional banking. For savings rates, my top choice is currently EQ Bank with their best-rated savings rate. However, they do not offer a chequing account or investments.
Another option for transferring all your banking to a digital bank is Tangerine, and you can read my Tangerine vs. Simplii head-to-head comparison for how they compare.