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.
Why Choose Simplii Financial?
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. No-Fee Chequing Account
With the Simplii Financial no-fee chequing account, you get the following:
- Free, unlimited debit transactions
- 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. 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 (March 2018) was in the 0.50 – 0.90% range.
The Simplii Financial High-Interest Savings Account currently offers 1.10%. They frequently also offer higher promotional rates that run for a few months during the year for new accounts.
Additionally, there are no minimum balance requirements or monthly fees.
Other products offered by Simplii Financial include:
- Line of Credit (secured and personal)
- Personal Loans
- Investments: RRSP, TFSA, GICs, and mutual funds
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
- NSF fees: $45
- Stop Interac e-transfer: $3.00
- Non-CIBC ATM withdrawal (Canada): $1.50
- Non-CIBC ATM withdrawal (foreign): $3.00 or more
Note: Tangerine (a main competitor) is better at displaying fees for special banking requests on several pages of their website. For Simplii Financial, you may need to dig around in the Services Agreement to find this information.
Cons of Simplii Financial (Online-only Banks)
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.