Valley First

How much are your free banking transactions really costing you?

September 30, 2014

Penticton, B.C.—If high service charges have you thinking that you’d be better off with your money in your mattress, you’re likely not alone. A recent report highlights the fact that in addition to a basic monthly fee for their account, most Canadians are also paying a hefty fee whenever they exceed the transaction limits imposed by their account plans.

Although basic monthly account fees have remained fairly steady over the last few years, many financial institutions have indirectly increased the cost by reducing the number of free transactions allowed under their monthly plans. According to research, transaction fees have jumped markedly; a basic transaction that used to cost $0.50 back in 2005 can now run as much as $1.50.

“While basic account fees seem to be holding steady or even trending down, the cost of additional services are heading in the other direction,” says Geoff Willers, a branch manager at Valley First. “Most accounts offer a limited number of free basic ATM and debit transactions and start charging a premium once that minimum has been hit. In our increasingly cash-less economy it’s very easy to exceed your monthly maximums and start unwittingly racking up transaction fees.”

Going over your monthly limit of free transactions can really cause service charges to spike. The most common fees are excess ATM or debit transactions, charges for non-affiliated ATMs and online services such as e-transfers.

“To avoid being stung by extra fees, it’s essential to know what your account plan allows you,” says Willers. “Keep an eye on your account and monitor your spending and transaction behaviour to ensure you’re not straying into premium-fee territory.”

The key to joining the 33 per cent of Canadians who pay no banking fees at their financial institution is to look for both unlimited and free transactions.

“At Valley First, we believe in putting more money in our members’ pockets,” says Willers, “That’s why back in 2012 we introduced no-fee chequing with our Simply Free Account. Account holders receive unlimited cheque clearing and debit card transactions, free e-transfers within Canada, as well as ding-free access to a network of 3,200 ATMs across Canada.

“For business owners, our $20 per month chequing account has so many unlimited free transactions we actually call it the Unlimited Chequing for Business account.”

About Valley First

Valley First is a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union, which has 38 branches and 29 insurance offices throughout the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Kitimat and Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. Led by Launi Skinner, First West has $7.7 billion in assets under administration, more than 177,000 members and close to 1,300 employees.

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