Since Jaime and I have started using You Need a Budget, we have noticed how much we pay each month in bank fees. With Scotiabank we each have a personal account and a joint account plus Visa cards and lines of credit. Last month we spent over $60 in total bank fees. This is money the bank is charging us to leverage our money to make themselves more money. Fed up with this "double dipping" we have started to look for alternatives. The proverbial straw came tonight when we noticed a $50 service fee charged to one of our accounts. The account was formerly a student account, but has since switched over to a regular account (completely fair). The problem is that the bank did not inform us of this switch over. The response from the customer service agent was "You should periodically review your accounts for upcoming changes in the status of the account."

It is OK for Scotiabank to harass us with unwanted phone calls and junk mail trying get us to sign up for new services, but when it comes to informing us of important account changes that could involve hefty service fees the communications burden is too great. This horse must be in charge of Scotiabank's customer communications team.

After spending some time on the phone, Jaime managed to get the account type changed and the service fee reduced. The pile up of fees has left a bad taste though. We are definitely going to make the switch now. I have been a Scotiabank customer for thirty years continuously, but I don't think it is worth it anymore.

Any suggestions for better, more customer (and wallet) friendly banks would be greatly appreciated. Here is what we are looking for:

  1. No service fees of any kind. I should not have to pay a bank for the privilege of leveraging my money.

  2. Accessible ATMs.

  3. A good online banking interface that makes it easy to transfer and manage money.

  4. Some kind of physical presence so we have someone to talk to if need be.

  5. Simple account structure. ScotiaBank offers a byzantine labyrinth of account types for personal banking. There is the Scotia Moneyback, Scotia One, Basic Banking Plan, Powerchequing, Basic Banking, Scotia Power, Money Master, Scotia Daily Interest, Scotia Gain Plan, and many others. The only reason for such a complicated plan structure, most of which are only marginally different, is to confuse customers and charge more bank fees. This is a (profitable) mess that I expect most banks embrace. It would be refreshing to find one that aspired to more than this.

So far we are looking at PC Banking, and ING Direct. If anyone has experience with either of these or other banks post them in the comments below.