My first bank account was at Canada Trust, which is now TD Canada Trust. The only reason why I had an account there is because my mom banked there and opened an account for me. I was about 11 years old and knew nothing about banking to even think about moving to another bank. I thought all banks were pretty much the same. I stayed with TD until I got a job with a major bank. At that point it was required that I open an account with them, which was great because I got free banking. When I left the bank of course I no longer received free banking. I did quite a bit of searching to find a bank that offered free banking. That's when I ended up with President's Choice Financial and ING Direct.
Both of these banks are virtual banks, which means they don't offer teller service. Their focus is online banking. Virtual banks typically offer free banking and lower interest rates. They're able to offer this because they don't have as much over head costs as brick and mortar banks. There are however, some advantages and disadvantages to virtual banks.
- 24/7 banking
- 24/7 customer support over the phone or online
- Very convenient
- No transportation costs
- You must have access to a computer
- Internet access is required
- You should be comfortable with online banking
- No physical bank locations
- Fees (money orders, drafts, insufficient funds and overdraft charges) are often higher than brick and mortar banks
If you like that personal touch with your banker, than virtual banking is not for you. You only speak to someone either over the phone or online with virtual banking. What do you prefer?