Starting an account with ICICI Bank Part 1

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

ICICI Bank in Canada is a CDIC-insured online bank in the Canadian high-interest savings account market. It has six branches in Canada. Most relevant for me are the branches in Surrey and Vancouver.

ICICI seems like a rather mysterious bank, and a quick search on RedFlagDeals.com yields some mixed reviews about its customer service (but as I’ll discuss shortly, ICICI isn’t after the “service and features” niche in the high interest savings account market). It certainly doesn’t give me the same warm fuzzy feeling as the account I have with ING Direct. But hey, I’ll be a guinea pig and sign up with ICICI and document the entire experience.

Why I considered ICICI

Quite simply, its HiSAVE account currently (July 2007) has the highest rate at 4.5%. HSBC Direct is offering a 5.0% promotional rate, but that only lasts until October, and then the rate reverts back to a “regular rate” (which was 3.5% before the promotion started). The other banks hover around 3.5% to 4.1%. To be honest, the 0.4% doesn’t make that big of a difference if you already have another account at 4.1%; however, if you’re looking to open a new account, why not go for the one with the highest rate?

ING Direct vs ICICI

I lump ING Direct and ICICI Bank in the same category. I consider this to be the “dump money like a term deposit and then transfer money back to another bank when you need it” category.

With other banks such as Citizens Bank and PC Financial (see my reviews on CB and PCF for full details), you can do things like pay bills online, and pair a high-interest savings account with a more chequing-like account to get free cheques, Interac capability and more. Therefore, the other banks are well-suited for almost completely replacing the need for a traditional bricks and mortar bank. With ING Direct and ICICI, this is not possible (ICICI does have a chequing account, but the fees prevent it from being comparable to the other banks), and you are very dependent on having an account with a more fully-featured bank in order to do anything with your money.

At both ING and ICICI, you can withdraw money for free from their (very few) ABMs. However, I work very close to the ING Direct branch in Vancouver and have never used its ABM, simply because I use my Citizens Bank account for my regular transactions.

With the ING Direct Investment Savings account’s rate a full 1.0% below that of ICICI’s HiSAVE account, ICICI is certainly worth a look for me.

ING Direct does have two feature advantages over ICICI:

  • ING Direct will pay any service fees for ABM money withdrawal at other machines, up to 4 times per month
    -Again, because my Citizens Bank account has all the features I need, I never use my ING Direct card. Whenever I need money from ING Direct, I simply withdraw it electronically to a linked account at another bank.
     
  • ING Direct sends a fun quarterly newsletter with facts about its products and the odd cultural fact about the Netherlands.
    Overall, ING Direct is a lot better at marketing. But perhaps they cannot offer a better rate because they invest so heavily in PR.

The application

ICICI Bank currently has a referral promotion where if you are referred by someone and open an account with an initial deposit of $100 or more, both you and the person who referred you will get $20. I quickly sourced a referral on the RedFlagDeals.com forums and received a referral e-mail in my inbox a few minutes later.

I have now filled out the online application form on the night of Sunday, July 22nd, 2007. It asked me for basic information such as contact info and Social Insurance Number. One thing I noticed is that the sign-up form was not encrypted (no https:).

To activate my account, the instructions state:

“Simply send us an initial deposit for your new account in the form of a personal cheque, with your name pre-printed, from any Canadian Financial Institution. Make the cheque payable to yourself in the amount of your initial deposit. Please write the ICICI Bank Canada Temporary Reference number in the memo field of your deposit cheque.”

“Your new ICICI Bank Canada HiSAVE Savings Account will be activated once your cheque towards initial deposit is cleared. You will receive a welcome letter in the mail which will contain your 10-digit Internet banking user ID and in a separate mailing you will receive you internet banking password.”

I will mail the cheque tomorrow morning.

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5


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17 thoughts on “Starting an account with ICICI Bank Part 1

  1. Leah Tse says:

    Oh nice, they have a bonus as well! That may be worth signing up, which in turn makes me feel like I should transfer my money to it since it has a higher rate!

  2. Tasia says:

    I know ICICI has better rates than ING, but I am not sure why I still hesitate. Just like you, I don’t get the “warm fuzzy feeling” about an ICICI account like I do with my ING. Plus, I have a number of other investments tagged on with my ING account with ING. I am not sure I want to disrupt all that. Its been working great for me so far.

    But nice article. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Julia says:

    I’m still debating about setting up ICICI. Your point about if you don’t have another account setup why not go with this one, is exactly what I’m thinking! But the security and potential hassle does put me off. Especially when you said the input area isn’t secured. Although the referral bonus is helpful….

    Well I will continue to watch for updates before I decide. Thanks for being the guinea pig!

  4. Chris says:

    I am a Canadian citizen living in the USA, and I have a SIN and a Canadian passport. I’m looking for a high-interest savings account in Canada, as my wife and I have started to cash in our RRSPs from Royal Bank, but we don’t need the money right away. ICICI doesn’t allow anyone with a non-Canadian address to open a HiSave account, which I find odd since Royal Bank does, but they pay only 3.25%. Does anyone know who pays the highest rate for someone with a foreign address?

    Thanks!

  5. maria says:

    I am very satisfied with ING Direct Canada, being client for several years, however ING Direct interest rate, just raised to 3.75% is well below ICICI which offers 4.50%. Therefor I have intention to move my money to ICICI, since most of conditions at both institutions are similar.

  6. Sam says:

    I am a Canadian Citizen now, but for several years before becoming Canadian citizen I worked and lived in USA. I had a USA bank account with Wells Fargo and ING USA and these accounts still continue to exist. Now I am living and working in Canada.

    Does anyone know if it is illegal for me to continue to have my USA bank accounts and if anyone has any experience, I will greatly appreciate the feedback.

  7. S Kasi Mayan says:

    I am a Indian Citizen now, but for several years before becoming Indian citizen I worked and lived in Haryana. I had a Hissar bank account with Wells ICICI and these accounts still continue to exist. Now I am living and working in India.

    Does anyone know if it is illegal for me to continue to have my Hisaar bank accounts and if anyone has any experience, I will greatly appreciate the feedback.

  8. satish says:

    Iam not having any photo documents like driving licence,PAN card, passport,and voter id is their any way to create ICICI bank account. this is my salary account

  9. Priya says:

    Recently i moved to US iam holding an salary account in India. Now i nedd an savings account in ICICI (India). Is that possible to open an online savings account in India from US? Please help me…..

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