Savers Roundup October 2017: Rate increases and surprise decreases, Wealth One, and cross-border friendly credit cards

Rate movements: Some increases, some surprising drops

It has been interesting to see the impact of the Bank of Canada’s key interest rate hikes (amounting to a total of 0.50%) from July and September. Outlook Financial, Implicity Financial, AcceleRate Financial, Hubert Financial, MAXA Financial, and Achieva Financial have all increased their regular savings and TFSA interest rates by 0.15%. Ideal Savings increased its regular savings and TFSA interest rates by 0.25%.

Oddly, Oaken Financial decreased its regular savings interest rate by 0.25%; Peoples Trust dropped its TFSA rate by 0.10%; and Meridian Credit Union decreased its regular savings and TFSA rates by 0.10% just before the July key interest rate hike and hasn’t change them since!

Even with the increases, it doesn’t seem like savers are seeing much benefit from the key interest rate hikes despite all of the competition!

You can view a list of the changes in our news digest and view current rates in our comparison chart.

Wealth One High Interest Savings Account: 2.50%

A discussion about Wealth One began in the forum about 1 year ago when the bank first opened. Wealth One currently has branches in North York, Markham, and Vancouver and is available to all Canadians outside of Quebec, with a particular focus on Chinese-Canadians. While the verdict is still out on its customer service, Wealth One is a member of the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).

Wealth One currently offers an attractive High Interest Savings Account rate of 2.5% with no monthly fee and no minimum balance. While its TFSA rate of 0.85% is not that competitive, its regular savings rate would make it the top one on our comparison chart. Wealth One also has RRSP accounts, GICs, mortgages, loans, lines of credit, a business savings account, and business GICs.

Tangerine: new interface, Q4 retention and new client promos

Tangerine redesigned its online interface in September, and so far reviews in the forum have not been favorable. Many people have found the new site confusing, with the general consensus being that the old site didn’t need to be changed. However, over time we’ll see whether people get used to the new interface; it might simply have a steeper learning curve than usual.

In the meantime, current clients are dithering over the October / Q4 2017 retention offers. Like clockwork, net new deposit offers appeared to some clients on the 3rd business day of the quarter. This time, the rates seem to range from 2.00% to 2.75%. For those who did not receive an offer, some people have had success calling Tangerine to ask for a custom offer.

To continue the party, Tangerine is putting forth their usual bonus offerings around new mutual accounts; new savings, TFSA, or RRSP accounts; and advanced deposits for a 2018 TFSA.

Remaining credit cards that waive the 2.5% foreign currency exchange fee: Rogers, Fido, Home Trust, and HSBC

The Marriott Rewards Visa has followed the Amazon Visa by no longer accepting new applications. While existing Marriott Rewards Visa cardholder accounts remain open for now, this leaves the Rogers Platinum Mastercard, the Fido Mastercard, the Home Trust Preferred Visa, and the HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard as the only cards that effectively waive the 2.5% foreign currency exchange fee. For some consumers who do a lot of cross border shopping (online or at brick and mortar stores) this can really add up.

The Rogers Platinum Mastercard and Fido Mastercards give you 4% cash back rewards for purchases made in foreign currencies — minus the 2.5% foreign currency exchange fee that’s effectively 1.5% back in rewards. The Rogers credit card gives you 1.75% cash back rewards on purchases made in Canadian dollars and comes with a $29 annual fee. The Fido credit card has no annual fee but gives you 1.50% cash back rewards on purchases made in Canadian dollars. The respective cards advertise that rewards can be applied to a variety of Rogers and Fido services, although you can also get the “cash back” as statement credits.

The HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard and Home Trust Preferred Visa do not charge you the 2.5% foreign currency exchange up front. The HSBC Premier World Elite Mastercard has quite a comprehensive list of travel benefits but requires you to be an HSBC Premier client (which has its own set of requirements) and has an $149 annual fee ($50 of which is oddly waived for HSBC Premier clients — technically you could no longer qualify as an HSBC Premier client after 1 year but still have the credit card). The Home Trust Preferred Visa is much simpler with no annual fee and a straight 1% cash back rewards rate.

PC Financial transition to Simplii

As of November 1st CIBC will cut ties with President’s Choice and unveil their own digital bank called Simplii Financial, rebranding from what was previously known as PC Financial. There has not been a great deal of discussion about the changes so far. The biggest change other than the name is that the physical PC Financial banking pavilions will be closed. Other than that, the official messaging has been that account features, account numbers, and ATM access will stay the same.

Expect the “big” unveiling of the Simplii Financial website on November 1 to be rather uneventful. It will be interesting to see if Simplii will provide any meaningful changes, or whether the changeover will be similar to Canadian Direct Financial’s rebranding to Motive Financial, which has so far been a ho hum experience.

Please write your comments in the forum.