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Alterna vs EQ vs Oaken
March 16, 2017
2:46 am
Loonie
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You may be right, Doug, about earlier rates. AlternaBank first came to light, to the best of my knowledge, on this forum March 2016 with a savings rate of 1.85% https://www.highinterestsavings.ca/forum/general-comparisons/short-term-savings/#post17860

However, it appears to have existed since 2000. I'm not sure what they were doing in the interim. It was certainly never mentioned at my Alterna CU branch, where we complained about poor rates and high fees and ultimately parted company.

I believe the e-chequing has been added within the last year, but not sure.

My most recent AlternaBank statement invites me to visit an "Alterna" branch week after next for fun and games etc., so perhaps they are trying to bring together the two sides of the business somehow. Perhaps this would be a good time to ask what is going on, if I should get there. It appears that they want people to stick their noses in the door, which suggests they are not planning on closing down the CU branches.

It will be interesting to see how Meridian handles a similar dilemma when they open their "bank". Will the line between the bank and the CU be clear, or confusing?

March 16, 2017
4:15 am
Saver-Mom
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There is a review by Steven on the Profiles page regarding Alterna that says they refused to allow him to open an esavings account.
This happened to two people I referred to Alterna this week, with Alterna saying they cound not find thier credit histories on Equifax. So now we have to own credit cards or take out loans in order to open bank accounts?! They refused to open accounts despite offers to link the accounts by sending cheques from other banks. They suggested going to a branch to open the account, so evidently can and want to link the online accounts with branch activity.

March 16, 2017
4:58 am
dentgal
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I also find Oaken staff are much better--particularly at the King St office in Toronto. Recently they sent a nice summary letter in the mail of my GICs--by the way, I was able to get some GIC's at 2.5% and 2.3% so you might want to look into GICs rather than their savings accounts.
I have an EQ account as well. They make me nervous. I find their website problematic--it is difficult to negotiate and find out what is happening to your money. They would not send a T5 in the mail--you have to create your own after logging into the website. Basically they will not put anything in writing. I was so nervous yesterday that I cut and pasted my online profile showing the money that I have there--just in case. Otherwise, how do you prove what you have in an online account without a paper trail??? (just wondering?).
So far, I haven't opened anything at Alterna.
I have been getting 1.6% at CIBC e-savings for the last bit of my money which exceeded the limits at EQ, etc, and this 1.6 is expiring at the end of March. I will also be looking for alternatives. But, as Loonie mentioned, I get tempted with the highest rate--and right now, the 2% seems the highest. But I guess it depends how much you have. The extra 0.4% above CIBC on $100,000 will work out to $400 per year. If you have $10,000, it's $40 per year--probably not enough of a difference to keep you up at night.
Sadly, Tangerine and PC stopped offering me bonus rates. Theoretically, since they are somewhat "tied" to the big banks (BNS and CIBC), I feel safer with Tanga and PC.
Once Oaken (Home Trust) bought their 2nd bank, which doubled their CDIC limits, I purchased 2 and 3 year GICs @2.5% in my name and opened joint accounts with my kids, so for the next 2-3 years, I don't need keep dancing with PC and Tanga. I was thrilled to lock in at 2.5%.

March 16, 2017
6:06 pm
Loonie
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Saver-Mom said
There is a review by Steven on the Profiles page regarding Alterna that says they refused to allow him to open an esavings account.
This happened to two people I referred to Alterna this week, with Alterna saying they cound not find thier credit histories on Equifax. So now we have to own credit cards or take out loans in order to open bank accounts?! They refused to open accounts despite offers to link the accounts by sending cheques from other banks. They suggested going to a branch to open the account, so evidently can and want to link the online accounts with branch activity.  

If it's any comfort, I too had difficulty opening account with Alterna Bank initially, despite having been a signator on an AlternaCU biz account within the previous year or so. It took several months. I can't remember what the problem was exactly at this point. It wasn't about credit rating. I think it was about documentation of some kind.
My impression is that they are rather sticky, but, hopefully, that will be to our advantage in the end if it puts them on sounder footing.

I think going to a branch might actually work - although inconvenient from where you are - as they can then look at your drivers licence etc in person.

It shouldn't be that you have to use credit in order to make deposits, but increasingly that's the way it is. Nonetheless, I have found that if you argue that you are only depositing and not asking to borrow, you can sometimes persuade them that they don't need as much info as they asked for initially and that therefore you don't need to give them permission to check your credit rating.

For some of them, I think it's about marketing. They are mostly interested in customers as a source of future business, so they want to know if you're going to be worth their while. For others, it's about being sticky about rules and worrying about getting mixed up with disreputable people. Or so it seems.

That said, there are lots of people who can't get bank accouts. They are poor people, and they have to use the usurious payday outfits. There oughta be a law against 'em.

Again, it seems that Alterna has a confused identity. If they are going to operate an online bank, which they are, then it should be possible to use it without resorting to a branch. They need to find a way to avoid that.

March 16, 2017
6:47 pm
Saver-Mom
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Alterna has admitted the referral to a branch was an error, and are requesting further documents be sent to confirm ID. Dentgal, I agree with your discomfort and also frequently print a page showing recent transactions for online accounts. Loonie, I agree, they are not interested in savers, looking more at attracting borrowers or wealth management candidates.

March 16, 2017
7:19 pm
Doug
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Loonie said
You may be right, Doug, about earlier rates. AlternaBank first came to light, to the best of my knowledge, on this forum March 2016 with a savings rate of 1.85% https://www.highinterestsavings.ca/forum/general-comparisons/short-term-savings/#post17860

However, it appears to have existed since 2000. I'm not sure what they were doing in the interim. It was certainly never mentioned at my Alterna CU branch, where we complained about poor rates and high fees and ultimately parted company.

I believe the e-chequing has been added within the last year, but not sure.

My most recent AlternaBank statement invites me to visit an "Alterna" branch week after next for fun and games etc., so perhaps they are trying to bring together the two sides of the business somehow. Perhaps this would be a good time to ask what is going on, if I should get there. It appears that they want people to stick their noses in the door, which suggests they are not planning on closing down the CU branches.

It will be interesting to see how Meridian handles a similar dilemma when they open their "bank". Will the line between the bank and the CU be clear, or confusing?  

Oh okay, fair enough...yeah I meant like, Alterna Bank back in like, 2008 (or earlier). It's been around since the mid-1990s I believe. 🙂

Cheers,
Doug

March 17, 2017
4:11 am
threeoakwest
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I've had an Alterna online account for more that a year and have had no problems whatsoever. Transfers in or out are timely and interest is paid accordingly.
Good place for me!

March 18, 2017
1:43 pm
Norman1
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dentgal said

I have an EQ account as well. They make me nervous. I find their website problematic--it is difficult to negotiate and find out what is happening to your money. They would not send a T5 in the mail--you have to create your own after logging into the website. Basically they will not put anything in writing. I was so nervous yesterday that I cut and pasted my online profile showing the money that I have there--just in case. Otherwise, how do you prove what you have in an online account without a paper trail??? (just wondering?).

EQ Bank has monthly electronic statements that one can view, download, and save. They are Adobe Portable Document Format (.PDF) files.

Electronic statements are just as good as a paper statements. They are both usually unsigned statements and are not certificates. So, electronic and paper statements are just evidence and not really proof of anything.

March 21, 2017
7:16 pm
Bill
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A couple people previously commented on hurdles or delays when trying to open an account with Alterna but I've had no problems at all with them, have had accounts for about a year now. Last week I helped a very elderly lady (i.e. there will be no mortgage or other business forthcoming) open an Alterna online savings account - all up and running in a week, no problem.

March 22, 2017
1:01 am
Loonie
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I expect the majority of people do not have any problems setting up with Alterna.
I still think Alterna is stickier than some of the others as I have opened with several and this was the most difficult by far. I think they didn't like my cheque, now that I think about it more, so I had to go deal with BigBank, order new cheques, which I managed to get for free, and try again. No other bank or CU has refused my cheque.

I'm sure they will take the money of people who are not going to produce mortgage or wealth management business. However, they are smart enough to know that if they treat everybody well, their reputation will grow. Bill has given them a positive review for a client like this, for example, and that is great free advertising for them, so it is always worth their while to treat people well.

I have no problem with Alterna overall. I just think they're sticklers.

If you read any of the corporate reports or planning documents for these companies, such as are available on the web, it seems that they all see their rosy futures in wealth management.

March 22, 2017
7:37 am
Bill
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For places where I choose to put my money being a stickler is a welcome characteristic.

March 22, 2017
11:06 pm
xup6.yc
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just reporting back on my decision and experience.
Originally I was going to go with EQ, but they requested me to visit a Canada post office to do identify verification, being overseas, it was impossible.

so I went with the next best option, Alterna bank. Despite what was mentioned before, I had no problem opening an account, filled out the information, use their app to deposit a cheque. Everything works just fine (except their app is fuggly and slow).

my take-away so far is, Alterna is a pretty good choice, ATM access, wide variety of products/accounts, decent rates, and the whole signup process is simple.

March 23, 2017
7:51 pm
Norman1
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Loonie said
I still think Alterna is stickier than some of the others as I have opened with several and this was the most difficult by far. I think they didn't like my cheque, now that I think about it more, so I had to go deal with BigBank, order new cheques, which I managed to get for free, and try again. No other bank or CU has refused my cheque.

Was that one of those old-style cheques that predated the current 2005 CPA Standard 006?

I think you had sent one of them to EQ Bank and their systems choked on it too! sf-laugh See previous post.

March 23, 2017
7:59 pm
Loonie
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No, I only had that particular problem once. I misremembered which bank it was. It must have been EQ. But I also had a delay with Alterna. It seems I can't remember accurately the cause of it now but do remember thinking they were being very sticky about something. Memory isn't as good as it used to be.

March 25, 2017
2:08 am
Loonie
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I remember now. The other problem that I had was because of the Peoples' Trust breach.
Relived to know I'm not losing my mind - yet! lol

March 25, 2017
8:44 am
Norman1
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Loonie said

I remember now. The other problem that I had was because of the Peoples' Trust breach.
Relived to know I'm not losing my mind - yet! lol  

That makes sense. The resulting alert on your credit record at TransUnion and Equifax cautioned Alterna Bank to take extra steps to confirm it was actually you applying. The hackers could also correctly answer the questions regarding name, address, birthdate, SIN, and so on.

This is from the privacy commissioner investigation report about the incident:

11. The breached database held the information of approximately 12,000 individuals, including customers and related third parties (e.g., guarantors and beneficiaries). The information compromised for each affected individual generally included several of the following information elements: names, dates of birth (“DOB”), addresses, social insurance numbers (“SIN”), employment information, contact information, mother’s maiden name (for security question purposes), and in twelve cases, banking information from other financial institutions (for electronic funds transfer, “EFT”, purposes). The type of information in the database for each individual depended on the type of product for which the customer had applied via the web portal.

The alert will be there for six years, from 2013 or 2014:

22. ii. The organization [Peoples Trust] contracted with two major credit reporting agencies, Equifax and TransUnion, to place an alert on the credit file of each affected individual such that companies assessing the individual’s credit information could take additional precautions to verify identity. Although individuals were not given the option to opt-out of the placement of this alert on their credit files, they are able to remove the alert at any time after placement by making a request directly to Equifax and/or TransUnion. In absence of such a removal request, each alert will remain on the file for six years from the time of placement.

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