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Canadian Direct Financial new account opening process and timeline
November 3, 2010
7:59 pm
Prag
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After reading through their website (which is very easy to use and looks decent) thoroughly, I noted they were the online arm of an established brick and mortar bank called Canadian Western Bank (which I also noticed won a Top 50 employers in Canada award five times in a row, including this year, which was nice to see!)

Being pleased with Canadian Direct Financial's website, very high savings account rate, and top of the line TFSA savings account rate, I decided to sign up for a KeyRate Savings Account. They also have a new KeyDirect chequing account, but I don't need a chequing account at this time.

I was glad that the application process is done entirely online, instead of having to print out and mail several pages of application forms. The online application was four pages in length. The application notes that they do a credit report on applicants. Filling out the pages took me less than four minutes.

The last step was to write a cheque to myself and put in the Memo section of the cheque what kind of account is to be opened. So, I wrote "Open a Savings Account" as per the sample image on their website.

I intend to open the TFSA in early January through their online banking portal.

Tomorrow (Thursday, November 4th) I'll mail off the cheque (one of my brand spanking new ING DIRECT Thrive cheques) and then will update this thread once the account is officially opened.

*waits*

November 4, 2010
10:06 am
brett
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I recently opened up an account with them, and the experience was excellent. No complaints whatsoever.

November 4, 2010
10:55 pm
Doug
West Kelowna
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Prag, have you ordered a free copy of your consumer credit file from Equifax and TransUnion for 2010 yet? If not, when you do, I'd be interested in hearing if Canadian Direct Financial indeed only does a so-called "soft", non-credit related check with no impact to your credit score or a more detailed, "hard" credit-related check.

They are part of Canadian Western Bank though you don't have any in-branch access to your Canadian Direct Financial accounts. Nonetheless, they are part of The Exchange Network. Plus, I'm told by someone who banks with Canadian Western Bank that when you phone their branch line, you get a real person right away, no IVR even. Until a few years ago, the same could be said of Scotiabank but even they succumbed to the dreaded IVR. I don't believe Canadian Western does any outsourcing -- well, offshore outsourcing, that is. They likely outsource their ATM & Night Deposit processing services to a company such as INTRIA Items, a subsidiary of CIBC, or Symcor, co-owned by BMO, RBC and TD, but those are at least Canadian companies and generally pay at least $10/hr. for entry-level processing-type jobs.

Cheers,
Doug

November 16, 2010
6:31 pm
Prag
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Today -- Tuesday, November 16 -- I received my welcome package in the mail, 8 business days after having filled out my original application online and sent the initial deposit cheque on November 4th. The welcome package was in a large full 8.5 X 11 envelope and contained a smooth coloured paperboard folder containing the following:

    A Canadian Direct Financial business card
    A full colour CDIC flyer
    A deposit form
    An electronic funds transfer agreement form (2 pages)
    A welcome letter containing my customer number, and mentioning my debit card and PIN and online banking info would be coming later
    A Q&A sheet
    6 nested, colour marketing flyers talking about their other products as well as the one I signed up for

It is a spiffy, very professional looking coloured welcome package. I also noticed that the welcome letter stated "Watch for more exciting product announcements coming soon!" so it sounds like they're going full steam ahead toward a rich suite of offerings over time.

This online bank is giving me an excellent impression so far!

I'm also so pleased that their parent company is one of the Top 50 employers in Canada -- because good treatment of employees is important to me and I like to support businesses like this with my dollars. It's also great that they aren't outsourcing their jobs overseas from what Doug said, since I'd rather not support a company that's gutting the Canadian middle class and/or the types of jobs important for new graduates and people getting into the work force.

I'll update this thread once the rest of the stuff arrives.

Oh, and Doug, no I have not ordered my credit report, but may get around to it later this winter, at which time I'll post if it was a soft credit check or a hard credit check.

November 17, 2010
1:42 am
Doug
West Kelowna
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That's great, Prag. Thanks for sharing and look forward to your continued updates! 🙂

Canadian Direct Financial is definitely an intriguing option for those looking for a so-called "virtual bank" (no branches). In this case, Canadian Direct Financial operates as a wholly-owned unit of Canadian Western Bank (which has branches) except that they don't permit in-branch access at their branches (sort of like the HSBC Advance Savings and HSBC Advance TFSA accounts, which are electronic- and Direct Bank-only access).

My only regret for them is that they have such fantastic products, with such little marketing and promotion they do, they may get lost in the shuffle with the much more advertised PC Financial, ING Direct and ICICI Bank chequing & savings accounts. I would also be curious to know their hold limits/policies for ATM deposits.

Cheers,
Doug

November 19, 2010
9:15 am
Prag
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Yesterday (November 18) I received my login information for the website and telephone banking, and logged in to check out Canadian Direct Financial's online banking site. It's a pretty decent website, far better than AcceleRate Financial's, though not as robust and full featured as a major bank or Citizens Bank was. It uses the enhanced security most banks use these day of having a secret image and phrase that you set up upon first login.

I was VERY happy to see I can initiate my own EFTs using the online interface, instead of having to phone in to initiate them! I'll be sending in a VOID cheque from my main HSBC Advance savings account so I can use these sporadic transfers soon. You can also set up recurring transfers but I have no need to as my primary purpose in opening the account was to use the savings account as a hub to move my money in, which will then get moved right into a TFSA to get their great 3% rate. My next step is to open a TFSA the first week of January since I want all my TFSA funds held in this institution.

My ATM card should be arriving soon.

So far I'm very pleased with Canadian Direct Financial and think they have a LOT of potential. Like Doug said, they need to start marketing themselves more.

Their two main weaks spots are, in my opinion, the $5,000 minimum for a fee-free chequing account (which is higher than almost anywhere else), and the fact their chequing account doesn't pay even minimal interest like ING DIRECT's new Thrive account does. That's why I didn't bother opening a chequing account with Canadian Direct, just a Savings account.

November 20, 2010
1:10 pm
Doug
West Kelowna
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Prag, you can still have a fee-free chequing account with Canadian Direct if you hold a $5000 KeyReach GIC/term deposit and their rates are competitive. So, it doesn't have to be held in a non-interest bearing deposit account, which is a hugely nice feature. 🙂

Cheers,
Doug

November 25, 2010
5:04 pm
stylintheo
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just wondering you get one free per month,and then its 2.50 each?

November 26, 2010
7:09 am
Doug
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That's possible, styl. However, if you have a KeyReturn GIC of $5000 or more, you get a free unlimited chequing account with one free chequebook.

Cheers,
Doug

November 29, 2010
6:34 pm
Prag
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On Thursday, November 26 (22 days after my original online application) I received the ATM card in the mail and activated it the next day over the phone during their daytime business hours. The person on the other end of the phone line was clearly Canadian (as expected). Still waiting for my PIN.

I also wanted to link my Ally account to this one, but had no idea what the transit number was. I wrote to the Canadian Direct Financial email address on their website, asking what their bank and transit numbers were, and if my "customer number" needed any additional numbers appended to it to be my official account number. I also suggested they post this on their website under the FAQ section like ING DIRECT does. I had a response in under 24 hours from a manager with a Canadian Western Bank email address, containing the info I needed, and saying they would put a request in to add it to the FAQ:

Bank# is: 030
Transit#: 03909
For the savings account add 880 before your customer number to make it your account number.

November 29, 2010
7:51 pm
Peter
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Very interesting and refreshing to hear that they seemed to take your feedback nicely. I had sent a nice message to TD Canada Trust pointing out that a part of their fee structure PDF was misleading and that they could make it more clear (and how they could do that). The response made it seem that they were happy that it was misleading.

December 20, 2010
11:35 pm
Benny
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Thanks Prag for your informative posts!

1 quick question

Does Canadian Direct Financial have any TFSA transfer fees? Too many of these guys are offering attractive rates then dropping them later on while slapping a large transfer fee if you want to switch to another bank.

December 21, 2010
12:27 pm
Donny
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December 23, 2010
5:18 pm
Prag
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So far I'm really happy with Canadian Direct Financial. Their materials look professional, the rates are fabulous (especially the TFSA account at 3%), they're one of the Top employers in Canada, and the customer service seems excellent so far.

One thing I find neat is I actually get email from a specific individual bank staff person during correspondence contacts. It's always the same person, a guy named Lawrence. He sent an email to notify me when the EFT link was set up and that he was mailing off some additional postage paid envelopes I'd asked for, and also replied earlier on when I was asking about the transit number information in a note I'd sent to the generic customer service id.

His email address ends in cwbank.com
(Canadian Western Bank) and it seems the Canadian Direct Financial generic customer service id forwards incoming notes to the CWB staff.

It's nice to get correspondence from an actual specific individual at a bank instead of some nameless person writing behind a generic group mail id in a third world country.

Next week I'm sending in the paperwork to set up a TFSA with them for 2011.

Ally called when they noticed close to $15,000 being transferred out via EFT, including the $10,000 TFSA amount, just to make sure it wasn't an error. Nope, it's certainly no mistake. I'm not parking my money at 2% when I can get 3% at Canadian Direct Financial.

Benny: In case you're not aware, you don't need to transfer out your TFSA. Just do a simple withdrawal now at the end of the year (in the last few business days before January 1st) for close to the entire amount, and then deposit it into your newly opened TFSA elsewhere after January 1st. That's what I call the "end of year switcheroo". I simply leave a few cents in the old account so it stays open in case I ever want to move money there again. You don't need to do the "official TFSA transfer" that costs $50! It's best to just bite the bullet and not move TFSA money around except at the very end of the year. Over time we'll learn which companies trick people by dropping rates a handful of months after January 1st. Hopefully CDF isn't one of them. I'm happy to be the guinea pig for 2011.

December 23, 2010
9:58 pm
Cents
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I do the same (withdraw all just before end of Dec and let the Dec interest hold the account open). Just wondering how long to wait to se who ponies up with the best rate come Jan 1 to 15. Don't want to wait too long to put back in teh $15K plus interest as the countdown to end of tax year 2011 clock is ticking. lol

January 23, 2011
9:50 pm
msl
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Prag,

Just like you said that you're, "so far I'm really happy with Canadian Direct Financial...." include me also to that list too. I started my application with this bank last December 2010 (cant remember exact date). I opened a savings account with them. And I also received those stuffs you mentioned. Early January I received 8.5X11 envelope (with info docs) and then the last I received was a mail from them containing the PIN and another mail with a nice looking ATM card. I will call them tomorrow to activate it. Then im ready to go. I also sent my TFSA application for them, as I am right now convinced to mark that bank as my TFSA savings bank!

January 23, 2011
10:41 pm
Doug
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Prag (or anyone else), have you had a chance to order a copy of your free consumer credit report(s) from Equifax and TransUnion? I'm curious to know if CDF indeed does a "soft", ID verification of one's credit bureau or a "hard", credit-related check. On TransUnion's report, you'll either see it under "credit-related inquiries" (hard hits) or "non-credit-related inquiries" (soft hits). 🙂

Cheers,
Doug

January 24, 2011
9:08 am
Andrew
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Doug said:

Prag (or anyone else), have you had a chance to order a copy of your free consumer credit report(s) from Equifax and TransUnion? I'm curious to know if CDF indeed does a "soft", ID verification of one's credit bureau or a "hard", credit-related check. On TransUnion's report, you'll either see it under "credit-related inquiries" (hard hits) or "non-credit-related inquiries" (soft hits). 🙂

Cheers,
Doug


I didn't order my report, but I do have CIBC's CreditSmart Credit Report Alert Service that uses Equifax and I got notification of a "New Inquiry" by Canadian Western Bank when I opened my CDF account. I believe CreditSmart only notifies of hard hits and not soft ones, but I don't have anything that verifies this.

Cheers

January 26, 2011
12:39 pm
msl
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Hi Doug,
i just activated my debit card on CDF, and i also asked the CSR (name is Ross) from CDF if they do a "hard" or "soft" check on my credit when opening an account,
and the answer is that he gave to me is that they do a "soft deposit inquiry."
Anyway, Doug, I just ordered my [free] credit report from Equifax yesterday so by next week, we can have another answer to yours. Based on Andrew's idea, that he believes it (CDF) may be making a hard check. Maybe we need one or more CDF customer to ask CDF and gave their input about whether CDF does HARD or SOFT??? Thanks guys.

January 27, 2011
11:31 am
Donny
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I mailed in my application for a savings account and a TFSA two weeks ago and CDF called last Wednesday (the 19th) stating they received it as well as to set up an EFT transfer. The CSR on the phone assured me that they required my SIN for identification purposes only and that no credit check would be performed. I should add that all the CSR's I spoke to were very courteous and helpful. Today (the 27th) I checked my TransUnion credit report and confirmed that it does not appear on my hard cretit inquiries. I had some technical difficulties obtaining my report from Equifax and couldn't get through to Customer Care on their 1-800 number, but I will post an update when I get it in the next few days.

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