How I met my bank 2I’m sure there was a time when I didn’t have a bank account, but I don’t remember it… so therefore it doesn’t exist (a statement which may have just shown off an extremely flawed world view … I’m gonna roll with it).

But even though a bank account is something I always remember having, I don’t think I’ve ever actually given any real thought to which bank I would pick.

I have made all of my banking decisions purely based on proximity.

Closest one wins.

That’s how I picked my first bank (although on the prairies, sometimes the closest bank is still an hour away), and that’s how I ended up with TD when I moved to Toronto.

But what’s the problem with that? The big banks may all have different names, but they pretty much offer the same situation.

Does it really matter where you bank?

I didn’t think so… until I found the one that changed it all (and ended up saving me a few hundred bucks, just this year).

How I met my bank…. a love story

Last fall I was giving my bank statements an actual look. Even though I’d been tracking my spending and budgeting and all that… I had been just blindly accepting that some bank charges were necessary. But now (because I had no money to pay them) those charges were starting to chafe:

  • 14.95 a month for my TD chequing account
  • Another 5 bucks in misc. fees
  • Then there were the fees they were hitting me with if I wanted to transfer out of my savings or basically touch my money in any way 

I was spending a few hundred dollars a year on fees… and you know what really burned my tomatoes?… I was getting a hot steaming load of bupkis back because interest rates are so crummy.

Now, I know that interest rates suck everywhere, but here’s the thing…

Banks act like they’re doing me a favour… taking my money in, keeping it safe… but actually I’m doing THEM a favour. I’m lending them my money, so that they can lend it to someone else at a higher interest rate. In return, they pay me a little interest… and every one ends up happy.

But I wasn’t happy. Because over the years, the fees have grown and grown and we’ve all just accepted it as a part of our necessary costs.

I call bull plop.

Tangerine: Stupid name. Great bank.

Tangerine - Perfect Bank for ArtistsI found no-fee banking through the savvy contributors of Reddit. If you ever want to see people slowly going insane, check out the Personal Finance for Canadians thread on Reddit. People come on with the same questions and generally get the same pieces of advice.

Bank with TANGERINE. Invest in index funds.

Rinse. Repeat.

Tangerine, you say….

I had seen their giant billboards all over Toronto, and, after mocking the name, gave them no real thought.

But when I did stop to look, I found something special.

A bank with no fees.

Seriously, guys. You open an account and every month they charge you… nothing.

It’s one of those things that seems so simple it must have a huge catch.

The huge catch: So long to the brick and mortar business

If I had stuck to my ‘proximity’ style of choosing banks I would have never found Tangerine, because they don’t have branches.

There are a few TANGERINE CAFES popping up, but compared to any of the other big banks, they’re pretty much off the grid.

But that’s why they can afford to offer all the services that they do with no fees. They don’t have the upkeep of a physical banking system to support.

I don’t know about you, but it always makes me feel better when I can understand a situation.  In this case, I can simply see where they are saving money, and how they are passing on those savings to me…the consumer. Too good to be true becomes… oh… I understand how you did that…

And in this case, what they don’t offer, I don’t really want.

Why Tangerine is a perfect bank for a travelling artist.

I have no real reason to go into a bank and with TANGERINE you can do everything online.

  • R2R - TangerineI can deposit my cheques through the app (something the big banks are finally offering, and they’ve been doing for years).
  • I can make accounts, move my money, or even open an account for the first time all just online!! (And with no fees for transfers).
  • I have great access to customer service either by phone, or with an online chat function (which I particularly enjoy).
  • No MINIMUM balance requirements
  • I can make interest (even though it sucks right now) on my chequing account.

It’s simple. Easy to use from anywhere. And it isn’t costing me anything.

Convinced? Check out my STEP BY STEP GUIDE ON OPENING YOUR TANGERINE ACCOUNT (takes around ten minutes… all without having to leave your house).

Not convinced… keep reading…

Am I seriously going to trust a bank called Tangerine with my money?

Look. Honesty time. How much money do you already give to fruit?

*Looks down at iPhone*

*Hangs head in shame*

But if it seems like an online bank is a little sketchy, don’t worry. A few years ago they were bought by Scotiabank, which means that they have all the solidity of one of the biggest banks in Canada, with the flexibility and lack of fees of an online bank.

The other great thing about that partnership is that you CAN USE ANY SCOTIABANK ABM TO GET CASH, OR DEPOST A CHEQUE FOR FREE!  So if you still want somewhere to go on Saturday morning, you can take a trip to your closest Scotiabank ABM for the win.

But I like my bank, I’ve been with them for years and we have a relationship…

But is it a good relationship? What are they doing FOR you?

One of the biggest causes of financial stress is that money flies out of your hands by default, for things that don’t really serve you.

Maybe your bank is great, and the fees that you pay match up to exactly what you want from your bank.

But maybe (read: probably) they don’t. And if you’re anything like me, you really haven’t given it much thought since the teller bullied you into the ‘exact right package for you.’

When I started to look at my bank, I realized that I was paying for something that I didn’t want, or use, or need. Switching over to a no-fee banking situation has saved me a few hundred dollars this year (something that is actually tracked in your TANGERINE account sidebar, so you can continue to feel good about your decision everyday).

Full disclosure: There are also other no-fee banks. I know that PC financial has some diehard fans. So there’s a chance that you’re already hanging out in no-fee town. Good for you. This is not a ‘one bank rules them all situation’. Just a good option to paying a ton of fees at a normal bank.

Still need convincing? How about a bribe?

People don’t really leave their banks. And even in the face of no-fees, I might have not gone through with the “hassle” (which really isn’t much of a hassle) without Tangerine’s sweet signup bonus programs.

The details can sometimes change, but the program they’re currently running is…. if you open up an account with at least 100 bucks in it using a friend’s referral code (before August 31st) you (and your friend) each get 50 BUCKS!!

That means you put 100 bucks in, and you hey PRESTO you’ve got 150 (#simplemathskillz).

All just by going through the process of opening an account, which you can do from the comfort of your own home WITHOUT putting on pants.


Sounds like the dream relationship to me.

I’m sure you have a ton of friends, and some of them might be able to give you a referral code, but in case you don’t feel free to send me a note and ask for mine.

I will keep it out of the post to avoid tanking my credibility.

As much as I would love 50 bucks what I really want is for you to not be throwing away your cash on fees that aren’t getting you anything…

So take a hard look at what you’re paying for at your bank… maybe it’s time to move to bank with a super dumb name, and a super great philosophy: TANGERINE.

If you’re interested in joining up, or have a few questions feel free to send me a note.