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Alterna Bank Canada Review 2021

Several financial institutions in Canada have devised different methods of expanding their services and customer base. One of such financial service providers is Alterna Bank Canada.

With the advent of banking technology, online banks (also called virtual banks, direct banks, or branchless banks) have become popular among Canadians of all walks of life. With this, Canadians can operate their banking affairs anywhere and at any time, via online, telephone, or mobile banking services.

As one of Canada’s most innovative banks, Alterna Bank offers a wide range of financial products, with its services spread across the Canadian region. Alterna Bank’s claim to put customers before profits has endeared many to its services. Find out more about its products, services, rates, and offers to decide whether this bank fits your financial needs and goals.

About Alterna Bank Canada

Alterna Bank (French: Banque Alterna) is an online or direct banking service provider in Canada. Alterna Bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the popular Alterna Savings and Credit Union Limited, the first member-owned cooperative financial institution outside Québec. 

The parent company, Alterna Savings (founded as Civil Service Savings and Loan Society), has been operating banking and financial service since 1908, with branches in Ontario. While merging with Toronto’s Metro Credit Union in 2005, the Civil Service Savings and Loan Society adopted the name Alterna Savings and Credit Union Limited, making it the second-largest Credit Union in Ontario.

To expand its services and reach many Canadians, Alterna Savings launched its online banking arm – Alterna Bank. Alterna Bank is one of Canada’s first financial institutions to operate online services.

The flexibility of Alterna’s banking operations enables its customers to access their accounts using the bank’s website (online), mobile apps, or telephone services.

How Alterna Bank Works

Alterna Bank was established to provide online banking services to customers. As a result, customers can make all their banking transactions from the comfort of their home without the need to go to the bank’s physical branch. The bank customers enjoy high-interest rates and other benefits attributed to the different accounts and financial products, including TFSA, RRSP, HISA, Investment plans, mortgages, and more.

As a subsidiary of Alterna Savings, your deposits with Alterna Bank are stored with the parent company protected by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).

Alterna Bank Canada Products and Services

Alterna Bank enables you to manage your accounts and finances virtually anywhere. As a result, it offers several financial products and services, including Mortgage, Investments Packages, High-Interest Savings account, Chequing account, Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Registered Retired Savings Plan (RRSP), and Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs). Alterna Bank also provides its customers with access to Canada’s surcharge-free full-service ATM network, THE EXCHANGE.

Alterna Bank products and services can be categorized into:

Alterna Bank Everyday Banking

  • Alterna Bank No-Fee eChequing Account
  • Alterna Bank High-Interest eSavings Accounts
  • Alterna Bank TFSA eSavings Account
  • Alterna Bank RRSP eSavings Account

Alterna Bank Investing

  • Tax-Free Savings Account
  • RRSPs and RRIF
  • eTerm Deposits and GICs
  • Alterna Bank Direct Investing
  • Alterna Bank Guided Portfolios (Virtual Wealth)
  • Alterna Bank Wealth and Investment

Alterna Bank Home Buying (Mortgage)

Alterna Bank Small Business

  • Small Business eChequing accounts
  • Cannabis banking services
  • Small business loans
  • Payment processing

Alterna Bank Everyday Banking (Chequing and Savings Accounts)

Alterna Bank offers everyday banking products, which include chequing and savings accounts.

Alterna Bank No-Fee eChequing Account 

The No-Fee eChequing account of Alterna Bank is an online chequing account for convenient daily banking transactions. This account comes with No service fees while earning you daily interest on your account balance. Other features of the eChequing account include:

  • No minimum balance requirement. 
  • No monthly fees. 
  • Free and unlimited daily transactions, including withdrawals and transfers. 
  • Free and unlimited Interac e-Transfers. 
  • Free access to over 3,300 ATMs in THE EXCHANGE Network
  • An annual interest rate of 0.05%, calculated daily on the closing balance, and paid monthly. The maximum balance allowed is $250,000 per customer. 
  • Me-to-Me transfers.
  • Overdraft protection of $2.50 per month. 

Alterna Bank High-Interest eSavings Account

Alterna Bank’s high-interest eSavings account is a savings account that offers interest above the Canadian inflation rate. The account comes with a minimum deposit or balance requirement and a high-interest rate of 1.20%. Other features of the HISA eSavings account include:

  • High interest annual eSavings rate of 1.20% on every dollar. The interest rate is calculated daily on the closing balance and paid monthly. 
  • The maximum balance per customer is $250,000.
  • Free and unlimited bill payments, transfers, and debits. 
  • Free and unlimited Interac e-Transfers. 
  • No minimum balance requirement. 
  • CDIC insurance for eligible deposits held in Canadian currency for five years or less. 

Alterna Bank TFSA eSavings Account 

Alterna Bank offers a registered account for its customers to hold their savings. Alterna Bank’s No-Fee Tax-Free Savings Account (eSavings account) comes with no minimum deposit requirements and no service fee. With the TFSA eSavings account, you’ll earn a standard interest rate of 1.20%. Other features of the account include:

  • No minimum account balance required. 
  • A high-interest rate of 1.20% on every dollar in your TFSA eSavings account balance. The maximum account balance allowed is $250,000 (plus accrued interest). 
  • Funds transfer through online and mobile banking. 
  • CDIC insurance on eligible deposits held in Canadian currency for five years or less. 

Alterna Bank Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) eSavings Account

An RRSP is a savings account designed for retirement planning. With Alterna Bank’s RRSP eSavings account, you can conveniently save funds for future plans and goals. Each of your deposits also earns an annual interest on account balances. Other features of the RRSP eSavings account include:

  • No minimum balance requirement. 
  • A high-interest rate of 1.20% on every dollar in your RRSP eSavings account. Interest is calculated daily on the closing balance and paid monthly. 
  • The maximum balance allowed per customer is $250,000 (plus accrued interest).
  • CDIC insurance on eligible deposits held in Canadian currency for five years or less. 

Alterna Bank Investing

As part of its plan to providing exclusive financial products and services to customers, Alterna Bank offers the following investment packages. 

Alterna Bank TFSA eSavings Account 

The No-Fee eSavings account is a registered account from Alterna Bank. It comes with a high interest of 1.20% and no minimum balance. Besides, you won’t pay tax on the withdrawal of your money. 

Alterna Bank RRSPs and RRIFs

Registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) and registered retirement income funds (RRIF) are government-approved, tax-deferred savings plans to help you save money for retirement. You can transfer your RRSP funds to an RRIF. Government regulations require you to convert all your RRSPs to a retirement income option (RRIF) the year you turn 71 or before. 

Alterna Bank eTerm Deposits and GICs

Alterna Bank offers an investment option for its customers to complement their eSavings account with a longer-term Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GICs). 

The Alterna Bank Guaranteed Investment Certificate and eTerm Deposits provides an opportunity for short, medium, and long-term savings and investment commitment. 

Features of the GIC and eTerm Deposits include:

  • Minimum investment of $500.
  • Maximum investment of $500,000.
  • Available to personal and non-personal accounts – non-registered accounts, RRSP account, TFSA account, etc. 
  • Investment and savings are available in lengths of one, two, three, four, and five years. 
  • Easily opened through online and mobile banking. 
  • Non-redeemable until maturity. 
  • CDIC eligible. 

eTerm Deposit and GIC Interest Rate

Year/TermTerm Deposit and
GIC Rate
1 Year1.15%
2 Years1.30%
3 Years 1.30%
4 Years 1.35%
5 Years 1.45%

Alterna Bank Direct Investing 

In partnership with Qtrade Investor, Alterna Bank provides you with online investing from one of Canada’s best online brokers. With Alterna Bank’s Direct Investment plan, you can achieve your financial goals with tools and resources to access the market and trade Stocks, Bonds, Options, ETFs, etc. 

Alterna Guided Portfolio with Virtual Wealth

This is a smart and easy investment plan from Alberta Bank and Aviso Wealth. Virtual Wealth is a simple and convenient digital investing service that provides you with a professionally-managed low-cost portfolio that matches your financial goals, timeline, and risk tolerance. 

Alterna Bank Wealth and Investment Planning

Alterna Bank also provides personalized financial and investment advice to its customers. This is designed to help them build a unique and professionally-managed financial solution that creates and preserves wealth. Alterna Bank has a team of investment industry experts known as Wealth Advisors to help you develop an investment strategy, retirement plan, education savings, and more. 

Alterna Bank Home Buying (Mortgage)

Alterna Bank offers online mortgage services with flexible prepayment privileges. Alterna’s mortgage is available if you want to switch your mortgage or getting a new mortgage. Alterna mortgage offers you $800 to cover legal fees and appraisals, with about 35% of your income budgeted towards repayment.

Note: Not available to Québec residents.

Alterna Bank Small Business Services

If you own or run a business, you can take advantage of Alterna Bank’s services and offers for small businesses. This includes:

  • Small business eChequing accounts with 6 months of free banking and 24/7 digital access.
  • Small business loans from $500 to $300,000 in partnership with Think Capital.
  • Payment processing solutions with over $800 in value on contactless payment processors, including mobile payments.
  • Cannabis banking services to regulated medical marijuana producers with products and services tailored to meet producers and retailers’ needs across Canada.

Alterna Bank Features

  • No fee accounts, including chequing, savings, and investing accounts.
  • Unlimited ATM access through THE EXCHANGE Network of over 3000 ATMs across Canada.
  • Me-to-Me Transfers to link your Alterna Bank accounts with accounts from other financial institutions to easily transfer funds.
  • Joint account accountability.
  • Online and mobile banking for daily digital banking transactions, including bill payments, funds transfer, cheque deposits, and more.

Alterna Bank Interest Rates and Fees

Account/ProductRates
No-Fee eChequing account0.05%
High-Interest eSavings account1.20%
TFSA eSavings account1.20%
RRSP eSavings account1.20%
Term Deposits and GICs
1 Year1.15%
2 Years 1.30%
3 Years 1.30%
4 Years 1.35%
5 Years 1.45%
Mortgages
Alterna Prime Rate2.45
5-Year Fixed Closed
(High Ratio Only)
1.64
Fixed Rate Mortgage
1 Year Fixed Closed1.89
2 Year Fixed Closed 1.89
3 Year Fixed Closed 1.89
4 Year Fixed Closed 1.89
5 Year Fixed Closed 1.99
7 Year Fixed Closed 5.55
10 Year Fixed Closed 5.95
Variable Rate Mortgages
3 Year Variable Closed3.55
5 Year Variable Closed2.95

Note: Mortgage rates and services do not apply to Quebec residents. Also, rates are subject to regular changes. Check with the provider for current rates.

Alterna Bank Safety Regulations

Alterna Bank is a subsidiary of Alterna Savings, a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). Therefore, the bank’s customers’ deposits and savings are insured by the CDIC up to $100,000 per account.

Alterna Bank Online Banking

With the online banking platform of Alterna Bank, you can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week financial services. You can access your online banking service from any internet-enabled computer, mobile web, and mobile app.

Alterna Bank Mobile App

Alterna Bank provides an intuitive mobile app for easy access to your accounts anytime and anywhere. The Alterna Bank mobile app is available for download on Google Play Store (Android) and the Apple Store (iOS). There’s no need to set up a new password or security code. Simply log in with your online banking details.

Alterna Bank Account Opening

Access to Alterna Bank’s services and products are available to the bank’s customers. To open an account with Alterna Bank, go to the bank’s website, choose your preferred account, and complete the application process.

To open an account with Alterna Bank, you must:

  • Be at least 18 years of age or above (age of majority in your province or territory of residence).
  • Have a valid email address.
  • Have a Social Insurance Number (SIN).
  • Have a valid bank account with another Canadian financial institution.

Alterna Bank Customer Service

For questions, feedback, or complaints, you can contact the Alterna Bank customer service team, which is dedicated to helping you with solutions and answers about your account and investment.

You can contact the customer service representatives via the onscreen Contact Us form. Alternatively, you can reach them through:

Email: questions@alterna.ca

Phone: 1-866-560-0120

Fax: 1-866-560-0177

Mail: Head Office Address

         319, McRae Avenue 2nd Floor

         Ottawa, ON K1Z 0B9

Alterna Bank Editor’s Review

Alterna Bank is one of Canada’s online banks with top-class financial products, including its no-fee chequing and savings accounts. It also has excellent services and investment offers.

However, compared to its competitors, Alterna Bank offers low-interest rates on its GICs and Term Deposit accounts. As an online-only bank, Alterna Bank is suitable for those who rarely need physical bank interaction for their transactions.

Alterna Bank FAQs

​How can I get a Small Business Loan from Alterna Bank?

If you are a new customer, you can access the form in the Small Business eChequing application. If you are already an Alterna Bank customer, you can apply by logging into Alterna Bank online banking and access the form under Quick Links.

​What happens if my balance exceeds the account limit?

If your account balance exceeds the account limit, you will be contacted by an Alterna Bank representative who will review your options for moving your excess funds from your account.

​Why didn’t I have to enter a security question and answer when I was fulfilling a request?

When fulfilling a request for money, you don’t need to enter a security question because it’s a shared secret between you and the sender of the request. With Request Money, once you fulfill the requests, the funds are automatically deposited into the account rather than manually selecting a deposit. 

​Is my personal information safe with Alterna’s mobile banking?

Your security is a top priority, which is why our mobile banking uses the same level of secure protection as our full Online Banking. You log in with the same credentials, and once you log out, your secure session will end.

​Can I change my online banking password through mobile banking or the iPhone banking app?

For security reasons, your online banking password can only be changed through our secure online banking, in the Profile and Preferences section. If you can’t remember your password, call Alterna Bank to reset and obtain a temporary password. Then, log in to online banking using the temporary password, go to Profile and Preferences, then Change Password to change your password to something you’ll easily remember.

Can I call the Contact Centre to pay for my bills?

Yes, Alterna Bank’s Contact Centre staff would be pleased to help you with your requests. You can also pay your bills at the counter in all their branches.

​Why can’t I access my online banking account?

To ensure your banking safety and security, access to your online banking account will be deactivated if you have not logged into your account within the last six months. 

Reach out to the contact center at 1-866-560-0120 to reactivate your online banking access.

​I forgot my Login ID; how can I retrieve it?

Based on how you registered for Online Banking, your Login ID will either be:

  • Your Portfolio Number (Account Number) OR
  • The last 8 digits of your Alterna Access Card Number

If either of those Login IDs does not work, please call the Contact Centre toll free at 1.866.560.0120.

​Is interest paid above the account limit?

Although there is a maximum account limit, any interest owed is always paid, regardless if it brings you above your account limit.

​I only got my card, but where is my PIN?

In most cases, your PIN has been transferred over to your new debit chip card, so you’ll be able to use the PIN you did previously. If the letter accompanying your card indicates that your PIN was sent separately, then you’ll receive your PIN in the mail. When you receive your PIN, call the Contact center to activate your new card.

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