Online banking is gradually taking over the conventional physical way we carry out financial activities. This is heavily influenced by digitalization that is happening in almost all sectors in Canada. Credit Unions are not left out of this growth. In fact, Credit unions were the first financial institutions in Canada to provide fully functional online banking.
They offer exceptional services to their members and make banking convenient. With online banking, you can go about your financial activities remotely. Credit Union online banking is free and secure; all you need is a device and internet connection. Let’s take a look at what credit union online banking in Canada entails.
Credit Union Online Banking in Canada
Credit unions first appeared in Canada in the 1900s and had the primary function of attending to the local communities’ financial needs. Credit unions use the terms “shareholder” or “member” in place of “account holders or clients” for their customers.
This online banking system is free of charge and secured with authentication features that keep your information confidential and safe. Although credit unions serve local members in a province and are regulated by provincial laws, the federal government has also enacted laws that allow credit unions to operate across Canada without limitations.
As opposed to traditional banks, deposits in credit unions enjoy more protection (insurance). Usually, the amount protected for credit unions ranges from CA$100,000 to an unlimited amount.
Credit Unions in Canada that Provide Online Banking
The following Credit unions are some of the credit unions in Canada that offer online banking and the provinces they are based in;
- Vancity Credit Union – British Columbia
- Coast Capital Savings Credit union – British Columbia
- Servus Credit Union – Alberta
- Meridian Credit Union – Ontario
- First West Credit Union – British Columbia
- Cambrian Credit Union – Manitoba
- Achieva Financial – Manitoba
The first five are known as the Big Five as they are currently the top 5 credit unions in Canada. Significantly, most credit unions offer free e-reports and account statements.
Features of Credit Union Online Banking
Most credit unions in Canada, including those mentioned above, offer secure mobile baking apps to their members. Some also go the extra mile and provide the same mobile banking experience to some of their members without downloading an app.
This is for members who find it hard to use the apps or don’t find them secure enough. They also have online bill payment features that let you pay your bills from the comfort of your home. Some other features include:
- Near Field Communication (NCF) payment support
Most credit union’s online banking apps allow you to convert your mobile device into a credit/debit card by swiping it across a payment terminal. This is a hassle-free process that requires minimal effort.
Most credit unions that offer online banking systems also provide no-fee banking. This is applicable if you have an average of CA$1000 per month in your account. Fulfilling this requirement also qualifies you for a variety of free transactions.
Some credit unions like Caisse Financial Group offer no-fee accounts for students and senior citizens.
Most credit unions in Canada offer support to their members via mail or phone calls. Some are available 24/7 per week.
Unique Features of Some Credit Unions Online Banking Platforms
Below are some prominent credit unions in Canada and their unique online banking systems features:
- Coast Capital Savings Credit Union
Coast Capital Savings Credit Union online banking platform offers its members comprehensive online savings and money management tools.
- Meridian Credit Union
Meridian Credit Union online banking platform offers its members the chance to open a high-interest savings account.
- Cambrian Credit Union
Cambrian Credit Union pays its members CA$1 every month when they sign up for the Green Online Document Program.
- Envision Financial
Envision Financial online banking platform allows its members to analyze their spending habits and budgets using their management tool.
- Achieva Financial
Achieva Financial is similar to a bank, except it operates solely online. This means members cannot visit a physical branch; all their transactions are online. They offer higher interest rates on savings accounts and GICs.
They do not charge monthly account fees since they don’t incur much overhead or personnel costs. As a member, you can choose to have these deposit products in a TFSA, RRSP, or RRIF account, depending on your financial needs.
Pros of Credit Union Online Banking
Several perks come with digitalizing your banking process. Below are some of the benefits of online banking:
Carrying about your banking activities online saves the financial institution the costs attached to having a physical branch. This makes it possible for them to redirect funds towards members by offering high-interest rates on savings and term deposits. Most credit unions that have online platforms even pay interest on chequing account balance which is an element absent in a conventional bank.
The convenience that online banking platforms bring is second to none. You can efficiently conduct your transactions such as paying bills, depositing cheques, transferring money, etc., via mobile apps or online platforms.
- Zero to lower fees
Most online banks do not attach transaction levies to accounts. As a member, you’re not charged or pay a lesser fee than what a conventional bank charges. You don’t pay a monthly account maintenance fee for chequing accounts. Also, with online banking platforms, you get no-minimum balance banking.
Do you dread waiting in line for services at a bank? Then online banking might be for you. The ease and swiftness online banking platforms offer are exceptional. You can carry out your banking activities using your mobile app anywhere and anytime. You can quickly contact customer service via phone or chat if you need assistance.
You can easily integrate your financial management application with your online banking account. This will help you track your spending and manage your finances.
- Safe and Secured
The funds stashed in an online banking platform are protected by Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) and Credit Union deposit guarantee corporation. This corporation is similar to that of a conventional bank. The CIDC guarantees deposit up to CA$100,000 while provincial deposit guarantee corporations provide up to100% of your deposits regardless of the amount.
Cons of Credit Union Online Banking
As with its advantages, online banking has its downsides also. Below are some of the disadvantages of online banking:
- Less Personalized Service
With online banking, you won’t be able to interact physically with the institution’s staff every time you make a transaction, whether deposit or withdrawal.
- Limited ATMs and ABMs
You might be restricted to using a particular ATM depending on your choice of an online bank. This is because your desired credit union may not have as many ATMs available in your provinces. Note that you may be charged when you utilize ATMs linked to other networks to carry out transactions or withdrawals.
- Limited Transactions
There is a range of transactions you can successfully carry out daily. There are some transactions that you won’t be able to initiate with online banking. These include sending money abroad, opening a safety deposit box or getting a bank draft.
- Limited Account types
Some credit unions offer limited account types to members. And in some cases, it may fall short of what it is needed for. This will require members to seek additional services where the products required are rendered.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Credit Union
Before you decide to switch from your conventional bank to a credit union in Canada, below are some factors you should consider;
- Access to services
Usually, credit unions have lesser branches than banks, and you may be unable to reach one near you. However, since online banking is the context in view, you can access all of the services you need online. The ease of this may vary depending on the credit union you are a member of.
- Fees and Interest rates
Credit unions have lower fees and higher interest rates compared to banks. This gives them an edge over traditional banks.
You are considered a shareholder in a credit union rather than just an account holder as used in banks. This gives you the power and voice to vote for board members, unlike account holders in banks with little to no say on matters that concern banks’ leadership or management.
If you are a credit union member like Achieva Financial, you don’t have to worry about visiting a bank as it operates a branchless banking system. This saves you the stress of having to visit the bank for any reason. However, other credit unions might require that you visit their branches that are limited in number and may be hard to reach.
Your deposits are better insured with credit unions than with banks. Funds are insured provincially and by the federal government.
These two bodies oversee the safety of your deposit Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) and Credit Union deposit guarantee corporation.
Opting for a credit union online banking or mobile banking can be significant depending on the ease of use and other factors that have been mentioned earlier.
Your choice of a credit union is also dependent on your financial needs. It is worth noting that the online banking system is a fast-paced system with both banks and credit unions trying to make the most of it.