ING’s new Thrive account vs PC Financial

September 23 2010 by Ellen Roseman

You will get instant access to an ING Direct savings account (if you have one) through bank machines and point-of-sale purchases once the bank launches its Thrive no-fee chequing account early next year. Some people are already enjoying a trial preview.

I did a column yesterday comparing ING’s no-fee account with President Choice Financial’s account and found some interesting differences.

“No-fee chequing” means you don’t pay for cheques or chequing transactions, in my view. That’s how President’s Choice operates. But ING is giving 20 free cheques at first and making you pay $10 for any 20-cheque order you place in the future.

I think ING is stretching the truth, as frequent poster Bylo pointed out here. But the executive I spoke to said that most big banks give you only one or two blank cheques and charge for the rest.

As usual, my readers had lots of interesting comments, which I’ll post below.


  1. Hannah

    Sep 23 2010

    I switched from TD to PCF when I was a “poor” student and TD sent me a letter bragging about how my student account was changing so that my transactions and services would be decreased and my monthly fee increased!

    I was outraged so I did some research and PCF was perfect for my day to day banking needs. I know TD didn’t care about my money at the time. I was just a poor student.

    But guess what? 13 years later, I have a mortgage, a car, investments, RRSPs and TD is not involved in any of it (I won’t go near them ever again).

    I have never had any problems with PCF, other than overseas banking while traveling and for that I have a small no fee, limited transactions account at a “real” bank.

    I suppose if you’re someone who needs a lot of the extras like bank drafts PCF wouldn’t be the first option. For someone who does all their own banking online anyway, it works perfect for me.

    Plus – most “real” banks aren’t open at the right hours for me to be able to do anything face to face.

    I’m curious, though, why do banks (and car companies, in my experience) treat students with such disdain? Aren’t they up and coming earners with a lot of future business potential?

    I bought my first car on a limited budget right out of university from a company who understood that by selling me what I needed and could afford, they might gain a lifelong customer. (This was after being shoved aside by many other dealers who didn’t want to talk to me because I wasn’t looking at the top of the line car.)

    Guess what…I’m upgrading this year to a newer car with the same company.

  2. backseat driver

    Sep 23 2010

    You can’t go wrong with PC Financial.

    I have the chequing acc’t. To order cheques thru the Royal Bank would cost 25 dollars.
    With PC Financial it costs nothing.

    They sent me a new debit card with the pin and chip feature, but with the Royal Bank, I don’t know what they are doing – nothing yet.

    I hate bank fees. It’s a waste of money unless you’re chock full of exotic transactions each month.

  3. recently married

    Sep 24 2010

    After we married, my wife and I decided we should merge our bank accounts. Myself with Scotia for the last 10 years, her with PCF for the last 5.

    Since I had a mortgage with Scotia, we decided it would be easier to add her to my accounts. I scheduled a meeting with the rep to discuss this, and being the first meeting I’ve had with an adviser in 2 years, to discuss options with my current chequing account, Visa account and mortgage account.

    Two hours later, I had upped my checking account to an unlimited transaction one, with $3,500 minimum balance instead of $1,500 for no fees. Not an issue, I always keep my safety net.

    My Visa remained the same, 2% groceries/1% everything back with fees required. I buy $2,000 a year in groceries to break even with my 1% (stepped) back on everything Visa. We don’t buy that much in groceries (a lot of what we buy is at Costco, and they don’t take Visa.)

    They wouldn’t up my limit from $4,000, because that would require another credit check, a couple of days, and that wasn’t worth doing. (I was OK with doing it, they didn’t seem to want to.)

    Now for my mortgage. Being young and stupid (or smart depending on your opinion), I had locked in for 10 years, so I’d always know what my payments would be, at 6.25%. This was 3 years ago.

    Being ambitious, I currently have 2 years left on this mortgage with allowed prepayments, or about 5 years left without.

    My options for my crazy high interest rate were to break this mortgage or transfer to a new mortgage, but it had to be another 10 year term, with a higher interest rate.

    I’ll take the blame for this one, I made the bed, I’ll lie in it. But I can still be bitter that was their option.

    When I asked what it would cost to break my mortgage, they couldn’t tell me because I had already made the max pre-payment this year, so their system wouldn’t let them enter in another one. They did give me a helpful paragraph in a booklet that described their IRD.

    Now for the merging. They agreed that because my wife is a substitute teacher (and has been for years), she isn’t guaranteed any money, she must have no credit, and isn’t worth running a credit check on.

    I could order a second credit card in my name, and let her use it, if I really wanted to. I could also add her to my checking account, but I’d have to remove overdraft protection (which I don’t use), because otherwise they’d be giving her credit, and they can’t do that.

    So after 2 hours of discussing options, I left the bank with less credit than I had when I went there, and my wife would get a credit card in the mail a month later.

    Given this, we decided to go to the PCF kiosk and see how hard it would be to add me to her account. 10 minutes in, I was on her savings and chequing accounts.

    They couldn’t put me on her Mastercard, because it’s a separate entity, and we’d have to call from home. So we did. 10 minutes on the phone, my Mastercard was 2 weeks out, and her credit limit was upped, based on her past banking history.

    I do all my banking online. I do miss “having a branch”, but in the end, I go there once every 2 years, and got nothing for it except bad hours. PCF has the kiosk and was more than helpful.

    I miss the single online logon to manage mortgage, account, and credit cards, but for having no “branch”, PCF’s support was light years ahead of Scotia’s.

    Now we’re purchasing a new house to up size, my mortgage will be broken with Scotia, everything will be with PCF, and here’s hoping life will be good.

  4. Kim

    Sep 24 2010

    To SH,

    There is a way around the only disadvantage of getting bank draft from PC. I recently requested a draft from PC to purchase a car in cash. You could request it be done at your nearest CIBC branch for a fee ($15?). They will electronically transfer the funds there and hold for your pick up. It takes 1-2 days max. The branch will then call you once the fund arrives.

    We have been with PC since its inception, and have forked over $1300 in free groceries in less than 10 years, that’s in addition to the no fee banking and free cheques. I am pretty comfortable with PC but keep my mind open for what this new Thrive has to offer. You can read more discussions here:

  5. JC

    Sep 25 2010

    ING has become what they used to profess to be the opposite of.

    Okay, poor grammar, but heres what I mean…. Their “Free chequing account” is not free. Well the first two cheques are, and they currently pay much lower interest than most other online banks. Last time I checked, even Crappy Tire Bank was paying more than them. (Okay I just looked and they both pay 1.50%, currently)

    Last winter I moved everything I had out of ING into Ally, Canadian Direct and Peoples Choice and now earn 2% minimum on funds there vs what was 1.25% at ING. An email to ING went unanswered.

    Save your money? Uh, right.

  6. PC

    Sep 26 2010

    I have been with both ING and PC. ING was great years ago when they had ABMs in almost all CTC stores and I could get either Canadian or US funds from the machines. That was short lived. I deal with ING now by transfers.

    I had a PC bank account and it worked well. Access was more convenient through CIBC ABMs. All my adult children are with PC because it is more convenient in their living areas (more ABMs to access) and it was free, while other big banks charged service fees since when they started them only had a small amount of money.

    They could not use ING since they still needed another bank account to transfer funds in and out of.

    ING has great customer service, while PC takes longer but you can still work through it. I don’t have a PC account now which was set up to allow join access for some of my children when they were in university out of town.

  7. Virginia Smith

    Oct 12 2010

    I have been with PCF for years and had great service. Over the phone, they are great. I’ve had no problem with wait times.

    I too have had them transfer funds to a CIBC branch when I needed a bank draft on short notice.

    I love the fact that besides grocery store ATMs, CIBC branches and Mac’s Milk stores also have CIBC ATMs. No fees and very convenient.

  8. Rebecca

    Oct 18 2010

    I have a THRIVE chequing account with ING Direct. I received my bank card in the mail and the PIN number in a separate envelopped. I got my free cheques and customer service was amazing… UNTIL YESTERDAY !!!!

    I went to one of the ATM’s which is affiliated with ING Direct (in this case, HSBC) that way I can bank for free: well believe it or not, I was unable to withdraw money or deposit a cheque at all. I was so upset!!! I spoke to customer service after trying a few times, they had me tried a million times and I kept getting various error messages (transaction denied, transaction not allowed at this terminal, transaction denied at the request of your financial institution) !!!!!!!!!! I spoke to a supervisor, NOBODY knew what was wrong or anything! No explanation was given. The only thing they could offer me is to transfer back my money into my other bank account and funds would not be available till next evening. I was so upset!! They are supposed to investigate the matter today… I don’t think ING Direct has their books in order yet, in order to do what they are trying to do. Personally, I am seriously thinking of closing up everything… because I need an account that’s reliable. Anyone else had some experiences to share??

  9. Sam

    Nov 15 2010

    I nearly switched from my BMO chequing account to ING’s THRiVE. After looking into the actual differences I decided not to. This was primarily ebcause my BMO account is effectively free (as long as I keep the balance above a specific amount). My full review is here:

  10. Steve Hanov

    Jan 8 2011

    Stay away from PC Financial. They are great for students, but if you ever plan to buy a house or a car, they will make your life a living hell. When you buy a house, you absolutely need a bank draft for a certain amount within a day’s notice — but PC makes you wait three. Plus they charge 3X what other banks charge for draft.

    I’ve been a customer of PC for 10 years now, and I’ve had my mortgage with them. Now after getting off the phone with a supervisor, I am moving my business elsewhere. I was slapped with a $40 NSF fee (fees they only recently introduced) and they wouldn’t even consider reversing it. It seems like a little thing, but it is the last straw for me.

    PC used to be no fee. Now, they are about on par with other banks, if you keep a minimum balance, except they have lousy customer service. At this stage in my life I always have a minimum balance anyway, so there is absolutely no reason to prefer them over other banks. I’ll never forget how I once had to live on ramen for 60 days because they took that long to cash a cheque from the US. That was the longer than any other bank — believe me, I had plenty of time to ask around.

    Goodbye, PC. You used to be great. Enjoy your $40.

  11. Brian

    Jun 16 2011

    ING Direct Orange Key : FREE $25 w/new account

    The orange key is : 35934724S1

    If you’re thinking about opening up a new bank account with ING Direct, simply enter the following code when prompted and you will receive $25 for free. You need a minimum $100 deposit into your new account for this to work.

    Details of this excellent promotion can be found here:

    The orange key is : 35934724S1

  12. Andrew

    Jul 8 2011

    Up to date ING Orange Key 14424363S1. Use this when signing up to get a free $25!

  13. RJ

    Jul 18 2011

    If you live in Canada and do not yet have an ING Direct chequing account, ING Direct is currently offering to give you $185 if you open a THRiVE account using the promo code RedFlagDeals (

    The catch is that you must arrange to have one payroll deposited to your THRiVE account before Aug 31, 2011. They will deposit $185 into your THRiVE account one week after your payroll deposit has been made.

    I wonder how many bites they’ll get with this carrot…

  14. Brian

    Aug 25 2011

    Just signed up for the Thrive account and I`am so Happy!

    Here is my Orange Key 36098683S1

    When you sign up just enter the Orange key, and make sure you make an initial $100 deposit and we will both be rewarded $25 dollars!

    Thanks and Take care!

  15. Sarah

    Nov 9 2011

    That seems like a good deal. My local bank makes me pay an arm and foot in fees for my savings account. I have no idea how much I would be paying if I had a chequing account since they are usually more expensive in terms of fees.

  16. Dana

    Nov 30 2011

    I am always looking for a good deal, and one of the best is banking with PC Financial.

    I’ve seldom had to wait on hold for even a minute when I have called, the website is easy to use, and 99% of transactions are free.

    I go to any CIBC ATM for withdrawals and deposits and pay all my bills online or a pre-authorized payment with the bill company.

    PCF originally sent me 100 cheques, which lasted me several years. I ordered 2 additional sets of 100, which they send for no cost to me, They also scan processed chques to my online account so I can view them.

    I also have the Mastercard and let me tell you it is great! I recommend it repeatedly to all my friends.

    I used to collect Air Miles and ended up choosing products I didn’t even want just to redeem some miles. I don’t see the sense in that.

    With PC Points, I get free groceries! Something I need anyway, and even if I don’t shop at Superstore regularly, by the time I go I usually have $30-$60 worth of free groceries to redeem!

    Last summer, I had $120, so I bought a patio set with the points. One time I had $100 and went on a Joe clothes shopping spree..LOL.

    I am often surprised by how much I have accumulated in such a short time!

    I knew when I signed up for PCF that the reason they justified offering no-fee banking was because they didn’t have “banks” to run and all that other overhead. I am not a high-maintenance banker, and I use something called planning and fore-thought to mitigate any potential problems.

    If I ever do need anything STAT I am confident that things will work out.

    Also, CIBC has helped me with currency exchange and bond redemptions in the past – and I am grateful for that. Sometimes it is harder not having a branch to go to, but it saves a lot of grief too 🙂

    I will never pay for a credit card or a bank account ever, so long as I can help it! PCF and M/C have been wonderful to me for over 10 years and I will continue to keep my money with them – even though they are making at least 12% on it, just like the other banks are! HAHA 🙂

  17. Bob

    Jan 24 2012

    I opened my ING Thrive account too and got the $25 bonus for using orange key.

    Here is my orange key so you can get the same: 39195978S1


    PS. you can also get $100 extra if you sign up for your payroll.

  18. Shwan

    Feb 24 2012

    I love ING’s service too, just waiting for one last cheque to clear my old bank and I’m closing my account there.

    For me, I got a $1,000 release for all deposits, I heard they do a soft credit check, presumably to determine if they will grant this release, so kudos to them for that!

    I had an account with TD since my parents opened it at like age 3 and stayed through the $5 unlimited, then $8, then $15 plan changes, forget that… I’m out and glad to switch.

    Use Orange Key:


    for $25 sign up bonus, active as of Feb 24th 2012


  19. Tyler

    Mar 7 2012

    Perhaps they’re targeting a different audience? Personally, I find cheques a rather archaic means of giving/receiving money. That first stack of 50 cheques I get will last me a lifetime.

    If you really wanted to stretch it, you could create a 2nd Thrive account (one has to be joint) and get 2x the cheques for free.

    Here are the 10 reasons I ended up switching from PC Financial chequing to ING Thrive (against the odds):

  20. Andrew

    Aug 7 2012

    I have used PC and ING for many years with no problems. I never used either for borrowing, however.

    I’m not sure PC is as great for kids (or ING). I tried to set up a PC account for my 17 year old the other day and ran into the following problem.

    We set up the chequing account and deposited a $3,000 cheque, with no problem. Then when we went to set up the savings account, we were told she needed 2 pieces of identification (she only needed 1 for the chequing account).

    She doesn’t have 2 pieces of ID, so it doesn’t seem PC will work after all. Then, when we asked about getting cheques, we were told that no, you had to be over 18 to get cheques.

    Since there is a $200 withdrawal limit per day and it will take at least a week for the cheque to clear, it is going to take the better part of a month to get the money back out so that we can use a savings account from someone else.

    They could only set up a chequing account, not a saving account, because she only had 1 piece of ID. It seems a stupid rule.

  21. Shaun

    Oct 2 2012

    Thanks! Here is my orange key: 39684332S1

  22. Steve Harrington

    Dec 1 2012

    Here’s my new Orange Key: 40014077S1

    Thank you

  23. Jeff Fluxman

    Jul 9 2014

    found an orange key here after i signed up for a checking account, made mean extra $50

  24. Jairo Leal

    Jun 18 2015


    In case you are thinking of opening an Account with Tangerine, here is my blog where I show you how to get a $50 dollar bonus,

    I will even show you how to make an extra $120 free from tangerine.

    Just visit my blog about Tangerine Key for more info