Bank fees creeping up again

March 21 2012 by Ellen Roseman

When I started this blog five years ago, one of my first posts was on bank fees. Yes, banks were hitting you with more fees then and they’re still doing it now.

Your best defense is to shop around, says a background paper by the Canadian Bankers Association, adding that bank fees are low (about $16.20 a month per household) and not a big contributor to total bank revenues (only 5.6 per cent).

But things are changing for banks, I believe, forcing them to wring more revenue from consumer transactions. Low interest rates are squeezing their profit margins and new international rules will force them to hold more capital.

Bank shares won’t be yielding double-digit returns as in the past, says a Canadian Business cover story. That will hurt everyone who owns a balanced mutual fund in their retirement accounts

So, banks are asking retail customers to pay more for the services they use. They’re also cutting back on free services they offered in the past.

After I wrote about TD Canada Trust eliminating a free chequing account for older clients, I heard from many people who felt “nickeled and dimed” by service charges. Even some bank employees joined the chorus.

Here are a few examples (below) of things that upset people about bank fees. Please add any charges they missed.


  1. Retired banker

    Mar 21 2012

    Ellen, I was very pleased you pointed out that the banks are at it again, raising fees drastically.

    They seem to be doing it all in concert as if they had agreed to do so among themselves and I suspect a cartel arrangement.

    I think it would be great if we could start a boycott similar to the one instituted against Bank of America in the US, when they tried to introduce a debit card fee. Let’s make sure they don’t try that here.

    I worked for TD bank for 22 years and participated in their contributory pension plan, so they now pay me a pension for the last 10 years.

    On Jan. 18, they wrote to wish me (a little late) the compliments of the season and then tell me not to rely on any future increases in my pension.

    I don’t know why they chose to inform me of this, because they had never given me any increase over the last 10 years, nor do I expect one. The letter basically said nothing.

    However, two weeks later, I received a another nice letter from TD, informing me that my safety deposit box fee was increasing by 60%. And this is what they do to STAFF!

    If they had just sent the second letter without the first, it would be easier to take, but I feel as though they have thrown something at me and want me to wallow in it.

    And then, to cap it all, is an article today in the same section of the Star as your article, telling us all about the wonderfully big profits made by the banks last year and what wonderful institutions they are…


    Do keep up the pressure! Since the economy is in trouble, we all need to do our part and this should include the banks. They can afford and should hold back on fee increases at this time.

    If they feel fees must be increased to cover costs, they should limit the percentage increase to the inflation rate, which remains low.

    Anything else is gouging to enlarge the already fat cat paycheques of the executives.

  2. HD

    Mar 21 2012

    I have my car and renter’s insurance with RBC.

    My house insurance went up from $189 to $290, which I think is about 58%.

    A nice young man told me that RBC simply raised the renter’s insurance to a minimum of $290.

    When I asked him what difference it would make if I dropped the house, he said my car insurance would go up by $256.

    In other words, take it or leave it. With that difference, I have to take it as I had a very minor mishap 2 years ago which will stick to me for another 4 years.

    They get you one way or another.

  3. DR

    Mar 21 2012

    It seems to me that TD Bank needs a refresher course in customer relations.

    I recently received a communication from said bank that monthly fees ($2.25) are now going to be applied to my US Dollar Daily Interest Chequing Account and Borderless Plan if I wish to retain my passbook.

    It seems they are encouraging online record keeping and discouraging the former practice of using a passbook by instituting fees for such which previously were free.

    It doesn’t seem fair to make changes to previous arrangements and coerce people to change their habits and comfort zone.

    I’m one who isn’t comfortable with online/electronic banking as are many others in my age bracket (post 65).

    Banks already are a very lucrative activity in Canada.There is no excuse for increased greed in my mind. I’ve complained directly to my bank branch and also to the 1-866-826-6956 phone number given for this.

  4. BC

    Mar 21 2012

    Recently TD Bank levied a $1 charge to see your transactions at their ATM’s.

    Now they are charging $2 to mail you your monthly statement. Before there was no charge for this service.

    There is no charge if you do computer banking and view your statements online.

    Now here is my dilemma… My wife who has her accounts online is able to see other people’s information when she brings up her account.

    Although this only happens with her Bell One Bill, I am wondering how widespread this is.

    She spent over two hours on the telephone with Bell, but they were not able to resolve this glitch.

    This is a Privacy Issus and I am sure we are going to be reading more and more about similar situations as we put more faith in the computer and online information.

  5. KN

    Mar 21 2012

    TD has also increased their Safety Deposit box fees enormously. The annual fee for a large box has increased from $90 to $125.

    The fee to replace a key increased from $4.95 to $50.

    One suggestion they make to help clients cope with the increases is to have a \Plan 60\ account so you can save $5 annually.

    These increases are unfair for all, but particularly for seniors on fixed income.

    The banks make huge profits and have benefitted
    from tax reductions. They talk about customer service, but continue to make large increases to fees without real options being offered.

    Thank you for helping to bring unfair business charges and practices into public discussions.

  6. OB

    Mar 21 2012

    You might already know that TD Bank levied a $1 fee to check “account activities” at their bank machines a few months back.

    These accounts don’t have bank books. That meant that you had to pay $1 every time you wanted to find out whether a cheque had gone through or, in my case, why the bank had credited me with $15,000 by mistake!

    Seriously. (The manager blanched when I pointed out the error.)

    I complained to the bank staff about the new charge. They told me that they were trying to persuade people to use internet banking — that is, go home, turn on your computer, check your account activities and head back down to the bank again.

    Forget that!

    A lot of other people must have complained because they have now removed the $1 fee and the bank machine now says: “Account activities – no fee.”

    Another victory for the people!

    By the way, CIBC has announced new bank fees starting April 1. I’m sure they are worth checking!

  7. Banker

    Mar 21 2012

    You may also like to know that TD is now charging $2/mth to 76,000 employees if they want a print statement on their staff account.

    Meanwhile, their CEO makes $11 mil a year; I guess that extra revenue will help keep him happy.

  8. NS

    Mar 21 2012

    The big banks don’t realize that by going this route they’re going to lose customers to ING Direct, who now provide chequing services at no fees at all…..even payroll deposits can be made via ING….

  9. TN

    Mar 21 2012

    I expect to read, in the not too distant future, that many other businesses, not just other banks, will quietly eliminate their free accounts and so-called seniors’ discounts.

    Are these businesses just finding out that 50% of Canadians are already older than age 40? Or that a growing number of Canadians will live well into their 80s and 90s?

    CIBC started giving me a free checking account when I turned 60. Shopper’s Drug Mart has been giving me a senior’s discount for the past six years — since I turned 55.

    Are these businesses going to keep giving me special discounts for maybe 20 or 30 more years? Not very likely.

    And to be honest, if these businesses want to encourage me to spend my money with them, perhaps they could give me price tickets that I can read without my reading glasses, or advertising that shows people like me doing something other than walking on a beach or a golf course, or sitting on a bench talking about banking hours and the good old days.

  10. JK

    Mar 21 2012

    I just received a new fee schedule from RBC.

    For My RBC Rewards VISA Preferred, my yearly fee is to go from $70 to $110 with he addition of a 7 day out of province/country Emergency Medical insurance for those of us over 65.

    This insurance is not something I need or asked for! In my mind, it’s a money grab by the banks who continue to rack up
    more profits.

  11. BM

    Mar 21 2012

    TD recently took over MBNA’s Canadian credit card business. They just raised the interest rate on my wife’s Queen’s University Master Card from 6.99% to 14.99 percent for purchases and 24.99 for cash advances.

    Makes the changes to safety deposit boxes seem like small potatoes.

  12. GL

    Mar 21 2012

    For my small business account, TD’s monthly fee has risen from $5 in 1997 to $14.95 at present (for essentially the same bundle of services–I’ve always had the most basic service plan).

    This is an increase of nearly 200 per cent in 15 years–a tad more than inflation–and now they’re going to start charging another $2 per month to mail the statement (which had always been included before).

    I’ve had a Mastercard with MBNA Canada for many years. MBNA Canada was recently acquired by TD Canada Trust.

    With my credit card bill today, I received the usual supply of “Access cheques” encouraging me to take advantage of my regular 6.99% interest rate to take a vacation, buy that
    new gas BBQ, yada, yada. . . In same envelope was a notice stating that in May the interest rate was going up to 9.99% (and from 6.99 to 24.99% on cash advances). No explanation.

    If anything, my credit rating is better than ever, as I just finished paying off my mortgage (which TD ought to know, since they held the mortgage!).

    The interest rate increase really has no effect on me, as I always pay the full balance owing each month, but this seems another example of corporate gouging. At least they didn’t try to hide it as “good news”.

    What was TD’s profit last year? Merely a few billion.

  13. Crystal C. Green

    Mar 22 2012

    RBC is altering its chequing accounts too.

    For example, the Day to Day banking package at $4 per month is being revamped. It currently allows for 15 debits, with extra debits at 65 cents each.

    As of June 1, the number of allowed debits is being shrunk to 10. Extra debits will be $1 each. Cash grab!

  14. Diane Frizzell

    Mar 26 2012

    Hello Ellen,
    I am fuming about an increase in fees for a safety deposit box at the TD Canada Trust.

    When I was sent a letter in mid-February advising me of an increase in fees for the deposit box – from $104 to $200 for drilling service, and a key replacement increase from $4.95 to $50 – I decided it was time to cancel the deposit box as I wasn’t using it.

    But I was informed that because I lost the keys I would have to pay the drilling fee before cancellation. So I visited the branch in the second week of March to make arrangements, well before the fee increase deadline of April 1, as stated in the letter.

    I was told I would receive a call, which I did, and was informed that due to overwhelming demand for the drill services since the letter came out, they were unable to book an appointment for me until the end of April and they would have to charge me the new drilling fee of $200.

    The rep told me the letter was sent in January, which gave me enough notice to book. I contacted the manager who also said the letter was sent in January and that I should have booked earlier.

    My response was that I have the option of choosing to book an appointment any time before that date of April 1st.

    The manager did offer to cut the cost by $50, which was the best she could do, otherwise they would take a loss!

    Why do I not feel any sympathy? Apparently the other branches were also swamped with drilling requests when the letter came out.

    This is just one of the issues I have encountered. I’m visiting the bank today to close my account.

  15. Rajaji

    Mar 26 2012

    I have a MBNA mastercard with 11g with interest rate of 7.9%over 5 years% I got a notice today that MBNA was aquired by TD and from may they are going to increase rate to 16.9% which is a slap on my face

  16. Mlamb

    Apr 1 2012

    This is all because of lack of competition. The same TD bank offers unlimited checking account in US with fees waived if you maintain a minimum balance of $100….yes its $100 only. No prize to guess what is their minimum balance requirement in Canada. Canadian banks are not efficient, they flourish due to lack of competition in Canada and gauging Canadians.

  17. J.Keith McMahon

    Jun 22 2012

    MBNA has no fear (apparently) of losing clients. However, for the record, we have an offer from Capital One Canada at 5.99% guaranteed for 3 years and then it becomes Prime + 4.99%. This would be around 8% at today’s prime.

    We have written to CARP, government agencies, etc., protesting this awful 43% hike. (It’s even more outlandish on cash advances, which now have a whopping 24.99% rate, more than triple the old rate of 6.99 per cent).

    We will be saying goodbye to this money-grubbing outfit just as soon as we can. In addition, we are banding together with other parties who have been wronged by TD Bank Group to mount a campaign to expose this behaviour which, it seems to us, is bordering on loan-sharking!!!

    Thank you for listening to our rant.

  18. Hockeynomad

    Jun 30 2012

    Had it with TD. Last month suddenly passbook fees of $2.25, and now my balance slipped under $1000 and the fee has changed from $10 to $19, noted as “withdrawl fees”.

    Sorry, my pay hasn’t gone up 90%, but perhaps some bankster CEO compensation has.

    Time to move to a Credit Union.
    Any recommendations?

  19. PDescent

    Aug 1 2012

    MBNA Credit Cards are undergoing interest rate increases without notifying clients in advance and without any notification on the monthly statement, such as please note, we have kindly increased the interest rate on your card.

    You have to be the type to check those things to discover it. After inquiries at TD’s supposedly separate MBNA Advocacy Office, I discovered that they are making the increases quietly and selectively to avoid a mass consumer reaction all at once.

    Fortunately, I had the funds to pay off the entire account. This action by TD and MBNA must be against Better Business Practices.

  20. PDescent

    Aug 1 2012

    Debra Armstrong – MBNA – President, Canada Card Services stated in a conference call made public:

    Thank you, Tim. This is a very exciting day for me and for everyone on the MBNA Canada team. Joining forces with TD will benefit our customers, our employees and our partners. There are many reasons to be excited about the future. I am confident that the opportunities that are in front of us, by combining the superior capabilities of both companies, will increase customer value. I think I can speak on behalf of my team when I say we’re looking forward to joining the TD family. Thank you very much for having us. And with that, I turn it back to you, Tim.

    How do exorbitant increases in interest rates charges on MBNA cards benefit customers? It increases their debt service costs and increases their overall indebtedness.

    MBNA’s president’s opinion is incomprehensible.

  21. Aylmer

    Sep 3 2012

    March 2012 – ScotiaBank
    Average Consumer Banking Fee increases

    New Old % Increase
    Chequing Account 5.95 3.95 50.63%
    “Club” Account 14.95 11.95 25.10%
    Debit transact above limit 1.00 0.65 53.85%
    Money orders drafts 7.50 6.50 15.38%
    Teller Bill Payment 3.00 1.50 100.00%

    Money orders drafts (non-custmr) 15.00 6.50 130.77%
    Certified cheques (non-custmr) 25.00 15.00 66.67%
    Non-Govt cheque (non-custmr) 5.00 1.00 400.00%

    % Average Fee Increase 105.30%

  22. P.Descent

    Sep 14 2012

    I wrote in August while in the midst of protesting MBNA’s increase in credit card rates on my MBNA card.

    Went through the Customer Advocacy process as required by TD before appealing to their Ombudsman. I am still waiting for the written response to MBNA’a verbal refusal to roll back the rates.

    The only victory was a delay in the rate increase, since they did not inform me ahead of time as they claimed to have. I asked them for proof that they informed me three months earlier and they could not provide any proof.

    The failure to respond in writing lends proof to MBNA’s and TD’s arrogance and disrespect towards their clients. They are hoping that I will just forget about it.

  23. P.Descent

    Sep 14 2012

    TD bought out MBNA to eliminate the competition from MBNA’s low credit card rates and the proof is in the response for MBNA Advocacy Office. The defence given for the rate increase was that MBNA was moving its rates in line with Candian interest rate cards — read TD’s higher rates.

    The true reason is to make back the money TD spent buying the credit card operations from Bank of America — not by normal returns, but by increasing the debt burden on average Canadians.

    It is Harper’s world we live in. Bank of Nova Scotia just bought over ING Direct, promising to maintain the interst rates on deposits, but for only 18 months.

    Canadians were beginning to benefit from increased competition from outside Canada, especially with banks and credit cards, but the Conservative Government lauds our Banks and gives them free abusive hands-off power.

  24. London Ontario

    Nov 20 2012

    Starting January 2013, Bank of Nova Scotia will charge $50 for each withdrawal from an RRSP plan (except the required RRIF withdrawal).

    This is simple gouging — especially since the bank has held these funds in most cases for 30-40 years.

  25. L. Dickerson

    Nov 27 2012

    My husband and I have been faithful customers of the TD bank for over 30 years, but our relationship with TD is ending due to their blatant corporate greed.

    Our safety deposit box fees have increased to $62.15 a month, so we are cancelling.

    The next thing we are doing is to seek out another financial institution to reinvest our hard earned money. After 30 years, we deserve better.

  26. Mary Bott

    Jul 29 2013

    Are there any Canadian Banks that DON’T charge a $50.00 fee for withdrawals from an RRSP when they mature?

    I renewed the majority of the principal and withdrew $950.00 and besides the withholding tax, they also charged me a $50.00 withdrawal fee. I didn’t even earn $50.00 in interest.

  27. Mark Warwarick

    Nov 14 2014

    Four of my accounts with TD Canada Trust in Tsawwassen, BC, are or have been Plan 60 accounts.

    One was originally established by my mother. She set up the account with me and one of my brothers so we could have access to her funds in the event of her death. At that time, I was over 60, so entitled to my own Plan 60 account.

    My mother passed away a few years ago, but we kept this account open to help my brother in California to get access to the funds I put in there when we sold Mom’s various stocks. TD has recently discontinued Plan 60 accounts.

    I look at that account online only about once a month. Two weeks ago, I looked at it and discovered that it is now a “TD all-inclusive Banking Plan” with a $29.95 monthly service charge.

    Sometime during the last month, TD went back two and a half years and charged us $29.95 retroactively. This totals $898.50.

    No one authorized this change to the plan type. If this is not illegal, it certainly is unethical. My concern is that TD will do this to other unsuspecting seniors.

    I will attempt to deal with my TD bank branch on this matter. I felt it my duty to report this.