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Tips and Tricks: How to handle regular banking with an online bank

I’ve been with online banks since I was 19 (like President’s Choice (PC) Financial or Tangerine in Canada).

I basically hate paying bank fees, don’t like leaving money as a balance in there just to waive the fees (sometimes I use more than I need and I don’t want to think about that) and have run the gamut in learning how to handle online banking.


So I am an idiot.

I like to keep zero dollar balances in accounts and I move money all over the place to try and get the best interest rate.

In doing so, sometimes I totally, utterly EFF UP and end up putting in a transfer for MORE than what is available in my account and I get charged a NSF (insufficient funds) fee of $45.

The trick to avoid this is simply to EMAIL THE MONEY TO YOURSELF.

It only costs $1 and you can email however much you need to yourself and deposit it at your other bank account to avoid this fee. It’s instant, super fast, and $1 is way cheaper than $45 especially if you KNOW you don’t have enough and you can see the collision happening.

Example scenario:

$1000 in my PC Financial account

I ask Tangerine to debit $1500 from PC to move into Tangerine

OOPS! I realize I only have $1000 to debit because I had already moved $500 the day before and screwed up.

Enter: Email money transfer $500 to myself, and deposit it into PC

Wait for Tangerine to debit the money which is now $1500

Avoid: $45 NSF charge.

*dusts off hands*


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When I bought my car, it was around $9000. I needed a bank draft / certified cheque or else I couldn’t buy the car, but what’s a girl to do when you have the cash sitting in your online bank account to buy said car, but you can’t get a bank draft from an online bank like Tangerine or PC?

Solution: You have an account at a standard bank like TD Bank, and you have a LINE OF CREDIT you can draw upon (who cares what the interest rate is), and use the money, then pay it off with a cheque from your online bank.

Example scenario:

I have to get a bank draft for $9000.

I go to TD Bank. I get a bank draft for $9000 from my line of credit and pay the $7.50 draft fee.

On the spot, I write a cheque to myself from PC Financial for the entire amount of $9007.50

I deposit that amount into my line of credit.

The debit cancels out the credit, and I end up with a balance of $0.

To icing on the cake is I didn’t pay a SINGLE CENT in interest for using the line of credit, because I paid it off THAT DAY. If I had paid it off the next day, I’d have been charged 8% annual interest on the $9000 (compounded daily).


Have a USD account with a standard bank like TD. This is what I do, and I deposit all my USD cheques in there that don’t come via Paypal, and I convert it to CAD or keep it in USD and transfer it to Questrade to buy stocks.


Use my Questrade referral ID: o0soehds and get $50 in free trades


Any other tips and tricks to share?



  • ArianaAuburn

    PC Financial was good to us when we first moved to Canada ($200 CAD daily limit was a challenge though). We were shocked at how RBC and Other banks were charging ridiculous amounts for basic banking services. If we needed cash, we would write a check but had to wait a week or so for it to get cashed (from USD to CAD). It takes two weeks to get a check cashed and converted from CAD into USD when deposited into a US bank account. This turned out to be cheaper than using a regular wire transfer.

  • Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    We were with PC Financial and I lived their everyday services. When we bought our car we ended up maxing both our debit cards out then topping up with everything in our pockets. Not elegant, but it got us our car. We’re with TD now, but we’re thinking of changing once our mortgage is paid.

  • Kassandra

    Looks like you and I bank with TD for much the same reasons lol. Like you, I earn income in both currencies so I’m a frequent user of their cross-border services.

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