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Old 30-03-2016, 19:55   #16
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

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We bank with TD bank. Branches all over the place. But you'll find that you'll mostly use ATM machines wherever you go. When cruising, I can't remember the last time I went into a bank... maybe five years ago?

No problems using a TD bank debit card or capital one credit card anywhere we go. American Express... Nobody accepts it outside the USA except at hotels and some fuel rocks.
Agreed Ken. I mostly have no need to enter a branch. But I've run into a few annoyances, the latest one being trying to cash a cheque that is drawn on a US bank in US dollars. I can only cash it at a teller (so my CU tells me).

I still carry an AMEX card, but haven't used it for some time b/c fewer and fewer businesses accept it. I have a number of VISAs from different issuers. Probably should pick up a MasterCard just to be fully covered.
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Old 30-03-2016, 20:02   #17
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

We're with RBC a and opened a US$ (through a US branch) to get a US$ Visa Debit card before leaving. The card has worked OK, but has a $2000/d limit which has been frustrating at couple of times when you're doing large projects or purchases, but works with some planning. The accounts are sort of linked online, you can go back and forth between the Cdn and U.S. websites once logged in, but fund transfers between the U.S. and Cdn branches are still via wire transfer only.....not quite as 'connected' as we thought.

We also found that the RBC branches in the Caribbean are really just affiliations and don't have linked computer systems so don't expect to have full access (wire transfers, PIN changes, etc) available at them.

Friends with ScotiaBank accounts spoke much more positively of their branches in the Caribbean. If I was doing it again, I'd look a lot harder at ScotiaBank.
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Old 30-03-2016, 20:33   #18
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

From our experiences none of the Caribbean Canadian banks are affliated with Canada, it's like a franchise.
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Old 30-03-2016, 21:04   #19
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

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From our experiences none of the Caribbean Canadian banks are affliated with Canada, it's like a franchise.
Hmmm, are you saying that the branches in the Caribbean don't recognize or support Canadian Scotiabank customers? Their website certainly seems to suggest otherwise. What were your experiences Robert?
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Old 30-03-2016, 21:10   #20
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

Haven't read all the responses, but if you want to stay with a Canadian one, Scotia bank is ubiquitous across the Caribbean, although the Royal has good representation also.

As I spend half my time in the States, I opened up a Bank of America account. I've never been treated so well as compared to a number of banks in Canada. I was with the TD for decades, yet virtually no one knew me or at least acknowledge me at the local branch.

The BOA branch I opened my account at I had only been to 3 times the first year, and when I came back, the manager came out, and welcomed me back, by my last name, which is not an easy one to remember. I was amazed. Far better service than I got back in Canada, and far less account fees. If your going to be in primarily the eastern US, they are the way to go. They are not as prevalent in western US, and I don't know what their Caribbean footprint is.
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Old 30-03-2016, 21:24   #21
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

I have a Royal Bank account in Canada and a Capital One account in the US. They've both worked well for me.

Capital One is small townish. They won't accept foreign checks, so there's almost no way to transfer funds from RBC into that account. RBC can transfer funds routinely into hundreds of other banks worldwide, but not into Capital One.
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Old 30-03-2016, 22:36   #22
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

I've had until recently a TD account (30+ years) but just closed it within the last year or so. The reason I closed it was because of their poor customer service. I had my wallet stolen several times within the span of several months and any time I had to deal with TD on the phone it was painful.. A call to their service desk took a minimum 45 minutes of my life. This was irrespective of the time of day. A call to Scotiabank was painless and over in 5 minutes. This was consistent with every call. The service of Scotia was an order of magnitude greater than TD, I couldn't believe the difference between the two organizations..

I know when I'm traveling, a 45 minute call from a foreign country may be a stretch..


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Old 31-03-2016, 04:18   #23
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

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...I know we get dinged pretty heavy for ATM fees ($2 to $5) for each withdrawal, but I didn't know there were other hidden "out of country" fees. I'll have to check my MemberCard fee list for this.

BTW, I researched Canadian credit cards and also discovered the Amazon (Chase) VISA is one of the few which does not charge any foreign transaction fee ("out of country"). We used this card pretty exclusively while travelling in the US.
On the ATM fees, in the Bahamas we found the "Canadian" banks severely limited the amount that could be withdrawn - generally around $300. Add to this the "service fee" they charged and the "network fee" charged by my home bank (CIBC) then the cost of getting money was not insignificant. The BoB I mentioned previously allowed me to go all the way up to my account's limit and didn't have a service fee - CIBC still charged a network fee, but I definitely got more bang for the buck.

Be wary of credit cards that say they don't charge an out of country fee - I think they just roll it into their dollar conversion rate. IME Cap 1 seemed to use a less favourable exchange rate, than my other card.
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Old 31-03-2016, 05:40   #24
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

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I think of all the Canadian banks the Bank of Nova Scotia bills itself as the most international bank...
Scotiabank is Canada’s most international bank, with operations spanning more than 50 countries. In 2013 Scotia’s international division derived more than a quarter of total revenue from the Caribbean and Central America.

Among Canadian banks, Scotiabank, and Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, followed by RBC have the strongest Caribbean presence.

Toronto-Dominion Bank and Bank of Montreal have no significant presence in the Caribbean.
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Old 31-03-2016, 05:47   #25
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

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Be wary of credit cards that say they don't charge an out of country fee - I think they just roll it into their dollar conversion rate. IME Cap 1 seemed to use a less favourable exchange rate, than my other card.
My partner and I actually put this to the test one day during our USA travels. We filled up our two motorcycles at exactly the same time. One of us used the Chase no-fee VISA while the other used a standard VISA (TD, I think). When we looked at the currency conversion rate applied to each transaction, the standard VISA was exactly 2% higher than the Chase VISA.

So at least in this case, there were no hidden fees or fudging of the rate. The standard VISA charged an additional 2% as a currency conversion fee.

Given all the positive feedback and info, and given their strong presence in the Caribbean, I'm going to look at Scotiabank. Thanks folks
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Old 31-03-2016, 06:48   #26
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

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Hmmm, are you saying that the branches in the Caribbean don't recognize or support Canadian Scotiabank customers? Their website certainly seems to suggest otherwise. What were your experiences Robert?
We are customers of RBC Scotia BMO. You are not able to access your Canadian account through the Caribbean branches. We wanted to transfer money to get cash, forget it. The only way that can be done is by opening an account in the Caribbean bank and you can't do easily, at minimum you need a permanent address in the country. Each island is slightly different but if you think by walking into a Caribbean bank you are able to get the same services as you would back home, forget it. Mike I believe this is created by the checks and balances on money laundering and the drug business. Of course you can go to an ATM and withdraw money but you can do that at a grocery store. Check with your bank to see what daily with draw limits are on your cards as if you do run into requiring a major sum of money it's not easy to get it in the Caribbean.
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Old 31-03-2016, 07:46   #27
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

I would recommend RBC without a doubt. I have been with them since I became non resident Canadian and started cruising. I set up an account in Toronto with Can$ Acc, U.S$ Acc, and RBC Platinum Visa. The bundled accounts have a $30 monthly fee but I do not pay ANY international ATM fees (used to be $5 each time), and no yearly credit card fee ($200).
Wait till you start cruising and get the ATM fees alone. HUGE.
The customer service is excellent, and you have the ability to make a phone call and have your daily withdrawal limit on your ATM card increased to whatever you need for short periods of time. If you open an account at RBC U.S.A they have branches all over U.S. and you can link the Canadian and U.S. accounts with each other online and transfer funds back and forth from internet banking.
RBC has a large offshore presence in Bahamas, Caribbean, Etc, but you probably won't need them, everything can be done online.
I looked at Scotia Bank but no where near as flexible.
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Old 31-03-2016, 08:33   #28
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

Transfer of funds is easy peasy between USA and Canada, Caribbean not so much
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Old 31-03-2016, 08:58   #29
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

We use Credit union + bns, bns better/more extensive for Caribbean BUT have had several cases where dr and cr cards wouldn't work, even with help from the local bank, so carry emerg cash.
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Just wondering what my fellow Canadians think is the best major bank for cruisers. Of the big five (Royal, TD, Scotia, BMO, CIBC), which do you find most useful? I'm thinking in terms of access to local branches, quality of services for cruisers, low cost, etc.

My short and medium term plans are to be travelling the east coast (Maritimes then maybe US Atlantic coast), perhaps out to Bermuda, and then into the Caribbean for a number of years.

I've banked with a local (Thunder Bay, ON) credit union for the past 15+ years. I'll be staying with them, but now that we're cruising I've run into a few hurdles with the lack of local branch access.
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Old 31-03-2016, 09:07   #30
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Re: Best Canadian bank for cruisers?

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Thanks guys. I may go with a US dollar account, but I'm mainly wondering if any of the big five treat cruisers better than the others. Your experience sounds great Foolish. I'll give Scotiabank a good look.

I would definitely suggest a U.S. dollar account and a U.S. Visa card held via a Canadian bank, but other than that, a Tangerine account online is easy to transfer money to and from. Be aware, however, that you may wish to discuss encryption, virtual private networks and the value of never having the site "remember" your various PINs, etc. in such a case.

Of course, I think all cruisers should assume that wandering into an "internet cafe" to do financial transactions is probably not a great idea, but there are relatively simple steps one can take.
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