I momentarily felt bad because the teller girl who closed out my accounts was so nice. She said I was the third person in 15 minutes to close my accounts with her. Apparently, I'm not the only one going to greener pastures. I tried to be nice about it too, saying that I'd gladly re-open an account if they had a great rate.
One of my accounts was a USD account. So, I've been looking around for somewhere to park it. I only ever plan to deposit and withdraw USD. I'm not going to be letting the bank automatically convert it for me.
Finding a good high interest USD bank account option in Canada is not easy. Every bank has a no-interest, everyday regular-use account option, but I don't use it that often. I mostly let it sit, accumulate and earn interest. I use it on trips abroad which is only once in a while. So, an everyday regular-use account is not right for me.
Most other USD Savings accounts have pitiful rates. I was almost thinking about finding out what rates American banks would give foreigners for an account...
And in the Learn Something New Every Day Department:
I'd heard a lot about ING Direct, so I looked into them. Generally, good products sell themselves. When something is heavily, heavily advertised, that's usually the first clue that there's something wrong with it.
ING Direct is no exception in this regard. I've never had reason to care, so I always had the impression that they were a bank that gives customers a much better deal than the other banks. They're not a bank at all, but they're very happy to mislead you into thinking that they are.
They just offer financial services that are very similar to what banks have. They blare loudly, in an obnoxious orange colour, no less, that they give better rates and they are a better way of "banking". What they don't say is that those better rates come at the price of much greater inconvenience. It's fine if you can accept the greater level of inconvenience, but there's a sliminess to how they present themselves.
You still have to have an actual bank account at an actual bank in order to use ING's services. That external account is going to have fees. I find it bizarre that this is a prerequisite requirement and nobody mentions that.
I found this out when I was looking at their 3.5% USD account. That sounded great, but you don't have the ability to write cheques or order drafts from any of their accounts, so I can't use them because I would need a USD account at a real bank that I can transfer funds to and then write a cheque from the external account.
That just defeats the whole purpose of it.
When you deposit or transfer funds into your ING account from your other bank account it's held — by their own admission — for an excessively long time before you have access it. "It's MY MON-EY", is it? Transfering money electronically or by paper doesn't take more than 2 business days. Yes, I know they're hedging and they have to make their money somehow. I just don't like that they're advertising "different" as "better" and hiding the "not better" part.
I remember my mortgage advisor saying that their mortgages were crap too. They really don't have the best products, their advertising is just very very calculated. Famous Dutch actors with cool accents, who are largely unknown in North America, are exceptionally effective Marketing tools.