January 19, 2016 3:10 pm
Updated: January 19, 2016 4:49 pm

Bank fees head north as economy goes south

Bharat Masrani, president and CEO of TD Bank, attends TD's annual meeting in Toronto on Thursday, March 26, 2015.


Canada’s second-largest bank is adding new fees on some transactions and increasing others, effective Mar. 1.

Among the new fees at TD Canada Trust is a $5 charge to cancel an Interac e-Transfer. If you want the bank to hold a post-dated cheque to be deposited in-branch, it will cost you $5. And if you want to transfer your Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) to another institution, it will cost you $75.

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Using a non-TD automated teller machine (ATM) to withdraw your cash, will cost $2 effective Mar. 1. The current fee is $1.50. That’s on top of the fee that the financial institution that owns the ATM might charge you.

The new fees come just a few months after Canada’s big banks announced record profits for 2015.

READ MORE: Banks’ profits climb despite a sluggish economy

Combined, the six largest lenders — Royal Bank, TD Bank, Scotiabank, the Bank of Montreal, CIBC and National Bank — earned $34.88 billion in net income during fiscal 2015, up almost five per cent from $33.27 billion the year before.

In revenue, the banks raked in a combined $129.79 billion during 2015, up from $124.72 billion in 2014.

However, there were warnings that the profits were not sustainable because of plummeting oil prices and a sluggish economy.

At the time, TD’s CEO, Bharat Masrani, said the bank was positioned for growth even if oil prices remain depressed and the economy continues to sputter.

“We’re adapting to the environment as we have done many, many times before,” Masrani said highlighting recent efforts to reduce its costs.

READ MORE: Sick of bank fees? Here are some alternatives

Penelope Graham of RateSupermarket.ca – a site that offers consumers comparisons of banking fees and rates – says this year, the banks are facing financial headwinds.

“The loonie is really low, the banks are tied up in oil investments. Those factors are going to keep them really conservative. They’re looking to pad their profits.”

TD isn’t the first bank to charge a fee to transfer a TFSA to another institution.

“It’s a bit steep, but it’s not unheard of,” Graham said. “However transferring TFSAs generally does come with fees. It’s not always an easy process.”

Most banks charge $50 for the same service. The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce sets its fee at $100.

“As a consumer, you have a lot of power to do something about it,” Graham said. “The banks want your loyalty. If you’re not happy, get in contact with your bank and tell them you’re not happy with this new fee.”

READ MORE: Canada’s big banks rolling out higher fees on account holders

Last spring, most banks announced changes to their fee structures. Royal Bank, the nation’s largest, incurred the wrath of its customers when it tried to introduce new charges, such as a fee for making line of credit, credit card or mortgage payments from a savings account.

RBC backed down after customers complained.

— With files from Jamie Sturgeon

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