PC Money Account Review: No-Fee Banking and a Prepaid Mastercard All In One
Canadian grocery giant Loblaw’s has been laying low on the personal banking scene since breaking up with CIBC back in 2017. At the time, CIBC assumed control of what is now known as Simplii Financial, formerly PC Financial.
Well, the PC Financial name is back, along with a new bank account and prepaid Mastercard. The account is called PC Money, and in this review, I’ll cover the details and let you know how PC Money stacks up against what is arguably Canada’s leading online bank, Tangerine.
Getting Started with PC Money
You can open a PC Money Account by visiting pcfinancial.ca or by signing up through the PC Financial mobile app. It only takes a couple of minutes to set up your email and password. From there, you’ll be given an option to fund your account. Once you’ve made your first deposit, you can start earning PC Optimum points whenever you spend.
PC Money Account Features
Like most online bank accounts, PC Money offers features designed to provide a low-cost, convenient banking experience. Here’s what you can expect to see:
There is no monthly fee with PC Money, and transactions, including free Interac e-Transfers, are free and unlimited. Also, there is no minimum balance requirement.
There are no fees when you make a withdrawal from a PC Financial ATM. These are located inside most PC-affiliated stores, i.e., Shoppers Drug Mart, Loblaws, Great Canadian Superstore, etc. Unfortunately, because PC Financial no longer has ties to CIBC, you cannot use a CIBC ATM free of charge.
Earn PC Optimum Points
If you’re a loyal PC Optimum member, this is where the PC Money Account stands out. You’ll earn 10 PC Optimum points on every dollar spent in your PC Money Account, including an additional 15 Optimum points on purchases made at Shoppers Drug Mart.
You can redeem your PC points in increments of 10,000, wherever PC Financial products are sold. 10,000 pc optimum points have a value of $10.
CDIC Protected Deposits
All deposits made into a PC Money Account are protected by Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, up to a $100,000 limit. This gives account holders peace of mind knowing that their money is protected, as it would be with most other Canadian banks and credit unions.
Pay-As-You-Go Overdraft Protection is available as an add-on to your PC Money Account. I refer to it as pay-as-you-go because, unlike many banks that charge a monthly fee for overdraft, you only pay if you use it.
How the PC Money Prepaid Mastercard Works
The PC Money Prepaid Mastercard functions as the debit card on your PC account. It’s tied to the Mastercard payment network, which lets you use it as a credit card anywhere in the world, wherever Mastercard is accepted. This access includes 24/7 fraud detection and support services and Mastercard Zero Liability Promise if you encounter an unauthorized purchase.
What makes it a prepaid Mastercard is that you can only spend the funds you have available in your PC account. Unlike a regular credit card, there is no approved credit limit.
How to Earn Bonus PC Optimum Points with PC Money
I mentioned PC Optimum Points as a key feature of PC Money, but there’s more! In addition to the regular 1% earn rate (10 PC Optimum points per dollar), there are ways that you can earn one-time bonus points with PC Money, as follows:
- When you make your first purchase of $50 or more with your PC Money Account, you’ll earn 20,000 bonus PC Optimum points. You must purchase within 90 days of your account being approved. ($20 value)
- If you set up an automatic payroll or pension direct deposit, you’ll earn a one-time bonus of 25,000 PC Optimum points. You need to have at least 3 direct deposits into the account in three consecutive months to qualify. Once that’s happened, your points will be credited to your PC Optimum account within 4-7 days. ($25 value)
- Earn 1,000 PC Optimum points per bill payment, up to 5 per month (unique payees). The bill payment must be for at least $50. If you maximize the benefit each month, you could earn as much as 60,000 PC Optimum points annually. ($60 value)
PC Financial Mobile App
If you haven’t already downloaded the PC Financial app, it’s available for download on both the App Store (iPhone) and Google Play (Android). The PC Financial app is fully encrypted and features 2-step verification for the highest levels of security.
PC Money Account Limitations
I do need to mention a couple of limitations to the PC Money Account. If you’re looking to open an online banking account, you’ll want to keep these in mind as they may be a deciding factor in favour of, or against, PC Money.
PC Money refers to their account as an “online self-service money management account” rather than a chequing account. That’s because you cannot write or deposit cheques on this account. You can make transfers to and from other banks, but no cheque activity can happen on the account. While cheques are not nearly as common these days, most Canadians still deposit cheques from time to time and may even write a few.
Other online banks, like Tangerine and Simplii Financial, allow you to deposit cheques by taking a picture with your mobile phone. If this feature is important, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.
When you get your PC Money Account debit card, you’ll notice that it has a Mastercard logo on it. That’s because the card is on the Mastercard payment network. The good news is that you have the safety and security knowing that you’re dealing with a Mastercard product.
The not-so-good news is that you can only use your card where Mastercard is accepted. I don’t see this as being too big a deal, as Mastercard is accepted just about everywhere, but it is something you should know.
How to Link An External Bank Account to PC Money
To get around the limitation of not being able to negotiate or write cheques on your PC Money account, you can link an external bank account to transfer funds back and forth. Here are the steps to do that, as per the PC Money website:
- Login to PC Financial (mobile app or website)
- Select “Pay and Transfer” (“Plus” symbol on your mobile app)
- Select “Move Money”
- Select “Link External Account.” Follow prompts to enter account information.
- Wait 3 business days until your micro deposits show up in your other bank’s account.
- Repeat steps 1-3 for other micro-deposits.
- “Success” message will tell you that your account has been linked.
PC Money Account vs. Tangerine
One of the best ways to decide whether a new product or service is worthwhile is by comparing it with the best of the best. When it comes to online banking in Canada, Tangerine is viewed by many, including yours truly, as the top performer in the industry.
So, how does PC Money compare to Tangerine? The best thing it has going for it has to be the PC Optimum points. And if you’re a PC Optimum member, you should seriously consider opening a PC Money Account for the ability to increase your point earning potential.
Aside from that, PC Money comes up a bit short. Yes, it has free, unlimited banking, including e-Transfers. But Tangerine has that too. Tangerine also has 2 superior credit cards, a high-interest savings account, access to a massive ATM network through Scotiabank, mobile cheque deposits, and investment products, including TFSAs, RRSPs, and RRIFs.
None of this is meant as a knock against the PC Money Account. Remember, this is Loblaw’s first foray back into online banking since their split with CIBC. And as a first effort, it’s a pretty good one. Time will tell whether Loblaw’s will add more products and services to the mix.
PC Money Account Review: Final Thoughts
If you’re looking for an online bank account, the PC Money Account is worth considering, even though it’s not a true bank account in the way you would expect. As long as you do not need to deposit or write cheques and have a President’s Choice ATM in proximity to where you live and work, this account might be well-suited for you, especially if you like collecting PC Optimum points. If not, then you’re probably better off looking at another online banking option, like Tangerine or even Simplii Financial. Simply put, they have more to offer.