On World Consumer Rights Day, FCAC helps consumers make their choice
OTTAWA, March 14, 2012—Canadian consumers can take advantage of a wide range of free resources available from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to help them learn more about their rights as financial consumers. They can also find the financial product or service that best meets their needs, and provides the best value to them, by using FCAC’s online selector tools and tip sheets.
“Technology has brought new ways to buy items, pay bills and send money. As more consumers use online, mobile and telephone services, they may be writing fewer cheques or visiting a branch less often. So they may be paying for products or services they don’t use anymore,” says Ursula Menke, FCAC Commissioner. “In many cases consumers pay a monthly fee for their banking package that includes a set number of transactions, products and services. They may also be paying an annual fee for their credit card. But how often do they go back to see if they still need what they are paying for?” she adds.
Evaluate your needs
Check if you still require some specialized services, like personalized cheques or overdraft protection. Do you qualify for a special account, like one for those over 55, or for students or youth? Do you make a lot of transactions each month? Do you use the travel or other reward benefits you earn from your credit card?
If no-fee or low-cost accounts can meet your needs, making a change might help you save money. If not, compare whether it would be less expensive for you to get a banking package for a fixed fee that includes an unlimited or specific number of transactions each month, or to pay for each individual transaction. Maintaining a minimum monthly balance could be another way to save on fees. Some financial institutions will not charge you a monthly fee if you keep a certain amount in your account at all times.
Credit card users who are looking for ways to save money might want to consider no-fee or low interest cards. Those who pay their credit card balance in full every month and don’t use the card for cash advances or cash-like transactions don’t pay any interest, so the interest rate may not be a consideration. However, those who usually carry a balance on their credit card may benefit from switching to a low-interest rate card, even if it has an annual fee. Many regular credit cards, including standard, gold and platinum cards, have low-rate options available.
Know your rights
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) has information on your rights as a financial consumer including the right to open a personal bank account and cash a government cheque for free. You can also learn more about the identification you need to open an account, and the details, such as interest rates and fees, that federally regulated financial institutions are required to give you.
Tips to help you make your choice
FCAC’s website offers tip sheets that provide easy-to-understand information, including Choosing the Right Savings Account and Choosing the Right Chequing Account and Banking Package. FCAC’s interactive Banking Package and Savings Account selector tools help you compare the interest rates, service fees and other features of the chequing and savings accounts offered by most financial institutions across the country.
If you are looking to switch where you bank, ask the new financial institution how they can help you make the change happen.
If you are considering changing your credit card, FCAC’s Credit Card Selector Tool can help you narrow down your choice. The tool allows you to compare the features such as interest rates, fees, benefits, rewards and costs of over 250 credit cards so you can find the one that best meets your needs.
There is also information about payment options and money transfers, including tips on sending money to someone in another country.
With educational materials and interactive tools, the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) provides objective information about financial products and services to help Canadians increase their financial knowledge and confidence in managing their personal finances. FCAC informs consumers about their rights and responsibilities when dealing with banks and federally regulated trust, loan and insurance companies. FCAC also makes sure that federally regulated financial institutions, payment card network operators and external complaints bodies comply with legislation and industry commitments intended to protect consumers.
You can reach us through the FCAC Consumer Services Centre by calling toll-free 1-866-461-3222 (TTY: 613-947-7771 or 1-866-914-6097) or by visiting our website: fcac.gc.ca.
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Media Relations Officer