Simplii Financial Review – The New Kid on The Financial Block

Editor's Note: As we approach the halfway point of 2018, the unfortunate Simplii Financial Review update is that they have continued to disappointed old PC Financial customers (see comments below).  We continue to recommend Tangerine (see our full Tangerine Review) as Canada's premier online-only bank, with some super-charged strategies for scouting out the best accompanying high-interest savings account if you're so inclined.

In an earlier post, The Complete Guide to Canada’s Best Online Banks, we went into great length on what Disruption has meant to the banking and financial industry in Canada. Generally speaking, online banks have been good for the Canadian consumer (more choices = better competition). We’ve seen lower fees, expansion of services, and an enhancement in the use of technology to deliver innovative banking.

At the time of writing that post, PC Financial (PCF) had announced plans to disassociate itself from President’s Choice, and evolve into Simplii Financial under the CIBC umbrella. In the sections below, we’ll take a more in-depth look at what the new kid on Canada’s financial block has to offer.

President’s Choice Financial Transforms Into Simplii Financial

For nearly 20 years, President’s Choice (PC) has been offering online banking and other financial services through its PC Financial (PCF) arm. While the PC brand was the face of this organization, CIBC served as the back-end financial processing and clearing engine. Now, after more than two-decades of working together, the partnership has ended. In August this year CIBC announced that PC would no longer be offering consumer banking under it’s (PCF) umbrella, and all of those products and services would be transitioned back to the bank under the Simplii Financial brand.

Simplii Financial ReviewAccording to details of the great divide, once the split is finalized, PCF will still retain it’s MasterCard credit card service, as well as its PC Plus loyalty program. Post-separation, ex-PCF customers (who will seamlessly transition over to Simplii) will enjoy all the same savings, checking and other personal banking services with Simplii (courtesy of CIBC), that they had access to with PCF.

Speculations are rife as to why this separation has occurred, as well as to the timing? While we can’t really say with 100% certainty what the motivation is, we tend to agree with experts who state that the decision has a lot to with the changing retail landscape that Loblaws Companies LTD (the ultimate parent of PCF) is facing today. Already a diversified business entity, Loblaws is involved in many businesses including food, fashion apparel, pharmacies, and specialty discount goods.

Given the tremendous challenges it is facing in its current lines of businesses, it is likely that PC management thought it prudent to rededicate focus towards its core lines of businesses – groceries and retail sales. By retaining control of it’s MasterCard business however, PC still controls one of its higher-margin financial businesses.

On the other hand, CIBC has long been looking to take more direct control of its low-fee banking and financial products and services. By agreeing to this great divide, CIBC now positions itself on the same footing as some of its other rivals – notably Scotiabank with its Tangerine online banking service (see our Tangerine Review for more details).

The split does come at a cost to CIBC – in the form of a $100-million pre-tax price tag in administrative and legal charges. CIBC will also be giving up the ability to leverage tiered selling of some of its mortgage and lending services and products through PCF.

Simplii Financial Review: What’s Changing?

So, what’s really changing? On the face of it, at least until November 1, nothing! PC Financial customers will still have access to:

  • No-fee online banking
  • PC mortgage and loan products
  • Access to the CIBC network of ATMs
  • Continuity in preauthorized payments and automatic deposits
  • Accumulation of PC points  

According to the Simplii Financial website, once the bank “goes live” on November 1, 2017, it will continue to offer:

  • No-fee daily banking – without a minimum balance requirement
  • Higher and competitive interest rates on savings accounts and mortgages
  • FREE access to more than 3,400 ATMs within the CIBC network

One visible change that current PCF customers are likely to see, post-November 1, is that they will receive new Simplii Financial debit cards. Even the card numbers and PINs from the old PCF-era won’t change. They all remain the same. From a personal banking perspective, this is one less headache.

There’s also more good news for mobile banking clients of PCF. A new Simplii mobile banking site will replace the existing PCF site. The existing banking app will be updated to automatically redirect users to a new login page. Best of all – existing login credentials will be honoured at the new site, enabling online and mobile banking clients to continue “business as usual”.

The other area of significance that will change has to do with PC loyalty points. Since PC will continue to retain control of its loyalty points program, PCF customers who transition to Simplii and use their new debit cards to make pension or payroll direct deposits into Simplii, will no longer earn PC points. Holders of PCF MasterCards will continue to redeem existing PC points and collect new ones when using their PCF credit cards. PC MasterCard holders will also continue to receive the same types of statements (either paper or electronically) as they currently receive. Simplii banking clients will however receive a new set of statements under the rebranded entity. What will also likely vanish post the Nov 1 transition will be CIBC ATMs, kiosks and other visible CIBC signage at Loblaws stores.

Should I Use Simplii?

According to a report by the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA), over 68% of Canadians now bank online, with 90% of those surveyed concurring that Canadian banks have dealt with digital transformation exceptionally well. In the case of Simplii however, it’s not a true case of “transformation”, rather a case of transference of ownership. After more than two decades of acting as the financial arm of President’s Choice, Simplii now returns to the fold of bricks-and-mortar banking giant CIBC – it’s ultimate parent.

Let’s hope that better sense will prevail with the new kid on the block. Let’s hope that Simplii continues to retain the best of it’s PC offerings (including lower fees and higher rates), while also moving forward with better and newer innovative products and services.  The President’s Choice Financial Brand still had a lot of value going for it, but aesthetically speaking, its usability was getting a bit stale.  We’d love to see Simplii Financial come charging out of the gates on a shiny new platform, while retaining the value proposition that made PCF such a longtime favourite of cost-conscious Canadians.  We’ll keep this Simplii Financial Review current as the brand and products continue to evolve going forward into 2018.

Simplii Financial Review Summary
  • Fees
  • Saving Account Rates
  • Usability
  • Overall Value Proposition
4.2

 

37 Comments

  1. Meyer on November 16, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    Those of us that were PC Financial customers now find that withdrawing money at a Lobalws or No Frills now costs a $3 serviv
    ce charge.
    Not what I signed up for.



  2. Ryan on November 17, 2017 at 7:54 am

    Another new benefit to Simplii is that one can now make free Interac e-transfers. Under PC Financial these cost $1.50 each.



  3. Greg on November 18, 2017 at 8:38 am

    Um, you forgot one important new feature I always wanted PCF to provide…Simplii does free Interac eTranfers…hooray!



  4. Kyle on November 21, 2017 at 11:41 am

    I was waiting to see if this was finalized Greg – we’ll be sure to get it in the next update!



  5. Ross on November 21, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    One thing that helps Simplii stand out and appears not to be widely known: Unlimited free Interact transfers to anyone. Even Tangerine charges $1 if you’re transferring to a non-Tangerine customer, so this is a pretty sweet feature if you use it a lot.



  6. Matt on November 22, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Simplii cannot offer children accounts (under 16 years of age). PC Financial could. It has to do with validation of someone under 16. They use Canada Post for the verification apparently.



  7. Kyle on November 24, 2017 at 10:51 am

    That’s interesting Matt – I’ll add that in on the next update.



  8. Sam N. on December 23, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I would like to point out that Simplii does a credit check every single time you open/request a new product. When I originally signed up I with them, I opened a Chequing account (No overdraft), a saving account, and a personal loan. They did a hard pull on credit report three times in 1 week ! I understand that they need to do that for the personal loan, but why would you want to do that for the saving and chequing account is beyond me



  9. James on January 5, 2018 at 9:47 am

    If you need to call Simplii be prepared to wait for 30+ min. In addition their system is very touchy when it comes to receiving e-transfers i.e. it auto-populates passwords and will not allow you to simply type in your new password until you disable your save password feature on your computer. When I initially opened my PCF account more than a decade ago it was because of all the no fee features they offered. But since then many more players have entered the market and even the big banks are offering more competitive fees and no matter your banking needs everyone will at some point require the services of a bricks and mortar bank i.e. Foreign Currency, Bank Drafts, etc. PCF served me well for many years but I have since found a bricks and mortar bank with a no-fee account so I will be closing my Simplii account in 2018.



  10. Janette on January 18, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    As a new customer, the max daily withdrawal of $200 makes a chequing account absolutely useless. I called to see if the withdrawal limit could be increased, but it can’t for 6 months. I was told that if I wanted to take out a larger sum than $200 then I could call (wait on the phone for 30+ mins) and request a 2 hour opening where I could take out the sum I require. I really don’t feel like doing that every time I do my weekly grocery shopping. Simplii isn’t so simple!



  11. Frank on February 8, 2018 at 9:49 am

    I emptied my PC Financial Account when I learned of the change to Simplii Financial. Since I did not close the account I received my new Simplii card in the mail and I started to rethink my decision. Yesterday while at my PC grocery store I saw a sign that stated that withdrawals from their machine will now cost a fee that will be revealed when you make a withdrawal. Where did my free banking go? Think I will stick to the bricks and mortar as well.



  12. Jake on February 24, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    I appreciate the continued affordable services but their customer service needs improvement. Wait times on the phone, as noted above, are ridiculously long. Its frustrating to wait so long to have simple issues dealt with. That’s why we all don’t go to the actual branch anymore and use online banking. Hire some more customer care reps Simplii.



  13. Terry on February 28, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    I was with pc financial for many years. Recently my bank card stopped working so I called simplii financial to report it and to get a new card. I needed it right away so I thought I could get a new one at cibc. Nope !! They told me they have to mail a new one and that was my only option. That’s no way to do banking. I was going to e transfer to a friends account, but after they removed the card from the system I could not do that either. I ended up borrowing money . I’m going to anouther bank. Forget theses guys.



  14. Bern on March 2, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Ever tried to call these guys? Totally unacceptable for a financial company. Cancelled my online account before activating it.



  15. Donna on March 5, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    My fault for not checking but since the transition to Simpli, they put me into the negative for overdrafts. They told me I was signed up for overdrafts from the start of PC. If I had been, I certainly did not knowingly do it.

    When I was with PC, it not would not allow me to withdraw when I didn’t have money in the account. I will close my account tomorrow once my money has been transferred out.



  16. Keith Burger on March 13, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    I closed my account 3 weeks ago, and I’m still waiting for the refund of my balance.
    What a service!!!!



  17. Anony on March 26, 2018 at 2:28 pm

    SImplii is the worst!

    Will be transferring all accounts to a new provider. I was with PC financial for years…they weren’t the best either but Simplii is a mess.

    They don’t even know how to properly send out forms.



  18. Alex MacMillan on March 31, 2018 at 10:33 am

    CIBC is easily the worst bank of the big six and Simplii Financial is just another mediocre player that isn’t worth the ‘free’ banking they offer.
    The fact is you pay for what you get and when something is indeed costing you nothing you can’t expect much in customer service. Just the other day I lost a BMO debit card so I phoned and cancelled and the next day was able to obtain a replacement at a branch. If I was stuck with Simplii I’d be literally SOL for up to a week waiting for a replacement with no access to funds outside of credit cards.
    That said I had a friend who wanted to open an account with these clowns, went through the verification at Canada Post etc. and then a few days later gets a call from their fraud department literally suggesting he wasn’t who he claimed to be when it was apparent they pulled a credit report that wasn’t his as none of the information he tried to confirm matched. It was Simplii who made the error but rather than admit a mistake they treated him rudely demanding he send in proof of address which he did. Needless to say he never heard a thing back after that so how is that for customer service?



  19. Richard on April 9, 2018 at 7:43 am

    WAS with PC Financial for many years and had great service at a Superstore kiosque nearby. The agents were knowledgeable and were very helpful whenever we had a question. At Simplii, you never really know what your savings are going to be. My wife was offered 2.50 promotion on her savings account and I was only offered 1.75%. After calling 3 times within a month to complain and being told to call back every time because they cannot authorize the rate change that they promised, I am still waiting for a call back. Also, one of their promotions specifically mentions that they will pay a promotion on all new savings accounts. But beware as TFSA is not considered for their savings promotion and instead of getting 2.50 % , you get a measly 1% rate. All of this to say that with other institutions you can see your rate online. Simplii needs to be more transparent and by doing so , we will not have to make so many calls.



  20. Sandra Geldart on April 12, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Not happy with Simplii no card for husband and now his is turned off. Fees at bank machine and no PC Points, I am going to close the account.



  21. MaryAnne Emery on April 13, 2018 at 9:36 am

    What happened to free banking at a kiosk??? I joined when it was PC financial for the added benefit of easy access to my bank machine in the grocery store.
    Recently tried to make a withdrawal from a Simplii kiosk and it wanted to charge me $3.00
    That is not “free” banking.
    The complete lack of customer support has me looking at switching back to a “real” bank that has actual human beings their to help answer any questions I might have.



  22. Michael Owens on April 30, 2018 at 5:54 pm

    I have been trying to open an account for a month now. My God! The supervisor supposed to be helping me says my new signature doesn’t match my old profile 10 years ago?! Wth? And So I resend a letter with 5 new signature variants.. I have never had such a hard time opening an account in my life. I need some escalation with an experienced organized alternative to this… 🙁 Very disappointed. It should never be this hard to take my money….



  23. waffa on May 2, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    The service at Simplii is the worst. They are awful to deal with, to bank with and to do any financial transactions with!! Do not use them run away!!!



  24. Katie on May 8, 2018 at 8:54 pm

    Worst bank ever! Went into my account online to pay off my credit card. Didn’t log in to my online bank account for 2 weeks and found out they took all of my money in that time frame! Now apparently I have -$10 in my account. What a bunch of bastards thinking they have the right to sneak in and take all of my hard earned money! I will NEVER be giving my business to this company again! All of my friends and family will be warned as well. Good job guys you just lost a shit load of business. Get fucked you cunts



  25. Linda Haffey on May 25, 2018 at 7:21 am

    They do not live up to the name Simplifinancial. I had to have my debit card replaced. I phoned on Monday morning to see where I could go to get a new one. I was told the only way was to have one sent to me in the mail. Here it is Friday and I am still waiting. I do not like the new charges and the difficulty of banking now. I definitely will not be letting this institution hold my money much longer as I will be going back to my old bank.



  26. Anony2 on May 28, 2018 at 10:31 am

    “SImplii is the worst!

    Will be transferring all accounts to a new provider. I was with PC financial for years…they weren’t the best either but Simplii is a mess.

    They don’t even know how to properly send out forms.”

    FOr a second there I thought I wrote this review, but I didn’t. They can’t read either and will scam you out of your interest if you try to move your GICs when they are mature. DO NOT get GICS with these scum bags, I have thousands of dollars locked up with them now. I regret that



  27. Sara on June 9, 2018 at 4:54 pm

    They have the worst customer service i have ever dealt with. I am closing my account with them ASAP. I was having my wisdom teeth removed i called them in advance to ask for a purchase limit to pay for my teeth, they said you have 2 hours to pay. I tried paying before the 2 hours were up it would not work. I called and waited 20 MIN on hold still loopy from the sedation and she didn’t fix anything said my card just wasn’t working like NO S**T and just kept asking me security questions while i have stitches in my mouth. She kept putting me on hold and ended up fixing nothing the card would not work. Ended up moving money to another bank account . horrible service !!



  28. Stephanie on June 25, 2018 at 2:08 pm

    I lost my bank card over the weekend, called to have a replacement sent. I now have to wait 4-10 business days for a new card. And the bonus – I’m locked out of any online banking until my new card comes in! So I have absolutely NO access to my money or accounts until the new card comes in. This is NOT convenient. There needs to be a solution to this, this is terrible for the customer.



  29. Lynne Klassen on July 10, 2018 at 8:26 pm

    Don’t Bother Opening Accounts with Simplii,,,very unprofessional and they do not care about their clients. They made a decision to lower my LOC that i had for approx. 10 years without advising me they did that, they stated they sent a letter (which has not been received)..No security, they make their own decisions without advising their clients ahead of time.
    PC Financial Was GREAT….SIMPLII SUCKS….Don’t invest with them unless you don’t care that they don’t care about their customers.



  30. Jacey Boutilier on July 20, 2018 at 9:10 am

    I’ve been with them since 2013, and was upset about the pc points going away, but I actually became okay with it once I found out Simplii has free e-transfers, I do e-transfers once, sometimes twice a month, and with the old PC Card, it was costing me $1.50 every time, but now it’s free so I’m happy.



  31. Rich Carey on August 8, 2018 at 1:24 am

    Simplii Financial – Avoid at all Costs !!

    Terrible Banking Company! The Absolute Worst!!

    They Closed my checking account and other accounts because of too many email transfers, deposits and withdrawals. On top of that they are still holding my direct deposit for over $5500 for over a week now and also holding a direct deposit email transfer. I can not get a hold of anyone and constantly on hold when I call in for anywhere from 30 min to an hour only to finally talk to someone to only be transfer to someone else. Then finally only to be hung up on or transferred to another incompetent employee.

    DO NOT sign up with this company

    What is the point of having a bank account if I can not email transfer money, make deposits and take money out of the bank.

    I had direct deposit from my employer every 2 weeks for over 15 years and I sent a lot of email transfers and spent a lot of cash from withdrawing at bank machine.

    I was with PCfinancial for over 15 years with absolutely no issues until Simplii financial took over.

    once they closed all my accounts I immediately Jumped over to another Banking Company (I won’t mention any names just incase I have issues with them too ) However so far way better service and not one single issue.



  32. Maribel baldovino on September 4, 2018 at 11:41 pm

    Don’t sign up with this company!!! Simplii Financial, Formerly PC Financial. They are the most difficult company I’ve ever deal with. I’ve been with them since 2000. And since then I didn’t really get a single good experience from the beginning. My money is sitting with them for 18 years and every time I need to do a transaction. They are charging me higher fee compared from regular banks. Bigger banks charged me nothing when I asked them for banks drafts, copy of the bank statement and more. When I need my money I have to order it from Simplii and kinda beg them to release my money. Or go to the ATM Everyday to have a couple of thousand dollars because they’re limiting your withdrawals but not your deposits.My experience with Simplii is not simple , it’s the most complicated experience. Beware of simplii Financial. They charge you for everything aside from “ no fee bank account “. And they are NOT TRULY a NO FEE Bank account. Simplii is all a fee account…I only stayed with them because of the hassle of moving my pay Cheque and all my pre authorized payment. But I had enough today dealing with them from not considering a simple request from an 81 year old lady who cannot communicate with them because of her limited English. I understand that they have to follow a procedure. But the people from the line is nothing but a robot not a human being. I’m moving all my money tomorrow to different bank and not deal with simplii Financial.



  33. Patricia Coley on September 6, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    I was a loyal PC client for 20 years, but Simplii continues to disappoint me. Last spring I deposited a USD cheque which they lost. They then shut down my account as they thought I had deposited and empty envelope. They didn’t call me or email me when they did this, and this resulted in three direct payments being bounced. One life insurance, one a car payment, and the other car insurance. When I asked why I was not notified so that I could launch an enquiry sooner, they said this is how virtual banking works. I had also written a cheque to someone, and as my bank had flagged the account for fraudulent activity, her bank shut down her account. So the inquiry was launched, and they found to cheque, no apology, just deposited it into my account. I had to call and ask them to review their procedure. I probably spent five hours on the phone between straightening out bounced cheques and with them. This week I deposited four cheques and $250 in cash. Surprisingly, they have lost the cash. Again, launching an inquiry, a mere six months since the last fiasco. Not so easy to trace cash. I won’t use an envelope deposit again. My advice is to use the no envelope deposit banks and print a copy of the whole transaction. They are incredibly sloppy in their counting room.



  34. Gena on September 13, 2018 at 4:35 pm

    I have a very bad experience with simplii. It is so frustrating.
    I called the contact center to ask for the complete wire transfer details because I want to make sure that I will provide the correct details to my aunt because it is urgent.
    I told them that ny aunt from the US will send me money She do not have access to online banking.
    The CSR gave incorrect details, now we do not know where the money is plus they are telling me to wait for upto 10 business days for their investigation.
    The money is for my down payment on the house that we just bought. If we will not have the money as soon as possible then everything will be gone.
    They don’t care about their clients. I called so many times already. We are so dissppointed with this bank.



  35. Sanjana on October 1, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    I have had great experience with PC banking but since it has switched to Simplii, I have been so much problems with them, it has been nothing but miserable banking with them. They make opening a account a big hassle, from application process to id verification to finally opening an account, should you require over draft protection, it take forever, they have to do a whole new application, the fact that you have been with them for ten years makes no difference. No one calls you for follow for approval or disapproval, you have to chase them, call them, hold line for good ten for twenty minutes. They take forever to verify you and one time they said they cannot help me because they have no id proof of me in their record and when I told them to recheck, they took good ten minutes and said yes they have my id on file.
    WORST BANKING EVER, DO NOT OPEN AN ACCOUNT WITH THEM, ITS NOT WORTH IT. They make all your banking needs extremely difficult.



  36. Cynthia on November 28, 2018 at 2:32 pm

    I applied for the new credit card and was advised I would hear back in a few days. I didn’t receive a response so I emailed back. I was then told I should receive a response in the “near future”. After over a week I emailed yet again and was told that emails responses were not provided for application status so I should call in (this was signed by the same agent I was told to expect an email response in the near future. When I called in the agent had no idea why I would have been told to call in. I have since sent an email including the trail of emails asking for a response from a supervisor. So not impressed and very reluctant to refer anyone at this time. I may reconsider banking options.



  37. 911onFIRE on December 3, 2018 at 2:18 am

    @Ross, Tangerine doesn’t have to charge you $1 for e transfers, only if the other end is impatient. There is the free option as well which takes 2-3 business days for a non tangerine client.



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