When I read about picking a bank for international travel, all I ever see is discussions about their rates and fees. If I was to judge CIBC, with whom I’ve been banking for more than 20 years, by only that standard, they would fail. But in terms of things that really matter, CIBC has been a winner across the board. I’ve now that three events while overseas that could have been stressful or embarrassing that CIBC took care of without my having to do much.
First of all, there was the time in Mazatlán that an ATM debited my account, but did not give me my money. While it was stressful to be out that money for the time that I was, but CIBC went to bat for me on this issue and got my money back and they credited me for some overdraft fees and the ATM withdrawal fees. I was so stressed during the initial call to report this and the person I spoke to made it seem like such a not big deal for them that it made me confident that there was actually hope of seeing my money again.
Then, there was the time in Bulgaria where I found out my credit card had been compromised. CIBC promptly rejected the charges that weren’t mine and I did not have to fight to not be held accountable for them. They then sent me a new card to Bulgaria. I’ve read accounts recently of this happening to folks with other banks that wouldn’t send them their new cards while they were abroad!
What happened today was more embarrassing than anything else. I got a call from a guy at Tesco letting me know my payment was declined despite being preauthorised last night. It was 5AM on the East Coast, so CIBC’s call centre was closed. I did a quick search for the emergency 24-hour number to report a card stolen and called that. I explained the situation and apologised if it was inappropriate to use the number to have a security card hold lifted. The man I spoke to put me at ease and said it was absolutely fine and they get calls like that from Europe and Asia all the time. He then quickly lifted the hold. When I called the Tesco man back a few minutes later, the payment went through. He was standing there with all my shopping ready to go, including cold goods. Had I not been able to reach CIBC, they would have had to start all over. I doubt I would have had a penalty for that, but, really, not good form!
I can also add to this list that I got an email from Caroline back home letting me know that she’d received a new debit card for me. My current one expires at the end of March, so I suggested that it be dropped off at the CIBC in Assiniboia to be sent through interoffice courier to the one in Chambly for my stepmother to pick up. I expected to be told that would not be possible for confidentiality reasons, but it wasn’t a problem. So my new debit card will be waiting for me when I arrive in Quebec and no one had to make a special trip or pay for postage to get it to me.
My only complaint about using CIBC overseas is that they charge me $5 for withdrawals, which is why I now have a Scotiabank account from which to withdraw money in countries that are part of the Global ATM Alliance.
CIBC has proven to me time and time again that they have my back. I feel like a valued customer and that I get something for my monthly account fees (which, by the way, have dropped significantly!). My life has oftentimes felt chaotic since it took a peripatetic turn and CIBC has really helped me to greatly simplify one part of my life. It will be interesting to see how our relationship goes when I’m in Mexico full-time and having to rely more on Scotiabank. But with the few times I’ve had to call Scotiabank for trivial matters and it being a huge production, I really doubt that they’ll ever get more business from me than the basic chequing account I use for international withdrawals.