I’m really glad I made that trip up to Moose Jaw to open a Scotiabank account before coming to Mexico.
Last year, each bank withdrawal cost me an average of 30MXN (depending on the bank) and 5CAD. I averaged four withdrawals per month, so that came to about 30CAD a month just to withdraw my own money!
With my Scotiabank account, I have cut these costs down to just 3.95CAD a month as long as I don’t make more than 12 withdrawals per month.
When I want to make a withdrawal, I sign into my CIBC account online and follow the prompts to send an INTERAC e-Transfer to my email address. This is absolutely free. Not too long thereafter (never more than an hour), I get an email asking me to deposit the funds. There are several links in the email itself to the online banking page for a number of banks, including Scotiabank. I click on that link, sign into my Scotiabank account, answer my security question, and the funds are deposited to my account and immediately available. I can even do this on the fly, using my iPhone banking apps. It’s happened once that I had no intention of going near one of the Scotiabanks, then something came up to change my plans. I initiated the transfer through my phone and had access to the money by the time I got to the ATM.
Having this account and the ability to make up to 12 withdrawals a month means added security in a couple of different ways.
First, I only carry my Scotiabank card, which only has a few hundred dollars in it at any give time, rather than my CIBC card, which is linked to my main chequing account as well as my USD account, my line of credit, and my Visa. Getting mugged for my Scotiabank card would be an inconvenience, but not devastating the way it would be to lose my CIBC card.
The other security advantage is that since I can make several withdrawals a month, I can make smaller ones and have less cash on me. Last year, I would try to maximize every withdrawal and find myself walking around with more cash than I could afford to lose if someone grabbed my purse.
These benefits will continue when I travel through the U.S. in the spring, only at Bank of America, and when I go to Europe this summer if wherever I land has a bank that is affiliated with Scotiabank.
If you’re a Canadian bummed out by the exorbitant cost of withdrawing your own money while abroad, it’s really worth opening a basic account at Scotiabank.