As I have written before, repatriation can have certain banking challenges. In addition, while you were out of the country a bank or credit card may change it’s terms, the rewards program associated with it can shift, and new competition may offer incentives.
For me: I am breaking up with BMO. We’ve been together a long time, since my first student line of credit. Overseas, although they did annoying things from time to time, BMO provided a secure accessible account that summarized my financial situation and loaded even with dodgy internet connections. The cards they gave me worked everywhere, albeit with a bad exchange rate and weighty fees.
Unfortunately, times changed, and for my needs there is not one thing the bank offers that I view as competitive. I also live in a city without a lot of BMO ATMs, making banking a pain, and I found I couldn’t automatically pay key bills like hydro from my account. Because I’ve been overseas, my banking is now very portable – aside from the CRA, no one currently directly debits or deposits from my longstanding account or credit cards.
I’m switching to a bank that provides easier no-fee service, has a wide accessible ATM network, and allows me to set up joint banking with my partner however we may need online. It also has a nearby brick location which has Saturday hours – restricted bank hours just don’t work.
I already held a minor account with them, linked to my BMO account, so it should be relatively easy to wire everything prior to telling BMO we’re over – sort of like cleaning your stuff out of the apartment before delivering the bad news.
The second thing I did today was to cancel my BMO Airmiles credit card – the one they kept increasing my credit limit on. Airmiles used to be a decent reward program but there’s now less variety and ever complicated changes. Also, BMO kept sending me an ugly SPC credit card even though I’ve been out of school for years, a superficial concern, but still.
I have repeatedly considered shifting away from Rogers, to one of the phone services that uses the Rogers network (it works with my unlocked smartphone). To be honest, the prepaid service has decent reception and my plan more or less meets my needs at a competitive price, it’s just that the actual service is so bad that even topping up my account is THE WORLDS BIGGEST HASSLE. I refuse to give them my credit card auto debit permission purely for this reason and am actively shopping around.
To be honest, my understanding of cell phone tech is so lagging that it took me awhile to understand what might work with my unlocked phone (which works way too well for me to dump), what carriers were available, and what plans made sense. Impartial cell phone consultants come at me.
And while I round out my pre-Christmas hit list, we recently gave the National Post the cut. I was a die hard G&M reader even as a teenager but in recent years the quality of the journalism has dropped and many of the columnists I used to love no longer appear. The financial coverage, including personal finance, is trite and unsatisfying. I was biased against the National Post but on reading it recently, getting past the bourgie Conrad Black columns (which are, at least, entertaining), I began to really enjoy the paper. Enough to subscribe, in paper, daily.
Unfortunately, the paper carrier with keys to our building insisted on leaving it outside the building in the rain, forcing us to rescue it in pjs for an early morning read, and finding it sometimes stolen. Thus, I cancelled the paper.
Although you can really do all of the above at any time, repatriation provided a clean slate that has made it easy to pick and choose. Admittedly, it’s taken me three months to be really ready to do the above housecleaning – it hasn’t been the biggest priority – but now it’s working out as we’ve finally settled into something like a routine.