14 Worst Banks In Canada For Customer Experience (2023)

Have you ever wondered what the worst banks in Canada are?

When it comes to your hard-earned money, picking the right bank or credit union is essential. From customer service to mobile banking, fees, hold-ups, and response times, you need a bank that can offer its best in every category. After all, it’s your money.

Below, I’ll rank some of the worst financial institutions in Canada based on their overall service experience scores so you can avoid them.

How Is Customer Experience Ranked For Banks?

Currently, around 3% of Canadians are unbanked, according to the national Department of Finance. These individuals have no connection to a mainstream bank, presumably relying on cash alone.

The other 97% of us rely on banks to provide services for almost every facet of our financial lives.

Banks are an important part of society. Whether you’re applying for a mortgage to finance your home, you want to open a retirement investment account, or you simply need a safe place to store your money, it’s nearly impossible to function in modern society without some type of bank account.

For the purpose of this article, I’ve gathered the latest data from Surviscor’s January 2023 report. The report measures some of the worst (and best) banks in Canada as ranked by existing customers.

These are the key “pillars” of service that Surviscor uses to aggregate its rankings.

Service Experience

For most customers, the overall service experience is the most important part of picking a bank. This ranks the level of customer service that customers receive in-branch and over the phone.

It could include factors such as:

  • Bank tellers’ attitudes
  • How many hours do customers have to wait in the branch
  • How long it takes for bankers to reply to a call or email (a few hours vs. many hours)
  • How effectively customers’ problems are resolved

Desktop Experience

Most consumers rely on a bank’s online banking platform to initiate transfers, check their balances, retrieve documents, and perform other important functions. If a bank’s desktop platform frequently crashes or offers an outdated, difficult-to-use interface, this can be a major turn-off for customers.

Mobile Experience

These days, mobile banking is even more prominent than desktop banking. Many customers rely on the ability to easily log into their online banking app to transfer funds, pay bills, and check balances.

Banks that have highly functional apps tend to have better rankings in this pillar than banks with slow, outdated, or unsecured apps.

Banking Fees

The banking fees imposed by big banks are getting out of hand, with many customers calling it an outright “money grab.” In response, many customers have decided to cut ties with big banks and join one of the many no-fee online banks that have risen in popularity.

Worst Canadian Banks: Ranked By Service Experience Score

Closing down a bank account can be a hassle and often involves extra fees. This is why building a relationship with a good bank is important.

To be fair, no bank is perfect.

Some banks excel in customer service while failing in the exorbitant fees they charge. On the other hand, some banks offer incredible fee-free banking products with poor customer service. There’s almost always some type of trade-off involved.

That being said, overall service experience is one of the most important rankings to consider. Using Surviscor’s 2023 bank report card, I’ve ranked the worst Canadian banks, which all have an experience score of less than 40%.

Surprisingly, big banks ranked low in this report. It seems like credit unions offer better service for customers, and many of the top-ranked companies are credit unions.

If you’re looking for good customer service, perhaps choose a credit union instead of a bank. See the list of the best credit unions in Canada here.

1. First Calgary Financial (now connectFirst Credit Union)

First Calgary Financial logo
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 2%

With an overall service experience score of 2%, First Calgary Financial is, by far, the worst credit union on this list. The small, Alberta-based financial institution operates three branches in the Calgary area.

While one location has a 4.7-star ranking on Google, the others have less than 3 stars. The poor customer service rankings here are probably a good reason to stay away.

Instead, check out my list of the best credit unions in Alberta.

2. PC Financial

PC Financial Logo
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 11%

PC Financial is known for its PC Optimum credit card, which offers considerable cash back on purchases made with PC Express brands, such as No Frills and Real Canadian Superstore.

While Surviscor has reported decent rankings for PC Financial’s desktop banking experience, it appears to fall short in the service it offers to its customers.

3. Manulife Bank Of Canada

Manulife Bank Of Canada logo
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 17%

Manulife is known for its high TFSA rates, investment accounts, life insurance products, and fee-free online banking. However, as an online-only bank, it doesn’t offer in-person customer service. Apparently, this disconnect has resulted in some low customer service rankings from its customers.

While this bank may offer some competitive rates, it may not be the best choice if (and when) problems arise.

4. RBC Royal Bank Of Canada

RBC logo
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 21%

When it comes to big banks, RBC is Canada’s biggest, with over $525 billion in assets managed. Although the bank has been around since 1864 and offers a competitive array of financial products, it’s recently come under fire for its ever-increasing fees.

Recently, the bank was ordered to pay back over $22 million in misappropriated fees to its customers.

5. ATB Financial

ATB Financial logo
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 21%

Although ATB Financial has good desktop and mobile app experience rankings, its customer service expectations rank poorly. This small Alberta-based credit union offers general banking and investment products for consumers and business banking solutions.

Service experience aside, though, ATB Financial has excellent Surviscor rankings when it comes to its fee structure for GICs, mortgages, and chequing accounts.

6. Scotiabank

Scotiabank logo
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 21%

Scotiabank is another one of Canada’s big five banks, alongside RBC, TD Bank, BMO, and CIBC. Although Surviscor respondents ranked Scotiabank’s online banking among the top ten compared to other banks, they also scored the bank low in terms of service experience.

As a big bank, Scotiabank is also going to come with a lot more fees compared to smaller online banks and local credit unions.

7. TD Canada Trust

  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 23%

TD Bank has a huge presence in both Canada and the US. It has moderate rankings in terms of its fee structure (to be expected, as it’s a big bank) and ranks among the top five banks in the country for its mobile and desktop banking platforms. However, the bank’s service experience score is quite low.

8. BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 24%

BMO ranks 15th in the country for its fee structure, according to Surviscor and offers a top-rated online banking platform. When it comes to financial products, there’s no shortage either.

Surviscor’s service experience score is abysmally low for BMO, though. Respondents also claim that BMOs rates on GICs and mortgages aren’t as competitive as smaller banks.

9. Meridian Credit Union

Meridian: Best Overall
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 26%

Meridian Credit Union is one of the largest in Ontario and is a one-stop shop for all of your banking needs.

One of the main benefits of using a larger credit union like Meridian is that it provides a far wider network of ATMs than some of the smaller financial institutions in the province.

While it has overall good rankings, Surviscor respondents ranked the overall service experience as sub-par.

It may not be a deal-breaker for everybody, and results may vary from one branch to another. However, it’s worth considering if you’re searching for the best credit unions in Ontario.

10. Simplii Financial

simplii financial logo
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 28%

Simplii Financial ranks great for its overall customer experience (74% score, considering all pillars). It offers competitive rates on investment products and also offers accounts for new immigrants and international students.

Since it’s owned by CIBC (see below), customers have full access to CIBC ATMs fee-free.

That being said, the online bank’s service experience score is quite low. Apparently, it has a 97-hour response time, which is very poor considering it’s an online bank.

11. CIBC Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

CIBC Logo
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 29%

CIBC is the final big-five bank on this list. While the bank offers an impressive array of financial products, it fell under investigation in January 2023 over its real estate investments.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) stated that it found multiple underwriting violations involving thousands of CIBC customers.

Surviscor respondents also ranked the bank’s service experience sub-par, another reason you may avoid this major financial institution.

12. Motusbank

motusbank
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 30%

Motusbank is a popular no-fee online bank in Canada that offers great TFSA GIC rates and a decent high-interest savings account.

Despite its great rates and low fee structure, Motusbank appears to suffer from the same disconnect as other online banks – it’s hard to offer incredible customer service over the phone, and some customers are liable to have bad experiences.

13. Laurentian Bank of Canada

Laurentian Youth Account
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 38%

Laurentian Bank is one of the largest banks in Quebec and has been in operation for over 175 years, making it almost as old as Canada’s big five banks.

Although its service experience is far from the worst on this list, its online banking platform appears outdated and has received poor customer reviews.

User experience aside, outdated online banking platforms can also signify a lack of security – something that has become increasingly important in today’s age, where banks are constantly under attack from cyber criminals.

14. National Bank of Canada

National Bank of Canada Stock
  • Surviscor Service Experience Score: 38%

Founded in 1979, National Bank is a relatively young Canadian financial institution. Its online banking platform has good ratings, and Surviscor respondents mentioned its GICs and mortgage rates were fairly competitive.

However, customer service appears to be lacking in some areas. Most notably, customers complain about long response times to calls, emails, and online queries.

This can be a major detriment for customers who need access to their accounts or are having difficulty transferring funds.

Conclusion – What’s The Worst Bank In Canada?

As far as big banks go, it seems like RBC is ranked among the worst for customer experience.

While there’s something to be said for having easy access to a large network of ATMs and in-branch services, other large banks offer the same perks without the exorbitant fees.

Are you looking to cut ties with your current bank and transfer your funds to a new one? Keep reading to learn the safest way to transfer money between bank accounts

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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