Zenbanx First Impressions / Review

Zenbanx is a new Canadian direct bank, meaning that they exist online and don’t have any branches to visit. Their specialty appears to be exchange and saving in foreign currencies. The bank’s CEO is Arkadi Kehlmann, the former CEO of ING Direct (now Tangerine), and so far it looks promising.

Zenbanx online banking interface

Savings in Canadian Dollars currently pay 1.5% interest (nearly double Tangerine), and there have been a series of promotions in the past (exchange USD at a favourable rate, a signup credit etc). Currently customers that sign up will receive a $50 credit when the complete three transactions above $50 CAD before next year.

The signup process is relatively painless, and familiar if you’ve created an account with Tangerine or Presidents Choice Financial. It can be completed using the mobile app or on the Zenbanx website. A cheque is not required to make the first deposit, although it does make things a bit easier.

So far I have been able to transfer money in and out of the account using electronic funds transfer from Tangerine. Zenbanx sent out a debit card the next day, but it hasn’t arrived yet (looks like it will take about two weeks to arrive to BC). The debit card works with no fees for Interac purchases or on The Exchange network, so credit unions machines are the best place to make deposits and withdrawals.

Zenbanx doesn’t offer cheques or bill payment, so this isn’t a full featured replacement for your daily bank account. Its better suited as a compliment to your existing accounts.

So far the experience has been good. Zenbanx does not appear to be a scam, and is a legitimate direct bank. I’ll update after I’ve had a chance to use the debit card and (hopefully) received my $50 credit.

Zenbanx Signup
You can use my referral code (button above) and we’ll both get a bonus.

TD Bank US for Canadians

Angled_debitcardEarlier this year I opened a TD Convenience Checking account at TD Bank — the US equivalent to TD Canada Trust. This isn’t like the US Dollar accounts you can open up at almost any Canadian bank: TD Bank N.A. is a full fledged American bank with over a thousand locations in the eastern United States. Its operated separately from its Canadian parent.

There are some helpful connections between the two, though, that make managing US money much easier (and faster) for Canadians. Funds can be instantly wired between your TD Bank US and TD Canada Trust accounts for free. The process requires calling in to the TD Cross Boarder Banking phone line, but its reasonably quick and painless. The representative reads an agreement, lets you know the exchange rate, and completes the transaction for you. You’re accounts (US and / or Canadian) may be debited for a wire transfer fee, but in my experience it is refunded within about a day.  Continue reading

Tangerine Bank First Impressions

I’ve been with a BC credit union for a long time, but recently they have been making me sad. I decided to give Tangerine Bank a try about three weeks ago–and so far it has been a great experience. Setting up my savings and checking accounts was easy. The process was basically…

  1. Fill a form on the website with my details and contact info
  2. Write myself a cheque (drawn on my Coast account)
  3. Use the Tangerine app to deposit the cheque into my new Tangerine account

That’s it! The account was opened right away and I received my debit card just over a week later. The setup process, the website and the mobile app are well designed. Its easy to follow the steps and understand whats going on (like holds or transfers) with the new account.

png_base6454d09e919ceff080I called in to see what the service was like, and I was almost surprised at how friendly and helpful the staff were. I received the two $50 bonuses in my new chequing and savings accounts after about two weeks, and a third bonus a few days after my first payroll deposit went through. They’re offering those proportions until the end of this June.

My only gripe would the be hold times for cheques and transfers. It’s five business days (a week however you slice it), and remains even after the funds have been received by Tangerine. That’s annoying. I’m told that as the account matures more funds will be immediately available without holds, so I look forward to that.

The debit card they send can only be used to access your chequing account, in case you’re wondering. So deposits or withdrawals will have to be transferred before using an ABM. Good news is that transfers are instant and there aren’t any fees.

You can setup the saving accounts for Electronic Funds Transfer services though (like PayPal, Square or AdSense for example). You can also setup direct deposit, or payroll deposit, to a Tangerine savings account and it works just fine.

Tangerine Signup
If you decide to try Tangerine use someone’s Orange Key on the signup page.
You’ll both get a $25 bonus–find a friend or use mine


Motorola S305 Headphones

You know how every time you pull out your headphones–they seem to have magically tangled themselves up again? Or how they manage to get caught on everything, or slip out of the connector? Its time to cut the cable.

I bought the MOTOROKR S305 Bluetooth Headphones a few months ago and I’m loving them. Use these with my iPhone 3Gs at my desk and on my commute. They sound fantastic, the on-ear controls are convenient and [the best part] there are no pesky wires! Continue reading

EyeTV in Canada

UPDATE: Elgato’s Canadian EPG is now out of beta, and purchasers will receive one year of free access with purchase of an EyeTV tuner.

A couple months ago I ordered the Elgato EyeTV 250 Plus from the online Apple Store (free shipping FTW). Technically speaking its a TV tuner, but I bought it for its cassette digitizing abilities – more on that later. I thought that was the only use I’d get out of it too, since Elgato doesn’t offer a Electronic Program Guide (EPG/listings) for Canada. Until now. The past few weeks they’ve been rolling out a beta version of the EyeTV 3 software that includes support for a Canadian EPG.

Continue reading