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2006-08-25 - 12:36 p.m.

..small victories and a diatribe on Canadian banks...

Hoorah! Yesterday I received a telephone call from a Canadian bank saying that I was actually eligible for a credit card, without having to put down a 120% security! This is a major victory. K and I have visited on the order of six different banks trying to get a simple credit card. And of course, of all the times when I need a Canadian credit card, it is NOW, when all $20,000 of moving expenses have piled up.

But no, apparently as a non-resident I count as a credit risk. In fact, the normal procedure would be to not even consider me for a credit card until I am a permanent resident (approximately 2 years from now). ALL (four) Canadian banks seem to agree on this ludicrous policy, and it is only by a tremendous exception, and a tremendous pulling of strings that I have been able to get around this.

Canada is the only country where I have encountered this type of banking conservatism. I was issued credit cards in Sweden and Germany without a hitch. K was eligible for a credit card within six months of opening his bank account in the USA. And the further craziness is that one bank already approved us for a hefty >$100k mortgage, but were extremely reticent to risk a even $500 on a credit limit for us!

In the end, our diligence paid off, and I begin to understand some of the statistics associated with Canadian banks (95% of all Canadians bank with only four banks, and they rarely if ever change banks). The high costs of banking in Canada must be associated with the fact that very little is automated, everything is completed by people. This makes banking very personal, but very slow and expensive. My theory is that the personal nature of transactions is what develops this loyalty. Also because these four banks must all be in cahoots with each other, there is no point in switching, because you get the same awful deal (with tons of fees) no matter where you go.

Even internet banking (which one might argue is significantly cheaper for the banks...)always has a fee associated with it. I have yet to enter a bank without having to stand 30 minutes in a long line to be "helped" with a task that would have taken me less than two minutes at an ATM.

Anyway, finally getting a credit card approved has certainly bolstered my personal loyalties to one particular branch near me...

Okay, so I MUST finally go to work today, after futzing about the house all week. I have so many little tiddly things to do. This concludes my little diatribe....

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