Are you looking to switch from a traditional bank to a credit union? This Meridian Credit Union review is for you.
Credit unions have been the oldest alternative to traditional banks in Canada due to their low fees and competitive rates. But as Fintech companies and online-only banks continue to dominate the Canadian banking industry, credit unions become a secondary alternative to traditional banks.
That’s not to say that there are no credit unions that compete even with online banks and fintech companies today. The Meridian Credit Union is one of the few credit unions in Canada that have stood the test of time as an alternative banking institution. But is this the best option for you?
This Meridian Credit Union review explores everything you need to know about the credit union including its offerings, benefits, drawbacks and more.
Let’s dive in!
What is Meridian Credit Union?
Meridian Credit Union is one of the oldest credit unions in Canada with more than 75 years of experience.
With over $28 billion in assets under management, 365,000+ members and 1950 employees, Meridian is Canada’s second-largest and Ontario’s largest credit union.
As an awarding-winning credit union, Meridian is the parent company of Motusbank and Meridian OneCap Credit. The credit union is headquartered in St. Catharines, Ontario, with over 90 branches and 15 Business Banking Centres across the province.
What distinguishes Meridian from other credit unions lies in its comprehensive collection of financial products and services and broad branch network.
With no monthly fees, you can choose from savings accounts, chequing accounts, credit cards, personal loans, lines of credit, mortgages insurance and investment accounts on Meridian.
Is Meridian Credit Union Safe?
Meridian Credit Union is safe and your funds are secured since it is a provincially regulated credit union.
The credit union offers a 100% online security guarantee and your non-registered deposits are covered by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority (FSRA) for up to $250,000.
On the other hand, your registered deposits (TFSA, RRSP, RESP, and RDSP) at Meridian are covered with no limit by the FRSA.
In addition, your information on the Meridian web portal is protected with advanced firewalls and encryption against Internet fraudsters.
What Does Meridian Credit Union Do?
Meridian Credit Union offers full banking, investment and wealth management solutions to Canadians.
As of the time of writing this review, Meridian has the following comprehensive collection of products and services.
1. Savings Accounts
The credit union offers three types of savings accounts with unlimited deposits (i.e. no limits), no minimum balance and no monthly fees. The savings account are:
- High-Interest Savings Account (HISA)
- Advantage Savings Account
- Youth Savings Account
The Meridian HISA offers a 1.25% interest on its HISA which is higher than the traditional banks’ interest and the interest of other credit unions.
Deposits on the Meridian savings accounts are investable in TFSA, RRSP and RRIF savings accounts. You can access the savings accounts online, by phone and in-branch.
Below are other features of the Meridian savings accounts
- Unlimited free deposits
- Cheque deposits
- Unlimited free Price Drop feature
- Unlimited FSRA coverage for registered accounts
Finally, the following are the current fees of the Meridian savings accounts.
|Transaction fees||None||None||$1.25. (Waived if you maintain a $50,000 balance per month)|
|Interim paper statement (In-branch)||$5||N/A||$5|
2. Chequing Accounts
Meridian Credit Union offers a wide range of chequing accounts with unlimited free deposits and no monthly interest. You can choose from the following chequing accounts on the credit union.
- Pay-as-you-go chequing account
- Convenience chequing account
- Limitless chequing account
- Electronic chequing
- U.S. Dollar chequing account
- Senior chequing account
Below is the current fee schedule of the Meridian chequing accounts.
|Key Features||Pay-as-you-go||Plus Package||Convenience Package||Senior(Age 60+)||Electronic Package|
|Transaction fees||$1 (Waived with $2,000+ balance per month)||$0||$0||$0||$0|
|Cheques||$1 per transaction||Unlimited||15 free cheques. $1 per additional cheque||Unlimited||$1 per cheque|
|4 monthly free Interac e-Transfers||Applicable when you maintain a $2,000 balance per month||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Interim paper statement (In-branch)||$5||$5||$5||Free||$5|
3. Credit Cards
The Ontario’s largest credit union also offers a comprehensive collection of personal and business credit cards issued by Collabria Financial Services Inc.
From reward credit cards to no-fee fee credit cards, Meridian has you covered with your all credit card needs.
The following are the available personal credit cards and their key features.
|Personal Credit Card||Key Feature|
|Meridian Visa Cash Back Card||Cashback on purchases without an annual fee|
|Meridian Visa Infinite Cash Back Card||Up to 4% cashback on purchase|
|Meridian Visa Platinum Cash Back Card||2% cashback on purchase|
|Meridian Visa Infinite Travel Rewards Card||Travel rewards and protection|
|Meridian Visa Platinum Travel Rewards Card||Travel rewards and protection|
|Meridian Visa US Dollar Card||1 reward point per every $1 purchase|
If you’re looking for a business credit card with rewards, insurance, and other benefits, you can choose from the following options on Meridian.
|Business Credit Card||Key Feature|
|Meridian Visa Business Flex Cash Back Plus Card||Low-interest rates|
|Meridian Visa Business Cash Back Plus Card||No annual fee|
|Meridian Visa Infinite Business Cash Back Plus Card||First-year fee waiver with exclusive benefits|
Related: Best Credit Card Offers in Canada
4. Loans and Lines of Credit
Are you looking for a credit-union-based personal loan or line of credit? Meridian has multiple options for you as follows:
- Personal loans
- Personal lines of credit
- Home equity line of credit (HELOC)
With a loan payment calculator and a Creditor Insurance, you can easily determine the cost of taking a Meridian loan and secure yourself along the way.
Meridian Credit Union mortgages offers a wide variety of mortgages with special interest for Canadians looking to buy their first homes, buy additional property, renew or refinance their mortgages.
With Meridian, you can choose from the following mortgages across fixed and variable rates.
- Flex Line Mortgage
- High Ratio Mortgage
- Friends and Family Mortgage
- Construction Mortgage
- Self-Employed Mortgage
- Hybrid Mortgage
With a mortgage quiz, mortgage affordability calculator and mortgage payment calculator, Meridian helps you make informed decisions throughout your mortgage journey.
In addition to the option to make extra mortgage payments of 20% of your loan balance annually, Meridian also allows you to repay your mortgage through the following options:
- Weekly payment
- Bi-weekly payment
- Monthly payment
- Bi-monthly payment
- Accelerated payment
The interesting part is that Meridian offers up to 5% cashback of your mortgage payment depending on your mortgage term and down payment.
That said, the following are the current Meridian variable and fixed mortgage rates.
|Variable Mortgage Rates||Fixed Mortgage Rates|
|5-year open = 6.70%|
5-year closed = 4.45%
5-year closed high ratio = 4.00%
|1-year closed = 4.69%|
2-year closed = 5.09%
3-year closed = 5.29%
4-year closed = 5.59%
5-year closed = 5.99%
5-year closed high ratio = 5.99%
7-year closed = 6.29%
10-year closed = 6.79%
Life happens and most times we can’t predict what will happen just after taking out a loan or mortgage. Meridian helps you offset unforeseen risks with Mortgage Protection and Creditor Insurance.
To protect your home, all you need is to subscribe to the Meridian monthly premium, the Group Mortgage Protection (GMP) which is available at any of the credit union branches in Ontario.
If you encounter a health challenge, financial or business setback while having a Meridian mortgage, personal loan or line of credit, the Meridian Credit Insurance will come to your rescue.
Besides Mortgage Protection and Creditor Insurance, Meridian also offers third-party travel insurance that covers you against unforeseen circumstances when travelling. You can apply for the insurance in-branch or by phone.
Are you looking to invest through a credit union in Canada? Meridian got you covered with multiple investment accounts ranging from GICs, and mutual funds to Class A Shares.
In addition, you can invest in the following registered accounts on Meridian Credit Union.
- Tax-free savings account (TFSA)
- Retirement savings plans (RSP)
- Registered disability savings plan (RDSP)
- Registered education savings plan (RESP)
What I also like about Meridian investment accounts is that you can access them through different channels, such as:
- In-branch or by phone
- Meridian wealth advisor
- Online banking
- Qtrade Direct Investing
This is one of the compressive investment options you will find in Canada as it makes everything flexible.
Meridian Credit Union Account Fees
Besides the savings and chequing accounts fees discussed above, Meridian also charges the following fees.
|Interac e-Transfers/requests||$1.50 per transfer/request|
|ABM Interac transactions||$2|
|Cirrus transactions||$3 US and International|
|Wire transfers||$16 for incoming and $20-$1,000 for outgoing|
|Bank draft||$7.50 for USD and $11 for foreign|
|Overdraft protection||$1 per month plus 21% interest per year|
|Late loan payment||$48|
|Non-sufficient funds (NSF)||$48|
|Inactive account||$30 annually|
Compared to other credit unions out there, it’s obvious that Meridian has competitive fees. However, this is relatively high compared to online banks.
Pros and Cons of Meridian Credit Union
Meridian Credit Union has positioned itself as one of the leading credit unions in Canada. But that’s not a guarantee that it will be your best option.
Below are the top pros and cons of the credit union based on the above review.
- No account opening fee: Unlike other credit unions, Meridian doesn’t have a fixed membership fee as you can become a member with as little as $1.
- Multiple products: From savings, chequing, mortgages, to insurance, Meridian is a one-stop shop for everything banking and wealth management.
- Tools and Calculators: Besides an Auto-Save feature, Meridian offers a range of tools and calculators to help you take the guesswork out of your financial journey. You can access a savings goal calculator, interest calculator, investment calculator, retirement calculator, mortgage quiz, mortgage payment calculator and other calculators on Meridian.
- Wide coverage: While Meridian’s physical branches are currently restricted to Ontario, it’s available to all the residents of Canada via online, phone, and mobile app.
- Better customer services: If you’re looking for better customer services than those of big banks, say hello to Meridian. Their customer service is polite and friendly both online and in-branch.
- Mortgage Cashback: Meridian is currently one of the few credit unions that offer cashback on mortgage payments. Depending on your mortgage term and downpayment, you will get up to 5% cashback on your mortgage payment.
- Low-interest rates: Compared to other credit unions and online banks, Meridian savings accounts and investment interests rates are low.
- Limited physical branches: Meridian has physical branches only in Ontario at the moment. If you’re not residing in Ontario, you have to rely on its online banking and mobile app.
How to Open a Meridian Credit Union account
Since Meridian is a credit union, you must first become its member before you can access its financial products and services.
Fortunately, you can become a Meridian member with as little as $1 because it doesn’t have a fixed membership fee, unlike other credit unions.
The following are the requirements for becoming a Meridian member.
- Be a Canadian resident
- Reach the age of majority in your province/territory
- Have a valid email address
Once you become a Meridian member, you will be part of its shareholders and be entitled to an average return of 4%.
The membership also makes you eligible to elect and stand to be elected as a Meridian board of directors.
The following are some of the details you will be required to provide when joining Meridian:
- Email address
- Home address
- Phone number
- Social Insurance Number (NIN)
- Date of birth
Meridian Credit Union vs FirstOntario Credit Union
FirstOntario Credit Union is another old credit union in Canada with over 80-year experience. It’s one of the top competitors of Meridian Credit Union and below is a highlight of how they compare.
|Key Feature||Meridian Credit Union||FirstOntario Credit Union|
|Membership fee||No fixed amount||$25|
|Products||Savings accounts, chequing accounts, credit and debit cards, insurance, loans and lines of credit, mortgages, GICs, Class A Shares, mutual funds TFSA, RRSP, RESP, and RDSP||Savings accounts, Chequing accounts, debit and credit cards, personal loans, lines of credit, mortgages, GICs, Registered accounts (TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RESP), stocks, mutual funds, and bonds|
|HISA rate||1.25%||1.75% to 1.85% interest|
|Overdraft protection||$1/month plus 21% interest per year||$2.50 per month|
|Interac e-Transfers||$1.50||$1.50 per transaction.|
|Availability||All parts of Canada||Ontario|
|Ways to bank||Web portal, mobile app, in-branch||Web portal, mobile app, in-branch|
Looking at the above table, you can see that both Meridian and FirstOntario have a wide collection of bank-type products.
Both the two credit unions have no minimum balance and monthly fees and are members of the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA).
In addition, you can also access either of the two credit unions online, by phone or in-branch.
However, the two credit unions differ considerably. For example, Meridian doesn’t have a fixed membership fee, unlike FirstOntario which requires a $25 fee.
While Meridian is available in all parts of Canada, FirstOntario is only available to Ontario residents.
Notwithstanding, you can’t make the wrong choice with any of the two credit unions so far you choose the one that suits your needs.
Some FAQs on Meridian Credit Union Review
Meridian is a credit union but has the same financial products you will find in a traditional bank with competitive rates and low fees.
Meridian Credit Union is owned 100% by its over 365,000 members in Canada.
No, Meridian Credit Union is regulated by the provincial authority of Ontario.
Meridian Credit Union is covered by the FSRA, not CDIC. However, deposits on its subsidiary, Motusbank, are covered by the CDIC up to $100,000 per insured category.
Meridian Credit Union is highly secured because it offers a 100% online security guarantee and your deposits on the credit union are covered up to $250,000 for non-registered deposits and with no limit for registered deposits.
Verdict on Meridian Credit Union Review
When you put the best online banks aside, you will notice that Meridian Credit Union is a top alternative to the big banks on various grounds.
The above is a complete picture of what Meridian offers at the moment. With its pros and cons highlighted and discussed, I hope you can easily make an informed decision at this point.
If you need additional clarification on whether Meridian is perfect for your situation, please let me know in the comment section.
Kindly check out our other relevant posts to learn more about the best Canadian financial products and services, such as:
- Best Bank Account Promotions For Canadians
- Best High-Interest Savings Accounts in Canada
- Best Investment Apps in Canada
Meridian Credit Union Review
Meridian Credit Union is an Ontario-based financial institution that offer Canadians a full-suite of banking products and services