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[OP]
Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2010
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Here 'n There

Cross Border Business Banking

To my surprise most cross-border seamless banking solutions focus on personal banking not business banking. Paypal requires me to have a US-domiciled business bank account because that's they only way they'll deposit funds electronically from their credit card solution (PayPal Pro for Business) when people buy my products in the US online.

My most important needs are:

- low cost USD business account domiciled in the US
- Canadian USD business account
- both under the same bank 'umbrella' would be nice but not a need to have. It would enable me to transfer money instantly and for free (or at an extremely low cost) online between the US bank and my Canadian bank (no conversion because both are USD accounts). If it's not the same bank then I'll just use a wire transfer.

RBC charges $150/mos (yikes) for their US-domiciled business account, but you can open it from Canada. Initial deposit as to be $1,000. International wire transfers are $75.

TD charges $8/mos, but you have to physically go to the US to open it. Initial deposit $250. International wire transfers are $40.00 + taxes + 'correspondent fees'(sounds like the 'communication charge' other banks add).

BMO Harris charges $20 which is waived for any month you have $5K in the account, which I will always have as a necessity. You can open it online. Initial Deposit $100 which can be made by credit card. It pays interest. Statement come electronically and that includes free images of cheques. 500 transactions per month. So, the account is basically free! International wire transfers are $45.00 (seems cheapest of many I've looked at, whether in the US or Canada).

So, I opened a BMO Harris Business Advantage Checking account online (https://www.bmoharris.com/us/small-busi ... age=page-1). All you need is your company name, tax ID # (ie CRA Business #), driver's licence #, a credit card and contact details. (The other banks wanted all kinds of other information and documention such as your articles of incorporation, company minutes, etc). Approval takes 2 biz days at which time they email you the forms which you sign and return and your debit card comes in the mail in 7-10 biz days. All I'll have to do then is open my Canadian BMO account and link the two.

Wow, that was easy! Does anyone else use Harris or have any other options that are similar and as cheap?
28 replies
Deal Addict
User avatar
Mar 13, 2003
2860 posts
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Alberta
Interesting you had such a good experience with BMO Harris - I've heard they can be a disaster to deal with. Report back if you have any troubles!
Deal Addict
Aug 28, 2007
1849 posts
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Calgary
My experience is with RBC. I opened it shortly after they changed from Centura and before they sold their physical branches in 2012, so I don't know if I am grandfathered into something. It is now called a Royal Embassy account and I only pay USD$2.95 on the US account. I have it linked to a CAD denominated savings account and a USD denominated chequing account in Canada. No minimums and transfer between the accounts (either To North or To South) are free. It has ACH checking and Visa Debit card on the US side. When I set it up I enquired at BMO and TD and neither Harris nor TD Banknorth had any offering in that space. Apparently now they do.

I use it mainly for real estate transfers and rent so not a big volume of transactions to give any useful feedback.
[OP]
Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2010
13043 posts
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Here 'n There
Just Confused wrote:
Jul 21st, 2015 7:01 pm
My experience is with RBC. I opened it shortly after they changed from Centura and before they sold their physical branches in 2012, so I don't know if I am grandfathered into something. It is now called a Royal Embassy account and I only pay USD$2.95 on the US account. I have it linked to a CAD denominated savings account and a USD denominated chequing account in Canada. No minimums and transfer between the accounts (either To North or To South) are free. It has ACH checking and Visa Debit card on the US side. When I set it up I enquired at BMO and TD and neither Harris nor TD Banknorth had any offering in that space. Apparently now they do.

I use it mainly for real estate transfers and rent so not a big volume of transactions to give any useful feedback.
But is that a personal bank account that you run your real estate income through or a business banking account?
[OP]
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Aug 2, 2010
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scouzer wrote:
Jul 15th, 2015 12:32 am
Interesting you had such a good experience with BMO Harris - I've heard they can be a disaster to deal with. Report back if you have any troubles!
Well the CRA can't find my recent incorporation documents and so now I have to formally apply for a business number so it's going to be another 10 business days before I can give BMO Harris the info they need.

Every bank can be a disaster at times, depending on which person, which branch, etc you deal with.
Deal Addict
Aug 28, 2007
1849 posts
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Calgary
eonibm wrote:
Jul 21st, 2015 7:28 pm
But is that a personal bank account that you run your real estate income through or a business banking account?
Yes, that is a personal account we run the real estate transactions through. Very few transactions so it slides under their radar. Wouldn't be appropriate for serious use.
eonibm wrote:
Jul 21st, 2015 7:30 pm
Well the CRA can't find my recent incorporation documents and so now I have to formally apply for a business number so it's going to be another 10 business days before I can give BMO Harris the info they need.

Every bank can be a disaster at times, depending on which person, which branch, etc you deal with.
BTW: Once you have more than one corporation assigned to your SIN, you can avoid the online process and just file your RC-1 by phone... they can give you the BN on-the-spot.
[OP]
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Aug 2, 2010
13043 posts
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Here 'n There
Just Confused wrote:
Jul 21st, 2015 7:36 pm
Yes, that is a personal account we run the real estate transactions through. Very few transactions so it slides under their radar. Wouldn't be appropriate for serious use.

BTW: Once you have more than one corporation assigned to your SIN, you can avoid the online process and just file your RC-1 by phone... they can give you the BN on-the-spot.
I do, but the the whole problem, as I mentioned, is they cannot verify the existence of my Ontario incorporation as the information was never sent over from the Ontario Ministry. It doesn't matter how many previous corporations you have assigned to your SIN if that's the case. They simply cannot verify the new one is in existence and so they cannot give you a BN.

As for you running your business transactions through a personal account that is not illegal or against any bank policy. It is entirely kosher and you do not have to slide it under the radar. Where the money comes from, as long as it is not money laundering, is not something banks care about. All it does though is create a bit more accounting as more entries have to be made in your ledgers. In some cases it could also cause problems if you were audited because you could be deemed to have received the money personally instead of through your corporation regardless of what you intended and that would create personal tax liability isssues.

However, for someone like me who is linking credit card payment processor accounts to bank accounts and having the monies deposited from one to the other it is an issue as the name on both accounts has to be the same in order to verify it's going to the right place, i.e. the company. So, I simply would not be able to receive the funds without a corporate account. Also, the volume is huge and even if it was allowed who wants to reverse all those entries in the ledger? Neither of those are issues with depositing a few checks and you doing it yourself rather than being deposited automatically electronically.

As an aside, one advantage of going with BMO/Harris Bank in the US is that if you use Moneris US as a CC payment processor for your business in the US is that because BMO has ownership in both (50% of the former and 100% of the latter) the money from your customers gets deposited from the latter to the former in 1 day vs 2, which is not the case if you go with a different bank and Moneris. With CC payment processors like Stripe it's 2 days and with Paypal Pro its 7-10 days. However, I am not going with Moneris in Canada as my revenue is only about 6% of the US and their setup fees and fixed monthly are ridiculously high. For Moneris US there is no setup fee and only $11.95/mos. I'm going to use Stripe in Canada as they only charge per transaction, albeit they charge more than Moneris. When my volume gets high enough to make Moneris cheaper I'll switch.
Sr. Member
Jul 10, 2005
754 posts
121 upvotes
Toronto
eonibm wrote:
Jul 22nd, 2015 8:34 am
As for you running your business transactions through a personal account that is not illegal or against any bank policy. It is entirely kosher and you do not have to slide it under the radar. Where the money comes from, as long as it is not money laundering, is not something banks care about.
RBC Bank USA closed my personal account because it was used for business. Its monthly fee was $3.

In the same letter they offered me a business account, at a monthly fee of $150.
Deal Addict
Aug 28, 2007
1849 posts
243 upvotes
Calgary
eonibm wrote:
Jul 22nd, 2015 8:34 am
I do, but the the whole problem, as I mentioned, is they cannot verify the existence of my Ontario incorporation as the information was never sent over from the Ontario Ministry. It doesn't matter how many previous corporations you have assigned to your SIN if that's the case. They simply cannot verify the new one is in existence and so they cannot give you a BN.
Perhaps I'll clarify. After your first corporation is assigned to your SIN, the online BN tool won't work. So you can call up CRA and remind the clerk it doesn't work for multiple corporation under a single SIN (they usually don't know that). When you call, if you are doing your first corporation they insist you to go back and use the online tool. If not, they are obliged to provide the service to you on-the-spot on the phone because idiot Harper closed all the tax office service centres that used to offer that service. You don't need to wait for any intergovernmental communication; hell freezes over before that happens. The business world can't come to a grinding halt and wait for CRA to get around to issuing a BN. All you do is arrange to FAX your RC-1 and Certificate of Incorporation to the clerk and they will provide the BN to your right there on the phone. You already have in your possession the Certificate of Incorporation that Ontario issued so that is all proof of existence they need.
eonibm wrote:
Jul 22nd, 2015 8:34 am
As for you running your business transactions through a personal account that is not illegal or against any bank policy.
I would disagree with that statement. Banker's logic runs like this:

"Why should we offer a service for $2.95 when we can charge $150? Since we've got all these business owners that must have a bank account for accounting purposes, let's charge them 5000% more for essentially the same service as a personal account. All we need to do is tell them a personal account can't be used for business purposes."

Sadly that is a thumbnail of what is buried in the fine print of all the personal bank account applications that we all sign without reading. Some of us are just lucky enough to be able get away with it for awhile. Like dani, sooner or later they'll catch up with me too.
[OP]
Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2010
13043 posts
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Here 'n There
dani_toronto wrote:
Jul 22nd, 2015 11:44 am
RBC Bank USA closed my personal account because it was used for business. Its monthly fee was $3.

In the same letter they offered me a business account, at a monthly fee of $150.
They would only know that if the cheque is made out to you in your business name of course and you endorsed it and deposited it into your personal account. As I said, it doesn't matter where the money comes from, but if to your businees it does matter where it is going to. I have received many cheques from corporations to me in my personal name. They do not close your account because of that and they cannot. For cheques written to your business for sure, but they always let a few by here and there.
[OP]
Deal Guru
Aug 2, 2010
13043 posts
3269 upvotes
Here 'n There
Just Confused wrote:
Jul 23rd, 2015 2:48 pm
I would disagree with that statement. Banker's logic runs like this:

"Why should we offer a service for $2.95 when we can charge $150? Since we've got all these business owners that must have a bank account for accounting purposes, let's charge them 5000% more for essentially the same service as a personal account. All we need to do is tell them a personal account can't be used for business purposes."

Sadly that is a thumbnail of what is buried in the fine print of all the personal bank account applications that we all sign without reading. Some of us are just lucky enough to be able get away with it for awhile. Like dani, sooner or later they'll catch up with me too.
Yes, I should have also clarified as I just did and yes I agree they are taking advantage of us. Having said that I do prefer to have my corporate bank account separate but because I the CC payment processor needs to ensure the money is going to the proper named account as I have with them they require that. I think, as you do, that the bank should charge the same for corporate accounts but they charge more because they can. Most are usage-based so it can't because there are more transanctions because the usage charge covers that.
Sr. Member
Jul 10, 2005
754 posts
121 upvotes
Toronto
eonibm wrote:
Jul 23rd, 2015 4:10 pm
They would only know that if the cheque is to you in your business name of course and you endorsed it and deposited it into your personal account. As I said, it doesn't matter where the money comes from, but if to your businees it does matter where it is going to. I have received many cheques from corporations to me in my personal name. They do not close your account because of that and they cannot. For cheques written to your business for sure, but they always let a few by here and there.
They did close my account because it was used for business. It says exactly that in the letter.
[OP]
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dani_toronto wrote:
Jul 23rd, 2015 4:30 pm
They did close my account because it was used for business. It says exactly that in the letter.
Yes, but who were the cheques written to? You personally or your business? If the latter then of course.
Sr. Member
Jul 10, 2005
754 posts
121 upvotes
Toronto
eonibm wrote:
Jul 23rd, 2015 4:38 pm
Yes, but who were the cheques written to? You personally or your business? If the latter then of course.
I didn't deposit any cheques. Funds were transferred in from my personal us acct at rbc cda, and used to pay suppliers.
[OP]
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Aug 2, 2010
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Here 'n There
dani_toronto wrote:
Jul 23rd, 2015 5:13 pm
I didn't deposit any cheques. Funds were transferred in from my personal us acct at rbc cda, and used to pay suppliers.
Ah, the payments went the other way. But that's interesting too because I buy things from companies all the time as do many other people, but they were likely easily identified as things not in the normal course of personal commerce.

Anyway, my point was that if you are depositing cheques from companies that are made out to you personally the bank does not care.

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