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I'm confused about Acculink, Exchange, and Ding Free

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  • Nov 20th, 2019 3:50 pm
[OP]
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Jul 16, 2019
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I'm confused about Acculink, Exchange, and Ding Free

I'm confused about the natures of and relationships between the Acculink, Exchange, and Ding Free ATM networks. I'll say some things I think are true, but I'm certain I'm wrong about some of them and/or have incomplete information, so please disabuse me of my misconceptions.

  1. Acculink and The Exchange are separate ATM networks. Acculink is owned by the Canadian Credit Union Association and The Exchange is owned by Fiserv (or is it Ficanex?).
  2. All Canadian credit unions except Meridian are on Acculink, but only some are on The Exchange.
  3. Some banks are on The Exchange, but the only bank on Acculink is Alterna Bank, since their parent company is a credit union.
  4. Some ATMs are on both Acculink and The Exchange, while others are only on one. The ones that are only on Acculink are pretty much all in the prairies.
  5. Ding Free is not an ATM network itself, but rather some sort of cooperation between Acculink and The Exchange. This is odd because Ding Free's website mentions Acculink and The Exchange zero times.
  6. Yet Ding Free is owned by Central 1 Credit Union. I don't understand what role they play.
  7. Ding Free is essentially just a marketing term.
  8. A Ding Free ATM is one that's on either Acculink or The Exchange. Not all Ding Free ATMs are on both.
  9. If your financial institution is only on one of Acculink or The Exchange, you will still get hit with a surcharge on some Ding Free ATMs, namely the ones that are only on the other ATM network.
  10. The Ding Free logo doesn't appear on any ATMs. They only have logos for Acculink and/or The Exchange.

I'm certain some of this is incorrect, or at least horribly incomplete. Finding information about this is surprisingly difficult.

I would appreciate if you guys would correct what I've gotten wrong and explain what Acculink, The Exchange, and Ding Free are, and what relationships exist between them. I feel this would be much simpler if Ding Free didn't exist.
26 replies
Sr. Member
Feb 28, 2014
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someweirdo wrote: I'm confused about the natures of and relationships between the Acculink, Exchange, and Ding Free ATM networks. I'll say some things I think are true, but I'm certain I'm wrong about some of them and/or have incomplete information, so please disabuse me of my misconceptions.

  1. Acculink and The Exchange are separate ATM networks. Acculink is owned by the Canadian Credit Union Association and The Exchange is owned by Fiserv (or is it Ficanex?).
  2. All Canadian credit unions except Meridian are on Acculink, but only some are on The Exchange.
  3. Some banks are on The Exchange, but the only bank on Acculink is Alterna Bank, since their parent company is a credit union.
  4. Some ATMs are on both Acculink and The Exchange, while others are only on one. The ones that are only on Acculink are pretty much all in the prairies.
  5. Ding Free is not an ATM network itself, but rather some sort of cooperation between Acculink and The Exchange. This is odd because Ding Free's website mentions Acculink and The Exchange zero times.
  6. Yet Ding Free is owned by Central 1 Credit Union. I don't understand what role they play.
  7. Ding Free is essentially just a marketing term.
  8. A Ding Free ATM is one that's on either Acculink or The Exchange. Not all Ding Free ATMs are on both.
  9. If your financial institution is only on one of Acculink or The Exchange, you will still get hit with a surcharge on some Ding Free ATMs, namely the ones that are only on the other ATM network.
  10. The Ding Free logo doesn't appear on any ATMs. They only have logos for Acculink and/or The Exchange.

I'm certain some of this is incorrect, or at least horribly incomplete. Finding information about this is surprisingly difficult.

I would appreciate if you guys would correct what I've gotten wrong and explain what Acculink, The Exchange, and Ding Free are, and what relationships exist between them. I feel this would be much simpler if Ding Free didn't exist.
Not completely sure of Acculink but the bulk of credit unions in BC, Ontario & some maritime credit unions are part of The Exchange Network, not just Meridian. Alterna, DUCA, Coast Capital et al. are all part of The Exchange Network.

Here's the full list of participating FIs on The Exchange Network. Notably missing are the credit unions in the prairies, I guess they're mainly on the Acculink network.
https://www.theexchangenetwork.ca/Parti ... tions.aspx

To add to the confusion, all Desjardins-affiliated caisse populaires use the NYCE network which is mainly American.
Deal Addict
May 16, 2017
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Acculink is the Canadian Credit Union's (most CUs) ATM network. It is managed by the Cooperative EFT Development Association (CEDA), which is affiliated with the Canadian Credit Union Association.
The Exchange is an INTERBANK ATM Network. It connects amongst Acculink and several other bank, CU networks. It is operated by FICANEX in Canada, which is legally speaking an "partnership" entity owned by CUs and Banks in Canada.
You are correct, "Ding Free" is a joint MARKETING only venture that covers both Acculink AND Exchange ATMs in Canada. "Ding Free" the TRADEMARK is owned by Central1.

Belong to a CU that is on both Acculink and The Exchange so all Ding Free ATMs are included. I suspect this covers the bulk of CU members and the biggest CUs.
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robsaw wrote: Acculink is the Canadian Credit Union's (most CUs) ATM network. It is managed by the Cooperative EFT Development Association (CEDA), which is affiliated with the Canadian Credit Union Association.
The Exchange is an INTERBANK ATM Network. It connects amongst Acculink and several other bank, CU networks. It is operated by FICANEX in Canada, which is legally speaking an "partnership" entity owned by CUs and Banks in Canada.
You are correct, "Ding Free" is a joint MARKETING only venture that covers both Acculink AND Exchange ATMs in Canada. "Ding Free" the TRADEMARK is owned by Central1.

Belong to a CU that is on both Acculink and The Exchange so all Ding Free ATMs are included. I suspect this covers the bulk of CU members and the biggest CUs.
@robsaw I'm glad you noted the different operator of the network (though I hadn't seen that name, CEDA, before). Central 1 recently transferred their marketing operations to CCUA, so I suspect ding-free™ may be one of those trademarks that will be in the process of transferring over to CCUA.

Cheers,
Doug
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someweirdo wrote: I'm confused about the natures of and relationships between the Acculink, Exchange, and Ding Free ATM networks. I'll say some things I think are true, but I'm certain I'm wrong about some of them and/or have incomplete information, so please disabuse me of my misconceptions.

[*]Acculink and The Exchange are separate ATM networks. Acculink is owned by the Canadian Credit Union Association and The Exchange is owned by Fiserv (or is it Ficanex?).
Added DP to what @robsaw said. Fiserv is a financial technology company that, among other things, makes core banking and online platforms for banks and credit unions and operates the affiliated U.S. Accel network. It does not, as far as I know, own a stake in Ficanex. Rob's point above is correct.
[*]All Canadian credit unions except Meridian are on Acculink, but only some are on The Exchange.
Correct. There may be a handful of other non-Acculink CU members, but I haven't found any yet, so double check with ding-free.ca.
[*]Some banks are on The Exchange, but the only bank on Acculink is Alterna Bank, since their parent company is a credit union.
Correct. It's more so because they share the same banking and technology platforms, though, and I suspect the CU members haven't noticed, as I said elsewhere.
[*]Some ATMs are on both Acculink and The Exchange, while others are only on one. The ones that are only on Acculink are pretty much all in the prairies.
Sort of, but not really. This is related to what the ATM owner (member credit union) is a member of. If they're a member of Acculink and The Exchange, then that ATM is on both. Note that DUCA ATMs don't advertise Acculink membership at the ATM, as @jacnel has pointed out, but DUCA is definitely a dual Acculink/Exchange member.
[*]Ding Free is not an ATM network itself, but rather some sort of cooperation between Acculink and The Exchange. This is odd because Ding Free's website mentions Acculink and The Exchange zero times.
Correct. It's like a branding name for Acculink, since Acculink has a kind of stodgy logo that looks like it's the same as its 1980s iteration. You can also access the Acculink ATM network locator tool at locator.ccua.com. For convenience, ding-free.ca lists both ATM networks. I just prefer ding-free.ca to locator.ccua.com as I find the search functionality and success rate is on the latter is haphazard, at best.
[*]Yet Ding Free is owned by Central 1 Credit Union. I don't understand what role they play.
Yes, for now. Central 1 earlier transferred its marketing, promotions, and governance operations to CCUA, so the trademark may transfer to CCUA eventually when the IP paperwork is done.
[*]Ding Free is essentially just a marketing term.
Exactly right.
[*]A Ding Free ATM is one that's on either Acculink or The Exchange. Not all Ding Free ATMs are on both.
Don't think of it in this way. I prefer to think of ding-free as the "doing business as" name of Acculink, which also lists Exchange ATMs.
[*]If your financial institution is only on one of Acculink or The Exchange, you will still get hit with a surcharge on some Ding Free ATMs, namely the ones that are only on the other ATM network.
You phrased this question in a confusing way, so let me rephrase. If your credit union is only an Acculink ATM network member and you visit an Exchange ATM, yes, you'll be hit with a surcharge and you cannot change your PIN or make deposits. This is why it is NOT appropriate to think of ding-free ATMs as Acculink+Exchange (despite what some credit unions do). It confuses people and I loathe that credit unions use it as a dual ATM network marketing term. ding-free is functionally Acculink...full stop. For convenience, ding-free.ca lists both ATM networks.
[*]The Ding Free logo doesn't appear on any ATMs. They only have logos for Acculink and/or The Exchange.
Generally speaking, yes, but I have seen ding-free logos at credit union branches.

Note: @someweirdo split this thread off from this thread, which should be consulted for interesting preceding discussion that prompted his further questions.

Cheers,
Doug
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Funnily or sadly enough, there are a whopping two ATMs in Quebec that have Acculink (and the Exchange): at the lone Alterna Bank location in Quebec that is in Gatineau, and there is also an Alterna Bank ATM in downtown Hull close to the Canadian history museum where the recent federal election debates were held.
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Poutinesauce wrote: Funnily or sadly enough, there are a whopping two ATMs in Quebec that have Acculink (and the Exchange): at the lone Alterna Bank location in Quebec that is in Gatineau, and there is also an Alterna Bank ATM in downtown Hull close to the Canadian history museum where the recent federal election debates were held.
I kinda want to blame Desjardins for that.

Although my Alterna card works at any NBC, HSBC and Laurentian Bank ATM (no fee).
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Feb 28, 2014
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Poutinesauce wrote: Funnily or sadly enough, there are a whopping two ATMs in Quebec that have Acculink (and the Exchange): at the lone Alterna Bank location in Quebec that is in Gatineau, and there is also an Alterna Bank ATM in downtown Hull close to the Canadian history museum where the recent federal election debates were held.
Just use the ATMs provided by other The Exchange Network members like National Bank, HSBC and Laurentian Bank in the province.
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How often are atms needed.
@ the most , I use an ATM once or twice month to take out 60$ in cash
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F3el96 wrote: I kinda want to blame Desjardins for that.

Although my Alterna card works at any NBC, HSBC and Laurentian Bank ATM (no fee).
Note that Desjardins is a member of neither Acculink nor the Exchange, sadly. ;)

(Yet CCUA includes Ontario Desjardins CPs in their Top 100 credit unions semi-annual market share listing. Go figure.)

Cheers,
Doug
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deltatux wrote: Just use the ATMs provided by other The Exchange Network members like National Bank, HSBC and Laurentian Bank in the province.
Agree with @deltatux. Acculink doesn't really matter in Quebec unless you want to use an Acculink/Exchange ATM to make a deposit to a credit union account on an Acculink-only Manitoba CU (say Steinbach, Access, or Sunova).

Cheers,
Doug
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User455957 wrote: How often are atms needed.
@ the most , I use an ATM once or twice month to take out 60$ in cash
Lots of people still mainly deal with cash even with other methods. I find that it's usually the older generations prefer cash more than any card.

Personally, about 5% of my expenditure are still cash based since some of the stores I go to are still cash only or doesn't take debit under a certain amount. So I have to still carry cash.

I know a few people who are still paid in cash so for them ATMs are a way to deposit their cash. Not everyone has gone digital either.
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deltatux wrote: Lots of people still mainly deal with cash even with other methods. I find that it's usually the older generations prefer cash more than any card.

Personally, about 5% of my expenditure are still cash based since some of the stores I go to are still cash only or doesn't take debit under a certain amount. So I have to still carry cash.

I know a few people who are still paid in cash so for them ATMs are a way to deposit their cash. Not everyone has gone digital either.
There's so many reasons to carry cash- you owe a friend money and don't want to etransfer him, you don't want to chance your debit or credit card getting skimmed and don't have apple pay or google pay, you don't want Google or Apple to know everything you purchase, your atm just ate your card, you want to tip in cash.

Having said that, sometimes you shouldn't pay in cash. One time I rented a car and paid in cash and later they said I didn't pay. I didn't save my bill since they contacted me only a month later and they took me to collections which was a pain in the neck.
[OP]
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Jul 16, 2019
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dmehus wrote: It's like a branding name for Acculink
A branding name for Acculink that also includes The Exchange? This is one of the reasons Ding Free is so confusing.
dmehus wrote: I prefer to think of ding-free as the "doing business as" name of Acculink, which also lists Exchange ATMs.
It almost sounds as though Ding Free is purely a creation of the Canadian Credit Union Association, with little input from The Exchange. It's as though they thought, "No one knows what Acculink is, so let's change the name to Ding Free in our marketing. And since many credit unions are also on The Exchange, let's conflate the two ATM networks to make things 'simpler' for customers."
dmehus wrote: ding-free is functionally Acculink...full stop. For convenience, ding-free.ca lists both ATM networks.
So an Acculink-only ATM is a Ding Free ATM, but an Exchange-only ATM is not a Ding Free ATM?
Bull Dog wrote: There's so many reasons to carry cash- you owe a friend money and don't want to etransfer him
Why wouldn't you want to do an e-transfer?
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someweirdo wrote: Why wouldn't you want to do an e-transfer?
I don't mind doing an etransfer, but sometimes the other person doesn't want one- eg. it's for a small sum of money, it's an elderly person who's not tech savvy, you need to give them some American cash, they don't want it showing on their books, etc.

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