Why is banking so expensive in Canada?

We have two major oligopolies in Canada -- the communication companies (Bell, Rogers, Shaw, and Telus) and the major banks (BMO, RBC, CIBC, and TD).

I'm routinely annoyed by both, but today I'm going to complain about the banks. In the US, banks compete with one another, and routinely offer no-fee, no-limit chequing accounts. The major banks here do not.*

I recently learned that the bank I deal with, RBC, offers their $10.95/month unlimited chequing account FOR FREE in the States. Have a look: US RBC Free Checking Account

Meanwhile, their Canadian division charges more than $130 a year for the same product!

Why do they do this? Because they can. They're colluding with the other major banks to keep fees artificially high, and nobody has challenged them.

Aren't these guys supposed to keep watch for this sort of thing?

* Yes, I know some of the "fringe" banks like PC Financial do, but there are a lot of drawbacks to these accounts. They have deposit wait times, and limited access to your money.

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