I use a relatively unknown bank for my day to day financial needs by the name of Alterna Bank. My needs are relatively simple: direct deposits, pre-authorized debits, bill payments, eTransfers, and occasionally cheques. They’ve served me well and I thought I’d spread the word about a cool feature they have called coverdraft.
I would hope we’re all familiar with overdraft (without having used it) but overdraft is where you either pay per month or per use for the privilege of having the bank loan you some money at a high interest rate to cover a transaction. You’re then expected to pay it back.
Coverdraft is different in that it is using your own money to cover a transaction, instead.
You may ask yourself why would you use this but it’s actually quite simple: having multiple accounts for different purposes. You may have an account with “only touch in case of emergency” funds, an account for bills, an account for vacation, etc.
Coverdraft allows you to avoid any fees for insufficient funds by having another account cover the transaction. Using the above list of accounts a great example would be having your emergency funds account cover your bills account. This is done automatically once set up. Personally I use it as another way to automate my finances, knowing that if something does go wrong then coverdraft will still allow stuff to get paid.
Setting It Up
You need to contact Alterna Bank and instruct them how you want it to work with your accounts. You can have a savings account pull from another savings account, chequing pull from savings, etc.
Some might consider it strange to be writing a blog post about a mobile provider but when considering using Eastlink for mobile service I didn’t find much information about their service in my region and thought I may as well try to help others! Note that this blog post is by no means an extensive review. It’s more of a high level review of things.
For those who are unaware Eastlink is a regional provider which started in Nova Scotia. They do wireline cable service there with TV, internet, and phone. They also have a few pockets of wireline services elsewhere through acquisitions.
Their mobile service is relatively new in comparison to other providers in Canada having only come into existence in 2012 and has wider coverage than their cable network. They serve Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, part of New Brunswick, St. John’s Newfoundland, Sudbury Ontario, and Timmins Ontario. It’s by no means a huge network when you put it against Bell, Telus, or Rogers but for the region is not bad.
Why I Looked At Them
Eastlink first caught my eye when they announced their “Rollover Data” plans. These plans allow you to roll over unused data up to your normal plan limit. For example if your plan is 10GB, then you can roll over up to 10GB giving up to a combined 20GB in a month for times where your data usage is extreme. My data usage is nowhere near that in normal conditions, but it was a differentiator against the incumbents. What initially threw me off was the price of $50/mth, and concern over their coverage.
Some time went by and things changed a bit. The price went down to $45/mth which was closer to my existing $40/mth service, and I realized that I was already having coverage issues.
My existing service was with Koodo which is Telus on the Bell (or Belus) network here. There is no tower near me. This resulted in poor service in the area. Data service not working, voice calls either not working or cutting out, it was just not great and despite it being cheaper if I can’t actually use it… then that’s not great. Upon realizing this I revisited Eastlink and looked to see what they could do.
The Sales Experience
I didn’t go to a store for this. I reached out on their online chat and talked to a sales person. I expressed concern that I had no idea what their service was like and didn’t want to pay to try in that situation. The sales person offered to provide a month of service for free and I said yes. The person set up an account and had a SIM card Xpressposted to me, for pickup at the local post office. It was fairly easy and they were true to their word on the month of service for free. I just used my existing unlocked Samsung S10+ phone without issue. Popped the SIM in, and service came to life.
So, What’s It Like?
It is nothing like I expected in that the service is great. My phone just works for both data and voice. In fact the voice is better because it is VoLTE (it worked out of the box on Eastlink) which would never work on Koodo for me. I also have yet to encounter a situation where I’ve left the Eastlink network despite being outside of it according to their coverage map. I’ve gone around Moncton, Riverview, and dipped into Dieppe a bit. I’m sure this experience will change next year when my outdoor cycling picks back up and I venture outside of Greater Moncton, but even if that happens I’m not worried.
But They Don’t Have Coverage Everywhere
This is perfectly fine because Eastlink phones can roam onto Bell, Telus, Rogers, and Videotron. You can’t spend all your time roaming on them but for the occasional case where you leave the Eastlink coverage area (such as my cycling or when elsewhere in Canada) you just roam onto them and life goes on. You can even force it if you want.
Will I Stay With Them?
Yes. The service just works, is reasonably priced for my needs, and my interactions with them have been nice. There’s nothing right now making me look for an alternative. If things change then I’ll update this blog post accordingly!
If you’ve got questions feel free to leave a comment or reach out on social media!