connectFirst credit union is member-owned and regulated by the province of Alberta. It resulted from the amalgamation of First Calgary Financial, Chinook Financial, Mountain View Financial, Legacy Financial and SPARK the Energy Credit Union. The history of connectFirst credit union goes back to 1938 when the predecessor to First Calgary Financial was founded.
In 2014, the merger of First Calgary Financial and Chinook Financial was announced. The result of this merger created Alberta’s second-largest credit union. Connect First has 41 branches, mostly in southern and central Alberta, serving more than 128,000 members. In addition to personal (retail) banking, it offers services to businesses, especially the agriculture sector.
For personal customers, connectFirst offers various financial products, which it classifies into spending, saving, investing, borrowing, and insurance products.
ConnectFirst borrowing products include Simple Mortgage, Flex Mortgage, Cash-Back Mortgage, Head-Start Mortgage, home equity line of credit (HELOC), Line of Credit, Overdraft Protection, Personal Loan, Auto Financing, and RRSP Loan.
A connectFirst Simple Mortgage is a closed mortgage with a five-year term fixed rate. It does not include any prepayment privilege. Simple Mortgage can either be a conventional mortgage or a high-ratio mortgage.
The rates shown are for insured mortgages with a down payment of less than 20%. You may get a different rate if you have a low credit score or a conventional mortgage. Rates may change at any time.
A connectFirst Flex Mortgage includes an annual prepayment privilege of up to 20% of the initial mortgage principal (so it is considered flexible). Part of this prepayment can be made by increasing installments by up to 20%. Flex Mortgage can be taken as a variable rate mortgage or as a fixed rate mortgage.
ConnectFirst only offers variable-rate mortgages with a five-year term. The interest rate on a variable-rate mortgage is always determined by the lender's prime rate. So a connectFirst variable rate is connectFirst prime rate + a premium.
In theory, each lender determines their own prime rate. In practice all Canadian lenders change their prime rate in locksteps. Such moves are choreographed by changes in the bank of Canada benchmark rate.
Fixed-rate Flex mortgages can be taken as a 1-year fixed-rate mortgage, a 2-year fixed-rate mortgage, a 3-year fixed-rate mortgage, a 4-year fixed-rate mortgage or a 5-year fixed-rate mortgage.
A connectFirst Cash Back Mortgage is a 5-year fixed Flex Mortgage where you would pay a slightly higher interest rate in exchange for receiving a cashback payment after the mortgage is funded.
A connectFirst Head Start Mortgage is a 5-year fixed Flex Mortgage that returns your installments for the first three months in exchange for a higher mortgage rate.
A connectFirst HELOC takes one’s home as collateral so that one can borrow up to 80% of their home’s value at a very reasonable rate.
A connectFirst Line of Credit can be either secured or unsecured. Its limit is determined by the credit union for each member independently.
Members can access Overdraft protection for a limit as high as $5,000 for a monthly fee of $5. ConnectFirst also offers personal loans, which have an amortization schedule but no limitation on prepayments. ConnectFirst offers auto financing through close to 500 dealerships across Alberta. It also offers RRSP loans.
ConnectFirst offers its chequing accounts with five different fee structures. It also offers a US dollar account.
ConnectFirst offers a savings account called Simple Save, and a high-interest savings account called Save More; it offers non-Redeemable GICs called Term Deposits and market-linked GICs called Market Advantage. ConnectFirst also sells mutual funds and offers investment advice and financial planning, which it markets as Private Wealth.
ConnectFirst also offers tax shelters. These tax shelters include registered retirement savings plans, tax free savings accounts, retirement income funds, registered education savings plans and registered disability savings plans.
Connect First insurance products are listed below:
Critical illness insurance provides a tax-free lump sum payment if a critical illness is diagnosed during the time the insurance policy is in effect. If, during this time, the insured dies, premiums will be refunded to their beneficiary.
Personal insurance will pay the financial obligations of the insured in the event of their death.
Disability insurance would provide monthly tax-free payments if the earning ability of the insured is reduced due to a disability.
Credit & mortgage insurance include mortgage life insurance and mortgage disability insurance.
The member satisfaction level with connectFirst services seems to depend strongly on the branch serving them. Average Google review scores range from a low of 1 out of 5 at their business and agriculture center in Medicine Hat and 2 out of 5 for connect First head office in Calgary to a high of 5 out of 5 for their branches at 2580 Southland Dr. SW Calgary, at 10th Ave N in Carstairs, as well as their branches in Fort Macleod, Nanton, Eckville, Vulcan and Hanna. Unfortunately, some branches do not have any reviews on Google, and some (including some with a full score of 5) have only one review. We have to consider scores which are the result of very few reviews as unreliable.