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Bank branches are still open in the pandemic, but it’s better for everyone if you do your day-to-day banking on your smartphone, tablet or computer.

A new banking customer satisfaction ranking from J.D. Power suggests you could end up a happier customer if you give up branch banking. The two clear leaders in overall satisfaction were Tangerine, with a score of 839 out of 1,000, and Simplii Financial, at 819. Both are online banks.

Tangerine, owned by Bank of Nova Scotia, has its origins as a bank primarily offering high rate savings accounts. Tangerine is just a token competitor in that field now, using temporary bonus rates to obscure a painfully low regular rate (0.25 per cent as of early May). But the bank also has a slick website and mobile app, and a no-fee chequing account. The overall package seems to hit the mark with customers.

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Simplii, formerly PC Financial, is owned by Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce. Its overall satisfaction ranking soared by 33 points over last year, by far the biggest improvement of any banks ranked by J.D. Power.

Simplii and Tangerine were assigned to the mid-size bank category by J.D. Power. Among big banks, the leaders were Royal Bank of Canada at 794 and TD Canada Trust at 790. The rankings suggest a degree of parity in service among big banks. CIBC, Bank of Montreal and Scotiabank all scored 782 or higher.

Branch banking is actually a driver of customer satisfaction, J.D. Power found. Those who banked using a combination of digital and branch visits were more satisfied than digital-only clients. But the strong showing by Tangerine and Simplii tells you something about digital banking. Their clients are the happiest.

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Rob’s personal finance reading list …

Need-to-know stuff if you’re renewing a mortgage

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Tips here on when to lock in a mortgage rate if you’re renewing in the months ahead, and a discussion of variable vs. fixed rates. The overriding good news here is that rates are exceptionally low.

Pandemic discounts, from A to Z

A handy directory of corporate discounts available during the pandemic, including those in areas like vehicle insurance, telecom services and entertainment.

Cashback credit card faceoff: Which type is right for you?

A comparison of cards that offer flat rate of cashback and those that offers different rates in categories such as groceries or gas.

Pros and cons of raising your auto insurance deductible

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You understand that you can lower your vehicle insurance premiums by raising the deductible, right? But how much, exactly, and what if you have an accident and have to cover more of the repair cost yourself?

Ask Rob

Q: Can you suggest any way to persuade Air Miles to transfer Dream Miles to Cash Miles (currently not allowed) in light of the present situation?

A: Air Miles says on its website that reward miles cannot be transferred between cash and dream accounts, which is unfortunate for people who want to move dream miles to cash so they can pay for things like groceries. If enough people raised this with Air Miles, perhaps they might agree to a one-time transfer for people facing financial hardship in the pandemic. You can reach Air Miles on Twitter at @airmiles.

Do you have a question for me? Send it my way. Sorry I can’t answer every one personally. Questions and answers are edited for length and clarity.

Today’s financial tool

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Personal finance expert Kelley Keehn has compiled a thorough list of resources for people who need financial help as a result of the pandemic, or who want to learn more about taking control of their finances.

What I’ve been writing about

  • Lessons on money shame from a financial planner who declared bankruptcy at 25
  • Pandemic Personal Finance Update No. 7: Retirement postponed, plus the coming second wave of money stress (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)
  • The no-fear, no-hype take on how much you’ll make in stocks and bonds over the long term (for Globe Unlimited subscribers)

More Carrick and money coverage For more money stories, follow me on Instagram and Twitter, and join the discussion on my Facebook page. Millennial readers, join our Gen Y Money Facebook group. Send us an e-mail to let us know what you think of my newsletter. Want to subscribe? Click here to sign up.

Personal finance columnist Rob Carrick offers some tips to help you maintain financial flexibility as markets drop and businesses shut down over COVID-19. The Globe and Mail
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