EQ Bank Review

(Editor Rating)

Ranking

9.2/10

With no monthly account fees and high-interest rates, EQ Bank wins out as one of the best banks in Canada. The Savings Plus Account offers no everyday banking fees, free Interac e-Transfers®, free day-to-day transactions, and a stellar 1.50%* everyday interest rate. We also love how this savings account can function like a chequing account and can be used to pay bills and also transfer money instantly.
*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.

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Fees

10/10

Ease-of-Use

8/10

Interest Rates

10/10

Overall Value Proposition

8/10



Best for:

 

  • High interest rates
  • No everyday banking fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Cheap international money transfers
  • GIC investments
  • High interest savings accounts

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What is EQ Bank?

Officially launched in January of 2016, EQ Bank is an online-only bank in Canada, popular for its amazingly high-interest rates and no everyday banking fees. It offers two products: GICs and the Savings Plus Account – a high-interest savings account that offers no everyday banking fees, no minimum balances, and an outstanding everyday interest rate of 1.50%*. What’s unique is you can also use this savings account to pay bills and move money instantly – just like a chequing account.

Unlike traditional banks, EQ Bank doesn’t offer RRSPs, TFSAs, or even chequing accounts. There are also no joint accounts — although the bank is working towards offering this in the future. But sometimes less is more, as EQ Bank wins out in terms of high-interest rates and low fees. Furthermore, the bank has recently partnered with TransferWise so that clients can send quick and cheap international money transfers directly from their Savings Plus Account. This is a real boon for many Canadians because transferring money abroad can be costly with the wire transfer fees and conversion rates. All things considered, EQ Bank is an innovator in the banking world and is one of the best banks in Canada.

*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.

Key Features

  • No everyday banking fees: The Savings Plus Account offers no monthly account fees, free Interac e-Transfers® and bill payments, and free day-to-day transactions.

  • Unique Hybrid Account: The Savings Plus Account functions like a chequing account and can be used to pay bills and also transfer money instantly with no transaction or account fees.

  • High-Interest Rate on Savings Accounts: EQ Bank currently offers a 1.50%* everyday interest rate for the Savings Plus Account. That’s one of the highest standard (i.e. it’s not a promotion rate that decreases significantly after a few months) interest rates in Canada.

*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.


  • Free Transfers: Savings Plus Account offers free Interac e-Transfers®, as well as free transfers to other EQ accounts and free bill payments..

  • Cheap International Money Transfers: The Savings Plus Account  offers speedy international money transfers in over 30 currencies thanks to a new partnership with TransferWise—the first of its kind in Canada. Send money overseas from your Savings Plus Account with a transparent exchange rate and no hidden fees.

  • High-Interest GICs: EQ Bank is also well known for its generous GIC interest rates and is consistently ranked as some of the best GIC rates in Canada. Currently, GIC interest rates range from 1.80% for a 3-month GIC to 1.80% for a 5-year term deposit. To open a GIC account, you will first need to open a Savings Plus Account to purchase the GIC. Note that EQ Bank doesn’t offer GICs in registered accounts (e.g. TFSAs or RRSPs). GIC must be a minimum of $100, with an investment limit of $100,000 and a maximum of 20 GICs per customer.

  • Zero Minimum Balance: For the Savings Plus Account, there is no minimum balance requirement, giving you the ultimate flexibility to stash your cash whenever and wherever you want. However, there is a maximum balance of $200,000 per customer.

  • Handy Mobile App: EQ Bank recently launched an impressive mobile app that’s compatible with both Android and iOS. Now, with the click of a few buttons, you can pay bills, transfer money, deposit cheques, set and track the financial goals, and more – all from your mobile device. It has some savvy safety features too: use fingerprint authentication or facial recognition to securely access your accounts.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Excellent interest rates: 1.50%* everyday interest rate for the Savings Plus account; 1.50% to 1.80% for GICs (at the time of writing)
  • Excellent GIC Investments: — Terms range from 3 months to 5 years, all offering high-interest rates
  • No everyday banking fees
  • Free Interac e-transfers®
  • Cheap international money transfers with TransferWise
  • Intuitive mobile app and website

Cons

  • Limited banking products: — No TFSAs, RRSPs, joint accounts or investment services are offered
  • No debit card or access to ATMs
  • Entirely online: no physical branches
  • Does not offer registered GICs: — No TFSA or RRSP are offered

How Does EQ Bank Compare?

When compared to other high interest savings accounts like Tangerine Savings, EQ Bank is more bare-bones in terms of product offerings. It doesn’t offer a debit card so you can’t withdraw money via an ATM, and there are no chequing accounts. However, the lack of a chequing account (which usually has dismal interest rates anyway) is no great loss given that Savings Plus Account functions as a hybrid chequing and savings account: you can make Interac e-Transfers®, pay bills, and transfer money immediately and still get an excellent interest rate.

Another account worth comparing to Savings Plus Account is Wealthsimple Cash – a hybrid account for saving and spending that offers a 0.90% interest rate. There are no fees, and you’ll get the benefit of a saving and spending account rolled into one. Soon you’ll be able to pay your bills, set up a direct deposit for your paycheque, and send free Interac e-Transfers®.

Wealthsimple Cash will also soon be introducing a prepaid card, allowing clients to easily make purchases at merchants and withdrawals from any ATM (Wealthsimple will reimburse any incurred fees). So Wealthsimple Cash’s prepaid card means your money is even more accessible than it is with EQ Bank. While this is certainly a nice perk, Wealthsimple’s interest rate is not as high as EQ Bank, and does not offer GICs – a solid saving tool for those looking to park their money safely in a high-interest investment vehicle.

Certainly, EQ Bank’s lack of TFSA, RRSP and joint account options is a downside. However, these shortcomings can be easily overcome by opening a TFSA or RRSP account with an online bank like Tangerine, a robo advisor like Wealthsimple, or an online brokerage like Questrade.

GICs

When it comes to getting the highest GIC interest rates in Canada, EQ Bank is certainly at the top, but it does have a couple of competitors like Oaken Financial and People's Trust. For example, both offer TFSA and RRSP accounts, as well as non-registered, GIC accounts, whereas EQ Bank does not.

They also each have appealing interest rates. For example, for a 5-year GIC Oaken Financial offers 2.30% and People’s Trust offers 2.15%, compared to 1.80% with EQ Bank. However, Oaken requires a minimum investment of $1,000 for its GICs (as compared to EQ Bank’s $100) and though People’s Trust GIC rates are high, their e-Savings account presently only features an interest rate of 1.80%. This means EQ Bank comes out ahead if you want consistently high-interest rates and no fees for both your savings and GIC accounts.

Signing Up for EQ Bank

As a fully digital bank, you can only join EQ Bank via your computer or the mobile app. You must be a Canadian resident, meet your province’s age of majority and have a Social Insurance Number. EQ Bank is not available to residents of Quebec.

The first step is to set up your email and password, after which you’ll be asked for more detailed information and will need to provide your SIN number and occupation. EQ Bank then does a soft credit check to confirm your identity. Note that because it’s a “soft” credit check your credit score will not be affected.

Once your identity is confirmed you can go on to set up linked bank accounts. To confirm your linked bank accounts EQ Bank will send several tiny (under $1) deposits to your external bank accounts to confirm they belong to you. Once confirmed, you can transfer money into your EQ Bank account.

Though filling out the initial information form takes only minutes, it can take on average between five to seven days to set up an external bank link and receive funds into your EQ Bank. Once set up, however, funds should only take about two days on average to arrive into your EQ Bank Savings Plus account.

EQ Bank FAQs

Though some Canadians may be skeptical of a no-frills digital bank, your money is safe with EQ Bank. EQ Bank is brought to you by Equitable Bank, which has been operating successfully in Canada since 1970 when it was founded as The Equitable Trust Company. As a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), your funds are eligible for deposit insurance. Equitable Bank is a federally regulated Schedule I Bank with over 900 employees and total managed assets of approximately $33 billion.
It’s a legitimate question to ask how EQ Bank can possibly make money while charging no fees and offering high-interest rates. They make money the same way other banks do: by using clients’ deposits to fund loans for other customers and then making money from the interest charged on those loans. Furthermore, as a fully digital bank, EQ Bank keeps costs very low by having no physical branches.
No, there is no debit card. To make withdrawals you will need to transfer money to an external bank account and then make a withdrawal from that bank. Keep in mind that by sending an Interac e-Transfers® to yourself, you’ll have access to funds at your alternate financial institution almost instantly. External bank transfers can, however, take up to 48 hours or longer if there is a hold on the funds.
EQ Bank is a worthwhile option for those looking for high-interest rates and no everyday banking fees. Furthermore, free Interac e-Transfers® and electronic fund transfers make it easier to live without a chequing account. If you can live without a full-service bank offering mortgages, personal loans, and investment services, you can really reap the rewards of this no-frills, low-cost banking option.
No, but the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account can essentially act like a chequing account because of how easy it is to transfer money to your external bank accounts. You can also continue to do everyday banking like paying bills or making deposits with your EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.

Final Call: Should You Use EQ Bank?

While the lack of accounts (like TFSA or RRSPs) means that you may need a “backup” bank on-hand, EQ Bank is a great option for Canadians willing to embrace streamlined services for superb interest rates. It’s ideal for clients who don’t need to have all their financial accounts with a single institution and don’t consider it a hassle to manage multiple accounts between different banks. It’s important not to approach EQ Bank as though it will be your only financial institution because you will need to have an alternate bank for things like quick cash withdrawals and TFSA or RRSP savings.

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