EQ Bank Review 2021: Best Savings Account in Canada

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If you’re looking to open a high interest savings account (HISA) in Canada and wondering if EQ Bank is a right choice, you’re in the right place.

In this EQ Bank Review, I wrote about the bank’s product offerings, their features and how to open an account to start earning one of the best savings account rates in Canada.

With interest rates dropping and the big banks’ historically low savings accounts rate, opening an account that pays you a decent interest on your hard-earned cash is a no brainer.

An EQ Bank Savings Plus Account gets you just that – an attractive rate and zero fees on your everyday banking transactions.

If you’re ready to start making your money work harder for you, let’s dive in.

EQ Bank Review - the best online bank in Canada with competitive and the highest interest rates on savings accounts.

About EQ Bank

You’re probably wondering who is EQ Bank? Who owns it and how long has it been in operations?

EQ Bank is a Canadian online-only bank that was officially launched in January 2016. It is a trademark of Equitable Bank, one of the largest domestic banks that has been serving Canadians for over 45 years.

Equitable Bank has an asset under management of about $34 billion and it is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Barely 3 months after reaching a deposit milestone of $3 billion, EQ Bank announced it has crossed the $4 billion threshold in September 2020.

EQ Bank Account types

EQ Bank has 3 main account offerings for Canadians. They are covered in detail below.

Savings Plus Account

Excluding promotional or teaser rates, EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account has one of the highest savings interest rates in Canada as at the time of writing this review.

In addition to the attractive rates, customers also enjoy a suite of other features at no fees. Here are some of the other features of the savings account.

  • 1.25% interest rate
  • Zero minimum balance
  • Zero everyday banking fees and no monthly bank fees
  • Free Interac e-Transfers®
  • Free Mobile cheque deposits
  • Free Bill Payments
  • Free transfer between EQ Bank accounts
  • Free transfers between linked accounts – up to 10 accounts can be linked.
  • Open up to 5 different accounts – a good way to separate money for different goals
  • A feature-rich mobile app
  • Cheap international money transfers through its partnership with TransferWise
  • Maximum balance of $200,000, or $500,000 if you open a joint account.

Looking at the features, you’ll notice that the EQ Bank Savings account is a hybrid of a regular savings and chequing account.

You can carry out many of the normal transactions reserved for a chequing account like bills payments, cheque deposits and so on, while still enjoying a high interest rate on your money.

EQ Bank US Dollar Account

The USD denominated accounted was introduced in 2021. It offers a competitive rate of 1.0% and comes with no monthly or transaction charges.

Also, you can easily convert your CAD funds from your Savings Plus Account to the US Dollar account at a competitive exchange rate.

And through EQ Bank’s partnership with Wise, formerly Transferwise, international remittances can be done from the account.

Learn more about the account in this EQ Bank US Dollar Account Review.

EQ Bank TFSA and RSP Accounts

EQ Bank introduced 2 registered accounts in 2020: TFSA and RRSP.

The registered accounts are available as high interest savings account or as GICs. The rate on the HISA is currently 1.25%, one of the best rates on registered savings in Canada.

The GICs also have very competitive rates and require a minimum investment amount of $100.

For a full review of the features, rates and how they compare, check this post on EQ Bank TFSA and RSP Review

EQ Bank Joint Accounts

EQ Bank makes it easy and stress-free to operate an account jointly with up to 3 friends and families.

The process is straight-forward. Simply invite your friends and family to get started.

EQ Bank’s Joint Account is a good option for people with shared expenses or savings like spouses or roommates.

You can convert your existing Individual Savings Plus Account to a joint account. Better still, open a new joint account and keep your individual account separate.

The good thing is you can move money between both accounts easily at no charge.

But you should understand that each joint account holder has full access and control to deposit and withdraw from the accounts. This means you should only consider opening a joint account with people you trust.

The account also has the same attractive rate of 1.25% and allows you to save up to $500,000.

EQ Bank GICs

If you’re willing and able to lock in your money for longer terms, then GICs offer more competitive rates.

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) are secure investments that let you invest your money in exchange for pre-determined and guaranteed interest payment in the future.

EQ Bank has GICs with term ranging from 3 months up to 10 years. And since CDIC protection now cover all GICs irrespective of the term, you can be rest assured that your deposits are safe.

The EQ Bank GIC rates also compare favourably with other banks’ offering. The minimum deposit is low at $100 so you can start investing your money without the need for a large initial deposit.

TermRate (%)
3 Month1.30
6 Month1.30
1 Year1.30
2 Year1.35
3 Year1.65
4 Year1.95
5 Year2.10
6 Year2.10
7 Year2.10
10 Year2.40

Learn more about how GICs work in Canada and the best GIC rates.

You can check my full EQ Bank GIC Review here.

International Money Transfers

EQ Bank has also partnered with TransferWise to offer its customers an easy way to send money to their loved ones internationally, with a daily limit of $9,500 every 24 hours.

At the moment, you can send money to 70 countries in 31 currencies. EQ Bank does not add any markup to the exchange rates, so sending money through EQ Bank can be up to 8x cheaper.

Related: Transferwise Promo Code ($800 Fee-free transfer)

Account Opening Process

The account opening process is very straightforward and can be completed entirely online.

Here are the basic requirements:

  • You must be a Canadian resident
  • Meet the age of majority in your province
  • Have your social insurance number ready

You should know that EQ Bank performs a soft credit check when you open a new account. Never mind though, it won’t affect your credit score.

Alternatively, you’ll need to visit a Canada Post outlet if they are unable to confirm your identity.

As expected, you’ll also need to provide some means of identification, that is a government issued ID and a proof of your address.

Unfortunately, EQ Bank is currently not available to Quebec residents (as at July 2021).

Funding Your Account At EQ Bank

As part of the account opening process, you’ll be prompted to link one of your existing bank accounts to your EQ Bank account.

This is to both confirm your identity and allow money transfers. You can link up to 10 different accounts.

EQ Bank will then send 2 micro-deposits (usually less than $0.30) to those accounts. Once you receive the deposits, simply log back into your account to confirm the deposits.

With your account linked, you can start funding your new savings account using one of the 3 options below:

  • Interac e-Transfer: Send a transfer from one of your other bank accounts and deposit it into the EQ Bank account
  • Electronic Fund Transfer: Transfer from your linked account and receive it in a few days (usually in a day or two).
  • Cheque Deposit: Write a cheque to yourself and take the picture using the EQ Bank app

Depending on how much you want to send and your limit, the Interac e-transfer option is the fastest.

But if you need to transfer more than your daily Interac limit, then the electronic funds transfer and cheque deposits are better alternatives.


Are Deposits at EQ Bank Safe?

Equitable Bank is a member of CDIC so your deposits with EQ Bank are protected. The protection is $100,000 per insured category, per depositor.

Deposits in your name and those held in a joint account are treated as separate insured categories by CDIC. That means you can potentially be covered by more than $100,000 at EQ Bank.

To learn more about CDIC and how it protects your deposits, check out this CDIC guide and this other guide on how to maximize the CDIC protection.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Competitive Interest Rates
  • Zero everyday banking fees
  • Free Interac e-Transfers
  • Cheaper international money transfer through TransferWise
  • Funds are insured through CDIC
  • Excellent customer service
  • EQ Bank has added registered accounts (as at Nov 2020): EQ Bank TFSA and RSP Accounts (with HISA and GICs variants)

Cons

  • No physical locations: It keeps their overheads low and they can pass some of those savings to you in higher interest rates
  • No Debit Card or access to an ATM network: In my opinion, the lack of a debit card is a good thing, especially if you’re using the account to save for financial goals or an emergency fund. You want to limit the ease of accessing the funds.

EQ Bank Mobile App

EQ Bank has a feature-rich mobile app that lets you manage your money on the go.

The app has an intuitive dashboard, and I find it easy to use and seamless. It is available on both iOS and Android.

You can do almost everything you would normally do on the online web version. Here are some of the features available on the mobile app:

  • Cheque deposit
  • Transfer money (including Interac e-Transfers®)
  • Bills payments
  • Digital authentication with facial recognition and fingerprint.
  • Create, edit and track your Savings Goals

EQ Bank Refer a Friend Program

The bank offers a referral program that allows its clients to earn between $20-$40 in referral bonus for referring their loved ones.

To qualify, your referred friends have to sign up using your referral link and deposit a minimum of $100 within a month of opening an EQ Bank Savings Plus account.

The lifetime earnings is capped at $500.

Getting started is easy. You can learn more about the program in the post below.

Learn more: EQ Bank Referral Code & Bonus

Who Should Open An EQ Bank Account?

EQ Bank is ideal for anyone interested in making their money work harder for them.

Specifically, EQ Bank Saving Plus Accounts is a good place to keep your money if you’re saving for:

  1. Emergency Fund
  2. Down payment for a house or car
  3. Other short-term goals like vacation, holiday spending and so on

How EQ Bank Compares to Other Banks

EQ Bank pays one of the highest savings rate in Canada. And the best part is, the rates are not promotional.

A few other digital banks, like Saven Financial and Neo Financial, currently offer slightly higher rates than EQ Bank. You can learn more about the banks with the best high interest savings account rates here.

Also, Motive Savvy Savings Account pays 1.25% but comes with some transaction charges. For example, there’s a $1 fee for Interac Transfers.

EQ Bank vs Tangerine

Tangerine is best for someone looking to keep all their banking needs at a single bank. There are no monthly maintenance fees or transactions charges, but the rate is much lower at just 0.10%.

At the moment, you can get a promotional rate of 2.10% for the first month. Plus, up to a cash bonus of $150.

That’s some nice change so it’s worth considering, at least for some of your savings.

Check the link below to learn more about Tangerine’s product offerings.

EQ Bank Vs Saven Financial

Saven Financial was launched earlier in 2021. Though new, it currently offers a competitive rate of 1.55% on its HISA.

Unfortunately, Saven Financial is only available to Ontario residents for now. Also, there are no TFSA or RRSP accounts currently.

Therefore, EQ Bank Savings Account currently has a better offering with great rates on its registered accounts.


Some FAQs

Is EQ Bank Safe?

Yes. EQ Bank is safe. It is a trademark of Equitable Bank, one of the largest domestic banks that has been serving Canadians for over 45 years.

Are my Deposits safe at EQ Bank?

Yes. Equitable Bank is a member of CDIC so your deposits with EQ Bank are protected. The protection is $100,000 per insured category, per depositor.

Are the saving rates at EQ Bank promotional rates?

No. Unlike some other banks with offer a high interest rate to new customers for a limited period, the rates at EQ Bank are not promotional rates.


Final Thoughts on EQ Bank

My experience with EQ Bank has been positive so this EQ Bank review is positive.

I like the fact that I can set different goals and track them using the account, and also send international transfers easily. And having one of the highest savings account rates in Canada is an icing on the cake.

Start making your cash work harder for you today

Check this post for a review of the EQ Bank Registered (TFSA and RRSP) Accounts.

If you liked this EQ Bank Review, you may also like the reviews of some of the other online banks:

EQ Bank Review
4.7

Summary

EQ Bank is an online-only bank that provides a way for Canadians to earn attractive interest rates on their money, while paying zero fees on their everyday banking transactions

Simon is a CPA by day and a Personal Finance Blogger by night. With over a decade experience in financial services, he's passionate about personal finance, investing and helping people take control of their financial life.

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