After becoming a client when they first launched over three years ago, I thought it was about time to pen the authoritative EQ Bank Review for Canadians to compare to their traditional branch banking services. I was even part of their early-access group before their popular EQ high interest EQ Bank Savings Plus Account was available to the public!

In that time, I became more and more confused every time that I drove by one of our large Canadian banks and saw a lineup of people. 

I’d ask myself, “Don’t people know that they can bank for free now? Why would you wait in-line AND pay a monthly fee just to have an account at a bank?”

I understand if you’re running a corporation and need a special business bank account with all the bells and whistles (like being able to pay your corporation’s HST bills online). But for us regular people that want to bank for free, while earning a high interest rate on our savings, I have consistently found EQ online banking to be the best option.

Here are the main benefits that I’ve found with EQ Bank after over three-and-a-half years of use, along with the few drawbacks.

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

Highlights

2.00%* Everyday Interest Rate
Top Canada GIC Interest Rates
ZERO Monthly Account Fees
ZERO Daily Banking Fees
Excellent Mobile App
No Minimum Balance to Open Account
Unlimited FREE Interac e-Transfers®
FREE Electronic Funds Transfer
All deposit products are eligible for CDIC deposit insurance†
7-Day Per Week Customer Service
Easy Cheque Deposit and Bill Payment Options

Drawbacks

No current TFSA or RRSP account options (you should be using a discount brokerage for these accounts anyway)
No Debit Card (Instead use a credit card and pay it monthly)
No Corporate Accounts
EQ Bank Rating
  • High Interest Savings Rate
  • GIC Interest Rate
  • Low Bank Fees
  • Ease of Use and Customer Service
  • Mobile App
  • FREE Interac e-Transfers® and EFT
  • Account Options
4.8

Summary

The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is the one of the best options in Canada for your daily banking needs.  The eye-popping 2.00%* interest rate is NOT a teaser rate, and has proven its sustainability over time.  The EQ Bank online banking experience is top-notch, and the ability to send unlimited transactions online through Electronic Funds Transfers (EFTs) and/or Interac e-Transfers® is unparalleled in Canada. 

While the lack of TFSA/RRSP and debit card options aren’t ideal, read below to find out our easy solutions to hacking these small issues.

The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account Interest Rate Advantage

The main attraction for most Canadians when it comes to EQ Bank, is the high amount of interest that the bank offers you on your savings. 

At the time of this EQ Bank Review (January, 2020), the interest rate that they provide is 2.00%* – which is more than double what many of the major banks in Canada offer. 

We all need emergency funds and some cash on-the-side for our day-to-day expenses, so why would you settle for less than 1% (which is fairly common), when you can easily earn more than double that with a free account at EQ Bank? 

To me, this was a no-brainer, and EQ Bank has become my primary location where I keep our emergency fund, spending money, and the part of my investment portfolio that I want ultra-safe and guaranteed. 

Do I Need to “Lock In” Money Within an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account to Get 2.00%*?

No! 

You can use your money whenever you want.

Before EQ Bank came along, there would be this traditional approach of everybody having two accounts:

  1. The first would be a “chequing account” where the money is available at all times. But the downside was that it earned you almost no interest.
  2. The second account would be a “savings account”. This would be where you would receive a slightly higher interest rate than a chequing account (although still nowhere near what EQ Bank offers), but the downside was that the money wasn’t available for day-to-day spending. 

If you needed it, you had to initiate a transfer to your chequing account, wait for a day, and then finally you would have access to the money. 

The additional annoyance that you would have to endure, is that that banks typically impose limits on how many transactions like this you can do, and there are fees charged if you exceed your allowed number of transactions.

The neat thing about EQ Bank is that this old-school way of thinking about your accounts goes out the window. Instead, you can just have one account which is called the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account. In here, you earn the high interest rate AND the money is available to you at all times. 

Need to send someone money immediately? No problem, you can do that for free. You don’t have to play the game of transferring money from your savings account, to your chequing account, waiting for a day, and then finally moving the money over while being charged some e-transfer fee.

This added convenience with EQ Bank is great, as you no longer have to manage how much you have in your savings vs your chequing. All the money is simply available at all times, and it’s all earning that high rate of interest. If you want to supercharge your EQ Bank high interest rates, I recommend scrolling down to check out my thoughts on the EQ Bank GIC options.

In other words, you no longer have to trade-off between having instant access to your money, and earning a higher interest rate.

EQ Bank Fees:

There is almost no way to pay fees to EQ Bank!

In short, the EQ Bank Savings Plus Accounts has:

  • No monthly account fees
  • Unlimited Interact e-Transfers®
  • No fees for bill payments
  • No overdraft fees
  • No dormant account fees

If you’re wondering what the catch is – there is no catch.  EQ Bank makes money by taking your cash and lending it out to others at a higher interest rate.  The difference between what they pay you, and what they lend out on the other side, is large enough to make substantial profits.  EQ Bank doesn’t rely on monthly account fees, or “nickel & diming” you on individual transactions in order to make a dollar.  Instead they cut their operating costs to the absolute bone by streamlining their product offerings, and not having to pay a ton of costs to open bricks-and-mortar banking branches.

The Million Dollar Journey Ultimate EQ Bank Hack

Two of the tradeoffs for the excellent EQ Bank Savings Plus Account Interest Rate of 2.00%*, are the lack of a debit card option and the inability to open a TFSA or RRSP.  Here’s a little secret through:

You shouldn’t be using a high interest savings account to make daily payments or save for retirement!

If you want to maximize your daily spending habits, don’t use a debit card.  Instead, use a credit card, snag all of the free stuff that comes with using a credit card, then simply pay off the credit card balance each month.  EQ Bank makes this as easy as possible, by allowing you to set up a free pre-authorized payment each month, EQ Bank will allow you to keep your money earning interest with them as long as possible, and then automatically transfer the cash needed to pay your credit card bill each month.  All credit cards offered by the major Canadian banks, AMEX and MBNA have the ability to set this pre-authorized payment up. All you have to do is make sure that you keep enough money in your EQ Bank Savings Plus Account each month to cover the cost of your credit card bill.

When it comes to using a RRSP or TFSA, you shouldn’t be using them park large amounts of cash.  Instead, in a perfect world, your contributions should be maxed out and you should be using them to build a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds.  If this process is a bit scary – don’t worry – it should be as simple as opening up a discount brokerage account, and purchasing a single type of investment product called an all-in-one ETF.  Please check out our Questrade Review for details on our favourite discount brokerage.

Setting up these two short work arounds will take roughly one hour.  Yes – one hour of paperwork kind of sucks – but it’s a relatively small price to pay to get thousands of dollars in free credit card benefits each year, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in investment returns that you will gain by investing in stocks and bonds from around the world within your TFSA or RRSP, instead of parking money in cash.

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account Review: Minimum Balances 

No minimum required to open an EQ Bank Savings Account.

I see a lot of other banks offer incentives such as: If you keep a large amount of money in an account, you won’t have to pay the banking fees and you’ll get a high interest rate. 

Yet, I found that even if you meet these conditions, the rate you get is still typically much lower than what you get with EQ Bank. 

With EQ Bank, you don’t have to worry about minimum balances, and about all of a sudden being charged some monthly fee if you fall below that minimum balance threshold. Keep reading below for more information on EQ Bank Fees.

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account Free Interac e-transfers® and Electronic Funds Transfers

While the high interest rate is definitely the thing that initially attracts most people to EQ Bank (at least that was the case for me), I also found tremendous convenience in being able to send money for free through unlimited Interac e-Transfers® and Electronic Funds Transfers. 

Yes, there are other banks that offer free Interac e-transfers® now too, but I find that the combination of this feature plus the much higher interest rate that EQ Bank provides, make EQ Bank the clear winner.

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account Unlimited Transactions:

No longer do you have to worry about keeping track and going over your “transactions” limit which results in you having to pay additional bank fees. 

This is another major reason why I don’t understand why people still use banks that impose such limits on them. 

We’re all busy and have enough things to remember and track in our day-to-day lives. Why would you want to also have to remember how many transactions you have left in a month? 

With EQ Bank, such limits never enter your mind. You just use your money however you see fit, pay whatever bills you need to pay, send money to whoever you need to send, and buy whatever it is you need to buy. All this with no concerns of hitting some arbitrary transaction limit and getting charged some additional fees set out by the bank. 

Is EQ Bank Safe?

YES.

Equitable Bank is a member of CDIC, which means your deposits with Equitable Bank & EQ Bank are eligible for deposit insurance from the CDIC.

Drawbacks to Your EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

No EQ Bank Savings Plus Account for Business

The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is intended for personal use. At the time of this writing, they do not have Business Chequing/Savings accounts that you can use for your business.

I definitely advise against trying to use your personal account as a corporate business account. You’ll eventually run into problems like when you try to pay your GST/HST bill to the government.  

Not available in Quebec

Pretty self-explanatory. If you are in Quebec, consider using which is also a great low-cost way to bank (although their interest rate isn’t as high as EQ Bank Savings Plus Account).

Common Questions About EQ Online Banking

Does EQ Bank Have a TFSA or RRSP Account?

No. Currently neither are offered through EQ Bank. 

Does EQ Bank Have a Debit Card?

No. You do not need one as everything is done online or through the phone. They do not have physical bank branches or ATMs, so there is no use for a debit card. Instead, you receive your account number when you sign up and just use that together with your password. 

Does EQ Bank Have Joint Accounts?

At the time of this writing they do not. However, their site does state that this is in development, and will be launched in the future. 

EQ Bank GIC Rates

If you’re looking to receive even more interest out of your savings, then an EQ Bank GIC is another option to consider. 

The main difference between a Savings Account and a GIC, is that the GIC will give you more interest, but the money will be locked-in/unavailable for a certain period of time that you specify.

For example, as of this writing, while their EQ Bank Savings Plus Account offers you 2.00%* interest, if you are willing to lock-in some of your money into a 1 year GIC, then you will instead earn 2.00% on that money. 

The longer you are willing to lock-in your money, the higher the interest rate that you’ll receive. 

A common strategy is to have a portion of your cash in a savings account to fund your day-to-day expenses and your emergency fund. Any cash that you have left over (which you are not going to be investing in the markets) can go into a GIC to earn that higher rate of interest. 

Are GICs risky? No. You receive a guaranteed rate of return for the term that you select. For EQ Bank, the terms range between 3 months and 5 years. 

The money that you put into the GIC is also eligible for deposit insurance from the CDIC.

Overall, GICs can be a great tool to help maximize the interest that you receive on cash that you know you won’t need for a certain period of time. 

They can also be great for large expenses that you have coming up, as you can lock-in a higher rate for a term that finishes right before you have that large expense.

New GICs do fluctuate with interest rates, so be sure to check the most recent GIC rates and promotions

I’ve also included the rates below:

  • 3 Month: 2.45%
  • 6 Month: 2.20%
  • 9 Month: 2.20%
  • 1 Year: 2.25%
  • 15 Month: 2.25%
  • 2 Year: 2.25%
  • 27 Month: 2.25%
  • 3 Year: 2.25%
  • 4 Year: 2.25%
  • 5 Year: 2.25%

To purchase a GIC, you will need an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account which you can get for free here.

Have a GIC question? Feel free to leave it below in the comments.

Pay Less than 1% on Foreign Currency Transfers

Another unique area that EQ Bank offers substantial savings, is in regards to currency transfers.  Canada’s large banks charge you once with a $15 wire fee, and then hit you again when you exchange your Canadian dollars into American (or any other currency you require) with a spread averaging at  more than 2%. In layman’s terms, it means that for each $1,000 transfer you’ll pay $35. If you need to make a sizable transaction of $100,000, you will leave between $2,000 and $2,500 on the table. 

EQ Bank now makes it easier to transfer money abroad with a discount, using one of the world’s most sought-after money transfer systems – Transferwise! 

On December 12, 2019, EQ Bank launched an international money transfer service powered by Transferwise. Clients will be able to access it through their bank platform without any additional hurdles – and transfer money abroad quickly, cheaply and efficiently.

About Transferwise: UK’s most recognizable startup company has been funded by prominent VCs and angel investors like Peter Thiel, PayPal’s founder. The company has raised in excess of USD$400m, and has positioned itself as an industry leader over the course of its 7 years of operation. The company nowadays boasts more than 1,900 employees globally, with a transaction volume of more than CAD$7bn each month.

The fees charged by EQ Bank’s international transfer service, powered by Transferwise:

  • Approximately 0.85% of small transfers of up to $1,000.
  • Approximately 0.77% of medium transfers of $1,000 to $2,000.
  • Approximately 0.73% of large-medium transfers of $5,000 to $10,000.
  • Up to 0.7% for really large, six figure, transfers.

Transfers inbound to Canada from the UK, EU or Australia will incur approximately 0.5% in fees regardless of size (that’s how their pricing works in the majority of countries).

To learn more about Transferwise, Check out this in-depth Transferwise review.

Signing Up for an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

You can sign up for a free account to EQ Bank Savings Plus Account using this link.

On the main page, simply click the “Join Now” or “Set up an account” button. 

Once you do that, just enter your email address and the password that you’d like to use. 

EQ Bank will need to confirm your identity (for tax purposes and security purposes), so be ready to answer some identification questions. For instance, they will need your Social Insurance Number (SIN) as they have to report the interest you earn each year to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you are having trouble signing up, use their live chat feature, or click on the phone icon at the top of their page. 

Keep in mind that EQ Bank is not available to residents of Quebec, and you must be a Canadian resident to open an account.

EQ Bank will also pull a credit report for you to verify your identity, but this is a “soft” credit check which means it won’t affect your credit score, and it won’t be visible to anybody else that views your credit report.

Final Recommendation

EQ Bank is a no-brainer for personal banking. It’s as simple as that. 

In the years that I’ve been with them, they have consistently had one of the highest interest rates available to us Canadians. 

Don’t be fooled by other banks that try to tempt you with temporary higher rates. You’ll see ads like that all the time. When you look deeper into those promotions though, you’ll quickly learn that when a rate looks too good to be true, it’s typically because the rate is only valid for a few months. They just use it to get you in the door. Unless your time is worth very little to you, it’s not worth your time to switch banks every few months just to get a few extra dollars of interest on your cash.

While the interest rate from EQ Bank is great, I also love how it doesn’t come with a load of restrictions and additional fees like many of the other banks. 

The flexibility and convenience of the ultra-high EQ Bank interest rates in their EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is a surprise benefit that I didn’t expect (and it’s something that I didn’t think I’d enjoy this much). 

The unlimited transactions and unlimited Interac e-Transfers® have become so convenient, that I love just being able to bank, and never have to worry about racking up transaction fees or not meeting some arbitrary limit like a minimum balance. Once you get used to free and unlimited, it’s hard to go back someplace else.

Definitely try out EQ Bank by opening up a free EW Banks Savings Plus Account. Enjoy the high interest and convenience, and feel free to leave a comment with your experience or questions.

EQ Bank Rating
  • High Interest Savings Rate
  • GIC Interest Rate
  • Low Bank Fees
  • Ease of Use and Customer Service
  • Mobile App
  • FREE Interac e-Transfers® and EFT
  • Account Options
4.8

Summary

The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is the one of the best options in Canada for your daily banking needs.  The eye-popping 2.00%* interest rate is NOT a teaser rate, and has proven its sustainability over time.  The EQ Bank online banking experience is top-notch, and the ability to send unlimited transactions online through Electronic Funds Transfers (EFTs) and/or Interac e-Transfers® is unparalleled in Canada. 

While the lack of TFSA/RRSP and debit card options aren’t ideal, read below to find out our easy solutions to hacking these small issues.

Kornel Szrejber

Kornel is the host of the Build Wealth Canada Show, and has been featured for paying off his mortgage in only 6 years while still in his 20s, and becoming one of Canada’s youngest retirees at the age of 32. He now runs a top personal finance and investing podcast created specifically for Canadians, as well as Canada’s largest personal finance and investing conference. There he interviews the top personal finance experts to share their best practices, tips and tactics when it comes to investing and financial planning in Canada.

* Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.
† Equitable Bank is a member of CDIC. EQ Bank is a trade name of Equitable Bank.”

9 Comments

  1. Alun Jenkins on December 31, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    I have used EQ bank almost as long as you have and agree with everything you have stated.

  2. Noëlle on December 31, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Without a debit card how do you handle transactions that don’t accept credit cards? How would you withdraw or deposit cash? I have an EQ account but I still find I need a traditional bank account to be able to handle cash gifts, cash purchases, etc. Which means keeping a high minimum balance or paying monthly fees even though 98% of my spending is on my credit card. I would love to be able to ditch the traditional bank!

    • Ian on January 4, 2020 at 10:23 am

      “Which means keeping a high minimum balance or paying monthly fees even though 98% of my spending is on my credit card.”

      Tangerine, Simplii, Alterna, and Motusbank all have a full bank product line-up without fees or minimums. Discount bank + EQ is pretty easy to maintain.

  3. Anna on December 31, 2019 at 6:31 pm

    Waiting for EQ to open joint accounts; much easier to deal with if something were to happen to either one of us.

    • Tom on January 4, 2020 at 5:58 pm

      I agree Anna since you’re also not able to name a beneficiary.

  4. Tom on January 4, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    WealthSimple parks any cash from Savings Accounts in EQ as well.

  5. CJ on January 5, 2020 at 6:55 am

    Hi Kornel, you didn’t give an alternative to EQ in Quebec (and I think you meant to, reading above). And is there a particular reason why they are not active in Quebec?

  6. bob james on January 6, 2020 at 9:24 pm

    We’ve tried to open accounts there but finally gave up about 80% through the process. I now know why we were stymied — we didn’t have accounts at one of the banks they specify. PLEASE, look at the FAQ’s and determine whether you are eligible to open an account.

  7. Bobby V on January 20, 2020 at 6:13 pm

    Hi there, any idea why EQ Bank started paying interest on the first of the month rather than the last day of the month? This happened for me starting November 1, 2019. I know I’ll receive a T5 but it just makes it confusing for what interest amounts are included in 2019 tax year.

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