EQ Bank Review 2021 – Best Rates in Canada

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
4.9

Review Summary:

EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account is the one of the best options in Canada for your daily banking needs.  The eye-popping 1.25%* 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.

As of 2021, EQ has added RRSP and TFSA capability to its platform. The EQ Bank Retirement Savings Plan and EQ Bank Tax Free Savings Account now allow Canadians to shelter their GIC investments from the tax man. This is especially important considering the relatively high tax rate on interest income vs dividends or capital gains.

Pros

  • 1.25%* Everyday Interest Rate
  • Top Canada GIC Interest Rates
  • ZERO Monthly Account Fees + Daily Banking Fees
  • No Minimum Balance to Open Account
  • Excellent Mobile App
  • Unique High Interest TFSA and RRSP Accounts
  • Ranked #1 Bank in Canada by Forbes

Cons

  • No Debit Card (Instead use a credit card and pay it monthly)
  • No Corporate Accounts

EQ Bank Account Options and Interest Rates

Account TypeInterest RateBest For
Daily High Interest Account1.25%*People who want the highest consistent interest rate in Canada + free e-transfers + super cheap international money conversion + FREE BANKING 
EQ GICs1.30%-2.40% Folks looking to get a high ultra-safe return 
EQ TFSA Account1.25%The highest guaranteed rate of return in a TFSA in Canada.
EQ RRSP Account1.25%The highest guaranteed rate of return in an RRSP in Canada.

EQ Bank Review by a Longtime Customer

After becoming a client when they first launched six 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 Bank High Interest 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 Bank online banking to be the best option.

Here are the main benefits that I’ve found with EQ Bank after over four years of use, along with the few drawbacks.

EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account

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 (September 2021), the interest rate that they provide is 1.25%* – which is double what many of the major banks in Canada offer. 

We all need emergency funds and some ready cash for our day-to-day expenses, so why would you settle for less than 1% (which is fairly common at Canada’s big banks), 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. Hence, it is rated #1 on our Canada’s Best High-Interest Savings Account comparison.

Do I Need to “Lock In” Money Within a Savings Plus Account to Get 1.25%*?

The answer is simply put –

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 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 Savings Plus Account. 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, EQ’s Savings Plus Account 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

One of the tradeoffs for EQ’s excellent Savings Plus Account Interest Rate of 1.25%*, is the lack of a debit card option.  Here’s a little secret through:

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

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 Savings Plus Account each month to cover the cost of your credit card bill.

It would take you under an hour to check out our comparison of Canada’s best travel credit cards or the top cashback cards, apply for one, and then setup the automatic pre-authorized payment.

I earned just over $3,700 in free credit card travel rewards in 2020 alone in this manner – plus kept earning the highest interest rate in Canada on all of the cash in my everyday account!

EQ Bank RRSP and TFSA GIC Accounts

In November 2020, EQ Bank rolled out one of their most long-awaited innovations – an RRSP and TFSA option that Canadians can use for mid- and long-term savings growth.

The EQ Bank TFSA GIC Account is offering an initial rate of 1.75% for a 3-month term – and because it’s sheltered in a registered account, your interest gains will not be taxed!  

The EQ Bank RRSP GIC Account runs along a similar track and has the same 1.75% interest offer.  As with an RRSP contribution, using the EQ Bank RRSP will lower your taxable income, and for most people, will trigger a nice little tax refund.

As with all things EQ Bank the following noteworthy characteristics apply to both the EQ RRSP and EQ TFSA accounts.

  • $0 Fees for any account
  • No minimum Balance
  • Super easy sign up experience (minutes)
  • All deposits in your EQ Bank TFSA or RRSP are covered by Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) protection.
  • With seamless account linking, setting up an easy automated contribution plan only takes a few minutes.

EQ Bank’s 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.

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’s 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.

Trustworthiness in Troublesome Times

While the idea of online banking still receives some scepticism, there’s no doubt that it is gaining popularity especially now given the pandemic. In fact, one could argue that being able to manage all your personal banking online from the comfort of your home is the safest option.

More and more Canadians are placing their trust in online banking given the current situation, and EQ bank seems to be the top choice for many. In early June 2020, just three months since the start of the global pandemic, EQ Bank indicated that they have seen a massive growth rate in new accounts. According to this news release, the daily signups have tripled during this time.

While the increase in new bank accounts is quite impressive, it’s not the only thing they are celebrating right now. Thanks to this recent acceleration in growth, EQ Bank has officially surpassed 5 billion dollars in deposits and 185,000 customers; a huge milestone in the online banking industry.

Both of these achievements speak to the quality of EQ Bank products, but also consumer trust and safety. The fact that so many Canadians are willing to trust EQ bank at such a stressful time speaks volumes on the company’s reputation as a safe and reliable banking option.

EQ’s commitment to helping clients was further recognized when they were awarded the title of #1 Bank in Canada in 2021 by Forbes.  This big win was based on 43,000 consumer surveys and asked customers to rank banks based on Trust, Terms & Conditions, Customer Services, Digital Services, and Financial Advice.

Andrew Moor, the President and CEO stated, “As Canada’s first-born digital bank, it’s a remarkable achievement to rise to the rank of Canada’s #1 Bank in just a few years.”

Drawbacks to Your Savings Plus Account

No Savings Plus Account for Business 

EQ’s 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’s Savings Plus Account).

Common Questions About EQ Online Banking

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 Savings Plus Account offers you 1.25%* interest, if you are willing to lock-in some of your money into a 1 year GIC, then you will instead earn much more 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 10 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:

Term

Registered (TFSA & RRSP) GIC Rate

3 Months

1.75%

6 Months

1.30%

9 Months

1.30%

1 Year

1.40%

15 Months

1.40%

2 Years

1.65%

27 Months

1.65%

3 Years

1.85%

4 Years

2.00%

5 Years

2.30%

6 Years

2.00%

7 Years

2.10%

10 Years

2.40%

To purchase a GIC, you will need a 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 we wanted to highlight in our EQ Bank Review is that the online-only bank offers substantial savings when it comes 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 (now “Wise”). Clients will be able to access it through their bank platform without any additional hurdles – and transfer money abroad quickly, cheaply and efficiently.

About Wise: 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 Wise:

  • 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 Wise, Check out this in-depth Transferwise review.

EQ Bank Mortgage Marketplace (September 2021 Update)

EQ Bank recently launched a cool new feature called the Mortgage Marketplace.

Basically, it functions as a place for EQ Bank’s “parent company” – Equitable Bank (the ninth largest Schedule I Bank in Canada) to show how competitive their excellent mortgage rates are. 

You won’t be “getting a mortgage through EQ Bank” can instead instantly compare over 2,000 mortgage products offered by lenders across Canada.  Equitable Bank is betting that after seeing how they compare to the competition, you’ll choose them.

Here’s how you can see what your best personal mortgage fit is.

1) Apply online after signing into EQ.

2) Fill out the Mortgage Marketplace questionnaire.

3) Let the EQ Mortgage Marketplace work it’s algorithmic magic – and recommend the best mortgage options for your specific situations.

4) Speak to a mortgage broker to confirm that you have the right fit.

5) The mortgage broker will get you a pre-approval or submit your mortgage application to the chosen lender.

I haven’t used the Mortgage Marketplace feature myself, but it seems like a great idea.  You can always check the recommendations you get against some of the other rate-comparison sites out there after all.

Signing Up for EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account

You can sign up for a free 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. 

Every few months our MDJ editorial updates this EQ Bank Review and we continuously arrive at the fact that it is consistently the best banking option in Canada.

In the six 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 unlimited transactions and unlimited Interac e-Transfers® are 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 somewhere else.

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

*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.”

Kornel

Kornel Szrejber 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.
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Jim Reicker
10 months ago

Although it is convenient to access TransferWise through EQ Bank, it is not mandatory — you can pay for transfers by TW from a credit card or other bank. And as well as low rates, they have the best exchange rates.

Sean
10 months ago

Hi, wonderful blog I stumbled upon! To echo what someone else said, you forget to include an alternative to EQ Bank for Quebec Residents. ” 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’s Savings Plus Account).” cheers!

Jacob
10 months ago

Some advice that might help someone out there: if you use a password manager like I do and tend to favour longer – such as 64 character passwords – these DO NOT play nice with EQ Bank WEB APP. Neither do ‘special characters !@#$, etc.’ according to their tech agents.

I had trouble logging into their web app (via a browser) for a week before I finally figured this out. If you have opened an account, and can use your mobile to log into your account without issue, but continually get a ‘technical difficulty’ page when trying to enter your username/password at the login screen, this might be the issue.

Verify you have a 32 character or shorter password, and NO special characters (@#$%&, etc.).

As I mentioned, usually I opt for 64 character generated passwords with uppercase, lowercase, numbers AND special characters (especially for my financial credentials), but for whatever reason this doesn’t play nice with the ‘web’ (browser) EQ app, but does work perfectly fine on their mobile app if your password fits this criteria.

Unfortunately, EQ bank doesn’t tell you any of this when creating your password initially, OR when changing it.

The solution as you might imagine, is that if you CAN access your account via the mobile app, then log in through that, change your password to the 32 or shorter character password, and strip any special characters, save that, and then try re-logging back into the web app.

I spoke to their tech support and they said they’d pass this info along to their web developers who will hopefully note this information for their clients during the initial creation or changing of their passwords, or at the least in their FAQ.

Anyway, hope this helps anyone else who might be struggling with this odd ‘bug’.

Last edited 10 months ago by Jacob
Matt
9 months ago
Reply to  Jacob

Thanks a ton.

Bobby V
1 year ago

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.

bob james
1 year ago

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.

CJ
1 year ago

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?

Tom
1 year ago

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

Anna
1 year ago

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

Tom
1 year ago
Reply to  Anna

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

Peter
1 year ago
Reply to  Anna

Joint accounts now available as of last week of June.

Noëlle
1 year ago

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
1 year ago
Reply to  Noëlle

“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.

Alun Jenkins
1 year ago

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