EQ Bank review 2020

Rates as of April 15, 2020

Table of contents

No-fee digital bank accounts have grown in popularity and availability in recent years. It’s easy to understand why: You can always access them from the comfort of your home; they charge few to no fees because they don’t need to cover the costs of brick and mortar locations; and these high-interest savings accounts usually come with great rates, which makes them perfect for building your savings.

EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account is a fantastic offering in this category (for personal banking only; they don’t offer business accounts). This account charges zero fees for everyday services, and it’s flexible, allowing you to transfer money and pay bills (so it operates similarly to a chequing account). Plus, its interest rates are competitive.

Having a high-interest savings account at EQ Bank also has the advantage of giving customers access to their GICs and inexpensive international money transfers.

Get more information about the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account*

Who is EQ Bank?

EQ Bank is one of the newer players on the Canadian banking scene (they opened in January 2016), but their parent company, Equitable Bank, is the ninth-largest domestic bank in Canada, and has provided financial services since 1970—so this digital bank is backed by decades of experience. And any money that is deposited into EQ Bank, up to $100,000 in Canadian funds, is insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).

How to make deposits and access funds with an online EQ Bank account

After you open an account with EQ Bank, you set up a link to a conventional bank account that you already hold and use Interac e-Transfer or an Electronic Funds Transfer to deposit money from that linked account into your EQ Bank high-interest savings account. You can also deposit cheques directly into your EQ Bank account using their mobile app.

From there, you can simply allow those funds to earn interest; purchase GICs; use your EQ Bank account to fund international money transfers; or pay bills.

You can also do the reverse—transfer any money you need out from your EQ Bank account to your linked account.

There are no fees for any of these transactions.

What you need to know about the EQ Bank Savings Plus high-interest savings account

High-interest savings accounts (HISAs) are great for saving money for specific short- or medium-term goals. 

Maybe you want to purchase a car or are saving for a down payment for a house. Or, perhaps you’d like to put aside money for taxes you estimate you’ll owe. A high-interest savings account is a good option for these uses because any money you deposit in the account earns a higher rate of interest than a typical chequing account, and it remains accessible to you anytime you need it.

With its current interest rate of 2.0%, EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account* can definitely help you meet those objectives. In fact, you can set and track the progress of up to four goals with their online tool, which is free for account-holders to use.

This account is also flexible in that, while it doesn’t offer the ability to write cheques or spend with a debit card, it does operate as a hybrid account since you can use it for such daily transactions as paying bills or transferring or receiving money, while earning a high rate of interest. It’s the best of both worlds.

Another handy feature of the Savings Plus Account* is how little it costs to bank with one. In fact, there are no fees for everyday banking like paying bills, transferring money by Electronic Funds Transfers or sending or receiving funds via Interac e-Transfer. And there’s no minimum balance required to avoid fees, either.

Using this account is convenient. It’s accessible from anywhere in the world via online banking or its mobile app, and you can use the latter to deposit cheques directly into your account.

EQ Bank Savings Plus high-interest savings account fast facts:

  • Current interest rate: 2.00% 
  • Cost of everyday transactions: Free
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Number of transactions allowed: Unlimited
  • Unlimited bill payments: Free
  • Cost to send and receive money via Interac e-Transfer or Electronic Funds Transfer: None
  • Access to purchasing GICs: Yes
  • Access to inexpensive international money transfers: Yes
  • Mobile app: Yes
  • Savings goal tool: Yes, you can track up to four savings goals
  • Direct deposit allowed: Yes
  • Cheque deposits: Yes
  • Restrictions: No paper statements (they’re available online); no overdraft; maximum balance of $200,000, no joint accounts; no RRSPs; no TFSAs; dollar limits on amounts of money transfers, bill payments and cheque deposits

GICs at EQ Bank

EQ Bank’s Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) rates are among the best in the industry—the 3-month GIC rate is currently at 2.45%—but only people who’ve opened an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account can buy them.

Aside from that one condition, EQ Bank GICs* are very accessible, since the minimum amount is just $100 per GIC (the maximum amount is $100,000). You can buy up to 20 GICs, choosing in an array of term lengths (the minimum is 3 months, the maximum is 10 years), so you can choose one that suits the timeframe of your investing goals, or put together several to create a GIC ladder.

It’s important to note that EQ Bank’s GICs are non-redeemable, which means you’ll pay a penalty if you cash them out early.

Wondering how much you’ll earn by purchasing an EQ Bank GIC*? Check out the free tool on their site that calculates that amount for you based on the term (and interest rate) you choose, as well as your investment goal’s time horizon. 

GIC term Interest rate
3 months 2.45%
6 months 2.10%
9 months 2.10%
1 year 2.40%
15 months 2.40%
2 years 2.40%
27 months 2.40%
3 years 2.45%
4 years 2.50%
5 years 2.55%
6 years ** 2.30%
7 years ** 2.35%
10 years ** 2.45%

** EQ Bank GICs with a term greater than 5 years are not insured by CDIC until April 30, 2020. 

Get more information about EQ Bank GICs*

How EQ Bank’s international money transfers, powered by TransferWise, work 

To facilitate international money transfers for its clients, EQ Bank has partnered with TransferWise, a third-party money transfer platform. Everything is integrated, so you can easily create a TransferWise account through your EQ Bank online banking account or mobile app, provided you have an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account*. And you can check the status of your transfer on the International Transfer dashboard on the site or the app.

Even though EQ Bank works with a third party to process transfers, the bank is committed to low pricing and pricing transparency. You’re only charged once, and the exchange rate is calculated on what’s called the real exchange rate, which you can look up on a calculator on the EQ site. There is no markup or commission charged on this rate. Based on these factors, EQ Bank says, their international money transfers are up to ‘8 times cheaper than other banks’.

There are some restrictions. Currently, you can send a maximum of $9,500 (CAD) per transaction every 24 hours, to your choice of 70 countries and regions in 32 currencies.

What you need to know about signing up for an EQ Bank account

If EQ Bank’s high-interest savings account, GICs and international money transfers are tempting you, read on to find out what the requirements are to sign up for an account, as well as the process, which is quite straightforward. 

Sign-up requirements

Opening a Savings Plus Account* at EQ Bank is fairly simple; however, in order to sign up, you need to be a Canadian resident, be of the age of majority where you live, and have a Social Insurance Number (SIN). Unfortunately, Quebec residents aren’t able to bank with EQ Bank.

You will also need government-issued photo ID, and if that piece of ID doesn’t list your current address, you will have to provide a proof of address document, such as a recent utility bill or your most recent income tax assessment (a full list of options is posted on the EQ Bank site).

In addition, the account you plan to link to your EQ Bank account must be with an approved financial institution. Those include the Big Six Canadian banks, as well as several others, such as Tangerine, Laurentian and Vancity credit union. A full list of approved banks is available in the FAQ section of the EQ Bank site.

Sign-up process

The first step when applying to open an EQ Bank account is to visit their website to start the process. Make sure you have your Social Insurance Number ready; it’s required information for anyone opening a bank account that earns interest.

To verify your identity, they will perform a soft credit check, which won’t affect your credit rating. If they’re not able to confirm your identity that way, then you’ll need to visit a Canada Post outlet to verify your ID. When you do so, you’ll be asked to show a piece of government-issued photo ID. If that ID doesn’t list your current address, you will also have to show a proof of address document as well as what’s known as a Canada Post DSS number, which will be emailed to you.

While EQ Bank’s phone lines are currently down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, if you have questions or need help with the process, you can chat with the bank’s personnel online. 

Get more information about the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account*

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