bank review, personal finance,

EQ Bank review

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Fact Checked: Scott Birke

🗓️

Updated: June 17, 2024

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EQ Bank logo

4.5

Fees5

Ease-of-use4

Interest rates 5

Overall value proposition5

I was a traditional bank user for years until I started looking around for a good HISA interest rate.

I had maxed out my Tax Free Savings Account and had some extra savings that I wanted to stash away for future use.

While shopping around for accounts I found EQ Bank, an online bank that offered me an interest rate significantly higher that my main bank did.

I was a little hesitant at first at the idea of an online-only bank, but since it’s a member of CDIC I decided to give it a go. I’ve now been using EQ Bank for four years and haven’t looked back. There’s a lot of reasons to love online banks. Without the overhead costs, they are able to offer great rates and low fees, and usually have a solid app experience.

EQ Bank is best for:

  • High-interest rates
  • No everyday banking fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Cheap international money transfers
  • GIC investments
  • High-interest personal accounts
  • TFSA accounts
  • RRSP accounts

What is EQ Bank?

Officially launched in January 2016, EQ Bank is an online-only bank in Canada, popular for its amazingly high-interest rates and no everyday banking fees.

EQ is often considered among the best online banks in Canada, thanks in large part to its high interest rate and broad range of products.

EQ offers the Personal Account, Joint Savings Plus Account, TFSA Savings Account, RSP Savings Account and EQ Bank GICs.

All the accounts are offer no everyday banking fees, no minimum balances, and outstanding everyday interest rates.

The Personal Account and Joint Savings Plus Account pay an outstanding everyday interest rate of 4.00%* on direct deposits.

(2.50% everyday interest* + 1.50% when you set up direct deposit with your paycheque)

  • No monthly fees or minimum balance
  • Free unlimited bill payments, Interac e-Transfers and more
  • Free withdrawals from any ATM in Canada and cash back with the EQ Bank Card

You can also use these savings accounts to pay bills and move money instantly – just like a chequing account.

The TFSA Savings Account (3.00%*) and RSP Savings Account (3.00%*) pay just about the best rates you’ll find on a registered savings account at the moment all with the tap of a button.

When you account for the fact that your interest income is tax-free (or tax-deferred, in the case of the RSP), both are excellent options for registered funds that you’d prefer to leave in cash, as opposed to being tied up in an investment account.

What’s worth noting about these interest rates is that they are the standard rates, not just promotional rates.

You will find several other Canadian banks and financial institutions offering higher rates on their accounts, however, most of them only last 3-6 months before dropping drastically. EQ Bank offers you a competitive rate that you get to keep.

Open an account

EQ Bank customer service

Wise Publishing's own VP of Marketing, Kris Bruyson is an EQ bank customer and would say that EQ Bank has "the best customer service."

Well, we put it to the test. 

All things considered, EQ Bank is an innovator in the banking world and is one of the best banks in Canada.

EQ Bank key features

  • No everyday banking fees: The EQ Personal Account and Joint Savings Plus Account offer no monthly account fees, free Interac e-Transfers® and bill payments, and free day-to-day transactions.
  • Unique Hybrid Account: The EQ Personal Account and Joint Savings Plus Account function 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 4%* everyday interest rate for the EQ Personal Account and Joint Savings Plus Account (if you set up direct deposit). That’s one of the highest standards (i.e. it’s not a promotion rate that decreases significantly after a few months) interest rates in Canada.
  • High-Interest Rate on Registered Savings Accounts: Both the TFSA Savings Account and RSP Savings Account offer 3.00%* and 3.00%* interest respectively. Plus, these accounts come with the same no monthly fee and no minimum balance terms as the EQ Personal Account.
  • Free Transfers: The EQ Personal Account and Joint Savings Plus Account offer free Interac e-Transfers®, as well as free transfers to other EQ accounts and free bill payments.
  • Cheap International Money Transfers: In 2019, EQ partnered with TransferWise (now Wise) giving banking clients international money transfers with zero markups or hidden fees, where the exchange rate online is what you'll pay, and the maximum wait time is 3 days (sometimes its instant) all from their EQ bank accounts. And yes, you'll continue to earn that 2.50% (or 4%) interest on your money until you hit send.The EQ Personal Account and the Joint Savings Plus Account offer speedy international money transfers in over 30 currencies. 
  • High-Interest EQ Bank 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 lengths range from 3-months to 10-year terms, starting at 3.75% interest for a 3-month GIC and a huge 5.05% for a 1-year registered GIC. To open a GIC account, you will first need to open an EQ Personal Account, Joint Savings Plus Account, TFSA Savings Account or RSP Savings Account to purchase the GIC. A 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 EQ Personal 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 have 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 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.
Open an account with EQ Bank

Pros and cons

Pros and cons of EQ Bank

Pros

Pros

  • Excellent interest rates — 2.50%* everyday interest rate for the EQ Personal Account + 1.50% with direct deposit of your pay for 4.00% interest.

  • Excellent GIC Investments — Terms range from 3 months to 10 years, all offering high-interest rates up to 5.05%

  • TFSA and RSP Savings Accounts — The rate is hard to beat, but if you want a guaranteed rate of interest you can lock in by purchasing GICs within these registered accounts.

  • No everyday banking fees

  • Free Interac e-transfers

  • Cheap international money transfers with TransferWise

  • Intuitive mobile app and website

Cons

Cons

  • No investment services are offered

  • Entirely online: no physical branches— No physical banks (although some people may prefer this because it reduces costs)

EQ Bank reviews of account types

If you're thinking of switching banks, you want to know what you're getting into and out of. If you need a branch you can walk into and speak to a teller where they chain pens to their desks, EQ is not for you. If you're a digital nomad that hates fees and wants to access cash wherever you are, read on. 

EQ Bank personal account

Do you still write cheques? Or are you ready to move onto a hybrid account where you can spend and save in the same place all is with zero fees? 

Set up your payroll deposits with EQ bank and start earning 4.00% interest. Your EQ Bank personal account charges no monthly fees, gives you unlimited transactions, including e-transfers, bill payments, and electronic funds transfers without requiring a minimum balance. 

For anyone wondering if EQ Bank is safe, know that they're backed with CDIC deposit insurance of up to $100,000. 

With your account, you'll get the EQ Bank Card—it's a prepaid Mastercard that gives you free withdrawals from any ATM in Canada (they'll reimburse any fees), give you 0.5% cash back on every purchase, and all without charging any fees (including foreign transaction fees). 

Open an account

EQ Bank credit card

EQ Bank Card

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3.0

Fair

about new welcome offers by email

cash back on purchases

0.5%

interest on your balance

2.5%

Purchase APR

0.00%

Annual Fee

$0

Foreign Transaction Fee

0.00%

Recommended Credit Score

Fair

Required Annual Personal Income

$0

Required Annual Household Income

$0

In 2023, EQ Bank launched their EQ Bank card which is a prepaid Mastercard that offers free withdrawals from any ATM in Canada and 0.5% cash back on every purchase. The card does not charge foreign exchange fees, monthly fees, or inactivity fees. You'll also earn the same high interest as your Personal Account account on your loaded balance until you spend it, so you're never missing out. 

EQ Bank Joint Account

Much like the personal account, the joint account gives you the same high 4.00% interest on everyday banking for up to 3 people without any monthly fees. 

You'll get the same unlimited bill payments, Interac e-transfers and fund transfers. With the joint account, you can deposit up to $500,000. 

EQ Bank TFSA Savings account

You can earn 3.00% Tax free with a TFSA. But, TFSAs are better for retirement investments, not just savings. Your money will do better with a roboadvisor like Wealthsimple or Questrade that will do all the investing for you.

Read more: Best roboadvisors in Canada

If you need a place for your emergency fund, rainy day funds, or sinking funds, look at a separate account where you don't see that money unless you need it or you hit a savings goal. Check out products like Tangerine bank or KOHO which may suit your needs for no-fee banking. 

EQ Bank US Dollar account

If you shop in the U.S., in-person or online, it can be valuable to hold a U.S. Dollar account. EQ gives you 3.00% interest on your balance with no monthly fees and one of the best exchange rates in the Canadian banking market. You can transfer USD to USD around the world with their inexpensive international money transfers and save on currency exchanges by making purchases in USD when you need. 

EQ Bank GICs

On the investment products side of things, EQ Bank GIC Rates are some of the best in Canada. 

Right now, you can get a 1-year GIC with a 5.05% return. If you're already banking with them, that's a pretty sweet "guaranteed investment." Now, if you want to earn that money tax-fee, you'll need to use EQ Bank's TFSA or RRSP account—where the GIC will earn 5.05%. You can get started with as little as $100. 

FHSA Savings account

If you're looking to buy a house, a first home savings account can help. Unfortunately, EQ Bank only gives you 3.00% on your money held with their FHSA whereas BMO, CIBC, and Scotiabank are giving you 5%. Now, you can use a GIC inside your FHSA so you can use the EQ Bank's GIC at 5.05% for that, but you can't continue investing when you open a GIC. The best way to use EQ Bank's FHSA is to contribute the maximum amount of $8,000 at the start of the year with a 9-month GIC, while you keep saving your next $8,000 to deposit the next year. 

EQ Bank RRSP account

Much like the TFSA, EQ Bank's RRSP account gives you 3.00% interest, but you can do much better with a roboadvisor. An RRSP is a registered retirement savings plan, so you shouldn't touch it until you retire. A roboadvisor like Moka invests into the S&P 500 which has typically returned over 10%—your retirement is looking better already. 

How does EQ Bank compare?

When compared to other high-interest savings accounts, EQ Bank with 4.00% savings rate wins hands down on bank rates. Tangerine Savings is currently paying 0.60% by comparison. Though KOHO has 5% interest on money held in their account, it's not a bank. 

EQ Bank doesn’t offer a chequing account. However, the lack of a chequing account (which usually has dismal interest rates anyway) is no great loss given that EQ Personal 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 EQ Personal Account is Wealthsimple Save – a hybrid account for saving and spending that offers a 4% interest rate (or more if you have money invested with them). 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’s interest rate is not as high as EQ Bank’s and does not offer GICs – a solid saving tool for those looking to park their money safely in a high-interest investment vehicle.

Additionally, even though EQ Bank has TFSA, RSP, and joint accounts, you have other options with opening a TFSA or RRSP account with a robo advisor like Wealthsimple, or an online brokerage like Questrade.

EQ Bank GIC rates

Terms
Proposed Non-Registered Rate
Proposed Registered Rate (TFSA, RRSP, FHSA)
3 Month
3.75%
3.75%
6 Month
4.45%
4.45%
9 Month
4.65%
4.65%
1 Year
5.05%
5.05%
15 Month
4.90%
4.90%
2 Year
4.75%
4.75%
27 Month
4.70%
4.70%
3 Year
4.55%
4.55%
4 Year
4.40%
4.40%
5 Year
4.35%
4.35%
6 year
3.80%
3.80%
7 year
3.80%
3.80%
10 year
3.80%
3.80%

*As of June 13th, 2024

When it comes to getting the highest GIC interest rates in Canada, EQ Bank is certainly at the top, but it does have competitors like Oaken Financial.

They also each have appealing interest rates. For example, Oaken Financial offers 5.35% for a 1-year non-registered GIC compared to 5.05% registered GIC with EQ Bank. And Oaken requires a minimum investment of $1,000 for its GICs (as compared to EQ Bank’s $100). This means EQ Bank comes out ahead on both points if you want consistently high-interest rates and no fees for both your non-registered/registered savings and GIC accounts.

Who should use EQ Bank?

EQ Bank is a great place to stash your savings. With the high interest rates and lack of fees, it’s an ideal spot to park your money for any long-term goals or, even an emergency fund.

As a freelance writer and digital nomad, I have multiple savings accounts for different goals and needs.

These include:

  • An account for taxes: As a freelancer, I collect HST and need to save to pay quarterly taxes. Having an account specifically for this helps me keep things separate and ensure that I am saving the right amount.
  • An emergency fund: Should something happen to me and I’m unable to work for a while. Or, should something happen while travelling that exceeds the coverage of my travel insurance, I have cash avaiable.
  • A down-payment fund: Right now, I spend about six months a year travelling, so owning my own home isn’t a priority. But it will be one day, so I have a HISA I have dedicated as savings towards buying a home.
  • Dream trip fund: While I do travel regularly and consider those types of expenses to be normal fees, I also have a separate fund for the big ‘bucket-list’ type trips that cost more than I would normally spend. I recently just came back from a dream trip to Antarctica and am eyeing an African Safari or scuba diving trip to the Maldives as my next big adventure.

Now, keep in mind that these are all longer-term goals. As I mentioned earlier there are some HISAs out there that have higher rates for a short, introductory period. If you are saving for a purchase that you plan to make in the next few months, then you might want to go with them. However, if your savings are for longer term goals like mine, then EQ Bank is a great option.

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. In December of 2022, EQ Bank officially launched in Quebec.

To sign up, visit the EQ bank website and click the purple ‘create an account’ button in the top right corner. This will start your sign-up process and allow you to create your profile with 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. You will also need to upload photo-ID such as a passport or driver’s license.Note that because it’s a “soft” credit check your credit score will not be affected.

EQ bank sign up
Sign up for EQ Bank

 If EQ Bank is unable to identify you based on this, you will need to visit a Canada Post outlet with your ID and proof of address.

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.You can also deposit cheques digitally directly into your EQ Bank account by taking a photo of the cheque in the app.

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 in your EQ Personal Account account.

Once you have the money transferred to your EQ Bank account you can leave it to earn interest for as long as you like, or invest it into a GIC.

Should you require any assistance along the way, the EQ Bank is there to help either via phone or the online chat option.

What's the best part of EQ Bank?

As an EQ Bank user who also has accounts with other banks, my favourite part of EQ Bank is that when they say no fees, they actually mean no fees.

There are no monthly fees, no account fees, no annual fees. None.

But it goes even beyond that. Most banks will have built in charges for little extras. Things like e-transfers, bill payments, overdraft fees, dormant account fees etc. There are no charges at all.

This is great not only because it means you can really focus on saving your money. But also, if life happens and you have to stop contributing for a bit, that’s fine. You won’t be charged a random fee.

What's the worst part?

As an online-only bank, this means that there is no physical branch you can go to. There are online chat options and a phone number to call. However, if you are the kind of person who likes to speak face-to-face with someone, then it’s likely not the best bet for you.

My biggest pet peeve as a user is the slow bank-to-bank transfer times. Since I do use multiple banks for different types of accounts I frequently transfer my funds. I always need to remember to give myself some extra time when transferring money from EQ bank because it tends to take several business days.

How much does it cost?

Using EQ Bank is free. As I explained above, there really are no fees that you would expect to be charged from most banks. It is actually free.

Bottom line: How good is EQ Bank?

I personally love EQ Bank. It’s a great fit for my banking needs and they have earned my trust.

The lack of fees is perfect for my varied savings goals. As someone who travels a lot, I also love that it is still very easy to access my accounts from abroad without an FX fee. Keep in mind that you are still subject to any applicable withdrawal fee when using a foreign ATM.

When I first signed up 4 years ago their HISA rate was the highest in Canada. The high interest rates continue today, especially if you use them as your everyday bank with direct deposits. While higher rates do exist (KOHO, for instance is at 5%), many of the others like Scotiabank (6.05%), Simplii (5.90%), RBC (5.50%) are all promotional rates that only last for a limited time (we're talking a few months)

However, even during the pandemic when rates dropped, EQ Bank continued to offer one of the highest rates on the market. Since the economy is still adjusting and fluctuating I’m choosing to stick with them. They make saving easy, meet all my needs, and are helping me reach my various financial goals.

For these reasons, I do recommend EQ bank to fellow Canadians looking for long-term savings accounts.

EQ Bank FAQs

  • Is EQ Bank legit?

    +

    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.

  • How does EQ Bank work?

    +

    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.

  • Does EQ Bank have a debit card?

    +

    Yes and no. EQ has a prepaid Mastercard that you load up with funds from your personal account. You can make free withdrawals at any ATM in Canada and use it like a Mastercard so it's accepted worldwide. They'll also give you 0.5% cash back on any spending.

  • Can I open registered accounts with EQ Bank?

    +

    Yes! EQ Bank now offers a TFSA Savings Account and RSP Savings Account that pays 3.00%* interest. You can also purchase GICs for these registered accounts, at similar high GIC rates EQ offers for non-registered accounts.

  • Why bank with EQ Bank?

    +

    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.

  • Can I really live without a chequing account?

    +

    No, but the EQ Personal 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 Personal Account.

  • Who owns EQ Bank?

    +

    EQ Bank is owned by Equitable Bank, who manages over $65.9 billion in assets and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of EQB Inc.

Start saving with EQ Bank

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

EQ Bank GICs: Rates are calculated on a per annum basis and are subject to change at any time.

Hannah Logan Freelance Contributor

Hannah Logan is a Canadian freelancer writer and blogger who specializes in personal finance and travel. You can follow her adventures on her travel blog EatSleepBreatheTravel.com or find her on Instagram @hannahlogan21.

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