From humble beginnings since launch in 2016, the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account has grown into a formidable alternative to the traditional savings accounts offered by Canada’s big banks. In just a few years, EQ Bank's impressive every day interest rate and fee-free business model has attracted over 50,000 customers and $2.2 billion in deposits. Here’s an in-depth review of the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.
3.3. The signup process
3.5. Funding your account
1. What is EQ Bank?
EQ Bank is the direct banking subsidiary of Equitable Bank, Canada’s ninth largest independent bank. Equitable Bank was founded in 1970 and currently has over $29 billion in assets under management.
EQ Bank was launched in 2016, along with its flagship product, the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account. Since then, the option to invest in GICs has also been introduced to the platform.
EQ Bank operates entirely online. There are no client cards, ATMs or branches you can walk into. This may sound crazy, but it’s actually the genius of the brand. By reducing costs on things like rent and bank tellers, they can offer exceptionally high interest rates to you, while remaining competitive within the industry.
On the success of EQ Bank in their latest annual report (2018), Equitable Bank writes:
We launched EQ Bank in 2016 as a means of directly reaching Canadian savers who are looking for an alternative to Canada’s big banks. With our EQ Bank Savings Plus Account, we offer an everyday high interest rate, convenient features, and a great digital experience. Our flexible technology platform also allowed us to bring to market the most customer friendly Guaranteed Investment Certificate (“GIC”) purchase experience in Canada. EQ Bank GICs are an important product, offering an attractive long-term investment option to our digital customers.
2. Fees & Interest
There are no fees, period. Close your account? No fees. Forget you opened an account and go AWOL for a decade? No fees. Send a hundred Interac e-Transfers? No fees.
I find this business model quite refreshing. There’s nothing more rage-inducing than getting nickel and dimed by your bank, especially if your account is advertised as having no monthly fees. This is never an issue with the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.
There are also no gimmicks with the interest rate. Interest is calculated daily and paid monthly, and you will always earn the posted rate on your deposits. It doesn’t matter if your money has been there for a couple years or just a couple days.
Up to date interest rates for the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account and EQ Bank GICs can be found here and here. Suffice it so say, their everyday rate is among the highest in Canada, often even beating temporary promotional rates from other banks.
3. Opening an Account
3.1. Who can open an account?
Any Canadian resident over the age of majority living outside of Quebec can open an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.
The age of majority is 18 in Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Prince Edward Island and Saskatchewan. In the other provinces and territories the age of majority is 19.
You’re considered a Canadian resident if you’re currently living in the country - if you have a Canadian residential mailing address you’re good to go. Canadian citizenship is not required!
3.2. Who should open an account?
A savings account is a must-have for any Canadian. Even if all of your retirement savings are destined for the stock market, there’s no reason not to get a few days of interest while waiting to fund your brokerage account.
A savings account is also a great place for money you set aside for your bills to idle. Remember, there are never any fees with an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account, so why not earn a few dollars in interest while you wait to pay off your monthly credit card bill?
Any money you can’t risk in the stock market should also be in a savings account or a GIC. This includes your emergency fund, and savings for big purchases like a car or a down payment for a house.
3.3. The signup process
Signing up for an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is absurdly quick and easy. I had my account open within 5 minutes, and fully functional and funded within 2 days. You are generally not required to verify your identity by uploading photo ID or by bringing a QR code to the post office.
The signup process looks something like this:
Create your login info (your username will be your email address)
Enter your personal information, including name, address, phone numbers, date of birth and SIN
If you aren’t comfortable entering your SIN, EQ Bank gives you the option of calling them directly to find a workaround.
Verify your email address by entering the code sent to you by the bank
Set three security questions (these are used if you login on a new device or if you reset your password)
Link an external bank account
This is an easy process that takes 2-3 business days, but you’ll have access to your account before this is finished. Enter the number of the external bank account you want to link, and EQ Bank will make two small deposits to that account. After you receive the deposits, confirm the amounts on your EQ Bank homepage and you’re done. You can link up to 10 external accounts to your EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.
At this point your new EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is fully functional!
3.4. Initial deposit requirements
The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account has no initial deposit requirements. If you wish to purchase a GIC the minimum investment is just $100.
3.5. Funding your account
Funding your EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is easy, and there are many options available to you:
Transfer funds between linked bank accounts
Direct deposit (including your paycheque)
Deposit a cheque with the mobile app
Send an Interac e-Transfer
EQ Connections, a built-in system that allows you to send money to other EQ Bank account owners instantly
Deposits may be subject to EQ Bank’s Hold Funds Policy, but your balance will update and begin earning interest immediately. Unfortunately, holds are an unavoidable regulatory requirement.
4. Using your Account
The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account can be accessed from your desktop or mobile phone. Both designs have a clean look that prioritize functionality.
The EQ Bank homepage shows the balance of your account, as well as recent and upcoming transactions. New savings accounts can be opened in less than a minute from the homepage, and each account can be individually customized with a nickname and a savings goal. You can also invest in GICs and view their status from the homepage.
The menu has four main tabs:
Accounts is the homepage, and the dropdown menu allows you to access your account statements and tax slips
Pay & Transfer lets you set up bill payments, Interac e-Transfers, etc.
Alerts lets you customize messages sent to your email or phone when a variety of actions happen to your account (for example when interest is deposited or a new statement becomes available)
Profile lets you update your personal information and change your password and security questions
And that’s it! There’s no clutter, and overall the interface is very intuitive to use.
EQ Bank offers a lightweight smartphone app for both Android and iOS. Both apps have been dramatically improved since launch, and like the desktop are clutter-free and intuitive to use.
The smartphone app has the same functionality as the desktop alternative, with the added benefit of being able to deposit cheques from home with your phone’s camera.
5. Customer Service
The customer service at EQ Bank is stellar, Canadian-based, and available from 8AM to midnight EST seven days a week.
Support options include telephone, mail, email and livechat. The livechat feature is particularly useful if you just have a quick question.
EQ Bank is federally regulated and CDIC insured, the same as any other large bank in Canada. More information on the CDIC and EQ Bank can be found here.
The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account uses a simple username and encrypted password system to login. If you try to access your account from a new device you’ll need to answer one of the security questions you set.
EQ Bank also offers a convenient notification system that will send you a text or email when a large transaction occurs or if your balance falls below a set threshold.
7.1. Does EQ Bank offer a TFSA or RRSP?
Currently, EQ Bank does not offer a TFSA or RRSP.
However, in their latest annual report (2018), Equitable Bank writes:
This platform [EQ Bank] will also expand the possibilities for our business by giving us the option to introduce new products and services through this innovative digital channel over time.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see a TFSA and RRSP option in the near future, and maybe even a way of passively investing in the stock market.
7.2. Can you save in other currencies?
The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is only available in Canadian dollars.
7.3. Does EQ Bank issue a client card?
EQ Bank does not issue client cards, and there are no ATMs or branches you can walk into. This lets them pass some of the savings on to you in the form of a higher interest rate.
7.4. Is the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account CDIC insured?
7.5. Is it easy to close an EQ Bank account?
You can close your account at no cost over the phone.
7.6. Is EQ Bank and Equitable Bank the same?
EQ Bank is the direct banking subsidiary of Equitable Bank, Canada’s ninth largest independent bank.
7.7. Does EQ Bank offer joint accounts?
At the moment, EQ Bank does not offer joint accounts.
8. Review Conclusion
The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account checks all the boxes. It’s 100% free to use, the interest rate is stellar and the desktop and mobile apps are stylish and intuitive to use. Since it’s completely free to open and close an account, and it takes very little time to do so, you can always give it a shot and make up your own mind! All in all, the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is a great product for savers and is worthy of giving at least a hard look.