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While Canadians are familiar with long-standing Equitable Bank, they may not be as acquainted with their online-only subsidiary EQ Bank. Therefore, I decided to take a closer look at what Equitable Bank and EQ Bank have to offer their clients in this Equitable Bank review.
Equitable Bank provides highly reputable residential and commercial mortgage solutions. While their EQ Bank division offers unbeatable digital savings and investment products. Their Savings Plus Account yields the best savings interest rate available. And there are zero account and transaction fees to worry about.
The introduction of online-only banking has become more prevalent in recent years, and understandably so. There are clearly some benefits associated with opening an account at an online-only bank. But we’ll cover these and more later in this post.
Let’s assess the pros and cons associated with the bank and its EQ Bank offering. And detail other pertinent information to help you determine if this is the right financial services provider for you.
First and foremost, Equitable Bank’s professional reputation precedes them. They’re a subsidiary of the renowned Equitable Group Inc. And, having been in business since 1970, they’re certainly a household name in the world of banking.
Previously only focused on the mortgage market, they launched EQ Bank in 2016. It was the very first purely digital bank in Canada at the time. Pioneering a change in the way we approach banking.
EQ Bank specializes in savings and investments with a variety of options available to you. So, if you’re looking for a high-interest savings account with little to no fees, then this may be the bank for you. That, along with their vast selection of GICs, makes this bank an attractive option.
Let’s get into this Equitable Bank review with a comprehensive list of pro’s and con’s with the brand.
|+ High everyday interest|
+ No to low fees
+ Convenient mobile app
+ Savings options
|– Limited deposit amounts|
– No traditional options
– Provincial restrictions
We’ll start with the pro’s in this list. Our Equitable Bank review has found quite a few reasons to go with EQ Bank.
Their EQ Bank division offers high everyday interest. It is at least 10 times the interest provided by many traditional banks.
In addition, there is no minimum balance required to qualify for their high-interest savings account.
A great feature of the Equitable Bank savings accounts is that they don’t charge clients any fees for everyday transactions. That means free withdrawals, free electronic funds transfers, and free Interac e-transfers via email.
There are also zero account fees, but there is a small fee associated with international money transfers.
With EQ Bank, you have a choice of savings accounts, including a joint savings account. There are also unregistered and registered tax-free (TFSA) and tax-deferred (RSP) savings accounts. Over and above this, they offer low-risk guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) with payment at maturity or annually.
Not only is EQ Bank’s service conveniently online, but it also comes with a handy mobile app. Clients can initiate withdrawals and transfers through the app. And they can even deposit a cheque by taking a photo of it and uploading it to the app.
Believe it or not, Equitable Bank even offers clients an opportunity to make some extra cash through a referral program. Clients can enjoy a reward of anywhere between $30 to $50 for referring someone to sign up with EQ Bank. That said, there is a limit of $500 in terms of the referral rewards you’re eligible to receive.
In addition, the person that has been referred could receive a $20 bonus if they deposit $100 within the first 30 days of signing up.
To keep this Equitable Bank review comprehensive, you’ll find a list of con’s for the service as well. We’ve kept it honest and true to our experience and what we’ve ready about other customers’ experiences.
One of the downsides to opening a savings account through EQ Bank is the account deposit limit. Clients are limited to depositing a maximum of $200,000 into their savings account. This deposit restriction may be a deal-breaker for some.
It must be understood that EQ Bank is not a traditional bank. First, it is a 100% digital service. In other words, there are no branches of this bank that you can visit in person.
And second, they don’t offer the same types of products and services as a traditional bank. As mentioned, Equitable Bank provides mortgage and home loan-related products. While EQ Bank is focused on savings accounts.
Therefore, there are no cheque accounts, debit cards, or credit cards available. You’ll also not have access to an ATM to withdraw and deposit funds. And you’ll still need to have an account with a traditional bank for these types of services.
Unfortunately, the EQ Bank services aren’t available to residents in the Quebec region.
You can purchase property through your business with a mortgage from Equitable Bank. However, you won’t be able to open a savings account in the name of your business when banking with EQ Bank. Their savings account options are only for individuals or those sharing an account.
Next in this Equitable Bank review is a list of the services that EQ bank provides.
|EQ Bank Services||Features|
|Mortgages||Residential and commercial mortgages at competitive rates|
|Savings Plus Account||Earn up to 125× more than other banks without all the nonsense|
|Joint Savings Account||All the perks of the Savings Plus Account, for a smarter shared banking experience|
|Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA)||Earn more with high interest and tax-free earnings|
|Retirement Savings Plan (RSP)||No fees on the account, you can simply watch your retirement fund grow|
|Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)||Get a guaranteed interest rate over your chosen term|
Equitable Bank itself offers a comprehensive set of solutions for both residential and commercial property mortgages. They also provide a variety of savings solutions at very competitive interest rates.
One of the benefits of securing a mortgage through Equitable Bank is that it can be personalized to suit your specific needs. Their approach is to allow the customer’s requirements to dictate how the mortgage agreement will be structured.
It doesn’t matter if you’re self-employed, have a below-average credit rating, or have just moved to Canada and have zero credit history. This bank is willing to go the extra mile to provide solutions that help people realize their dreams.
They can help facilitate the purchase of your first home, as well as assist with mortgage refinancing or renewals. And their solutions include alternative products such as adjustable or fixed-rate mortgages. They also offer a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) where applicable.
Equitable Bank’s personalized methodology also comes into play when dealing with business owners. They’re aware that no two businesses are the same and that multiple factors influence the kind of commercial property the company needs.
Their aim is to assist business owners irrespective of the size of the loan required. And, depending on your unique business model, the bank seems willing and eager to create custom solutions for their clients.
It’s rare and refreshing to see this level of flexibility in a lender. Focusing your energies on moulding solutions according to the client’s needs makes a great deal of sense. In this way, Equitable Bank is fulfilling the needs of individuals rather than offering generic solutions to the community.
I believe that this lender also has a team of commercial mortgage specialists on hand. These specialists are there to advise and provide business owners with the most compatible custom loan options.
On the savings side of things, Equitable Bank has a High-Interest Savings Account (HISA) available. This account provides clients with a secure investment alternative to leaving their money in a standard savings account. Their HISA generates a higher percentage of interest per annum than most other banks.
They also offer a small variety of Guaranteed Investment Certificates and Term Deposits. These allow clients to explore low-risk investment options over the short or long term.
If you’re thinking about saving for a special purchase or retirement, EQ Bank’s savings and investment accounts may be something to consider.
The Savings Plus Account is EQ Bank’s root savings account and is also referred to as a High-Interest Savings Account (HISA). In fact, the interest rate offered through this account is considered the highest offered by any bank in Canada.
To fund your Savings Plus Account, you need to link to your existing cheque or savings account at another bank. They allow you to link up to 10 accounts in this way. I find transferring funds to my EQ Bank account from my banking account very straightforward.
The bank may not offer traditional cheque and savings accounts, but you can still set up debit orders on your Savings Plus Account. Bear in mind, though, that withdrawals from your account can take up to a week to clear. But you’re free to draw funds at any time.
Another advantage is that you can send cash from your account to more than 46 countries worldwide. The best part is that the transfer fee is the cheapest you’ll find.
It’ll cost you up to 8 times less‡ than doing an international money transfer from another Canadian bank. That’s not to be sniffed at. In fact, EQ Bank has partnered with Wise (previously TransferWise) to make this inexpensive service possible.
Other than a small fee for international money transfers, there are no account or transaction fees with the Savings Plus Account.
To take advantage of EQ Bank’s other savings and investment products, you must open a Savings Plus or Savings Plus Joint Account.
The Savings Plus Joint Account comes with the same benefits as EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account. The difference is that with this joint account, you can open one account with up to 3 account holders.
As with the Savings Plus Account above, you’ll enjoy high interest rates and transact at no cost. The low-fee international money transfer service is also available on this account.
Once you’ve set up your Savings Plus Account, you can take advantage of the other savings and investment products available. And one of those products is their Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA).
You can choose to link a TFSA account to your Savings Plus Account, expanding on your pool of funds. These accounts also offer a well above average interest rate and zero transaction or account fees.
With a TFSA account, you also have the option of adding one of EQ Bank’s Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) options. A TFSA GIC allows you to save money at a guaranteed rate. And the great thing is that money saved in their TFSA GIC accounts won’t incur tax on the interest earned.
Be warned, though, that there are limits to the amount you’re allowed to contribute to your TFSA savings annually. This limit applies whether you have one or many TFSA accounts at different financial institutions. To determine your TFSA contribution room, check out the table in the Common Questions Answered section.
EQ Bank also offers a high-interest Retirement Savings Plan (RSP) as part of their investment product offering. Again, there are absolutely no fees associated with the account, and you can simply watch your retirement fund grow.
As you might be aware, your RSP contributions must be declared on your annual tax return. And the process of getting all the information and documents together can sometimes be a mission.
But EQ Bank has simplified the process. All you need to do is download your tax slips from them when they’re ready and submit them with your return.
Like the TFSA, you can opt to add a GIC to your RSP account and start investing with as little as $100.
Granted, an RSP is a great way to contribute to a savings plan and earn interest tax-free. However, bear in mind that you’ll have to pay tax on the amount you withdraw when you take out the earnings.
Perhaps you would like to take advantage of the Canadian to US dollar exchange rate. Or maybe you need to facilitate transactions in US dollars. Whatever the reason, the EQ Bank US Dollar Account may be an option for you.
While the US Dollar Account is a savings account, you can transfer funds to other US dollar accounts internationally. As with international money transfers from their other savings accounts, the bank does this in partnership with Wise.
A small fee is attached to the international transfer, but transfers to accounts based in Canada are free.
If you don’t opt for a TFSA or RSP account, you can still open a non-registered GIC account. It’ll give you a guaranteed interest rate over your chosen term, from 3 months to 10 years.
An investment made in a GIC account is considered safe. Conservative investments don’t usually yield high returns. But this doesn’t seem to be the case with an EQ Bank GIC. In fact, their GIC interest rates are some of the highest I’ve seen.
I believe that their short-term 3-month GICs are the most popular. That is with a minimum investment of $100 to start.
When writing this Equitable Bank review, EQ Bank’s interest rates on the Savings Plus, TFSA, and RSP accounts are 1.25%* per annum. They stipulate on their website that the interest is calculated daily and paid out monthly.
The interest rate offered on the US Dollar Account is 1.00%* per annum at this time. While interest on a GIC investment ranges from 1.30%† to 2.40%† per annum depending on the term you select.
The Mortgage Marketplace is a new addition to their product offering. This platform gives clients access to mortgage solutions offered by a selection of lenders. According to their website, there are over 2000 mortgage products to choose from.
This marketplace enables you to find a competitive rate on the options that suit your pocket. And you’ll have access to a professional broker to answer your questions and help you with the application process.
EQ Bank is clearly leading the pack in account and transaction fees. As mentioned above, your everyday banking fees will cost you absolutely nothing.
Therefore, any local EFT’s, EQ to EQ account transfers, and Interac e-transfers can be done at no charge. And those bill payments and debit orders I mentioned before also come with zero fees attached.
In fact, the only type of transaction that will incur a fee is an international money transfer. However, when you compare this transfer fee to what you would pay at any other bank, you’ll find that it’s incredibly cost-effective.
With EQ Bank, there is no minimum balance required. I think this is one of the many advantages of opening a savings account with them. At other banks, especially traditional banks, the minimum required balance can be a sizable sum depending on the type of account.
Zero minimum balance means I don’t have to worry about leaving money in the account.
Equitable Bank is a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). Therefore, all EQ Bank’s savings and investment accounts qualify for CDIC deposit insurance.
The CDIC provides protection for a maximum of $100,000 per insured category per depositor. Further information on the cover offered under their “Protect Your Deposits” insurance is detailed in a brochure on the CDIC website.
It’s important to note that GICs are also covered under the CDIC’s deposit insurance. But this only applies to GICs that have less than a 5-year maturity term.
The short answer is yes. Equitable Bank has a long-standing reputation as a professional and trustworthy bank. And as a trademark of Equitable Bank, this honest and reliable reputation extends to EQ Bank’s products and services.
Equitable Bank is also a federally regulated Schedule I bank. That means that it is a domestic institution existing under Canadian law that must take customer deposits.
In fact, I discovered that they’re Canada’s ninth-largest Schedule I bank. I also found that Forbes recently ranked them the best bank in Canada. You can’t argue with that.
Over and above that, the bank employs over 900 staff members. According to their website, they manage more than $37 billion in assets.
In terms of safety when transacting, EQ Bank’s online banking portal and mobile app both incorporate state-of-the-art security and encryption software. One such feature is their 2-factor authentication protection on both platforms.
The bank runs promotions and other offers from time to time. When a new promotion is launched, EQ Bank will usually advertise it through their mailing list and on the home page of their website.
At the time of writing this Equitable Bank review, the only special offer available is their referral program. Customers can earn $30 to $50 for referring a friend or family member to the bank.
To speak to a representative at Equitable Bank itself, you’ll need to either phone or email them. And you can only do this on weekdays between 08:30 and 17:00. All their contact information is available on their website, including a toll-free number, which is helpful.
However, I must recommend that you phone them if you need a quick response. In my experience, answers from them via email take some time to materialize.
On the other hand, EQ Bank offers support 7 days a week, from 08:00 to midnight. They have an email address and phone number listed on their website and provide a live chat option.
This provides customers with access to the bank’s representatives when they need it day or night. I’ve found that the support team responds swiftly to queries through the live chat. They’ve also always been extremely helpful and friendly when I’ve had to contact them.
It’s important to highlight that EQ Bank’s services are geared towards customers who prefer independent banking. In other words, people who have a good idea of saving and investing can manage their own portfolios and accounts.
Equitable Bank’s website has a modern and uncluttered design and is easy to read and navigate. All the information you need about their mortgage products and services, as well as their GICs, is easy to find.
They’ve also set out the information in an easy-to-understand manner. So, if you’re new to the world of home loans and investments, you’ll find clear and logical explanations here.
EQ Bank’s website is just as easy to use. After a quick scan of their home page, you already know precisely what kinds of products they offer. And all the individual products can be accessed quickly from the main menu. So, there’s no need to dig for the information you need.
I’ve noticed every now and then that when I log in, the website is down. But it’s usually up and running again when I check later in the day or the following day.
I believe the site goes down when they carry out scheduled maintenance, which it seems they do pretty often. In fact, they’ve created a website specifically for customers to check on the website’s status. This site lets you know when scheduled maintenance will occur and when there are outages that affect their website.
They also have a mobile app for added convenience and banking on the go. The app is available for both Android and Apple devices. And it includes excellent security features, like fingerprint identification and login via facial recognition. Transacting through the app is just as straightforward as through the website, and all the information you need is easy to find.
You can create a profile on Equitable Bank’s website and facilitate applications through the interface. However, the mortgage process will require that you speak to one of their brokers and account managers.
EQ Bank, however, operates 100% online. So, you’ll need to open your Savings Plus Account on the website. And you’ll then carry out all transactions through the website or mobile app.
You must be a Canadian resident and the age of majority in your province to be eligible to sign-up.
When you’re ready to create your account, go to the EQ Bank website. Then click on the big “Join Now” button in the top righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to fill in some personal information, including your Social Insurance Number (SIN).
During the sign-up process, you’ll need to provide the details of your savings or cheque account at your other bank. This should be the account you wish to link to your Savings Plus Account to deposit and withdraw funds. Note that the account must be in your name, as this is a means to verify your identity.
Once your account is set up and verified, you can go ahead and deposit funds into your EQ Bank savings account. You can fund the account via Interac e-Transfer or EFT. If you have the EQ Bank app, you can take a photo of a cheque with your phone to deposit it.
My experience has been that the money transferred reflects in your account immediately. However, it usually takes a few days before it is officially transferred and accessible to you.
Perhaps you’re unsure as to whether Equitable Bank and their EQ Bank service are for you. Maybe online-only banking doesn’t appeal to you, and you’d prefer to have the option to go into a branch. Or would you rather bank with one bank offering all services under one roof?
If you want to do all your banking with one service provider, Tangerine Bank may be a better fit.
There are no account or transaction fees, and you’ll have access to a traditional savings, cheque, and credit card account. You’ll also be able to open a TFSA, RSP, RIF, and GICs.
That said, at the time of writing this Equitable Bank review, the interest rate through Tangerine Bank is 0.10% (outside of promotions). This is significantly lower than EQ Bank’s 1.25%*.
Scotiabank offers customers the opportunity to bank online or at a physical branch if they choose. With over 900 branches scattered across Canada, this bank is super accessible.
They offer all the usual account and credit options you would expect from a traditional bank. And are known for having the best cash-back credit card in Canada.
In terms of investments, they also offer RSPs, TFSAs, RIFs, and GICs. Numerous other investment options can be viewed on their website.
Again, when writing this Equitable Bank review, the expected interest rate (outside of promotions) is 0.10% compared to EQ Bank’s 1.25%*.
Equitable Bank will be a good fit if you need expert advice and assistance for a residential or commercial mortgage.
I recommend EQ Bank’s services if you’re looking for a competitive high-interest savings account. You’re simply not going to find a better standard interest rate elsewhere in Canada.
EQ Bank is made for you if you understand investment banking and want to manage your own portfolio online. I find EQ Bank to be a reliable and trustworthy service provider that allows me to make my money work for me. This concludes our Equitable Bank review.
You’re smart. Bank like it. Isn’t it time to earn more without the nonsense?5 minutes
My experience with EQ bank has been fantastic so far. Savings account with higher interest than their competitor banks. RSP and TFSA account that also allows to buy GIC with higher interest as well. USD Account that gives you a great exchange rate, better than the competitors and interest-earning when saving. Keep it up.Victor
The interest rates, free e-Transfers, joint bank accounts, and customer service are excellent at EQ Bank. I highly recommend this bank to anyone that is looking to get a chequing and/or savings account.Keith
Excellent interest rates and are now doing TFSA and RRSP accounts. Progressive company and a breath of fresh air compared to other banks and their exorbitant charges and terrible interest rates.John
*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 are non-redeemable. For GIC terms of less than one year, simple interest is calculated on a per diem basis and paid at maturity. For GIC terms equal to one year, simple interest is calculated on a per annum basis and paid at maturity. For GIC terms of over one year, not including 15 and 27 month terms, interest is calculated on a per annum basis and paid either annually (simple interest) or at maturity (compounded annually). For GIC terms of 15 and 27 months, interest is calculated on a per annum basis, compounded annually and paid solely at maturity. In all cases, interest is accrued for the entire GIC term. Maximum 20 GICs per customer. Per GIC investment limit of $100,000. Aggregate GIC investment limit of $500,000. Except for our limited time rates, the rates shown are in effect as at August 31st, 2021. Rates are calculated on a per annum basis and are subject to change at any time.
‡Based on research conducted by Equitable comparing exchange rates and transaction fees from Wise, Canada’s ‘Big 5’ banks and Simplii Financial. Research considered comparable online global money transfer services and was conducted using the following transactions for $500 CAD: total cost to send CAD to INR in India, total cost to send CAD to USD in the United States and total cost to send CAD to EUR in France. Research took place on March 25, 2021. Promotions excluded.
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Yes—deposits made under EQ Bank and Equitable Bank are aggregately eligible for CDIC protection up to $100,000, per insured category, per depositor. For example, you’re covered for up to $100,000 combined across your individual Savings Plus Account, GICs, US Dollar Account, and any deposits in your name that you have with Equitable Bank. Eligible deposits in your joint account are insured separately.
As part of their online identity verification process, EQ Bank does a “soft” credit check—meaning your credit score won’t be affected and won’t be visible to other third parties who view your credit report.
You can continue to access your existing account while travelling outside of Canada. However, all EQ Bank account holders must be Canadian residents in order to maintain their account.
EQ Bank offers a high-interest savings account (Savings Plus Account), a TFSA Savings Account, an RSP Savings Account, GICs (guaranteed investment certificates), and a US Dollar Account.
All EQ Bank customers must be Canadian residents in order to open and maintain an account.