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But instead of leaving it at that, I wanted to put together a full review of EQ Bank to help break down why I recommend them, and address some of the most common follow-up questions I get when I do.
The opinions and writing in this article are solely my own, conveying my experience with EQ Bank as a product. Other customers’ outcomes may differ. I’ve been using EQ Bank’s high-interest savings account since they came out, so I’ve got years of experience with them. The links in this article are affiliate links, because I personally use, like, and trust EQ Bank with my money.
What is EQ Bank?
EQ Bank is an online-only bank that offers high-interest savings accounts (called Savings Plus Account), joint accounts, Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), Retirement Savings Plans (RSPs) and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs).
If you’ve heard of them before, it’s probably for their ultra-competitive interest rates: they pay 1.50% interest* on your everyday savings, and more than that on their GICs depending on how long you lock your money in for.
Who can use EQ Bank?
Any Canadian resident above the age of majority in their province who has a SIN card can open an EQ Bank account. However, EQ is not currently available to residents of Quebec.
Who should use EQ Bank?
I’m just going to call it right now: if you’re saving for a short-term money goal at your big bank, literally any short-term money goal, you should have an EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account.
Saving for a house down payment? EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account. Saving an emergency fund? EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account. Saving for taxes if you’re a freelancer? EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account. Saving for a big vacation or a wedding? EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account.
Literally any time anyone asks me where to keep their short-term savings, I always tell them to open a Savings Plus Account with EQ Bank for two main reasons.
The first one is obviously the interest rate. If you have a lot of money just sitting in account, because it’s supposed to be sitting in an account, it might as well earn you more money.
But there’s a bigger benefit than the dozens of dollars you could be making every month (yes, dozens, seriously). If you have that much money and you want to make sure it stays in savings, it’s much easier on a psychological level to forget it’s there when you don’t see it every day.
For accounts you’d really rather not tap into on a monthly basis, separating them out into your EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account and hiding them behind one extra login can be the difference between spending them and finally sticking to your savings goals.
What’s the experience like?
Really, really easy to use.
Because EQ Bank doesn’t try to be everything to everyone, the interface is gloriously simple. You can add and withdraw money, you can set up clear savings goals, you can see your recent transactions, and keep tabs on how much further you have to go until you hit your goal.
Is it the most unbelievably slick interface in the world? No, but it’s pretty great, and it does everything you could want to do in a simple, straightforward way.
To set up an account, you’ll need to validate your identity, and the easiest way to do that is to connect your EQ Bank account with your existing bank account. Not only does this skip dealing with physical documents, it connects your existing account to your new EQ Bank account.
Two birds, pals!
However, if you’re not with one of the banks listed below, you may need to go to a Canada Post location to verify your identity:
- ATB Financial.
- Coast Capital Savings.
- Laurentian Bank.
- National Bank.
- TD Bank.
What should you do after you’ve set up an account at EQ Bank?
Since I’m going to assume you opened an account to save some money — they’re savings accounts, after all — there are two key things you’re going to want to do once you’ve connected an account and authenticated it with your existing bank account.
One, set up your savings goal. All you have to do is put in an amount you want to save, and the date you want to save it by. EQ Bank will keep track of your goal for you, show you a handy progress bar and you’ll easily be able to see how you’re doing — and when you’re done.
Two, set up an automatic contribution. Once you’ve got an account with a goal, the best next step is to automate your savings. You can set up recurring savings contributions from your external account to align with your pay schedule, so you literally don’t have to think about it again until the money is saved up and ready.
What’s the best part of EQ Bank?
There is a lot that I like about EQ Bank, but I’ve got to say, the interest is excellent. Right now, I’ve got two main savings accounts with them, holding my emergency fund and my tax savings.
The high interest rates you can earn on your savings are an easy way to optimize your money, and they’re nothing to sneeze at. The interest is paid out at the start of every month, so it compounds, too.
What’s the worst part of EQ Bank?
Because it’s a separate bank, transferring money to and from your “primary” bank will take a few days.
Just like it would from any bank to any other bank.
It’s really a very small hassle, but “How is the transfer process?” is something that I get asked more than anything else about EQ Bank. So here is the low down on moving money in and out.
Once you’ve linked the accounts, moving money into your EQ Bank account is as simple as setting up a one-time or recurring transfer in your EQ account. The great part is that while it’ll take a few days for the money to be available in EQ Bank, they recognize the transfer as soon as you make it — so you start earning interest right away.
Moving money out is a similar process. You just set up a transfer from your EQ Bank account to your external account, and hit “Send”. It’ll take the same few days to actually show up in your other account, so make sure you plan accordingly.
When I withdrew money for our house down payment and closing costs, I made sure to transfer the money over a week ahead of time when it was being drawn from my checking account. When I could put it on a credit card, I’d do that, initiate the transfer, and the money would be easily available before my credit card needed to be paid off.
PS. You also get free Interac e-Transfers every month, so if you really do need the money right away you can email transfer it to yourself and have it within minutes.
How much does it cost?
Seriously, it’s free. You can have up to five savings accounts with a total balance maximum of $200,000, for free. And you get five free Interac e-Transfers every month. There’s no minimum account size, no everyday banking fees and you have free bill payments and EQ-to-EQ transfers if you want either.
You can link up to 10 accounts for free, and transfer money to and from your linked bank accounts for free.
And if you also open a joint account, your maximum balance goes all the way up to $500,000.
Any hidden fees or tricky parts?
There was always one thing that I had to remind myself once I set up my automatic contributions from my checking account.
While the savings contribution will show up right away in EQ Bank, it usually takes a day or two for the money to actually come out of your checking account. So if you’re watching your bank account like a hawk, you’ll get paid, have your other automatic contributions come out, pay your bills, and see a number left over in your account at the end of payday.
You just have to remember that your other automatic contributions are going to come out a day or two later, so you need to remember that some of that “leftover” money is already spoken for.
But on the bright side there are no hidden fees!
Also this is a very minor hassle for how major some hassles can be with financial products.
Bottom line: How good is EQ Bank?
Can you tell I love EQ Bank? Because I really love it, and suggest it to every Canadian with a savings goal.
There’s no reason you need to leave thousands of dollars sitting around earning pennies in interest for years at your regular bank when they could be earning dollars at EQ Bank — especially if getting that chunk of money out of sight will help you stick to your savings goals.
It’s a total win-win.