EQ Bank Review (2020): Higher Interest Rates on Savings & Investments = A Win for Small Businesses

When seeking a bank for your Canadian small business, you have options ranging from traditional brick and mortar banks to online-only banks to everything in between. One of the most well-known online banks that has features the small business community will potentially find beneficial is EQ Bank.

Our EQ Bank review will break down the various features and services you’ll find with this bank, helping you determine whether EQ Bank is the best choice to handle the banking needs for your small business.

What Is EQ Bank?


As an online bank, EQ Bank does not have traditional physical standalone branches spread throughout the country. It also has no ATMs or satellite branches inside places like grocery stores.

If you prefer person-to-person banking services, or if you have the need to do quite a few cash transactions, a brick and mortar type of bank will meet your needs better, as you can visit the branch and obtain the denominations of cash that you need.

EQ Bank’s account offerings focus on savings and investments, rather than on traditional chequing accounts for businesses. This means EQ Bank’s offerings may not work for every type of business. Additionally, EQ Bank is not available in Quebec.

Because EQ Bank focuses on savings and investments, and because it does not have the overhead of a traditional bank with branches and other properties, it is able to offer a higher than average interest rate on its savings account and investment products versus traditional banks.

Small businesses often choose to use EQ Bank as an account to store large sums of funds temporarily until they’re needed for inventory purchases or large equipment purchases. While this money is sitting and waiting for the business to put it to use, it can earn the business a better than average interest rate versus the brick and mortar bank where you may be holding your chequing account.

Who Owns EQ Bank?

Equitable Bank set up EQ Bank as an online-only banking arm in 2016, attempting to meet the changing tastes and needs of customers, some of whom are seeking the convenience of an online banking option. Equitable Bank uses EQ Bank as a separate brand.

Equitable Bank is a branchless bank that offers savings products and lending services, including loans to consumers for homes, reverse mortgages, and loans to businesses for commercial spaces. Equitable attempts to serve areas of the financial market in Canada that the traditional banking system does not cover adequately.

Overall, Equitable Bank ranks as one of the 10 largest independent banks in Canada with more than $34 billion in assets under management.

Equitable Bank is a subsidiary of Equitable Group Inc., which is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Equitable Bank’s headquarters are in Toronto, but it has regional offices elsewhere in Canada, including:

  • Calgary
  • Halifax
  • Montreal
  • Vancouver

Is EQ Bank Safe?

Yes, it is as safe as any other bank. Certainly, some people have their doubts about the ability to trust an online-only bank, but EQ Bank uses a variety of security measures to protect your information.

Like the majority of Canadian banks, EQ Bank is part of the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) program, meaning that all deposits up to $100,000 receive automatic federal government protection, should the banking institution fail financially.

As with other banks that participate in the CDIC, customers do not need to pay for the insurance. It is automatically applied.

Customer service for EQ Bank is available through telephone calls, email, or chat. You can access customer help seven days a week.

EQ Bank Products

Let’s dig into the various banking products that EQ Bank offers, including features found in those banking products.

Understand that EQ Bank offers personal banking products, rather than products aimed specifically at businesses. However, small businesses and sole proprietorships still can use EQ Bank’s products, as long as the customer can make use of his or her personal name for the account, rather than the business name.

Signing up for any of EQ Bank’s accounts is easy, as you can perform the entire process online. To sign up, you will need to be a Canadian resident, be the age of majority in your province, and include a Social Insurance Number.

Savings Plus Account

The Savings Plus Account from EQ Bank is the bank’s primary account offering. It has several benefits that outperform the majority of savings accounts found in traditional brick and mortar banks. Some of the features found in Savings Plus include:

  • Free to open or close the account
  • Higher than average current interest rate of 1.5%
  • No minimum balance
  • Free transfers between EQ Bank accounts
  • Free electronic funds transfers
  • No fees
  • Free bill payments
  • Free deposits
  • Reduced rate for international money transfers


To view statements, customers will have to log into their accounts, as statements are only available digitally. This account has a maximum balance of $200,000.

Joint Savings Plus Account

When you want to share the EQ Bank savings account among multiple people, you’ll want to sign up for the Joint Savings Plus Account.

You can add up to three people at the time of signup or after you’ve had the account for a while. You can invite others to be part of your joint savings account through a web invite or a mobile invite.

The Joint Savings Plus Account has the same basic features as the Savings Plus Account, including the same savings interest rate. 

However, this account has a maximum balance of $500,000.

Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC)

EQ Bank has a GIC account for those small businesses and sole proprietorships that would like to receive a potentially higher interest rate for money being held temporarily. However, you do have to agree to leave the money in the GIC for a certain amount of time.

Many Canadian banks sell GICs. They’re often intended for use in retirement savings accounts for people who are looking for a safer type of investment than securities. Small businesses can park money in the GIC that they don’t need for a while to receive a potentially higher interest rate than the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.

Interest rates can vary with GICs, and the current rate for the EQ Bank GIC is 1.7% for a three-month commitment, 1.25% for a one-year commitment, and 2% for a 10-year commitment.

GICs carry the same up to $100,000 CDIC protection that the savings accounts from EQ Bank have. The minimum deposit for a GIC is $100.

Other EQ Bank Features

Some of the other features and services you should know about for EQ Bank include:

  • Mobile banking app: EQ Bank has a strong app that allows for mobile banking. This app gives you the opportunity to check on the balance in your account, as well as pay bills, move money between accounts, deposit cheques, or view documents. The app is one of the best found among Canadian banks and is available for both iOS and Android devices.
  • International money transfers: EQ Bank is in a partnership with TransferWise, which allows you to send money to many locations in the world at a lower price than you could without the partnership. TransferWise is part of the EQ Bank mobile app, greatly simplifying the process of sending international transfers.
  • Direct deposit: To have your paycheque automatically deposited into your EQ Bank account, use the links under the My Account category to generate a voided cheque for direct deposit. Then give the voided cheque to your employer, who can use it to deposit your salary automatically.
  • Security guarantee: EQ Bank uses all of the latest security features to ensure the safety of your personal information and your bank account information. Customers will receive data encryption, strong password requirements, and fraud monitoring to protect their information.

Types of Accounts and Features EQ Bank Does Not Offer

As we mentioned earlier, EQ Bank does not have specific accounts made for business users. Here are some of the other types of accounts and features that you will not find at EQ Bank.

  • Loans: If you’re seeking a home mortgage or a commercial loan, EQ Bank does not offer these services. You can apply for these types of loans through EQ Bank’s parent company, Equitable Bank.
  • Credit cards: Neither EQ Bank nor Equitable Bank offer credit cards.
  • Debit cards: EQ Bank does not offer a debit card or cheques for its accounts, so you do not have an option for making in-person purchases.
  • ATM: EQ Bank does not have ATMs for cash withdrawals.
  • RRSP: An RRSP (or Registered Retirement Savings Plan) is a type of investment account designed to help Canadians save for retirement. The RRSP has tax benefits, as the money you contribute to the RRSP and its gains grow tax deferred until the time you take the money out of the account after you retire. EQ Bank does not offer RRSPs.
  • RRSP: An RRSP (or Registered Retirement Savings Plan) is a type of investment account designed to help Canadians save for retirement. The RRSP has tax benefits, as the money you contribute to the RRSP and its gains grow tax deferred until the time you take the money out of the account after you retire. EQ Bank does not offer RRSPs.

Fees for EQ Bank Services

If you’re concerned about the fees you sometimes encounter with traditional banking accounts, especially for business accounts, EQ Bank was made with you in mind. As our EQ Bank review shows, fees are basically non-existent with EQ Bank.

The free services you will receive with an EQ Bank account include:

  • Free bill payment
  • Free mobile deposits
  • Free account management
  • Free account opening
  • Free account closing
  • Free transfer from account to account
  • Free Interac e-transfers

The only fee you will encounter with EQ Bank occurs when you make an international money transfer through the TransferWise service, and even that fee is at a reduced price, thanks to EQ Bank’s partnership with TransferWise.

How EQ Bank Compares to Competitors

So how does EQ Bank stack up against other types of online banks in Canada? Our EQ Bank review will spell out the advantages and disadvantages of using EQ Bank versus some of its competitors.

EQ Bank Vs. Tangerine

As we mentioned earlier, EQ Bank does not have specific accounts made for business users. Here are some of the other types of accounts and features that you will not find at EQ Bank.

  • Chequing: Tangerine offers a free chequing account, complete with a debit card and cheques, while EQ Bank does not have a dedicated chequing account option, although its Savings Plus Account has some features that resemble a standard chequing account, including free bill payment.
  • Savings: Both Tangerine and EQ Bank have savings accounts that offer a higher interest rate than a traditional brick and mortar bank. Both online banks have GICs too.
  • Interest rates: Across the board, you will find higher interest rates for the savings and GIC accounts with EQ Bank than with Tangerine, although Tangerine does occasionally offer some introductory interest rates that are higher than EQ Bank. These high rates are temporary, though.
  • Fees: Neither Tangerine nor EQ Bank have maintenance fees on their accounts.
  • Business: Neither online bank has a business chequing account, but Tangerine does offer a business-oriented savings account.

Our Verdict

For those strictly looking for savings accounts or GICs, EQ Bank’s interest rates tend to be higher versus Tangerine. However, if you need a traditional chequing account, a debit card, a loan, or a credit card, Tangerine is your only option, as EQ Bank does not offer these items.

EQ Bank Vs. Motive Financial

  • Chequing: Motive Financial has a traditional chequing account option with cheques and a debit card, while EQ Bank does not.
  • Savings: Both EQ Bank and Motive Financial have savings account options with a higher than average interest rate versus traditional banks. Motive has GIC, TFSA, and RRSP investment accounts, while EQ Bank only offers GICs.
  • Interest rates: The interest rates that Motive Financial and EQ Bank offer are very similar, both on savings and GIC accounts.
  • Fees: While EQ Bank accounts have no fees, you will have some usage and maintenance fees with certain Motive Financial accounts. If you will be needing to make frequent transactions with your Motive Financial accounts, you can expect to ring up quite a few fees.
  • Business: Neither Motive Financial nor EQ Bank offer accounts specifically aimed at business users or non-profit organizations, although small businesses and sole proprietorships typically can make use of the accounts.

Our Verdict

If you need loans, chequeing, or advanced investment accounts, Motive Financial is your only choice, as EQ Bank does not have these services. However, if you only need a simple savings or GIC account for your small business, we prefer EQ Bank. Its mobile app is far easier to use than Motive Financial’s app, and setting up an account with EQ Bank is significantly less of a hassle than with Motive.

EQ Bank Vs. Alterna

  • Chequing: While EQ Bank has no chequing account options, Alterna has both a personal chequing account and an eBusiness chequing account.
  • Savings: Both EQ Bank and Alterna offer high interest savings accounts that beat the rates you’ll find with traditional banks. Both banks offer GICs, but Alterna also has options to open TFSA and RRSP accounts, while EQ Bank does not.
  • Interest rates: EQ Bank has slightly higher interest rates on its savings and GIC accounts than Alterna. Unless you’re holding a large amount of money in the accounts, though, you may not notice the slight difference in rates.
  • Fees: You will have no fees with EQ Bank, but Alterna does have usage and maintenance fees on quite a few of its accounts, including its business accounts. These fees will add up pretty quickly if you need to make transactions in your Alterna accounts frequently throughout the month.
  • Business: Only Alterna provides accounts made specifically for business users.

Our Verdict

Although Alterna’s fee structure is a bit lower than what you find with a traditional brick and mortar bank, it still is restrictive for those who need to make multiple transactions per month. For simplicity and no usage fees, we like EQ Bank. For those who need business specific accounts, loans, and advanced investment options, however, Alterna is the only option.

EQ Bank Vs. Wealthsimple

  • Chequing: Although neither EQ Bank nor Wealthsimple offer traditional chequing accounts, you can perform bill payments out of the savings accounts with both of these online financial services. With Wealthsimple, it has plans to offer debit cards and ATM access for savings account customers in the near future, so it will be closer to a traditional chequing account than what EQ Bank currently offers.
  • Savings: EQ Bank has a simple savings account with a higher than average interest rate. Wealthsimple has multiple savings and investing accounts, including a couple of investing accounts aimed at small business users.
  • Interest rates: EQ Bank pays a higher interest rate on its savings account than Wealthsimple pays, but Wealthsimple gives small business owners and sole proprietors the option of investing in securities, which carry more risk, but which offer a higher potential rate of return.
  • Fees: Wealthsimple and EQ Bank do not charge fees on their basic savings accounts. You may encounter some maintenance and transaction fees on Wealthsimple’s investment accounts for both individuals and businesses, depending on how you’re investing and how often you make a transaction.
  • Business: Only Wealthsimple has accounts aimed specifically at business users.

Our Verdict

Wealthsimple is more of a robo-advisor for investing than a bank, which means that if you want security investments and specific types of investment accounts, such as RRSP and TFSA, Wealthsimple is the better option. Both services have savings accounts that have CIDC protection.

If you’re only interested in basic savings accounts, both services have similar features right now. EQ Bank provides a higher interest rate than Wealthsimple, but Wealthsimple has plans to offer debit cards with its savings account in the near future, which may be especially beneficial to your needs. EQ Bank has no option for debit cards with its accounts.

EQ Bank FAQs

Here are some of the most common questions potential customers have regarding EQ Bank.

If sending money to another EQ Bank customer, you may send up to $30,000 per day. These funds are immediately available to the recipient with no hold placed on the money. You also can make an electronic funds transfer (EFT) from your EQ Bank account to a linked bank account that you own at another bank, and these transfers have a limit of $30,000 per transfer with multiple transfers allowed per day to the linked accounts. It may take up to two business days for the money to be available in your linked account.

For the EQ Bank savings account, each customer may hold up to $200,000 for an individual account. Should the customer have a joint account with someone else at EQ Bank, the maximum balance per customer is $500,000.

Understand that EQ Bank’s interest rates are subject to change. Currently, the interest rates include:

  • 1.5% on Savings Plus and Joint Savings Plus
  • Between 1.25% and 1.7% on GICs between 3 and 12 months in length
  • Between 1.05% and 1.15% on GICs between 15 months and 3 years in length
  • Between 1.25% and 2% on GICs between 4 and 10 years in length

Yes. The EQ Bank referral program provides bonuses to current EQ Bank customers who refer others to start a new EQ Bank account. The referred customer must be a new customer to EQ Bank. The referral bonus sits between $20 and $40 per person referred with a maximum lifetime bonus of $500 per referrer. The new customer that you referred must open the account and fund it with at least $100 within 30 days.

You can send money to your EQ Bank account through an electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a linked account that you hold at another financial institution. You also have the option of making an e-transfer through the Interac service.

You can use the EQ Bank mobile app to take a photograph of the cheque, and the app will walk you through the deposit process from there. You may deposit cheques up to $100,000 apiece or until reaching your account maximum balance.

If you make a deposit by cheque or EFT, EQ Bank usually places a hold on the funds of up to five business days, meaning the funds may not be available for your use until the sixth business day. However, during the hold period on the funds, you will be earning interest on them, even though you cannot access them.

You’ll use the mobile app or a web browser to pay bills for free. Once you click on the Pay Bills link, just enter the information for the payee, and you can send the funds.

Use the EQ Bank mobile app or a web browser to link other accounts to your EQ Bank account. Once you navigate to the correct window, just enter the requested information about your other bank account, and you’ll them be able to make transfers between the two accounts.

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