EQ Bank U.S. Dollar Account Review

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by Enoch Omololu

Updated

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EQ Bank’s U.S. Dollar Account will change the landscape for foreign currency bank accounts in Canada for the better.

If you earn income in USD or have searched for places to park your US dollars vacation fund or savings, you understand the struggle.

Some options offered by the big banks involve opening a USD chequing account and paying a monthly maintenance fee when you don’t keep a minimum balance. For example, I pay $4.95 per month for my personal USD account when the balance falls below $3,000.

It’s not just the fees though. I also don’t earn interest on this balance and haven’t earned any interest for a while.

Well… it paid 0.01% interest for a bit before scrapping it entirely. Not much of a difference, eh?

Even when you open a dedicated U.S. Dollar Savings Account, the interest rates are generally in the 0.01% to 0.10% range. And you better be prepared to pay a fee for every transaction.

It is this combination of dismal interest rates and transaction fees that goes hand-in-hand with the big bank offerings that make the EQ Bank US Dollar Savings Account exceptional.

What is EQ Bank?

EQ Bank is a popular online bank launched in 2016. It is owned by Equitable Bank, a Schedule I bank with more than $36 billion in assets.

EQ Bank has more than $5 billion in deposits and offers its customers access to innovative financial products including:

  • Savings Plus Account: A hybrid account (chequing + savings) that pays 1.25% on every dollar and has no monthly fees. This free account also includes free Interac e-Transfers, unlimited bill payments, and free Electronic Funds Transfers. A 1.25% interest rate is up to 125x what many big banks are offering right now!
  • TFSA Savings Account: Pays 1.25% interest that’s tax-free and has no monthly fees or minimum balance requirement.
  • RSP Savings Account: You can easily set up a retirement savings account and earn a competitive interest rate.
  • Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs): You can invest your money at guaranteed rates for a length of time that suits your needs (3 months to 10 years).

EQ Bank U.S. Dollar Savings Account

Similar to the CAD-denominated Savings Plus Account, the EQ Bank US Dollar Account offers a high interest rate.

You will earn 1.00% interest on every dollar and pay no monthly fees.

What this means is that you no longer get to just hold USD (and avoid FX conversions and markups), but you can also watch your money grow over time.

Below is a summary of what you can expect from this account:

  • 1%* interest rate
  • No monthly account fees
  • Free and unlimited USD to USD transfers within Canada
  • Easy process to fund your USD account using Canadian dollars
  • Fast and competitively priced international money transfers using USD dollars via Wise (no hidden fees)
  • Eligible for CIDC protection

How To Open an EQ Bank US Dollar Account

The process for opening an EQ Bank US Dollar account is straightforward and takes only a few minutes.

To start, you must first open a free Savings Plus Account online.

The requirements for this account are that you must:

  • Be a Canadian resident
  • Be at least the age of the majority in your province
  • Have a Social Insurance Number

Once your EQ Bank Savings Plus Account is set up, you can easily open your US dollar Account directly from your dashboard.

EQ Bank is available using a web browser or their mobile app.

Benefits of an EQ Bank US Dollar Account

The main benefit of this account is that you earn interest rates that beat the big bank’s hands-down.

Think 1.00%* vs. 0.01%!

In addition to this, transfers from your account to other accounts within Canada are free.

You can also send US dollars to recipients in the United States or abroad using Wise (formerly TransferWise), one of the cheapest ways to send money abroad.

Lastly, funds deposited in this USD bank account are eligible for Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) protection.

Downsides of an EQ Bank USD Account

EQ Bank is not available in Quebec, so residents of this province are unable to take advantage of this service.

This account only applies to personal savings which is a bummer as it would be nice to get similar great rates for USD business savings accounts.

Related: USD Account Options for Canadians.

EQ Bank USD Account vs. Alternatives

Wondering what the big five banks are offering on their US Dollar account? As of August 30, 2021, here’s what I found:

  • TD U.S Daily Interest Chequing Account: 0.01%
  • RBC U.S. High Interest Savings: 0.05%
  • BMO U.S. Dollar Premium Rate Savings Account: 0.05%
  • CIBC US$ Personal Account: 0.05%
  • Scotia U.S. Dollar Daily Interest Account: Up to 0.05%

The Tangerine US Dollar Savings Account has a 0.10% interest rate.

All these rates pale in comparison to the 1.00% interest rate you get with an EQ Bank USD Account.

VISIT EQ BANK

FAQs

What free transaction can you do with your EQ Bank US Dollar Account?

You can deposit USD or CAD from your linked Canadian financial institution and move CAD or USD between your EQ Bank savings accounts.

What transactions have fees?

When you transfer US dollars from your EQ Bank US Dollar Account to a US dollar account abroad, you use the Wise international money transfer service and pay a highly competitive fee.

How do I open an EQ Bank US Dollar Account?

You need to first open a free Savings Plus Account. When this is fully set up, you can then open your US Dollar Account. None of these steps involves a fee – nada!

Are US dollar funds protected by CDIC?

The USD money in your EQ Bank account is eligible for coverage up to $100,000 per category. The coverage combines the deposits you have across your individual Savings Plus Account, GICs, and US Dollar Account.

Best Banking Offers this month

1.25% interest on every dollar.

Up to 125x interest more than other banks.

Combines savings and chequing account features.

No monthly fees and free unlimited transactions and Interac e-Transfers.

Free reloadable prepaid card and budgeting app.

0.50% cash back on all purchases and up to 10% at brand partners.

1.20% savings interest on your entire account balance.

Get 3-day early access to $100 of your paycheque.

Premium chequing account with VIP perks.

Get up to a $350* welcome bonus in 3 easy steps.

Earn up to $250* in cash back when you set up banking services.

Unlock an extra $750* in cash back, savings, and rewards.

Credit score updated weekly and no fees!

Get your free credit report updated weekly.

Access to DIY credit monitoring.

Over 1.5 million members in Canada.

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Author

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail, MSN Money, Financial Post, Winnipeg Free Press, CPA Canada, Credit Canada, Wealthsimple, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

6 thoughts on “EQ Bank U.S. Dollar Account Review”

  1. Great review as always. I really appreciate your content. I was wondering, can you deposit US based checks directly into this account? e.g like a US treasury check.

    Reply
    • @JB: Thanks for your feedback. Here’s what I found in EQ Bank’s FAQs:

      Can I deposit a US dollar cheque into my EQ Bank US Dollar Account?
      Unfortunately, you cannot use our remote cheque deposit feature to deposit funds into the EQ Bank US Dollar Account.

      Reply
  2. How can I access the US $? If I wanna withdraw the US cash do I have to transfer it to another institution US dollar account? It seems like I have to have an account with the regular bank anyway so what is the advantage of it outside of the interest rate?

    Reply
    • @De: The main advantage of this US account is that you can use it to grow US funds you don’t need right away. Instead of earning 0.0.05% interest, you get a 1% return. That said, you may also need a US account at another bank for wire transfers, etc. if you are unable to pay your bill or vendor via Wise.

      Reply
  3. question….I am a Canadian that has $ in a Royal Bank account in the US.
    I use it to purchase US $ when the rate is favourable so I can golf and pay bills in US currency when I am there.
    Please tell me the benefits by switching to EQ….thx- B

    Reply
    • @Bill: The main benefit of EQ is that if you have extra US funds (more than what you would normally spend within a certain timeframe e.g. when you are in the US/year) in your RBC account, you could move it to EQ and earn some interest. Moving the money back and forth would involve some work though.

      Reply
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