EQ Bank and Simplii Financial are online-only banks in Canada. Both financial institutions offer personal accounts including savings and investments in registered and non-registered accounts.
If you are looking to cut your banking fees and earn a reasonable interest rate on your savings, a digital bank or credit union appears to be your best bet these days.
That said, digital banks pose their own challenges.
This EQ Bank and Simplii comparison covers their features, benefits, downsides, rates, and fees.
Related: KOHO vs. STACK.
EQ Bank is the direct banking arm of Equitable Bank, a Schedule I Bank with over $35 billion in assets under management.
Its financial products lineup includes:
1. Savings Account Plus: This high interest savings account offers a 1.25% interest rate on every dollar.
Compared to the 0.01% to 0.05% rate offered by some big banks, you earn up to 125x more with an EQ Bank savings account.
This hybrid account includes:
- No monthly account fees
- Free and unlimited debits and bill payments
- Free Interac e-Transfers
- CDIC protection up to $100,000 per insured category, per depositor
- No minimum deposit requirement
- Free mobile-cheque deposits
2. Guaranteed GICs: You can use a GIC to save for short- and long-term goals. EQ Bank’s GICs have terms ranging from 3 months to 10 years and offer competitive interest rates.
The minimum deposit in a GIC account is $100.
3. TFSA and RRSP Accounts: EQ Bank clients can save or invest using a TFSA or RSP account and enjoy tax-free or tax-deferred returns respectively.
Here’s a review of EQ Bank’s TFSA.
4. International Money Transfer: You can send money abroad directly from your EQ Bank Account. The service is up to 8 times cheaper than what you’d pay at a Big-5 bank and is offered in partnership with Wise.
Simplii Financial is a subsidiary of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). It was established in 2017 and has almost 2 million customers.
Simplii accounts include:
1. Chequing Account: This no-fee chequing account pays a small interest on your balance and has no monthly fees. It supports unlimited free debit purchases, bill payments, and free access to 3,400+ CIBC ATMs across Canada.
2. Savings Account: This account pays 0.10% interest, supports automatic savings, and has no minimum balance.
- 4% cash back on restaurant, bar, and coffee shop purchases
- 1.5% cash back on gas, groceries, drugstore purchases and pre-authorized payments
- 0.5% cash back on everything else
To qualify for this card, you need a minimum annual personal/household income of $15,000 which is a low barrier.
4. Investment: Simplii customers can invest in registered (TFSA or RRSP) and non-registered plans using its savings or GIC products.
5. Personal Loans and Mortgages: You can apply for a personal loan, secured line of credit, or mortgage loan.
Related: Best Canadian Online Banks.
EQ Bank vs. Simplii Breakdown
Savings Interest: EQ Bank offers a much higher interest rate on its savings account i.e., 1.25% vs. the 0.10% offered by Simplii. In real terms, it means if you deposit $10,000 in your EQ Bank account, you will earn approximately $12.50 after a year. For Simplii, your return is $1.
Chequing Account: EQ Bank Savings Plus is a hybrid account that supports mobile cheque deposits, free bill payments, transfers, and Interac e-Transfers. It does not offer a physical debit card and doesn’t own any ATMs.
Simplii Financials’ chequing account offers traditional cheques if you still use them. Also, its customers can access CIBC’s ATMs for free.
Are they Safe? Both EQ Bank and Simplii are owned by CDIC-member institutions. This means your deposits are eligible for insurance against insolvency up to $100,000 (should either firm become bankrupt).
Fees: EQ Bank and Simplii have no-fee savings accounts. Service fees that may apply to a Simplii chequing account include stop payments, overdraft fee, NSF fees, drafts, and non-CIBC ATM withdrawals.
Customer Support: EQ Bank’s customer support is available by chat and phone 7 days a week (8am – midnight ET). Simplii phone support is available 24/7, while chat is 7am – 12am ET (Monday to Friday) and 9am – 6pm ET (Weekends and holidays).
Referral Program: Simplii Financial does not appear to have a referral program. You can refer friends and family using your EQ Bank referral link and earn up to $500 in total rewards. Your friends get $20 each.