Motusbank Review: Free Chequing Account and High-Interest Savings in Canada

motusbank is a digital (online-only) bank in Canada offering its customers zero-fee chequing accounts that earn interest, high-interest savings accounts, and highly competitive personal loans and mortgage rates.

Launched on April 2, 2019, by the popular Meridian Credit Union, motusbank is a continuation of the fee-cutting trend and digitization of Canada’s banking landscape.

As the newest entrant into the digital banking space, motusbank will compete directly with other online-only banks like Tangerine, EQ Bank, and Simplii Financial. This review of motusbank covers their account offerings, account benefits, challenges of online-only banking, and more.

Who Is Motusbank?

motusbank is a full-service digital bank owned by Meridian Credit Union which has been around for over 75 years and is based in Ontario. Meridian Credit Union is the largest credit union in Ontario and the third-largest in Canada with more than 337,000 members and over $20.6 billion in assets under management.

motusbank is a federally chartered bank in Canada and is a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC). As a digital bank, they do not have any brick-and-mortar locations. Customers can conduct their banking online and reach customer service by phone when required.

motusbank is available in all the provinces, except Quebec.

motusbank canada review

Motusbank Account Offerings

motusbank launched with a variety of eye-popping offers and accounts that rivalled or beat some of the best offers available in Canada at the time. While the rates are now somewhat moderated, they are still fairly competitive.

1. Motusbank Mortgages

motusbank recently dropped the rates on their 1-5 year mortgage terms as follows:

  • 5 year fixed mortgage rates: 1.89%
  • 4 year fixed mortgage rates: 1.89%
  • 3 year fixed mortgage rates: 1.89%
  • 2 year fixed mortgage rates: 1.89%
  • 1 year fixed mortgage rates: 1.89%

Lower competitive rates are also available on their variable mortgage terms. In addition to motusbank’s low mortgage rates, their mortgages come with some great features which can save you money and/or make your life easier.

20% Lumpsum Prepayments: You can pay down up to 20% of your original principal every year without a penalty. 

20% Regular Payment Increase: This allows you to increase your normal monthly payments by up to 20% without a penalty.

Skip-a-payment: You can skip up to one month of mortgage payments per year.

Flexible payment schedule: Choose to pay your mortgage weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, or semi-monthly. You can also save on interest fees by making accelerated weekly or bi-weekly payments.

If you are not sure about how much house you can afford, they have various calculators that can be of help:

  • Mortgage Affordability Calculator
  • Mortgage Payment Calculator
  • Mortgage Prepayment Calculator, and more.

Check out some of the best mortgage rates in Canada.

2. Motusbank Savings Accounts

They offer a high-interest savings account (1.00%), TFSA savings account (1.10%), and RRSP savings account (1.00%).

These are not bad rates in today’s climate of extremely low savings rates. However, on general savings interest rates, the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account beats motusbank by 25 basis points at 1.25%. You can also earn 2.30%* on an EQ Bank TFSA.

Their smart savings accounts offer the following features:

  • Competitive high-interest rates
  • Zero monthly fees and no minimum balance requirement
  • Unlimited debit purchases and withdrawals
  • Access to over 3,700 FREE ATMs across Canada
  • Deposit insurance up to $100,000 by CDIC
  • Automated savings feature that allows you to round up your purchases and save your spare change

3. Motusbank No-Fee Chequing Account

Similar to Tangerine, motusbank offers a chequing account that has no monthly fees. Its features are:

  • $0 monthly account fees
  • No minimum balance requirement
  • Free and unlimited Interac e-Transfers
  • 0.15% interest earned on your account balance
  • Unlimited debit purchases, bill payments, and withdrawals
  • Access to over 3,700 free ATMs across Canada
  • Mobile cheque deposits
  • Your first order of 25 cheques is free
  • Deposit insurance up to $100,000 by CDIC

4. Motusbank GICs

motusbank has GICs you can use inside a registered (RRSP, TFSA, or RRIF) or non-registered accounts. GIC rates as of today (April 21, 2021) are:

TFSA/RRSP/RRIF GICs

  • 1-year GIC: 1.45%
  • 2-year GIC: 1.25%
  • 3-year GIC: 1.35%
  • 4-year GIC: 1.45%
  • 5-year GIC: 1.55%

For their long-term non-redeemable GICs that are eligible for non-registered accounts, the rates are 1-year GIC: 1.40%, 2-year GIC: 1.20%, 3-year GIC: 1.30%, 4-year GIC: 1.40%, and 5-year GIC: 1.50%.

The bank also has escalator GICs which have varying and increasing interest rates depending on their terms, as well as short-term 30 to 270-day GICs.

Click for a list of the Best GIC Offers available in Canada.

5. Motusbank Personal Loans

They offer various credit facilities, including:

  • Personal Loans: You can borrow up to $35,000 starting at 5.15% interest. Loan terms range from 1 month to 5 years.
  • Personal Line of Credit: Interest rates starting at 5.65%.
  • Secured Line of Credit (HELOC): Easily tap into the equity on your home when you need to take out a large loan for as low as a 2.75% interest rate.

The minimum amount you can borrow is $5,000 and the online application is easy to complete in just a few minutes. You can also easily obtain an initial rate quote that does not impact your credit score.

Here are some options for a personal loan with bad credit?

Motusbank Fees

As you can imagine, some transactions you conduct with motusbank attract fees. Some of them are:

motusbank account fees
Source: motusbank.ca

You can also find other applicable fees e.g. NSF, wire transfers, overdraft, stop payments, inactive account fees, etc. on their website.

Is Motusbank Safe and Legit?

motusbank is just as safe as your bank and is a member of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC).

CDIC membership means your deposits in savings, chequing, term deposits, and bank drafts are insured up to $100,000 per category. This coverage is available to customers in all provinces and territories in Canada.

Also, motusbank is owned by Meridian Credit Union which is the third largest credit union in Canada and it has been around for more than 75 years.

Pros and Cons of Digital Banks (Motusbank)

Online-only banks have their advantages and disadvantages when compared to the big banks.

Pros

Lower Fees: You can save the $14.95 or more in fees charged on the basic unlimited transaction chequing accounts available at your traditional brick-and-mortar bank.

High-Interest Savings: The funds you keep in your savings can earn an interest rate that potentially exceeds inflation and thus gives you ‘real’ returns. motusbank currently offers 1.00% on their general savings account. EQ Bank has one of the highest non-promotional general savings rates in Canada at 1.25%.

Earn Interest on Chequing: Some digital banks pay you interest on your chequing account balance. Motusbank pays 0.15%.

CDIC Insurance: Similar to the Big 5 banks, Motusbank is a member of CDIC which means that your eligible deposits (TFSA, Savings, RRSP, Chequing, etc.) are protected up to $100,000 per category.

Mobile App: Their innovative mobile app allows you to conduct transactions easily, including cheque deposits. The app is available on Android and iOS (iPhones).

Customer Support: Phone support is available from 8:00 am to 12:00 am (EST) Monday to Sunday at 1-833-696-6887. You can also email [email protected]

Cons

The main challenge you will face when you bank with an online-only bank is the lack of a physical branch that you can easily walk into if you prefer face-to-face banking.

Related Posts:

Closing Thoughts

Digital banks provide bank customers with lower-fee options for their everyday banking. Whether it is savings, chequing, mortgages, or investments, there are options to pay less and earn better returns.

The jury is still out on what impact digital banks will have on the outrageous bank fees charged by the Big 5. Perhaps another entrant into this banking space will increase competitiveness and lead to an overall decrease in monthly bank fees?

We can only hope!

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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 and monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell.

20 thoughts on “Motusbank Review: Free Chequing Account and High-Interest Savings in Canada”

  1. Thanks for this useful review. Looks fairly similar to Alterna in terms of rates and fees. And both are affiliated with credit unions.

    You have a great website. A big thank you from this not-so-savvy old Canadian!

    Reply
  2. When you say all provinces except Quebec, does this just apply to mortgage rates and chequing transactions? If one were to open a TFSA, and at some point (say a year later) to Quebec, how would this affect them?

    Reply
  3. Motusbank is available in Quebec but not 100% of their offering. Motusbank don’t currently meet the regulatory requirements of operating in Quebec; therefore, they cannot actively solicit business in the province. However, Quebec residents can go on-board as a new member but will be restricted to acquiring deposit products only.The only accounts Quebec you would not qualify for right now would be any lending products such as loans, overdraft protection, lines of credit and mortgages.

    Motusbank is member of CDIC and protection covers all provinces in Canada.

    I just finished opening my account, within 2-3 days from now my current bank chequing account will be linked to my new 2.50% TFSA saving account.

    The Motusbank TFSA saving account is fantastic for an emergency fund! Much higher rate than big banks, even against Tangerine that has only 1.15%!

    Reply
  4. Thanks. I am looking at a HELOC instead of a traditional mortgage. I have noticed a rate of Prime – 0.2% from Motusbank. Is this the best rate out there for this product?
    Also, what do you think of this strategy?

    Reply
  5. Bad experience with Motus, would not recommend. Their website is designed to rip off Millennials and not to help them leverage and grow.

    Reply
  6. I had so many problems with them since like they charge me for fees because of their error and they cant event refund me it was the worst idea to go with them..

    Reply
  7. Big banks probably drops negative comments here and there to scare people… I have a Saving and TFSA Motusbank accounts and it works perfectly fine. Do I have money sleeping in any of the big banks saving account or TFSA account? No. I want my savings to work and beat the inflation (the big banks give you less than the actual cost of life over time so you end up burning your money year after year. Who likes burning morney?

    Reply
    • No JF , I think Motus is the least of the big banks’ worries. I am sure that the big banks would love it if all of their competition was as incompetent as Motus.

      Reply
  8. This bank sucks. I opened an account expecting the debit card and checks to be sent like the website says. I message them a week later asking what was taking so long. They say that my debit card would be sent out immediately and I would receive it in 4-7 days. This is ridiculous, who do these idiots think they are. They have stated or advertised on their website that the debit card and checks would be sent out after opening the account. Now they think I’m going to wait another 4-7 days. Time to call the regulators and file complaints. They wanted to be a bank and to be free of a necessitated reserves on their lending… well their going to see that massive regulations come as part of the deal. If your looking for a bank that tells you one thing and then does another this may be the bank for you!

    Reply
  9. Worst bank ever! Its staff NEVER take responsibility for their mistakes, they only offer insincere apologies and hide behind bank jargon, while continuously cutting the interest rates on investment packages.

    In the 7 months I have had an account with Motus Bank they have:
    *Forgot to send ATM card, despite signing up 2 weeks earlier for chequing account
    *Forgot to send cheques for a CHEQUING account
    *Refused in permanently increase purchase limit above $1000, despite the fact rent is over $1000 per month
    *Delayed crediting direct deposit to account, thus causing a cheque to have NSF
    *Arbitrarily closed my account due to “inactivity,” despite the fact 2 direct deposits PLUS 2-3 purchases per month are conducted on the account
    *Demanded I be responsible for any NSF on post-dated cheques, despite the fact they arbitrarily closed the account

    This bank is beyond redemption. AVOID AT ALL COSTS!!!

    Reply
  10. Another point to note, the daily transfer limit between your accounts in Motus Bank and an external account is $10,000.

    I wanted to move my TFSA to Eq Bank which now offers a much higher interest rate. I was told by the Customer Service that there is a fee to transfer to a TFSA of another bank. So, to avoid the fee, I have to transfer out to a saving account in another bank in December last year and deposit to the TFSA in Eq Bank in January this year. And I have to do several transfers because of the daily limit. Unfortunately, one of the transfer requests was lost in their system. I planned the transfers too close to year-end, and now it is too late to fix the problem.
    In hindsight, I should open a saving account, transfer the money to the saving account from the TFSA (assuming that there is no transfer limit between accounts in the bank), then transfer to another bank.

    So keep in mind the daily transfer limit and that their system may just throw your transfer request to a garbage bin.

    Reply
  11. Dealing with motus was an incredibly frustrating experience for me. It is difficult to confirm details of pending transfers and that difficulty is exacerbated by the 10,000 daily limit. So, if you must transfer 40,000 you must sign in 4 days to get it done and there is no evidence in your account as to what is actually in process. Also, the transfers are painfully slow causing the stress for those 4 transfers to be on-going over more than a week. I did recently close my account since there are so many better options out there.

    Reply
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