Wealthsimple Save vs EQ Bank vs KOHO: Hybrid Accounts in Canada

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by Enoch Omololu


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The fintech’s are coming and they are probably already in a home near you!

While I deliberately wanted the foregoing introduction to sound alarming, this is just me poking fun.

The increasing popularity of financial technology companies like Wealthsimple, EQ Bank, KOHO, and STACK is good news for consumers who are cashing in on great rates and lower banking fees.

Read on to learn about what these hybrid bank accounts have to offer to Canadians.

Hybrid Bank Accounts in Canada

Last year, 76% of Canadians conducted most of their banking online. So, the rise of digital banks and hybrid online accounts appears to be a natural evolution of the banking and financial industry as a whole.

EQ Bank Savings Plus, Wealthsimple Save, and KOHO are hybrid accounts that combine savings and chequing features in ways we haven’t seen before.

While online-only banks like Tangerine and Simplii have been paying interest on chequing accounts for some time, a hybrid account takes convenience a step further.

They offer a more fluid approach to saving, spending, investing, and banking in general.

If you keep a high chequing balance at your traditional bank in order to avoid the expensive monthly account fees, you now have alternatives.

1. EQ Bank Savings Plus

eq savings plus account 125x

EQ Bank is the online banking arm of Equitable Bank, a Schedule I bank in Canada.

Their EQ Savings Plus account is a hybrid account that allows you to deposit money, make bill payments, send unlimited e-transfers and earn a high interest rate.

Here are some of its top features:

  • A high-interest savings rate of 1.25%…this is one of the best non-teaser rates you will find in Canada
  • No monthly account fees
  • Unlimited free bill payments and electronic fund transfers
  • Unlimited free Interac e-Transfers
  • Free mobile cheque deposits
  • No minimum balance required
  • Cheap international money transfers
  • Deposit protection by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)
  • Joint accounts available

You will be hard-pressed to find better interest rates in Canada that are not promotional or only available for a limited period of time.

Note: This account is not available in Quebec. There is also a maximum balance of $200,000 per customer.

Open a EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.

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KOHO Earn Interest

KOHO is one of the most popular free online hybrid accounts in Canada.

Along with its snappy prepaid Visa and app, KOHO offers access to a bunch of perks you won’t find anywhere else, including a 0.5% to 2% cash back reward on all purchases.

When you sign up for an account with the promo code CASHBACK, you get a $20 welcome bonus after making your first purchase with the card.

After setting up direct deposits, you automatically earn 1.20% on every dollar in your account. Your KOHO account also offers:

  • 0.5% – 2% cash back on debit purchases
  • No monthly fees on a regular account
  • Free unlimited transactions and e-Transfers
  • A top-rated budgeting phone app that has a 4.8/5 rating on the App Store
  • Automatic savings via Roundup
  • Joint accounts
  • Bonus cash back when you refer friends
  • Choice of a fancy or metal Visa card.
  • Access to Early Payroll
  • Access to a Credit Builder Program

Note: The custodian for KOHO Save accounts is Canadian ShareOwner Investments, an IIROC-regulated entity that is also CIPF-insured.

Open a KOHO account.

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3. Wealthsimple Save

Wealthsimple is Canada’s most popular online wealth manager with more than $10 billion in assets under management.

The company offers low-fee investing in registered and non-registered accounts; a free online brokerage service, online tax returns, and more recently, a fee-free cash account.

Wealthsimple Save offers:

  • A high interest rate of 0.50%
  • No monthly account fees or minimum balance
  • CDIC protection up to specified limits

Wealthsimple Save is available in all provinces and territories of Canada. Learn more in this review.

In addition to Wealthsimple Save, you can also open a free Wealthsimple Cash account and transfer money instantly to anyone on your contacts list who has a Wealthsimple Cash account.

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EQ Bank Savings vs. Wealthsimpe Save vs. KOHO

Interest Rates: Of the three, EQ Bank offers the highest interest rate at 1.25%, followed by KOHO at 1.20% and Wealthsimple Save at 0.50%.

The savings rates available through these hybrid accounts beat anything on offer by the big banks. Even better, they are not teaser rates.

Flexibility: EQ Bank Savings and KOHO already offer free and unlimited transactions and electronic bill payments. Wealthsimple Cash offers free peer-to-peer money transfers.

One-Stop Solution: When you bank with KOHO, you still need a separate bank for your investments (e.g. TFSA and RRSP accounts) as it does not offer these accounts. With EQ Bank, you can save inside a TFSA or RRSP account. With Wealthsimple, you can also invest in low-cost ETFs and get a $75 cash bonus when you open an investment account.

Insurance: EQ Bank, KOHO, and Wealthsimple Save keep your funds with custodians that are CDIC members. CDIC protects your deposits from member firm insolvency up to $100,000.

Other Features and Perks:

An EQ Bank Savings Plus account can be used to send money abroad via Transferwise. It also offers a US Dollar Savings Account.

KOHO pays cash back on all purchases (0.50% – 2% depending on your account type) and you get a $20 bonus when you use the promo code CASHBACK during sign up. The KOHO app can automatically round up and save your spare change.

Wealthsimple also offers a roundup option that automatically invests your spare change and a free platform for trading stocks and ETFs, aka Wealthsimple Trade.

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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. He has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, National Post, CIBC, 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.

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