EQ Bank vs. Tangerine: Which is Canada's Best Online Bank?

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Last updated on July 5, 2022 Comments: 6

The Big Five Banks’ high fees and low interest rates have long dominated Canada’s financial landscape. Over the last decade, Canadians have witnessed the rise of an impressive selection of alternative digital banks. These modern, and often online-only banks, prioritize high-interest rates and low (or even no) fees and offer real value for Canadians willing to give them a try.

Renown for high-interest rate savings accounts, fair fees, and their ease of use, EQ Bank and Tangerine stand out as main contenders for the title of Canada’s top alternative bank. To help you decide which financial institution is the best match for your money management goals, we’ve put these two alternative bank heavy hitters to the test.

At a Glance

 EQ BankTangerine
AccountsSavings Plus Account, GICs, TFSA and RSPSavings, TFSA, RSP, U.S dollar accounts, Chequing account, RIF accounts, various investment accounts, including stocks and ETF portfolios, HELOC, mortgages, speciality business accounts, credit cards and more.
Saving Account Interest Rate1.50%*2.10% interest in your Savings Account for 5 months if you open both a new savings and chequing account. After 5 months your interest rate for your Savings Account goes down to 0.10% and chequing account goes down to 0.01% for accounts with less than $50,000.
TFSA/RSP Interest Rate1.50%*0.10%
Withdraw Cash from ATMsNoYes
Interac e-Transfers®FreeFree
Everyday Banking Fees$0$0
NSF Fee$0$45
Account MinimumNoneNone
Discounted International Money TransfersYesNo
Linked External AccountsUp to 10Up to 3
CDIC InsuranceYesYes

EQ Bank vs. Tangerine: Savings Accounts

Online-only EQ Bank made a big splash when it first hit Canada’s banking scene back in 2016, offering a Savings Plus Account with a record-breaking standard interest rate of 3.00% and no fees. Presently, the interest rate stands at 1.50%*, which is still leaps and bounds above the normal rate offered by traditional and even online-only banks.

While EQ Bank doesn’t offer a chequing account or the ability to withdraw money from an ATM, its Savings Plus Account acts as a kind of hybrid chequing account where you can easily move money in and out of your account, pay bills and make no-fee, free Interac e-Transfers®. There are also no daily or monthly fees for everyday banking and no account minimums. There is an account contribution limit of $200,000, though that is likely not a problem for most customers. You can also open your EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account as a joint account. Additionally, it’s also important to note that you’ll need to open a Savings Plus Account before you’re able to take advantage of EQ Bank’s other offerings, like its GICs and TFSAs.

Tangerine, a subsidiary of Scotiabank, offers a competitive Savings Account which can also be held as a joint account. Its standard interest rate of 0.10% is a little better than that offered by the Big Five banks, though eclipsed by EQ Bank. Tangerine’s Savings Account also features no minimum deposit, no account fees for most transactions, and unlimited free bill payments and Interac e-Transfers®. Unlike EQ Bank, Tangerine does frequently offer new bonus interest rate promotions (that usually never last longer than six months) and once the promo period is over the rate drops significantly. Currently, Tangerine has a bonus interest rate offer of 2.10% when you open your first Savings and Chequing Account. Plus, you could earn $150 if you add payroll deposits to your account.

It’s also worth noting that, unlike EQ Bank, Tangerine does offer a Chequing Account, though the interest rate is very low (as low as 0.01% depending on how much you hold in the account) though it does give clients a way to immediately withdraw money using Scotiabank-affiliated ATMs.

Winner: EQ Bank. EQ Bank rises to the top for its savings account that comes complete with generous interest rates, unlimited transactions, and no fees.

Note that if you sign up for an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account before July 13, 2022, you can get a $150** cash bonus. To get the bonus you need to set up a recurring payroll direct deposit (at least $100 each month) and get the first deposit within 60 days of opening the account. Keep the direct deposit going for at least three straight months after that and you’ll be awarded the $150** bonus. Please see disclaimer** for more details on payout dates. The offer is not available to current accountholders.

*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.

** Conditions Apply. For complete details and terms and conditions, please see the EQ Bank $150 Sign Up Bonus Offer Terms and Conditions.

Open a Savings Plus Account at EQ Bank

EQ Bank vs. Tangerine: TFSA and RSP Accounts

EQ Bank now offers TFSA and RSP accounts with some of the country’s best savings rates on cash holdings. At 1.50%*, EQ Bank’s Tax-Free Savings Account and RSP have one of the best standard rates in the country—that rate is all the more appealing given the tax benefits!

Tangerine also has TFSA and RSP accounts. The bank offers the same interest rate for both the accounts as it does for its Savings Account: 0.10%. There are also no minimums and no banking fees for both accounts.

Winner: EQ Bank. With its incredibly high interest rates on cash holdings (that are more than ten times what Tangerine offers) and no fees, EQ Bank is the clear champ.

*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.

EQ Bank vs. Tangerine: Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)

EQ Bank is almost as well known for its outstanding GIC (Guaranteed Investment Certificates) rates as it is for its high-interest Savings Plus Account. It offers very flexible short and long-term GICs with rates that go from to as high as 4.40*%, and terms start as low as 3 months up to 10 years. A minimum $100 contribution is required. EQ Bank also offers TFSA and RSP GICs, with rates and terms that differ for non-registered GICs, so check the EQ Bank website for rate details.

Tangerine’s GIC rates go up to 3.55%. Terms start with three months and go up to 5 years. There are no fees. Tangerine also offers RSP and TFSA GICs. Unlike EQ Bank, however, Tangerine does offer U.S. dollar GICs and RIF (Retirement Income Fund) GICs. You can invest in a Tangerine GIC for as little as $1.

Winner: EQ Bank. You can’t beat those GIC interest rates! EQ Bank also has a slightly wider selection of GICs available

* Interest is calculated on a per annum basis and paid at maturity.

EQ Bank vs. Tangerine: Ease of Use

EQ Bank Is Very User Friendly

Source: EQ Bank

As an online-only bank, EQ Bank is incredibly user-friendly. The website is easy to follow and it’s a very straightforward process to add external bank accounts. It only takes a few minutes to apply for an account and you can be up and running in just a few days once your first deposit from your external bank clears. I personally like that you can have up to 10 external banks from which you can transfer money to your EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.

It’s also worth noting that EQ Bank does not charge an NSF fee (Non-Sufficient Funds Fee), this can make it easier and less of a risk to move money around. If, for some reason, there’s not enough money in your account for a transfer you won’t get dinged. If you happen to transfer more than you have by accident (it’s happened to the best of us), EQ Bank doesn’t charge you a fee, whereas most banks do. Rather EQ Bank just lets you know the transfer was not successful.

The major downside to EQ Bank is that you can’t directly withdraw money. If you want cash in hand, you’ll have to transfer money from your EQ Bank account to an external bank to be able to withdraw funds. You can’t withdraw money from an EQ account via an ATM.

Tangerine's Website Is Easy to Navigate

Source: Tangerine

Tangerine has a slick, easy to navigate website that’s ideal for an online-only bank. Even a newbie to online banking would feel at ease using the colorful site. The application process and connecting an external bank account is also fast. However, Tangerine only allows you to connect three external bank accounts. I have more than three bank accounts I’d like to connect to my Tangerine account, but it can’t be done. That being said, the fact that Tangerine offers credit cards while EQ Bank doesn’t have that option is more convenient.

Tangerine charges a $45 NSF fee. I once tried to transfer money from my Tangerine Savings Account to my EQ Savings Plus account but I forgot to move the funds from my Tangerine Savings Account to my Tangerine Checking Account. TL;DR, I didn’t have enough money in my Chequing Account and Tangerine charged me a $45 NSF fee. By contrast, EQ Bank didn’t charge me a fee. I do, however, have to give kudos to Tangerine because when I phoned them to explain my mistake, they reimbursed me half of the NSF fee.

Winner: EQ Bank. While both websites are incredibly user friendly, EQ Bank allows you to have more than double the number of connected banks Tangerine permits. The lack of an NSF fee makes transferring money stress-free.

Open a Savings Plus Account at EQ Bank

EQ Bank vs. Tangerine: Account Security

Both EQ Bank and Tangerine are members of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), which means that your deposits are fully insured up to $100,000 per account type (i.e. saving account, TFSA account, GICs, etc).

Winner: A tie. Both banks are members of the CDIC and thus provide equal account safety.

EQ Bank vs. Tangerine: Account Extras and Other Financial Products

Aside from its EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account, TFSA, and RSP account, they do not offer any other kinds of personal accounts. They do, however, have a great deal on international money transfers with TransferWise. Customers can send money to many locations all over the world, like India, Asia, the U.S., Europe, and more for a fraction of what it costs to send money transfers with traditional banks or money transfer services.

Though Tangerine is an online-only bank, it offers an incredibly impressive array of products in line with those offered by traditional brick-and-mortar banks. With Tangerine, customers can also get mortgages, home equity loans, lines of credit, investment products, RSP loans, business accounts, and more. Tangerine also offers one of Canada’s best cash-back no-fee credit cards as well.

Winner: Tangerine. Its full suite of financial and investment products rivals that of a traditional bank.

The Verdict

If you’re in it just for the money, EQ Bank, which offers some of the highest interest rates in Canada, is hands down the bank for you. If, however, you like having a one-stop bank with all the fixings, then go with Tangerine.

I would like to suggest another approach that makes YOU the customer, the overall winner. Personally, I recommend keeping the largest chunk of your cash savings (not already invested in the market, perhaps with WealthSimple) in an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account. There, you’ll get the best returns and possibly earn hundreds of dollars a year in interest.

Then, also open a Tangerine Savings account so that you can easily access Tangerine benefits and make ATM withdrawals when needed. With this method, you get to enjoy the best each bank has to offer and you come out the winner.

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Author Bio

Sandra MacGregor
Sandra MacGregor has been writing about finance and travel for nearly a decade. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications like the New York Times, the UK Telegraph, the Washington Post, Forbes.com and the Toronto Star. She spends her free time travelling, and has lived around the globe, including in Paris, South Korea and Cape Town. You can follow her on Twitter at @MacgregorWrites.

Article comments

Bob says:

How about a comparative review between EQ Bank and motusbank?

Daniel from GreedyRates says:

Hi Bob,
While we don’t have a comparative review between the two just yet, please feel free to check out or EQ Bank review and our mostusbank review. Hope this helps you find the information you’re looking for.

Mark says:

I cannot comment on EQ as I have not dealt with them and I will not dispute Tangerines offerings. What I will say though is that Tangerine online bank has serious functional issues and terrible customer service. I suggest anyone who is considering doing business with Tangerine to at least do your own due diligence. Start by checking independent customer satisfaction reviews such as Trustpilot and then you can make a better informed decision.

Aaron Broverman says:

Hi Mark, this article is like The Bad Customer Service Bowl, as this is a common complaint for both of these banks. I think most people who complain about their customer service misunderstand the intent of these banks and the customer they are aimed at. These banks are made for the minimalist, independent customer who doesn’t want a lot of help. These people are young, tech savvy and require little to no guidance. They are trading the typical bells and whistles you’re used to from a bank in order to get cheaper rates. That being said, and knowing the intent, I feel like complaining about the customer service of these banks in particular is like scolding a dog for barking — it’s just what they do. Customer service for these types of banks is unnatural for them and the antithesis to the spirit of why they’re in the market.

Jim says:

Basically agree, except I’m a 64 year old retiree, and I”m happy to keep the bulk of my savings in EQ bank (vs RBC). The myth of “service” from banks like RBC evaporates quickly once you have a simple issue…in my case, my on-line account wasn’t displaying my credit card account. It took 5 LONG phone calls and two trips to a branch, and 3 weeks, to resolve. Send in the clowns time. EQ pays way more interest, is easy to use if you are at all internet savvy, and I can punt a few bucks back to my RBC account if I have the need. RBC thinks it is their divine right to financially mess with their clients. Repeatedly, shamelessly, and they’re continually jigging rules and fees to extract more of your money into their insatiable maw.

Daniel from GreedyRates says:

Hi Jim,
Interesting to hear your seasoned perspective. That certainly is an unsettling experience- 5 weeks?! Glad to hear that you’ve found a solution that works for you.