Thursday, November 10, 2016

EQ Bank and free Interac Email Transfers

As part of our banking strategy, we use President's Choice Financial (PCF) as our primary bank, since there are no service charges for deposits, withdrawals, writing or cashing cheques, bill payments and most other regular banking transactions, as well as no requirement to maintain a minimum balance in order to have fees waived.  My one beef with PCF is that it still charges $1.50 for each Interac Email transfer, even though many other banks have reduced their fees to $1.00 or less.

But looking closer at the chequing account offerings at each major bank, it became obvious that the lower (or free) Interac fees were more than offset by monthly fees or the need to maintain minimum balances.  For example, Royal Bank advertised unlimited free Interac e-transfers on chequing accounts, but the cheapest account that I could find had monthly fees of $4.95 per month without any option to have the fees waived with a minimum balance.  This fee negates the whole advantage of having free e-Transfers (which I don't use that often).  It was a similar story with the other major banks.

I noticed the advertising blitz for EQ Bank in the subway system and decided to check it out. EQ Bank is a CDIC-protected online bank with no physical branches that offers a Savings Plus account that provides free deposits, bill payments and electronic transfer to linked chequing accounts at other banks.  In addition, the first five Interac e-Transfers per month are free ($1.50 after that).  This more than satisfies my Interac needs.  To sweeten the deal, the currently offered savings interest rate is 2%, calculated daily and paid monthly, one of the highest rates offered by any financial institution.  Now I am not naive enough to think that this rate will be available forever.  It is obviously a teaser rate meant to attract new members.  But as long as EQ Bank maintains this rate, or at least one that is comparable to other institutions offering "high interest savings accounts", then I would be more than happy to use it as my new emergency fund savings repository.  I have since opened an EQ Bank Savings Plus account and linked it to my PCF chequing account.  I moved most of our emergency fund savings from my previous high interest savings account at Canadian Tire Bank (currently paying 1.3%) to EQ Bank.  If EQ Bank eventually does significantly lower its interest rate, I can transfer surplus money back to Canadian Tire Bank, but I would still keep some in EQ Bank to take advantage of the 5 free Interac transactions per month.

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