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EQ Bank vs KOHO: Which one is best for you?

EQ Bank and KOHO both offer hybrid chequing/savings accounts with competitive interest rates and other perks.

EQ Bank is an online bank that offers everyday, savings and investment accounts. It’s best known for its Personal Account, a hybrid chequing/savings account that offers unlimited transactions, easy access to your funds and interest of up to 4%.

KOHO offers a spending and savings account with a prepaid reloadable Mastercard. It pays 5% interest on your balance while providing cash back on your purchases.

But is EQ Bank or KOHO the right choice for you? It all depends on what you’re looking for in a bank.

EQ Bank vs KOHO: A quick comparison

Feature or product

EQ Bank

EQ Bank logo

KOHO

KOHO

Savings
  • Promo rate: N/A
  • APY: 4.50% - 5.00%
  • Transaction Fee: $0
  • Promo rate: N/A
  • APY: Up to 5.0%
  • Transaction Fee: $0
Chequing
  • Bonus offer: Get 2.50% interest on everyday banking, plus get 1.50% interest when you direct deposit your pay. To receive the 4.00% rate for 12 months, you'll need to set up $500/month or more in direct deposit of your pay to a Personal Account or Joint Account. Conditions apply. Thereafter, you'll earn 2.50% on your balance.
  • Monthly fee: $0
  • Minimum deposit: N/A
  • e-Transfer fee: $0
  • Free transactions: unlimited
  • Bonus offer: Earn Essential for $0 when you set up Direct Deposit or load $1000 per month
  • Monthly fee: $4 – $19
  • Minimum deposit: N/A
  • e-Transfer fee: $0
  • Free transactions: unlimited
ATMs
  • Total ATMs: Network across Canada
  • ATM fee: $0
  • Total ATMs: Cirrus network
  • ATM fee: N/A
BranchesOnline onlyOnline only

EQ Bank vs KOHO: Account options

EQ Bank is an online-only bank that provides everyday banking services as well as savings and investment accounts. While it doesn’t have a branch network, you can take advantage of free ATM withdrawals across Canada with the EQ Bank Card.

KOHO offers a hybrid account with multiple tiers, allowing you to earn interest on your balance and cash back on your spending. While the base Essential account is available for free when you set up a direct deposit or load $1,000 per month, the two premium tiers come with a $4 or $19 monthly fee. And like EQ Bank, KOHO doesn’t have a branch network.

Banking

EQ Bank beats KOHO easily in terms of the variety and choice of bank accounts on offer. The EQ Bank Personal Account offers unlimited access to your funds and the ability to earn up to 4% interest, while there’s also a Joint Account available if you want to share money with up to three people. Its Notice Savings Account pays maximum interest of 5% if you give 30 days’ advance notice before making a withdrawal, while a US dollar account is also available.

KOHO offers a single account with three different tiers. All pay 5% interest on your account balance and pay cash back on purchases, but only the base Essential tier can be accessed for free (when you meet specific conditions). KOHO’s Extra and Everything accounts charge a monthly fee but offer higher cash back earn rates and other perks.

So if you want cash back as well as a high interest rate, KOHO is the pick. But if you want fee-free banking and access to a wider range of account types, EQ Bank comes out on top.

Borrowing

EQ Bank and KOHO focus on different markets in the borrowing space, so it’s difficult to split the two.

EQ Bank is worth a look if you’re searching for a home loan. Its Mortgage Marketplace lets you compare over 2,000 mortgages from a network of Canadian lenders. You can get pre-qualified online in minutes, then speak to a broker who can help you find the right mortgage.

KOHO focuses on smaller, short-term loans. Account holders can sign up for KOHO Cover, which provides access to an interest-free cash advance of up to $250 to help you cover unexpected expenses. It also offers Credit Building, which provides a secured or unsecured line of credit to help you improve your credit score.

Neither provider offers any credit cards, so you’ll need to look elsewhere if you like paying with plastic.

Investing

EQ Bank is a clear winner over KOHO in this category. While KOHO doesn’t offer any investing products, EQ Bank makes it easy to buy registered and non-registered GICs. Terms ranging from 3 months to 10 years are available, with a maximum interest rate of 5.05% to help you build a bigger bank balance.

EQ Bank also offers an RSP Savings Account where you can earn 3% interest on your tax-deferred dollars, or invest in RSP GICs to get a higher rate. TFSAs and FHSAs are available too.

Apps, features and more

Let’s see how EQ Bank vs KOHO compare in a few other key categories.

Savings interest rates

KOHO is a narrow winner here. All three of its account tiers pay a very competitive 5% interest on your entire balance, while they also allow you easy access to your money for day-to-day spending.

Over at EQ Bank, the Personal Account comes with a standard interest rate of 2.5%, but you can earn up to 4% interest when you direct deposit your pay into your account. EQ does match KOHO’s 5% interest rate with its Notice Savings Account, but only when you give 30 days’ advance notice before making a withdrawal.

Cash back

KOHO takes the win again here. With a KOHO Essential plan, you earn Up to 1% cash back on groceries, transportation, and eating and drinking. If you upgrade to an Extra plan ($9 a month), the earn rate rises to 1.5% cash back on those spending categories and 0.25% on all other purchases. With a top-of-the-line Everything plan, you get 2% cash back across the 3 categories and 0.5% on all other purchases. And with higher earn rates available from cash back partners, it’s easy to get rewarded for your spending.

While the EQ Bank Card doesn’t provide as high a cash back rate as KOHO, we like the fact that the flat cash back rate of 0.5% applies to all purchases. Cash back is calculated daily and paid monthly.

Mobile app

EQ Bank and KOHO both offer user-friendly mobile apps for managing your money. You can use the apps to check your balance, send transfers and pay bills. The EQ Bank app also offers handy features like mobile cheque deposits.

Customer ratings for each provider’s app as of June 2024 are shown below. As you can see, KOHO has earned more positive ratings than EQ Bank.

EQ Bank Mobile Banking

  • Google Play: 3.1/5 based on over 7,800 ratings
  • App Store: 4.8/5 based on over 35,000 ratings

The KOHO app

  • Google Play: 4.6/5 from over 66,000 ratings
  • App Store: 4.8/5 from over 78,000 ratings

How EQ Bank’s and KOHO’s fees compare

EQ Bank is a better pick if you want to avoid fees. Its Personal Account provides unlimited transactions including free e-Transfers, and there are no monthly fees and no minimum balance requirements. There are no foreign exchange fees with the EQ Bank Card, which also offers fee-free withdrawals from all ATMs across Canada. And with overdraft not available and no account inactivity or NSF fees, EQ Bank is a clear winner here.

KOHO’s three account tiers all come with a monthly fee ranging from $4 to $19 as standard. To avoid the fee on the Essential plan, you’ll need to set up a direct deposit to your account or load at least $1,000 per month. If you want overdraft protection with KOHO Cover, an extra fee of at least $2 a month applies. And while EQ Bank reimburses you any fees for out-of-network ATM withdrawals, expect a $2-$3 fee when you withdraw from an ATM with your KOHO card.

What customers say about EQ Bank and KOHO

Both EQ Bank and KOHO have received some mixed customer feedback.

As of June 2024, EQ Bank has an average rating of 1.9/5 based on 83 Trustpilot reviews, and an average of 2.6/5 based on 380 Google reviews. It has also received generally positive feedback on the PersonalFinanceCanada Reddit.

People who left positive reviews commented on factors such as competitive interest rates, no fees and helpful customer service. Negative reviewers mentioned poor customer service and being locked out of their account.

KOHO has an average rating of 1.4/5 based on 282 Trustpilot reviews and some negative feedback on the PersonalFinanceCanada Reddit. Positive reviewers mention perks like cash back, competitive savings rates and the ability to rebuild your credit. Negative reviews complain about account glitches and poor customer service.

EQ Bank also offers more customer service contact options than KOHO. You can phone or chat with the support team from 8am to midnight, Eastern Time, 7 days a week, while there’s also a chatbot available 24/7. But if you want to get in touch with KOHO, you’ll need to use in-app or web chat.

Final verdict: EQ Bank wins

EQ Bank is better overall than KOHO. It has a wider range of accounts, low fees, easier access to customer service, and the ability to earn interest and cash back at competitive rates. It’s also backed by Equitable Bank, which was founded in 1970 and manages over $70 billion in assets.

But if you’re looking for a hybrid chequing/savings account that offers high savings interest, cash back and overdraft protection, KOHO is well worth a look. Just be aware that to enjoy access to a full range of perks, you may need to pay a monthly fee.

EQ Bank at a glance

EQ Bank’s Personal Account combines the convenience of a chequing account with a competitive savings rate, while its Notice Savings Account pays a high rate of interest.

Pros
  • No-fee daily banking (including fee-free ATM withdrawals)
  • Competitive savings account interest rates
  • Unlimited transactions
  • Easy access to customer support
Cons
  • No physical branches
  • Some mixed customer reviews
  • Doesn’t offer credit cards or personal loans
  • You can only hold up to $200,000 in your EQ Bank accounts

KOHO at a glance

KOHO offers a convenient spending account with a very competitive interest rate and the ability to earn cash back on your spending.

Pros
  • 5% interest on your entire balance
  • Easy access to funds
  • Earn up to 2% cash back on groceries, transportation, and food and drink
  • Build your credit
Cons
  • No physical branches or ATM network
  • Monthly plan fees
  • Extra features like access to a cash advance come with extra fees
  • Some mixed customer reviews

Alternatives to EQ Bank and KOHO

Not sure whether EQ Bank or KOHO is the right choice for you? Compare them against some of the other best online banks in Canada, such as:

  • Wealthsimple. Wealthsimple offers a spending and savings account, stock trading and more. Read our Wealthsimple review for more details.
  • Simplii Financial. Simplii is CIBC’s digital arm and offers a no-fee chequing account, a high-interest savings account and a wide range of other banking products. Read our Simplii Financial online banking review.
  • Neo Financial. The Neo Everyday Account offers high interest on your savings, cash back on purchases and money management tools. Read our Neo Financial review for more information.
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Writer

Tim Falk is a freelance writer for Finder. Over the course of his 15-year writing career, he has reported on a wide range of personal finance topics. Whether you're investing in stocks and ETFs, comparing savings accounts or choosing a credit card, Tim wants to make it easier for you to understand. When he’s not staring at his computer, you can usually find him exploring the great outdoors. See full bio

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