Retention and new deposit promos, Alterna’s launch, and the bloom is off the EQ rose?

In January 2016, EQ Bank launched to great fanfare. After years of seeing continuously dropping high interest savings account rates, were things turning around for Canadian savers? EQ Bank made a splash with a 3% interest rate, and quieted some skeptics when it boldly stated that it “is not a promotional rate; it is our current everyday rate”.

It took only 3 months for that 3.00% rate to drop to 2.25%, and in August it dropped further to 2.00%.

In addition to dropping its rate, EQ Bank has received mixed reviews, closed off new registrations for weeks, has no TFSA account, is not available in Quebec, and has no transit number (so that transfers cannot be initiated outside of EQ). It also removed its $25 birthday bonus, leaving one of our forum members to lament that the bloom is off the EQ rose.

However, EQ Bank got a lot of customers, got a lot of publicity, and still has the highest interest rate on our comparison chart.

Another recent addition to our chart is Alterna Bank, which has in some ways been an anti-EQ offering. Alterna is available to Quebec residents, added a TFSA option in July, and quietly became the only Canadian financial institution to increase its rate in 2016 (at least among those that we track). It now sits #2 on our chart just 0.05% below EQ, yet you hear almost nothing about Alterna in the media.

For those chasing the highest rates, new deposit and retention promos continue to be the story at PC Financial and Tangerine. PC Financial’s latest promo is 2.25% on new deposits until December 31, 2016. Tangerine’s current new deposit promo expires on September 30, and offers somewhere between 1.75% and 3.25%. No one has yet discovered what Tangerine uses to determine what rate it will offer you. But many people have learned to play the game of withdrawing their money before a promo ends in order to maximize their return on the next new deposit promo. And for those who don’t want to move their money around, they’ve learned that Tangerine will often give you a higher rate… if you ask. Add savings account interest rates to the list of things you need to negotiate these days, along with mortgage rates and TV, internet, and cell phone bills.

All of this song and dance around PC Financial and Tangerine is necessary because their base rates are a paltry 0.80%. This puts them so far off the chart that we have completely dropped them off the page. Not everybody in our forums agree that those banks should have been dropped — after all, there is more to an account than an interest rate — but for now you’ll have to find them on the promos page.

And speaking of promos, many other banks have gotten into the game, especially around new deposits and new accounts. DUCA, Meridian Credit Union, Luminus Financial, and BC credit unions are among those with current promotions.

In other news, if you’re looking for a free chequing account, our long-time forum member Doug has done a huge update to the free chequing account comparison chart. Be sure to check that out, and thank Doug for his hard work!

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