Skip to content

Ciara and Rajiv are newcomers to Canada, two of the more than 340,000 new permanent residents admitted annually.

They didn’t know each other before moving to Canada they come from different countries but they both landed great new jobs at a company based in Toronto.

While new colleagues often engage in small talk around the water cooler, Ciara and Rajiv have found more interesting things to discuss, such as settling into a completely new country.

EQ Bank: Two people viewing a phone in Toronto

First up, finances.

Each of Canada’s major banks has its HQ within walking distance of their office, but that didn’t stop Ciara from opening an account with a digital-only option that focuses on building savings rather than bank branches.

That option is EQ Bank.

“How does that work?” asks Rajiv, who just that morning spent nearly 15 minutes in line at his local branch.

“Well, pretty much every single financial thing I do is online,” says Ciara. “I considered opening an account with one of the major banks — in fact, I went to two branches near the office to hear them out — but they both imposed fees unless I hold a minimum balance, which I don’t think I’ll get to in the near future. EQ Bank gives me unlimited transactions with no minimum balance.

“I’m also helping out family back home. With EQ Bank I get cheap international money transfers through a partnership with another company. I’m sure I’ll remember their name in a moment, but they’ve got millions of users and their process is simple, pretty neat really.”

Rajiv, astonished at this mind-blowing revelation that not everyone has a bank account with a decades-old institution, pipes up.

“So, you don’t go to the bank at all? Never?”

“Well, I ’go to the bank’ by taking out my phone and doing whatever needs to be done. I’ve even become used to not having a debit card. I’ve set up my credit card to be paid out of my account automatically, so I avoid interest charges on day-to-day transactions.”

“Wow, that’s… different. Like, you never need to go to a bank, ever? And you never get charged monthly fees, at all? And you don’t need a debit card?”

“Triple no. Wise!”


“That’s the international money transfer partner of EQ Bank. Wise is a money transfer platform that’s been integrated into EQ Bank’s online and mobile banking.  I get great deals on sending money back home through my EQ Bank Savings Plus Account. I don’t know exactly how much I’ve saved on transfers compared to if I had done it at one of the big banks, but it’s in the hundreds of dollars already, for certain.”

EQ Bank and other options

While Ciara’s experience with EQ Bank impresses Rajiv, he has his own banking priorities. The dad-of-two likes being able to go into his local branch in the suburbs, where he is asked to take a seat and offered a coffee before getting down to some number crunching. That car loan isn’t going to pay for itself, and he didn’t move to Canada to rent a home forever either. Now his eldest son has caught the hockey bug as well, which means new equipment every year, plus rink and playing fees. He likes discussing his accounts with someone in front of him, someone wearing a name tag and a suit.

You see, despite sharing plenty in common, Ciara and Rajiv are actually quite different. 

Ciara moved alone and lives in the city. She does a ton of online shopping, whereas Rajiv makes most of his purchases in person. Ciara is working to build her credit by paying all bills on time using online banking. As a family of one, it’s easier for her to know what expenses are coming up.

Meanwhile, Rajiv pays bills as they come in, at least while he and his family settle in. Ciara frequently transfers money back to her little sister and mother in her home country, while Rajiv doesn’t do many international money transfers as his immediate family is already here in Canada.

Rajiv might be better suited for an account with one of Canada’s mainstream banks, where he can take advantage of having a debit card, though if he ever did international money transfers, he may end up paying extra for that service. He also prefers having somewhere to go to talk about his finances in person. As for Ciara, banking with EQ Bank makes more sense. Her needs are fulfilled by banking online and she saves with EQ Bank’s no everyday banking fees. Plus, as someone who sends a lot of money abroad, she’s likely to save even more money with EQ Bank’s cheap international transfers.

Learn more about the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account.

Ciara and Rajiv are composite characters who represent newcomers to Canada generally. They are not real people. This article was published in partnership with EQ Bank.

‡Based on research conducted by an independent research company engaged by Equitable to compare exchange rates and transaction fees across Wise, Canada’s Big 5 Banks and Simplii Financial. Research considered comparable online global money transfer services and was conducted using the top five currencies remitted by Canadians (USD, INR, CNY, PHP, and EUR, as published by the World Bank) and typical transaction amounts ($100, $250, $500, $999 CAD). Research took place between November 25th, 2019 and November 27th, 2019. Promotions excluded.