motusbank Review

motus bank
motusbank card

With its stylized name and sleek website, it would be understandable if you weren’t familiar with motusbank. But in fact, this all-digital bank provides several new and exciting banking opportunities for Canadian citizens. In this motusbank review, we’ll give you a rundown of the service, but first, here’s our short verdict:

motusbank is a solid option for digital banking. It has attractive benefits, including high interest rates and low-to-no fees, and its accessible, cost-saving benefits more than compensate for the lack of face-to-face banking.

About motusbank

motusbank is a fully digital bank that’s been in operation since 2016. It functions as a federally chartered bank and is CDIC-insured, operating in all provinces besides Quebec. It holds over $50 million in capital. 

Unlike other challenger banks, however, motusbank is attached to a more traditional bank. It is owned by Meridian Credit Union, a 75-year-old institution that is one of the largest credit unions in Canada, boasting 337,000 members and $20.6 billion in managed assets.

motusbank Pros and Cons

Pros

  • High-interest savings
  • Lower or no fees
  • No minimum balance requirements
  • Wide variety of investment tools
  • Earn interest on chequing accounts
  • Mobile app
  • Email and phone customer support
  • CDIC insurance

Cons

  • No credit card options
  • No option for face-to-face banking

motusbank Accounts

motusbank offers a wide variety of options for saving and investing, including three options for savings accounts. The main factors that distinguish motusbank accounts are that they have relatively high interest rates and low or no fees, making them an excellent fit if you’re interested in growing your money.

High Interest Savings Account

  • 1.00%
  • No monthly account fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Unlimited debit withdrawals
  • Automatic savings options

TFSA Savings Account

  • 1.10% interest rate
  • $100,000 in CDIC insurance for eligible deposits
  • Contribute up to 6,000 per year (as of 2021)
  • Tax-free withdrawals
  • Automatic savings options

RRSP Savings Account

  • 1.00% interest rate
  • No monthly account fees
  • No minimum balance
  • Earnings are tax-sheltered until they are withdrawn
  • Automatic savings options

How To Add Funds To a motusbank Account

motusbank allows users to add funds via mobile cheque deposits, which can be done online or through the motusbank app (more on that in a moment). 

If you need to add funds to your account through direct deposit, you can use the free ClickSWITCH feature on motusbank’s website. With this feature, you can submit a request for direct deposit or add a direct depositor directly, and motusbank sets up the service for you. Having spent many hours in my life dealing with convoluted direct deposit processes, I can say that this feature is like a godsend.

Alternatively, you can use the Money Mover or Interac e-transfer systems described below to move money into your motusbank account.

Chequing

motusbank also offers a no-fee chequing account, which does not incur monthly interest rates or account fees. In addition, the account allows users to withdraw money from ATMs throughout Canada with no surcharge fee.

But even better, motusbank chequing accounts earn .15% interest, which is a relatively unique feature among chequing accounts. This means that even if you need to reserve your money for immediate use, your money can still grow–which can be absolutely essential when you’re starting out.

On top of that, motusbank’s no-fee chequing account also comes with 25 free cheques and a sleek, vertically oriented debit card. If the aesthetics of your card are important to you, then this one will make you happy. It has a simple, modern, vertical orientation, but it works just as well as any other card.

Investing

Another factor that distinguishes motusbank is its wide array of investment options. These include four accounts that offer guaranteed investment certificates (GICs).

Currently, motusbank offers two registered GICS and two unregistered. The bank’s two registered GIC options are 18-month GICs, which earn 1.20% interest, and one to five year GICs, which earn 1.55% interest. In both cases, your principal investment can be as low as $100. Unregistered GICs earn slightly lower interest rates, with the 18-month GIC making 1.50% and the 1-5 year GICs earning 1.50%. 

All of this means that motusbank can offer investment services to rival that of traditional banks. These might be perfect features if you’re looking to grow your funds in the short- or mid-term because GICs are a low-risk investment with a fixed return rate.

The motusbank App

The motusbank app, available for iOS and Android, is a streamlined and user-friendly way to use the bank’s features on the go. In fact, it offers conveniences that are, in our opinion, a cut above even the apps of traditional banks.

It displays all of your accounts in bright, contrasting colours on a single page, making it easy to navigate between your chequing, savings, and investment accounts. Further, the app allows you to access detailed information about each account, including recent spending and deposits.

Another testament to the app’s user-friendliness is its “Find an ATM” feature, which uses your location to pinpoint nearby ATMs that won’t charge fees. ATMs are displayed on a clean and readable map, allowing you to navigate to them quickly.

Finally, the app’s mobile deposit feature is thoughtfully designed, including small touches that improve the mobile banking experience. Once you successfully deposit a cheque, you’ll be sent to a page that clearly indicates that the cheque has been accepted. From there, you can jump directly to moving your money.

Price Savings

One of motusbank’s most attractive features is Price Drop. This service, identical to the service that won Meridian Credit Union a Canadian Credit Union Association Innovation Award, enables customers to submit their receipts to motusbank. Price Drop then compares prices with other retailers and helps customers get refunded for the difference if the price is lower elsewhere.

To use the feature, which comes free with motusbank chequing accounts, you just need to submit a receipt for an eligible purchase to motusbank via the mobile app or email. Then, motusbank will research retailers that support Price Drop to see if eligible items are available for a lower cost. This means that you can get deals on items like technology, toys, and clothes from major retailers like Walmart, BestBuy, Costco, and Gap.

If motusbank finds cheaper offers, it will send you a notification via email or the app and provide you proof to get the difference paid back to you by the retailer. Perhaps most conveniently, motusbank will perform this service automatically for online receipts, directly refunding you the difference whenever possible. 

This feature can be used for any receipt you upload, whether you paid with cash, credit, or card–even non-motusbank cards. This could be an outstanding feature if you’re a bargain hunter since you can, for example, earn rewards from your preferred credit card while also getting cashback. 

Keep in mind, though, that this feature isn’t a magic bullet. Gas, entertainment, and groceries, among other items, are not eligible for Price Drop. 

Additionally, motusbank reports that the bank typically finds better prices around 25% of the time, and even then, refunds can take some time to process fully. While this might be an excellent choice for those looking to save, it’s not guaranteed to make you hundreds of dollars back.

Transferring Money

motusbank also offers multiple options for transferring money to and from its accounts. It breaks these down into two categories: Money Mover and Interac e-transfers.

Money Mover allows you to move large sums of money to and from your various bank accounts, with an unlimited number of transfers and no fees. 

motusbank allows Money Mover transfers of up to $10,000 a day, although its monthly limit is $250,000. This means that if you plan on transferring a large amount of money into your motusbank account, it could be a lengthy process. If you don’t regularly need large transfers, though, this probably won’t be much of a problem.

Interac e-transfers, on the other hand, are best for sending money to individuals. These transfers are always free for the no-fee chequing account, and you can receive an unlimited number of receipts daily, with a $25,000 limit per transfer. 

You can transfer $3,000 per day, $10,000 per week, and $20,000 per month when it comes to sending money. This might be a good feature if you need to send money to a friend or a family member without a third-party app.

Rate Scoop

Another customer-oriented feature is motusbank’s Rate Scoop. Since interest rates change frequently, it’s often possible to lose track of your account’s rate, but motusbank notifies members of rate changes between 24 and 72 hours in advance. This is a beneficial feature if you’re using motusbank to build your savings. 

The process of receiving these updates is very straightforward. You simply need to ensure that motusbank has a valid email address on file for you and that you’ve opted in to receive their marketing emails. Although it might be a bother to receive regular marketing emails, it’s definitely helpful to be kept informed of rate changes that affect your accounts.

Alternatively, if you prefer to keep up with the rate changes yourself, motusbank maintains a page on their website that posts updates to rates. 

Financial Planning

One of motusbank’s newest services is Financial Planning. Accessible either from the motusbank website or on the phone, the bank offers personalized planning for a wide variety of needs. This planning is available for people at any level of financial experience, whether they’re beginning to save, want to reorient their savings or investment portfolio, or are about to retire.

The Financial Planning feature is oriented at making a personal connection with you; motusbank’s financial planners aim to analyze your specific needs, address them, and advise on situations from windfalls to financial setbacks. In my experience, this is the attitude you want to see in financial advising–not painting with broad strokes, but looking at the specifics.

This feature could be handy if you’re new to saving and investing, as it doesn’t require additional fees or an account with another service.

On top of that, motusbank offers a wealth of free financial advice for free on its website. This includes several articles on saving, investing, borrowing, homeownership, and other major financial concerns, all in clear, comprehensible language. This feature just speaks further to motusbank’s emphasis on accessibility, and it might be a great resource if you’re just beginning to learn about personal finance.

Mortgages

Another advantage of using motusbank is that it offers mortgages. The bank offers several mortgages to match different financial situations, including a 3-year fixed mortgage at a 2.09% interest rate, a 5-year variable mortgage at a 1.55% interest rate, and a line of credit on home equity at a 2.75% interest rate. 

In keeping with their emphasis on personalization and accessibility, motusbank offers free, clear explanations of each type of mortgage and their utility for different homeowners. On top of that, it provides a mortgage affordability calculator, so you’ll be able to determine which option is best for you with the click of a button. 

motusbank also offers several extra features in its mortgage services. One of the most significant is Mortgage Protection/Creditor Insurance. This premium gives you wiggle room in your mortgage if you miss a payment due to illness, disability or hardship. If you’re one of many who have suffered financial difficulties in the past year, this may be a good choice for you.

Additionally, the bank offers guidance in applying for the Canadian government’s First-Time Home Buyer Incentive, an initiative aimed at lowering mortgage costs for those buying their first home. 

While mortgages are so often synonymous with complex financial calculations, motusbank has done an excellent job of making the process streamlined and approachable–meaning that you will be able to get started on more serious investments faster than otherwise.

Friends and Family Mortgage

One of the unique options among motusbank’s mortgage offerings is the Friends and Family Mortgage. This option allows up to four friends or family members to pool money together to afford a mortgage on a larger home.

This is an excellent feature if you have a domestic relationship that doesn’t qualify for a traditional mortgage, such as a parent-child relationship, a multigenerational family, a group of couples, or just friends.

This is one of the more unique features I’ve seen in a bank–it’s noteworthy alone for how it handles mortgage payments. Suppose you’re looking to get some financial independence but have a non-traditional family arrangement. In that case, this option alone might draw you to motusbank, as it allows you to get a mortgage for your circumstances without any under-the-table dealings.

motusbank and Travel

motusbank is a solid digital banking option if you’re travelling abroad. With a motusbank chequing account, you gain access to over 40,000 ATMs throughout the United States–all with no surcharge fee. 

Additionally, because motusbank is part of the Allpoint Network, you’ll gain surcharge-free access to select ATMs in Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Australia. As a result, you’ll be able to use your motusbank card for a wide range of international travel.

However, it’s important to note that motusbank does not currently offer a credit card. Besides how this might make your banking less convenient, it can also make international spending a bit more complicated. You might need to maintain a separate credit card account if you’re planning extensive travel outside the countries mentioned above.

Is My Money Safe with motusbank?

A common concern with digital-only banks is whether they are secure and authentic. Even though motusbank bills itself as a challenger bank, it is a very secure option for banking. Because it is affiliated with the CDIC, money in chequing, savings, and GIC accounts are insured up to $100,000. 

Who Owns motusbank?

motusbank is owned by Meridian Credit Union, one of Canada’s largest credit unions. That means that, despite its branding as “a new movement in banking,” it is still supported by Meridian Credit Union’s resources. In other words, motusbank is not going to disappear with all of your money suddenly.

motusbank’s Customer Service

Since motusbank does not have any physical branches, virtual customer service is absolutely essential to its operation. The bank provides customer support via phone from 8:00 AM to 12:00 AM EST Monday through Sunday and email through memberservice@motusbank.ca. 

That said, our analysis has indicated that there are mixed reviews of motusbank’s customer service. While some people may receive excellent service, others have had more challenging experiences. In many cases, however, this can be normal for large banks.

As a result, you may want to maintain the same discernment and patience for customer service that you have with standard banks.

Competitors

KOHO

koho bank

One of the most notable challenger banks in Canada is KOHO. A fintech company that works in partnership with Visa and Peoples Trust, KOHO offers Visa cards that you can load directly with paychecks, as well as an app that helps track spending and manage finances. 

Tangerine

tangerine bank

Tangerine, formerly ING Direct, is affiliated with Scotiabank and offers savings accounts, chequing accounts, investments, and lending products.

EQ Bank

eq bank

Like motusbank, EQ Bank is an all-digital bank that offers a wide variety of no-fee, high-interest savings accounts, GICs, and other investment products. While it does not provide a chequing account, it does offer more unique features, including U.S. Dollar accounts, a Mortgage Marketplace, and international money transfers.

The Bottom Line

All in all, this motusbank review shows that it is an excellent option among digital banks. Its high-interest, low-to-no fee savings accounts should be pretty attractive for Canadians looking to build their savings — and its lack of any account minimums means that you can start saving, no matter how much money you have.

Beyond that, motusbank’s full suite of banking services allows you to get all the options you would expect from a traditional bank, but with all the convenience mobile banks offer. In particular, their interest-earning chequing accounts are a great way to earn money passively, and because motusbank is accessible at ATMs throughout Canada, you don’t need to sacrifice convenience.

Although motusbank’s lack of face-to-face banking might put some off, their intuitive app and comprehensive customer service should make up for that change. On top of that, features like Price Drop and Rate Scoop should offer plenty of cost-cutting incentives to spring for the digital banking format.