Neo vs motusbank

April 26, 2021
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Neo isn't as known as other online banks, but this doesn't mean it's slacking. This online bank released in December of 2020 and features a credit card as its main spending medium. It pairs its card with a hybrid savings/chequing account that offers extensive cashback rewards and interest earned on account balance.

Motusbank is an online bank that focuses on being just like traditional banks but without any physical branches. It's got a very broad range of products from which it includes GICs, savings accounts, RRSPs and even investing. It's basically the online bank for people who can't leave brick & mortar behind.

Domestic Fees77
International Fees2
Everyday Usage64
Interface and Usability
Mobile App Functionality84
International Usability45
Customer Support1010
Security & Regulation108
Savings/Premium Benefits107
Extra Features57

Now that you've seen their overall scores, here's a more detailed look at how each bank scores on those ten categories.

Total Score6054
1 Domestic Fees
ATM feesXmotusbank cardholders have access to over 43,000 surcharge-free ATMs in North America with THE EXCHANGE® Network in Canada and the Allpoint Network in the US
Otherwise $3-5 ATM fee depending on the ATM
Monthly feesNo monthly fees for accounts, but, monthly fees for cashback memberships:
Essential Plan: $0
Plus Plan: $4.99
Max Plan: $9.99
Card FeeFreeFree
Additional Cards Fee$29$5
Card Delivery FeeFreeFree
Kids AccountXX
Minimum balance required$0$0
Inactivity FeeFree$30 per year (Starting after 1st year)
Free Interac e-Transfers?✔️Chequing Accounts: Free
Savings Accounts: $1.25
2 International Fees
Foreign ATM feesXUS: Free with Allpoint
$3.00 for out of network ATM withdrawal
Other countries: $5.00
Foreign spending fee2.5% fee at Mastercard exchange rate2.5%
Foreign exchange fees2.5% at Mastercard exchange rate2.5%
Cross Border Transfer FeeXX
3 Everyday Usage
Apple Pay✔️X
Google Pay✔️X
Does it accept cash deposits?X ✔️
Spending/Transaction CategoriesXX
Real Time Notifications?✔️✔️
Built-In DonationsXX
4 Interface and Usablity
Spending limits in the appXX
Withdrawal limits in the appXX
Sub-savings accountsXX
Bill splitting / Shared ExpensesXX
Subscription trackingXX
5 Mobile App Functionality
Toggling payments in the app✔️X
Toggle Foreign Payments✔️X
Signup Speed<10 minutes> 10 minutes
Mobile App Ease of UseSomewhat intuitiveNot that intuitive
Apple Appstore Score /54.2⭐3.5⭐
Google Playstore Score /53.7⭐3.3⭐
6 International Usability
Hold Multiple CurrenciesX X
International Money TransfersXX
Can The Card Be Used Abroad?✔️✔️
Is The ATM Network International?No ATM network✔️, but only works in the US
7 Customer Support
In-app support chat✔️✔️
Telephone support1 (855) 636-2265Toll-free: 1 (833) 696-6887
International: 1 (416) 925-7373
Priority Customer SupportXX
Email support[email protected][email protected]
Email Response Time4 Hours2 hours, not that helpful
8 Security & Regulation
RegulatorPartnered with Concentra Bank, a CDIC memberCDIC insured through the Meridian Credit Union
Freeze/Unfreeze Card In The App✔️X
PIN resets in the app✔️X, only at ATMs
Biometric login and authentication?✔️✔️
Does it do a credit check?SoftHard credit check for chequing account, soft for savings
9 Savings/Premium Benefits
Metal CardXX
CashbackEssential Plan: 4% Cashback average at Partners
Plus Plan: 5% average cashback at partners, 0.5% cashback at non-partners
Max Plan: 6% average cashback at partners, 1% average cashback at non-partners.
Partner Discounts?Depending on your state, you can get up to 15% discounts at some local businesses✔️, with Price Drop, up to 150+ retailers available
Gain interest rate?1.55%, calculated daily, paid monthlyNo-fee Chequing: 0.15%
HISA: 1.00%
TFSA: 1.10%
RRSP: 1.00%
10 Extra Features
Get Paid early?✔️, through Direct deposits✔️, up to $100 of their direct deposits early
Network ATM FinderX✔️, in website
Overdraft Availability✔️✔️, $45 fee for a NSF transaction.
+ $5 for Overdraft handling fee (Accepted overdraft)
Overdraft ProtectionX (19.99% - 24.99% interest generated on debt)X
21% Overdraft Interest Rate
Stock TradingXMotusbank users have access to 2 special investment accounts through Qtrade and VirtualWealth, which deal in stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, GICs, and options, plus new issues/IPOs
Commodities TradingX✔️
Cryptocurrency Trading?XX
Referral program?Referral and Referrers will earn $5 eachX

motusbank Review: Breakdown

#1 Domestic Fees:

Motusbank gets off to a strong start thanks to its approach to some of its fees. The most important details to mention are that motusbank does have an ATM network, “The Exchange”, which means that motusbank users get access to free withdrawals in both Canada and the US with up to 43,000 ATMs in both countries.

Aside from that, motusbank users aren’t charged any monthly fees nor need to maintain a certain account balance to keep their accounts open or fee-free. Any user’s first card will also come for free, the same of which applies to the delivery of the card. However, any replacements will run for $5, and motusbank doesn’t offer any free replacements per year.

It’s also important to mention that motusbank does charge an inactivity fee of $30 per year of inactivity. Although all accounts are protected from this fee in their first year of use, however, it’s still something worth keeping in mind.

Motusbank also offers free receiving and sending of Interac e-Transfers, but only from the bank’s chequing accounts. Doing so from a savings account will incur a $1.25 fee. Either way, a solid performance still.

motusbank Domestic Fees Score: 7/10

#2 International Fees:

Most online banks we reviewed ran into their first hitches here, and motusbank isn’t the exception.

This category consists of evaluating how well a bank performs in terms of being used abroad, specifically in terms of fees. Motusbank charges rather high fees, like Tangerine, something that seems to be the standard in terms of the most popular online banks. Here’s how these fees work:

  1. In terms of foreign ATM fees, motusbank works with the “Allpoint” network in the US, which means that if motusbank users withdraw from one of those ATMs, they will completely waive fees. Otherwise, a $3 CAD fee will be charged for an out-of-network withdrawal in the US and $5 in other countries.
  2. In terms of foreign spending and exchange fees, motusbank charges a base fee of 2.5% for each transaction, which is high but seems to be the standard.

motusbank International Fees Score: 2/10

#3 Everyday Usage:

Motusbank is known for being probably the closest online bank to traditional banks in terms of how it works and interface, which explains its lack of some more modern features.

What strikes us the most is motusbank's lack of compatibility with Apple Pay and Google Pay. It’s certainly bizarre, even more considering that motusbank’s card is nothing more than just a debit card.

Another big flaw in this scenario is the lack of spending insights inside the motusbank app. Users can’t quite follow or easily categorize what their money is being spent on in order to create a savings plan.

However, motusbank does offer two highly sought features, with one of those being accepting cash deposits. Since the bank has its own ATM networks it can do so without any fees, elevating the number of ways available to load up its accounts.

The other feature is real-time notifications, which notify a user when their card/account is used and sends the user a reminder of the amount spent/transferred and the current overall balance.

motusbank Everyday Usage Score: 4/10

#4 Interface And Usability:

Along with Neo, motusbank doesn’t offer any of the features we looked for in this category. This means that motusbank doesn’t offer the following features:

  • Setting spending/withdrawal limits from the app
  • Being able to open sub-savings accounts (often referred to as “Goals”)
  • Splitting bills/Sharing expenses with friends or family
  • Tracking online subscription services (Spotify, Netflix, Hulu, etc…)

This means that motusbank’s mobile experience is by far one of the less customizable out of all online banks in Canada. There’s still room for motusbank to grow and add features here, but it’s been 2 years since its release and this doesn’t seem like the direction the bank is aspiringto go in.

motusbank Interface And Usability Score: 0/10

#5 Mobile App Functionality

One of the biggest parts of online banking is what your bank’s app lets you do. However, that is not the case for motusbank. One of the most important details that motusbank lacks in this category is being able to toggle on/off both local and foreign recurring payments from the app.

On top of that, signing up with motusbank usually requires more than 10 minutes thanks to their verification system and how it works on a case-by-case basis. Motusbank is also the worst scoring bank according to popular app stores, garnering a score of 3.5/5 in the Apple App Store and 3.3/5 stars in the Google Playstore.

Overall, motusbank still has a lot to work out in this category, since a lot of user reviews are letting people know that it doesn’t have the most developed user interface out of all online banks. Motusbank has only had 2 years in the banking market, which is more than enough to have fixed problems like these.

motusbank Mobile App Functionality Score: 4/10

#6 International Usability

Motusbank has some edge over other banks in terms of its international usability thanks to its partnerships with ATM networks. As we had already mentioned, motusbank is partnered with “The Exchangenetwork in Canada and with Allpoint in the US. However, motusbank hasn’t partnered with other networks outside of North America, which means that users who travel to other countries won’t be able to waive fees.

Aside from that, thanks to both Visa and Mastercard, motusbank’s cards can be used in any place where both of those flags are accepted.

Motusbank does an alright job in terms of its international usability, but we would have liked to see more features like international money transfers or even being able to hold multiple currencies in it.

motusbank International Usability Score: 5/10

#7 Customer Support

Banks have to try really hard to get a bad score in this category, but thankfully that isn’t the case with motusbank. The bank scored a perfect 10 due to its present support over all possible channels.

Phone and chat support are good and don’t take that long to answer, which is relatively impressive. Email, however, is the worst out of all three support channels. Not because it took ages to answer, it was actually one of the fastest out of all banks, but it’s just not helpful at all. When we emailed motusbank some questions regarding its service, we heard back from them in just 2 hours, but their email only directed us towards phone support, ignoring our questions.

If one of the main support channels is there just to redirect users to other channels, then why have it in the first place?

If you need to get in contact with motusbank to ask them some of your own queries, you can do so through the following channels:

  • Phone support:
    • 1-833-696-6887 (Toll-free)
    • 1-416-925-7373
  • Email: [email protected] (We don’t personally recommend it)

motusbank Customer Support Score: 10/10

#8 Security & Regulation

Motusbank is one of the highest performers in this category because it’s backed by solid regulation and because it offers some great security features. The first thing to point out is that motusbank is partnered with Meridian Credit Union, which in itself is a CDIC (Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation) member. This means that all eligible deposits inside motusbank will be insured for up to $100,000 CAD.

In that same vein, motusbank users can set up biometric login authentication on their accounts to make signing in both faster and safer.

Another important thing to mention is that motusbank does perform credit checks of different types depending on the account a user is trying to open. A savings account will incur a soft credit check while chequing accounts will incur in full hard credit checks, which might not be convenient for a big portion of users.

Although motusbank’s performance is good, it still runs into some hitches, specifically when it comes to certain security features. Motusbank users have no way to freeze/unfreeze their card at their own will from the app, depending only on phone customer support to do that from them. The same problem arises with changing the cards’ PIN, which will need the user to make the trip to an ATM, which is the same inconvenience that online banks are trying to get rid of.

motusbank Security & Regulation Score: 8/10

#9 Savings/Premium Benefits

Here’s where we get into one of the flashiest parts of motusbank and the benefits that most people are looking for in a bank.

First off, motusbank doesn’t offer partner discounts as other banks do, rather it offers a service called Price Drop. This service matches the price a user paid for a certain item with the lowest price available at up to 150+ retailers. If the original price a user paid is higher than the price at other retailers, the system will automatically refund the user as if the item was paid for the lowest available price.

Motusbank also offers another highly-sought feature, which is interest. Here’s how much interest each type of account earns:

  • NFCA: 0.15%
  • HISA: 1.00%
  • TFSA: 1.10%
  • RRSP: 1.00%

Motusbank’s interest rates are higher than average, which is completely beneficial to all users of the bank. However, its NFCA or No Fee Chequing Account’s interest is one of the lowest overall, which is a bit bizarre when compared to other banks that offer savings/chequing hybrid accounts with higher interests.

Motusbank is a great performer in this category. Sure, it doesn’t have the highest interest out of all online banks we reviewed, but they’re still solidly high. However, we would have liked to see some kind of cashback promotion so we could give motusbank a 10 in this category.

motusbank Savings/Premium Benefits Score: 7/10

#10 Extra Features

Motusbank’s biggest interest point probably lies here because it features most of the extra features we were looking for in Canadian online banks.

The first feature that motusbank can boast of is probably overdraft. Motusbank users can overdraft their accounts, but only if it’s a chequing account.

The thing is, motusbank doesn’t offer overdraft protection, which means that whenever a user overdrafts his or her account, they will incur an NSF fee of $45.

On top of this, another fee of $5 will be charged for each charge on the account when in a negative balance. It’s also worth mentioning that all negative balance will start growing bigger with motusbank overdraft interest rate of 21%

Aside from that, motusbank users can also enjoy features like accessing up to $100 of their salary early with Direct Deposits. An ATM finder is also available on motusbank’s website, which can be handy but we preferred if it was added to the app.

But by far, the most important “extra” feature that motusbank can boast of is definitely trading and investing. Users of this online bank have access to two special investment accounts through Qtrade and Virtualwealth, which are online brokers. From any of these accounts users can invest in the following products:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • GICs
  • Options
  • IPOs

It’s worth noting that Qtrade is meant for people who want to execute and manage their own trades. Instead, Virtualwealth is “a fully automated digital investing servicemeant for people who want to invest in an automatized way.

However, as great as motusbank is in this category, it doesn’t feature a referral system, which is something a lot of people might have looked for when learning about it. But either way, definitely one of the best performers in this category by far.

motusbank Extra Features Score: 7/10

Now let’s talk about our next bank in question:

Neo Review: Breakdown

#1 Domestic Fees:

Neo starts rather strongly in this category, mainly due to the fact that its regular accounts don't charge any monthly fees, a certain minimum balance nor they incur any inactivity fees at all. Neo’s first card is also free, including the delivery of it and all other replacements.

On top of all those benefits, Neo also supports free receiving and sending of Interac e-Transfers from and to all other Canadian banks, which is always great.

However, Neo has a pretty big flaw in this category, in the sense that since it offers a credit card, it doesn’t offer ATM withdrawals. So, the only way to get cash out of a Neo account is to transfer it to another bank account and withdraw from an ATM or ask for a cash advance in the way of cash back when making a purchase.

However, it’s worth noting that cash advances immediately start costing interest around 23-27% of the total amount withdrawn.

Another big detail to have in mind is that Neo’s replacements for its credit cards don’t go for free, each costing $29, whereas other banks offer them for free.

Neo Domestic Fees Score: 7/10

#2 International Fees:

Before drawing a conclusion after writing the full review we already know what Neo isn’t good for, this being foreign use. Neo gets a total score of 0/10 in this category due to some simple facts:

  1. Users can’t perform foreign ATM withdrawals
  2. Using Neo for foreign spending and foreign exchange incurs a 2.5% fee, which is on par with Tangerine and motusbank, some of the banks with the highest foreign fees.

High fees and no ATM withdrawals form a recipe that results in a terrible score. This added to the fact that Neo can’t send international money transfers either makes for an early conclusion of not to sign up with Neo if foreign use is a priority for you.

Neo International Fees Score: 0/10

#3 Everyday Usage:

After a terrible performance, Neo gets somewhat back up in this one. Neo’s credit card can be paired with Apple Pay and Google Pay, which means more ease of use. Plus, it also features real-time spending notifications to keep budgets in control more easily.

However, Neo loses some points due to not being able to accept cash deposits nor feature spending insights. This means that users aren’t able to completely see where their money is going in an easily customizable manner, which other banks do offer.

Neo Everyday Usage Score: 6/10

#4 Interface And Usability:

Here’s where Neo’s score dips down low again due to a complete lack of features in terms of its overall usability and the metrics we scored all banks in.

Neo doesn’t let users set their own spending/withdrawal limits, nor lets them open sub-savings accounts, split bills with friends or even track online subscriptions.

All of this means that Neo’s overall usability when it comes to keeping track of your goals, savings and spending is very lacking, to the point where it gets a solid 0/10.

Neo Interface And Usability Score: 0/10

#5 Mobile App Functionality

Neo gets somewhat up to speed here with a solid score thanks to features like being able to toggle on/off both recurring local and foreign payments right from the app, which only Tangerine offers aside from Neo.

On top of that, Neo’s mobile app ranks as the 4th highest-ranking mobile app out of the Canadian online banks we reviewed. This is due to the fact that its signup process takes less than 10 minutes to complete and even more evidenced by its score on both major app stores, garnering a total score of 4.2/5 in the Apple App Store and 3.7/5 stars in the Google Playstore.

Solid performance, but still missing the mark on the scores in popular playstores.

Neo Mobile App Functionality Score: 8/10

#6 International Usability

As we had described earlier, we do not recommend using Neo for foreign spending due to its high fees. The thing is, in terms of overall usability, it also performs poorly.

Since Neo offers its users a credit card that cannot perform local ATM withdrawals in Canada, it also cannot perform foreign ATM withdrawals. This means that for any Neo user that’s abroad, getting cash is almost near to impossible unless they find a store that lets them get local currency as cash back after a purchase.

Still, Neo’s card can be used without any problems abroad, which does let it accumulate some points in this category, but nowhere near enough to fully recommend it.

Neo International Usability Score: 4/10

#7 Customer Support

Neo is one of the few that gets a perfect score in terms of customer support simply thanks to the fact that they offer all support channels and they’re very responsive.

Neo’s support chat is always available and ready to answer. When we contacted them, their responses were quick, informed and thoughtful. Phone lines took a bit longer to pick up but they were rather quick as well.

Email support surprised us a bit because it’s usually the one that takes the longest to hear back from, but just after 4 hours, we got our questions answered thoroughly.

If you need to get in contact with Neo to ask them some of your own queries, you can do so through the following channels:

Definitely one of the banks with the quickest and most helpful support we reviewed.

Neo Customer Support Score: 10/10

#8 Security & Regulation

The first thing that’s worth mentioning in this category is that in terms of security and regulation, Neo is the best performing online bank. Neo is partnered with Concentra Bank, an institution that’s regulated by the CDIC, which means that all of Neo’s eligible deposits are insured in the same way for up to $100,000.

Aside from that, Neo also offers the distinct features of letting users freeze/unfreeze their cards at any moment they wish and resetting their PINs from the app. Users can also set up biometric authentication for signing in, which makes using Neo both quicker and safer.

Onto another topic in the same vein, it’s also important to note the impact of these online banks on a users’ credit score. Luckily, Neo only performs a soft credit check, which means that it doesn’t affect any user’s credit score by just opening an account in it.

Neo Security & Regulation Score: 10/10

#9 Savings/Premium Benefits

Here’s where we can get to speak about some of Neo’s most important and unique features. The most noteworthy feature to mention here is that Neo, along with KOHO, gets a perfect score in this category. This is thanks to Neo offering all 3 rewards users are always looking for, cashback, partner discounts and interest rates.

Neo’s cashback comes from its monthly memberships. All users are part of the Essential Plan, which doesn’t cost anything monthly and offers an average of 4% cashback at partner retailers.

Following that is the Plus plan, which costs $4.99/month and offers an average 5% cashback at partner retailers and 0.5% cashback at non partner retailers.

Finally, we have the Max plan, which goes for $9.99/month and an average of 6% cashback at partner retailers and 1% cashback at non-partners.

In terms of partner discounts, this is a bit more dependent on where a Neo’s user lives. Neo is making partnerships up in a state-by-state scenario, which means that some states might have some offers that others might not. Discounts can go up as high as 15% on average on most offers through the Neo app.

In terms of interest, Neo automatically offers all of its users a base 1.55% interest rate, calculated daily and paid monthly. This particular percentage makes Neo offer, according to our scoring metrics, the highest non-promotional interest rate out of all Canadian online banks we reviewed.

Neo’s interest rate is only followed by EQ Bank’s Savings Plus account at 1.5%. However, it’s also worth noting that EQ also offers TFSAs with 2.3%, with Tangerine quickly following behind with a 2.1% on both savings and chequing for the first 5 months of use.

Neo Savings/Premium Benefits Score: 10/10

#10 Extra Features

Here’s where Neo’s score dips back down since it offers what basically should come with a chequing account nowadays and nothing more. It comes with Direct Deposits, the chance to overdraft (of course, it’s a credit card!) and it comes with a barebones referral program.

The thing about Neo’s overdraft is that it doesn’t come with overdraft protection, which means that the moment a user overdrafts his/her account that debt is going to start to rack up at an interest around 20% to 25%.

Neo’s referral program is also nothing to write home about, giving $5 each to the referral and the referrer. It is unlimited, though, so if a user wants to refer 1,000 friends, well, that’s $5,000 accredited to that user.

However, aside from that, there’s not much else about Neo. It’s missing features like being able to trade or invest right from the account, but only a few banks offer that feature. And in terms of an in-app network ATM finder, it doesn’t need one because it doesn’t have an ATM network.

Neo Extra Features Score: 5/10

motusbank Or Neo?

When recommending a certain product, here at Yore Oyster we always strive to really give our readers the best advice. This is why we always give a final recommendation comparing the products we talked about. So, here's our final take on both banks:

motusbank has one of the best sets of extra features we've seen in any bank. However, it also has some of the worst fundamental features. Its app is one of the less-developed out of all online banks and its interface can be described as outdated and very strict, which doesn't bode well for an online bank that works only through its mobile app.

Neo's one of the best banks we reviewed, period. It all starts thanks to its credit card, which is then paired up with an interest rate of 1.55% and extensive cashback rewards. All of this bodes well for Neo to be crowned as one of the best online banks to be used as both a main spending and savings account.

Neo's app isn't as developed as some other banks in our comparisons, but it's certainly more intuitive than motusbank's app. Not only that but it's less restrictive and comes with a higher base interest rate earned on account balance. At this point, it's almost a no-brainer to recommend Neo over motusbank.

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