This year we are proud to launch the inaugural Ratehub.ca 2017 Personal Finance Awards. The focus of this year’s awards is centred on the deposits vertical where we’ve selected the top-performing chequing accounts, high-interest savings accounts (HISAs), tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) based on consumer preference, rate offering, rate stability, and the overall ease of use and application process.
As we have entered the new year, we also wanted to highlight some of the early contenders for the most popular products of 2018. Read on to find out who’s been recognized as one of the top-seven deposit products of 2017 and what’s winning the hearts (and wallets) of our consumers in 2018.
Winners of the 2017 Personal Finance Awards
- Top Personal Chequing Account – Scotia Momentum Chequing Account
- $200 Sign-up bonus
- 1% cash back on all purchases
- Top Youth/Student Chequing Account – Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan
- No monthly fees and unlimited e-Transfers
- Scotia Rewards points, SCENE points
- Top Senior Chequing Account – CIBC 60 Plus Advantage Account
- Unlimited Transactions
- No monthly fee
- Top High Interest Savings Account – EQ Bank Savings Plus Account
- Interest Rate: 2.30%
- No monthly fee, 5 free monthly Interac e-Transfers and unlimited transactions
- Top Tax-free Savings Account – Motive Financial’s Motive TFSA Savings Account
- Interest Rate 1.80%
- Deposit and withdrawal any amount at any time
- The Top 1-Year GIC – Oaken Financial 1-Year Non-Registered GIC
- Highest interest of 2017: 2.75%
- Easy online sign-up form
- Top 5-Year GIC – Oaken Financial 5-Year Non-registered GIC
- Highest interest of 2017: 3.25%
- Easy online sign-up form
In order to identify the winners for each of the personal finance deposit product categories, we dove into the data for 2017, comparing similar products by their overall Ratehub.ca user popularity, rate offering and consistency, product features, and user experience during the product application.
Judging chequing accounts was a little more complicated considering the multitude of services they come with and varying fees between the banks and account types. With the growing number of new online banking alternatives, credit unions, and chequing accounts offered by Canada’s staple financial institutions, comparing them all together without running into an issue of comparing oranges to apples was a challenge. In order to avoid this, we have broken down the awards into the Top Personal Chequing Account of 2017, Top Youth/Student Chequing Account of 2017, and Top Senior Chequing Account of 2017.
When comparing the options in each of the subcategories, we looked at the overall user experience including the sign-up process, mobile app experience, potential promotional offer stability, monthly fees, transactions included, as well as the overall account popularity on Ratehub.ca. Then we compared the top accounts based on the potential value of their first year return. In other words, we looked at how each account would benefit an individual if they had opened it in 2017 and kept it for at least one year.
Top 2017 Chequing Accounts Winners
Note: For the purpose of the awards, we’re assuming that all chequing account users are power debit users1. We’d also like to point out that if you’re only looking to use your debit account for pre-authorized payments and direct deposits you may find EQ Bank’s Savings Account to your liking, as it comes with an unlimited number of monthly transactions, 2.30% interest calculated monthly on your account balance, and free Interac e-Transfers. You can learn more about it here.
Top 2017 Personal Chequing Account
The Top 2017 Personal Chequing Account Award goes to Scotia Momentum Chequing Account, with one per cent cash back on all debit purchases (up to $300 annually), unlimited self-service transactions, two free monthly withdrawals, one free monthly teller-assisted transaction, two free monthly Interac e-Transfers, and a $200 sign-up bonus (online only) which was offered for most of 2017.
Based on a Bank of Canada report 2, Canadians use cash and debit for 82 per cent of all their purchases. The report also pointed out that debit and cash were used for smaller ticket purchases such as groceries. Using Statistics Canada’s Average Household Expenditure report 3 to estimate what a typical Canadian household spends yearly, we get a little over $30,000 spent on items like food, clothing and accessories, transportation, recreation, an occasional glass of wine, and personal care items.
With these findings in mind, a Canadian power debit user who took advantage of the $200 online sign-up bonus and one per cent cash back on all point of sale purchases (including online purchases) would finish the year with $260 (or $452 earnings from cash back and sign-up bonus minus the monthly account fee of $15.95 for year one).
Tangerine’s No-Fee Chequing Account which offers unlimited transactions (excluding Interac e-Transfers) and a $100 sign-up bonus, came in second, earning you a total of $125 by the end of year one. Although it is over $100 less than Momentum, this account is perfect for someone who’s not a power debit user, but still requires the use of a chequing account.
Today’s Top Personal Chequing Account
At the start of 2018, the Scotia Momentum Chequing Account is still our top consumer choice on Ratehub.ca, as they are still offering a $200 sign-up bonus to new members (who sign up online). A power debit user could find themselves with an additional $260 in their account at the end of year one. Tangerine’s No-Fee Chequing Account is also still offering their $100 sign-up bonus until April 2, 2018, and continues to be a great choice for a light debit user.
Both accounts require you to set up either your payroll as a direct deposit or two pre-authorized transactions to be eligible for the sign-up bonus and, in both cases, it’ll be deposited into your account within 120 days of opening the account (if the above-mentioned conditions were satisfied). For more information on these accounts, visit our chequing account rate tables.
Top 2017 Youth/Student Chequing Account
Based on the Ratehub.ca rate table popularity alone, the Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan chequing account was a clear winner. It comes with no monthly fee, unlimited transactions (including Interac e-Transfer transactions), and the benefit of collecting SCENE or Scotia Reward points.
For busy student life filled with all-nighters fuelled by coffee and pizza, unlimited transactions and Interac e-Transfers come in handy. Scotiabank offers an easy online signup form; however, you are at times required to complete your application at the branch. Regardless of the enrollment procedure, with over 1,040 branches across Canada, it should be easy to find one located conveniently.
Today’s Most Popular Youth/Student Chequing Account
The winner of the Top Youth/Student Chequing Account Award for 2017 is also today’s most popular youth/student chequing account – Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan. If your education situation hasn’t changed since 2017, you should consider the Scotiabank Student Banking Advantage Plan chequing account. For all new members, this account currently offers 5,000 Scotia Rewards points bonus. You can learn more about it here.
Top 2017 Senior Chequing Account
CIBC’s 60 Plus Adventure Account won the Top 2017 Senior Chequing Account Award. Aside from being the most popular seniors account on Ratehub.ca for the past year, this account offered unlimited transactions, no monthly fee and was the Forrester awards-winning mobile and online banking app. Unfortunately, this account was retired in September 2017 and is no longer available to new customers.
Today’s Top Senior Chequing Account
After Toronto Dominion Bank (TD Bank) decided to no longer offer a no-fee chequing account for its senior customers back in 2013, many financial institutions followed this trend and slowly replaced their no-cost accounts with senior discounts. CIBC’s 60 Plus Advantage Account was one of the few still standing. Unfortunately, as previously stated, as of September 2017 it was no longer available to new senior customers. But there are still a few good alternatives.
After careful consideration, we chose the Scotia Basic Banking Account for Seniors as this year’s leading contender for 2018’s top senior chequing account. It has no monthly fees, 12 monthly transactions (including four teller-assisted transactions), two free monthly Interac e-Transfers, free paper statements with cheque image return, and Scotia Reward and SCENE points.
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Top 2017 Savings Accounts Winners
Top 2017 High Interest Savings Account Winners
When it comes to high interest savings accounts, EQ Bank is a deserving winner of the Top 2017 High Interest Savings Account Award. Unlike your usual savings account, EQ Bank’s Savings Plus Account is a hybrid between a chequing and savings account.
It offers an interest rate of 2.30% (which remained consistent throughout 2017, and remains unchanged in 2018), no monthly fee, a user-friendly mobile app, five free Interac e-Transfers per month, no minimum balance requirements, free electronic funds transfers between linked accounts, free deposits including mobile cheque deposits, and CDIC insurance up to $100,000.
EQ Bank is an online bank, so it doesn’t offer any in-branch services, but they do have 24/7 customer service and an easy online sign-up form that only takes roughly six minutes to complete.
Today’s Most Popular High Interest Savings Account
One of the reasons EQ Bank won the top 2017 HISA award was its rate stability. Its incomparable rate of 2.30% is one reason why it remains the best high interest savings account in the market to start 2018. Aside from being a hybrid between a chequing and a savings account, EQ Bank has one of the easiest online sign-up forms. From start to finish, it takes about six minutes to complete the application. However, you do need to link your current banking account to the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account in order to make your transfers, so it’ll pair wonderfully with Tangerine’s No-Fee Chequing Account and its $100 sign-up bonus!
Top 2017 Tax-free Savings Account
The award for the Top Tax-free Savings Account of 2017 goes to Motive Financial’s Motive TFSA Savings Account for keeping a consistent rate of 1.80% since October 2015, offering an easy online application form, unlimited withdrawals, and no requirements for a minimum deposit amount. Although Alterna Bank did offer higher rates than Motive Financial, we were taking product offering consistency to Ratehub.ca users into consideration when choosing a 2017 winner. Additionally, Motive Financial is an online division of the Canadian Western Bank, so deposits made into the Motive TFSA Savings Account are CDIC insured and the product is available Canada-wide.
Today’s Most Popular Tax-Free Savings Account
If you haven’t opened a tax-free savings account yet, or are looking for a better rate, Alterna Bank’s TFSA eSavings Account is a serious contender for the top TFSA accounts of 2018. This account requires no minimum payment, has no monthly fee, and offers a 2.10% interest rate! Alterna Bank is a subsidiary of Alterna Savings, a 100 year old credit union, and the first in Canada outside of Quebec. You can learn more about Alterna Bank’s TFSA eSavings Account here.
Looking for a high-interest savings account?
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Top 2017 GICs
Top 2017 1-Year GIC
The Top 1-Year GIC award goes to the Oaken Financial 1-Year Non-Registered GIC. For a period of time, Oaken Financial had the highest rate on the market in 2017 at 2.75% for a 1 Year No-Registered GIC. If you were monitoring the news last summer, you’ve seen that Home Capital has made the headlines a few times. As Home Capital is the parent company of Oaken Financial, many were wary of Oaken’s lengthier GICs.
Despite all the noise, Oaken Financial GIC rates proved to be a huge hit among Ratehub.ca users, being by far the most popular GIC product of 2017. Depositors who locked their money with Oaken at peak rates will be reaping the benefits of their investment choice. Oaken Financial has locations in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Halifax, so you can open your account with Oaken Financial in person, by phone, online or by mail.
Today’s Most Popular 1-Year GIC
Oaken Financial raised their GIC rates on Jan. 26, 2018, becoming once again the highest 1-Year GIC at 2.75%. Oaken Financial has a simple online application form and is CDIC insured. As it was the case in 2017, Oaken Financial is still the overwhelming consumer choice on Ratehub.ca. Another GIC player worth considering is Implicity Financial, as their 1-Year Non-Registered GIC at 2.45% is currently one of the highest interest rates in the market after Oaken Financial.
Top 2017 5-Year GIC
The winner of the Top 5-Year GIC Award is the Oaken Financial 5-Year Non-registered GIC which offered a 3.25% interest rate making it the highest in the market in 2017. As mentioned above, Oaken offers an easy online application form and your deposits are CDIC insured up to $100,000. This product was the most popular 5-year GIC on Ratehub.ca in 2017.
Today’s Most Popular 5-Year GIC
As previously mentioned, Oaken Financial’s rates increased on the morning of Jan. 26, 2018, and once again they offer the highest rate in the market at 3.25% for a 5 Year GIC. Implicity Financial again ranks second on our list with an interest rate of 3.10% for a 5-Year GIC. Both financial institutions offer a simple online form that allows a user to quickly and painlessly take advantage of these market-leading term-deposits.
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1 For the purpose of this award, a power debit user is defined as a person who uses their debit card frequently or point of sale small item purchases for the whole household.
2 Percentages of cash and debit purchases are based on the 2015 BoC report. Read more here: http://www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/boc-review-autumn2017-fung.pdf
3 Yearly spending amounts per average Canadian household are based on the Statistics Canada report. Read more here: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableaux/sum-som/l01/cst01/famil130a-eng.htm