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Top Canadian GICs, Chequing, and Savings Accounts 2018

In 2017, we proudly launched our inaugural 2017 Personal Finance Awards which focused on the deposits vertical, selecting 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. You can read the post and check out last year’s winners here.

This year, we are once again proud to release our second annual Personal Finance Awards. This year’s edition looks at the best of bank accounts and guaranteed investment products of 2018. This year’s edition, though, has one new category: RRSP savings accounts. With the best and most popular accounts often changing year-to-year, these awards serve as a reminder to re-evaluate your financial products on a recurrent basis.


Winners of the 2018 Personal Finance Awards (Summary)



This year, we once again carefully selected the top chequing accounts, savings accounts (including HISAs, TFSAs, and RRSPs), and GICs from hundreds of personal finance products to help Canadians choose the best products suited to their financial needs. To determine the top accounts, we looked at our most popular financial products among users in 2018. We then assigned scores based on the overall cost and benefits of each account. 

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 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 2019 and kept it for at least one year.

Additionally, in the summer of 2018 we surveyed over 1100 Canadians on their banking behaviour to establish the features Canadians value the most in their financial products, some of these findings were used in this year’s process of selecting the top performing accounts. You can read about our findings on how Canadians bank here

About Chequing Accounts

Chequing accounts are simply bank accounts most Canadians use for their day-to-day spending. They typically don’t provide any interest, but offer high transaction allowances, making them the no. 1 vehicle for discretionary spending. In our 2018 Banking Behaviour survey we found that most Canadians pay high fees for chequing accounts and according to the survey’s findings, the average Canadian has already shelled out $1,920 in bank fees. The good news, though, is that our winning accounts will save you most — if not all — of the fees typically associated with a chequing account. Below is a breakdown of the accounts we cover in the Personal Finance Awards. Here are the types of chequing accounts you can open:

  • Personal Chequing Accounts – Personal chequing accounts are the most popular in Canada; they can typically be opened by anyone.
  • Student Chequing Accounts – Often boasting the same features as personal chequing accounts, student accounts also offer a bonus of lower fees.
  • Senior/CU Chequing Accounts – Senior accounts are only available to seniors (usually 65+). Like student accounts, they also typically offer discounted fees.

About Savings Accounts

Savings accounts are exactly what they sound like: Bank accounts for saving your money. They usually aren’t used for day-to-day banking and, therefore, don’t offer much in the way of included transactions. However, they do provide interest to help you grow your nest egg. Here are a few types of savings accounts out there: 

  • High-interest savings accounts (HISAs) – Accounts that provide higher interest (typically above 2%) than a regular savings account (which sometimes provide interest as low as 0.5%). These accounts are great for short-term savings because of their guaranteed returns and high liquidity. It should be noted, though, that interest earned in high-interest savings accounts is taxed
  • Tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) – Similar to high-interest savings accounts, but offering a tax shelter (interest earned is not taxed). TFSAs are liquid as well, but also make great retirement accounts.
  • Registered retirement savings plan accounts (RRSPs) – RRSPs are the most popular retirement accounts in Canada. They offer tax sheltering as well; contributions to your RRSP result in tax breaks. However, the money in your account is taxed upon withdrawal (typically during retirement).

About Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) are term-locked, guaranteed investments insured by CDIC or  provincially. How do GICs work: You lock an investment amount into a GIC for a specific term (typically 1-5 years) in return for a guaranteed investment that is paid out at maturity of the GIC. These are great savings vehicles for when you know how long you can afford to have your money tied up for a guaranteed return. Typically, the longer the GIC term, the higher the return.


2018 Personal Finance Award winners

Top Canadian Chequing Accounts of 2018

Top Personal Chequing Account: Alterna Bank’s No Fee eChequing Account

Alterna Bank’s personal chequing account offers free, unlimited day-to-day transactions and free, unlimited Interac® e-Transfers (access to which is in the top three most important features Canadians value in a chequing account). Alterna Bank’s customers also have access to 3,300 ATMs in the Exchange Network, Canada’s second largest ATM network. Accounts are insured through the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) and are eligible for joint accounts. Finally, the account offers a 0.05% annual interest rate — which, while low, is something many chequing accounts don’t offer.

Top Student Chequing Account: Scotiabank Student Chequing Account

A big seller for the Scotiabank student account this year is the signup bonus of 5,000 SCENE points or 5,000 Scotia Rewards. The account comes with zero monthly fees and offers unlimited Interac® e-Transfers and unlimited transactions through Scotia OnLine, Mobile Banking Teller, and the ABM2Users have access to 963 Scotiabank branches and 3,600 bank machines. Accounts can also be linked to a mobile wallet. Students rejoice, this account also comes with a sign-up bonus of 5,000 SCENE points or 5,000 Scotia Rewards.

Top Seniors chequing Account: Scotiabank’s Basic Banking Account

Free for seniors (age to qualify is 60+), Scotia’s seniors’ account offers two free Interac® e-Transfers per month, 12 regular transactions including four teller transactions per month. Based on the findings from the banking survey, we found that senior citizens value accounts that charge no fees, offer easy money transfers, and have access to branches near them. Although security was not on the top three most important features, Scotiabank was actually ranked the third safest banking institution in North America according to Global FinanceThe account also offers a signup bonus of 5,000 SCENE points or 5,000 Scotia Rewards.

Looking for a chequing account?

Check out our chequing account comparison tool

Top Canadian Savings Accounts of 2018

Top High-Interest Savings Account (HISA): EQ Bank High-Interest Savings Account

For the second year in a row, EQ Bank took home top honours for its high-interest savings account. The account offers 2.3% interest and requires no minimum balance. It also offers five free Interac® e-Transfers per month, unlimited EQ to EQ transfers, and free day-to-day transactions. Unfortunately, EQ Bank’s HISA is not available in Quebec. For our Quebec readers, check out Alterna Bank’s HISA, which offers at 2.35% interest rate.

  • Top High-Interest Savings Account 2019: EQ Bank has some competition this year from Motive Financial, which is currently offering a very high interest of 2.80% on their HISA. Watch for that one to be popular this year.

Top TFSA Savings Account 2018: Alterna Bank TFSA eSavingsAccount

A 2018 early contender, Alterna’s TFSA savings account offers 2.35% interest and is available with zero fees. The account is very easy to sign up for online, Ignoring limited time bonus interest rates, Alterna’s TFSA offers one of the highest interest rates for a savings account in Canada.

  • Top TFSA Account 2019Alterna’s TFSA is still a good rate, but if you are in Ontario you could also check out Implicity Financial’s TFSA which offers 2.40%. Maxa financial offers 2.45% Canada-wide (but neither account is not offered in French). Finally, Hubert Financial offers a 2.5% rate but is not available to Quebec residents.

Top RRSP Savings Account 2018: Alterna Bank’s RRSP eSavings Account

Our top RRSP savings accounts category is the newest addition this year, and a very exciting one. Alterna won here too, and rightfully so. They offer an easy signup process, a great customer phone service, a very good high-interest rate on the RRSP at 2.35% and the account is offered to all Canadians in French or English. It was also the top choice by our users and it ranked in rate stability, product features. There is also no minimum balance required and the account comes with zero fees.

Looking for a high-interest savings account?

Compare high-interest savings accounts

Top Canadian Term Deposits 2018

Oaken Financial has been consistently raising its rates, consistently offering some of the highest GIC rates for 1- & 5-year terms in 2018. Unlike in 2017, where they had their highest rates mid-year, in 2018, Oaken kept on rising their GIC rates bringing the 1-year to 3.10%, and 5-year to 3.60% which are, as of today, some of the best rates for non-registered GICs.

1-year non-registered GIC: Oaken Financial 1-Year GIC

This was the most popular term deposits among Ratehub users. It offers 3.1% interest and is available Canada-wide. (Though not yet in French). The signup process is easy and can be done online and you aren’t required to have additional Oaken accounts in order to open a GIC.

  • Top 1-Year GIC 2019: A runner up and another account you should look into is EQ Bank’s; they launched their GIC products earlier in 2018 and have been keeping up with the race, having the same rates as Oaken Financial. However, if you reside in QC you can’t open an account with EQ at the moment.

5-year non-registered GIC: Oaken Financial 5-Year GIC

When rates increased in 2018, Oaken led the way. Currently, Oaken offers 3.6%. The same advantages of the 1-year GIC also apply.

Want a better GIC rate?

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