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Natasha Macmillan, Business Unit Director - Everyday Banking
Our guide to GICs in Canada
Canadian’s interest in GICs have been on the rise in recent years as they are considered to be safe investments. There are many things to consider when shopping around for GICs - and we have broken it all down for you.
What is a GIC?
A GIC, guaranteed investment certificate, is an investment product that has a guaranteed rate of return for a specified duration of time. It is deemed to be a safe and extremely low-risk type of investment.
With a GIC, you deposit your money at a bank or other financial institution for a specific period of time (known as the “term”), and they will guarantee you a return of the principal (the initial amount you invested) plus pay you in the form of interest. GIC terms can vary anywhere from as little as 30 days up to ten years, and typically, the longer you’re willing to invest your money, the higher the interest rate you’ll receive.
Due to the nature of GICs, they're particularly useful for people with short investment horizons or those who are working towards specific time-sensitive goals (like soon-to-be-retirees or home-buyers with a specific timeline). If you’re a risk-averse investor, GICs are also a great option and will shelter you from the volatility and fluctuations of the stock market.
Short-term vs. long-term GICs
One of the first things you should think about when shopping for a GIC (aside from the rate itself) is whether you’re interested in a short or long-term investment. The answer to this question will largely depend on your financial goals.
Short-term GICs are a great option for those who have a short-term savings goal and want to prioritize liquidity. They take less than a year to mature, and the principal is guaranteed with an advertised rate of interest.
Long-term GICs, on the other hand, have terms of one year or longer and typically carry higher interest rates than their short-term counterparts. These are perfect for investors with long-range savings goals (such as a downpayment on a house) or a desire to use their GIC as passive monthly income.
How are GICs insured?
The Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) is a federal Crown Corporation that insures eligible deposit accounts (including GICs as well as chequing and savings accounts) made with its member banks; it’s fully backed by the Government of Canada. Insurance offered by CDIC is automatically in place for eligible accounts at CDIC member banks at no additional charge to consumers. (You don’t need to purchase insurance – it’s your bank’s insurance policy).
CDIC insurance will cover up to $100,000 of your deposits and protect your money in the highly unlikely scenario that the financial institution you bank with closes its doors or goes bankrupt. Since CDIC was founded in 1967, Canadians haven’t lost a single dollar in deposits. Over 80 banks in Canada have CDIC insurance including all of Canada’s big five banks as well as several online-only institutions like EQ Bank and Oaken Financial.
Best non-registered 5-year GIC rates
How are GIC rates calculated?
Interest on GICs is typically paid out either monthly, biannually, annually, at their maturity or on a predetermined date set by the provider.
There are two types of interest associated with GICs - simple interest and compound interest.
Simple interest is paid on the initial principal only. For example, if you invested $50,000 into a two-year GIC with 1.5% interest, you’d receive a return of $750 each year. Following this logic, at the end of your two-year term, you’d have made $1,500 in interest.
Alternately, compound interest is paid on the principal as well as the interest earned at every interval (essentially, “interest on top of interest”). If we were to use the same GIC in the example above, your total interest earned after two years would be $1,511.25. That’s a gain of $11.25 on top of your simple interest. And, if you decided to let your interest compound monthly instead of yearly, you’d net an even higher extra amount at $21.76.
Types of GICs in Canada
For those looking to take advantage of higher, GIC-level interest rates but don't feel comfortable locking their money away for too long, cashable GICs are the perfect solution. These GICs typically only involve a one-year term and have the option to cash out early after 30 to 90 days, providing an ideal solution for fluctuating interest rates. If the rate rises above that of your GIC, you can always cash out and put your money somewhere else. If it falls lower, you'll be locked into a guaranteed higher percentage for the length of your term. It's essentially a win-win. The only drawback? Cashable GICs tend to have lower interest rates than others due to their flexibility.
Registered GICs vs. non-registered GICs
Registered GICs exist inside registered investment accounts such as TFSAs and RRSPs, meaning you won't have to pay taxes on the interest accrued. That being said, you will have to obey the rules of these accounts when it comes to contribution limits.
Non-registered GICs are essentially the opposite of registered GICs: while the interest you earn is taxable, there's also no limits on what you can invest.
Redeemable GICs vs. non-redeemable GICs
Similar to cashable GICs, redeemable GICs also allow you to cash out early if desired. The main difference? Redeemable GICs will typically allow you to access you money early without being subjected to a waiting period. The only catch is that you may get saddled with lower-than-average early redemption rates.
The opposite of redeemable GICs, non-redeemable GICs won't allow you to access you money early without paying a penalty fee. That being said, you'll earn much higher interest.
If you're looking for a GIC with some elevated risk (and the bigger gains that could come with it), a market-linked GIC may be right for you. These function as a sort of hybrid: while they're still technically GICs, they're also linked to a particular market and can only guarantee your principal investment. Unlike other GICs, these are subject to market volatility and are more of a rollercoaster.
Foreign currency GICs
Foreign currency GICs are just what they sound like: GICs in a foreign currency (typically USD). These are perfect for investors who travel outside Canada often.
Why invest in a GIC?
Should I invest in a fixed or variable rate GIC?
How long should I lock in a GIC for?
Can I get more than a 5% GIC in Canada?
Will GIC rates continue to rise?
What type of GICs are available?
What is the difference between CDIC versus Provincial GIC insurance?
How do I buy GICs?
What are some alternative investment options to GIC?
The best GIC providers in Canada 2023
EQ Bank GIC Rates
EQ Bank GIC rates are among the best GICs offered in Canada and are CDIC-insured. Interest earned on GIC investments is paid annually. A minimum investment of $100 is required to open an account with EQ Bank. The Toronto-based independent bank offers competitive GIC rates to all Canadians, excluding residents living in Quebec.
Oaken Financial GIC Rates
Oaken Financial GIC rates are some of the best GICs offered in Canada and are CDIC-insured, offering a competitive rate for one-year term GICs. Interest on GICs is paid annually and not compounded. Since Oaken Financial offers one of the best GIC rates on the market, a minimum investment of $1,000 is required. Oaken Financial is an independent bank eligible to all Canadian citizens.
Luminus Financial GIC Rates
Luminus Financial is a credit union offering GICs with a wide range of terms between 30 days and five years. Luminus Financial offers a very competitive rate for a non-registered GIC with a one year term. An account with Luminus Financial requires a minimum investment of $500 and is only available to Ontario residents.
Achieva Financial GIC Rates
Achieva Financial is a digital bank offering high-interest rate GICs with varying terms of one to five years to anyone who is a resident of Canada. A minimum investment of $1,000 is required.
Alterna Bank GIC Rates
Alterna Bank is an online bank offering GICs with terms ranging between one to five years. Alterna Bank GIC rates require a low minimum deposit of $500 with interest paid annually. Alterna is open to all Canadian residents and is CDIC-insured.
Steinbach Credit Union GIC Rates
Steinbach Credit Union GIC rates is a credit union offering GICs with terms ranging between one and five years. An account with Steinbach Credit Union requires a minimum investment of $500.
CIBC GIC Rates
CIBC currently offers a non-registered GIC that is CDIC-insured. CIBC is among Canada’s largest banks and offers a variety of GICs and other investment products.
Scotiabank GIC Rates
Scotiabank offers GIC that are RRSP/RRIF eligible and available to all Canadians. Scotiabank also offers market linked and cashable GIC types.
RBC GIC Rates
As one of Canada’s largest banks, RBC GIC rates offer a return-rate on non-redeemable GICs ranging from 30 days to ten years. GICs purchased through interest on RBC GICs are paid annually and are not compounded. RBC is one of Canada’s largest banks and available to all Canadians.
BMO GIC Rates
Bank of Montreal GICs require a minimum deposit of $1,000. BMO is currently the only major bank in Canada to offer a ten-year GIC term. Since BMO is one of Canada’s major banks, it is available to all Canadians, coast to coast.
As a digital bank, Tangerine has become a leader within Canada’s online banking industry. Instead of operating traditional brick-and-mortar branches, it has a few Tangerine Cafés and pop-up locations across the country. Tangerine offers premium guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) rates and no-fee accounts.
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