24th June 2024

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Best GIC Rates in Canada

A guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) is a secure, low-risk investment product that earns interest over a set time period. Interest rates vary by term length, and you generally need to invest your money for longer to get the best GIC rate.

There are many types of GICs, but our selections focus on the most common type: fixed-rate, non-redeemable GICS. These safe term deposits require you to lock away your funds for a set term and, in exchange, pay a fixed rate of interest.

The best GIC rates in Canada as of Dec. 20, 2023.

  • 1-year GIC: 6.00% (WealthONE Bank of Canada)
  • 2-year GIC: 5.90% (WealthONE Bank of Canada)
  • 3-year GIC: 5.70% (WealthONE Bank of Canadal)
  • 4-year GIC: 5.30% (WealthONE Bank of Canada)
  • 5-year GIC: 5.30% (WealthONE Bank of Canada)

Use our table to compare GIC rates from dozens of Canadian banks.

Compare more top GIC rates

Highest GIC rates currently available as of Dec. 20, 2023.

Financial Institution 1-year Term 2-year Term 3-year Term 4-year Term 5-year Term
Achieva Financial 5.50% 5.70% 5.40% 5.10% 5.10%
Alterna Bank 4.90% 5.10% 4.95% 4.95% 4.95%
BMO Bank of Montreal 4.75% 4.00% 4.00% 4.45% 4.20%
Bridgewater Bank 4.90% 4.98% 4.76% 4.06% 4.03%
Canadian Tire Bank 4.90% 4.50% 4.40% 4.30% 4.15%
Canadian Western Bank 5.15% 5.00% 4.75% 4.60% 4.55%
CIBC Bonus Rate GIC up to 5.00%** 3.75% 3.75% 3.75% 3.75%
Coast Capital Savings 5.10% 5.00% 4.75% 4.65% 4.65%
EQ Bank
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5.10% 4.70% 4.45% 4.30% 4.25%
Haventree Bank 5.05% 4.75% 4.55% 4.45% 4.40%
Home Trust 5.75% 5.60% 5.40% 5.15% 5.15%
HSBC Bank Canada 4.10% 4.05% 3.85% 3.85% 3.85%
Hubert’s Happy Savings 5.75% 5.75% 5.25% 5.05% 5.05%
ICICI Bank 1.75% 2.00% 2.25% 2.50% 2.75%
Ideal Savings 5.75% 5.75% 5.25% 5.05% 5.05%
Laurentian Bank of Canada 5.15% 5.00% 4.70% 4.60% 4.60%
LBCDigital.ca 5.15% 5.00% 4.70% 4.60% 4.60%
Manulife Bank 4.50% 4.50% 4.31% 4.31% 4.16%
MAXA Financial 5.10% 4.95% 4.70% 4.50% 4.45%
Motive Financial 5.65% 5.45% 5.10% 5.00% 4.95%
Motusbank 4.50% 4.20% 3.90% 3.85% 3.75%
National Bank of Canada 4.95% 4.80% 4.40% 4.30% 4.35%
Oaken Financial 5.75% 5.60% 5.40% 5.15% 5.15%
Outlook Financial 5.50% 5.60% 5.20% 5.10% 5.00%
Peoples Bank of Canada 5.65% 5.45% 5.10% 4.65% 4.50%
Royal Bank of Canada up to 5.00%** up to 4.75%** 4.00% 4.00% up to 4.35%**
Scotiabank 5.00% up to 5.30%** up to 4.77%** 4.45% 4.35%
Simplii Financial 5.00% 4.35% 4.25% 4.25% 4.25%
Tangerine Bank
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5.25% 4.20% 4.10% 3.90% 3.85%
TD Bank 5.25% 4.80% 4.55% 4.40% 4.30%
VersaBank 5.00% 4.70% 4.45% 4.30% 4.15%
WealthONE Bank of Canada 6.00% 5.90% 5.70% 5.30% 5.30%

*Rates reflect the APY of non-redeemable, non-registered fixed-rate GICs that pay interest annually

**Promotional rates offered by the bank.

What to know about GICs

By Barry Choi

GICs appeal to many Canadians because they are guaranteed and considered safe investments. That said, certain types of GICs require you to lock in your funds, making it difficult to access your money until the end of the term or the maturity date.

What is a GIC?

A guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) is an investment product that gives you a guaranteed rate of return for a set period of time. You can purchase GICs with terms as short as 30 days or as long as 10 years. Generally, the longer you invest your money, the higher the GIC interest rate.

The amount of interest a GIC earns, or annual percentage yield (APY), is determined at the time of purchase. It may be paid monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, annually, or at maturity. When your GIC matures or reaches the end of its term, you receive your principal back, plus any outstanding interest.

What is a GIC account?

GICs are a type of investment that you must be purchased within an account. The common types of investment accounts used to buy GICs are standard, non-registered investment accounts and registered accounts, like registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) or tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs).

Each type of account has different tax implications, so you’ll want to do additional research or ask your financial institution whether a registered or non-registered GIC is best for you.

Once you’ve set up your accounts, purchasing GICs is a straightforward process.

What is the difference between GICs and term deposits?

Term deposits and GICs are technically two similar products in the same asset class. Both pay a fixed interest rate for a fixed term. Both also typically require a minimum deposit to get started.

Some institutions use “term deposits” to describe both GICs with terms for one year or more and other types of investments held for less than a year. However, many financial institutions use the names interchangeably or simply refer to all of their guaranteed investments as “GICs.”

How does a GIC work?

When you buy a GIC, you’re lending money to a financial institution. Because the financial institution is borrowing money from you, they’ll pay you interest for the privilege. You can think of it as a role reversal compared to borrowing money from the bank.

The financial institution that issues the GIC then takes that money and lends it to its customers at a higher rate of interest, such as through a mortgage or line of credit — this is how you and the financial institution both end up making money on your GIC investment.

Generally, GICs lock in your principal deposit until the end of the term since the bank is lending the money they’ve borrowed from you to someone else. They need to protect their cash flow and make sure they have enough money coming in to cover what’s going out. That said, cashable and redeemable GICs allow you to access your money before the end of the term, but they may come with a lower interest rate and early withdrawal fees.

Once your GIC matures, you can withdraw your principal plus the interest earned. Alternatively, you can choose to reinvest those funds and purchase a new GIC automatically. This approach allows you to take advantage of compound interest by making additional interest on your initial investment on top of the interest you’ve already earned.

How much interest will you earn on a GIC?

The amount of interest you’ll earn on a GIC depends on the following:

  • The financial institution. Each financial institution offers different GIC interest rates, so where you purchase your GICs matters.
  • Length of term. GICs with longer terms typically pay more interest than short-term GICs.
  • How the interest is calculated. GIC interest rates can be fixed, variable, or linked to the market. The type of interest rate and how it’s affected by outside factors will impact your overall returns.

For instance, let’s say you decide to invest $10,000 into a 1-year, non-redeemable GIC with a fixed interest rate of 3%. At the end of the term, you’d get your initial investment of $10,000, plus $300 in interest. If you had chosen a different interest rate, term length, or type of GIC, you would have earned more or less interest.

How to invest in a GIC

Investing in GICs is easy once you review your options and make some decisions. It’s best to shop around, as each financial institution offers GICs with different terms and interest rates. Then you can choose a GIC that best fits your timeline and offers an attractive interest rate.

You can purchase GICs from the following sources:

  • Banks and trust companies. People may gravitate towards Canada’s “Big Five,” sometimes “Big Six,” banks. While there’s nothing wrong with these major financial institutions, smaller banks, online-only banks, and trust companies typically offer better rates to attract your business.
  • Credit unions and caisses populaires. Credit unions, or caisses populaires in Quebec, have become more popular banking options for Canadians. They also tend to offer GICs at competitive rates.
  • Online discount brokerages. Do-it-yourself investors can purchase GICs directly through their discount brokerage accounts. You’ll have to search for what’s available for you to buy on your discount brokerage platform, as it may not list all the types of GICs available in the market.
  • Independent deposit brokers. Similar to mortgage brokers, independent deposit brokers work with several financial institutions to find you the best GIC rates. Once you choose a GIC, you’ll buy it directly from the financial institution. The broker is basically a middleman.

How secure is a GIC investment?

GICs are considered one of the safest investments available to Canadians. That’s because your principal investment is guaranteed not to lose value; in most cases, your interest is also guaranteed.

In addition, if you purchase your GICs from a financial institution that’s a Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) member, your deposits are covered for up to $100,000 per eligible account.

GICs purchases through a credit union are insured for up to $250,000 through the province or territory’s regulatory authority. For example, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario has a Deposit Insurance Reserve Fund (DIRF) for members.

This coverage means that if your financial institution were to fail, you would be able to recover your eligible deposits.

How to buy a GIC

When you want to purchase GICs from the financial institution where you do your day-to-day banking, setting up a GIC account is straightforward. First, you’ll need to set up a registered or non-registered account, which you can usually open online, over the phone, or at your local branch.

If you already have an RRSP, TFSA, or non-registered account, you can purchase GICs at any time. Every financial institution has a dedicated section for GICs on its website. You can see what’s available and buy the GIC that best fits your goals. If you’re new to the process and want some assistance, a bank advisor can help you set up your account and purchase GICs.

Keep in mind that every financial institution and service provider may have its own rules in place. There may be a minimum deposit amount required or even specific times when you can buy GICs online.

Documents required to open a GIC account

The documents required to open a GIC account are no different than those required to open a bank account. You would need to provide the following:

  • Two forms of valid ID (passport, driver’s licence, birth certificate)
  • Proof of residential address (utility or cellphone bill)
  • Social insurance number (SIN)

You generally don’t have to be a Canadian citizen to open a GIC account, but you usually need to be the age of majority in the province or territory in which you reside. You will also have to fund your account before purchasing GICs.

How to choose the best type of GIC investment for you

Before you start to invest and purchase a GIC, be sure you understand what you’re getting. There are different GIC interest rates, terms, and options available. The best GIC for someone else may not necessarily be the best one for you. You want to pick a GIC that lines up with your goals. Here’s what to consider as you shop around.

GIC terms

GIC terms are the length of your investment. You can typically purchase GICs with terms between 30 days and 10 years.

Long-term GICs

Long-term GICs are GICs that have terms of one year or more. These types of GICs are typically suitable for people with long investment time frames or who are looking for stability in their portfolios.

Short-term GICs

Short-term GICs, sometimes known as term deposits, have terms of less than one year, so 30 to 364 days. These types of GICs are aimed at people who want access to their funds sooner but would still like to earn some interest.

GIC interest rates

GIC interest rates are what you’ll be paid for investing your money in a financial institution. Knowing how they will calculate your interest is vital since it’ll affect the overall performance of your GICs.

Fixed-rate GICs

With fixed-rate GICs, you’ll know exactly how much interest you’ll earn before investing your money. However, you’ll need to look into when the bank will your interest, as it can be annually, semi-annually, or monthly.

Variable-rate GICs

Variable-rate GICs, sometimes known as prime-linked GICs, protect your principal while giving you a variable interest rate linked to the financial institution’s prime rate. If rates go up or down, the amount of interest your GIC earns will be adjusted accordingly.

Market-linked GICs

With market-linked GICs or equity-linked GICs, the amount of interest you’ll earn is tied to the underlying stock market index. When the markets are doing well, your interest rate increases. Even if the markets go on a downturn and your interest rate decreases, your principal investment is protected, just like a regular GIC.

GIC redeemability

While all GICs have set terms, some types allow you to access your funds before the term is up. This flexibility can help people who are faced with an emergency and need immediate access to their capital.

Cashable GICs

Cashable GICs typically have a locked-in window of 30-90 days. Once that period is up, you can access your funds early if you need them. If you choose to withdraw money from the GIC, you will receive interest calculated up to the day you withdrew funds.

Redeemable GICs

With redeemable GICs, you can access your money at any point after you make the purchase. While the redeemable route sounds like the clear winner, these types of GICs typically penalize early redemptions. As a result, you’d likely receive much less interest than you would at the end of the term.

Non-redeemable GICs

As the name implies, non-redeemable GICs lock in your funds until the term is up. As these types of GICs are not liquid, the financial institution compensates you with higher interest rates than cashable and redeemable GICs.

Types of GIC accounts

GICs are investment products purchased within various account types.

Registered vs. non-registered GICs: what’s the difference?

Registered and non-registered GICs are held in different types of accounts. Since RRSPs and TFSAs are types of registered accounts, GICs held within them are registered. Conversely, GICs held in a non-registered account are referred to as non-registered.

TFSA GICs

You can purchase GICs within your TFSA as long as you follow the rules and limits set by the government. There’s no tax break when you make a TFSA contribution, but there are also no taxes to be paid when you withdraw once your GIC matures.

RRSP GICs

RRSP contributions offer an immediate tax break. You can then use the funds in your RRSP to buy GICs. You won’t pay taxes on any interest earned while the money is in the account. However, you’ll be taxed at your marginal tax rate when you eventually withdraw the funds.

GIC investment strategies and options to consider

Since GICs are a safe investment product, they can be suitable for investors who want to protect their capital or balance their portfolios. Consider a few strategies and options to get the most out of GIC investing.

GIC laddering

A GIC ladder is a common GIC investment strategy in which you split your initial investment into equal pools, with each portion invested into GICs with different terms and interest rates.

For example, if you had $25,000 to invest, you could split it into five pools of $5,000. You would then buy five GICs, each of which has a different term: one, two, three, four, and five years. When each GIC matures, you would reinvest the proceeds into a new 5-year GIC or use the money as needed.

Buying GICs with different terms allows you to take advantage of higher interest rates. Over time, this strategy enables you to potentially earn more interest than the interest earned by investing the whole amount in a single 1-year GIC.

In addition, a GIC ladder can reduce risk. Interest rate changes won’t affect your overall portfolio as much when you have GICs with different terms and interest rates. If rates have risen by the time each GIC matures, you can reinvest the money at a higher rate. Even if rates have dropped, you would have benefited from your initial investment. Finally, a ladder strategy means you can access a portion of your money each year when one of your GICs matures.

Most financial institutions can help you set up a GIC ladder. You can instruct them to reinvest your funds at maturity, so the ladder continues. If you think you’ll need to access some funds after maturity, you’ll need to let them know before the maturity date, so your funds aren’t automatically reinvested.

Student GIC program

Some financial institutions offer a student GIC program aimed at international students looking to participate in the Student Direct Stream (SDS). The SDS is an expedited study permit for students from select countries who are pursuing higher education in Canada.

One of the requirements for SDS is to show proof that the student has a GIC of $10,000 or more. Once the student arrives in Canada, they could open a student bank account and start redeeming their GIC to pay for their living expenses.

Are GICs worth it?

Given that GIC interest rates are typically lower than those available for other investments, many wonder if GICs are worth it. It depends on your goals and situation. GICs can be a good fit for your portfolio in some scenarios, including when:

  • You have a short investment horizon. If you know you’ll need your money in the next five years, investing in GICs is a way to protect your capital while earning some additional interest.
  • You’re looking to balance your portfolio. Because GICs are considered a form of fixed income, they can balance out any riskier equities, like investing in stocks.

GICs may not be the best choice for someone seeking more growth opportunities or someone without an emergency fund.

GIC pros

  • Low risk. Your principal investment is guaranteed.
  • Interest can be guaranteed. With fixed-rate GICs, you’ll know exactly how much interest you’ll earn.
  • Easy to understand. Generally, GICs are simple investment products with defined terms to follow.
  • Your investment is safe. The CDIC, or a credit union regulatory authority, insures GICs.

GIC cons

  • Not very liquid. Even though cashable and redeemable GICs are available, you may have to pay a penalty to access your funds early.
  • Low rate of return. GICs have limited growth potential compared to market-linked products such as mutual funds, stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
  • May not beat inflation. Although GICs have a guaranteed return, their interest rates may not keep up with inflation. That would result in you losing money over time.
  • Interest earned is fully taxable. If you hold GICs in a non-registered account, any interest earned is fully taxable at your marginal tax rate. This cuts into your overall returns.

GIC alternatives

GICs are just one type of investment product available to Canadians. As you build your portfolio, other types of fixed-income products and some equities are also worth considering.

GICs vs. mutual funds

Mutual funds are often brought up as an alternative to GICs, but it’s not a fair comparison. Mutual funds are a pool of stocks, bonds or other products wrapped into a single investment product handled by a portfolio manager.

While mutual funds can help diversify your portfolio, the returns are not guaranteed. That said, some mutual funds focus on fixed-income investing, which means your money is relatively safe.

GICs vs. bonds

Governments, municipalities and even corporations can offer bonds for purchase. Generally, they pay a fixed level of income until maturity, like a GIC. The main difference is that bond yields can increase and decrease based on market conditions. In addition, you can usually opt in and out of bonds without fear of paying any penalties.

Although bonds are a relatively safe investment, the issuers can have different ratings for stability. Government bonds are typically highly rated and secure, whereas junk or high-yield bonds can be risky since the issuer could default.

GICs vs. high-interest savings accounts

Many digital banks offer high-interest savings accounts (HISAs) with attractive interest rates. These rates are typically much higher than those offered by brick-and-mortar financial institutions. Some notable differences between a GIC and a HISA are that GICs usually offer higher rates — but there’s no locked-in period with a HISA. You can freely move your money in and out without any penalties or fees.

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