What is the Highest Paying GIC Rate in Canada?

WRITTEN BY Dan Kent | UPDATED ON: March 24, 2024

Best GIC Rates in Canada

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What is the Highest Paying GIC Rate in Canada?

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**Sorted by 1 year GIC on default. These are for non-redeemable, annual payment GICs. This table is updated as of January 01, 2024. Rates are subject to change without notice. Please verify with the bank about its most current rates.

What are the best GICs in Canada right now?

WealthOne

WealthONE Bank 1-Year GIC


  • Minimum $1000 invested
  • WealthONE GICs are non-redeemable
  • Eligible for CDIC protection
  • Attractive long term rates as well
Peoples Bank GIC

Peoples Bank Bank 1-Year GIC


  • Minimum $1000 invested
  • People's Bank GICs are non-redeemable
  • Eligible for CDIC protection
  • Long term rates are weaker
Hubert GIC

Hubert Happy Savings 1-Year GIC


  • Minimum $1000 invested
  • 1 Year terms redeemable quarterly, 2-5 year terms non-redeemable
  • Protected by the Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba
  • Long term rates are solid as well
Oaken Financial

Oaken Financial 1-Year GIC


  • Minimum $1000 invested
  • Long-term GICs non-redeemable
  • CDIC protection
  • They offer a 1 year cashable at a much lower rate
Outlook Financial

Outlook Financial 1-Year GIC


  • Minimum $1000 invested
  • They have an attractive HISA rate as well
  • Deposits guaranteed by Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba
  • GICs are non-redeemable












Why Guaranteed Investment Certificates?

Investors in Canada often seek out Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) as a secure way to invest their money. Whether you're investing with a major bank like Royal Bank or Bank of Montreal, or maybe a digital bank like Equitable Bank, they're all offering relatively attractive rates right now.

What is a GIC? These investments guarantee the return of the principal and offer a fixed interest rate over a specified term. 

GICs are an attractive option for risk-averse individuals, as they provide a stable and predictable form of investment—quite contrary to the volatility seen in the stock market.

The best GIC rates in Canada are highly sought after, and with an array of financial institutions offering different rates, terms, and conditions, it's essential for investors to carefully compare options. 

This is exactly why we've compiled a list of the best GIC rates in the country at both your home bank and credit unions and plan to update the list monthly.

Rates can vary significantly between providers, and terms can range from short-term periods of a few months to longer terms stretching over several years.

Choosing the right GIC can make a huge difference when it comes to your investment returns. 

Comparisons of GIC rates take into account various factors, including term lengths, whether the GIC is cashable or non-redeemable, and the type of GIC account—such as registered (in your RRSP for example) or non-registered—with each type having its own implications for interest rates and tax treatment.

In addition to this, bonus offers are often held at these institutions in an attempt to get more clients to switch over to their bank.

What Are GICs?

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) offer Canadians a secure option to invest, typically issued by banks and financial institutions. They promise to pay the principal with fixed interest.

Outside of government-issued bonds, they're some of the safest investments in the country. The interest you earn on a GIC is determined at the time of purchase and depends on the term you choose and the institution you go with. Typically, online banks end up offering more attractive rates of return on a fixed-rate GIC.

There are cashable and variable rate GICs as well, which offer investors a lower rate of return in exchange for the ability to cash in early in the case of a cashable GIC and a floating rate of return in the case of a variable rate.

In my opinion, it is best for investors to simply hold non-redeemable GICs at the term that suits their financial goals. The more functionality you add to a GIC, the more the bank is going to discount in terms of interest rates in return. As always, there is no free lunch in finance.

Is there any risk with GICs?

GICs are considered low-risk investments as they guarantee the return of the principal investment. However, they are not entirely risk-free. Let's go over a few risks they do present.

Uninsured capital

Most GICs will have CDIC coverage, but only up to $100,000. If you invest more than this with a single institution, the amount you have over and above $100,000 may be at risk if the financial institution you're with goes under. 

Lack of liquidity

If you choose a non-redeemable GIC, you will be paid a fixed rate of interest for a particular amount of time. During that time, you will not be able to access your money except for dire circumstances like financial hardship.

This lack of liquidity can create issues in the event you have emergency expenses. For this reason, only choose GICs that fit your investment timeline and invest money you will not need over that period.

Inflation risk

Although you are offered a guaranteed rate of return and your principal back upon maturity, that doesn't mean you aren't exposed to inflation and interest rate risks.

If you lock in a 5-year GIC, you cannot access your money for 5 years. In that time, if inflation is higher than the rate on your GIC, you've realized a negative real return. Alternatively, if interest rates continue to rise, your GIC will be earning less than the ones that are offered new.

Opportunity cost

GICs are safe, guaranteed investments for the most part. However, they have historically underperformed other investments like the stock market over time.

It is important to understand that the guaranteed rate of return element with a GIC comes with sacrificed long-term returns offered by other investments. So, make sure they suit your investment goals.

How GICs Work

When an investor purchases a GIC, they essentially lend money to a financial institution in exchange for a return on their investment, typically through the accrual of interest.

That financial institution will then lend that money out via other methods to earn a profit. The money they earn from the loan or product they've issued on your money is called a spread relative to what they're paying you. If they pay you 5% and loan the money out at 6%, the spread would be 1%.

What is the downside of a GIC?

While GICs offer security and predictable returns, there are some potential downsides for investors to consider. 

Inflationary risks and opportunity cost

Firstly, the interest rates on GICs, even though they may rise in response to overarching economic conditions, are generally lower compared to other investment vehicles. Therefore, while they can protect the principal and provide stable gains, the returns may not keep pace with inflation, affecting an investor's purchasing power in the long term.

Simple versus compound interest

When discussing interest, GICs often provide a fixed interest return, which means they apply simple interest and not compound interest. Simple interest is calculated as a percentage of the principal only, whereas compound interest calculates interest on the original principal as well as on the accumulated interest of previous periods. 

The absence of compounding can limit the growth potential of the investment. This makes GICs less suitable for those seeking to maximize their investment growth over time.

Benefits and Considerations for GICs

Not every product is right for every type of investor. As such, you should weigh the benefits of a GIC on your overall portfolio with the considerations and risks present with GICs.

Benefits:

  • Stable Returns: GICs provide fixed interest rates, guaranteeing a predictable return on one's investment over the term of the GIC.
  • Insurance: Most GICs are insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) up to a certain limit, which adds an additional layer of security.
  • Diversification: They can serve as a low-risk component in a diversified portfolio, complementing other more volatile investments.
  • Accessibility: They often require a low minimum investment, making them accessible to a wide range of investors.

Considerations:

  • Interest Rates: The interest rates for GICs are typically lower than the returns on more aggressive investments. The best GIC rates in Canada vary, reflecting current economic conditions and market rates.
  • Liquidity: GICs often come with a fixed term, which means the money is not accessible until the end of the term without incurring penalties. This makes GICs less suitable for investors seeking short investment horizons.
  • Inflation Risk: If the interest rate of the GIC doesn't keep pace with inflation, there's a risk the investment may not yield a real return, effectively reducing purchasing power.
  • Interest Payment Options: Investors must decide how they wish to receive the interest (e.g., monthly, annually), which can affect the compounding benefits and the overall return.

Types of GICs

Redeemable and Cashable GICs

Redeemable GICs offer the flexibility to access invested funds before the maturity date without a significant penalty. They are particularly suitable for investors who might need to liquidate their investments in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Pros of redeemable GICs:

  • Principle is still guaranteed
  • Guaranteed rate of return
  • Early withdrawals in case of emergencies

Cons of redeemable GICs:

  • Much lower rates of return compared to non-redeemable GICs
  • There can be penalties and fees if you cash out

Non-Redeemable GICs

In contrast, non-redeemable GICs have higher interest rates but require investors to commit their funds for the entire term. 

This makes them a good choice for those who do not need immediate access to their investment and can wait to reap the benefits at maturity.

Pros of non-redeemable GICs:

  • Often, the highest rate of return
  • A wider variety of term lengths

Cons of redeemable GICs:

  • No liquidity
  • Because funds are non-redeemable, they are more exposed to interest rate/inflation risk

Registered GICs

Registered GICs are a bit confusing. There isn't really any difference in the structure of the GIC itself. Instead, it just depends on the account you have it held in.

Registered GICs are designed to be held within registered accounts like RRSPs, RRIFs, or TFSAs and not in non-registered accounts like margin or cash accounts.

Registered GICs vs. non-registered GICs considers tax advantages such as deferred or potentially tax-free growth, contributing to their popularity among Canadian savers planning for long-term financial goals.

Pros of Registered GICs:

  • Tax-free growth

Cons of redeemable GICs:

  • Although tax-free, one could achieve higher long-term returns with other investments that are also tax-free

Market-Linked GICs

Market-linked GICs' returns are tied to the performance of a specific market index, like the S&P/TSX Composite Index, offering the potential for higher returns while protecting the principal invested. 

These are suitable for those who are willing to take on more risk for possibly higher gains but still want the safety of a GIC.

However, it is important to note that these GICs are mainly beneficial to the banks, as they often cap the returns at a certain percentage of the returns of the market.

Yes, you will still get your entire principal back in the event the market goes down. But if the market goes up, you can pretty much guarantee you won't be reaping the full benefits.

Pros of Registered GICs:

  • Possible higher returns than many other GICs if the market goes up
  • If the market goes down, the principal is still guaranteed

Cons of redeemable GICs:

  • Lack of liquidity
  • There are often capped participation rates. If the market goes up more than what your rate is, you miss out on those returns

Choosing the right GIC term

When selecting a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC), understanding the term length is critical because it directly affects the interest rate and accessibility of your funds.

Suppose you choose the wrong length of time. In that case, it can put you in a tricky situation, especially in the case of a non-redeemable GIC, as the money will not be accessible until maturity unless you can prove severe financial hardship.

Short-Term GICs

Short-term GICs typically range from 30 days to one year and are suitable for investors who anticipate needing their capital in the near future. 

They offer flexibility and lower interest rates when compared to their longer-term counterparts. 

The one important thing when looking at short-term GICs is that rates will more than likely be annualized. So, don't get tricked into thinking you're earning more on a 30-day GIC than you think you are.

Pros of Short-Term GICs:

  • More liquidity due to short-term maturities
  • Great for those who need cash in the next 30-360 days

Cons of Short-Term GICs:

  • Lower interest rates at the expense of higher liquidity

Long-Term GICs

Long-term GICs, on the other hand, generally span from one year to five years or more. They tend to provide higher interest rates as compensation for locking in funds for a longer duration. 

Investors with a horizon that extends beyond the immediate future can benefit from the increased earning potential that typically comes with longer terms.

Long-term GICs may also include options like laddering, where multiple GICs with staggered maturity dates are used to balance the availability of funds with the desire to earn higher interest rates over time.

Pros of Long-Term GICs:

  • Higher rates of return than short-term GICs
  • Can construct GIC ladders to amplify returns

Cons of Long-Term GICs:

  • Lack of liquidity
  • More exposed to inflation/interest rate risk
  • The longer the term, the higher the opportunity cost of alternate investments

GICs in registered accounts

I felt the need to add a section on this, primarily because there is some confusion about what exactly a registered GIC is versus a non-registered GIC.

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) can be an integral part of one's investment strategy, especially within registered accounts like Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs), Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP), and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs). 

These instruments offer a unique blend of security and tax-advantaged growth.

There are some institutions that have GICs that are made specifically for registered accounts and may actually pay you a different rate of interest over a non-registered GIC.

TFSAs allow investors to earn tax-free interest, which can complement the fixed interest rates provided by GICs.

For long-term savings, RRSPs come into play. By holding a GIC within an RRSP, investors benefit from tax-deferred growth, making it a suitable avenue for retirement savings.

GICs in registered accounts often require a minimum investment, which can vary depending on the financial institution. 

Investors should always verify if a GIC is eligible for registered accounts and identify whether it's non-redeemable or redeemable. The latter offers flexibility in access to funds, which might be important for some investors' cash flow planning. 

Strategies for GICs

You'd think GICs are about as basic as it gets. However, there are some intricacies to them, and you can take advantage of particular strategies to come out ahead.

GIC Laddering

A GIC ladder is a method where multiple GICs with different maturity dates are purchased to provide both interest rate risk management and liquidity. 

This involves buying GICs that mature at staggered intervals, typically yearly, over a cycle such as five years. When each GIC matures, it is then reinvested into a new long-term GIC at the current interest rates.

Balancing GICs and other investments

GICs are often considered a lower-risk investment, which can be a stable foundation in a diversified portfolio. However, it is pretty uncommon for someone's portfolio to be purely GICs.

They are typically balanced with higher-risk investments to achieve an investor's desired risk tolerance. 

An effective portfolio may complement GICs with equities, bonds, or mutual funds, which have the potential for higher returns but also come with greater risk.

Ultimately, it is up to you to compare potential assets, such as GICs vs. mutual funds, pros and cons, and determine how much of your portfolio you'd like to allocate to each asset.

How much of my portfolio should be in GICs?

The portion of a portfolio that should be allocated to GICs varies depending on an investor's age, risk tolerance, and financial goals. 

Depending on the interest rate environment at any given time, many people wonder, are GICs worth it? Generally, a more conservative strategy as one approaches retirement may increase the weight of GICs. Younger investors, or those with a longer timeframe and higher risk tolerance, might allocate less to GICs in favour of growth-oriented investments.

Understanding CDIC insurance

Whether you're buying a GIC or simply depositing money into a chequing account at an institution, being informed about the protection offered by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) is key.

CDIC-Insured financial products

The CDIC acts as a safety net for Canadian depositors, offering insurance on eligible deposits up to $100,000 per category at each member institution. Specifically, CDIC insurance covers several types of financial products, including:

  • Savings accounts
  • Chequing accounts
  • Term deposits
  • Money orders, certified cheques, and bank drafts issued by member institutions
  • Accounts that hold funds in trust

For individuals holding GICs or other deposits at a Canadian bank or financial institution, verifying that the entity is a CDIC member institution is essential, as it isn't necessarily guaranteed.

Being knowledgeable about CDIC insurance ensures that individuals and businesses make informed decisions about where and how to secure their deposits, recognizing which products are protected against the potential insolvency of a financial institution.

For more detailed information on CDIC deposit insurance and the exact coverage limits, individuals are encouraged to refer to CDIC's official guidelines.

FAQs and resources

What is the average return on a GIC?

GIC interest rates are now higher than normal due to higher policy rates. However, during the low-rate environment we have witnessed since the financial crisis 2008, GICs have not offered attractive returns. So the answer truly is it depends.

The average return on a GIC can vary depending on the interest rates offered by the financial institutions and the term of the investment. 

In Canada, short-term GICs typically offer lower interest rates, while long-term GICs might have higher rates, rewarding investors for locking in their money for an extended period.

Is a GIC better than a High-Interest Savings Account?

A GIC typically offers a higher interest rate than a high-interest savings account because the investment is locked in for a set period. 

This could mean more substantial gains over time. However, they lack the liquidity of a savings account, making them better suited for individuals who can afford to set aside money for a fixed term.

What is considered a good GIC rate?

A good GIC rate typically exceeds the rate of inflation and offers returns that are competitive relative to other fixed-income investments. In Canada's current financial environment, any rate that preserves the purchasing power of the invested funds is considered favourable.