The past 10 years have been a lost decade for savers as interest rates plummeted and stayed at historic lows. A so-called high interest savings account at one of Canada’s big banks pay next to nothing for interest. Meanwhile those looking for higher rates on their deposits have to chase short-term promotional offers at online banks and out-of-province credit unions just to stay ahead of inflation.

Luckily the tide is starting to turn thanks to the Bank of Canada raising its key interest rate on five occasions in the past 15 months. While debtors bemoan the 1.25 percent increase over that time, savers are cheering for higher rates on their deposits.

High Interest Savings Account Comparison

Canadian High Interest Savings Account Comparison

It had been some time since I surveyed the market to compare high interest savings accounts rates. What I found was much of the same from Canada’s big banks, whose best rates range from a paltry 0.5 percent to 1.2 percent on a high interest savings account.

RBC’s eSavings account is easily the best of the bunch for everyday deposits, paying a decent 1.2 percent on every dollar with no monthly fees or minimum deposits required. The account also includes one free ATM cash withdrawal per month.

Bank Account Interest rate %
RBC High Interest eSavings Account 1.20
Scotiabank Momentum Plus Savings Account 1.05
CIBC eAdvantage Savings Account 1.05*
BMO Smart Saver 0.80
TD High Interest Savings Account 0.50*

* $5,000 minimum balance required

In the middle of the rate pack you’ll find online banking pioneers Tangerine and Simplii Financial (formerly PC Financial), plus other household names such as Manulife and Canadian Tire Bank.

At the top of the online competitors we have EQ Bank, which pays a healthy 2.30%* everyday interest rate on its savings deposits. The EQ Bank Savings Plus Account comes with no monthly fees, no minimum balance, and acts as a chequing account with unlimited transactions, including free bill payments and unlimited free Interac e-Transfers® per month.

Bank Account Interest rate %
EQ Bank EQ Bank Savings Plus Account 2.30*
Alterna Bank High Interest eSavings Account 2.25
Canadian Tire High Interest Savings Account 1.50
Manulife Bank Advantage Account 1.40
Simplii Financial High Interest Savings Account 1.25
Tangerine Savings Account 1.25

Finally, I’d be remiss not to include a section on credit unions, which for years have offered some of the highest interest rates on savings accounts in the country. The trouble is that savers often need to look beyond their provincial borders to take advantage of these higher rates.

Indeed, some of the best interest rates today are offered by little known Manitoba credit unions. Topping the list (and the country) is Manitoba’s largest credit union, Steinbach, which pays an incredible 2.65 percent on its regular savings account. Not too far behind is Winnipeg’s AcceleRate Financial, which pays 2.35 percent on its high interest savings account.

The Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba guarantees all deposits. Canadian residents outside of Manitoba can open an account with a Manitoba credit union by becoming a member and providing additional supporting documentation with their application.

Manitoba Credit Union Account Interest rate %
Steinbach Regular Savings 2.65
AcceleRate High Interest Savings 2.35
Achieva Daily Interest Savings 2.15
Outlook High Interest Savings Account 2.15
Implicity High Interest Savings Account 2.15

Ontario also has its share of credit unions that offer competitive rates on savings accounts among other products. Pacing the field is Alterna Bank, an online offshoot of Alterna Savings, which has 33 locations across Ontario. Alterna offers a high interest eSavings account at 2.25 percent.

Ontario Credit Union Account Interest rate %
Alterna High Interest eSavings 2.25
Meridian High Interest Savings 1.50
IC Savings Investment Savings 1.25

The verdict

Many of the above listed banks, online banks, and credit unions typically offer promotional interest rates upwards of 3 percent or more for short periods of time. A savvy customer with the time and inclination could stay ahead of the curve by moving their savings around every few months.

A less complicated solution is to park your money with a bank that consistently offers an everyday high interest rate at or near the top of the market with no hassles. For my money today, that’s the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account at 2.30% interest*.

*Interest is calculated daily on the total closing balance and paid monthly. Rates are per annum and subject to change without notice.

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13 Comments

  1. Ashley on November 6, 2018 at 7:06 am

    I’ve been using EQ since the beginning. The interface is not the greatest and can be glitchy and slow but I’ll take the slight annoyances for a healthy rate.

    • Robb Engen on November 6, 2018 at 9:33 am

      Right on, Ashley. Same here, and I’ve found the interface and features have gotten better over time.

  2. JimK on November 6, 2018 at 9:29 am

    The BMO HISA offers a higher rate than the one shown above (0.80%). As of today (Nov. 6th, 2018) BMO HISA rates are:

    AAT770 (High Interest Savings): 1.35% for CAD
    AAT780: 1.45% for USD.

    Not terrible, but not bad.

    • Robb Engen on November 6, 2018 at 9:45 am

      Hi Jim, thanks for this. The rates I looked at are all from every day savings accounts, not the ones listed on the discount brokerage side of the house.

  3. Ashley on November 6, 2018 at 9:38 am

    I just discovered Wealth One Bank of Canada, whom I have a small amount of money with also, seems to be at 2.30% as well. I tried to see if this was a promotional rate but it appears to be the regular one for its’ HISA. It was lower than that as of recently.

  4. John Gangl on November 6, 2018 at 8:43 pm

    I have used the AcceleRate Financial’s Savings Account for a number of years, it works great. You can look on the Cannex web site for rates, some parts of the website you have to pay to use it.

  5. Betty Therriault on November 6, 2018 at 10:55 pm

    Rob I can’t find the credit card you are referring to. No fee, good for use at Costco
    4% on Groceries. etc. Can you direct me?

  6. DARRELL F WELLS on November 7, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    Robb, you may be aware, but I don’t see it mentioned above: Tangerine has a 3.00% HISA rate program as an incentive for newbie clients, that reverts to 2.75% after 6 months. You can then renew (by phoning in) every 3 months or it reverts to their standard posted rate. The rate they promise you is leveraged by the amount you are willing/able to provide them. I’ve been on this pgm for a few years now, and we love reaping the extra $$ beyond the paltry rates offered by the Big 5. Cheers, terrific site, regular reader, over & out ..!! Darrell ~

  7. Owen @ PlanEasy.ca on November 8, 2018 at 9:39 am

    Savers rejoice! Higher interest rates are finally back!

    We’ve been riding the promo wave for the last year or so. Between Simplii and Tangerine we’ve been above 2.75% for most of the year. We just switched our emergency fund to Simplii which is offering 3.15%.

  8. Claire on November 10, 2018 at 6:10 pm

    Can you or your readers advise which (if any) of these higher-interest accounts is available as a joint account? For me and my husband, this is a deal-breaker.

    I’ve looked into higher-interest accounts before with smaller institutions. So far I’ve invariably discovered that they don’t offer joint accounts “just yet”. This information is rarely available up front — you have to dig for it.

    For example, the EQ Bank Savings Plus Account sounds amazing. The FAQ for the account, which gives a detailed breakout of the account’s fees and features, says nothing about the availability (or non-availability) of a joint option. After poking around a bit I found the bank’s overall FAQ, which says: “We don’t offer joint accounts at this time.”

    If you could include this information in such articles in future, that would be super helpful for that portion of your readership that, for whatever reason, prefers to use joint accounts.

  9. Karen on November 11, 2018 at 7:41 am

    An excellent point, Clare. Thank you so much for sharing your comment. I have been thinking seriously about moving one of our savings accounts to EQ Bank. The fact that they don’t offer joint accounts is a crucial disadvantage for some of us. My husband and I are approaching an age where we must consider the scenario of one of us passing away and having joint accounts just makes the financial transition so much easier. Frozen savings accounts can be very inconvenient at the very least. The offering of joint accounts, for us and I”m sure others as well, is an important consideration when changing to any of these other financial institutions.

  10. Joel on November 11, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Robb, Peoples Trust is paying 1.65% which would place them third on the list of “online” banks. Pretty sure I switched to them from Tangerine a few years back based of your recommendation!

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