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Interest Rates On RRSP & GICS

3 min read

interest rates on RRSPs and GICs

Written By

Brandi Marcene

Do you know saving money for retirement in Canada is backbreaking these days? The impact of inflation over the past few years has gotten the Canadians pretty bad, making it hard to even think of setting money aside for the future. Despite the current ease in the inflation rate, around 50% of the population is unsure of their retirement budget.

In this situation, it is really hard to expect that people will get retirement from their jobs after 65. After witnessing the current situation, we can only say that the average age of retirement for Canadians can stretch to 75 or 80 because the majority thinks their savings are not enough to make it up to the average retirement savings.

On the other hand, government-offered retirement plans like the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), etc., are not enough to provide people with the financial security they wish for the retirement age.

If you imagine yourself to have the bare minimum after your 70s and work till your bones give up, then you will have to depend on the government-offered plans. But if you imagine yourself to have a comfortable and financially secure future, you have to take other options like the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) or Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC).

Many Canadians would prefer to keep financial security as their top priority and not risk their financial stability with government plans. If you are among them, you will make saving money for retirement a goal, and in order to achieve this goal, you will plan ahead.

When it comes to retirement savings, one of the most influential factors that adds up to your nest egg is compound interest, but what is meant by the term? For beginners who just entered the savings domain, compound interest in investment is the interest added to your initial investment and to your other accumulated interests.

When you get interest on interest, the savings are doubled or tripled. Isn’t this great? Retirement savings tools like the RRSP and the GIC use this formula to make savings. That’s why it is important for beginners to understand the concept of interest rates on RRSP and GIC.

Interest rates act as the growth engine for your retirement savings. They determine how much your money earns over time, significantly impacting the final value you accumulate by retirement. By understanding how interest rates work and their impact on RRSPs and GICs, you can make decisions that maximize your retirement savings and achieve your financial goals.

With the help of this guide, you will be able to learn more about interest rates. We will further elaborate on their role in both RRSPs and GICs. Let's discuss the different types of interest, factors affecting rates, and how to compare options to maximize your returns. Additionally, we'll provide valuable investment advice to help you for a financially secure and prosperous retirement.

What Are RRSPs?

The RRSP is an investment account that is offered by financial institutions and investment firms. These accounts work like your regular savings account but are tax-sheltered. Being an investor, you don't have to worry about the security of your investment as it is a government-registered investment account designed specifically for Canadians to save for their retirements.

Unlike loans, where your credit history is everything to determine whether you are eligible or not to get a loan passed, RRSP does not require your credit report. However, certain investment options within this account require your creditworthiness.

For example, if your investment strategy is to take a loan from a brokerage firm to spare some money for your RRSP contribution, you will need a good credit score. For this purpose, you can create a free credit score report through authentic online sources to show to the brokerage firms. However, this is a risky strategy to invest in and is not recommended!

RRSPs offer several key features and tax benefits that make them a helpful tool for saving money and building your retirement nest egg. Let’s discuss some of its key features and tax benefits:

The Key Features Of RRSP

If we come to understand the actual workings of a RRSP, it becomes necessary for us to learn what characteristics make it different:

● First of all, the major feature that sets an RRSP apart from other retirement savings accounts or investment accounts is its tax-deductible contributions. Your contributions to your RRSP each year reduce your taxable income annually, potentially lowering your tax bill.

● The second major feature of RRSP is its tax-sheltered growth. The money you contribute to your RRSP and any investment earnings it generates grow tax-free until the maturity date when you withdraw it. The tax-sheltered growth helps compound your savings at a faster rate compared to non-registered accounts.

● The third key feature and the most promising one are the flexible investment options. RRSP comes with options like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and GICs. In this way, you can take charge of your investment strategy by choosing from the options according to your individual risk tolerance and financial goals.

● Last, there are certain contribution limits for RRSPs paid annually, and these are imposed by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). These limits change each year without prior notice, so be mindful of this. You can find the most up-to-date information on the CRA website.

The Tax Benefits Of Contribution To RRSPs

As we said earlier, RRSP offers a tax-sheltered account, so you have to relax with this account when it comes to paying taxes. Here are some perks you can enjoy with your RRSP:

● An RRSP saves you from a huge tax bill because by contributing to your RRSP, you reduce your taxable income for the year. It potentially puts you in a lower tax bracket and saves on your taxes.

● Another tax benefit to enjoy with an RRSP is that it offers tax-free growth. The money and any earnings within your RRSP grow tax-free until paid at maturity in retirement. This allows for faster accumulation of your retirement savings.

What Are GICs?

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), also known as investment products for retirement, are low-risk investment products offered by banks and credit unions. These are offered directly by the Canadian government but are regulated by regulatory bodies. As far as the concerns are for their security, while the government does not offer them, they play a part in ensuring the stability of the financial system.

This part impacts the security of GICs, making them a good option for investment. For example, the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) insures term deposits held in eligible institutions, including GICs, up to a certain limit. This provides protection to investors in case the issuing financial institution faces financial difficulties.

In order to get your GIC application approved, you might be required to submit your SIN, Government-issued photo ID, etc., or bank statement, etc. However, in some cases, the issuer might ask you to submit your credit report.

For example, if you are going for a Linked GIC that is tied to the performance of underlying assets like stocks, mutual funds, or bonds. Some issuers might use your credit score to assess your suitability for holding such products, especially if they involve borrowing elements. If you want to stay ahead of your credit performance, build your credit with KOHO. It helps you track your spending habits and get you on track to have a good credit history.

However, there are certain key characteristics that will tell you how does a GIC work and how you can take maximum benefits out of it.

The Key Characteristics Of GICs

Read on to learn about the major features that make GICs one of the best investment options to consider for your retirement:

● First of all, let's tell you what exactly it guarantees. As the name suggests, a GIC offers a guaranteed rate of maximum return on your investment, regardless of market fluctuations. This makes it a low-risk option compared to stocks and mutual funds, which subject to change with market volatility.

● The second most intriguing characteristic of a GIC is that it is a fixed-term investment. GICs come with a predetermined term length, ranging from a few months to several years. During this period, your money is locked in, and you cannot withdraw it without facing penalties.

● The last best characteristic of a GIC is that it comes with minimum investment requirements. Let's say GICs typically have minimum investment requirements, which changes according to the financial institution and the term length.

The Benefits of GICs

If you want to know what benefits you by investing in GICs, the simple answer is low risk and peace of mind. Here are some perks of GICs that you get to enjoy:

● GICs are considered a safe investment option as the principal amount, and the promised interest are guaranteed by the issuing financial institution.

● With a fixed interest rate, you know exactly how much your investment will earn over the term, providing predictable returns.

● GICs are available in various terms, interest rates, and minimum investment amounts, allowing you to choose an option that goes with your financial condition and risk tolerance.

What Are Interest Rates?

Interest rates make a huge impact in shaping your financial future. You can't ignore the importance of interest rates, especially when it is about your secure retirement. Further, we will discuss the types of interest rates, exploring their mechanics, influencing factors, and their impact on your retirement savings. By understanding interest rates comprehensively, you can make informed investment decisions and maximize the growth of your retirement plan.

Why Are The Interest Rates Important?

RRSP, GIC, and RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund) are all dependent upon the interest rate, and the interest is what makes them so worthy. Interest rates are arguably the single most important factor that influences the growth of your retirement savings in both RRSPs and GICs. Before investing in such accounts, you often determine what interest rate each account offers and usually choose the one with the highest interest rates. Let’s see how interest rates affect retirement plans.

The interest rate on the RRSP or the GIC acts as the catalyst that drives the future of your retirement savings. It determines how much your money earns over time and ultimately impacts the final amount you accumulate by retirement. Here's how interest rates play a vital role in both types of accounts:

The Importance Of Interest Rate In RRSP

As we already know, RRSPs use the power of compound interest, which allows your earnings to also earn interest. This compounding significantly accelerates the growth of your retirement savings. This means the higher interest rates turn into greater returns on both your contributions and accumulated earnings, leading to a larger

On the other hand, it offers a tax-sheltered environment of RRSPs, allowing your money to grow tax-free until withdrawal. This, combined with compound interest, creates a powerful tax-advantaged growth engine for your retirement savings. However, even within the tax-sheltered environment, higher interest rates will still lead to faster growth compared to lower rates.

The Importance Of Interest Rate On GICs

Again, as the name suggests, GICs offer guaranteed interest rates, providing certainty about your returns over the chosen term. While market volatility might impact other investments, GICs offer peace of mind, knowing your principal and the promised interest are guaranteed by the issuing institution.

However, the overall growth of your retirement savings in GICs is directly tied to the offered interest rate. Higher rates lead to greater guaranteed returns, while lower rates result in slower growth.

At last, when you know how your interest rates affect your retirement plans, you make informed decisions, making your retirement secure and avoiding potential risks and loss.

Types of Interest

If you are a finance person or deeply understand how financial institutions work, you might know about interest and its types. But if you don't know, don't worry. We are here to help you make your basics strong. There are two primary ways interest is calculated: simple interest and compound interest. So, if you understand the differences between these two concepts, no one can stop you from maximizing your benefits.

1 - Simple Interest

Simple interest is a straightforward fee that a lender charges a borrower for loaning money. In other words, think of it like a flat fee charged for borrowing money. For example, if you are using a virtual credit card, which basically lends you money to make purchases online, you will charge a small amount at the end of your credit cycle. This small amount that you pay to take the service is called simple interest. It is calculated by multiplying the principal amount (the initial amount you invest) by the interest rate and the time period.

Formula: Simple Interest = Principal x Interest Rate x Time

While simple interest provides a basic return, it has a significant limitation for growing wealth: it only earns interest on the initial principal, not on the accumulated interest. This means your earnings don't grow exponentially, limiting the overall growth potential of your investment.

2 - The Annual Compound Interest

Compound interest, on the other hand, is the true fuel for wealth creation. It's often referred to as "interest on interest" because it not only earns interest on the initial principal but also on the accumulated interests. This creates a snowball effect, where your earnings grow exponentially over time, significantly amplifying your returns.

Formula: Compound Interest = Principal x (1 + Interest Rate)^Time

For example, consider an investment of $1,000, earning 5% annual interest. With simple interest, you would earn $50 each year. However, with compound interest, your earnings grow in each subsequent year:

● Year 1: $1,000 x 5% = $50 earned, total amount = $1,050

● Year 2: $1,050 x 5% = $52.50 earned, total amount = $1,102.50

● Year 3: $1,102.50 x 5% = $55.13 earned, total amount = $1,157.63

As you can see, compounding works to accelerate your wealth accumulation significantly compared to simple interest. Over longer periods, the difference in returns can be substantial, making compound interest a sole factor for maximizing your retirement savings.

The Factors Affecting Interest Rates

Obviously, like any other financial system known to mankind, interest rates are calculated on the basis of certain factors. While we know interest rates play a very important part in your retirement journey, they are not set out of thin air. The following several factors influence them, impacting the returns you can expect from various investment options.

The Market Conditions

The overall economic climate significantly impacts interest rates or market performance. Factors like inflation, the national debt, and the bank rate set by the central bank (Bank of Canada, in our case) all help in determining the interest rates offered by financial institutions. Generally, higher inflation leads to higher interest rates to curb inflation, while a stronger economy can lead you towards a higher interest rates due to increased demand for borrowing.

The GIC Term Length

The length of time you commit your money to a GIC also influences the interest rate you receive. Generally, longer GIC terms offer higher interest rates because financial institutions can offer more attractive rates when they have access to your funds for a longer period. This allows them to invest your money more efficiently and potentially offer you a higher return.

RRSP vs. Non-Registered Accounts

The type of account you choose for your investments also affects the effective interest rate you experience. RRSPs offer a significant tax advantage. While the interest rate might appear similar to a non-registered account, the tax-sheltered environment of an RRSP allows your interest to grow without tax until withdrawal. This can significantly boost your returns compared to a non-registered account, where your earnings are compounded annually.

The Comparison Of Interest Rates on RRSPs & GICs

Interest is the single most important factor that comes into every aspect of your retirement journey. This important factor pushed your savings forward while impacting the growth potential of your investments. Here, we see how RRSPs and GICs are affected by interest rates and how these two tools help you build a secure retirement.

The Current GIC Rates

As of today (February 28, 2024), GIC rates offered by various financial institutions in Canada can change at any time depending on the term length, minimum investment, and the institution itself. However, we found the following rates on the official page of Scotia Bank, Canada:

Featured GIC rates:

● 4.00%1, On a 24-month term (annual rate), Personal Redeemable GICs

● 5.00%1, On an 18-month term (annual rate), Non Redeemable GIC rates are shown.

● 10.00%** up to 50.00%†, Over a 5-year term; not an annual rate (could be semi annual), Market Linked GICs, Scotiabank Canadian Top 60

Note: It's important to compare rates from different banks to find the best option for your needs.

Additionally, some institutions offer non-redeemable GICs, which lock your money in for the entire term but may offer potentially higher interest rates in return for the lack of early access. However, these come with the risk of missing out on potentially better investment opportunities during the locked-in period.

The Interest Rates For RRSP & GICs

While the above rates are from a single bank, RRSPs offer a unique advantage when it comes to GICs. As we know, RRSP contributions are tax-deductible, and the interest earned on your investments grows tax-free until withdrawal in retirement. This creates a compounding effect on your returns, allowing your money to accelerate compared to non-registered plans.

For example, consider a 5-year GIC offering a 4.50% interest rate in both an RRSP and a non-registered account. Assuming you're in the highest tax bracket (33%), the effective interest rate in the non-registered plan would be 3.01% (4.50% initial rate * (1 - 33% tax)).

In contrast, the tax-free growth in the RRSP allows the full 4.50% interest rate to be paid semi annually, resulting in a potentially higher return over the 5-year term. This implies that RRSPs work like a Tax Free Savings Account TFSA, and if you want to know more about the option, please feel free to explore the TFSA vs RRSP comparison.

Choosing the Right Option - RRSPs vs. GICs

Both RRSPs and GICs offer valuable advantages for retirement planning, but the best choice for you is according to your individual circumstances and risk tolerance:


The benefits include:

● Tax-deductible contributions that reduce your current tax bill that is paid monthly.

● Tax-free growth as in the Interest and maximum investment earnings grow tax-free until withdrawal.

● Offering flexibility with a wide range of investment options beyond GICs with minimum investment amount.

The drawbacks include:

● There are contribution limits, let’s say, annual limits on how much you can contribute.

● The worst part ever is that the withdrawals are taxed as income.


The benefits include:

● GICs offer guaranteed returns as they have a fixed interest rate and guarantee your principal investment.

● This is a low-risk and considered a safe investment option due to guaranteed returns.

● It offers a variety of terms to suit your investment goals.

The drawbacks include:

● It offers a limited growth potential compared to other options like stocks or mutual funds.

● You have to clear your interest payment on the early withdrawal penalties, as it might apply if you need to access your money before the term ends.

Just when you are about to make the decision, consider the following factors and ask these questions yourself:

● What is your time horizon and desired return on investment?

● Are you comfortable with the potential volatility of other investment options?

● Do you need the flexibility to access your money before retirement?

If by any chance you are unable to make a decision yourself or you are unable to wrap your head around things, do consider a financial advisor to help you analyze your specific needs and risk tolerance to recommend the most suitable option for your retirement savings strategy.

Investment Advice for Maximizing Returns

Maximizing your retirement savings requires a strategic approach that goes beyond simply choosing between RRSPs and GICs. And nothing is better than diversifying your investment portfolio across various asset classes. This helps you save yourself from any potential risks. Please explore the following options for maximizing your returns and enjoying retirement:

1. If you're saving for a child's education, Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) offers tax-sheltered growth and valuable government grants on your interest paid. On the other side, there are plans like the Registered disability savings plan (RDSP) that are helpful for special people.

2. While offering lower returns compared to stocks and bonds, high-interest savings accounts can provide a safe and accessible place to store your emergency fund or short-term savings.

3. Stocks and mutual funds offer a potentially higher return but also come with greater risk.


We hope you like our discussion on RRSPs and GICs and the recurring interest rates they both bring to your table. You can open an RRSP to leverage tax benefits and explore various investment options within the account. Or, you can consider GICs as a low-risk option to secure your principal and earn a guaranteed return.

Note: KOHO product information and/or features may have been updated since this blog post was published. Please refer to our KOHO Plans page for our most up to date account information!


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