Canadian account types

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A list of different accounts available in Canada with links to finiki/wiki pages.

Bank accounts

Banks and credit unions as well as some life insurance companies offer a scale of monthly fees depending on how many services and transactions you need. They often waive these fees for maintaining a minimum balance on every day throughout the month. With low interest rates it is a good idea to maintain this minimum balance. Some banks have recently started charging for paper statements while offering the online only statements for free.

  • Chequing: You can write cheques and deposit money. Usually pays lower interest, if any.
  • Savings: Used for regular savings. Pays more interest than chequing. Usually banks have a no-fee option for this type of account.

Investment accounts

You can buy investments using a variety of sources. The type of account and where it is held determines what kind of investments you can buy.

  • Bank based: Banks can usually sell limited types of investments that can be held in a variety of accounts. The investments are usually restricted to mutual funds and Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs). These account types are available from other sources listed below.
  • Discount brokerage based: Usually the widest variety of account and investment types. Discount brokers do not give advice on what investments to hold, but usually offer lower fees. Can hold stocks, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, GICs, etc..
    • Cash account: A non-registered account where income generated is taxable.
    • Margin account: Same as above but you can borrow money to buy investments. The amount you can borrow depends on the type of investment, e.g., you need to deposit 30% of the current price to buy most Canadian stocks.
    • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) account: You can transfer in money, and place it in a variety of investments, depending on whom you hold the account with. With a bank account, you are limited to that bank's mutual funds and GICs. With a discount brokerage, you can buy stocks, bonds and mutual funds, as well as GICs. RRSP deposits attract a tax credit.
      • Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA): Similar to above but the money is locked in till a certain age, usually 65, unless there is a hardship. e.g., a life-threatening illness.
    • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) account: Similar to RRSP but is used at the withdrawal stage of life. Withdrawals are taxed at source.
    • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA): All income from this account is tax free.
    • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) account: Savings for education with government grants.
    • Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) account: Savings for the disabled with government grants.
  • Full service brokerage based: Can hold the same investments as a discount brokerage but offers advice and therefore charges higher commissions and fees.
  • Mutual fund dealer: Similar to a full-service brokerage, but cannot offer stocks ETFs and bonds.

Borrowing accounts

These are all available from banks but some other financial companies offer them as well.

  • Line of credit: You can open one of these at a bank and borrow money as needed.
  • Mortgage: This is a loan secured by real estate. Usually from banks but other companies offer them as well.
  • Credit card: A convenient means to pay for purchases in many stores and online. The balance must be paid in full every month otherwise high interest charges will apply. In contrast, no interest can be charged on debit card transactions.

Other accounts

  • Corporate: Business accounts.
  • Foreign currency: Most banks offer US dollar accounts to facilitate cross border banking. Some offer accounts in other currencies as well.


External links