High-interest savings account

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High-interest savings accounts (HISA) are bank accounts offering a rate much higher than traditional daily savings accounts. In Canada, there are two types of HISA, a savings account offered by financial institutions such as banks (including virtual banks) and credit unions and fund-based savings accounts offered by discount brokerages.

Conventional high-interest savings accounts

Conventional HISAs[1] are bank accounts offering a rate higher than traditional daily savings accounts. These high-interest accounts are generally considered to have been introduced in Canada by ING Canada, now Tangerine, in 1997, which was one of the first "virtual banks" (with no branches), and offered significantly greater interest than the savings accounts then offered by major banks. Several other providers entered the market later. The following table lists such institutions popular on the Financial Wisdom Forum:

Institution Owned by CDIC coverage and membership
Canadian Direct Financial Canadian Western Bank (TSX: CWB) Yes, part of Canadian Western Bank[2][note 1]
Canadian Tire Bank Canadian Tire Corp (TSX: CTC.A) Yes
ICICI Bank Canada ICICI Bank Limited, of India Yes
Oaken Financial Home Capital Group (TSX: HCG) Yes, part of Home Trust[3]
Peoples Trust Privately owned Yes
President's Choice Financial Loblaw Companies Limited (TSX: L) Yes, part of CIBC[4]
Tangerine Scotiabank (TSX: BNS) Yes
Zag Bank Desjardins Group Yes

These institutions also typically offer Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) and often Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs). While these are all CDIC insured institutions, there are also online high-interest savings accounts offered by divisions of Manitoba credit unions, covered by provincial deposit insurance. Current rates for many HISA accounts can be found at Cannex or Canadian high interest savings account: Comparison chart. The latter indicates which accounts are available in Quebec and which institutions are credit unions.

Traditional institutions now offer similar plans, although they often have minimum balance requirements or transaction fees designed to prevent them from being a direct replacement for a general savings account. The following list contains links to savings account options, including HISAs, at the big-6 Canadian banks:

The account sponsor should be contacted for the details on establishing the account, transferring funds, account minimum, deposit insurance and other requirements.

Although these accounts may be suitable for normal savings account use, some of them are not eligible for use in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), nor are they convenient for holding day-to-day funds at brokerage accounts, and the Investment Savings Accounts mentioned below are an alternative for those purposes.


  1. If you’re a CWB customer, it’s important to know that your deposits at CWB will be combined with your deposits at CDF when considering the CDIC maximum coverage limitation.

Fund-based investment savings accounts

Fund-based investment savings accounts (ISA) are high-interest money-market fund (MMF) alternatives offered by some deposit-taking institutions.[5] They trade as if they were mutual funds - that is, they are bought or sold as fund units, usually of $1 or $10 value - but actually represent a CDIC-insured savings account (if denominated in Canadian dollars). Settlement date is T+1; that is, the business day after the trade. These accounts can be used to store free cash in brokerage or registered accounts. However, some brokers may not offer all accounts, or impose additional fees or conditions if the fund is not one of the brokers' own fund family. This may have the effect of restricting the investor's choice to a small group or a single fund. Nonetheless, for small investors they are often more convenient than Guaranteed Investment Certificates or Treasury bills.

A list of some of the applicable funds is given below. Prospective investors should confirm fund availability, minimum purchase, and any fees (including penalty fees if the fund is sold within 90 days, which apply at some brokerages) with their brokerage before purchase. Some of this information may be available if the fund identification code (e.g., "RBF2010") is entered into the mutual fund selection box. Several issuers offer similar funds from different corporate entities, however those from the same corporate entity would be combined for deposit insurance purposes[6].

Fund Symbol
Fund Symbol
Fund Sponsor Comments
AAT770 AAT780 Bank of Montreal -
ATL5000 Renaissance (CIBC) -
BTB100 B2B Bank -
DYN500 DYN400 Dundee Bank No-fee in Scotia Itrade accounts, where they represent the only choices
IBN100 IBN200 ICICI Bank Not available for registered accounts or TFSAs

Manulife Bank
Manulife Trust
NBC100 NBC101 Altamira (National Bank) -

Royal Bank
RT Corp
No-fee in RBC or RBC Direct Investing accounts, where they represent the only choices

TD Bank
No-fee in TD Waterhouse accounts, where they represent the only choices

As securities priced under $3 are not marginable, HISA funds with a $1 unit value cannot be used as collateral for margin. On the other hand, ISA funds with a $10 unit price generally have a loan value of 95%, consistent with money market funds.

See also


  1. Red Flag Deals, High Interest Savings Accounts, viewed Dec. 26, 2011.
  2. Canadian Direct Financial - FAQs, viewed December 20, 2015.
  3. CDIC – Oaken Financial, viewed December 20, 2015.
  4. CIBC, CDIC Deposit Insurance Information, viewed December 20, 2015.
  5. Canadian Capitalist, High-Interest Savings Accounts at Canadian Brokers, viewed Dec. 26, 2011.
  6. CDIC communications post on Financial Wisdom Forum, viewed July 3, 2013.

Further reading

External links