Savers Roundup August 2019: when promotional rates change mid-way; first no-forex fee Amex; debt forgiven at Chase Canada

Summer interest rate leaders

Since a couple of interest rate drops at AcceleRate Financial and Achieva Financial last month, there have been no changes on our savings account comparison chart. The savings account interest rate leader Motive Financial has kept its rate at 2.80% since November 2018, and the TFSA leader motusbank has kept its rate at 2.50% since it launched in March of this year.

There have been a handful of GIC rate decreases on our GIC comparison chart in August, including at Tangerine Bank, which has secured its place at the bottom with Simplii Financial after starting to become competitive at the end of last year. Hubert Financial, Oaken Financial, and Peoples Trust offer the current top 3 rates for 1-year (up to 2.60%) through 5-year rates (up to 3.10%). For the first time in a while, it’s slim pickings for promotional GIC rates; the only one of note is a 15-month 3.00% GIC from Peoples Trust.

What happens when the base rate in a promotion drops?

Most savings account promotion terms are worded such that you get a fixed promotional rate that is added on top of a variable base rate. Recently, the Manulife Bank Advantage Savings Account base rate dropped from 1.50% to 1.25%, which meant that if you signed up for the recent 3.25% promotional rate, that rate would have also dropped by 0.25%. Has this happened to you before, and did you know the total promotional rate was subject to change?

Our promotions page lists a few similar such offers whose base rates have not yet changed (fingers crossed), but are by no means guaranteed. This includes 3.00% for 150 days on new Meridian Credit Union Good to Grow High Interest Savings Accounts opened by August 25, 2019, and the latest round of targeted Tangerine existing client offers: 2.75% on new deposits (to regular savings, TFSA, RSP, and USD accounts) between August 7, 2019 and January 31, 2020.

The first Canadian Amex card with no forex fee?

On August 1, the long-anticipated changes to the Scotiabank Gold American Express credit card came into effect, for better or for worse. It now has a higher annual fee than before ($120 instead of $99) but no foreign currency exchange fee and 5 Scotia Rewards points per dollar spent at grocery stores, restaurants, and entertainment. This is the first Canadian American Express credit card to waive the 2.50% foreign currency exchange transaction fee — at least in recent memory — and Canadians who make a meaningful amount of purchases in foreign currencies now have quite a few credit card options in the space. If the USA is your primary foreign spending destination and you have lots of US dollars on hand, you can also consider a US-dollar credit card to avoid the currency conversion altogether.

Plenty of summer reading and cash back offers

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