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Savers Roundup September 2020: Canadian Tire has the highest rate; PC Financial is back with PC Money

Debit card in machine

Canadian Tire Bank has the highest savings account interest rate on our chart

For those who have followed our website over the years, this headline is a surprise. Since MAXA Financial decreased its regular savings account and TFSA interest rate from 1.80% to 1.60% on August 21, that left Canadian Tire Bank all alone at the top of our chart. Canadian Tire Bank’s regular savings account and TFSA interest rate is 1.80%. Looking at Canadian Tire Bank’s rate history, its TFSA interest rate is unchanged since December 2017, and its last savings account interest rate change was on April 21 of this year, when it actually increased its rate.

A non-promo rate of 1.80% is especially shocking when you consider that promo-master Tangerine Bank has reportedly been offering a subset of its clients somewhere between 1.50% to 1.80% for 3 to 6 months. Tangerine Bank’s new customer offer is still 2.50% for the first 5 months. Not on a promo? Tangerine Bank’s standard rate is 0.15%.

Since last month’s Savers Roundup, we’ve seen interest rate drops at no fewer than 6 of the financial institutions we track, most recently at LBC Digital, with a decrease from 1.65% to 1.50%.

Unlikely leader Canadian Tire Bank is far from a leader on our GIC comparison chart, where it brings up the rear with rates such as 0.65% for a 1-year GIC.

LBC Digital has the top 1-2 year GIC rates at 1.85% and 1.95%, respectively. The highest rates for 3- to 5-year terms are 1.85% for a 3-year GIC, 1.95% for a 4-year GIC, and 2.10% for a 5-year GIC, all of which you can at least get at MAXA Financial.

PC Financial is back with a deposit account

Back in 2017, PC Financial chequing and savings account customers transitioned to the Simplii Financial brand. PC Financial kept its credit cards, but is now back with a no-fee banking account called PC Money.

They appear to be purposely avoiding the term “chequing account”, as you cannot write or deposit cheques with the account. However, you can deposit money into the 0% interest account via electronic funds transfers, pay bills, and send unlimited Interac e-Transfers. Deposits into this account are CDIC protected.

With the PC Money account, you don’t use a traditional Interac debit card; instead, you use a Mastercard that directly debits your bank account and earns you PC Optimum points on purchases. Attaching a Visa or Mastercard to a bank account might become a trend (and it’s debatable whether this would be a good trend); we saw Tangerine Bank recently introduce a Visa Debit card. This could partially be the response of traditional financial institutions to Prepaid Visa and Mastercards such as from STACK and Wealthsimple.

More end of summer personal finance reading

Savers Roundup August 2020: Fully online account registrations; a CRA security breach; where to consistently get the highest rates

Unhappy with online banking

Which financial institutions offer the steadiest savings account interest rate?

Glass half empty: Our savings account comparison chart has seen 20 rate drops since the beginning of July.

Glass half full: even if you are getting the lowest current rate on our chart (1.40%), that’s still 28x higher than the 0.05% you might get at one of the big banks.

Since July, the only financial institutions that have not decreased their savings account interest rates are Canadian Tire Bank (whose last change was a surprise increase on April 21) and MAXA Financial (who decreased their rates on June 20). They now share the lead at 1.80% for both a regular savings account and TFSA. All other rates on our chart are somewhere between 1.40% and 1.75%.

How long will it be before the next interest rate decreases at Canadian Tire Bank and MAXA Financial? Some forum members are speculating that the next Canadian Tire Bank decrease is imminent.

We likely have at least a few years of stagnant interest rates ahead. If you’re someone who wants a consistently high interest rate at a single financial institution, you might be surprised to see lots of fluctuations at the top of our chart:

  • August 17, 2019 (1 year ago today) top rates: Motive Financial (2.80%), MAXA Financial (2.45%), Ideal Savings, Implicity Financial, Outlook Financial (2.40%)
  • August 17, 2018 (2 years ago today) top rates: Hubert Financial (2.35%), EQ Bank (2.30%), AcceleRate Financial and MAXA Financial (2.25%)
  • August 17, 2017 (3 years ago today) top rates: EQ Bank (2.30%), Alterna Bank (1.90%), Bridgewater Bank, Ideal Savings, Oaken Financial (1.75%)

To help in your analysis, our website has a new feature where you can graph the historical interest rates of the financial institutions that we track, some going back 10 years.

Motive Financial vs Achieva Financial interest rate graph

Read carefully when chasing promos

The highest current offer on our promotions page is still 2.50% for the first 5 months in a new Tangerine savings account.

Always read the terms of promotions carefully. BC-only credit union GFFG has marketing language for a GIC stating “earn up to 2.75%* in 18 months”, which is a misleading headline given that the fine print says “earn 1.25% on the first 9 months and 2.75% on the next 9 months, for an effective rate of 2.00% for the full 18 months.”

GIC rates have continued their general decline, although for now LBC Digital’s rates are unchanged from when we checked in last month and it is now the outright leader or joint leader for the 1- through 5-year terms, with the 5-year term sitting at 2.30%. Its 1-year GIC rate of 2.10% easily beats the GFFG promo above.

Update: the day after this article was published, LBC Digital decreased their GIC rates!

Fully online account registrations

During the current pandemic, online banking is more important than ever, but so are fully online account registrations. You have at least 3 options, including EQ Bank and LBC Digital, and with a newly revamped registration process, Motive Financial.

More personal finance headlines

Ampli cash back app review: trading your purchase history for rewards

Ampli is a Canadian cash back app owned by Royal Bank of Canada. Ampli gives you cash back via Interac e-Transfer (whenever you have accumulated at least $15 cash back) on your everyday purchases that you make on your existing credit or debit cards. It figures out what purchases you made by reading the purchase history of your credit card(s) and/or bank account(s). In a way, you are selling your purchase history and profile, and you agree to be sent personalized offers, in exchange for cash back.

Cash back and other offers

The cash back you get through Ampli is separate and in addition to whatever rewards you are already earning on your credit or debit cards. At the time this article was published, the Ampli website lists 53 participating brands as having “cash back and offers”. Note, however, that not all of these brands participate in cash back offers — in a minority of cases the offer is that you get entries for cash prizes in their “Dreamstakes”.

The Ampli website does not list what specific offers are available. This is only available within its app, and you must be logged in to the app to see the details.

Ampli cash back offers

Some examples of current offers include:

  • Get $5 back on a $60 purchase at Indigo.ca
  • Get $10 back on a $50 purchase at Boston Pizza
  • Get 1% cash back at Petro-Canada
  • Get 1 entry into the Ampli Dreamstakes contest when you make any purchase at WestJet

Ampli WestJet offer

How Ampli might factor into your purchase decisions

One appeal of Ampli is that you can just link your accounts and then change nothing about your spending habits. While the number of Ampli offers appears to be increasing slowly, it’s up to you to determine whether the offers are for purchases you would already be making. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself watching the offers and purposely changing your spending habits in order to take advantage of the offers — that’s presumably one of the main ways that Ampli and its partners hope to make money.

If you deal with multiple banks and credit cards, in order to ensure that you get credit for applicable purchases, you have to link them all; otherwise you might make a purchase on a non-linked account and thus not get the cash back.

The Ampli sign-up process

The entire Ampli experience is done through its iOS or Android app.

You must enter your first name, last name, and email address. It also asks for your postal code and phone number, and to sign up to receive promotional emails, but those are all optional; you can press the “Skip” button in the top right of those screens:

Ampli: optional phone number

Part of the sign-up process is to accept the terms and conditions:

Ampli terms and conditions

You can also read these terms on the Ampli website, which includes information about how they use your information:

When you sign up to the Ampli app (App) and add an account, we will use your transaction and other information to present you with tailored offers, recommendations and marketing in the App from us, other RBC companies, and Third Parties.

Linking a bank account or credit card consists of selecting the financial institution, then entering your login credentials at that financial institution.

Ampli bank account link: powered by RBC

Ampli bank account link: select a financial institution

Ampli bank account link: log in to the financial institution

I definitely paused a bit while signing up to consider how comfortable I am linking my bank account to the app. Obviously, this is the key step in order for me to participate in the offers, but I’m used to cash back being automatically tied to individual credit cards, or tied to me clicking on an affiliate tracking link. When it comes to Ampli, linking the bank account by signing in to it similar to how you link an account to accounting software, and security-wise, the fact that the app is owned by RBC gives it legitimacy. On the other hand, you must decide whether the cash back offers are worth all the trouble.

I was somewhat confused by the emphasis on bank accounts. At first, because it was prompting me to fulfill the requirements for a $5 promo (more on that next), I thought I was linking my bank account to receive payments:

Ampli link to claim bonus

That was my wrong assumption, since they send you Interac e-Transfers when you withdraw the cash back, so the bank link has nothing to do with the withdrawal process — it’s entirely so that Ampli can read your transactions. In any case, you can link to credit cards that are tied to traditional bank accounts (such as at Scotiabank or TD Canada Trust), or search for a credit card company such as American Express:

Ampli link to American Express

Additional sign-up offers and how to withdraw

If you use the code AMPLI5 during sign-up, you will get $5 in your Ampli account for attaching a bank account or credit card. You must accumulate $15 in cash back before you can withdraw the money via an Interac e-Transfer.

There might be other promo codes available for new sign-ups, such as DOORDASH15 — until July 31, 2020, that gets you $15 cash back if you spend at least $15 with DoorDash.

Savers Roundup July 2020: Summer promos, EQ Bank joint accounts, and a primer on deposit insurance

Hands making a heart

2.00%+ savings accounts are getting rarer

At the top of our savings account comparison chart are Bridgewater Bank, Motive Financial, and EQ Bank, which all have interest rates of at least 2.00%. The only TFSA rate currently above 2.00% is Motive Financial at 2.05%.

There have been a few interest rate decreases since last month’s roundup, at MAXA Financial (from 2.00% to 1.80%), motusbank (from 1.65% to 1.40% for regular savings; from 1.75% to 1.60% for its TFSA), Peoples Trust (from 2.00% to 1.80%) and LBC Digital (from 2.05% to 1.65%).

Speaking of LBC Digital, we recently started to track its GIC rates on our GIC comparison chart, where it is at least tied for the lead on 1-year (2.10%), 2-year (2.05%), 4-year (2.15%), and 5-year (2.30%) terms. The top 3-year GIC rate is currently 2.10%, which you can find at both AcceleRate Financial and MAXA Financial.

Various versions of Simplii Financial and Tangerine Bank promotions

Simplii Financial has a new offer targeting some existing customers: 2.00% on new deposits made between July 1, 2020 and October 30, 2020. Others have reported getting an extension of a previous 2.80% offer through the end of August, and yet others have reported getting no new offer at all.

Over at Tangerine Bank, there is another round of targeted new deposit promos, although at 1.85%, it’s the lowest promo rate we’ve seen in a while. If you are an existing client and did not receive an offer, you can always try calling in to ask for a better rate. Someone reported getting 2.25% for 90 days on their entire balance.

Do you have a Canadian Tire credit card? If so, you might be eligible for a 2.00% savings account interest rate (only 0.20% above its current regular rate, but still something) if you sign up for emails and make a deposit by July 31.

We’re tracking the above promotions and more on our promos page.

EQ Bank joint accounts are here

On our forum, some people have been waiting for EQ Bank to support joint accounts since 2016. The wait for EQ Bank joint accounts is finally over. We’ve documented the process to set up an EQ Bank joint account.

Know the types of Canadian deposit insurance

Do you know the difference between CDIC coverage, provincial deposit insurance, and CIPF coverage? CFA Christopher Liew breaks them all down, explains why you should care about the differences, and provides tips on how to maximize your coverage.

Unfortunately, the question of what CIPF coverage provides — guaranteeing that you have shares, but not the value of your shares — is too relevant with the shut down of Pace Securities wiping out a lot of people’s hard-earned savings. The story continues to develop, with Pace Credit Union working on a solution.

More July reading

Canadian deposit insurance: CDIC vs CIPF vs provincial coverage. Should you care?

Canadian deposit insurance

You place a substantial amount of trust in financial institutions to take care of your money, whether you have a chequing account that has just enough cash to pay the bills or a Registered Retirement Savings Plan account that you are using to create a retirement nest egg.

What happens if a financial institution fails for any reason? As a Canadian investor, you should put your savings in a financial institution that is eligible for deposit insurance.

In Canada, there are three primary ways to safeguard your capital in case your bank or investment dealer fails:

  • Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC)
  • Provincial deposit insurers
  • Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF)

The deposit insurance provided by each of these can protect your savings if the financial institution fails. As an investor, you don’t need to apply or pay for deposit insurance. They automatically insure your eligible deposits. However, there are differences in how CDIC, CIPF, and provincial deposit insurance work.

I’ll give you a breakdown of these insurance coverages to help you understand how they work and why they can be essential for you.

Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation

The CDIC is owned by the Canadian government. It insures your funds for up to $100,000 per eligible deposit category per financial institution. Deposit categories include non-registered funds, TFSAs, RRSPs, RRIFs, and more. In other words, for a given financial institution, you have separate coverage of up to $100,000 for each deposit category.

Most Canadian banks are members of the CDIC. Within each deposit category, CDIC covers term deposits, money orders and drafts, savings and chequing accounts, and travellers cheques. The CDIC also recently added USD deposits to what is eligible for coverage.

The CDIC has additional tools to help you understand what its insurance does and does not cover.

Note that CDIC coverage does not insure your deposits when it is a loss due to theft or fraud.

Quebec AMF

The federal deposit insurance protection is the same for all CDIC member institutions throughout Canada except in the province of Quebec. Quebec has its own insurance plan under the administration of l’Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).

If a financial institution is covered by both AMF and the CDIC, deposits made in Quebec are insured by AMF. If the deposit is made outside of Quebec, then it will be insured by the CDIC.

The maximum collective coverage from both agencies cannot exceed $100,000 per depositor for each insured category per institution.

Provincial deposit insurance

Each of the ten provinces in Canada has a provincial deposit insurer that protects provincial credit unions:

Alberta, BC, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan provide unlimited coverage. All of the other provincial insurers — with the exception of Quebec — provide more than $100K coverage.

There have been cases where coverage by a particular financial institution has changed, such as when Coast Capital Savings converted from a BC credit union to a national bank. In that case, they outlined transitional coverage.

7 of the financial institutions on our high interest savings comparison chart are Manitoba credit unions, so let’s dig a bit deeper into the relevant coverage. As per the Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba (DGCM), they provide a “100% guarantee of all deposits in Manitoba credit unions regardless of where the depositor resides. Deposits guaranteed include chequing/savings accounts, term deposits/GICs including TFSAs, RRSPs, RRIFs, RESPs. The guarantee does not cover non-deposit instruments, examples of which include common shares, surplus shares, preferred shares, mutual funds and self-administered RRSPs that are not deposits (e.g. equity shares, mutual funds).”

Some key elements of how the DGCM operates include:

  • Credit unions are expected to main capital and liquidity levels above legislated minimum standards.
  • The DGCM maintains a Guarantee Fund, funded by quarterly premiums paid by Manitoba credit unions.
  • The current target size of the Guarantee Fund is 1.05% to 1.30% of deposits and is based on a statistical model with over 400,000 scenarios.
  • If for some reason there is insufficient money in the Guarantee Fund if a credit union were to fail, other remedies are available in The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act of Manitoba, including the ability to raise additional funds from all Manitoba credit unions, arrange mergers between credit unions, and approach the Manitoba government for financial assistance.

Canadian Investor Protection Fund

The CIPF protects the investments held by financial institutions like banks, companies that sell investment products, and investment dealers.

The institution needs to be a CIPF member for your funds to be insured. Here is a breakdown of CIPF coverage limits:

  • Up to $1 million for general accounts combined like cash accounts, margin accounts, Tax-Free Savings Accounts
  • Up to $1 million for all registered retirement accounts combined like RRSPs, Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) and Locked-In Retirement Accounts (LIRAs)
  • Up to $1 million for all Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) combined where the client is a subscriber of the plan.

One of the main things to note is that cash deposits are covered by the CIPF, but the value of other investments are not. Suppose you held 100 shares in Company A through an investment firm (Company B). If the investment firm were to fail, the CIPF would ensure that you still hold the 100 shares in Company A, but without any guarantee of the value of those shares.

Wealthsimple Cash: when you have CIPF coverage but not CDIC coverage

The launch of Wealthsimple Cash highlighted a potentially confusing situation: Wealthsimple Cash advertises features similar to a normal bank account (albeit with hybrid chequing and savings account features) but does not have CDIC or provincial deposit insurance; it has CIPF insurance. The money held in your Wealthsimple Cash account is deposited in trust (through Wealthsimple’s subsidiary ShareOwner Investments Inc.) with one or more of the big six Canadian banks, otherwise known as “domestic systemically important banks”.

Suppose you had $1,000,000 deposited in your Wealthsimple Cash account:

  • If one of the big six banks where your money is deposited goes bankrupt, you are not guaranteed to get your money back, because this deposit is not eligible for CDIC coverage.
  • If Wealthsimple goes bankrupt, you are guaranteed to get your money back.
  • If ShareOwner Investments Inc. goes bankrupt, you are guaranteed to get your money back.

In other words, with Wealthsimple Cash, you technically have higher insurance coverage through the CIPF than through the CDIC, but you are not covered if one of the big six banks fails. It is significantly more likely for Wealthsimple or its subsidiary to fail than for a big six bank to fail, but it is worth noting the details of what is not covered.

So should you care about the difference between CDIC, CIPF, or provincial deposit insurance?

Between CDIC and provincial coverage for credit unions, I don’t see much difference in terms of the effective safety of your deposits. Provincial coverage outside of Quebec is actually higher than with the CDIC, so that might factor into your decision of which institution to go with. The CDIC provides a more explicit government backing, although as per the details provided by the DCGM (Manitoba), provincial insurance is extremely robust.

In many cases, the CIPF provides coverage for a different type of investment than your standard savings account or GIC, but there are examples such as Wealthsimple Cash that blur the line.

Deposit insurance strategies to extend your coverage

Generally, whether you are looking at a financial institution with CDIC, provincial deposit insurance, or CIPF coverage, you can spread your risk and extend your coverage by depositing your funds for all account types in multiple financial institutions.

Some savers use a strategy to effectively extend their CDIC coverage by splitting their deposits between related companies. For example: Peoples Trust is covered by the CDIC for up to $100,000 in each of the eligible deposit categories, and Peoples Bank has separate and equal coverage. Peoples Trust and Peoples Bank are both owned by Peoples Group, and have similar interest rates for their savings accounts.

If you have maxed out your CDIC coverage on one account and need more coverage but at the same interest rate, you could open an equivalent account with the other bank. Another advantage is consistency in the brand and service experience, if a customer likes dealing with Peoples companies in general.

However, it might be wiser to spread out the risk and deposits to another completely separate bank. If Peoples Group or one of its subsidiaries were ever in danger of bankruptcy, then the related companies would have an increased risk of bankruptcy as well. It would be quite a hassle to go through two separate CDIC insurance claims at the same time, and your money would be tied up during that period.

Conclusion

As a Canadian, your deposit insurance options are diverse. If you play your cards right, 100% of your deposits could be covered by some form of deposit insurance. Even though Canadian banks are among the safest in the world, you never know what can happen in the future!

Author Bio – Christopher Liew is the creator of Wealthawesome.com, where he shares money tips and guides for his readers. He’s a CFA Charterholder who has been featured on Yahoo Finance, MSN Money, and The Motley Fool. Read about how he quit his 6-figure job to travel the world.