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Best high-interest savings accounts in Canada 2021

Regular savings accounts offer very low interest rates, so if you want to earn on your deposits (rather than simply use your account as a temporary “holding tank” for funds you’ll soon be using for purchases, or directing to longer-term saving and investing vehicles), a high-interest savings account is a no-brainer. When shopping for the best high-interest account (HISA) for your needs, there’s more to consider than just the interest rate. So you can make an informed decision, in addition to using the finder tool to compare the fees and features of several different options available, you can scroll down to read seven editors’ picks for the best high-interest savings accounts in Canada.

These are rates offered by Ratehub partners. You can find information about additional product options below.

You can compare high-interest rates in the table above or input your estimated account balance to compare the growth between high-interest savings accounts, Tax-Free Savings Accounts, Registered Retirement Savings Plans and youth savings accounts.

Our pick for the best high-interest savings accounts in Canada for 2021

Best high-interest savings account rate: Motive Financial Savvy Savings Account

Motive Financial, the online banking division of Canadian Western Bank, offers the highest regular interest rate on this list. As such, your eligible deposits are held at Canadian Western Bank, and protected by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC; see details below). There’s no monthly fee and account holders get two free monthly withdrawals; additional transactions will cost you.

  • Promotional Rate: None
  • Interest Rate: 1.55%
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Free transactions per month: 2 free monthly withdrawals ($5 charged per additional transaction)
  • Interac e-Transfer fee: $1 per outgoing transfer (no fee charged to receive)
  • Fees for extras: $1.50 charged per withdrawal though non-Exchange ATMs
  • CDIC insured: Eligible on deposits up to $100,000 in Canadian funds that are payable in Canada and have a term of no more than 5 years
  • Other restrictions: Not available to residents of Quebec

Best for interest rates and no service fees: EQ Bank Savings Plus Account*

EQ Bank is owned by Equitable Bank, a Canadian institution in business since 1970. Another in the burgeoning online space, EQ Bank offers great returns on their Savings Plus account. There is no fee for the account and no minimum balance. All services, including Interac e-Transfer, are free.

  • Promotional Rate: None
  • Interest Rate: 1.50%
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Free transactions per month: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfer fee: Free
  • Fees for extras: None
  • CDIC insured: Eligible on deposits up to $100,000 in Canadian funds that are payable in Canada and have a term of no more than 5 years
  • Other restrictions: There’s a maximum balance of $200,000 per customer; paper statements are not available

Best regular interest rate at a credit union: MAXA Financial Savings Account

MAXA is a division of Westoba Credit Union, located in Manitoba, but their accounts are open to all Canadians, and it offers an impressive interest rate on savings. There’s no fee, but account holders can expect to pay service charges for many transactions.

  • Promotional Rate: None
  • Interest Rate: 1.20%
  • Minimum balance: missing info
  • Free transactions per month: First debit of each month free
  • Interac e-Transfer fee: $2 per transfer domestically; $5 per transfer internationally
  • Fees for extras: $1.50 per debit except on the first of each month
  • CDIC insured: No, but all deposits guaranteed by the Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba, with no dollar-amount limit
  • Other restrictions: Online interface is dated

Best eSavings account: Alterna Bank High-Interest eSavings Account

Alterna Bank has been around since 2000, developed as a subsidiary of Alterna Savings, a 110-year old credit union. Since Alterna Bank’s inception, it’s appeared on a lot of best-of lists for its innovative banking. The Alterna Bank High-Interest eSavings Account is accessible through online and mobile app, and offers an extremely healthy earn rate on deposits. Even better, there are no minimums and no fees.

  • Promotional Rate: None
  • Interest Rate: 1.20%
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Free transactions per month: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfer fee: Free
  • Fees for extras: None
  • CDIC insured: Up to $100,000, as long as deposits are in Canadian funds, payable in Canada, and have a term limit of no more than 5 years
  • Other restrictions: None

Best regular interest rate in a hybrid account: Wealthsimple Cash*

Wealthsimple Cash* was launched in January 2020 by the Canadian online financial services provider Wealthsimple. Joining the FI’s original robo-advisor offering and its more recently added discount brokerage Wealthsimple Trade, Wealthsimple Cash is a hybrid chequing and savings account. Unlike many of the big banks, this institution offers a high regular interest rate. Plus, as with a good chequing account, this one gives you unlimited transactions with zero fees. From the account, you can make no-fee bill payments and Interac e-Transfer transactions. If you have a Wealthsimple investment account, such as a TFSA or RRSP, you can contribute to them easily using funds from your savings account.

  • Promotional Rate: None
  • Interest Rate: 0.75%
  • Minimum balance: $1
  • Free transactions per month: unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfer fee: free
  • Fees for extras: free
  • CDIC insured: No, but deposits up to $1 million under the Wealthsimple umbrella are insured by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
  • Other restrictions: none
  • Open a Wealthsimple Cash account now*

Best promotional rate: Tangerine Savings Account*

The Tangerine’s regular savings account is wonderfully flexible. It doesn’t require a minimum balance, and there are no fees or service charges. The entire Tangerine banking experience is simple and friendly, and their savings offerings are the same. Account holders can set up an Automated Savings Program online to help plan and meet savings goals.

  • Promotional Rate: 2.10% for the first 150 days
  • Interest Rate: 0.10%
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Free transactions per month: Unlimited; free unlimited deposits and withdrawals at Tangerine or Scotiabank ABM Network bank machines in Canada; no surcharge or access fees on withdrawals from Global ATM Alliance machines internationally
  • Interac e-Transfer fee: Free
  • Fees for extras: None; no cost for paper statement, if desired (sent quarterly)
  • CDIC insured: Eligible on deposits up to $100,000 in Canadian funds that are payable in Canada and have a term of no more than 5 years
  • Other restrictions: None
  • Open a Tangerine Savings Account Now*

Best tiered interest savings account: Scotiabank Momentum Plus Savings Account

With tiered earnings on interest starting, this product acts like a GIC, giving account holders the opportunity to save more just by leaving their money alone—but with the freedom to make withdrawals if you need to. Provided no debit transactions have taken place during that time; deposits stashed for longer can earn extra interest based on the following calculations:

0.05% +

  • 0.30% after 90 days
  • 0.40% after 180 days
  • 0.50% after 270 days
  • 0.60% after 360 days

Plus, if you also have an Ultimate Package account with Scotiabank, your earn rate will be 0.75% for a limited time. The account is no-fee and self-service transfers are unlimited.

  • Minimum balance: None
  • Fees for extras: $5 per debit transaction that is not self-service
  • Free transactions per month: Unlimited for self-service transfers
  • Interac e-Transfer fee: Free
  • CDIC insured: Eligible if in Canadian Currency with a term of 5 years or less and payable in Canada
  • Other restrictions:  No paper statement available

Also Consider:

LBC Digital High-Interest Savings Account

Since 2003, Laurentian Bank has been available only in Quebec, but with the recent launch of a new digital offering at, the institution is tempting clients from across the country. The headline news here is the high-interest rate and the fact the account has no minimum balance and no monthly fees, easily topping most financial institutions’ best rates on GICs, which lock in your money for a specified period of time. With the LBC Digital High-Interest Savings Account, you can access funds whenever you like, and frequently used services including electronic fund transfers, pre-authorized deposits, and transfers between LBC Digital accounts are included. This last is important as it means you can move your money to an chequing account, from which you can make unlimited free Interac e-Transfer transactions.

  • Promotional Rate: None
  • Interest Rate: 1.40% on deposits up to $500,000; rate drops to 0.50% on deposits over $500,000
  • Minimum balance: None
  • Free transactions per month: Unlimited
  • Interac e-Transfer fee: Free
  • Fees for extras: None
  • CDIC insured: Eligible on deposits up to $100,000 in Canadian funds that are payable in Canada and have a term of no more than 5 years
  • Other restrictions: Non-sufficient funds (NSF), returned items, and overdrawn accounts are subject to fees, and if you close the account within 90 days there is a $25 penalty

Didn’t find the perfect savings account?

If none of these editor’s picks sound like the right high-interest savings account for your financial needs, then head to our Savings Account Finder tool to compare the best high-interest savings accounts in Canada from most Canadian financial institutions side by side.

Compare the Best Savings Accounts in Canada >

What is a high-interest savings account?

A HISA is a savings account that pays a better rate of interest than a standard savings account. HISAs are offered widely by a variety of banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.

They allow you to safely and securely set aside money and earn a modest return without losing the ability to access that money anytime.

They are great for short or medium-term savings that you will want to be able to withdraw rather than later. People will often use a HISA to save for things like a wedding, the down payments on a home, a vacation, or for an emergency fund. HISAs are also smart places to stash some money during times of uncertainty or during economic downturns.

How does a high-interest savings account work?

The greatest appeal of HISAs is that they are a safe and secure place for savings to grow money slowly. Financial institutions that are members of the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) insure savings of up to $100,000, while credit unions are insured provincially and usually cover the full deposit, with no limits. Money that is deposited in a HISA account generates interest by allowing the bank to access those funds to loan to others. Interest rates offered by HISA accounts typically vary between rates as low 0.5% and to the 2% range at the upper end. There are usually no monthly service fees associated with savings accounts since they are intended to serve as places for people to park their money for stretches of time. However, it’s not unusual to see the number of withdrawals and transfers limited or to have a fee associated with transactions. (Read more for how CDIC protects you.)

How are high-interest savings accounts taxed?

Earnings from a HISA are taxable as income. That means any interest you earn from your savings must be declared and will be taxed at your normal rate. It is, however, possible to shelter your savings from taxes if you hold a HISA within either a TFSA or an RRSP.

What is the difference between a high-interest savings account and a regular savings account?

The main difference between a standard savings account and a HISA is the interest rate. As suggested by their name, HISAs pay a slightly higher rate than standard savings accounts, allowing savings to slowly grow. They may, however, be subject to withdrawal or transfer limits, transaction fees or minimum balance requirements. A standard savings account is a good place to keep surplus cash that you don’t need for everyday transactions. A HISA, on the other hand, is a better choice for holding savings that are geared toward a particular goal, such as paying for home renovations or university tuition. 

How to choose a high-interest savings account

Most financial institutions in Canada offer HISAs, and you will want to consider which is the best fit for your needs. First and foremost, you should consider the interest rate. Conventional wisdom states that you want to look for a rate of interest that outpaces the rate of inflation or you will wind up with less buying power than you started with. In recent years the rate of inflation has been about 2%. During recessions, however, we can expect both interest rates and inflation to decrease. 

You also want to carefully look at the terms and conditions of a high-interest savings account. Some may require you to keep a minimum balance, charge fees on transactions, limit withdrawals, or enforce lock-in periods. 

Look to take advantage of cash signing bonuses or higher promotional rates, but also keep in mind that the long-term interest rate is more important than a short-term introductory rate.

Different types of savings accounts

A standard HISA is a very safe and secure way to squirrel away some money and earn a small amount of interest in the meantime. For medium or long-term savings, Canadians should consider holding their HISA in one of two types of registered plans that will help mitigate the amount of tax you will owe on your interest earnings.

Tax-Free Savings Account

TFSAs allow you to invest up to $6,000 per year and not pay any taxes on the earnings. You are free to withdraw the money, tax-free, at any time. The savings plans available within a TSFA may have somewhat lower interest rates than some other HISAs, but could be a better choice after considering the tax savings.

Registered Retirement Savings Plan

RRSPs are a tax-deferred retirement savings plan that allows Canadians to defer paying taxes on their income until after retirement.

Canadians can defer paying taxes on up to $27,230 this year and instead hold that money in a savings account (or other types of investments, including stocks, bonds and ETFs) within an RRSP where earnings will accrue tax-free as well. When you withdraw the money to use for living expenses in retirement, it’s typically taxed at a lower rate, assuming your income in retirement is lower than when you made the original contribution.

Why do the interest rates on a savings account go up and down?

The interest rates on savings accounts fluctuate, sometimes on very short notice. In 2020, for example, there were several rapid changes—mostly on a downward trend. In that case, it’s not hard to understand why. The COVID-19 pandemic threw the world’s economies into disarray, and this was reflected in interest rates. The rates offered by savings accounts are controlled by the prime rate, which is linked to the Bank of Canada’s policy rate. In times of economic turmoil, the Bank of Canada might reduce its interest rate to stimulate the economy by making it more affordable for people to borrow money. This shift affects your interest rate. In general, the interest rates are high in a strong economy, and they are lower during downturns.

Reductions in the Bank of Canada policy rate might negatively affect your savings account, but they do have benefits. You’ll get a very attractive interest rate when taking on or refinancing a mortgage, for example. The same goes for personal loans. If you’re looking for a good savings rate and can plan to set aside your savings for a certain term, you might consider moving it to a GIC. GICs offer guaranteed interest rates for a given term so needn’t worry about fluctuation.

The rates for GIC, like with many investments, go up and down with the economic environment. Right now the GIC rates are very low, despite the fact that the money is locked in. So, look at GIC rates when deciding what to do with your money. Would you want to tie up your money for the minimal payoff.

Is having a savings account really necessary?

Even when the economy is strong, the interest rates on savings accounts tend to be in the low single digits. If you compare this to real estate or stock portfolio returns, you might wonder why you should hold a savings account at all. The thing to understand is that these aren’t comparable products. They’re apples and oranges, each used for different specific reasons.

A savings account is an essential part of everyone’s personal finance portfolio. Why? They are a place to keep your money safe—and liquid!—while earning guaranteed returns. Although these returns tend to be modest, they can help your money grow steadily to combat against inflation. Having a savings account is important if you want a safe way to set aside money in case of emergencies or for an upcoming major purchase, like a car or a down payment on a house. Stocks do well in the long term, but short-terms fluctuations make them unsuitable places to store money for a purchase in the near future because you may well be forced to sell during a downturn. If you’re lucky enough to have real estate, you already know that it is anything but liquid. Savings accounts hit the sweet spot by providing interest, while your money is protected by CDIC or similar deposit insurance coverage, up to specified limits. <<add link to CDIC article>>

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