The Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is Canada’s most popular tool for saving toward retirement while deferring taxes on growth until much later.
Retirement income needs and the investment strategies required vary. If you are keeping some of your retirement funds in a savings account, the best RRSP savings accounts offer high-interest rates that are well above average and come with the flexibility to access your funds whenever needed.
More importantly, your money grows tax-free until you start making withdrawals.
One of the best RRSP interest rates in Canada is:
- EQ Bank: 3.00%*
You can also check out the best savings interest rates in Canada for general savings accounts.
What is an RRSP?
A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) account is a government-registered plan designed to keep retirement savings.
The account has tax advantages to encourage Canadians to set money aside in their retirement nest egg, including zero taxes on interest or capital gains earned until you start making withdrawals.
Contributions to your RRSPs are tax-deductible, so you can lower your income taxes at source or get a refund of excess taxes paid at tax time.
The different types of RRSP accounts include individual, spousal and group RRSPs.
Related: Retirement Income Guide for Canadians.
Best High-Interest Rate RRSP Accounts in Canada
The best savings interest rates on RRSP accounts are generally offered by online banks and credit unions.
It is not unusual to find variations of 100 basis points or higher between rates offered by digital banks and traditional big banks.
The RRSP savings accounts listed below do not charge a monthly account fee, your contributions are tax-deductible, and your earnings remain tax-free until withdrawal.
EQ Bank RSP Savings Account
EQ Bank recently introduced an RSP savings account and offers one of the best savings rates you can find for RRSPs right now.
This account has no minimum balance or monthly fees, and you can set up automatic contributions. EQ Bank is a subsidiary of Equitable Bank, and your deposits are eligible for CDIC protection.
You can also open an RSP GIC account and earn up to 5.00%. Learn more in this EQ Bank review.
- Rate: 3.00%*
Motive Financial RRSP Savings Account
Motive Financial offers some of the best savings rates in Canada. Their RRSP interest rates are as follows:
- $0 – $2,500: 0.250%
- $2,500.01 and over: 2.600%
Interest is calculated on your daily closing balance.
Motive Financial is the online banking arm of the Canadian Western Bank. Learn more about their products in this Motive Financial review.
Achieva RRSP Savings Account
Achieva is the online banking arm of Cambrian Credit Union, and their RRSP savings account offers a 3.25% interest rate.
Deposits at the financial institution are guaranteed by the Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba. This protection is available regardless of your province of residence.
Learn more about Achieva Financial.
motusbank RRSP Savings Account
motusbank is another online bank affiliated with a credit union – Meridian Credit Union.
You earn 2.50% on your motusbank RRSP savings account, which has no monthly fees or minimum balance.
Tangerine RRSP Savings Account
A Tangerine RRSP savings account pays a 1.00% regular interest rate.
The account has no monthly fees, and you enjoy an automatic savings plan that makes it easy to save regularly.
Tangerine is owned by Scotiabank, and your deposits are issued by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) for up to $100,000.
Learn more about the bank in our Tangerine review.
Outlook RRSP Savings Account
Outlook Financial is an online bank owned by Assiniboine Credit Union.
Its RRSP savings account offers a 3.25% interest rate. There is no minimum balance requirement; however, if you decide to move your funds to an RRSP term deposit account, a $1,000 balance is required.
Learn more about them in this Outlook Financial review.
AcceleRate Variable RRSP Savings Account
AcceleRate Financial is the online banking arm of Crosstown Civic Credit Union. It offers a variable RRSP savings account that pays 3.25% annually.
There are no monthly service fees, and you enjoy 100% protection from the Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba.
Learn about AcceleRate Financial.
Alterna RRSP eSavings Account
Alterna Bank’s RRSP eSavings account offers a 2.50% interest rate. There is no monthly fee or minimum balance, and deposits are insured by the CDIC.
Alterna Bank is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Alterna Savings Credit Union.
Learn more about the bank and its product offerings in this review.
How Much Can I Contribute to an RRSP Account?
There is a limit to how much you can contribute to your RRSP account annually. Each year you get an RRSP contribution limit based on 18% of your earned income for the previous year and up to a maximum amount.
For 2023, the maximum RRSP contribution limit is $30,780. It was $29,210 in 2022.
If you do not contribute your limit for the year, you can carry forward unused contribution room to future years.
The annual contribution limit over the past 6 years is as follows:
- 2023: $30,780
- 2022: $29,210
- 2021: $27,830
- 2020: $27,230
- 2019: $26,500
- 2018: $26,230
The RRSP contribution deadline is around 60 days after the end of the year and typically falls on either March 1 or February 29.
An RRSP over-contribution penalty is levied when you make excess contributions to your RRSP over the lifetime of $2,000 excess that is allowed.
You can hold a variety of investment products in your RRSP, including:
Cash: Cash in an RRSP savings account is a very low-risk, flexible option for an RRSP account. It is CDIC-insured for up to $100,000.
Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC): GICs offer guaranteed returns over a specified term and may also be eligible for CDIC insurance.
Mutual Funds: They are easily purchased at your bank, are hassle-free, and can be diversified across asset classes. Mutual funds often charge expensive management fees.
Stocks: You can hold individual stocks of companies and earn capital gains or dividends. Wealthsimple Trade offers commission-free buying and selling of thousands of stocks in Canada and the U.S.
How To Withdraw RRSP Savings Tax-Free
The government of Canada has made provisions for Canadians to be able to withdraw RRSP funds tax-free before retirement through the Home Buyers’ Plan and Lifelong Learning Plans.
Home Buyers’ Plan: You can withdraw up to $35,000 (or $70,000 for a couple) to put towards the purchase of a home. The money must be paid back to your RRSP within 15 years.
Lifelong Learning Plan: You can use RRSP funds to pay for full-time education or training and withdraw up to a maximum of $20,000. You get ten years to pay back the funds.
Are RRSPs Worth It?
We can all agree that saving for retirement is a good idea.
Whether you use an RRSP, TFSA, a non-registered investment account, or a combination of the options, a sizeable retirement nest egg plus government pension benefits can help you secure some comfort and happiness when you eventually stop working.
How best to go about saving for retirement is something your financial advisor can help you with. And you can learn more about when to use TFSA vs RRSP.
RRSP Savings Account FAQs
What is the best bank for RRSPs?
The best bank for your RRSP account will depend on various factors, including the types of investments you are looking for, management fees, minimum balance requirements, interest rates, and more.
Shop around and compare the different offerings available.
How much do RRSPs lower or save you on taxes?
The RRSP tax deduction you claim will save you taxes based on your marginal tax rate. For example, if your marginal tax rate is 35% and you contribute $10,000, you can expect a tax refund of $3,500.
You eventually pay taxes when you start withdrawing RRSP funds in retirement.
Can I have two RRSP accounts or RRSPs in different banks?
Yes, you can open as many RRSP accounts as you want…just make sure to keep track of your total contributions so you don’t exceed your RRSP contribution room.
Can you lose money in an RRSP?
The only ‘risk-free’ option for your RRSP is to leave it as cash (i.e. savings). CDIC or provincial deposit guarantee corporations protect your deposits up to a specified amount if a member financial institution becomes bankrupt.
You can still lose money to inflation and lower purchasing power if the RRSP interest rate you earn is lower than the inflation rate.
Medium to high-risk investments in an RRSP, e.g. stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs, can also lose or make money.
Is it better to put money in TFSAs or RRSPs?
It depends on your financial situation. Learn more about how to choose between a TFSA or RRSP.
What happens to my RRSP if I die?
If you have designated a beneficiary, e.g. spouse, child, or charity, the RRSP assets can be rolled over or transferred to them.
If you have not specified a beneficiary, RRSP assets are included in the estate, and income taxes are due in the deceased’s final income tax return. Learn more about RRSPs after death.
Can I transfer RRSP to TFSA without penalty?
No, you cannot directly transfer your RRSP to your TFSA. You can, however, transfer your RRSP to an RRIF or RDSP.
Possible transfers to avoid taxation can be “in-kind” or “in cash” and must be completed by your bank on your behalf.
Can I take money out of my RRSP without Penalty?
RRSP withdrawals are subject to a withholding tax ranging from 10% to 30%. You can take from an RRSP tax-free to buy a home (Home Buyers’ Plan – up to $35,000) or to pay for full-time education (Lifelong Learning Plan – up to $20,000).
You are required to refund the money to your RRSP within a specific period of time.