The Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is Canada’s most popular tool for saving towards 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 continues to grow tax-free until you start making withdrawals.
Some of the best RRSP interest rates in Canada are:
- Tangerine: 2.50% introductory 5-month rate (with promo link)
- Motive Financial: up to 1.25%
- Achieva Financial: 1.50%
- Implicitly Financial: 1.60%
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 comes with 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.
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 the traditional big banks.
The RRSP savings accounts listed below do not charge a monthly account fee, your contributions are tax-deductible, and earnings remain tax-free until withdrawal.
Tangerine RRSP Savings Account
A Tangerine RRSP savings account offers a promotional rate of 2.50% for 5 months (0.20% after the promo ends).
The account has no monthly fees and you enjoy an automatic savings plan that makes it easy to save on a regular basis.
Tangerine is owned by Scotiabank and your deposits are issued by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) up to $100,000.
Learn more about the bank in this Tangerine review.
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: 0.25%
- $2,500.01 and over: 1.25%
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 1.50% 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.
Implicitly RRSP Savings Account
Implicitly is an online bank owned by Entegra Credit Union.
Their RRSP savings account offers a 1.60% interest rate. There is no minimum balance requirement, however, if you decide to move your funds to one of their RRSP term deposit accounts, a $1,000 balance is required.
Learn more about them in this Implicitly Financial review.
motusbank RRSP Savings Account
motusbank is another online bank that is affiliated with a credit union – Meridian Credit Union.
You earn 1.40% on your motusbank RRSP savings account which has no monthly fees or minimum balance.
AcceleRate Variable RRSP Savings Account
AcceleRate Financial is the online banking arm of Crosstown Civic Credit Union.
They offer a variable RRSP savings account that pays 1.50% annually.
There are no monthly service fees and you enjoy 100% protection by the Deposit Guarantee Corporation of Manitoba.
Alterna RRSP eSavings Account
Alterna Bank’s RRSP eSavings account offers a 1.50% 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 2020, the maximum RRSP contribution limit is $27,230.
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 5 years are as follows:
- 2020: $27,230
- 2019: $26,500
- 2018: $26,230
- 2017: $26,010
- 2016: $25,370
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 $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 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 and/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 prior to 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 10 years to pay back the funds.
Are RRSP’s 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 here.
RRSP Savings Account FAQs
What is the best bank for RRSPs?
The best bank for your RRSP account will depend on a variety of 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 and/or provincial deposit guarantee corporations protect your deposits up to a specified amount in the event that a member financial institution becomes bankrupt.
You can still lose money to inflation and lower purchasing power if the RRSP interest rate you are earning is lower than the inflation rate.
Medium-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 here.
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 in order 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.