Skip to content
All posts

Crunching the Numbers: How GIC Rates Are Calculated

Untitled design (3)
Guaranteed Investment Certificates(GICs) are popular investment vehicles known for their stability and predictable returns. Canadian investors often turn to GICs as a low-risk option to grow their savings over time. However, understanding how GIC rates are calculated is essential for making informed investment decisions. In this blog post, we'll delve into the intricacies of GIC rates and explore the factors that influence them.

Key Takeaways:

  1. GIC rates are determined by interest rates in the market, term length, GIC type, and the current policies of the financial institution.
  2. Variations in rates are often due to changing operational needs within a financial institution, market competition, funding sources, and regulatory requirements.
  3. Financial institutions sometimes offer special rates to achieve promotional objectives, often for a limited time, strategically utilizing them to attract deposits for various purposes.

What is a GIC Rate?

Before we delve into the calculation of GIC rates, let's clarify what exactly a GIC rate is. A GIC rate refers to the interest rate that investors earn on their GIC investments over a specified period. This rate is typically fixed at the time of purchase and remains constant throughout the term of the GIC. 

Factors That Influence GIC Rates

Several factors influence the calculation of GIC rates. Understanding these factors can provide insights into how GIC rates are determined: 

  1. Market Interest Rates: GIC rates are closely tied to prevailing market interest rates in Canada. As interest rates fluctuate in the broader economy, financial institutions adjust their GIC rates accordingly. When market interest rates rise, GIC rates tend to increase as well, and vice versa. 

  2. Term Length: The term length of a GIC refers to the length of time the investor agrees to lock in their funds. Generally, longer-term GICs offer higher interest rates compared to short-term GICs such as one-year GICs. This is because longer-term investments typically entail a higher level of risk for the financial institution, and higher rates compensate investors for tying up their funds for an extended period. 

  3. Type of GIC: There are various types of GICs available to investors, each offering different features and interest rates. For example, cashable GICs provide flexibility for short-term investments, while non-redeemable GICs or fixed-rate GICs offer higher returns for longer-term investments. The way that interest payments are made can also have an affect.

    There are also Non-registered GICs that are subject to taxation, whereas investments in registered accounts such as Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) provide tax advantages. 

  4. Monitor and Reinvest: Regularly monitor the maturity dates of your GICs as they approach expiration. When a GIC matures, reinvest the principal and interest into a new GIC with a new five year term, that way it will mature a year after the last stage of your current ladder. This process allows you to continuously reinvest your returns at potentially higher rates the available while maintaining liquidity through regular access to funds and mitigating the risk of interest rate changes.

  5. Financial Institution: Different banks or credit unions in Canada may offer varying GIC interest rates based on their individual strategies, market conditions, and funding costs. Banks may adjust their rates based on their operational needs, competitive pressures, and the Bank of Canada's interest rate decisions. 

Why Different Financial Institutions Have Different Rates

Financial institutions set their GIC rates based on a variety of factors unique to their operations and market positioning: 

  • Operational Needs: Banks and credit unions may require deposits to fund their lending activities, cover operational expenses, and meet regulatory requirements. In certain circumstances, financial institutions offer special GIC rates or promotional offers to attract deposits and bolster their balance sheets. 
  • Market Competition: Intense competition among financial institutions for deposits and market share can lead to variations in GIC rates. Institutions may adjust their rates to attract and retain customers, or promote unique products like market-linked gics in order to stand out in the market. 
  • Funding Sources: Financial institutions rely on a mix of funding sources, including deposits, wholesale funding, and capital markets. The cost of obtaining funds to lend out, including borrowing costs and interest rates on deposits, influences the rates offered on GICs. 
  • Regulatory Environment: Regulatory requirements, including those imposed by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC), also impact financial institutions' policies and rates on GICs. 

When Would an Institution Offer a Special Rate

Consider a hypothetical scenario where a bank aims to boost its deposit base to fund new lending initiatives. To incentivize customers to deposit funds, the bank decides to offer a special promotional GIC rate for a limited time. 

The bank may announce a promotional GIC rate, or an additional guaranteed return that exceeds the prevailing market rates, enticing customers to deposit their funds with the bank. This special rate serves as an incentive for customers to choose the bank over competing institutions and contribute to its deposit growth objectives. 

By offering a competitive GIC rate, the bank can attract a larger pool of deposits, which can be utilized to support its lending activities, invest in new ventures, or meet regulatory requirements. Once the promotional period expires, the bank may adjust its GIC rates to align with market conditions and its long-term funding needs. 

Banks rely on a steady influx of deposits to fund their lending activities and cover operational expenses. In periods of increased lending or expansion initiatives, banks may require additional deposits to maintain liquidity and support their growth objectives. 

This is why sometimes certain rates or GIC products might have limitation on the maturity date, investment amount, or the type of depositor they are looking for. The administrative cost of managing multiple new smaller accounts may be too high compared to a lower number of accounts opened with a high minimum investment.  


Understanding the various factors influencing GIC rates and the strategies employed by financial institutions can help investors make informed decisions. Whether considering promotional rates, assessing market competition, or evaluating operational needs, investors can navigate the GIC market with confidence and optimize their investment portfolios for long-term success. 

Investing in GICs can be a valuable addition to your investment portfolio, offering stability, predictability, and a reliable source of income. By understanding the intricacies of GIC rates, investors can navigate the GIC market more confidently and effectively grow their savings over time. 

One of the simplest ways that you can navigate the GIC market with ease is through our platform at Yield Exchange! Get instant access to rates from over 20+ top-tier financial institutions, or post your deposit to receive rates tailored to your investment needs! To learn more about how we work, click here!