All research for this article, including research into GIC banks and the best GIC rates in Canada, was conducted in June, 2019.

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Let’s imagine for a moment:

You want to go to college in Canada. You’ve studied hard your whole life, put in the time, landed good grades. You’ve looked up colleges and universities, found the right program, and spent hours putting together applications. And now you’ve received your letter of acceptance, promising you admission, a Canadian education, and a clear path to a great career and long-term immigration in Canada. You’re so close. Now all that’s left is to apply for your study permit

If you’re living in China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan, Morocco, or Senegal, you can get your Canadian study permit processed in 20 days, thanks to a new expedited application system for study permits called the Student Direct Stream, or SDS.

A major requirement to apply for your study permit through the Student Direct Stream is submitting a Guaranteed Investment Certificate (GIC) showing you have an investment account with a balance of CAD $10,000 or higher.

We know that you have a lot to get ready for your studies in Canada: booking a flight, finding a place to live, trying to sign up for a class schedule that will let you sleep in on Fridays! You may not have time to research all the banks to find out which bank offers the best GIC for you, including the best GIC rates in Canada. So, we’ve done all the research for you! We’ve put together a side-by-side comparison of all the top Canadian banks providing GICs to figure out the option that’s the fastest, easiest, and most affordable. From the biggest perks to the best GIC rates in Canada, we did our homework.

After putting together all of our research, one option stands above the others: the CIBC Student GIC program is the best GIC option on the market. With more than 150 years in the market, an easy online application process, and a free student bank account when you arrive in Canada, CIBC bank is not only the most affordable option it makes the most sense for other reasons too. Take a look at our research below to see exactly how we figured out that CIBC is a great option for your GIC for Canada. And, for a limited time, we’ve actually partnered up with CIBC to offer Moving2Canada users a great deal. Sign up for your CIBC Student GIC and use referral code M2C in your application to receive a bonus of CAD $25* just for choosing CIBC.

Young international students stand in a line with phones and laptops

The Student Direct Stream: Why do you need a GIC in Canada?

Before we launch into our comparison, let’s go over the basics about a GIC for Canada. 

The Student Direct Stream was launched in June 2018 to allow residents of four countries to have their Canadian study permit applications processed in approximately 20 calendar days. This is much faster than the processing time for study permit applications submitted through the regular stream.

In order to apply for a study permit through the Student Direct Stream, you have to meet a few eligibility requirements:

  • Be a legal resident living in China, India, the Philippines, Vietnam, Pakistan, Morocco, or Senegal;
  • Have a letter of acceptance from a Canadian post-secondary designated learning institution;
  • Have already paid tuition fees for your first year of study in Canada;
  • Have a GIC certificate of $10,000 CAD;
  • Have language test results showing English or French proficiency at a minimum of Canadian Language Benchmark Level 7;
  • Submit your most recent secondary or post-secondary educational transcripts;
  • Have your medical exam and police certificates (if required); and
  • Only if you’ll be studying in Quebec: Have a Certificat d’acceptation du Quebec (CAQ).

In this article, we’re just focusing on the best GIC rates in Canada for the GIC account requirement, but be sure to check out our complete guidelines on the Student Direct Stream to learn more about the other requirements.

Which bank has the best GIC rates in Canada?

Your GIC account is an investment. You will get the money back from your GIC once you start your studies in Canada. Usually, students receive CAD $2000 when they first arrive in Canada, then the remaining $8000 is paid out in installments over the following year.

We took the time to do in-depth research into six of the largest Canadian banks to compare their GIC options for international students applying to the Student Direct Stream. To find the best GIC rates in Canada, we compared each bank based on the countries they serve, program fees, other fees, application process, and bonus perks for signing up.

But! We also looked at one other important factor.

When you sign up for a GIC for Canada, you’re not just signing up for a one-time deal with the bank. You’re also signing up for a bank account with that bank when you come to Canada. You see, in order to access the money in your GIC certificate, you have to register for a chequing account with the bank (a chequing account is a Canadian bank account used for day-to-day expenses; this is known as a current account in some countries). This means that when selecting a GIC provider, you also have to consider the bank account options for international students. Thankfully, we’ve included this information in our comparison as well,

So, let’s dive into it, shall we?

Choosing a bank with the best GIC rates in Canada: A side-by-side comparison of your GIC options

Table comparing GIC banking options

Comparison: Countries served

Serve all participating countries?
Winners: CIBC and Scotiabank.

There are only two banks that have dedicated GIC account programs for the original four countries participating in the Student Direct Stream: both CIBC and Scotiabank’s GIC rates are competitive in this area. While there are other options for those living in China and India, only CIBC and Scotiabank’s GICs offer the Student Direct Stream to students living in the Philippines and Vietnam as well.

Please note that Pakistan was added as an eligible country in July, 2019, and Morocco and Senegal were added in September, 2019. The banks have not yet adjusted to offer GIC options for clients in these countries.

Comparison: Fees Charged

Lowest fees?
Winner: CIBC.

Every bank requires the student to invest CAD $10,000 minimum in their GIC. That’s because this is the minimum amount required to apply for a study permit through the Student Direct Stream. However, only one bank lets students open their GIC for free, and that’s CIBC. All the other options charge a program fee and additional fees. 

Comparison: Application Process

Easiest Application Process?
Winners: CIBC and Scotiabank.

Both CIBC and Scotiabank’s GIC accounts allow students from all four countries to apply quickly and easily for their GIC online. The other banking options do not allow students to apply for their GIC using a simple online form, plus they are only available to residents of some countries, not all four of the participating countries. CIBC’s online capabilities enable you to complete your GIC application digitally, from any device and any location. Plus once you have your CIBC account, you can access and manage your money through CIBC’s award-winning mobile banking app!

Comparison: Bonus Perks

Best bonus perks
Winner: CIBC

CIBC is the only bank that offers a cash bonus for signing up. Moving2Canada users who sign up for their GIC through CIBC receive a bonus of $25* when they use referral code M2C. Add this to the fact that CIBC is the only bank that doesn’t charge a program fee, and the choice becomes even clearer.

While a Scotiabank GIC definitely gives CIBC some competition, it is clear that RBC’s GIC rates along with the BMO GIC and HSBC GIC fall short in a number of ways. Meanwhile, TD’s GIC options are not yet available for the SDS participating countries, while information is still outstanding on Tangerine’s GIC rates.

No Monthly Fee: CIBC, Scotiabank, BMO, and HSBC
Unlimited Free Monthly Transactions: CIBC and Scotiabank
Free Global Money Transfers: CIBC and HSBC
Winner: CIBC

We compared student bank account options to see who offered accounts with no monthly fees for students2, unlimited free transactions, and access to free global money transfers1. The only bank to meet all of these criteria was CIBC. It’s clear that in addition to having some of the best GIC rates in Canada, CIBC also offers stellar options for account holders.

Even if you’re applying for a study permit through the Regular Student Program, you can still choose to set up your student bank account with CIBC before you travel to Canada. The CIBC Student Deposit Program allows international students to make an initial deposit above CAD $1,000. Once you arrive in Canada, you can go to any CIBC location to complete the account setup process and access your funds. CIBC has more than 1,000 branches and more than 3,000 ATMs, so accessing your funds will be simple and convenient!

Young asian woman in graduation gown holding diploma with smiling mother

The best GIC rates in Canada: CIBC’s Student GIC Program

Based on our analysis, the CIBC Student GIC Program is the best option with the best GIC rates in Canada for international students applying for a study permit through the Student Direct Stream. The Canada GIC option offered by CIBC is available to all participating countries, the application process is simple, and there are no fees to apply. Plus, when you come to Canada CIBC’s free student banking account will provide you with unlimited monthly transactions and free global money transfers2.

Signing up for the CIBC Student GIC Program is simple. Just click this link, take five minutes to complete the online form, and CIBC will contact you with instructions on how to wire transfer your funds to the GIC. Be sure to use referral code M2C when you sign up to receive a $25* bonus.

In order to apply for the CIBC Student GIC Program, you must be a legal resident living in China, India, the Philippines, or Vietnam. You’ll need to submit details about the program you’ve been accepted to in Canada, as well as identification information from your passport. You can apply for your GIC in Canada within 365 days of the start date for your study program in Canada.

We hope this has made your Canadian study permit process a little bit easier. And once you’re in Canada, we hope you take some time away from the library to get out and explore. Whether it’s joining a new club, playing a sport, or taking a day-trip to one of Canada’s amazing sights, we know you’ll have a great time during your studies!

Terms and conditions

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*Referral offer may change or end at any time without notice. Must be a Canadian entity/resident with a Canadian bank account in order to be eligible. Referral fee will be deposited into your Canadian bank account within 14 business days once the student’s account is activated. Other conditions apply. Learn more at CIBC ISBO Referral Program Terms and Conditions (PDF, 595 KB).

1 – CIBC foreign exchange rates apply. A CIBC Global Money Transfer and a Foreign Exchange transaction counts towards your allowable transaction limit; bank account transaction fees may apply. Must have a CIBC Business Operating Account or U.S. Current Account to send a CIBC Global Money Transfer. Most transfers are completed by the next business day; some transfers require 2 to 3 business days.
Read the CIBC Global Money Transfer Agreement at CIBC.com/globalmoneytransfer 

2 – A transaction includes cheques, withdrawals, transfers, pre-authorized payments, bill payments (including CIBC Credit Cards and CIBC Personal Lines of Credit) and debit purchases. Additional fee(s) apply to withdrawals from non-CIBC bank machines, wire transfers, and transactions in foreign currency transactions (including cheques written in currencies other than the account currency). Student offers are in effect for up to a maximum of 4 years from your program enrolment date (based on expected graduation date or length of the program) plus six additional months after graduation.

Interac e-Transfer® is a registered trade-mark of Interac Corp. Used under licence.

The CIBC logo is a trademark of CIBC. All other trademarks are owned by CIBC or their respective owners.

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