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What is a GIC ladder?

January 16, 2024
min read

By laddering your GICs, you can take advantage of the highest interest rates and still access part of your savings every 12 months.

Thinking about investing in GICs? They’re a low-risk investment with a guaranteed return - that’s a win-win!

But you might be on the fence if you aren’t sure which term to choose or when the best time to lock in your funds would be.

With GICs, your money is locked in for the duration of the term. This may not be an issue with a 1-year GIC, but if you choose a 5-year GIC because it offers a higher rate, that means your funds are untouchable for 5 years.

So, how can you take advantage of higher rates, while ensuring you can tap into your savings if you need to?

A GIC ladder strategy allows you to access a portion of your funds each year. Each time one of your GICs matures, you have the choice to renew it into another term or withdraw the funds to cover expenses or debt.

Today, we’re diving into how to ladder GICs:

How does it work?

Rather than investing all your money into one long-term GIC, you can spread it out in several GICs with different term lengths.

You can take advantage of higher interest rates and still use funds when each GIC matures.

Two common options are a 3-year GIC ladder (where you invest 1/3 of your savings into 3 GICs) and a 5-year GIC ladder (where you invest 1/5 of your savings into 5 GICs).

You have $10,000 to invest in a GIC. Using the laddering strategy, your investment breaks down as follows:

1-year GIC: $2,000 earning 4.55% interest.

2-year GIC: $2,000 earning 4.60% interest.

3-year GIC: $2,000 earning 4.65% interest.

4-year GIC: $2,000 earning 4.70% interest.

5-year GIC: $2,000 earning 4.80% interest.

This puts you ahead of what you’d make if you deposited all your money in a single 1-year GIC, then rolled it into a new term upon renewal.

Each time one GIC matures, you can invest your money into another term. All the interest you earn will compound for even greater returns! Be sure to make note of the maturity dates for each of your GICs.

The benefits of laddering GICs

By structuring your investments using the ladder strategy, you can take advantage of these financial benefits:

You can pick a new interest rate each year

This ensures you can choose the best rate every 12 months, while still investing part of your money in the 5-year GIC.

One GIC matures annually

Worried about locking away all your savings for years at a time? Another perk of this strategy is part of your funds become available once a year. You can decide whether you want to stay invested or use your money for other expenses.

A laddering strategy makes your savings more liquid than with a regular GIC, since you get the recurring opportunity to pull your money out or stay invested.

Earn compound interest

If you’re shopping around for the highest GIC rates, keep in mind that not all financial institutions calculate interest equally.

Your actual return depends on how often the interest is calculated and paid out. Learn more about when a lower interest rate can equal a better return.

How are GICs taxed?

The interest you earn through your GIC will be considered income, which means you’ll have to pay taxes on it.

But if you hold GICs in a registered account, like an RRSP GIC or a TFSA GIC, you can shelter your earnings from taxes! This allows you to benefit from higher interest rates and keep more of your money.

Are there any downsides to a GIC laddering strategy?

For some people, the forced savings aspect of a GIC can be helpful. With your funds locked in for a longer term, it means you can’t give in to impulse purchases as easily.

The full benefits of a laddered GIC strategy are realized when you stay invested, because your returns keep compounding. If you struggle with spending, you may want to stick to a long-term GIC.

Open your Achieva account today!

Looking to set up a GIC ladder in Canada? Our GIC rates are incredibly competitive. At Achieva, opening your account takes minutes, and you can do it all online. Contact us to set up your account today.

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“I had a wonderful experience at Cambrian. I've been with the same institution for the last 21 years and all the fees and restrictions have finally pushed me into wanting to make some changes.

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