What is interest? Your guide to learning APR vs. APY

Get the best deal by knowing the ins and outs of interest rates.

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Some types of interest rates cost you money and some earn you money. Some compound interest and others don’t — and then there’s also fixed vs. variable rates to consider. Knowing the terminology before you choose a new card, loan or account can help you make the best decision.

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

2.00 % APR

rate

  • Zero everyday banking fees
  • Free transactions
  • No minimum account balance

EQ Bank Savings Plus Account

With no everyday banking fees and free transactions, open an EQ Bank Savings Plus Account and get an interest rate of 1.70%.

  • Account fee: $0
  • Interest rate: 1.70%
  • Min. deposit amount to open account: $0
  • Account type: Savings
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What’s the difference between APR and APY?

Knowing the meanings of the most common terms you’ll come across when making financial decisions can help you make the most of your money:

  • APR. This is the bad kind of interest. APR stand for annual percentage rate, and it’s the amount of interest you have to pay each year. To save the most money, look for loans and credit cards with a low APR.
  • APY. This is the good kind of interest. APY stands for annual percentage yield, and it’s the amount of interest that gets paid to you each year. To earn the most money, look for savings accounts and investments with a high APY.

What are the different types of interest rates?

There are 2 main types of interest rates — fixed and variable. They can apply to either APR or APY interest rates.

  • Fixed interest rates. This is a set interest rate that is essentially “locked” for the duration of your loan term. The rate you agree to in your loan contract is guaranteed to remain in place until you close the loan at the end of the term.
  • Variable interest rates. This is a rate that may change during your loan term and may be more common in some products than others. For example, personal loans can come with variable interest rates, but it’s unlikely for the rate to change during the loan term. On the other hand, it’s much more likely that a mortgage with a variable rate will change.

How is interest charged on different financial products?

Interest works differently depending on the type of product you have:

Credit cards

Credit cards come with variable, annual interest rates. The rates vary depending on what features the card offers, but the average card falls somewhere between 15% and 22% APR. If you have excellent credit, you can qualify for a lower rate. If you have a low credit score, expect to pay on the higher end of that spectrum — or more.

There are 2 types of interest rates on a credit card: purchase rate and cash advance rate. The purchase rate is what you’re charged to make purchases on the card and the cash advance rate is what you’re charged to withdraw cash using the credit card. Credit cards can also offer special interest rates such as introductory 0% rates or balance transfer rates.

Personal loans

Interest rates on personal loans can be fixed or variable and are annual rates. In the past, these rates reflected the market at the time. However, lenders have been moving towards personalizing interest rates based on how risky it is to offer the loan.

This is why there are now 2 types of interest rates you’ll see advertised for personal loans: set rates and risk-based rates. Set rates will be given to everyone who is approved for a personal loan by that lender. Lenders offering risk-based interest rates will do so using a range — 7% to 18% APR, for example — and your exact rate will depend on your credit score and job stability. You can typically get a rate estimate before applying for a loan.

Mortgages

Mortgage interest rates can also be fixed or variable. Fixed interest rates are guaranteed not to change, whereas variable rates may fluctuate. Variable interest rates can change quite frequently, as they’re heavily influenced by the economy.

The interest you’re charged will generally be calculated daily. Mortgages can either be principal and interest — meaning you’re repaying both the interest you’re being charged and the original amount you borrowed — or interest-only. With the latter, you’re only repaying the interest accruing on your debt.

Savings accounts

Savings accounts work differently from credit accounts because the interest rates earn you money rather than cost you money. All savings accounts come with a variable base rate, with most calculated daily on your principal balance and paid into your account monthly. This is referred to as compound interest: the interest payments you earn then go on to earn their own interest. Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) and other savings options work similarly, though GICs offer fixed interest rates.

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)

How should I compare interest rates?

Keep the following in mind when comparing interest rates:

  • The actual rate. Look at how competitive the interest rate is when comparing. While the cheapest isn’t necessarily the best, a better interest rate can do a lot to save you money in the long run.
  • Fees. Check for any fees that the account or loan has, including upfront and ongoing fees. If you find an option with a competitive interest rate but sky-high fees, calculate whether it’s still the best option.
  • Apples-to-apples. While comparing interest rates across products is a good idea, make sure the products you’re comparing are similar. For example, you might compare one credit card to another one with a much lower interest rate, but no added benefits or features.

What is a negative interest rate?

Compare interest rates for savings accounts, loans, credit cards and mortgage brokers

Name Product Interest Rate Promotional Interest Rate Min. Bal / Min. Deposit Account Fee
EQ Bank Savings Plus Account
1.70%
N/A
$0 / $0
$0
Enjoy zero everyday banking fees, free transactions and no minimum balance with a Savings Plus Account from EQ Bank.
Tangerine Savings Account
0.20%
2.5%
$0 / $0
$0
Earn 2.50% interest for 5 months (up to a maximum of $1,000,000) as a new Tangerine client. Offer expires October 31, 2020.
Wealthsimple Cash
0.90%
N/A
$0 / $0
$0
Earn 0.90% on any money you invest and withdraw your funds at any time.
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Name Product Interest Rate Max. Loan Amount Loan Term Fees Min. Credit Score Link
Fairstone Personal Loan (Unsecured)
26.99% - 39.99%
$20,000
6 months - 5 years
None
560
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Fairstone offers unsecured personal loans up to $20,000
Cash Money Installment Loan
46.93%
$10,000
6 months - 5 years
Vary across provinces/territories
560
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Cash Money offers installment loans up to $10,000 for AB, MB and NB residents.
LendDirect Personal Loan
19.99% - 46.93%
$15,000
No end dates
None
560
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Borrow up to $15,000, based on your income and credit history, with a personal line of credit from LendDirect.
LendingMate Personal Loan
43% (British Columbia and Ontario) and 34.90% (Quebec)
$10,000
1-5 years
None
700
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LendingMate offers loans to Canadians with poor credit with no credit checks. Guarantor required for application.
Fairstone Personal Loan (Secured)
19.99% - 23.99%
$35,000
3-10 years
Varies by province
560
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Fairstone offers secured personal loans up to $35,000.
Alpine Credits Home Equity Loan
10.00% - 22.99%
$500,000
Up to 60 months
Between 5% - 8% of your APR will cover closing and admin fees.
300
Check eligibility
More Info
Alpine Credits offer home equity loans in amounts from $10,000 to $500,000. Must be a homeowner to qualify. Check eligibility for this loan through LoanConnect.
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Name Product Purchase Interest Rate Cash Advance Rate Annual Fee Minimum Income Benefits with this card Description
American Express Cobalt Card
19.99%
21.99%
$120
N/A
Earn 5 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible grocery stores, restaurants, bars, cafés and food delivery services, and earn 2 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent at eligible gas stations, and on transit and travel purchases, and earn 1 Membership Rewards point per $1 spent elsewhere. Terms apply
Earn up to 30,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year.
BMO World Elite Mastercard
19.99%
22.99%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($150 thereafter)
$80,000
Get 3 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on eligible travel, dining and entertainment purchases (up to $50,000 spend annually), and get 2 BMO Rewards points per $1 spent on all other eligible purchases (and once you reach the $50,000 annual spend).
Get up to $575 in value in your first year. Get a bonus of 40,000 BMO Rewards points ($285 travel value booked on bmorewards.com). Plus, get the $150 annual fee waived in the first year.
SimplyCash Preferred Card from American Express
19.99%
21.99%
$99
N/A
Earn 2% cash back on all eligible purchases
Earn 5% cash back on all eligible purchases in your first six months (up to a maximum spend of $6,000, or $300 in cash back).
Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card
19.95%
19.95%
$0
$12,000
Earn 2% cash back in two categories of your choice (or three categories if you open a Tangerine Savings Account and directly deposit your cash back into the account), and 0.5% cash back on everything else.
Get a 1.95% interest rate on balance transfers for the first six months (valid within the first 30 days of account opening).
BMO Preferred Rate Mastercard
12.99%
12.99%
$20
$15,000
Take advantage of an introductory balance transfer offer, annual fee waiver in the first year, and low purchase and cash advance interest rates.
Get a rate of 3.99% on balance transfers for 9 months with a 1% transfer fee. Plus, get the $20 annual fee waived in the first year.
American Express AIR MILES Platinum Credit Card
20.99%
21.99%
$120
N/A
Earn 1 AIR MILE for every $5 spent on eligible food, drink, gas and transit purchases (up to an annual spend of $30,000), and earn 1 AIR MILE for every $10 spent on all other eligible purchases (and after the $30,000 annual spend)
Earn a Welcome Bonus of 2,000 AIR MILES when you spend at least $1,500 in eligible purchases within the first three months.
No-Fee Scotiabank Value Visa Card
16.99%
16.99%
$0
$12,000
Save with a low interest rate, no annual fee and a balance transfer offer.
Get a 3.99% introductory interest rate on balance transfers with a 0% balance transfer fee for the first 6 months. Apply by October 31, 2020.
American Express Business Edge Card
19.99%
21.99%
$99
N/A
Earn 3 Membership Rewards points for every $1 spent on eligible business essentials including office supplies, electronics, rides, gas, eats and drinks (up to an annual earn of 75,000 Membership Rewards), and earn 1 Membership Reward point for every $1 spent on all other eligible purchases
Earn up to 42,000 Membership Rewards points in your first year. Earn a Welcome Bonus of 30,000 Membership Rewards points when you spend at least $5,000 on eligible purchases within the first three months, and earn 1,000 Membership Rewards points each month (a total of 12,000 annually) when you spend a minimum of $3,000 on eligible purchases
Shell AIR MILES Mastercard from BMO
19.99%
22.99%
$0
$15,000
Get 2 AIR MILES for every $20 spent at participating AIR MILES Partners, and get 1 AIR MILE for every $20 spent on eligible purchases elsewhere.
Get 800 AIR MILES Bonus Miles.
HSBC +Rewards™ Mastercard®
11.9%
11.9%
$0 annual fee for the first year ($25 thereafter)
N/A
Earn 2 Points for every $1 spent on eligible dining or entertainment purchases.
Earn 10,000 Points ($50 travel value). Plus, get a full annual fee rebate for the Primary Cardholder for the first year ($25 value). Apply by August 17, 2020. This offer is only available to residents of Canada other than the province of Quebec. Conditions apply.
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Name Product Min. credit score Provincial availability Loans offered
Homewise Mortgage
"A" mortgage lenders require a credit score of 620 or higher.
"B" mortgage lenders accept borrowers with a credit score of 450 or higher.
AB
BC
MB
NB
NL
NS
NT
NU
ON
PE
SK
YT
Fixed and variable rate mortgages
HELOCs
Second mortgages
Bridge mortgages
Homewise's personal advisors can get you mortgage rates from over 30 banks and lenders.
Canadian Capital Mortgages
5% down: 650+
20% down: lower scores considered
Refinancing: Any credit score
ON
Fixed and variable rate mortgages
HELOCs
Second mortgages
Reverse mortgages
Commerical mortgages
Canadian Capital Mortgages work with over 45 lenders in Canada to find you the best rate you're eligible for.
Butler Mortgage
All credit scores considered.
AB
BC
ON
Fixed and variable rate mortgages
HELOCs
Second mortgages
Butler Mortgage compare rates from over 350 lenders in Canada and pass any savings onto you.
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Bottom line

Before signing any financial agreement, make sure you understand all of its associated terms. Use that knowledge to shop around and find the best deal.

Frequently asked questions

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