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An Introduction to High Interest Savings Accounts (HISA)

Smiling young man with Bluetooth headphones using smart phone on sofa to access his High Interest Savings Account (HISA) on the Saven Financial app.

An Introduction to High Interest Savings Accounts (HISA)

At Saven Financial, we're committed to helping Ontarians navigate the sometimes complex world of personal finance. Today, we're diving into High Interest Savings Accounts (HISAs) - a simple and effective tool to help you grow your savings faster. If you've ever asked yourself, "How can I make my money work harder for me?" you're in the right place. A High Interest Savings Account could be the answer.

The Basics of a HISA

A HISA is a type of savings account offering a higher interest rate than regular savings accounts, meaning your money grows more quickly. The concept is simple: the more you save, the more you earn. And the best part? Your money is still easily accessible, just like with a standard savings account.

What is a HISA?

A High Interest Savings Account is, as its name suggests, a savings account that offers a higher interest rate compared to a standard savings account. These accounts are designed to reward you with a better return for keeping your money in the bank. The concept is straightforward - you deposit money into the account, and the bank pays you interest based on the balance you maintain.

Comparison to Regular Savings Accounts

While regular savings accounts and HISAs are designed to keep your money safe while earning interest, the main difference lies in the interest rate. Standard savings accounts often offer minimal interest rates, which can sometimes be close to 0%. HISAs, on the other hand, provide significantly higher rates, allowing your money to grow more rapidly.

It's important to note that both types of accounts provide the same level of access to your money, including online transfers and direct deposit capabilities.

How Do HISAs Work?

When you open a HISA and deposit money into it, the bank pays you interest at a set rate. This rate is usually annual and often compounded monthly, meaning that each month, you earn interest on the money you deposited and any interest you previously earned. Financial experts refer to this as 'compound interest' - and it's a powerful tool for growing your savings.

For a simple example, let’s presume that last month you maintained a $1,000 balance throughout the month and the rate held steady at 3.50%. Here’s how your interest payment for the month was calculated:

By putting your hard-earned savings to work, your interest-earning balance for the following month is now $1,002.88. This example may not seem like a lot, but as you continue to build your savings, interest paid and compounded monthly has a magnifying affect over time and will get you to your savings goal faster.

Interest rates on HISAs can fluctuate based on market conditions, so it's essential to monitor the rates offered by your financial institution regularly. Some HISAs may also have minimum balance requirements to earn the high interest or tiered interest rates, where the rate increases as your balance grows.

In Canada, the interest you earn in a HISA is taxable unless the account is held within a registered plan like a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP).

The Benefits of a HISA

Higher Interest Rates

The primary benefit of a High Interest Savings Account is its high interest rate. This allows your money to grow more rapidly than it would in a standard savings account. The exact rate may vary between different banks or financial institutions, but it will typically be much higher than what's offered for a regular savings account.

Accessibility and Liquidity

While some investment vehicles require you to lock in your money for a certain period, a HISA allows instant access to your funds. This means you can withdraw or transfer your money anytime without penalties. This liquidity makes HISAs a perfect place for your emergency fund, which requires quick access in case of unforeseen expenses.

Helps Against Inflation

With the cost of goods and services rising over time due to inflation, ensuring that your money isn't losing its purchasing power is vital. A HISA, with its higher interest rate, helps you keep pace with inflation, maintaining the value of your savings.

No Investment Risk

Unlike stocks or mutual funds, a HISA has no investment risk. The money in your HISA (including the interest you earn) is not subject to market fluctuations. This means that a HISA is an excellent option for those who prefer a stable return on their savings.

A High Interest Savings Account can be a game changer in your financial planning. Offering a combination of higher returns, liquidity, and security, a HISA is a valuable tool in your financial toolkit.

How to Choose a HISA

Choosing a High Interest Savings Account is an important decision and should be based on your individual financial needs and goals. Here are some key factors to consider:

Interest Rate

The interest rate is the primary feature of a HISA. A higher interest rate means your savings will grow more quickly. However, remember that some banks offer promotional rates that might decrease after a certain period. At Saven Financial, we do not provide time-sensitive or promotional interest rates. Our rates can be viewed anytime through our online banking platform or on our website.


Some HISAs may have account fees that can eat into your interest earnings. Look for accounts with no monthly fees or where the fees can be waived by maintaining a minimum balance or meeting other criteria.

Access to Funds

Ensure that the account provides easy access to your funds. Most HISAs offer the same level of access as regular savings accounts, including online banking and the ability to make transfers.

Minimum Balance Requirement

Some HISAs require you to maintain a minimum balance to earn the high interest rate or to avoid account fees. Make sure you’re comfortable with any such requirements. A HISA at Saven Financial has no minimum balance requirement or monthly account fees.

Customer Service

Quality customer service can be critical, especially for an online savings platform. Look for providers that offer convenient support through multiple channels, such as phone, email, and live chat.

Ultimately, the best HISA for you will depend on your circumstances and financial goals. Always read the terms and conditions carefully before opening an account.

How to Open a HISA

Opening a High Interest Savings Account is a straightforward process. While the exact steps might vary depending on the financial institution, the general process is as follows:

Step 1: Choose a Provider

Based on the factors discussed in the previous sections, decide on the financial institution that best suits your needs.

Step 2: Gather the Required Information

You'll typically need the following information to open a HISA:

  • Personal identification, such as a valid driver's license or passport
  • Social Insurance Number (SIN)
  • Contact details, including your address, phone number, and email

Step 3: Fill out the Application

Most banks and financial institutions offer an online application process, meaning you can open your HISA from the comfort of your home. You'll need to fill out the application form with your details, choose the type of account you want to open, and agree to the terms and conditions.

Step 4: Deposit Funds

Once your account is open, you can deposit funds into your HISA. This might be via an online transfer or direct deposit.

Step 5: Start Earning Interest

Once you've deposited funds into your account, you'll earn interest based on the bank's interest rate.

At Saven Financial, we aim to make this process even simpler. You can open a HISA quickly and easily and use an INTERAC e-Transfer to immediately transfer your funds into your account. Our Saven Service Centre can also help with any questions or issues.

Remember, every journey starts with a single step. Opening a HISA could be your first step towards a future of greater financial growth and security.

Frequently Asked Questions about HISAs

As you begin your journey with High Interest Savings Accounts, having questions is normal. Below, we've addressed some of the most common ones:

Is there a risk of losing money in a HISA?

No, HISAs are one of the safest places to store your money. They are not exposed to market risks like investments in stocks or bonds.

How often is the interest paid?

Most financial institutions pay interest on HISAs monthly, but this can vary. The interest is typically compounded, meaning you'll earn interest on your initial deposit as well as on the interest you've already earned. At Saven Financial, interest is calculated daily and paid at the end of each month.

Can I make withdrawals from my HISA anytime?

Yes, you can generally withdraw money from your HISA without penalty, making it a highly liquid form of savings. However, certain banks might have a limit on the number of free withdrawals per month. Our HISA offers unlimited and free withdrawals from your account at any time.

Is the interest earned on a HISA taxable?

Yes, the interest earned on a HISA is considered income and is therefore taxable in Canada unless the HISA is within a registered plan like a TFSA or RRSP.

What happens if the interest rate changes after I open my HISA?

HISA rates are variable and can change with market conditions. If the rate increases, you'll earn more interest. If it decreases, you'll earn less. It's essential to keep an eye on interest rates and consider switching if you're not getting the best rate.

Can I set up a direct deposit into my HISA?

Yes, most HISAs allow for direct deposit. This is a convenient way to add funds to your account and maximize your savings regularly.

Savings are an integral part of financial wellness. Whether you're saving for a short-term goal, like a vacation, or a long-term goal, like retirement, where you keep your savings matters. A High Interest Savings Account is a powerful tool to make your money work harder.

By offering higher interest rates, flexibility, and security, a HISA could be the key to achieving your savings goals faster. At Saven Financial, we're committed to making the process of opening a HISA as quick and straightforward as possible. Our intuitive, no-nonsense platform helps Ontarians navigate the world of savings and investments, empowering you to make informed decisions.

Don't let your savings sit idle in a regular savings account. Let them grow in a HISA. Every dollar saved today is a step towards a more secure financial future.

If you have any further questions about HISAs, please contact our team. We're here to help you every step of the way on your savings journey.

Stay ahead with SavenSmarts!