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What is a GIC?

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Meaning and Significance of GIC

Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) are financial tools that involve investing your money to the issuer, a financial institution, on some stated terms and within some time frame. The money you invested (the principal) is guaranteed to be returned alongside with some particularized interest at an agreed rate which may vary. There are two types of GICs, namely:

  • Variable rate GICs: These are GICs that can change on some specified terms. The interest rates in this GIC vary; thus it is a good option for those expecting the rate to increase within the period. Of course, if the rate increases, you will get your principal and higher interest but if the rate decreases, you are still guaranteed to receive your entire principal, but the interest will be calculated based on the new rate.
  • Equity-linked or Market GICs: The returns on this GIC are calculated on the corresponding stock market index in question. Your investment has to mature before the rate of return can be determined. Investment into this GIC will pay off substantially if the market performs well; however, you might receive only your principal if the market fails to perform well.

Reasons to invest in GIC

GIC is unlike stocks in which there is the probability that the amount invested can be lost. In GIC, you are guaranteed to receive at least the principal amount invested; thus, the investment is secured irrespective of the topsy-turviness of the market. It is a good ground to invest if you are not particularly interested in very high returns but the security of your principal investment.

Characteristics and Limitations of GICs

It is important to go through the features and restrictions of GICs before making the investment.

  • The base cap amount required when investing in GIC is usually $500, but the upper cap is unrestricted.
  • You do not need to pay any extra fee to obtain GICs.
  • The term duration can span from as short as 30 days to as long as ten (Note that only investments less than or equal to 5 years are insured by CDIC. You can learn more about this in our deposit insurance section).
  • GICs with longer terms attract higher interest rates than those with shorter terms.
  • In some cases, the larger the amount invested, the more interest rate that would be paid by issuers.
  • The interest payment can be made on a monthly, six months or yearly basis. The total amount can also be reinvested automatically until it matures.
  • With cashable GICs, you can withdraw your money as early as possible, after a designated closed period, without any penalty involved.
  • With redeemable GICs, offered by a lot of financial firms, you can cancel your investment even before it matures based on some conditions. However, different issuers have varying features when it comes to this.
  • The case of non-redeemable GICs is distinct from that of redeemable GICs. The issuer has to agree before you can pull out your money prematurely, else you may have to pay some penalties and also lose all your interests.

Reasons why Banks Offer GICs

The mechanism of banks’ operation lends ideas to the need for GICs. Banks merely serve as intermediaries between borrowers and depositors; they keep the money for depositors and lend to borrowers the money deposited. The depositors are paid some interests while the borrowers are charged a higher rate of interest. This is where GIC comes in. It is a financial tool used by banks and other financial institutions to generate funds to fund loans. GICs, especially non-redeemable GICs, offer the financial firm the necessary money for designated period to carry out its lending-borrowing business.