Is It Safe to Use Oaken Financial for My GICs? Does It Work? How Can I Add a Joint-Owner to a GIC?

Like many Canadians, I’m a bit nervous letting an “unknown” financial institution handle my money. Still, when I was looking for a place to put our emergency fund into a series of GICs so that one would mature each month for a year, Oaken Financial had the best on-going rates available with the most convenience for me. Still, I wondered if it would be safe to use it, whether it would work, and especially whether there would be any problems when the certificates matured.

What Maturity Instructions Could I Choose for a GIC with Oaken Financial?

When I bought the first guaranteed investment certificate last year, I asked to have the interest and principal paid out to my Oaken Savings Account at maturity. I was a bit nervous because I’d had bad experiences in the past with one of the Big Five Canadian banks not putting those instructions properly on file and my GICs rolling over to new terms and lower rates.

I checked the GIC certificate that Oaken had mailed me, and I checked my certificate details online and both said that the principal and interest would go into my savings account at maturity.

(I could also have asked them to mail me a cheque, or to re-invest the principal and/or interest at maturity.)

Will Oaken Warn Me That I Have a GIC About to Mature?

I was pleased to get a letter from Oaken more than a month ahead of time warning me that I had a GIC coming up for maturity. It offered me the option of changing my instructions for the cash. I left the instructions standing.

Did My Oaken GIC Mature Properly?

Still, it wasn’t till today, when the first certificate matured that I finally knew it would work. Yep, the cash is now in my Oaken Savings Account. Phew!

Will I Use Oaken Financial to Buy My Next GIC?

Yes. I actually am re-investing this 1/12 of our emergency fund today so that it will mature in another year’s time. Our expectation is that if we need this emergency fund, we will need it to pay monthly bills and property taxes etc so we won’t need it all in one chunk: we’ll use it in monthly chunks. I’m keeping a series of 12 GICs, one maturing each month, to keep the money earning some interest, hopefully enough to keep up with, almost, inflation.

What Rate is Oaken Financial Offering for a Non-Registered GIC Today, November 24, 2105?

The current rate for a non-cashable one-year GIC is 1.95%. A cashable is paying 1.75% which is more than most savings accounts. We don’t need to have cash handy here, since we have it elsewhere, so we’ll go with the non-redeemable GIC. The rate for 18 months and more is over 2%.

Adding a Joint Owner to a New GIC at Oaken Financial

This time, when buying a GIC, I wanted to add a Joint Owner, my husband.
I followed  my own instructions for buying a GIC, then clicked Yes when asked if I wanted to add a joint-owner.

The Joint Owner Details Section Opened

  1. I clicked to select Yes for Is the joint owner an existing customer?
  2. I typed in his Oaken Client Number.
  3. From the list of titles, I selected Mr.
  4. I typed in his first and last name in the appropriate text boxes.
  5. I clicked to select No for the question is he a US citizen or US resident for tax purposes?
  6. I typed in an optional email address for him.
  7. I clicked No to answer the question Has his personal information changed?
  8. I clicked No to answer whether I wished to add an additional joint-owner.
  9. I then continued with usual procedure by clicking on the Next button.

If you need to add a Joint-owner to an existing GIC, you could try talking directly to an Oaken Financial support person. I am not sure if it is possible or not.

Are My Oaken Financial GICs Insured by CDIC?

Today, November 24, 2015, they are listed as a member of CDIC and therefore the GICs are secured. It’s always a good idea to check the CDIC status of any institution again just before placing an order in case anything has changed.

Related Reading

Join In
Do you keep your emergency fund in cash or GICs? Where do you stash it? Please share your strategy with a comment.

How I Unexpectedly Got a Discount on VIA Rail Tickets

When I travel within Canada with my family we usually drive. We all like travelling by train but it gets expensive quickly if you have to buy fares for an entire family. If I’m travelling solo, though, I sometimes splurge and use VIA Rail so I’m always looking for ways to save money on my tickets; Recently I found a new one that saved me 10%.

Getting a Lower Rate on VIA Rail Tickets with a CAA Discount

I’ve mentioned before that we use our Petro-points to buy a CAA membership. We then use CAA to save money on admission fees to interesting places like the Lunenburg Fisheries Museum.  (If anyone knows whether this summer’s mermaid purses hatched successfully this fall, please let me know!)

This fall, I was pricing VIA tickets for a quick trip to see relatives when I randomly decided to check the Fares and Products tab on the VIA site. Underneath that tab lurks a heading “Special Offers.” And there it was: an offer to save 10% off any fare by entering my CAA number!

Being a suspicious person by nature, I confess I did hunt around the VIA site first to see what was the best possible rate I could get for my trip. Then I went back to the “Special Offers” page and clicked on the CAA box. Next in the Membership text box, I typed in my CAA number. I answered the skill testing question, which is currently 4 + 0 = (great question!!!), then clicked on the Submit button. I then was in the regular VIA site to purchase tickets online.

You can also phone a VIA office and buy tickets by telephone using your CAA number. (I’m not sure if there is an additional cost for using that service or not.)

The offer currently says, on November 21, 2015, that tickets must be purchased by December 31 2015 to qualify but they may be for travel anytime before December 31 2016. I don’t know if they will extend the offer at the end of the year or not.

There is a short-term additional discount on the sleeper trains, the Canadian and the Ocean that you can read about on the VIA site.
When I was properly in using my CAA membership number, the fares were reduced the promised 10% before taxes. So I bought my tickets and enjoyed my trip.
You have to have your CAA membership card with you when you travel to show if the VIA staff requests to see it.

Getting a Lower Rate on VIA Rail Tickets with a Perkopolis Discount

Some large companies offer their employees a membership in Perkopolis either directly or through their Social Clubs. My husband’s company does this. So I read the monthly discount newsletter from Perkopolis, too.

In November’s news, they mentioned a discount on VIA tickets of 15%. Wahoo! Even better than CAA!

The general details are described on the Perkopolis website.

The website doesn’t state how long the offer is valid for or when the travel must be taken. That suggests that it may be a long-term offer, so I’ll give it a try the next time I plan a VIA trip.

You have to have government-issued id (like a Driver’s License etc.) that matches your proof of Perkopolis membership with you to show if the VIA staff requests to see it.

Why On Earth Does VIA Rail Have So Many Different Fares for the Same Train?

When you first look to book your seats, you may see quite a list of fare choices. There is one obvious difference in price: Business Class vs. all other classes. Business Class is what many people call First Class. The seats are more spacious, hot meals and beverages are included in the price on some routes and you receive priority boarding and extra assistance. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout the train, though; You don’t have to be in Business Class to get it.

Other fares which are all seats in the regular train carriages include

  • Escape
  • Economy
  • Economy Plus

The differences are usually relating to the cost, if any, to cancel tickets and to re-book tickets. The more flexibility you want to change or cancel your tickets, the more you will have to pay.

According to an article in the Toronto Star VIA is using a pricing model similar to an airline. They raise rates on popular trains and drop them to get people aboard at less popular times. Rates can drop as low as 50-75% off full fare.

What Discounts Can You Get on VIA Rail Tickets Without a Membership?

Not everyone belongs to the CAA or Perkopolis, of course. There are some other ways to save a bit.

VIA Rail’s Tuesday Seat Sales

Starting at 7 a.m. Eastern Time, and continuing till 11.59 p.m. Eastern Time, VIA offers additional fare reductions on some routes for some seats. It’s basically a type of clearance sale on trains that aren’t full in the short-term. It doesn’t usually include good rates for trains that aren’t leaving in the next week or two.

Other VIA Rail Fare Specials

Be sure to keep an eye on the VIA website for other types of discounts.
For example, right now they are offering cheaper fares

  • for seniors
  • for children
  • for people buying a multi-use ticket for several trips between the same starting and ending points
  • for students at post-secondary schools

In the meantime, I enjoyed saving 10% using my CAA membership, especially since I bought that membership with reward points. Next time, I’ll try the Perkopolis rate if it’s still available.

Related Reading

Join In
Have you found another way to get a good rate on VIA Rail? Please share your strategy with a comment.

What’s the Best Rate I Can Get for My Money for 1 to 2 Years from a GIC?

Previously, I looked at where I could park the money for our next car in a daily interest bank account and what interest rate I might be able to get. Next, I looked at what rates I could see for guaranteed investment certificates, GICs, both cashable and non-redeemable.

What Rate Are the Big 5 Canadian Banks Offering for GICs?

This is tricky to answer because most banks *post* a certain interest rate but you can sometimes get them to offer 0.25-0.5% more if

  • you ask
  • you have $10 000 or more to invest
  • you offer them other business like a mortgage or loan
  • you have been a “long time” client
  • you ask them to price match a competitor’s published or otherwise guaranteed rate

GIC Rates for a 1 Year Non-redeemable GIC

The banks often offer specials and short-term deals. There may be better rates available even an hour after I post this. The purpose is to show readers that the Big Banks generally are not offering as high a rate as the more competitve, more eager for your money, smaller banks.

The posted rates today (November 12, 2015) are

GIC Rates for a 2 Year Non-redeemable GIC

The posted rates today (November 12, 2015) are

  • BMO 1.05%
  • CIBC 0.85%
  • RBC 0.95%
  • ScotiaBank 1.1%
  • TD 0.95%

What Rates Are the Online and Smaller Banks Offering for GICs for 1 and 2 Year Terms

Here are some examples, though, of what other banks are offering. (Again, these were listed on November 12, 2015) These are CDIC insured GICs.

  • Tangerine
    1 Year: 1.2%;
    2 Year: 1.35%
  • PC Financial
    1 Year: 1.095%;
    2 Year: 1.194%
  • Oaken Financial
    1 Year: 1.95%;
    2 Year: 2.1%

You can see why I’m not recommending spending much time trying to get a great rate from a Big Five bank! It’s easier just to buy a GIC from one of the smaller players.

Make Sure Your GIC IS Safely Insured Against Financial Problems at the Issuing Company

Always check before buying though that the institution has CDIC insurance for its GICs.

Some trust companies and credit unions have other forms of insurance. You’d have to decide whether those other forms are reliable enough for you. I figure that if they have CDIC coverage just like the Big Five do, then it’s as good as I’m likely to get.

Why Buy a GIC When a Daily Interest Savings Account Offers More?

Given these very low rates for GICs, it actually makes more sense for me to keep this money in a daily interest savings account with a promotional interest rate! For example, I’m getting 3% right now for my money at Tangerine due to a special offer. I could be getting 2.6% from Zag bank.

There is no benefit to me for locking up my money where I can’t get at it for a fixed term of 1 or 2 years if the GIC interest rate is lower than what I can get on a daily interest savings account!

The only reasons I can think of to buy a 1 year or 2 year non-redeemable GIC right now are

  • if you think that the special promotional daily interest rates will drop below the current GIC rate during the next few months
    I doubt that given some places like Oaken Financial have been offering a steady daily interest account rate of at least 1.75% for over a year.
  • if you think you will spend the money if you can get at it so you want to lock it up where the bank won’t let you touch it until the term is up

For now, I’m going to keep our money in a daily interest savings account but I’ll keep watching the interest rate promotions both for bank accounts and GICs to see whether I should move the money elsewhere.

Related Reading

Join In
Where do you keep cash you’ll need in 1-3 years? Do you shift it to maximize what meager returns you can receive? Please share your strategy with a comment.