A line of credit allows you to borrow up to a certain amount of money at any time, and you only pay interest on the amount that you actually borrow. This flexibility that lets you borrow only what you need, when you need it, makes lines of credit a convenient way to borrow money. This page will take a look at line of credit interest rates in Canada, how they work, and the different types of lines of credit that you can get.
Secured Personal Line of Credit: 3.16%
Unsecured Personal Line of Credit: 6.61%
Source: Statistics Canada
A line of credit is an open-ended loan, meaning there's no set repayment schedule or term length, that is typically offered by banks and credit unions in Canada. Instead, you can borrow against the credit limit as needed, up to the maximum amount available. The maximum amount that you can borrow from a line of credit is based on how much your lender has approved you for. This is called the credit limit of your line of credit.
Open-end loans are also called revolving credit. If you make payments to your line of credit, you can re-borrow the money up to your credit limit. You’ll also only pay interest on the amount borrowed, not on the entire credit limit. A line of credit is similar to a credit card in that it's a revolving account, which means you have the flexibility to borrow from it, pay it off (fully or partially), and borrow from it again without needing to apply for another loan. However, unlike a credit card, a line of credit has a lower interest rate.
Most lines of credit will have a variable interest rate. This means that your line of credit interest rate can go up or down over time, and that will affect your line of credit payments. The variable rate for lines of credit are based on your lender’s prime rate plus a spread. This spread is how much more your line of credit rate will be over the lender’s prime rate, and it’s usually a fixed spread. For example, if the current prime rate is 3.70% and your spread is +2%, then your line of credit will have an interest rate of 5.70%. If the prime rate increases to 4.70%, then your rate will now be 6.70%.
Your spread is based on factors such as your creditworthiness, outstanding debt, income, and employment history. The spread is usually at a premium to prime, which means that your rate will be higher than the prime rate. It is very rare to have a spread that is at a discount to prime, where your rate is lower than prime.
Having collateral to secure your line of credit can considerably lower your interest rate. For example, the average secured personal line of credit rate in Canada for April 2022 was 3.11%, while unsecured personal lines of credit had an average rate of 6.57%, over double the rate! The graph below shows how average line of credit interest rates have changed in Canada over the past few years.
Both RBC's secured and unsecured line of credit products (Royal Credit Line) have a minimum credit limit of $5,000. They both also have a variable rate based on RBC's prime rate. RBC's Royal Credit Line only requires interest-only minimum payments, however, you can pay as much as you'd like at any time. You can also withdraw or transfer funds from your Royal Credit Line for free, and there’s no annual fee. If you want to borrow money directly from your RBC line of credit by writing a cheque, the first two are free every month. After the first two cheques, there is a fee of $2.00 per cheque.
RBC's HELOC product is called the RBC Homeline Plan. A powerful feature of the RBC Homeline Plan is the ability for your credit limit to increase on your line of credit as your home equity grows. This means that as your home increases in value, and/or when you make mortgage payments, then you can borrow more money from your line of credit. This is known as a readvanceable mortgage, and it allows you to take advantage of the Smith Maneuver to claim the interest paid on your tax return. Canada's other major banks, which include TD, Scotiabank, CIBC, BMO, and National Bank, all also offer readvanceable mortgages tied to a home equity line of credit.
RBC offers three types of student LOCs: one for undergraduate and graduate students, another for professional studies, and one for medical and dental students. The Royal Credit Line for Students has a credit limit starting from $5,000. Its interest rate can be as low as prime + 1%. RBC required a co-signer for this credit line.
For students in professional programs, such as select Masters programs and health sciences programs, you can borrow from $5,000 up to $200,000 with an interest rate starting from prime. You also won't need a co-signer to apply for a student line of credit with RBC.
Medical and dental students can get a student line of credit with an interest rate below prime, borrow up to $350,000, and still have access to your line of credit after graduating.
Undergraduate and Graduate Students: Starting from 6.95% (Prime + 1%)
Professional Programs: Starting from 5.95% (Prime)
Medical and Dental Students: Starting from 5.70% (Prime - 0.25%)
RBC offers two main types of LOCs for small businesses: the Royal Business OperatingLine and the RBC Visa CreditLine for Small Business.
The Royal Business OperatingLine is connected to your operating account. It can either be used as a one-way connection to borrow money from your OperatingLine and deposited into your RBC operating account, or as an OperatingLine PLUS option. With the PLUS option, there is a two-way connection that allows your OperatingLine to automatically transfer money to your operating account if you have a shortfall, and your operating account can automatically pay off your OperatingLine principal if you have money available. In both cases, the credit limit starts at $10,000.
The RBC Visa CreditLine for Small Business allows you to access an unsecured line of credit with a Visa credit card. This makes it similar to a low-interest credit card, with an interest rate as low as prime + 2.9% to 11.9%. This additional premium may change, as it is calculated annually.
Plus, you earn RBC Rewards Point for your purchases, and the card offers extended warranty and purchase protection features.
Visa CreditLine: From 8.85% to 17.85% (Prime + 2.9% to Prime + 11.9%)
TD's personal line of credit lets you borrow from $5,000 to $50,000. Just like most lenders, the minimum monthly payment can be as little as only interest charged. You can also use your TD line of credit to make purchases by using your TD Access Card. This allows you to borrow directly from your line of credit to make debit card payments. While TD's personal line of credit has a variable rate, you can still lock in your outstanding balance with a fixed rate.
The credit limit and rate for students will depend on your program of study. For example, full-time undergraduate students can borrow up to $20,000 per year for up to four years of study. Part-time undergraduate students can also borrow up to $20,000, for a total of $80,000.
Graduate and professional students have higher credit limits. This includes up to $80,000 for Masters and PhD students, $150,000 for law and $125,000 for MBA students, and up to $350,000 for medical and dental students.
TD's student line of credit interest rates starts from prime + 1% for undergraduate students. The exception to this is students enrolled in Honours Business Administration at the University of Western Ontario, where the interest rate offered is just prime. Medical, dental, and veterinary students can receive an interest rate below prime.
Undergraduate Students: Starting from 6.95% (Prime + 1%)
Graduate Students: Starting from 6.45% (Prime + 0.5%)
Professional Programs*: Starting from 5.95% (Prime)
Medical, Dental, and Veterinary Students: Starting from 5.70% (Prime - 0.25%)
*Includes MBA, MFin, Optometry, Pharmacy, and Law students
Did you know that you can use your investment portfolio to get a secured line of credit? With TD's Investment Secured Line of Credit, you can use up to 100% of the value of your investments as collateral. Similar to a personal line of credit from TD, you can borrow from it using cheques, online transfers, or with your TD debit card. This line of credit will have a variable interest rate.
The ScotiaLine Personal Line of Credit has a credit limit ranging from $5,000 up to $75,000. You can also choose to use a Visa Access Card to make purchases or withdraw money from ABMs. Just like the other major banks, Scotiabank does not charge an annual fee for its personal line of credit product.
Unlike TD and RBC, which give a 24-month grace period after graduation before you have to make principal repayments, the ScotiaLine Personal Line of Credit for Students has a 12-month grace period. Scotiabank's student lines of credit also have noticeably lower maximum credit limits compared to other major banks.
For example, the maximum credit limit offered for full-time undergraduate and diploma students is $15,000 per year, or up to $40,000. That's half the maximum credit limit of TD. However, Scotiabank does have a low minimum credit limit, which starts as low as $1,000. Part-time undergraduate students can only have a maximum credit limit of $7,500 per year or a total of $20,000, while graduate students can have a max credit limit up to $100,000.
Scotiabank offers more benefits for students in professional programs, such as medical, dental, pharmacy, law, and MBA students. With the Scotia Professional Student Plan Line of Credit (SPSP), there is a grace period of up to 24 months, longer than the 12 months for undergraduate and graduate students. The credit limit is up to $375,000, and you will also be pre-approved for a Scotiabank Gold American Express credit card or a Scotiabank Passport Visa Infinite credit card.
A unique line of credit offered by Scotiabank is the Scotia RSP Catch-Up Line of Credit, which has a credit limit of up to $50,000. This line of credit is used to make contributions towards retirement savings plans, such as a registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or a tax-free savings account (TFSA). In the case of RRSPs, you can use this line of credit to defer your taxes by borrowing to make RRSP contributions! Plus, you can even defer your RSP line of credit payments for up to three months. This allows you to not have to make any payments until you receive your tax refund.
RSP Line of Credit Rate: Starting from 6.95% (Prime + 1%)*
*If funds are used to contribute towards a retirement savings plan at a financial institution in Canada
CIBC's unsecured line of credit has a credit limit starting from $5,000, while you can choose to secure it with assets and have a credit limit starting from $10,000.
CIBC's HELOC, called the CIBC Home Power Plan Line of Credit, has a variable interest rate. Until November 20, 2022, the interest rate for CIBC's HELOC is equal to the prime rate. The CIBC Home Power Plan also features automatic rebalancing. This means that your line of credit's limit will increase based on the value of your home or when you make mortgage payments. However, it can take up to 60 days for increases to take effect.
There are two insurance options that you can add to a CIBC personal line of credit. One is disability insurance and the other is life insurance. These insurance products cover some or all of your line of credit's outstanding balance should you have an insured event. The monthly premium is based on your insured outstanding balance, and it starts from $0.25 per $1,000 outstanding balance for life insurance and from $0.87 per $1,000 outstanding balance for disability insurance.
Personal Secured and Unsecured Loans and Lines of Credit: Starting from 6.95% (Prime + 1%)
Business Secured and Unsecured Loans and Lines of Credit: Starting from 5.95% (Prime)
Undergraduate students can borrow up to $60,000 with a CIBC Education Line of Credit. You'll have a 12-month grace period after graduation before you have to make principal payments, which is reduced to a 6-month grace period if you leave school and do not graduate.
You can choose to convert your CIBC student line of credit into a personal loan after graduation. This can make it easier to repay your student debt, with a term of up to 20 years allowing for more manageable monthly payments. CIBC student lines of credit are also open LOCs, which mean that you can pay some or all of your balance at any time without penalties.
Professional students studying medicine or dentistry can borrow up to $350,000 and can have an interest rate as low as CIBC Prime - 0.25%. Optometry students can also get Prime - 0.25%, however, their credit limit is lower at $125,000.
Professional business students, such as MBA students, can get a rate as low as prime. Other professional programs, such as pharmacy, law, accounting, nursing, or engineering, can have a rate as low as CIBC Prime + 1%.
As part of the CIBC Professional Edge Student Program, medical, dental, and optometry students also receive the CIBC Smart Plus Account for no monthly fee for up to four years. They may also qualify for the CIBC Aventura Gold Visa credit card with no annual fee. This means that they can save up to $1,880 in annual fee rebates over four years!
All student line of credit borrowers with CIBC can also receive free SPC membership if you are under 30 years of age.
Veterinary, Pharmacy, Law, Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy, Accounting, Nursing, and Engineering Students: Starting from 6.95% (Prime + 1.0%)
Chiropractic Medicine and Business Students (MBA and EMBA): Starting from 5.95% (Prime)
Medical, Dental, and Optometry Students: Starting from 5.70% (Prime - 0.25%)
BMO's unsecured personal line of credit has a minimum credit limit of $5,000 and a maximum credit limit of $25,000. Just like other lenders, you can choose to make interest-only payments. Otherwise, the minimum payment is the greater of 2% of the outstanding balance or $50.
If you're looking for a secured line of credit, BMO has two options. The BMO Homeowner ReadiLine combines a mortgage and line of credit, which allows you to borrow up to a combined 80% of your home's value. It's also readvanceable, which means that your credit limit will increase as your home equity increases. The other option is a Homeowner's Line of Credit, which is a stand-alone line of credit that lets you borrow up to 65% of your home's value.
BMO's Credit Line for Business lets you borrow starting from Prime + 2%, up to Prime + 11%, with no annual fee. You'll also get a Mastercard to access your credit line, which may have a credit limit of up to $120,000.
BMO Credit Line for Business: Starting from 7.95% to 16.95% (Prime + 2% to Prime + 11%)
Personal Line of Credit: 12.95% (Prime + 7.00%)
Current Interest Rates as of December 7th, 2022
Secured/Equity: 6.45% (Prime + 0.5%)
Student Line of Credit: 7.45% (Prime + 1.50%)
Current Interest Rates as of July 15th, 2022
Secured Line of Credit: 8.24%
Unsecured Line of Credit: 9.24%
Student Line of Credit: 7.25%
Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): 5.70%
Current Interest Rates as of July 15th, 2022Personal Line of Credit
From $500 to $4,999: 11.20%
From $5,000 to $25,000: 10.70%Student Line of Credit
Student Advantage: 5.70%
Student Strategic (University Students Only): 4.45% to 5.70%
HELOC: 5.85% (Prime - 0.10%)
Current Interest Rates as of July 15th, 2022
Personal Line of Credit: 5.70%
Current Interest Rates as of December 7th, 2022
Personal Line of Credit: Starting from 8.45% (Prime + 2.50%)
Current Interest Rates as of December 7th, 2022
Student Line of Credit: Starting from 7.45% (Prime + 1.50%)
Current Interest Rates as of December 7th, 2022
Line of Credit: 46.93%
Current Interest Rates as of December 7th, 2022
MogoMini Line of Credit: 47.42%
There are two main types of lines of credit in Canada. The first type is a secured line of credit. With a secured line of credit, the borrower will need to have the line of credit secured by assets. This could be their home, car, or even their investment portfolio. Secured loans offer lower interest rates and higher borrowing limits, making them a great option for those who need to borrow a large sum of money.
A common type of secured line of credit is a home equity line of credit (HELOC). The collateral for HELOCs is the home itself. Another type of line of credit is an investment secured line of credit, which is secured by your investment portfolio.
The other category of lines of credit are unsecured lines of credit (ULOCs). This includes personal lines of credit and student lines of credit. What is the difference between secured and unsecured lines of credit? Unsecured lines of credit are not backed by any collateral, which means that the interest rates for ULOCs are typically higher and the borrowing limits are lower than secured lines of credit. However, unsecured lines of credit can be a good option for those who do not have any assets to secure the loan. Applying for ULOCs is also easier and quicker than secured lines of credit, as your lender won’t need to verify your collateral.
Home equity lines of credit are the most popular and used type of line of credit in Canada. In fact, Canadians had $160.8 billion in outstanding HELOC debt as of April 2022, according to Statistics Canada. That's double the $82.9 billion of credit card debt and well over the $25.2 billion of personal loans in Canada! In comparison, Canadians owed $65.1 billion from all other types of lines of credit, excluding HELOCs.
A personal line of credit allows you to borrow money based on your creditworthiness. Since personal lines of credit are typically unsecured, you won't need to put up any collateral to get one. This makes the application and approval process much quicker. In exchange for the lack of collateral, a personal line of credit will have a lower credit limit and a higher interest rate.
A personal line of credit can be useful for those that need to frequently borrow money. You'll only need to apply once to borrow money, and you can then choose to use it only when you need to. Personal lines of credit often only require interest-only payments. This means that the minimum payment required every month is the interest charged on the outstanding balance. However, you can always pay more than the minimum payment.
A home equity line of credit (HELOC) is a loan in which the borrower uses the equity in their home as collateral. The credit limit of a HELOC is determined by the value of the property minus any outstanding debt tied to it, and the borrower can access the funds at any time up to the maximum loan amount. HELOCs are often used for borrowers that need access to a large amount of money or want to borrow at a lower rate, such as for home improvement projects or to consolidate debt.
The maximum amount that you can borrow with a HELOC is either 65% of your home's market value or up to a cumulative loan-to-value (LTV) of 80% if you have an existing mortgage. Due to this limit, homeowners will need to have at least 20% home equity before they are eligible for a HELOC. Since HELOCs often have a minimum credit limit, just like with personal lines of credit, this will further increase the equity required in order to be eligible.
For example, if a home is worth $500,000 and has an outstanding mortgage balance of $300,000, the current LTV is 60%. Since the HELOC limit is 80% LTV for a home, the most equity that could be borrowed with a HELOC in this example would be 20% of $500,000, which is $100,000.
Interest rates on HELOCs are variable and are based on the prime rate plus a margin. This margin, which can also be called a spread, means that your interest rate will be higher than the prime rate. The prime rate is set by banks and changes according to market conditions, with it closely following changes in the Bank of Canada policy rate. The margin is a percentage that is added to the lender’s prime rate, and similar to how it works for personal lines of credit, it would be unique to each borrower based on factors such as their credit, income, and debt.
There are some risks associated with HELOCs. Since your home is being used as collateral, should you default on the HELOC, then you may lose your home. Having a variable interest rate also exposes you to higher interest payments should interest rates rise. That’s increasingly the case in Canada as high inflation prompts the Bank of Canada to conduct rate hikes. Along with the generally higher credit limits with HELOCs, rising rates can significantly impact HELOC borrowers.
Did you know that some lenders allow you to convert your variable HELOC rate to a fixed rate? For example, the TD Home Equity FlexLine allows you to convert some or all of your HELOC balance into a fixed-rate term. This lets you lock-in a rate and pay it back on a set schedule. Fixing your HELOC rate can give you some protection against rising rates, however, the fixed rate offered will generally be higher than your current variable HELOC rate.
A student line of credit is a way to help you pay for your education. It can be used for tuition, books, and other expenses, and it can also be used to supplement RESP savings and government student loans. A RESP calculator is a handy tool that you can use to see if you have enough money saved for university or college.
The difference between a student line of credit and government student loans is that you will immediately be charged interest as soon as you borrow money with a student line of credit, even if you're still in school. This will require you to make interest-only payments at a minimum. In comparison, government student loans in Canada do not require any repayment until after you finish or leave school.
If you are planning on attending school soon, you may want to consider applying for a student line of credit before school starts. This way, you can have funds readily available to use for school supplies and even living expenses. However, most student lines of credit require you to either be a Canadian citizen or be a permanent resident.
A student line of credit will only last for the length of your program. For example, a post-secondary student enrolled in an undergraduate program at a Canadian university can only borrow money from their student line of credit for up to four years of study. The exact length will depend on your program. Many lenders give a period after you leave school where you still can make interest-only payments. This period can last 24 months, which means that you won’t need to make principal payments for up to 2 years after leaving school.
Student lines of credit are offered by banks and credit unions, not by your university or college. You will usually require a co-signer, such as a parent or guardian, in order to apply for an undergraduate student line of credit. Graduate students, such as those pursuing a Masters or PhD, along with professional students, such as dental and medical students, will often not need to have a co-signer.
You will also need to provide proof of enrolment. This might include your course schedule or a tuition invoice. You can also request a confirmation of enrolment letter from your university.
A business line of credit is a flexible financing option for small businesses. It can be used for a variety of purposes, such as working capital, inventory, or equipment purchases. Just like how there are different personal LOC options, a business line of credit also comes in different forms. You can choose between a secured or unsecured LOC, and some Canadian banks even allow you to choose between a CAD or USD business line of credit that is tied to your business chequing account.
Business lines of credit will generally have a variable interest rate based on your lender’s prime rate. Just like personal LOCs, some business LOCs only require interest-only payments every month. This includes CIBC's business line of credit. However, business lines of credit can come with additional fees and charges that personal lines of credit do not have. For example, CIBC charges a monthly fee of $25 to $125 for business LOCs. That’s on top of a renewal fee that can range from $50 to $150, which can be charged up to once every 12 months.
Businesses usually use a business line of credit to cover gaps in cash flow. This means that a business LOC is more suited for operating expenses. For longer-term borrowing, you may want to consider a business loan instead.
Lines of credit are open-end loans. The other types of loans are closed-end loans, also called installment loans. Examples of installment loans include mortgages, personal loans, car loans, and student loans. With a loan, you are borrowing a lump-sum amount of money upfront. You’ll then repay this borrowed amount back over a certain period of time. The loan repayment schedule and terms will be outlined in your loan agreement.
This makes up an important difference, as loans typically have fixed terms (such as one to five years), while lines of credit usually do not. This means that with a loan, you know exactly how long it will take to repay the debt, and what your monthly payments will be. With a line of credit, the monthly payment can be as low as just the interest charged. This means that you might not even be paying down your principal if you don’t make large enough monthly payments. However, LOC lenders may have higher monthly payment requirements depending on your creditworthiness and the LOC offering.
Unlike a line of credit, you do not have the ability to re-borrow from the same loan. For example, if you make a $10,000 one-time mortgage prepayment, you won’t be able to easily re-borrow $10,000 from your mortgage. Instead, you’ll need to refinance your mortgage, which involves replacing your old mortgage loan with a new mortgage loan, to borrow back the $10,000 as a cash-out refinance. This will take time and involves closing costs that you will need to pay. With a line of credit, you don’t need to reapply or wait for your lender’s approval. Instead, you can re-borrow funds at any time.
The other main difference is that lines of credit usually have a variable interest rate while you can choose between a fixed interest rate or variable interest rate for most loans. Some lenders may allow you to lock-in the interest rate for your line of credit for a certain term, however, it will revert back to a variable rate at the end of the offered term.
Your lender may offer loan insurance for your line of credit. They are sometimes referred to as creditor insurance or balance protection insurance, and it’s similar to mortgage life insurance. This includes disability insurance and life insurance, which covers some or all of your outstanding line of credit balance. Loan insurance premiums are charged monthly based on your outstanding balance. Insurance is not required for lines of credit in Canada. Your lender also cannot make getting loan insurance a condition in order to be approved for a line of credit.
If you do decide to get balance protection insurance for your line of credit, make sure to carefully read the fine print. Some policies only cover a portion of your outstanding balance, while others have age limits or exclude pre-existing medical conditions. It's also important to remember that balance protection insurance is not the same as life insurance, which pays out a death benefit to your loved ones. Rather, balance protection insurance only covers your outstanding debt in the event of your death or an insurable event.
There are a few things to consider before you decide to get balance protection insurance on your line of credit. First, think about whether you really need it. If you have a good life insurance policy in place, you may not need balance protection insurance as well. Second, consider the cost of the policy. Balance protection insurance can be expensive.
For example, CIBC’s disability insurance costs $0.87 per month for every $1,000 balance. If you carry a balance of $10,000 for one year, the annual insurance premium would be $104.40. That’s about 1% of your line of credit balance, which is on top of your line of credit interest rate. Finally, read the fine print carefully to make sure you understand what the policy covers and doesn't cover. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada warns that even if your claim has been approved, it might not be paid due to certain exclusions or circumstances. If you're not sure, ask your agent or the company for clarification.
When the prime rate goes up, so does the interest rate on your line of credit. If you're carrying a balance on your line of credit, you'll pay more in interest when the prime rate increases. Similarly, if the prime rate goes down, you'll pay less in interest. Interest rates have been rising in Canada. If you’re carrying a large balance, you might want to consider locking in a fixed rate by converting part of your line of credit to a term loan. This way, you’ll know exactly how much interest you’ll have to pay each month, and you won’t be caught off guard if the prime rate increases.
When comparing line of credits, you should also pay attention to fees. Some lenders may charge annual or monthly fees for certain lines of credit, even if you don't use it to borrow money in a certain month, which will increase your cost of borrowing. Fees can quickly add up over time.
Also look at how easily you can access the line of credit. Some might require that you go through a specific process to access the funds, while others may allow you to simply write a cheque, transfer the money to your bank account, withdraw cash from an ATM, send Interac e-Transfers, or to even make purchases using an attached card.
To get the best possible interest rate on your line of credit, shop around and compare offers from different lenders. Keep in mind that the prime rate is just one factor that lenders consider when setting interest rates, so you may be able to negotiate a lower rate even if the prime rate has increased. By following these tips, you'll be able to compare line of credit interest rates in Canada and find the best option for your needs.