Comparing Traditional and Prize-Linked Savings Accounts in Canada

Discover the key differences between traditional savings accounts and prize-linked savings accounts in Canada, including their benefits, drawbacks, and which might suit your financial goals best.
Benjamin Thomas
July 10, 2024
5-min read

In today’s fluctuating economic landscape, having a robust savings plan isn't just a luxury; it's a necessity. Among the many options available, Traditional Savings Accounts and Prize-Linked Savings Accounts (PLSAs) stand out as two prominent choices. This blog post explores these two savings account options, diving into their mechanics, benefits, and which might be better suited to different financial goals in Canada.

Understanding Traditional Savings Accounts

A traditional savings account is a common financial product offered by banks across Canada. It provides a secure place to store your money while earning interest over time, which is essential for building a financial safety net or saving towards specific goals.

Features of Traditional Savings Accounts:

  • Interest rates for savings accounts: Typically lower than other investment forms, usually ranging from 0.05% to 1.5% annually, depending on the institution, your account balance, and the Bank of Canada interest rate. This interest is usually compounded, offering a slow and steady accumulation of funds.
  • Minimum balance requirements: Some accounts require a minimum balance to avoid fees or to qualify for higher interest rates. This can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, impacting liquidity.
  • Fees: Monthly fees can apply, ranging from $1 to higher amounts, but many banks offer ways to waive them through maintaining minimum balances or setting up direct deposits.
  • Accessibility: High accessibility through online banking platforms and mobile apps, facilitating easy deposits, withdrawals, and transfers. Most banks also offer both in-person and over-the-phone customer support for these accounts.


  • Security and stability: Funds are protected by the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) up to eligible limits, usually up to $100,000 per depositor per bank, providing a risk-free saving environment.
  • Predictable returns: Interest rates are fixed or variable but are predefined, offering predictability in financial planning. This predictability is crucial for long-term financial strategies and for individuals who prefer stability over risk.


  • Lower yields: When compared to investments like stocks or mutual funds, the returns on traditional savings accounts are modest, which might not outpace inflation over the long term.
  • Fees: Potential fees can complicate what should be a simple way to save. Additionally, higher balance requirements can make these accounts less accessible to low-income individuals.

Exploring Prize-Linked Savings Accounts

Prize-linked savings accounts offer a unique twist on saving money. Instead of traditional interest, depositors can win prizes based on the amount of money they save, combining the excitement of a lottery with the prudence of saving.

Key Features of Prize-Linked Savings Accounts:

  • Prize opportunities: Instead of only offering standard interest, accounts offer entries into regular prize draws. The more one saves, the more entries they receive, increasing their chances to win substantial cash prizes.
  • No or low minimum balance: These accounts typically do not require a minimum balance, making them accessible to a broader audience. This feature is particularly appealing to younger savers or those just beginning to save.
  • No or low fees: Fees are generally lower than those associated with traditional accounts, if they exist at all. This is a significant advantage for those looking to maximize their savings. PLSAs usually operate online which lowers expenses and allows customers to save on fees.


  • Motivation and habit building: The opportunity to win prizes through PLSAs not only makes saving more exciting but also motivates individuals to develop consistent saving habits. This approach helps savers see their financial growth as both fun and rewarding, which can lead to sustained financial discipline and stability.
  • Zero risk with guaranteed savings: With PLSAs, there is no risk of losing your deposited money. Even if you don't win any prizes, your savings remain intact and are always accessible. This setup ensures that the primary goal—building your savings—is achieved, with the potential prizes acting as a bonus.
  • Flexibility and digital convenience: PLSAs offer unique flexibility with no or low minimum balance requirements and lower or no fees, allowing savers from all financial backgrounds to participate. Additionally, these accounts are often offered through modern, user-friendly apps and websites, enhancing the convenience and ease of managing savings anytime and anywhere. This digital approach caters to the needs of today's tech-savvy savers and provides a seamless saving experience.


  • Uncertainty of returns: The return on investment depends on winning a prize, which is not guaranteed. This can be a deterrent for those who prefer guaranteed returns on their savings.
  • Newer market presence: With less familiarity among consumers, trust can be a hurdle. Additionally, because these are relatively new, the long-term viability and impact on saving habits are yet to be fully understood.

Comparative Analysis of Savings Account Options

Feature Traditional Savings Accounts Prize-Linked Savings Accounts
Interest Rates Guaranteed rate Guaranteed rate + prizes
Returns Stable, low returns Variable, potentially higher
Risk Risk-free Risk-free
Fees Possible monthly fees Low or no fees
Minimum Balance Required Often required Rarely required
Financial Planning Suitability Predictable saving Incentivized saving

Who Should Choose What?

  • Traditional savings accounts are best for those who prefer predictable, steady growth and are possibly saving towards specific, short-term financial goals.
  • Prize-linked savings accounts might appeal more to those looking for more excitement in their saving strategy, or who have had difficulty committing to saving money traditionally.

However, everyone can benefit from saving, so choosing the account that will best help you achieve your goals is crucial. Whether you prefer the assurance of steady growth or the thrill of potential rewards, selecting the right savings account is key to maximizing your financial health.

The Future of Saving in Canada

As we advance into the digital age, the savings landscape in Canada is rapidly transforming, driven by the innovations in financial technology. Prize-linked savings accounts (PLSAs) are emerging as a compelling choice for modern consumers who seek a blend of security and excitement in their banking products. These accounts not only offer the traditional safety net of savings but also introduce the element of chance, turning the act of saving into an engaging experience.

On the other hand, traditional savings accounts maintain their appeal among those who prioritize stability and consistent growth. These accounts are particularly beneficial for individuals with clear, short-term financial objectives.

The ongoing evolution of financial technology is not just reshaping existing products but also paving the way for new savings concepts. These innovative solutions are designed to address the unique financial challenges faced by many Canadians today, offering smarter, more flexible ways to manage and grow their money. As these technologies continue to evolve, they promise to expand the possibilities for personal finance, making saving not only easier but also more rewarding for everyone involved.


Choosing between a Traditional Savings Account and a Prize-Linked Savings Account depends heavily on your financial goals and personal interest in how your savings work for you. With either option, becoming financially literate and understanding all available banking choices can empower better decision-making, ensuring that every Canadian can find the right fit for their savings strategy.