Here’s how to earn passive income in Canada. Passive income generation in Canada is the ultimate goal towards financial freedom and financial independence…and here are 10 easy enough passive income ideas in Canada for you to work on so you can get rich in Canada.
Table of Contents
Passive Income In Canada
This in-depth post will go over:
- The definition of passive income in Canada
- How to earn passive income in Canada
- Through earning interest income from a High Interest Savings Account
- Earning dividend income (Up to $50,000 in Canadian dividend income is untaxed if no other sources of income in British Columbia)
- Earn passive income through REITs
- Earn passive income as a landlord
- Real estate crowdfunding in Canada
- DIY Investing
- Investing with a robo advisor
- Cash back from credit cards (travel hacking, credit card hacking in Canada)
- Start a blog and monetize it (though it is definitely not passive in the beginning)
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What is passive Income in Canada?
What is the meaning of passive income in Canada?
In basic terms, a passive income definition means that you are able to generate MONEY (income) with ZERO to LITTLE effort.
Updated July 2023
Usually, getting income while you sleep requires that you invest money that you have earned in your regular or day job so that you can earn passive income in Canada. Many people think you need to have a gold plated pension to generate pension income but that’s not the case.
I was introduced to this term by my friend from high school, who told me that the money that you earn from your day job, doesn’t TRULY bring you wealth unless you invest it.
To me, passive income is the best form of income because it doesn’t take much work receiving it!
Your money is working hard for you instead of you working hard for your money.
How to Make Passive Income in Canada
Here are 10 passive income ideas in Canada.
As a Canadian personal finance blogger, I have done everything on this list except for invest through robo-advisors, and there are a few of these passive income examples that have a soft spot in my heart (because I consider them absolutely effortless) and a few that I feel required a little more effort than the term ‘passive income’ allows for.
Nonetheless, whether it is passive or not really that passive, these are the best passive income investments without spending 8 hours a day at your day-job earning the money, know what I mean?
There are even some beginner passive income ideas to get you started.
Put Your Money in a HiSA (High-Interest Savings Account)
Putting my money in a high interest savings account to earn interest income was my first foray into earning passive income in Canada. Putting your hard earned active income money in a high-interest savings account is a great idea because it is safe.
100% guaranteed to protect your principal.
Usually high interest savings accounts are e-savings accounts so that they are a bit more difficult to access (e.g. you won’t be able to raid the ATM and withdraw all your savings to buy that pair of shoes you have been eyeing). Which means that you’ll have less opportunity to access and meddle with your money. This means the money will be left untouched and left to grow with compound interest.
Here are a few banks that are offering awesome interest rates right now as of writing. Interest is usually calculated on the daily closing balance and paid monthly.
All below are CDIC Insured (Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation Act) meaning that your Canadian dollar investment, up to $100,000 with each institution is protected.
- EQ Bank Savings Plus Account -This is one of the highest rates in Canada. There are no fees, no minimum balance, you get FREE INTERAC e-TRANSFERS® (my usual bank charges me over $2 each e-transfer!). There is no physical branch, it is all done online but they now have an ATM card. It is a trademark of Equitable Bank, which is a Canadian bank that has over $23 billion assets under management. The maximum balance is $200,000, which is a good problem to have if you have more than that to plunk in a savings account 😉 (they recently increased it from $100,000). Rates are of course subject to change without notice, so better act fast. Here’s my review of EQ Bank, I recently signed up.
- Alterna Bank High-Interest eSavings Account – No minimum balance.
- Tangerine Savings Account – If you open up an account, you get 5.00% on your deposits for the first five months. There are frequent Tangerine promotions, like $400 cash back on new accounts if you use the Promo code EARNMORE.
- Wealthsimple Cash Account– (you get a fancy Tungsten bank card too)
- Scotiabank Preferred Package Account– An additional 0.05% Interest Rate Boost on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account. Some of the big banks are providing better interest rates for savings accounts (big banks are notorious for having not so great rates).
- Scotiabank Ultimate Package Account– An additional 0.10% interest rate boost on your MomentumPLUS Savings Account.
- Motive Savvy Savings Account– It took about a month to sign up and get the account.
- Canadian Tire High Interest Savings Account
- Laurentian Bank LBC Digital
Here’s a table to show you more clearly:
|Financial Institution||High Interest Savings Account||Rate|
|Tangerine Bank||Tangerine Savings Account||5.00% for the first 5 months|
|EQ Bank||EQ Bank Savings Plus||2.50%*|
|Canadian Tire||Canadian Tire High Interest Savings Account||3.00%|
|Alterna Bank||Alterna High Interest Savings Account||1.50%|
|Oaken Financial||Oaken Savings Account||2.20%|
|Simplii Financial||Simplii Financial High Interest Savings Account||5.25% until July 31, 2023|
|Royal Bank of Canada||RBC Royal Bank High Interest eSavings||0.05%|
So if you invest $10,000 of your after-tax earned money in EQ Bank, you will get $250 after 1 year, provided that you don’t touch the principle.
One thing to note is that if you have your high-interest savings account in a non-registered account (meaning that your money is held outside of a TFSA or an RRSP), the interest income (e.g. $170) will be taxed at your marginal rate. You can visit taxtips.ca to check out what the marginal rate on your income is in your province or territory.
Better yet, you can also apply for free new banking account bonuses. It takes a bit of work and is not that passive, but it really just involves moving your bill payments or direct deposits around.
A lot of banks are giving away $300 for signing up a new chequing account in Canada, some even up to $1000 (HSBC bank for example). If money is not your thing, you can even get a free TV (TD bank gave a free TV in previous years as a promotion) or an Apple iPad worth $428 with RBC Bank.
Dividend Income: Best Passive income in Canada
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Dividend income is hands-down my favourite source of passive income in Canada because I feel that it is truly passive and the yield is higher than you would get in a savings account.
Dividends are a portion of a company’s earnings paid out to the shareholders on a quarterly or sometimes monthly basis.
Many long-term dividend-paying companies have been paying dividends to shareholders for decades. In addition to that, many companies continue to raise dividends, often greater than the pace of inflation.
A company pays out dividends according to their dividend yield. Let’s say that a company is trading for $100.00 and their dividend yield is 4%. That means that they pay out $4.00 annually, or $1.00 every quarter of the year. Let’s say you buy 100 shares of the $100 company, for a total of $10,000.
Every year, you will get $400, and every quarter of the year, you will receive $100. If the company continues to raise its dividend, you will receive even more over time, even from your initial share purchase of $10,000.
To grow your investment even faster, you can even set up something called a drip (Dividend Reinvestment Plan), so you can reinvest your dividends and buy more stock or ETF.
So down the line, as the company grows and outperforms the market and the stock price goes up to $150, the company’s earnings are doing well and they continue to raise their dividend, you could end up with a scenario of $500 paid annually with only a $10,000 investment.
In Canada, dividend income from Canadian corporations is taxed at a preferential rate. So preferential, in fact, that you could receive up to $50,000 in dividend income and pay very little tax on it (provided you have no other sources of income and it is in your non-registered account).
Related: How are dividends taxed in Canada?
Dividends are beautiful, aren’t they?
To invest in dividends, you need to open up a brokerage account in order to DIY invest. The discount brokerage that I use is Questrade. Click here to get $50 in free trades (that’s 10 different dividend companies as each ‘buy’ is usually $4.95 a trade).
To get started many people follow Canadian dividend investing blogs for company ideas. Or read up on dividend investing books available.
Right now, my dividend income is almost $30,000 annually. On average, that’s over $2500 a month in passive income.
That means, I get paid $3.42/hour whether I’m eating, sleeping, thinking, reading a book…. for doing nothing. Or if you look at 40 hours in a work week, my hour rate of doing nothing is $14.42/hour. Here are my dividend income updates.
Of course, dividend income investing isn’t without risk.
There are dividend cuts that can happen (and has happened to my portfolio), that’s why it’s important to diversify and understand the companies that you are investing in.
Collect Rental Distributions through REITs
REIT stands for Real Estate Investment Trust. You can own real estate without ever having to leave your home or deal with annoying tenants.
REITs are companies that own at least 75% of their assets in real estate and receive rental income. They distribute the rental income received to their shareholders. Canadians love real estate and real estate is one of the most popular ways to earn passive income in Canada.
You can also decrease your risk from buying an individual REIT company by buying a REIT ETF (Exchange Traded Fund). They are not without risk, of course. REIT prices have been going down because interest rates have been going up.
Here are the largest REITs in Canada according to market cap, as per Globe and Mail. I own RioCan REIT myself and have XRE, a REIT ETF.
The current yield for REI.UN is around 5% at the time of writing. Please do your own diligence with your stock and ETF research, don’t just chase yield!
Two REIT ETFs are XRE (iShares SP TSX Capped REIT Index ETF) and ZRE (BMO Equal Weighted REIT Index ETF). The yield of XRE is around 5% annually (as of writing). I have under 5% of my portfolio in REIT and I will likely increase this as my physical real estate holdings decrease.
Collect Rent as a Land Owner
Alternately, you could collect rent as a landlord or landlord-ess. Some people swear by this approach and they call owning real estate owning “doors”. Some people think investing in real estate is absolutely worth it.
I have rented out my basement in the past and have been a ‘landlord-ess’. In general, the tenants I had were pretty good and collected $1200 a month for the basement suite.
It can be kind of fun if you are handy. If you have a bad tenant though, things can get bad really quick. You also can’t be too ‘nice’ or want to try and be your tenants’ ‘friend’ because otherwise, they may take advantage of your kindness.
It’s important to be able to screen your potential tenants and not rush to fill your vacant property without checking the people you are going to be having to collect rent from.
In order to collect rental income, you will need to purchase real estate or own real estate. This would involve putting a down payment and then borrowing a home loan or mortgage (or if you have it all in cash, by all means!).
If real estate prices go down and you sell, you will lose money. If real estate prices go up and you sell after collecting rent for a year, you will do well. Just like the stock market, the real estate market is cyclical and there is inherent risk in investing in real estate.
You could even build a laneway house if your city allows it and earn passive income from your laneway house rental.
I contemplated renting out my condo but decided to sell it instead.
This is different from owning a primary residence, something you should use the First Home Savings Account in Canada for.
Real Estate Crowdfunding
Alternately, you could get involved with real estate crowdfunding in Canada.
What’s real estate crowdfunding? Well, it is similar to other crowdfunding, where you ‘join forces’ with other people who all invest smaller amounts.
Instead of someone owning the entire real estate property, each person who invests own a small percentage of the property (in the proportion that they invest in).
I recently invested money that I wouldn’t be afraid to lose with addy, where you can crowdfund real estate in Canada for as little as $1.
The maximum you can invest with each property is $1500 unless you are an accredited investor.
Here’s an in-depth addy review, that goes over how you can invest with addy, how much it costs to invest with addy, how real estate crowdfunding differs from investing in a REIT, and how investment income received in your addy wallet is taxed.
addy’s properties have sold out within hours to weeks, addy has been very popular in Canada thus far.
Get Capital Appreciation through Investing: DIY Approach
In 2021 the S&P500 returned 28.71% according to Ycharts. To be missing out on such growth would be a shame (2022 wasn’t great but 2023 is shaping up to be great). Capital appreciation means that the money you invested with (your capital) appreciates through the growth of businesses. There is an increase in the price of your stocks as an investor.
Many people are scared to DIY invest as they cannot stomach huge losses (such as the 2008 losses of 37%) in their portfolio.
If you can’t stomach this kind of loss DIY investing is probably not for you. If you held on or invested more after the loss in 2008, you would have already recovered your portfolio and then some.
On average, they say the market increases at about 7% a year. However, that’s ON AVERAGE. Some years it might be down 37%, some years it might be 21%, some years it might be stagnant or near zero percent increase.
You have to be able to stomach that.
To DIY invest, the best approach is to invest in the index (for example, the S&P500 is an index) and through exchange-traded funds. Some exchange-traded funds seek to track certain indices and can be traded like a stock, but they are an index (a huge basket of stocks).
Check out this no-brainer Step by Step Guide on How to Invest your TFSA with Questrade.
Here are 6 ways to invest in your TFSA if you’re planning to invest.
Make sure you invest outside of Canada with an ex-Canada ETF and don’t have Canadian home bias.
With Questrade, you can buy ETFs commission-free so you don’t have to pay the $4.95 commission fee. New Asset Allocation ETFs by Vanguard do the asset allocation for you so it really is hands off and is very similar to a robo-advisor approach at a fraction of the cost of a robo-advisor.
The three Vanguard Asset Allocation ETFs are: VCNS, VBAL, and VGRO. You can pick one of these depending on your risk profile. As you can see the management fee MER is very very low (0.22%).
Alternately, you can also index invest through TD e-series funds. Here is a step by step guide on how to open, invest, and rebalance, TD e-series mutual funds. Their average MER is very low too and because they are index funds you don’t have to pay a trading fee to buy or sell.
Finally, if you want a walk-through on how to invest and organize your money so you can reach your financial goals, please be sure to check out my free eCourse Young Money Bootcamp! It’s 22,000+ words of content, including videos to help you get towards that $100,000+ investment portfolio.
Get Capital Appreciation Through Investing: The Robo-Advisor Approach
If DIY investing is not your cup of tea (and that’s okay, because it really isn’t for everyone- a lot of people prefer to have someone manage their money instead of DIY), then an alternative is to go with a robo-advisor.
The total cost of investing your money with a robo-advisor can be anywhere from 0.75 to 1.00%. The average mutual fund fee is over 2% in Canada. To look at how the fees that you are paying are eroding your investment, you can run the numbers in this mutual fund fee calculator here.
The robo-advisor company charges a 0.50% fee and on top of that there the fee charged for the ETFs (which is anywhere from 0.25 to 0.5% as well). Robo-advisor companies help you rebalance your money automatically so your original asset allocation is preserved. Basically, you can be completely hands off and all you need to do is funnel your money in there and they will invest it for you.
There are a number of robo-advisors available in Canada.
- BMO Smartfolio
- Questrade Portfolio IQ
- CI Direct Investing
Wealthsimple is the largest robo-advisor company in Canada, and it has over $6 billion assets under management. It is backed by Power Financial Corporation and was created right here in Canada (Toronto), thanks to the founder and CEO of Wealthsimple, Michael Katchen (who was only 29 years old when he got $37 million in funding from Power Financial to start up Wealthsimple).
The account minimum is $0. They reinvest your dividends for you so that your money will grow even faster. They will even pay the fees to transfer money out of the other mutual fund that you are paying HUGE fees on if you transfer out $5000.
Here’s a look at the pros and cons of investing with robo-advisors for you to review.
Submit Your Grocery Receipts to Checkout 51
Passive income strategies that takes very little effort because it involves downloading an app, and checking out what’s available AFTER I make my purchases. Usually, the coupons available in Checkout 51 doesn’t sway me to buy a certain product (with exception of diapers for which I try to stock up). This is passive income that involves little money. Or no money.
I don’t look at Checkout 51 before I go grocery shopping. I just do it after I grocery shop so that I don’t get influenced by their product coupons.
A lot of the coupons are for non-produce goods, but for certain things like diapers, it really saves money because I can stack my coupons (e.g. $2.00 print out coupon, and then another $3.00 from Checkout 51 for a total of $5 off the economy box of diapers).
The Checkout 51 app is free.
Read my Checkout 51 Review for more information about how they make money and how you can make easy money too.
I’ve downloaded it and have had it for just over a year and my payout (by cheque, mailed to my home) has been $46.85. The cheque comes very promptly. I’d say it’s pretty passive. In fact, I actually like going through my grocery receipts to check out if there’s anything I can claim with Checkout 51. I know $46.85 is nothing to write home about but it’s still better than $0!!
This is what the Checkout 51 Email looks like when you get your receipt approved:
In the past few months, Checkout 51 even started paying you $0.30 or so for watching advertisements. I don’t mind clicking on those for a quick $0.30 and to be honest I don’t watch it, I just rest my phone somewhere and go do something else.
If it can get you to the payout threshold of $20.00, why not?
Related: Caddle Review
Credit Card Hack and get Cash Back
I am a huge fan of using credit cards provided that you are able to use them responsibly and NEVER carry a balance. The interest rates of 19.99% on credit card balances will absolutely decimate any sort of investing or passive income dreams that you have!!
The credit card bonuses and offers are not as good as the credit cards that our neighbours down south have, but they are still pretty good!
One of my favourites is the Rogers World Elite Mastercard. It gives a straight up 1.75% cash back, however, this is changing to 1.5% in June 2020.
There have recently been some credit cards that offer 10% cash back on your first $2000 in purchases (or basically $200 cash back).
There are lots of other credit cards that may suit your needs better. For example, if you get an Aeroplan card like the TD Aeroplan Infinite Visa, you will get a better ‘return’ on your points, much higher than 2% cash back.
Get Cash Back Through Rakuten Canada
I just got my Rakuten Canada cheque in the mail today so this was a great reminder of the passive income you can get from Rakuten Canada.
I used to be wary of Ebates (it’s now called Rakuten) because I thought the cash back you get didn’t amount to much, but now I love it.
To earn money through Rakuten Canada, all you have to do is sign in and then look for your online retailer and shop through the Ebates.ca portal. Then you get cash back in a few days (it says on the Ebates.ca website).
It was easy money. The cheque was over $60 from a purchase of Stanley Cup Finals hockey tickets! If you do online shopping you can get anywhere from 1-15% cash back depending on where you buy.
The other day, Clearly.ca was offering 15% cash back through Rakuten. I used my work health benefits to cover my contact lens order and I got paid out $15 from Rakuten Canada.
You can get 2.5% cash back from Sephora, up to 3% cash back from Best Buy, and even up to 8% cash back from Expedia for travel… a lot of retailers are on Rakuten.
Rakuten Canada mails their cheques quarterly and you can request a cheque or receive your money via PayPal. The best thing is that the amount you need to cash out a Rakuten “big fat” cheque is very low, it is only $5.01!
So basically you can get your cash during the next quarter if you sign up and make a purchase of $25 through Rakuten.
Heads up: The $30 bonus is deposited into your Rakuten Canada account when you make your first purchase of $30 or more within 30 days of signing up.
Start a Blog And Monetize It
Just kidding… Starting a blog is NOT passive income. I started this blog in 2017 after creating a successful one in 2009 (and sold it for five figures) and so far it is NOT passive but I enjoy it.
It can take up a lot of time, like 10-20 hours a week when you start. It’s fun though if you like to be creative, learn, express yourself, and make other blogging buddies.
Well, it might become a passive income business once you get the blog established. However, before that happens it is a lot of work to write content, promote your content and market your content, and check your page views in an obsessive-compulsive manner throughout the day. Even then, you will likely need to continue writing content so that people continue to visit your blog.
Certain posts that you create can work like passive income for you. For example, if you have display advertising on your blog, then this is purely passive income, though you do need to keep creating content for returning visitors and subscribers. You can also earn money from a blog through affiliate income.
It takes a long time before you can monetize a blog, at least 6 months to one year. This is why a lot of people drop out of blogging before 6 months, because it is a lot of hard work.
How blogs earn money include affiliate marketing (if someone signs up through a link on your website, you can get commission) and display ads (the more traffic you get the more money you will make).
Here are some tax deductions for bloggers in Canada.
How is Passive Income taxed in Canada?
Passive income generated in Canada is taxed differently and it is a complicated question to answer.
For example, interest income is taxed at your marginal rate if you don’t have it in a TFSA, for example.
Foreign dividend income (for example, US dividend stocks held outside of an RRSP) are taxed at your marginal rate.
For more information on where to put your passive income, here’s a post on tax efficient investing in Canada.
Covered Call ETFs in Canada are taxed favourably as well and may be a good income option for retirees.
Reviewing your passive income to make sure it is optimized for retirement would be helpful. The Cashflow and Portfolios Retirement Projections can help with that.
Summary of 10 Ways to earn passive income in Canada
Here’s a recap of the 10 different passive income opportunities in Canada:
- Generate interest come from HISA and GIC’s. Get started with 2.50%* interest with EQ Bank
- Generate dividend income by investing in dividend-paying companies. Get started with $50 in free trades with Questrade.
- Generate income by investing in REITs
- Rent out your property by becoming a landlord
- Real estate crowdfunding
- DIY Invest with Questrade
- Alternately, sit back and invest with a Robo advisor like Wealthsimple or CI Direct Investing
- Get cashback with Checkout 51 on your groceries
- Get cashback from credit cards
- Get cashback with Rakuten Canada on your online purchases
- Start a blog
Earning money while you’re doing absolutely nothing is the best way to earn money because it is so effortless! I hope these unique passive income ideas in Canada inspire you too.
What is your absolute favourite form of passive income in Canada?
My favourite free Canadian financial tool I’ve been using since 2017 to manage my net worth and track my investment return is Wealthica. Each month I check and track my dividend income to make sure my passive income keeps on coming. It’s like Personal Capital for Canada and one of the best personal finance apps in Canada.
My favourite Canadian high-interest savings account that pays 2.50*% interest is EQ Bank.
My favourite free Canadian financial tool to check my credit score is Borrowell. Right now, you can get a $5 gift card to Starbucks or Amazon.ca by referring a friend.
GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.