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The time-starved Canadians guide to RRSPs 2021

Posted by Massimo Satira January 4, 2021 • 4 min read

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  • When is the contribution deadline, how do contribution limits work?
  • What is an RRSP and how does it work?
  • Am I limited to one? Is there any rules against having multiple?
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Between work, cooking healthy meals for the family, and taking Sidney Jr. to hockey 3 times a week, you barely have time to sleep let alone think about retirement. So here’s everything you need to know for the 2021 RRSP season so you can get your ducks in a row and maybe, just maybe, leave yourself enough time for a nap.

The future is now. As in, I’ve got stuff to do right now, I can’t worry about the future. Here’s a quick guide to help you feel good about your future retirement so you can get back to whatever your day throws at you.

The important things to know this year

When is the RRSP contribution deadline?

March 1, 2021.

What is the RRSP contribution limit?

The short answer: the 2020 RRSP contribution limit is 18% of income you reported on your Canadian tax return from the previous year, up to a maximum of $27,230. The 2019 maximum was $26,500.

The long answer: the total amount you can contribute is based on your contribution limit for the current year AND any unused room from previous years. The CRA lets you carry forward unused contribution room indefinitely.


If you earned $50,000 pre-tax income in 2020, your contribution limit would be:
$9,000 ($50,000 x 0.18) + any unused contribution room from previous years.

You can find your remaining contribution limit on your notice of assessment or logging into your CRA my account.

Moving your RRSP

While the deadline and contribution limit rules are universal, not all RRSPs are created equal. Many are bloated with fees that eat into your retirement savings. If you find your RRSP is weighed down by high fees, you can move it to another financial institution. Many Canadians assume there are tax penalties to do so, but that’s a common misconception. There are no tax penalties for moving an RRSP from one financial institution to another so long as you transfer between registered accounts of the same type (such as from an RRSP to another RRSP).

However, you may be charged a transfer-out fee for leaving. This transfer fee is usually covered by the financial institution you’re bringing your RRSP to. (Depending on the transfer, any fees for selling stocks in your account usually aren’t covered.)

You can move an account from another Canadian broker to Questrade and we’ll pay your transfer out fees up to $150. No minimum balance needed. Learn more

Having multiple RRSPs

If you’re interested in a lower fee alternative, but aren’t ready to shift your entire RRSP, you can open a second RRSP. As long as you don’t go over your total contribution room, there’s no rule against having multiple RRSPs. If you have a feeling your RRSP isn’t at the right place to get you to retirement, you can open a Questrade RRSP open an account. Don’t have the time to switch your existing one over right away? Simply open a new RRSP and deposit your contribution there.

Reminder: when you open a Questrade account in 2021, we’ll donate a day’s worth of meals to Food Banks Canada. Just another way to add to the benefits of an RRSP.

Learn more about Questrade RRSPs

What do I need to open an account?

Opening an RRSP at Questrade is fast, easy and can be done entirely online.

You’ll need your SIN card and a photo ID (like a driver’s licence). And you’ll have to fill out some forms registering the account with the CRA.

There are two ways to invest with Questrade:

  • Self-directed investing: Build your own investment portfolio, buying and selling the stocks, options, ETFs and more yourself. Get Details
  • Questwealth Portfolios: Get a pre-built lower-fee portfolio designed by experts to help you achieve your financial goals faster. Get details

An RRSP account can be opened no matter how you want to invest.

Open an account

That’s it. You’re ready for RRSP season 2021. Now get going, the contribution deadline will be here quicker than you think.

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The information in this blog is for information purposes only and should not be used or construed as financial or investment advice by any individual. Information obtained from third parties is believed to be reliable, but no representations or warranty, expressed or implied is made by Questrade, Inc., its affiliates or any other person to its accuracy.