Sometimes, the best things in life are free. And there’s nothing quite like getting “free” money.
The Canadian government offers many programs, benefits, and tax credits that allow eligible Canadians to get “free money” or at least reduce their taxes (which is just as good, right?).
Below, I’ll share some of the best ways to get free money in Canada. Depending on your situation and eligibility, you may save a few hundred bucks on your taxes, receive thousands in free grants, or discover unique ways to get “free” money by doing things that require very little effort.
Let’s dive in!
Unique Ways to Get Free Money in Canada
Here are some fun and easy ways to get free money in Canada.
1. Participate in RRSP Matching Programs At Work
RRSP matching in Canada is a retirement savings benefit offered by some employers. It involves employers matching a percentage of their employees’ Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contributions up to a certain limit, often based on a percentage of the employee’s salary.
As an example, I used to work for a company that matched 100% of my RRSP contributions up to a cap of 4% of my salary. So if I was earning $100,000 a year, I could contribute up to $4,000, and my company matched that contribution with their own $4,000.
This essentially meant that I was getting a 100% return on my money invested starting on the first day of contribution. This is why I think this is an excellent source of “free money,” and everyone who has access to this should participate fully in it.
2. Participate in online surveys, testing websites, or apps:
Many companies seek user feedback on their products or services through online surveys, website testing, or app evaluations. You can sign up for platforms like Swagbucks, Survey Junkie, or UserTesting and earn cash, gift cards, or other rewards for sharing your opinions.
Related Reading: Top paid survey sites in Canada
3. Use cashback websites and apps when shopping online
Platforms like Rakuten, TopCashback, and Checkout 51 offer cashback on purchases made through their websites or apps. By doing your regular shopping through these platforms, you can earn a percentage of your spending back as cash or other rewards.
Related Reading: Top cashback apps in Canada
4. Sign up for loyalty or rewards programs at retailers or restaurants
Many retailers and restaurants offer loyalty programs where you can earn points or rewards for making purchases. By signing up and using these programs, you can accumulate rewards that can be redeemed for discounts, free items, or other benefits.
Related Reading: How to get free stuff on your birthday
5. Enter sweepstakes or contests
Many companies run sweepstakes or contests as a promotional tool. By entering these competitions, you can win cash, gift cards, or other valuable prizes. Look for contests on company websites, social media, or dedicated contest websites.
6. Take advantage of sign-up bonuses from banks or credit cards
Some banks or credit card companies offer cash bonuses or rewards when you open a new account or sign up for a new card. An example is this promotion for signing up for a KOHO prepaid cashback card.
Research current promotions and choose the one that best suits your financial needs and goals.
Ways to Get Free Money From The Canadian Government
While some government benefits and tax credits are automatically applied, others must be applied manually while filing your tax returns or by contacting the CRA or your provincial government.
As the saying goes, “You’ll never know if you never try.”
So, if you think you may be eligible for any of the following ways to get free money from the Canadian government, it’s worth looking into.
7. The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) And OAS
- Learn More: GIS + OAS
- Taxable Income: Yes
The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Old Age Security pension (OAS) financially support seniors over age 65.
OAS is a monthly pension that’s paid regardless of the individual’s income or work history. The amount of your OAS payment depends on how many years you lived in Canada after turning 18. The longer you’ve been a full-time resident, the more you can expect to receive.
You may start receiving OAS as early as age 60 (although payments will be lower) or can defer OAS to age 70 to receive higher payments.
The Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) is an additional benefit that’s paid alongside OAS to low-income OAS recipients.
Both benefits count towards your taxable income.
8. Receive The GST/HST Tax Credit
- Learn More: GST/HST credit
- Taxable Income: No
Throughout the year, your purchases are subject to Goods and Sales Tax (GST) imposed by the federal and local provincial governments. To make taxes simpler, some provinces have implemented a single Harmonized Sales Tax (HST), which incorporates both federal and provincial taxes together.
The GST/HST tax credit provides extra money in the form of a quarterly payment. The amount you’ll receive depends on your household income and marital status. You can also receive more if you have children.
This credit is automatically applied. You should automatically receive funds at the end of each quarter if you’re eligible.
9. Save Money And Invest In A Registered TFSA
- Learn More: TFSA Pros and Cons
- Taxable Income: Contributions are made post-tax, the account grows tax-free
The Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is easily one of the best savings plans in Canada. Although it’s not necessarily a government payment, TFSA accounts are registered with the CRA and the program was created by the government to help Canadians save more money.
Essentially, you contribute post-tax money to your TFSA account, which can be used as an investment vehicle. The funds will grow tax-free, and any profits realized within the account aren’t subject to capital gains taxes.
The money is yours to keep. The more money you contribute, the greater the profits you can earn from your investment.
There are annual and lifetime contribution limits to keep things fair for everybody, and the current limit is $88,000.
10. Government Grants For Green Homes
- Learn More: Energy efficient credits by province
- Taxable: No
To combat climate change, the federal and provincial governments offer a number of government grants and tax credits for making your residence more eco-friendly. Some examples could include the following:
- Installing a high-efficiency cooling/heating system
- Installing energy-efficient thermal glass windows
- Improving your home’s insulation
- Sealing your windows
Not only can you reduce the cost of these improvements with government grants, but they may also help you reduce your energy bill, saving you even more money.
11. Free Money Towards Your Child’s Education
- Learn More: What is an RESP?
- Taxable: Not when used for education
The Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a program in Canada that allows parents and guardians to begin saving for their child’s future education, with a maximum limit of $50,000. Around 49% of Canadians currently contribute to an RESP account for their children.
RESP contributions aren’t tax-deductible, but the account’s growth is tax-deferred until the beneficiary (the student) withdraws it and uses it towards their education expenses.
In addition, RESP contributors can apply for the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). If approved, the Canadian government will match 20% of your RESP contributions, up to $500 annually. Lower-income families may receive an even larger CESG grant.
12. Leverage Your RRSP Contributions
- Learn More: Pros and Cons of RRSPs
- Taxable: Contributions are tax-deductible, withdrawals after retirement are subject to standard income taxes
Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) are retirement savings accounts and investment vehicles. You can contribute a certain amount each year, and the RRSP will continue growing based on your investment holdings.
Employers often match contributions, allowing you to add even more money to your RRSP. Once you retire, you’ll transfer your RRSP into an RRIF account and can begin making withdrawals, which are subject to income tax rates.
13. The Canada Workers Benefit
- Learn More: Canada Workers Benefit (CWB)
- Taxable: Yes, it must be reported as income
The Canada Workers Benefit is a refundable tax credit offered to low-income individuals.
The benefit may be increased based on your marital status and whether or not you have children. If you qualify for the CWB, it will be automatically applied when you file your tax return.
14. The Canada Child Benefit
- Learn More: Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
- Taxable: No, it’s a tax-free benefit
The Canada Child Benefit (CCB) is a tax-free monthly payment made to eligible families with children under the age of 18. The government automatically calculates and pays out the CCB each month to eligible families who have filed their taxes.
The amount you receive is based on your family income, and low-income families can receive higher payments.
The benefit is meant to help cover the cost of raising a child, including expenses like food, clothing, and childcare.
The CCB may also include the Child Disability Supplement, which may help parents pay for prescription drugs and other medical equipment for their children with needs.
15. Check The Unclaimed Balances Registry For Old Bank Accounts
- Learn More: Unclaimed bank balances
If you have an old bank account that remains inactive for more than nine years at a time, the funds will be transferred to the Bank of Canada. Funds under $1,000 will be held for 30 years, while funds over $1,000 will be held for 100 years.
Forgetful account holders can check the Unclaimed Balances Registry with the Bank of Canada to see if they have any old funds laying around.
16. Claim Uncashed Cheques From The CRA
- Learn More: Uncashed CRA cheques
- Taxable: It depends on the benefit or payment in question
You could have uncashed cheques from the CRA. These are often the result of name changes, address changes, or other mailing difficulties that resulted in the misdelivery of your cheque.
To check for uncashed cheques, you can log into your CRA My Account, where you’ll be able to see any unpaid benefits or cheques. These cheques are never stale-dated and are always eligible to be redeemed.
- Read More: How To Register For A CRA My Account
17. The Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC)
- Learn More: Home Accessibility Tax Credit (HATC)
- Taxable: No
If you or your family member face mobility challenges, you may be eligible for the non-refundable HATC tax credit. This tax credit can help offset the costs of installing ramps, lift chairs, and other mobility aids in your home.
Taxpayers can claim a maximum of $10,000 in qualified home upgrades and receive a 15% return during tax season.
18. The Canada Student Grant
- Learn More: Canada Student Grant For Full-Time Students
- Taxable: No
Students who are eligible for the Canada Student Grant may receive a maximum of $6,000 per year or $750 per month to help them cover the cost of their full-time post-secondary education. The amount you’ll receive depends on your family’s size and reported income.
19. Disability Support From The Government
- Learn More: Disability Benefit Programs In Canada
- Taxable: Depends on the benefit in question
The federal and provincial governments offer several disability support benefits designed to provide economic assistance to those suffering from mental or physical disabilities.
Some benefits, such as the Canada Pension Plan’s disability supplement, count as taxable income, while others, such as the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), are tax-free benefits.
20. Refundable Tax Credit For Adult Education
- Learn More: Canada Training Credit
- Taxable: No
The Canada Training Credit is a non-refundable tax credit that provides training support for eligible Canadians between the ages of 25 and 65.
Those eligible may receive up to $250 per year (up to a maximum of $5,000), which can be accumulated and applied as a tax credit to offset the cost of tuition or occupational training courses.
21. The Canada Dental Benefit
- Learn More: Canada Dental Benefit
- Taxable: No
The Canada Dental Benefit is available to families earning less than $90,000 annually. Eligible families may receive a tax-free payment of $260, $390, or $650 per child to offset the cost of dental procedures. This payment can only be received twice by a family.
Related Reading: How to pay less taxes in Canada
Are Government Benefits Tax-Free?
If you earn free money from the government, you may assume it’s tax-free. However, this isn’t always the case. Some government benefits and payments, such as Old Age Security (OAS), count as taxable income.
Government payments are often deposited directly into a taxpayer’s bank account. While this is convenient, it can make the funds all too easy to spend.
That being said, it’s important to understand which government payments are taxable, so you can set the money aside in the event that you have to pay taxes to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) during tax time.
Refundable Tax Credit vs Non-Refundable Tax Credit
It’s important to understand the difference between refundable and non-refundable tax credits:
- Refundable tax credit: Can be received as a tax refund (payment) from the CRA, if you don’t owe taxes
- Non-refundable tax credit: Can be claimed to reduce your tax liability but cannot be received as a cash refund from the CRA
Refundable tax credits can be claimed on your tax return. If the credit exceeds the amount of taxes you owe, you’ll receive a refund for the difference.
For example, if you have a refundable tax credit of $1,000 and you owe $1,500 in taxes, you would receive a refund cheque or deposit of $500 from the CRA.
Non-refundable tax credits, on the other hand, can be claimed on your tax return but can only reduce the amount of tax you owe to zero.
For example, if you owe $500 in taxes and receive a non-refundable tax credit of $1,000, your tax liability would simply be reduced to $0. You wouldn’t receive a cash payment for the leftover $500, as you would with a refundable tax credit.
Conclusion – How To Find Even More Benefits
Not sure what benefits you’re eligible for? Try the Benefits Finder service offered by the government. This free service will pair you with federal and provincial benefit programs that you and your family may be able to apply for.
Tired of relying on government benefits to get by? Want to improve your financial literacy and focus on building long-term investments and wealth?
If so, check out my list of the 15 best personal finance books!