Canadian discount brokerages at-a-glance

A look at the services offered by and fees associated with Canada’s biggest online discount brokerages.

SUBSCRIBERS ONLY: Canada’s Best Discount Brokerages of 2015 »


BMO InvestorLine CIBCInvestor's Edge Credential Direct Desjardins Online Brokerage HSBC Invest Direct Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage National Bank Direct Qtrade Investor Questrade RBC Direct Investing Scotia iTRADE TD Direct Investing Virtual Brokers
Annual account fees RRSP: $100 TFSA: $0 RESP: $50 Regular: $100* Fees are waived on accounts holding $25,000 or more RRSP: $100 TFSA: $0 RESP: $0 Regular: $100 Fees are waived on registered accounts holding $25,000 or more, and regular accounts holding $10,000 or more RRSP: $100 TFSA: $100 RESP: $100 Regular: $100 All fees are waived if combined accounts hold $15,000 or more, or if you make two or more trades per quarter RRSP: $50 TFSA: $0** RESP $50Regular $120*Fees are waived on accounts holding $15,000 or more RRSP: $100 TFSA: $0 RESP: $50 Regular $0** Fees are waived on RRSP accounts holding $25,000 or more, and regular accounts holding $10,000 or more RRSP: $75 TFSA: $50* RESP $50Regular $80*Fees are waived on RRSP accounts holding $25,000, TFSA fee waived if combined accounts hold $100,000 RRSP: $100 TFSA: $100 RESP: $100 Regular: $100 All fees are waived if combined accounts hold $20,000 or more, or you make five or more trades per year RRSP: $100* TFSA: $100* RESP: $100* Regular $100* All fees are waived if combined accounts hold $25,000 or more RRSP: $0** TFSA: $0** RESP $0** Regular: $0** RRSP: $100 TFSA: $100RESP $100 Regular: $100 All fees are waived if combined accounts hold $15,000 or more, or you make three or more trades per quarter RRSP: $100 TFSA: $0 RESP: $25 Regular $0** RRSP fees waived if combined accounts hold $25,000, RESP fees waived if combined accounts hold $15,000 RRSP: $100 TFSA: $0 RESP: $50 Regular $0** All fees are waived if your combined accounts hold $25,000 or more RRSP: $0** TFSA: $0** RESP $25**Regular $0** Inactivity fees waived if accounts hold more than $5,000
Minimum account size $5,000 (no minimum for TFSA) None None ($2,000 for margin accounts) $1,000 None None None None $1,000 None None None $1,000
Basic online equity trading commission (1) $9.95 $6.95 $8.88 $9.95 $9.88 $9.95 $9.95 $8.75 1/share ($4.95 min, $9.95 max) $9.95 $9.99 $9.99 $6.49
Are lower or higher commissions charged in different circumstances? No As low as $4.95 for active traders No As low as $5 on active traders platforms (other fees may apply) $6.88 for Premier banking clients; $28.88 or 3/share if under $50,000 No $6.95 if 30 trades per quarter $6.95 if 150 trades per quarter Several structures, including 1/share (to a maximumof $6.95) or a $4.95 flat fee $6.95 if 150 trades per quarter $4.99 if 150 trades per quarter; $24.99 or 3/share if account under $50,000 $7 if 150 trades per quarter Several structures, including 1/share (to a maximum of $9.99)
Basic options commission (1) $9.95 plus $1.25/contract $6.95 plus $1.25/contract $8.88 plus $1.25/contract $1.25/contract (minimum is $8.75) $9.88 plus $1.25/contract $9.95 plus 1.25/contract $9.95 plus $1.25/contract $8.75 plus $1.25/contract $9.95 plus $1.00/contract $9.95 plus $1.25/contract $9.99 plus $1.25/contract $9.99 plus $1.25/contract $9.99 plus $1.50/contract
Are commission-free ETFs available? ✓ Limited selection ✓ Purchase only ✓Limited selection ✓Limited selection; all ETFs free to buy
Can you hold U.S. dollars in registered accounts? ✓ $60 annual fee ✗ U.S.-friendly RRSP is $120 ✓ $50 fee
Does the brokerage provide personal rates of return?
Can you purchase bonds and GICs online? Bonds only Bonds only Bonds only Bonds only Bonds only Bonds only Bonds only
What can be traded using apps or mobile browser? Equities, options, mutual funds Equities Equities, options, mutual funds Equities, options, mutual funds Nothing Nothing Equities Equities, options, mutual funds Equities, options Equities, options, mutual funds Equities, options Equities Equities
What extra benefits are available to active traders? Added services, better data (need 30 trades per quarter to qualify) Lower commissions (need 150 trades per quarter to qualify) Fees waived after two or more trades per quarter Lower commissions, better data (need 10 or more trades per month to qualify) Lower commissions (need 50 trades per quarter to qualify) None Better data plus lower commissions (need 10 trades per month to qualify) Lower commissions (need 150 trades per quarter to qualify) Lower commissions, better data (with fee) Better data plus access to RBC Capital Markets and Morningstar reports Lower commissions and access to Sabrient Research reports Lower commissions (need 150 trades per quarter to qualify) Lower commissions, better data (with fee)
Are there advanced platforms for active traders?
How long does it take to respond to a general email? (2) 15 hours 26 hours 2 hours 4 hours 14 hours 51 hours 10 hours 3 hours 23 hours 34 hours 5 hours 7 hours 15 hours
Does the site have live chat or call-back service? Live chat Live chat Call-back service Call-back service Live chat and call-back Live chat and call-back Live chat in some areas; screen-sharing feature Live chat and call-back
Best features AdviceDirect, model portfolios, mobile apps $6.95 commissions irrespective of account size or trading activity Excellent service levels, competitive commission structures Excellent service, low option commissions, educational materials Allows overseas trading and accounts in multiple currencies Competitive account fees and simple commission structure New InvestCube ETFs, Market-Q platform for active traders Excellent service, menu of free ETFs, Qtrade Streamer market data Low commissions and account fees, multiple platforms, FX trading Performance analysis, banking integration, practice accounts, series D mutual funds Excellent service, FlightDesk for active traders, banking integration, mobile apps Superior market information, global trading, mobile apps Innovative order screens, penny commission structure, free ETFs
Buyer beware Minimum account size, option commissions, service levels Poor service levels, basic website features High commissions for those making 50+ trades a month No online applications; weak mobile offering High commissions for low activity investors, outdated website, no mobile platform Poor service levels, outdated website, no mobile platform Basic website features, extras come at a cost and cater to active traders ECN fees can substantially increase stated commission ECN fees can drive up commissions, commissions on free ETFs charged on sale Poor service levels, few resources for active traders, below average charting tools High commissions on accounts under $50,000; high options commissions Difficult to navigate website, below average e-services ECN fees can increase stated commissions, extra platorm charges

1. Equity and options commissions may vary according to the size of the investor’s account and/or the frequency of trades.

2. Email response times was measured over multiple emails using Surviscor’s Customer Email Responsiveness program.

* Waived if trades made during the year (typically 2 or 4)

** Subject to inactivity or administration fees

† Waived if combined with a registered account

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