Canadian online brokerages at-a-glance

A look at the services offered and fees charged by Canada’s most prominent online brokerages. Canada’s Best Online Brokerages 2016 »

BMO InvestorLine CIBC Investor's Edge Credential Direct Desjardins Online Brokerage HSBC InvestDirect Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage National Bank Direct Brokerage Qtrade Investor Questrade RBC Direct Investing Scotia iTRADE TD Direct Investing Virtual Brokers
Minimum account size to qualify for no annual fees or inactivit y fees (1) $25,000 for RRSPs, $10,000 for non-registered $25,000 for RRSPs, $10,000 for non-registered $15,000 across all accounts or two trades per quarter $15,000 across all accounts $25,000 for RRSPs, $10,000 for non-registered $25,000 for RRSPs or $100K across all accounts $20,000 across all accounts or five trades per year $25,000 across all accounts or two trades per quarter $5,000 across all accounts $15,000 across all accounts or three trades per quarter $25,000 across all accounts or 12 trades per year $15,000 across all accounts $5,000 across all accounts
Basic online equity trading commission (2) $9.95 $6.95 $8.88 $9.95 $9.88 $9.95 $9.95 $8.75 1¢ per share ($4.95 min, $9.95 max) $9.95 $9.99 $9.99 $9.99
Are lower or higher commissions charged in different circumstances? No As low as $4.95 for active traders No As low as $5 for active traders $8.88 for Advance banking clients; $6.88 for Premier clients No $6.95 if 30 trades per quarter $6.95 if 150 trades per quarter or assets > $500K 1¢ per share ($6.95 max) or $4.95 with data plans $6.95 if 150 trades per quarter $4.99 if 150 trades per quarter; $24.99 if assets < $50K $7 if 150 trades per quarter $0 for platform traders; $4.99 if 150+ trades per quarter
Basic options commission (2) $9.95 + $1.25 per contract $6.95 + $1.25 per contract $8.88 + $1.25 per contract $1.25 per contract (minimum $8.75) $9.88 + $1.25 per contract $9.95 + $1.25 per contract $9.95 + $1.25 per contract $8.75 + $1.25 per contract $9.95 + $1.25 per contract $9.95 + $1.25 per contract $9.99 + $1.25 per contract $9.99 + $1.25 per contract $9.99 + $1.25 per contract
Are commission-free ETFs available? ✓ 60 selected ETFs ✓ Free to buy, but not sell ✓ 50 selected ETFs ✓ Free to buy, but not sell
Can you hold U.S. dollars in registered accounts? ✓ $60 annual fee _ U.S.-friendly RRSP is $120 annually ✓ $15/quarter
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
Is there an app for trading on your smartphone or tablet?
What extras are available to active traders? Better data, research and tools Better data, research and tools, lower commissions None Multiple platforms, better data, lower commissions None None Better data, lower commissions Lower commissions Multiple platforms, better data, lower commissions Better data and access to research reports FlightDesk platform, lower commissions, personalized service Active Trader platform, lower commissions, research reports Multiple platforms, better data, zero commissions
Is there an exclusive service for large accounts? 5 Star Silver for assets > $250K and 5 Star Gold for >$500K Advance and Premier programs for large banking clients Distinctive Advantage/Private for assets > $500K and $1M Royal Circle for assets > $250K President's Account for assets > $500K
Is there an ETF SmartFolio InvestCube Portfolio IQ
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, screen-sharing service Live chat and call-back Live chat
Average time to respond to a service request by email (3) 25h 36h 18h 7h 11h 32h 25h 10h 58h 47h 13h 34h 30h
Best Features Account opening process; mobile accessibility Low everyday commissions; mobile access New trading process; research tools; customization Educational resources; customer service; active trader services Global trading capability, including foreign currency accounts Competitive commissions InvestCube ETF service; educational resources Customer service; market data; website design Low commissions; website design; account opening Banking integration; account management features Website design; online account services; banking integration Market data; global trading capabilities Online account opening; services for active traders
Buyer Beware Poor service response times; $5,000 minimum account size Below average market data; poor service response times Inconsistent website experience; below average market data No online account opening process Lack of online resources; no mobile app Outdated website; no mobile app Outdated website with below-average usability and functionality ECN fees on some trades ECN fees; poor service response times Poor service response times; no tablet app Very high commissions if assets are < $50,000 Poor service; confusing website design Recently increased basic commission
  (1) Conditions may vary depending on account type: Check the brokerage’s website for complete details. (2) Equity and options commissions may vary according to the size of the investor’s account and/or the frequency of trades. (3) Response time was measured using Surviscor’s Service Level Assessment program which assessed 156 emails over a 12-month period ending March, 2016.

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