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.