Canadian Online Discount Stock Brokerage Comparison – 2014

by Mike Holman

Canadian Online Discount Stock Brokerage Comparison

This comparison is intended to show in one place, all the important information that someone who is looking for a discount brokerage would want to know – trading commissions, account fees etc.  There are also links to more detailed individual brokerage reviews.  Of course, all this information is available on broker websites, but as I’ve found out – it can be very difficult and time consuming to compile even basic information from a broker website.

Things to look for in a discount brokerage

  • Trading commissions – Don’t pay $29 for a trade when you could be paying a lot less.  That’s just not a good deal.
  • Account fees – there are a lot of conditions for account fees, so study these carefully.  Most of the time, investors with large balances can get the fees waived, but smaller investors should look for an account with no fees.

New to online investing?  Learn how to buy an ETF or stock using a discount brokerage – step by step instructions.

Related Article:  Learn how to sell an ETF or stock – step by step directions

Learn to negotiate

I can’t emphasize enough that if you have a decent amount of assets, then try to negotiate fees.  As to how much you need in assets to negotiate – try it and find out for yourself.  Here are some suggested negotiation areas:

  • Trading commissions – Are you at a big bank and are not too far away from having enough money to qualify for $10 commission?  Ask for them now.  TD and Qtrade just joined Scotia by lowering their cheap trade threshold to $50,000.  Ask your bank to do the same for you.
  • Currency exchange fees – Before doing a trade between currencies, it is worthwhile to call and see what kind of preferred rate might be available.
  • Transfer to new brokerage fees – If you are moving to a new brokerage, ask them to pay your transfer fees.
  • Account fees – If you are close to the threshold for no account fees, ask if they can be waived.

Recommendations

Overall best

  • Questrade is my favourite – They have every account type, you can have US$ in your RRSP account, 2nd lowest trading commissions (after IB).  As a very passive investor, I wouldn’t consider using anybody else. Check out the full Questrade discount brokerage review which also offers a $50 free trades promotion code.

Lowest commissions

  • Interactive Brokers has the lowest commissions and exchange rate of all the brokers listed.  The main drawbacks of IB are that they only have non-registered accounts available and there is a $10,000 account minimum.

Active traders

  • Investors who trade frequently get the best deals on commissions.  Interactive Brokers has the best deal for non-registered accounts with a minimum of $10,000 ($3,000 minimum if you are 21 or younger).
    The big banks have good deals for active traders at $6 to $7 per trade, which is only slightly more than Questrade.

Table layout

It would be nice to be able to put all the data onto a table for easy reference, but unfortunately nothing is that simple.  There are so many conditional fees that I ended up putting some information on the table and also created a detail section for each brokerage below the table.

If you see an asterisk * in the field – click on the field and it will take you to the appropriate information below the table.  Alternatively look for fields with links – and click on them for more information.

For example in the “Online Trade Commissions” column you will see the commission range of “$24.99 to $6*” in the field next to “Scotia iTrade”.  If you click on that link, you will then be taken to the detailed trade commissions for Scotia iTrade where you can read how to qualify for the different trade commissions.

I’ve also linked to my reviews of each brokerage which will contain more in depth information.  Click on the brokerage name to see the review.  At this time, there are only a few completed, but I will be publishing more in the coming weeks.

Please do not copy and paste the information in the tables to other websites.  You are welcome to link to this page.

Broker - Click for broker reviewOnline Trade CommissionsAnnual Account FeesDRIPForex Fee
Phone for exact rates
US$ RRSPPhone Number
Questrade 1 cent/share $4.95 to $9.95 maxNoneYes1.99%* Yes*1-888-783-7866
Interactive Brokers1 cent per Cdn Share/ $1 min* or $10 /month minMin $10 trading fee/monthNo$2.50 + 0.02% if over $25kn/a1-877-745-4222
Credential Direct$19 or $9.95 if 25 trades/qtrYes*Yes1.50%No1-877-742-2900
TD Waterhouse $29 down to $7*Yes*Yes1.50%No1-800-465-5463
Qtrade$19.99 down to $7*Yes*Yes1.25% buy, ~2% sellYes*1-877-787-2330
National Bank$28.95 to $6.95*Yes*Yes1.5% - 2.0%No1-800-363-3511
CIBC Investors Edge$28.95 to $6.95*Yes*Yes1.40%No1-800-567-3343
BMO InvestorLine $29 to $9.95*Yes*Yes1.25%Yes1-888-776-6886
RBC Direct $28.95 to $6.95*Yes*Yes1.40%Yes1-800-769-2560
Scotia iTrade $24.99 to $6.99*Yes*Yes1.65%No1-888-872-3388
ShareOwner$9.95 group trade*, $29 onlineYes*Yes1.50%No1-866-644-6881
Disnat$29.95+ to $5.00*Yes*Yes2.00%No1-800-268-8471
HSBC$29Yes*Yes1.90%No1-800-760-1180
Virtual Brokers$6.49 + ECN feesYes*Yes0.75% reg acct, open - phone
Yes1-877-310-1088
Jitney Trade$9.99 + ECN fees + $25 inactivity/qtr (less than 3 trades per quarter)
$125 for reg. acctsYesPhone for rateYes1-866-608-0099

More information

Please do not copy and paste the information in the tables to other websites.  You are welcome to link to this page.

Broker - Click for broker reviewPhone Rep CommAcct Setup MinFree Real Time QuotesEft or Bill PayMutual Funds
Questrade $25 + online cost $1,000.00 YesYesYes
Interactive Brokers$30 + online comm$10k US*NoYesNo
Credential DirectOnline comm + $14NoneYesYesYes
TD Waterhouse $43 Cdn min or $35 Cdn + cost per share, $43 US min or $39 US + cost per shareNoneYesYesYes
Qtrade$40 + cost/share$1,000YesYesYes
National Bank$44.95 + 4 cents/sh*NoneYesYesYes
CIBC Investors Edge$50 min, $35 + cost/shareNoneNoYesYes
BMO InvestorLine $43 min, $35 + cost/share$5k, TFSA/RESP - noneNoYesYes
RBC Direct $43 min, $35 + cost/shareNoneNoYesYes
Scotia iTrade $45 + online commOpen account*YesYesYes
ShareOwner$43NoneNoYesNo
Disnat$35 + cost/shareNoneYesYesYes
HSBC$43 min + cost/shareNoneYesYesYes
Virtual Brokers$50 + 3% $1,000YesYesNo
Jitney Tradesame as online cost $5,000NoYesYes

Extra brokerage details

Questrade

Holding US$ in an RRSP and other registered accounts

Questrade has three currency settlement options for all registered accounts:

  • Managed Cdn$ – All cash is converted to Cdn$ (i.e., any US$ funds are automatically converted to Cdn$).
  • Managed US$ – All cash is converted to US$ (i.e., any Cdn$ funds are automatically converted to US$).
  • Trade currency – Both Cdn$ and US$ can be held and no automatic conversion takes place.

If you with to maintain US$ in a registered account, set the currency settlement to either managed US$ or trade currency.

Note that if you are doing a currency exchange more than $10,000,phone Questrade to try get a discount on the exchange rate.

Interactive Brokers

Note that IB only has non-registered accounts.
Real time data plans

  • Canadian exchanges – $6/month
  • US exchange – $10/month – waivable if $30 in trading commissions per month

Online trade commissions

  • Cdn stocks – $0.01 per share, $1 Cdn minimum, max is 0.5% of trade value.
  • US stocks -$0.005 per share, $1 US minimum, max is 0.5% of trade value.
  • Minimum trading activity of $10 per month ($3 if 21 years of age or less) or the difference is charged to your account.

Account setup minimum

  • $10,000 or $3,000 if 21 years of age or less.

Credential Direct

Annual account fees

  • TFSA/RESP/OPEN  – No annual fees
  • Registered accts – $50 if balance is less than $15,000

Qtrade

Online trade commissions

  • $19.00 – If household assets are less than $50,000 and less than 30 trades per quarter
  • $9.95 – If household assets are greater than $50,000 or 30-149 trades per quarter
  • $7.00 – If 150 trades or more per quarter

Annual account fees

  • CDN$ RRSP and other registered accounts –  $50 if balance is less than $15,000
  • US$ RRSP – $50
  • TFSA – none
  • Non-registered – none

TD Waterhouse

Online trade commissions

  • $29.00 – If household assets are less than $50,000 and less than 30 trades per quarter
  • $9.99 – If household assets are greater than $50,000 or 30-149 trades per quarter.  Online statements.
  • $7.00 – If 150 trades or more per quarter

Annual account fees

  • Registered stock trading account – $100 if balance is less than $25,000
  • Registered GIC and mutual fund acct – $25 if balance is less than $25,000.
  • RESP – $50 if balance is less than $25,000
  • TFSA – $50 – waived if balance > $25,000 or sign up for eServices

National Bank

Online trade commissions

  • $28.95 – Personal balance is less than $100,000 and less than 30 trades per quarter
  • $9.95 – Personal balance greater than $100,000
  • $6.95 + 1 cent per share – max $9.95    Greater than 30 trades per quarter

Note that the $100,000 required balance is for the individual – not household, which is the norm for other institutions.

Annual account fees

  • Registered accounts – $100 if balance is less than$25,000
  • RESP – $50 if balance is less than $25,000
  • TFSA – $50 if less than one trade per year or total assets is less than $100,000
  • Non-registered account – $80 if balance less than $10,000 or less than four trades per year

CIBC Investors Edge

Online trade commissions

  • $28.95 is the default commission.
  • $6.95 if you have at least $100,000 in household assets.  This includes any CIBC products including bank accounts, mortgages.
  • $9.95 if you have at least $50,000 in household assets.  This only includes CIBC online brokerage assets.

Annual account fees

  • RRSP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF – $100 unless balance of all registered accounts is greater than $25,000.
  • RESP – $50 unless balance is more than $15,000
  • TFSA – $50  This fee is starting Sept of 2011 – waived if you have a registered account as well
  • FundPlus account – $25  This account can only contain GICs, mutual funds and fixed income
  • Non-registered – $60 unless balance is greater than $10,000 or you have a registered  account

BMO InvestorLine

Online trade commissions

  • $29.00 if assets you have trading authority over are less than $50,000 and less than 30 trades per quarter.
  • $9.95 if assets you have trading authority over are greater than $50,000 or more than 30 trades per quarter.

Annual account fees

  • RRSP, LIRA, RRIF – $100.00 unless balance is greater than $25,000
  • RESP – $50.00 unless balance is greater than $25,000
  • Non-registered – $25 per quarter unless balance is greater than $10,000 or at least 2 trades per 6 months
  • TFSA – No fee

RBC Direct

Online trade commissions

  • $28.95 – If household assets are less than $50,000 and less than 30 trades per quarter.
  • $9.95 – If household assets are greater than $50,000 or 30-149 trades per quarter.

Annual account fees

  • No fees if total client assets are $15,000 or more.
  • If assets are less than $15,000, a $25 quarterly fee will be charged regardless of the number of accounts.  Can be avoided by making three or more trades in all accounts.

Scotia iTrade

Online trade commissions

  • $24.99 per trade
  • $9.99  – If you have $50,000 in combined assets or 30-149 trades per quarter
  • $6.99 – 150+ trade per quarter

Annual account fees

  • Non registered account – $25 per quarter unless minimum balance of $10,000 or one trade per quarter.
  • Registered account – $100 if balance of all accounts is less than $25,000.
  • RESP – $25 if balance of all account is less than $15,000.
  • TFSA – No fee.

ShareOwner

Online trade commissions

Group trades are $9.95 each or $40 per group of trades

Annual account fees

  • RRSP – $79
  • LIRA/Locked in RSP – $100
  • RIF – $100
  • TFSA – $50

Account withdrawal fees

  • Non-reg – $12
  • RRSP – $48
  • Home Buyers’ Plan Withdrawal – $100
  • Life Long Learning Plan Withdrawal – $100
  • TFSA Withdrawal – $25

Disnat

Online trade commissions

  • $29 if less than 10 trades per month or balance is less than $50,000
  • $9.95 if than 10 trades per month or more than $50,000
  • Min. $5.00 – max $9.95 if 10 trades or more per month in the Disnat Direct solution.

Annual account fees

  • TFSA –  none
  • RRSP – $100 if balance is less than $15,000
  • RESP – $50 unless you have $25,000 in all your accounts
  • Non-registered – $25 per quarter, unless a minimum of two trades in the last 12 months.
  • RRIF,LIF – $100 if less than $25,000 in the account

Options Express

Online trade commissions

  • $14.95 if less than 35 trades per quarter
  • $12.95 if 35 or more  trades per quarter

US$ RRSP

They only offer US$ denominated accounts and only trade on US exchanges.  No Cdn$.

HSBC

Annual account fees

  • TFSA – none
  • RRSP – $50 if balance is less than $15,000
  • RESP – $50 if balance is less than $15,000 or have premier bank acct
  • Non-registered – $50 if balance is less than $5,000 or less than 2 trades per year
  • RRIF – $50 if balance is less than $15,000
  • LIF – $50- if balance is less than $15,000

Virtual Brokers

Annual account fees

  • RRSP, Spousal RRSP, LIRA, RIF, LIF – $50 if less than $15,000
  • TFSA – none
  • RESP – $25
  • US$ RRSP, US$ Spousal RRSP, US$ LIRA, US$ TFSA – $50
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