Scotia iTrade Discount Broker Review

by Mike Holman

This week, we are taking a look at Scotia i-Trade discount brokerage. This brokerage, is of course owned by Scotia Bank, one of the big five Canadian banks. Scotia started iTrade and then bought E-trade and amalgamated it into the iTrade brokerage. Trade Freedom brokerage has also been purchased and will be merged into iTrade as well.

If you would like to compare all the different Canadian discount brokerages, check out the Canadian discount brokerage comparison.

Overall impressions

Scotia iTrade is cheaper than any of the other discount brokerages owned by the big banks. The highest trading fee is $24.99 which is less than ~$29 for most bank-owned discount brokerage, but not by a whole lot. You only need $50,000 in assets to qualify for the cheaper $9.99 trades vs. $100,000 for the other bank-owned brokerages.

The fact that there are no annual account fees for registered accounts is a big plus for lower-asset investors who can’t normally get their fees waived at the other banks.

If you want to have a discount brokerage account at a big bank, then this is the cheapest one. You can still do a lot better on fees though, by choosing any number of the independent brokers.

Online trading 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

Phone trading commissions

  • $45 plus online trading commission

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.

Foreign exchange fees

  • Spot rate + 1.65%

Mutual funds

  • Full range of mutual funds available

Free real-time quotes

  • Yes

Minimum dollar amount to open account

  • None

Some user opinions on iTrade

I asked a few people over at the Canadian Money Forum what their opinion of iTrade was.

First person was Harold, who is a low-volume trader and owns individual stocks and ETFs.

Trading platform/interface:

I have been using the web platform only since I originally started with E*Trade a few years ago.  The transition to Scotia iTrade did not change much on the web platform, except replacing the purple E*Trade motif with the Scotia red look-and-feel.
So far, I have been relatively satisfied with the web platform. This is my only online brokerage account, so I can’t claim to have experienced any different.

Customer service:

So far, good.  When you call, usually they pick up the phone within a couple minutes.  On particularly volatile trading days (like May 6th), wait times are longer but I’d expect that to be the case with any other brokerage.  Their trading desk staff are courteous, understanding and knowledgeable.

Research reports and tools:

  • Yes, I use the Analyst reports and they are ok.  I believe TD have better quality analysis.
  • I think they can improve their data tracking and charting capabilities.  Generating price charts and other types of TA charts is not very powerful.
  • They really need to build a good stock scanner into their web platform, like, yesterday.

How many transactions would you do in a month/year?

A dozen transactions, I think. Even though I don’t trade much, but I use the web tools a lot.
My usage is about 1 hr. a day on average – mostly individual stock analysis and pricing history.
I think I’m pretty familiar with all the features they have on the web platform.
Since last 2 years, I have been gradually moving my other accounts over to iTrade so I’ve become familiar with how they handle various types of accounts.
I also lived through the migration of their registered accounts from Penson Financial over to Scotia Capital (after the Scotia transition).

Frugal Trader:

  • Their online interface is adequate and usable, and their prices are reasonable providing that you have a $50k balance ($9.99/trade).
  • Their telephone service has been relatively quick to answer and knowledgeable from my experience.
  • I do not use research reports. One thing they do lack are real-time charts for traders and candlesticks and other indicators.
  • Overall, I like my iTrade account and would recommend them for accounts greater than $50k.


  • I use I-trade and trade quite often.
  • The platform is quite good, especially compared to CIBC my other brokerage.
  • The service is average at best, and the research is like most others.

If you have any experience with Scotia iTrade and want to share your thoughts, then please leave a comment.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Plinker

I have been with Trade Freedom since 2007 and watched changes with the Scotia Bank takeover. My opinion at the moment is that TD Waterhouse or Questrade may be a better choice, that is they way I will go if the guys at Scotia Bank Brokerage dissapoint me.

My investment experience is also in the high net worth area and I find the little fee’s very annoying and quite counterproductive, they turn good customers against Scotia Bank, most don’t complain or say anything they just leave.

As an investor my goal is making money, this also compensates the brokerage firm or bank. So the more the brokerage firm or bank helps by reducing trivial fee’s increases the gain to me as a customer and ultimately to the brokerage firm or bank.

I came here today regarding information on the way Trade Freedom or ITrade handles ACB “Average Cost Base”. I have asked numerous people at Trade Freedom and still have no valid answer. With my full service broker all charges where added to the cost of the equities and divided by the number of shares. How is this addressed with Trade Freedom or ITrade buys and sells?

Those companies irrespective of what they manufacture or service they provide, will benefit more from happy customers than ones who don’t consider the they have been well served.

Scotia Bank otherwise is a most excellent bank with extremely caring personnel and they deserve commendation for that!

2 Troy

I was a Tradefreedom client for years and was satisfied then scotiabank bought Tradefreedom they changed the fees and came up with more fees.
I liked the platform but the customer service is horrible. For the past 18 days I have called them everyday and more than once a day with the same technical issue with my platform.
They called me back 2 times over that time. I was never able to resolve the issue even after I bought a new computer as they suggested.
I do about 50-100 trades a month and my account is around $500000.
They managed to get me off the phone everyday with a promise of a callback or telling me no manager was around for me to talk to.
They eventually let me talk to NEXA their platform provider then NEXA told me they couldnt talk to me its their policy. Therefore I was never able to receive a solution to my problem so I had to leave ScotiaiTrade(Tradefreedom). AND I finally decided to look over my statements and found fees that they charged me and when I questioned them about these fees they said they would reverse them but had to charge me to look into that matter. To this day they have never reversed the fees. I am so disgusted with scotiaitrades policies, its unbelievable how they could treat their clients this way especially considering how much money I made for them. Please contact me if you have any questions I would be happy to answer them

3 Alana

I closed my account with iTrade yesterday and I will be closing all of my accounts with Scotiabank based on my iTrade experience; I will provide no business to Scotiabank again.

Basically, iTrade liquidated my stock position to pay their service fees (low activity service charge of $25/quarter). I had left my account dormant over the past couple of years because I had no interest in doing any trades – I initially opened my account with eTrade and bought shares in 2 junior resource companies with the intention of holding my position until a good time came to sell. No where in the iTrade literature did I see it stated that iTrade had the right to sell my stock without my consent so that their service fees could be paid. I have no idea how it is they are allowed to do this. My contact information was out of date at the time iTrade sold my stock but I am still puzzled how they could move ahead with selling the stock considering they had no confirmation from me either way. I could understand my account being in negative from my racking up their (ludicrous) service fees or my not being allowed to make any trades until the fees were paid, but for iTrade to be allowed to sell my stock? Their service fees trump my right as the owner of a stock? It just makes no sense and strikes me entirely unethical. I am confirming with IIROC whether it was legal – I am sure it was, there is obviously some legal loophole that iTrade is allowed to jump through at their convenience. Frightening that iTrade has this kind of control over their client accounts.

So if you are considering opening an account with iTrade, make sure you are very well informed as to how little control you will have over your account if you are not planning on being a regualar user of their services.

Oh, and the customer service rep I spoke with on the phone about this might as well have been a robot, she just repeated the same thing over and over with no emotion “we sold your stock to pay our service fees”, as if it was the most normal thing in the world.

That being said, I have a real broker with BMONB and his service fees are a bargain compared with iTrade’s (misleading) service fees.

4 R Walker

I’ve been a cliend 0f SMDI for over 10 yrs with 5 acounts and over 2 million on deposit. Since their remake:
1 My trades went from $8.95 to $9.99
2 SMDI will no longer debits my bank account on settlement date but requires funds up front before trade is accepted (extra 3 days on my credit line)
3 SMDI now takes an extra day to settle trades (1 add’l day on my credit line)

Changes all appear to be in the Bank’s favour.

5 Scotia_iTRADE

Thanks for your inquiry and for taking the time to share your experiences here. As always, your satisfaction is important to us and we value your comments. Please allow me to answer some of your questions.

@Plinker: TradeFreedom uses the First-In, First-Out (FIFO) method to calculate average cost base (ACB) for a security. Here’s an example to help clarify:

Monday: Buy 100 shares of XYZ at $10.00
Tuesday: Buy another 100 shares of XYZ at $20, ACB for the 200 shares of XYZ will be $15.00
Wednesday: Sell 100 shares of XYZ at $25.00, new ACB will be $20.00

Please note that TradeFreedom’s platform does not factor in the commission for average cost base, and ACB may be an estimate based on the data available to us. It is provided for your convenience and as a reference point only. I hope this information helps.

@Troy: I apologize for the trouble you’re having with our platform, and for the time it has taken us to resolve the issue. We’ve emailed you and we look forward to working with you to resolve it.

Feel free to email me if you’ve any questions, concerns or suggestions.


-Nabil |

6 Troy

Placed a limit order today on my Tradefreedom(ScotiaiTrade) platform to purchase a stock, it dropped below my limit and no confirmation, so I cancelled, and placed a lower limit, it hit that limit and still I didnt get a confirmation, I place another limit order and it hits as well no confirmation. Few minutes later I found out the hard way that all orders did execute I just didnt get the notifications.
Now this rarely happened to me except once before but it should never happen.
Now I have 3 times the shares I wanted. I was told last time the platform failed to beware and its my fault as Im using the platform at my own risk.
Gotta love my online broker

7 Stefan

Careful when trading in your TSFA. If you purchase a US dollar stock they will hit you witha spread to convert you from Canadian to USD then back again when you sell. Plus they make trade commission on both sides. You could actually buy a stock, watch it rise, sell it then look at your settlements to see the whole thing lost you money. It happened to me with AAP on April 17th. I should have made $240 minus trade commissions. It ended up costing me $20! TD Waterhouse washed the spread out so check your rates before you sign up anywhere.

8 Tony

What happened to Stefan happened to me they do charge you on conversion two times when you buy and sell a stock,I think Scotia knows what its doing to the investors, but it does not care, I have phoned them only to get a” I will chat with my superiors”, guess what next day the exchange rate spread was bigger!! even though our Canadian dollar was more then the USA dollar i had to pay more for the exchange it back to the American when I wanted to sell
this is nothing but currency manipulation in my book, Im pulling my money out be warned they dont like to negotiate either

9 Clark

I’ve just began using Scotia iTrade and their trading platforms. One of the major reason for me to shift to them is the expectation of the FlightDesk Trading Platform, which turns out as a bad decision of a life time.

First, they say I can get streaming quote and level2 data on FlightDesk.
Well, All the bids, offers, volume showing in FlightDesk is delayed about 20 minutes. And amazingly FlightDesk does NOT tell you those data is delayed. I compared the same data between FlightDesk and iTrade Web based trading. And you know what? At the same second they don’t even match! How can one trade with that platform if the data is wrong? And they even promote people to trade more? what a joke!

Second, Active Trader Call Centre.
Since I am new to iTrade and FlightDesk. I called their call centre wanting to get some information and help to use the FlightDesk platform.
I asked one of their associate about where and how can I get “Times & Sales” data in FlightDesk. And he had absolutely no idea WHAT IS times and sales. After he put me on hold for 10 minutes trying to find out what it is. He came back and tell me to look at the volume bar below the chart. Oh boy! So I had to ask him…please if you don’t understand what I am talking about, find somebody who can! And he put me on hold again.

I could not believe that one of the big banks in Canada, they could not find an employee that understands the equity market? CIBC wasn’t like that! TD water house is doing way better with the TOS platform! Scotia iTrade do NOT deserve a good trader to open account with them.



the fee on option assignment is very high – $50+

11 Glen Hanson

If converting your RRSP to RRIF, as required at age 71, be aware that all stocks enrolled in DRIP have to be re-enrolled, following confirmation of transfer to the RRIF format. When changing the investment type, I-Trade does not continue with the DRIP instruction & does not make the investor aware that future dividends will be held in the none interest bearing cash side of the account. After the fact, you pay $9.95 to make the purchase yourself. I-Trade scores on fees &/or interest free deposits, by depriving the investor of the value of the Drip program. This is not by design. Ask the service provider I contacted. Incompetance perchance?

12 mike

Scotia iTrade charges 75.00 transactions fee per set of shares sold when transferring to 3rd party. Basically, Scotia will put extremely high cost barriers to take your money out. I would not consider scotia as a broker due to this. BMO , Disnat, etc. offer much better fees and online experience. I’m

13 Grant

I really don’t understand Scotia I-Trade policy when it comes to generating new customers they offer up to $1000 cash or 1000 free trades, plus a $1000 Larry Burman trade course . However when it comes to loyal customers you “Must” make a new cash deposit to get the same pro rated deal. In my case all I wanted was to receive the $50 offer but to do so would have to deposit $15,000 more into my substantial account. If you wanted the $1000. I would need to deposit $1000,000.00. I have talked to I-Trade and the bottom line is I’m looking for a better place to do my trading.

14 fab

Since they bought Trade Freedom the service goes down and them platform FligtDesk is good for nothing. I lost a lot of money with that platform which is slow, unstable – juste a gadget to impress – TD waterhouse is much better.

15 Ken

I am a pretty new user of Itrade, but I am greatly impressed with their staff. They are really helpful and courteous. I have made a few mistakes and they helped me correct everything, and made me feel like I knew what I was doing (which I didn’t).

I also like that they are a real bank….I know banks are clever with fees and move-out charges, but at least you know they are secure. I did not feel comfortable choosing Questrade, QTrade or Virtual for that one reason, even ‘though they obviously have their strengths. I did consider BMO and would have gone with them, except that Scotia offers commision-free ETFS and a few nice US conversion options……that sweetened the deal.

Maybe as some write, I will be upset if I ever try to move my securities due to fees, but so far, I am a happy camper with ScotiaItrade and would recommend them for their great service and reasonable telephone wait times……hopefully my money will stay with them for a long time…until I can afford to spend some of it! Good luck….

16 ken

I have been using Scotia iTrade as my broker. They have had provided great customer service. Very impressive.

Otherwise, the trades have gone through, the website works fine, and I have no complaints, other than that a few features on their website are down at the moment.

I would recommend them from my experience thus-far.

17 Natascha Kogler

Scotia iTrade is the worst trading platform I have ever used and their customer service is just as bad. I have experienced multiple system outages and lag times in the system refreshing. I reported issues with their system at 6:00 am this morning and 12 hours later they are still not resolved. The issues are very serious as no trades are showing up for February 1 so you can not sell any stocks you bought the day before and the ones that you sold are still showing up. All of my account balances are incorrect as well. Again, the worst trading platform ever.

18 Luc Charpentier

The Scotia iTrade customer phone lines are having consistently long wait times and seem to be understaffed. This is an inconvenience especially for transactions that cannot be performed online,

19 Gabriel Chu

I have both TD Waterhouse and Scotia Itrade for 3-5 years and I am a simple medium to long term trader. This is why I much prefer TD Waterhouse:
1. iTrade has no mobile platform to monitor portfolios or trade equities. Only can access via computer terminal or laptop. This is extremely inconvenient and impractical in this mobile age where most people travel and work constantly on the go.
2. iTrade can only be connected with one debit card login along with its accounts. TD has a single web login to allow access to ALL your personal and corporate accounts along with your Waterhouse trading account. Very convenient to be able to make transfers between separate accounts.

20 Mike Harrop

I’ve been a long- time client of Scotia Discount Brokerage and iTrade. Our accounts are not small – well above the level at which service charges apply.

Order execution is good. Web site is still a bit clutzy though much improved.

Customer service is almost non-existent. If you try to report a problem, they simply don’t answer the ‘phone. On one occasion I left the ‘phone on hold to see how long it would take them to answer. I was on hold for 1hr and 48 minutes with a message every 30 secs. telling me how important my call was.

I’ve exchanged e-mails with them but they tell me they do not have a facility to call out to clients to return a call.

If I have a problem, I need to speak to someone.

I’m moving all our iTrade accounts this weekend.

We also have accounts at RBC Direct which is far better.

21 Andre

Scotia Itrade quoting $24.99 for trade if you have less that $50,000 on deposit. BUT THE VERY FINE PRINT says only up to 1000 shares. More than 1000 shares they charge you 0.03 cents per share. So I brought 3000 shares at $5.30 and got charged $90 !. I try to make a $300 day trade gain by selling the next day for $5.40 thinking I would be paying $24.99 X 2. = $50. But they charged me 3 cents a share = $90 to buy and $90 to sell = $180 from my $300 profit. It is impossible to make any money using Itrade at these usurious rates. They are no longer the discount broker they used to be before Scotia took charge of them. I am going to HSBC online broker who charge $6.88 FLAT RATE. to hell with Itrade

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