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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – February 25, 2019

Whether it was the spectacle of having no host, the spectacle of who wore what or of who won what, there was a lot of hype leading up to the Oscars and after it was all said and done, the controversy persists. Of course, Canadian online brokerages are caught in a swirl of hype as well, with the RSP contribution deadline looming, this is perhaps the most buzzworthy week for anything and everything related to investing online.

In this edition of the roundup, while there may be no big celebrities or shiny statues, there is no shortage of commentary (albeit not about outfits). Starting first with one Canadian online brokerage who made a subtle but important shift on their commission pricing page which could tilt them out of favour with active traders. Next, we review the interesting last minute moves made by a pair of online brokerages to put their deals for RSP season in the spotlight and keep them on the radar of DIY investors. Of course, in keeping with the awards season theme, we profile some very interesting highlights from the latest online brokerage ranking to come out of the US. As always, we’ve got a great selection of DIY investor chatter from Twitter as well as from the investor forums.

Virtual Brokers Quietly Tweaks Trading Commission

Sometimes a small change can have a big impact. This past week, we took note of a small change to the Virtual Brokers pricing & commissions page, that at first blush, might not seem like a big change but is, in fact, an important one.

Late last year, Virtual Brokers announced a new commission pricing structure that lowered their commissions from $9.95 to between $1.99 and $7.99 per ticket. This pricing structure put the standard commission per trade at Virtual Brokers under most of their competitors – certainly those of most bank-owned brokerages (with the exception of CIBC Investor’s Edge) as well as under the standard commission range of their long-time rival Questrade. There was, however, an important detail to take note of.

Commissions at Virtual Brokers were advertised “per ticket” rather than “per trade” which was uncommon for most of the other online brokerages who priced commissions per trade. For most everyday investors, per ticket pricing, though uncommon, wouldn’t actually work out to being anything different. For active traders, however, the difference is important.

We previously reported that having a ‘per ticket’ system could favour active traders who wanted to scale into (or out of) positions by buying (or selling) multiple orders of the same security in the same day. Now with pricing moving to the per trade pricing, this removes that cost efficiency.

So, even though the terms used to describe trade commission pricing might be easier to understand for a wider audience or user base, the pricing advantage is no longer as clear to the active segment. Another point of possible confusion – the terms & conditions underneath the commission pricing table available on the website at the time of writing this Roundup still refers to the ‘per ticket’ pricing. We’ve reached out to VB for clarification and will post an update when received.

Deals Action Down to the Wire

With the RSP contribution deadline within reach, the deals action in the online brokerage space it is at an all-time high. Even so, there were still a few interesting moves heading into the final stretch to the March 1st deadline.

The first, and most obvious, is RBC Direct Investing ramping up the visibility of their ‘pay with points’ promotional offer. Specifically, the homepage of the RBC Direct Investing has this offer splashed in big, bold letters where it cannot be missed.

For a quick refresher, until March 1st RBC Direct Investing is giving points holders 20% more value by lowering the required minimum point redemption amount from 3000 points to 2500 points.

Points can also be used to pay for trading commissions, and with the current promotion, fewer points are required for a trade. Instead of the 1200 points normally required, clients can use 995 points instead.

Another bank-owned online broker running hard to the RSP contribution deadline extended the deadline for their offer from the end of February to the first few days in March. BMO InvestorLine extended the deadline for their current cash back promotion from February 28th to March 4th – a move that enables the ultra-last-minute contributors to benefit from the promotion especially if they’re on the west coast.

As the clock ticks closer to the deadline, keep in mind that there is also another deal set to expire – TD Direct Investing’s tiered commission-free trading offer. This deal is timed to expire on March 1st so, for any procrastinators, this is crunch time.

Best Online Brokerages in the US Announced

In the spirit of the Academy Awards, and continuing the streak of awards for best online brokerage that have taken place in February, south of the border there was also a rather high profile announcement for the best online brokerages for 2019. Barron’s magazine published their 24th edition of their US online brokerage ranking which profiled 14 US brokerages.

From the Canadian vantage point, it is interesting to peer over the fence to see what some of the more noteworthy features are in the US online brokerage space. According to Barron’s, the five categories of features or experience that DIY investors expect in 2019 are comprised of: personalization, accessibility, convenience, thoroughness and sophistication or “PACTS”.

In terms of the top performers in this year’s ranking – which reports performance using a five-star ranking – Interactive Brokers came out on top with 4.5 stars. The top performer last year as well, the repeat performance is impressive considering the speed and scope of changes taking place in the US online brokerage marketplace.

One interesting observation of the field that we also have noted on several occasions is that “active trading” firms are increasingly targeting less active clients with features geared towards less frequent traders. Interactive Brokers is a great example of this, with features like a credit card, bill payments and high interest on uninvested cash, there are certainly mainstream investors as well as active traders who might find that feature stack appealing.

The top five performing firms in this year’s ranking were:

  1. Interactive Brokers
  2. Fidelity
  3. E*Trade
  4. TD Ameritrade
  5. Merrill Edge

So, what is life like for DIY investors on the other side of the border when it comes to online brokerages?

One interesting feature is substantially lower cost per trade. Although Canadian DIY investors have started to see zero commission trading start to emerge, the reality is that the US has a greater variety of lower cost or no cost trading options. For example, Merrill Edge now offers 100 commission-free equity trades per month for clients with assets over $100,000.

Commission-free ETFs are also another area where the US online brokerage space has a considerable advantage over Canadian brokerages. With catalogues of commission-free ETFs that range into the hundreds, there is certainly lots Canadian online brokerages can take note of from the performance of their US online brokerage counterparts.

Perhaps the biggest difference in terms of online brokerage experience for DIY investors in Canada compared to the US is when it comes to technology. While online account opening is still a work in progress at some firms here in Canada, there are virtual reality portfolio management tools already under advanced development from firms like Fidelity, or AI integrated trading experiences with firms such as TradeStation or Interactive Brokers, or smart home connectivity with trading applications at TD Ameritrade. Over the fence, it is truly a brave new world when it comes to technology.

On a side note, this edition of the Barron’s ranking was written by an author new to the Barron’s ranking, Matt Miller. Up until last year, these rankings were conducted and written by Theresa Carey (for the past 23 editions!) who has since moved over to Investopedia. One of the features that appears to be sorely missed by readers is the full spreadsheet of comparisons that appeared in year’s past.

What is interesting to take note of in the US online brokerage rankings that may impact Canadian DIY investors as well as online brokerage firms here is the rapid ascension in ratings that tastyworks has demonstrated.

Largely focused on options trading and founded by Tom Sosnoff, (who also founded and sold Thinkorswim to TD Ameritrade), the playbook of tastytrade (the media arm that is associated with the brokerage tastyworks) is impressive. The brokerage arm – tastyworks – was launched in 2017 so to rise to a middle of the pack ranking overall in such a short span of time is a sign that they are making significant strides with investors.

Why this is worth watching as a force within the online brokerage space here in Canada is because tastytrade’s second largest audience comes from Canada. Already, tastytrade has a nascent relationship with TD Direct Investing – having done joint events with them in the past. This definitely give TD Direct Investing a leg up on the other Canadian brokerages who would want to deliver access to a unique personality and product in the options trading space.

The key takeaways for Canadian online brokerages is that as Canadian DIY investors get to see what’s going on across the border, there will likely be a similar demand for a more rapid and innovative technology experience, lower cost for trading commissions, greater diversity of ETF trading commission-free and exceptional trading-related content. In a nutshell: they have to figure out how to do way more than they’re currently doing now, and do so in a falling commission-rate environment.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Straight to the Points

Value investing is all about getting more for your dollar. It’s no surprise then that DIY investors sparked a conversation on’s investing thread about RBC Direct Investing’s pay with points promotion set to expire at the beginning of March. Check out what investor’s had to say about the merits and limitations of this offer.

Trader’s Remorse

Despite the different coloured logo, things may not always be greener on the other side of the online brokerage fence. One investor had second thoughts about their move from Questrade to BMO InvestorLine, in this post in the Financial Wisdom Forum. Read about what fellow forum users had to offer in the way of sage advice.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on the action for another week. If you’ve watched any major sporting event or TV event or even surfed around online, you’ve likely seen at least one discount brokerage or robo-advisor pushing hard into the RSP contribution deadline. For those who’ve already tied a ribbon around their RSP contributions for the year, congratulations, there’s one less thing to worry about this week – but if you’re looking for anything to get your nerves frayed, good news, there’s lots on the US and Canadian political scene to keep you from resting on your laurels. Have a winning week!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – February 18, 2019

Even though markets took a pause for Family Day in Canada and President’s Day in the US, the calm before the storm is officially over and when the market bells ring again on Tuesday, it will be a mad dash to the RSP contribution deadline. With first time and seasoned DIY investors alike kicking the tires on Canadian online brokerages, the good news is that there is plenty on the table in terms of offers as well as ranking data to help make those important decisions.

In this edition of the roundup we take a deep dive into yet another deals & promotions development in which two Canadian discount brokerages launch late-stage offers. Next, we profile another online brokerage ranking dealing with customer service that revealed some very interesting trends as well as challenger brands that will shift the online brokerage landscape in Canada in the years to come. Of course, we’ll also serve up a healthy dose of online brokerage tweets as well as chatter from the investor forums.

No Country for Old Deals

With the RSP contribution deadline just a few days away, Canadian discount brokerages are pulling out all the stops to try and get DIY investors’ attention (and business) while investments are on their mind. This month has seen a flurry of activity ranging from commission price drops at Scotia iTRADE, something that they have resisted doing for about five years, to just about all Canadian online brokerages putting forward either a commission-free trading or cash back offer.

The trend of posting new offers continued last week with offers from non-bank-owned online brokerages, Questrade and Virtual Brokers, both posting promotional offers.

Questrade’s offer is actually one that deserves a bit more discussion since it is unlike anything we have observed take place in the industry since we have been tracking deals and promotions. Questrade’s latest promotional offer is a transfer-fee coverage offer (something almost all online brokerages offer) however the big development is that Questrade is offering to cover the transfer out fee for any deposit level. This is a massive development for two reasons.

First, the normal deposit threshold for qualifying for a transfer fee coverage offer is between $15,000 and $25,000. Even then, there are times where there is a sliding scale of coverage, so only larger deposit amounts qualify for the full coverage. Occasionally, Qtrade Investor has lowered the transfer fee coverage threshold from the standard $25,000 down to $10,000. So, for Questrade to drop the deposit transfer requirement altogether (for a limited time) is an aggressive move to get accounts that normally would not have qualified for transfer fee coverage to consider switching.

The second reason this offer from Questrade is a big deal is because it reflects their doubling down on a segment of the market that is largely underserved by their competitors. In response, Canadian online brokerages are almost certainly going to have to decide how valuable customer accounts with deposits less than $15,000 to $25,000 are worth, because it now is possible for online investors to ask their brokerage how much they’re prepared to offer to keep their business.

For DIY investors stuck paying fees at online brokerages because their balances are too low, this is an amazing exit opportunity. To be clear, Questrade also charges low balance/inactivity fees, however the threshold to have those fees waived is lower than at their competitors. Questrade charges inactivity fees of $24.95 per quarter on accounts with less than $5,000 in total assets and waives those fees for placing a commission generating trade in a quarter; for individuals under 25 years old; subscribers to a data package and to anyone depositing at least $150 per quarter.

Finally, one more interesting observation with regards to Questrade’s promotional offer is that this is the first time in many years that Questrade has launched a new mass market offer. Earlier on in their history, Questrade was the most active among Canada’s discount brokerages in terms of offering promotions however that activity essentially plateaued with Questrade keeping their same suite of commission-free trading offers. This uptick in their promotional behaviour is a signal that Questrade is revisiting their promotional offers which is one more thing that their competitors now have to factor in.

Also crossing the deals wire last week was Virtual Brokers, who launched a $50 cash back promotion tied to RSP season. Their latest offer, which also comes after having been on the deals sideline for some time, coincides with their being named as Canada’s best online brokerage by the Globe and Mail (alongside TD Direct Investing).

Virtual Brokers’ latest promotion is open to both existing and new clients and offers up a $50 cash back reward for a deposit of $10,000. In comparing the current cash back offers on the market, this is one of the most aggressively priced ones.

To start, they are the only online brokerage offering a cash back amount for a deposit at that level. The next available cash back offer requires a deposit of at least $25,000 – at which point there are three different offers to choose from. Interestingly, the aggressive nature of this offer really stands out when compared against Qtrade Investor, who is offering a cash back amount of $50 for a minimum deposit of $50,000.

Another feature of the latest Virtual Brokers deal that stands out is the timing for when the cash back award will be deposited. According to the terms and conditions of the offer, the cash back will be deposited “after July 1st” which, compared to other offers, is a shorter payback time. To be fair, the exact date was not specified so it does leave considerable wiggle room for that repayment to be issued

Brokerage Minimum Deposit Cash Back Amount
Virtual Brokers $10,000 $50
HSBC Invest Direct $25,000 $188
CIBC Investor’s Edge $25,000 $100
Scotia iTRADE $25,000 $100
BMO InvestorLine $50,000 $400
Qtrade Investor $50,000 $50


It should be noted that Questrade does have a referral offer in place that is easily accessible for investors that would also be similar in value to Virtual Brokers’ offer (i.e. $50 cash back for a deposit of $10,000). Scotia iTRADE also has a referral offer however the process of accessing that offer is more difficult than entering in a code.

With over 35 offers now available for DIY investors to choose from, this is a record year for choices and incentives. Not only are there more offers in play for DIY investors to be able access but also the amounts of those offers have increased relative to last year – especially in certain deposit segments.

There have clearly been benefits to anyone who’s waited to see what the online brokerages would come forward with in terms offers. But, for online brokerages, has waiting until RSP season to launch a deal/promo been a good thing?

One hazard of waiting for the RSP season is that consumer expectations shift. If DIY investors look back over the past three to five years, there’s clearly a pattern of Canadian online brokerages offering deals and promotions in the new year or, more recently, from November onwards. Not unlike consumers and Black Friday, however, online investors may start to withhold their account opening or selection until they see the full set of offers available.

What we suspect will unfold is that online brokerages will want to establish a more regular or tactical approach to offering promotions through the year. At the very least, finding a way to stay on investors’ radar throughout the year will be important when it comes to the ‘high season’ of being able to stand out from all of the different offers that will go on display.

The most recent activity from Questrade and Virtual Brokers show, however, that if you’re going to be advertising a promotion later into the RSP season, that in order to get noticed, you will have to go big – which is a great development for DIY investors.

Qtrade Earns Top Customer Service Scores from Surviscor

Earlier this month, Qtrade Investor managed to notch yet another award win in an online brokerage ranking, this time in customer service. Financial services research firm Surviscor announced the results of their service level assessment of the Canadian banking and online brokerage sectors and found that in the brokerage segment, Qtrade Investor provided the strongest service experience.

The results of this year’s service level assessment provided some eye-opening scores, and will undoubtedly cause some furrowed brows across the Canadian online brokerage sector as many of the scores came up less than flattering. More on that in just a moment though.

At the top of the board, Qtrade Investor scored 84% and narrowly beat out RBC Direct Investing who came in second at 82% followed by Questrade in a distant third at 68%. For some context, the average score was 39% while the standard deviation was 27%, which means on a relative basis Qtrade Investor and RBC Direct Investing substantially outperformed the rest of the field.

With an average score of 39% however, this evaluation is indicating that Canadian online brokerages are struggling when it comes to providing what Surviscor defines as quality service. Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage came in last at 4% while Virtual Brokers landed at 8%. Some big bank-owned-brokerage names also were included in the below average group: Scotia iTRADE, CIBC Investor’s Edge, National Bank Direct Brokerage, and (perhaps the most surprising) BMO InvestorLine (16%).

Of course, while these rankings provide a snapshot of performance over the past year, what is even more interesting – and perhaps telling of a trend in the online brokerage industry – is comparing results year over year.

Online Brokerage 2017 Score 2017 Ranking 2018 Score 2018 Ranking Score Change (y/y)
 BMO InvestorLine 12% 13 16% 11 4%
 CIBC Investor’s Edge 16% 12 30% 8 14%
 Desjardins Online Brokerage 74% T3 52% 5 -22%
 HSBC InvestDirect 28% T8 12% 12 -16%
 Interactive Brokers 54% 6 62% 4 8%
 Jitney Trade 28% T8 24% 9 -4%
 Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage 4% 15 4% 14 0%
 National Bank Direct Brokerage 28% 10 20% 10 -8%
 Qtrade Investor 90% 1 84% 1 -6%
 Questrade 36% 7 68% 3 32%
 RBC Direct Investing 86% 2 82% 2 -4%
 Scotia iTRADE 66% 5 38% 7 -28%
 TD Direct Investing 20% 11 50% 6 30%
 Virtual Brokers 8% 14 8% 13 0%

Looking at the year over year results, one of the first things that jumps out is that the top two firms are the same this year as last, however the absolute scores are lower. So, last year, Qtrade Investor took top spot with 90% however this year they fell by six percentage points to 84%. Similarly, RBC Direct Investing was in second place last year at 86% and declined to 82% in the most recent set of rankings. While still strong relative to the rest of the field it appears both of these firms took their foot of the gas pedal slightly in 2018.

Who did put more effort into service in 2018, however, was readily apparent. Questrade leaped by 32 percentage points from 36% for 2017 to 68% for 2018. Similarly, TD Direct Investing also shot up by 30 percentage points to 50%, moving from 11th place up to 6th. CIBC Investor’s Edge also showed double digit improvement, climbing by 14 percentage points to 30% for 2018.

In the other direction, the most remarkable drop off in service was from Scotia iTRADE, who fell 28 percentage points from 66% in 2017’s rankings to 38% in the 2018 analysis. Desjardins Online Brokerage, who was tied for third place last year with 74%, fell this year to 5th place (which is still a strong finish) despite a drop of 22 percentage points to 52%.

For DIY investors hunting around for an online trading account, getting a sense of the service experience is partly an exercise in reviewing what other investors have to say about their own experiences as well as relying on rankings and ratings. The interesting contrasts in the service experience appear when compared with the Globe and Mail’s online brokerage rankings – specifically for firms such as Virtual Brokers (which took top spot in the online brokerage ranking this year) and bank-owned brokerage BMO InvestorLine (who also scored well). The wide difference in scoring suggest that there are some areas of the online trading experience where some firms are doing well and others where those same firms might be lagging their peers.

By the same token, for online brokerage firms that are doing well in different rankings/evaluations, this could be a strong indicator of a generally strong (positive) experience. Qtrade Investor, for example, scored well in Globe and Mail ranking as well as taking top honours in the Surviscor evaluation, which indicates that they will likely be a go-to consideration for DIY investors who use rankings/ratings to decide which online brokerages to choose.

Perhaps the most interesting takeaways from the Survsicor results relate to the performance of two particular firms.

The first is Interactive Brokers Canada. Largely relegated to the category of “active trader” online brokerage, this broker has often (anecdotally) been cited by investors as hands off and not providing much in the way of support or service. In the case of the latter, however, there is clearly a disconnect. Interactive Brokers scored fourth in terms of service in 2018, improving 8 percentage points over 2017. While bank-owned brokerages would be assumed to have a lock on offering quality service, in reality 3 out of the top 4 online brokerages in terms of service ratings are non-bank-owned online brokerages.

Another firm to watch, in terms of rankings performance, is Questrade. Rob Carrick stated that “This fast-growing independent is riding an improvement trajectory that will most likely put it on top of this ranking in the next several years.” The surge in performance in service quality rating for 2018 also seem to reflect this trend. So, in terms of driving feature development and client experience across the online brokerage space in Canada, Questrade appears to be taking a leadership position.

As for the firms out of the spotlight, or worse, in the bottom end of the service pack, it will be interesting to see whether the latest Surviscor ratings prompt any notable changes. Interestingly, if the service experience is as good or poor as reflected in the latest Surviscor results, there’s a good chance we will see the spillover in forum and social media posts.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Some Q-onfusion

For frequent watchers of the deals and promotions section, Questrade’s latest move to cover transfer fees is a significant event in the marketplace. In this post, from, there seems to be some confusion regarding the Questrade offer that just launched and a historical offer from different brokerage, Qtrade Investor, whose name tends to trip up forum posters who like to abbreviate.

Passive Aggressive

When it comes to passive investing, it seems like everyone in the business of providing ETFs is jumping on the passive train. In this post, from, it’s clear that BMO was not about to let some big moves in the ETF space go unchallenged. Check out the reactions to the launch of some new ETFs, ZGRO, ZBAL, ZCON and ZMI.

Into the Close

With another week in the books, it looks like the market storms that spooked investors in December are well behind us. One thing that hasn’t really gone away, however, is the consensus that volatility will be a big part of the market experience for the remainder of the year. As this weekend’s NBA All-Star game showcased, it’s best to be prudent when it comes to the markets. Even though certain trades might seem like a slam dunk, your portfolio can still end up in the loser’s circle by trying to get too fancy.

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – February 11, 2019

Now that February is here, there’s all kinds of buzz surrounding the entertainment industry awards shows like the Grammy’s and the Oscars. For Canadian discount brokerages, this month also marks an important awards window with long anticipated online brokerage rankings getting published.

In this edition of the Roundup, we take an in-depth look at the latest Canadian online brokerage rankings from the Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick. Of course, that wasn’t the only big news to drop this past week, as the last bank-owned online brokerage standard commission fee above $10 finally capitulated to join the sub-$10 party. As always, we’ve also got some interesting DIY investor chatter to share to round things out for the week.

Who is Canada’s Best Online Brokerage? Hint: It’s a Tie

It’s incredible how fast time flies. This past week Rob Carrick from the Globe and Mail, published the  20th edition of his popular online brokerage rankings (this is the longest running evaluation of Canadian online brokerages) that delivered its signature mix of insight, evaluation and a dash of sass to report the state of the Canadian online brokerage marketplace in 2018.

As arguably the most popular online brokerage ranking in Canada, there has been a lot that has changed in the industry since this ranking first launched two decades ago. Having witnessed and reported on it all, it is especially interesting to see what Carrick homed in on for this year’s rankings.

Canada’s online brokerages were analyzed and evaluated on the following categories:

  • Client experience
  • Cost
  • Investing experience
  • Tools
  • Website

In keeping with the more recent format, letter grades were assigned to brokerages (as opposed to numerical scores) and there was a mix of objective and subjective elements to the scoring. This year, there was also one less online brokerage on the list, as Credential Direct merged with Qtrade Investor, which resulted in 12 Canadian online brokerages being measured.

Of course, the first question everyone asks of the rankings is: who won best online brokerage? Interestingly, for 2018 it wasn’t just one firm that took home the prize as Canada’s top online brokerage. This year both Virtual Brokers and TD Direct Investing shared the top prize displacing last year’s winner Qtrade Investor from the winner’s circle.

While TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers couldn’t be more different in their size, scope of services and recognizability with investors, they nonetheless both took home top marks for their efforts in catering to the mainstream investor in 2018.

Comparing scores this year to last, it is interesting to note that a significant portion of the brokerage pool made strides to improve their overall appeal to mainstream investors. In fact, in the latest online brokerage rankings, there were five online brokerages who scored A- or better compared to only one last year (Qtrade Investor). This bodes well for DIY investors who now have a strong pool of firms to choose from when it comes to selecting an online brokerage.

Online Brokerage 2018 Rating 2017 Rating
BMO InvestorLine B B
CIBC Investor’s Edge C C
Desjardins Online Brokerage C- C
HSBC InvestDirect C- C
Interactive Brokers B+ B+
National Bank Direct Brokerage B- C+
Qtrade Investor A- A
Questrade A- B+
RBC Direct Investing B B
Scotia iTRADE A- B+
TD Direct Investing A B
Virtual Brokers A B

Firms who improved slightly were National Bank Direct Brokerage (C+ to B-), Questrade (B+ to A-) and Scotia iTRADE (B+ to A-). By comparison, both TD Direct Investing and Virtual Brokers improved by a whole letter grade going from B to A, albeit because of different features and improvements.

There were four firms that remained unchanged year over year: Interactive Brokers (B+), BMO InvestorLine (B), RBC Direct Investing (B) and CIBC Investor’s Edge (C).F

Finally, three firms did slightly worse than last year, including Qtrade Investor (A to A-), HSBC InvestDirect (C to C-) and Desjardins Online Brokerage (C to C-). It is worFFth noting that the drop in scores is likely more because of improvements at other online brokerages rather than something that these brokerages did i.e. the rest of the field just did better.

Of course, it helps that the detailed comparisons of features were also published so that we can more closely examine where some of the variation between last year and this year appeared. One of the first differences that jumps out is the foreign exchange conversion fees. While Interactive Brokers Canada remains first in terms of having the lowest fees for forex conversions (USD to CAD), Questrade slipped from 2nd to 12th. Interestingly, Qtrade Investor moved from 6th to 2nd and National Bank Direct Brokerage from 8th to 3rd. This volatility in currency exchange fees is an interesting observation however what hasn’t changed is the extent to which Interactive Brokers is ahead of other online brokerages in terms of this fee category.

Although not as drastic as forex fees, another category that had some interesting shifts compared to last year was the website experience. One of the most notable improvements from the last set of rankings was Virtual Brokers. In 2017 they scored 2.5 (out of 5) but moved up to 4.5, on par with Questrade and behind TD Direct Investing who maintained their 5 out of 5 score. Interestingly, there were a number of scores that declined – even in spite of changes made to their websites over the time between the previous rankings and the latest one. National Bank Direct Brokerage’s website experience score stands out with a score of 1 in spite of a website overhaul that took place in November 2018. Their previous site scored 2 (out of 5) so the drop is a particularly tough break.

As a group, it was also interesting to see how bank-owned brokerages fared. TD Direct Investing (5) and Scotia iTRADE (4) had the strongest website experience scores however their peers didn’t do nearly as well. In fact, the average score of remaining big five bank-owned online brokerages was 1.8, an indication that, according to Rob Carrick, there is still considerable room to improve.

When it comes to determining which online brokerage is best, it is always important to understand exactly how that title is defined.

The 2018 Globe and Mail online brokerage rankings are now in their 20th year and arguably Rob Carrick has one of the best perspectives and context on how the industry has evolved over the time he has been covering it. Even so, it is important for anyone shopping for an online brokerage to note that these are primarily his opinions of what brokerages are doing well (or not). One of the most helpful components aside from the rankings themselves is actually the comparison details which accompany the rankings and provide additional information on features each online brokerage offers.

What is also interesting about this year’s rankings is that they are open only to subscribers of the Globe and Mail.

By putting this highly coveted ranking behind a paywall, there are already ‘gripes’ from online readers who have come to expect this information to be available freely. Of course, the internet being the internet, the popularity of this content means it already has surfaced almost in its entirety on a forum thread for DIY investors.

Why this matters is because unless these rankings are made more publicly available, they will be restricted to the readers of the Globe and Mail (and savvy, forum dwelling investors), which in turn erodes the reach and impact of the ratings. Although this is not the first time this content has been put behind a subscriber paywall, it will no doubt challenge investors to wonder whether they really want to subscribe to the Globe and Mail just to access these rankings. For frugal, tech savvy DIY investors, that’s going to be a tough sell.

Scotia iTRADE Quietly Lowers Standard Commission Prices

If a commission price drops but nobody is paying attention, is anybody going to save? Despite what is an important development in the Canadian online brokerage space, there has been almost zero chatter, buzz or activity online related to the drop in standard commission pricing at Scotia iTRADE last week.

The standard commission price at Scotia iTRADE is now $9.99 per trade, down from the $24.99+ which it has managed to maintain since the wave of commission price drops kicked off by RBC Direct Investing back in February 2014 (for those keeping score, that’s five years ago).

The decision to remain defiant on dropping commissions for so long, however, has appeared to have taken its toll on the most vocal digital users – young investors. By effectively pricing out this group from adopting and potentially evangelizing this online brokerage, Scotia iTRADE is now forced to play catch up.

The issue, however, runs deeper than that. Scotia iTRADE’s $24.99 commissions routinely earned the ire of some DIY investors on Twitter, which means that there is also a lot of negative earned media that iTRADE has to overcome on top of trying to tell their story to DIY investors in a very crowded market.

In fact, it was an interesting decision to drop commission prices to almost exactly the levels other bank-owned brokerages are currently offering and not use this opportunity to introduce a lower standard commission price.

Given the absence of excitement about this move in the DIY investor space (and even nothing on the iTRADE website itself), it is clear that Scotia iTRADE is going to now have to throw some significant marketing dollars to inform investors that standard commission prices have dropped to what everybody else is already offering (and others are offering even lower pricing).

And, they’ll have to do it at a time when their bank-owned brokerage peers and independent competitors are heavily advertising as well. So, unless they can generate some positive buzz, getting the word out and getting people excited are not going to be cheap.

Suffice to say, Scotia iTRADE lowering standard commission pricing is a positive development for DIY investors. A major bank-owned brokerage with a strong platform, commission-free ETFs and (now) competitive pricing means that fellow bank-owned brokerages will be working a little harder to attract clients with less than the $50,000 in assets that the standard commission rates impacted.

The big hurdle for Scotia iTRADE now will be overcoming the years of negative press and doing something bigger than a giant Lego banana that will make DIY investors pay attention (in a good way).

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Chatter on the Rankings

Readers of the investor forums weighed in on the latest online brokerage rankings from the Globe and Mail. See what users had to say about the winners and other brokerages in this post from RedFlagDeals.

Sorry to Bug You

With any big technology roll out, there are bound to be a few hiccups. When it comes to handling peoples’ investments, however, the chatter around the rollout of Wealthsimple Trade reveals some simultaneously fascinating and frightful scenarios of glitches being detected. Check out this reddit thread to see what DIY investors encountered with their shiny new accounts.

Into the Close

It’s time to roll the credits on another edition of the roundup. The week ahead should be interesting as marketing departments from award winning online brokerages will find clever ways to showcase their accomplishments as investors head into the last few weeks before the RSP contribution deadline. Also coming up this week is Valentine’s Day, which is timely given that investors have been showing the market lots of love to start of 2019 – which may (or may not) change with all of the big earnings announcements also poised to be published this week too. As any seasoned trader knows, however, it’s best not to get emotional over (or fall in love with) any stock, no matter how attractive it might seem. Have a great week!

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Discount Brokerage Weekly Roundup – February 4, 2019

Welcome to the Super Bowl edition of the Weekly Roundup. Just like Tom Brady winning Super Bowls, discount brokerage deal announcements never get old. And, just like the big game itself, for DIY investors, landing a great offer when opening an online brokerage account is also a reason to celebrate.

Fortunately, this edition of the roundup makes scoring a great offer even easier. We kick things off with a highlight of yet another online brokerage deal announced last week and then go deep with an analysis of the deals being offered – specifically the commission-free trade promotions. Also on the field for this roundup: tweets about online brokerages and what DIY investors were chatting about in the forums.

Drill down on discount brokerage deals

There’s an old saying that if you chop your own firewood, it keeps you warm twice. For DIY investors hoping to lower their own costs for investing, hunting around for a promotion or deal will result in even greater savings – especially this month.

Just in time for the final push towards the RSP contribution deadline at the end of February, one more Canadian online brokerage launched a promotional offer, marking the third consecutive week in which a new online trading account deal has launched.

This past week, RBC Direct Investing launched a commission-free trade promotion that offers 20 commission-free trades for a minimum deposit of $5,000. These commission-free trades are good for up to one year and the offer runs until March 29th.

While RBC Direct Investing launched a similar offer late last year (that offer is still technically live) targeted towards healthcare professionals, this latest offer is being widely promoted to the general public and comes with a new (and interesting) deadline.

Now that RBC Direct Investing has more publicly joined the fray, all of Canada’s major online brokerages have an offer of some type to try and entice DIY investors into opening an account. With over 30 distinct offers for DIY investors to sift through, there’s a new challenge to deal with (ie figuring out which deal is best) however fortunately, the two most popular categories of offer fall into either cash back promotions or commission-free trade offers respectively.

We have covered the cash back promotions in previous roundups so in this roundup we’re going to drill down on commission-free trade offers to see what these offers reveal about the brokerages offering them as well as what it means for DIY investors.

Currently, there are six Canadian online brokerages offering a commission-free trade or commission credit offer. As shown in the table below that compares these offers, there are a couple of moving parts when it comes to comparing these offers, including how long an investor has to take advantage of these free trades, what the minimum deposit required would be to qualify and when these offers are set to expire.

Long time readers of the roundup and the discount brokerage deals section will note that the commission-free trade promotions currently being offered now come with a longer duration of time that investors have to take advantage of them has increased. Historically, the duration made available to investors to use the commission-free trades typically ranged between 30 and 90 days. Now, the shortest duration to use these trades is 60 days (Questrade) and the longest at one year, is available at RBC Direct Investing and National Bank Direct Brokerage. It is worth mentioning that this is not the first time RBC Direct Investing has used this promotion. Last year, for example, RBC Direct Investing also offered the 20 commission-free trade promotion with one year to take advantage of commission free trades. With National Bank Direct Brokerage also throwing their hat in the ring with year-long free trades, we couldn’t help but wonder whether the appearance of Wealthsimple Trade’s commission-free trading model has forced Canadian online brokerages to make the “free trade” period longer or if it’s simply competition between larger players driving these dates being extended. Either way, this is a positive development for DIY investors.

Another interesting observation is the expiry dates on the offers themselves. While RSP season was clearly a catalyst to prompting online brokerages to create promotions, the expiry dates of the promotions reflect the various strategies of the online brokerages to stay visible and accessible at a point in the year when money is on peoples’ minds.

In addition to RSP contribution deadlines, there is also tax season, specifically the deadline to file taxes (end of April) that only a handful of brokerages are currently poised to have offers live for.

What individuals who receive a refund ultimately decide to do with money is something that online brokerages like Desjardins Online Brokerage, Questrade and National Bank Direct Brokerage would be in a position to benefit from. The expiry dates for these offers enable them to be visible to anyone shopping around for an online trading account along with the potential cash to fund it with.

The tax season strategy is not new, however this year there is something worth paying attention to. Notably, this year Wealthsimple and TurboTax announced a partnership/integration that would enable individuals who file their taxes through the TurboTax software with easy access to sign up with Wealthsimple.

Although discount brokerages have offered discounts to users of the tax filing software in the past, this integration offers Wealthsimple privileged access to a pool of individuals who are already investing (or thinking about it). Canadian online brokerages with offers that expire close to the RSP contribution deadline may want to consider either extending offers or putting in place other offers geared towards Canadians thinking about what to do with their income tax refunds.

Finally, it’s worth taking a look at the numbers driving the appeal of the offers themselves. In terms of comparing offers to one another, we analyzed commission-free trade offers at each online brokerage that factored in what the maximum number of trades would be for every dollar deposited as well as for the duration of time available to use these offers.

[note: TD Direct Investing’s offer stipulates that trades made prior to July 1, 2019 qualify for rebates. Time to use trades was calculated from Feb. 1, 2019]

On a strict ROI basis, Questrade’s $88 in commission credits offers up a return of 1.7% (trades per dollar deposited) followed by National Bank Direct Brokerage (1%) and RBC Direct Investing (0.4%). Of course, there are other factors to be considered when choosing a commission-free trade offer, most importantly how long an investor would have to take advantage of this offer.

When compared that way, the offer from National Bank Direct Brokerage stands out as providing the best combination of value and availability.

With 50 commission-free trades for a deposit of $5,000, this works out to a 1% return on every dollar deposited. What really adds value here for investors, however, is the duration. With one year to use these free trades, investors can pace themselves with purchases, sales and any other opportunistic strategies. Interestingly, RBC Direct Investing’s latest offer puts them in second place in the group, albeit with a significantly lower number of trades, because the time to use the trades is one year. Rounding out third place was Questrade who had a much lower hurdle to qualify for up to 17 trades (assuming purchases that work out to $4.95 per trade).

Like all comparisons, it is important to acknowledge that different investors will have different priorities.

In this case of the above analysis, it assumes that how many free trades you get is as important as how long you have to use them, which may not be the case for all investors. Some investors might value the flexibility of being able to make a trade later on in the year whereas others are looking for get started with a smaller balance and basic portfolio building.

By comparing the latest crop of Canadian discount brokerage deals, it is evident that less popular online brokerages who want to compete against bigger and better-known online brokerages have to be willing to spend more in order to get the attention of DIY investors.

It is also important for DIY investors to consider what they’re ‘buying’ when they choose an online brokerage. Promotional offers are good consider after due diligence is done on a brokerage rather than as a starting point. Deals shouldn’t be a substitute for determining what features and pricing best suit their needs.

Discount Brokerage Tweets of the Week

From the Forums

Commission-free ETFs

With ETFs continuing to grow in popularity with DIY investors as well as commission-free ETF trading options now available, investors interested in passive investing strategies have more choice than they’ve ever had. In this post from the Canadian Investor thread in reddit, one DIY investor is looking to the forum for building a portfolio through a popular online brokerage.

Mutual funds cheaper than ETFs?

If you think Stranger Things is just a Netflix show, here is something to challenge that. In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, there was a look at some situations with passive investing strategies in which low cost mutual funds end up being less expensive than their popular ETF counterparts. This post in the Financial Wisdom Forum sparked some interesting responses.

Into the Close

That’s a wrap on another action-packed week. Despite a rather sleepy Super Bowl all around, it was fun to witness both the longest punt in Super Bowl history and see Tom Brady collect yet another championship ring. Fortunately, the week ahead will be much more exciting. All the best to everyone celebrating the Lunar New Year and as a gentle reminder, Valentine’s Day is coming up and nothing says ‘I love you’ quite like getting a deal on an online trading account. Just saying. Have a profitable week!

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Discount Brokerage Deals & Promotions – February 2019

*Updated: Feb. 19* The start of February means it’s almost time for the Super Bowl. Like the big game, Canada’s discount brokerages are fiercely competing with one another heading into the final stretch of their busy season: RSP contribution time.

Fortunately for Canadian DIY investors looking for a new online trading or investing account, this year won’t be a disappointment. All of the most popular players are on the field offering up a promotion of one sort or another ranging from cash back to commission-free trades.

To keep things interesting, Canadian online brokerages have gotten creative with their playbook. From offering up longer stretches of time to use free trades or cranking up the volume of commission-free trades to lowering deposit thresholds and turning to the tried and tested paying to outcompete the other players, DIY investors have lots to choose from.

Kicking things off this month, there is one big deal announcement from RBC Direct Investing, who formally launched a promo offer of 20 commission-free trades at the end of January. As we had flagged last year, there was already a 20 commission-free trade offer on the market targeted towards individuals from the healthcare industry however both offers are independent of one another with different expiry dates and as such RBC Direct Investing makes into the deals section twice.

As exciting as it is to launch the month with a new promotional offer in the mix, heading into this month was equally exciting. January saw cash back deals from BMO InvestorLine, HSBC InvestDirect and Qtrade Investor come to market which provided DIY investors with a broad selection of the ever-popular promo category.

With RBC Direct Investing formally launching their latest offer, we’re not expecting too many big surprises on the deals & promotions from the major players. That said, there are still a couple of brokerages waiting on the sidelines and we’ve learned to never underestimate the element of surprise when it comes to online brokerages during RSP season. So, stay tuned and let us know if you’ve spotted an offer for DIY investors that could be of use to other readers & deal hunters.

Expired Deals

There were no expired deals to report.

Extended Deals

We saw some minor extensions take place at BMO InvestorLine and BMO’s SmartFolio. Their refer-a-friend program for BMO InvestorLine was extended as was their cash back promotion for SmartFolio. The new expiry dates are early January in 2020.

New Deals

*Update: Feb. 19 – There were two big deal announcements late into the race towards the RRSP contribution deadline. Rivals Questrade and Virtual Brokers both announced offers that they hope will get the attention of DIY investors searching for an online trading account.

Questrade’s latest promotion, which is a transfer fee offer, is bound to turn heads because it requires no minimum deposit to qualify for. The transfer promo is unlike anything we’ve seen in recent memory so DIY investors looking to make the leap to Questrade now have a very compelling promo to consider. See the table below for more information.

Virtual Brokers also stepped into the deals and promotions arena with an RRSP related offer for new and existing clients. This cash back offer is for $50 for deposits of at least $10,000. See the table below for more details. *

The big news to report here is the public roll-out of RBC Direct Investing’s 20 commission-free trade offer. Unlike the earlier incarnation which was directed at healthcare professionals (but still open to the public), this fully public offer is being widely advertised. In terms of details, to qualify for this deal, DIY investors require at least $5,000 and the 20 commission-free trades are good for up to one year.  Another important observation about this offer is the expiry date, which is March 29th – well after the RSP contribution deadline.  See the table below for more information.

It is worth reiterating here the cash back offers from Qtrade Investor and HSBC InvestDirect that showed up around mid January. We covered them in detail in previous weekly roundups (here & here) however to quickly recap, Qtrade Investor’s cash back offer ranges from $50 to $1,500 and requires a minimum deposit of $50,000. By comparison, HSBC InvestDirect is offering $188 to $1,288 cash back with qualifying deposits starting at $25,000.

Discount Brokerage Deals

  1. Cash Back/Free Trade/Product Offer Promotions
  2. Referral Promotions
  3. Transfer Fee Promotions
  4. Contests & Other Offers
  5. Digital Advice + Roboadvisor Promotions

Cash Back/Free Trade/Product Offer Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Commission/Cash Offer/Promotion Type Time Limit to Use Commission/Cash Offer Details Link Deadline
Jitney Trade A Sparx Trading exclusive offer! Use the promo code “Sparx Trading” when signing up for a new account with Jitneytrade and receive access to their preferred pricing package. n/a Discounted Commission Rates none For more details click here none
Open and fund a new account (TFSA, Margin or RRSP) with at least $1,000 and you may be eligible to receive $88 in commission credits (up to 17 commission-free trades). Use promo code SPARX88 when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions carefully. $1,000 $88 commission credit 60 days Access this offer by clicking here: $88 commission-credit offer . For full terms and conditions, click here. none
Open and fund a new account (TFSA, Margin or RRSP) with at least $1,000 and you may be eligible to receive 5 commission-free trades. Use promo code 5FREETRADES when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions carefully. $1,000 5 commission-free trades 60 days 5 commission-free trade offer December 31, 2019
Open and fund a new account with at least $5,000 at National Bank Direct Brokerage and you may be eligible to receive up to 50 commission free equity trades, which are good for up to one year. Use promo code: FREE50 when applying. Be sure to read offer terms and conditions for full details. $5,000 50 commission-free trades 12 months National Bank Direct Brokerage 50 Free Trade Offer April 30, 2019
Open a new qualifying account with RBC Direct Investing with at least $5,000 and you may be eligible to receive up to 20 commission-free equity trades, which are good for up to one year. Use promo code SPARX when signing up. See terms and conditions for full details. $5,000 20 commission-free trades 12 months RBC Direct Investing Free Trades Promotion March 29, 2019
Open a new account or fund an existing account at Virtual Brokers with at least $10,000, and you may be eligible to receive $50 cash back. Use code RRSP2019 when registering to claim this offer. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. $10,000 $50 cash back Cash back will be deposited after July 1, 2019. Virtual Brokers RRSP 2019 Cash Back Promo March 31, 2019
Scotia iTrade Open a new account or fund an existing account with A) $10,000; B) $25,000; C) $50,000; D) $100,000 E) $250,000; F) $500,000 or G) $1M+ and you may be eligible to receive either A)20; B) 50; C) 100; D) 200; or E), F), G) 300 commission free trades; or B) $100; C) $200; D) $500; E) $800; F) $1100 or G) $1500. Use promo code 19CA for the cash back or 19FT for the free trades offers. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details. A) $10,000 B) $25,000 C) $50,000 D) $100,000 E) $250,000 F) $500,000 G) $1M+ For cash back: A) $0 B) $100 C) $200 D) $500 E) $800 F) $1100 G) $1500 For commission-free trades: A) 20 B) 50 C) 100 D) 200 E) 300 F) 300 G) 300 For cash back: Cash will be deposited by July, 2019. For commission free trades: 120 days to use trades from date of account funding. iTRADE commission-free trade + cash back offer March 31, 2019
Disnat Desjardins Online Brokerage is offering new clients 1% of assets transferred into the new account in the form of commission credits (to a maximum value of $1,000). Minimum qualifying deposit is $10,000. To qualify, individuals will have to call 1-866-873-7103 and mention promo code DisnatTransfer or email: [email protected]. See details link for more info. $10,000 1% of assets transferred in the form of commission-credits (max credits: $1,000) 6 months Disnat 1% Commission Credit Promo none
Open a new qualifying TD Direct Investing account by March 1, 2019 with a minimum deposit of A) $15,000; B) $25,000; C) $50,000 or D) $100,000+ and you may be eligible to receive commission rebates for A) 25; B) 50; C) 100 or D) 200 trades. To qualify online, individuals must register here and open the account by March 1, 2019. See terms and conditions for full details. A) $15,000 B) $25,000 C) $50,000 D) $100,000+ A) 25 B) 50 C) 100 D) 200 Trades made prior to July 1, 2019 will be eligible for rebate. TD Direct Investing Winter Promotion March 1, 2019
Open and fund a new account with at least A) $25,000; B) $100,000; C) $250,000; D) $500,000 or E) $1M+ AND place at least three commission-generating trades and you may be eligible to receive a cash back promotion amount of at least A) $188; B) $388; C) $688; D) $988 or E) $1288. Be sure to read offer terms & conditions for full details. A) $25,000 B) $100,000 C) $250,000 D) $500,000 E) $1M+ A) $188 B) $388 C) $688 D) $988 E) $1288 Cash back will be deposited by November 29, 2019 HSBC InvestDirect 2019 Winter Offer April 30, 2019
Open and fund a new qualifying account with CIBC Investor’s Edge with a deposit of at least A) $25,000; B) $50,000 or C) $100,00+ and you may be eligible to receive a cash back bonus of A) $100; B) $200 or C) $400. This offer is open to both new and existing clients. Use offer code SPARX18 when opening the account to obtain this offer. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for complete details. A) $25,000 B) $50,000 C) $100,000 A) $100 B) $200 C) $400 Cash back will be deposited on the week of March 24, 2019 for transfers received by December 31, 2018; transfers received after December 31, 2018 but before May 1, 2019 will receive cash back on the week of July 1, 2019. CIBC Investor’s Edge Cash Back Promo March 24, 2019
Open and fund a new qualifying account with at least $25,000 and you may qualify for one month of unlimited commission-free trades and up to one month free of an advanced data package. Use promo code ADVANTAGE14 when opening a new account. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details. $25,000 commission-free trades for 1 month + 1 month of advanced data. 1 month Active Trader Program December 31, 2019
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account or fund an existing qualifying account at BMO InvestorLine with new assets worth at least A) $50,000; B) $250,000; C) $500,000 or D) $1M+ and you may be eligible to a cash back reward of up to A) $400; B) $900; C) $1200 or D) $1600. Use promo code SPARXCASH when registering to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions. A) $50,000 B) $250,000 C) $500,000 D) $1M+ A) $400 B) $900 C) $1200 D) $1600 Cash back will be deposited the week of September 16, 2019. BMO InvestorLine Winter 2018 Campaign February 28, 2019
Open a new qualifying account or fund an existing qualifying account at Qtrade Investor with new assets worth at least A) $50,000; B) $100,000; C) $250,000 D) $500,000 or E) 1M+ and you may be eligible to a cash back reward of up to A) $50; B) $100; C) $250 or D) $750 or E) $1500. Use promo code CASH2019 when registering to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions. A) $50,000 B) $100,000 C) $250,000 D) $500,000 E) $1M+ A) $50 B) $100 C) $250 D) $750 E) $1500 Cash back will be deposited the week of September 25, 2019. Qtrade Investor Cashback Promo March 15, 2019

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Feb. 19, 2019 09:30 PT

Referral Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Incentive Structure Time Limit to Use Commission/Cash Offer Deposit Details Link Deadline
Refer a friend to Questrade and when they open an account you receive $25 cash back and they receive either A) $25; B) $50; C) $75; D) $100; or E) $250 depending on the amount deposited amount. Enter code: 476104302388759 during account sign up to qualify. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for eligibility and additional bonus payment structure and minimum balance requirements. A) $1,000 B) $10,000 C) $25,000 D) $50,000 E) $100,000+ $25 cash back (for referrer per referral; $50 bonus cash back for every 3rd referral) For referred individuals: A) $25 cash back B) $50 cash back C) $75 cash back D) $100 cash back E) $250 cash back Cash deposited into Questrade billing account within 7 days after funding period ends (90 days) Refer a friend terms and conditions Code Number: 476104302388759 none
If you (an existing Qtrade Investor client) refer a new client to Qtrade Investor and they open an account with at least $1,000 the referrer and the referee may both be eligible to receive $25 cash. See terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 $25 cash back (for both referrer and referee) Cash deposited at the end of the month in which referee’s account funded Refer A Friend to Qtrade Investor none
Scotia iTrade If you refer a friend/family member who is not already a Scotia iTRADE account holder to them, both you and your friend get a bonus of either cash or free trades. You have to use the referral form to pass along your info as well as your friend/family members’ contact info in order to qualify. There are lots of details/conditions to this deal so be sure to read the details link. A) $10,000 B) $50,000+ A) You(referrer): $50 or 10 free trades; Your “Friend”: $50 or 10 free trades (max total value:$99.90) B) You(referrer): $100 cash or 50 free trades; Your “Friend”: $100 cash or 50 free trades (max total value: $499.50) 60 days Refer A Friend to Scotia iTrade tbd
BMO InvestorLine If you (an existing BMO InvestorLine client) refer a new client to BMO InvestorLine and they open an account with at least $5,000 the referrer and the referee may both be eligible to receive $50 cash. To qualify the referee must use the email of the referrer that is linked to their BMO InvestorLine account. See terms and conditions for full details. $5,000 You(referrer): $50; Your Friend(referee): $50 Payout occurs 45 days after minimum 90 day holding period (subject to conditions). BMO InvestorLine Refer-a-Friend January 2, 2020

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Feb. 1, 2019 23:30 PT

Transfer Fee Promotions

Company Brief Description Maximum Transfer Fee Coverage Amount Minimum Deposit Amount for Transfer Fee Eligibility Details Link Deadline
Move your brokerage account to Questrade and they’ll cover the transfer-out fee up to $150. $150 no minimum required Transfer Fee Promo March 31, 2019
Transfer $15,000 or more into a new HSBC InvestDirect account and you may be eligible to have up to $152.55 in transfer fees covered. $152.55 $15,000 Confirmed via email contact with HSBC InvestDirect Rep. Contact client service for more information. none
Transfer $15,000 or more to Qtrade Investor from another brokerage and Qtrade Investor may cover up to $150 in transfer fees. See terms and conditions for more details. $150 $15,000 Transfer Fee Rebate none
Transfer $15,000 or more to RBC Direct Investing and they will pay up to $135 in transfer fees. $135 $15,000 Transfer Fee Rebate Details none
Transfer $20,000 or more to a National Bank Direct Brokerage account and they will pay up to $135 plus taxes in transfer fees. $135 $20,000 Transfer Fee Rebate none
Transfer at least $25,000 or more in new assets to TD Direct Investing when opening a new account and you may qualify to have transfer fees reimbursed up to $150. Be sure to contact TD Direct Investing for further details. $150 $25,000 Contact client service for more information (1-800-465-5463). none
Transfer $25,000 or more into a CIBC Investor’s Edge account and they will reimburse up to $135 in brokerage transfer fees. Clients must call customer service to request rebate after transfer made. $135 $25,000 Confirmed with reps. Contact client service for more information (1-800-567-3343). none
Disnat Desjardins Online Brokerage is offering up to $150 to cover the cost of transfer fees from another institution. To be eligible, new/existing clients need to deposit $50,000 into a Desjardins Online Brokerage account. You’ll have to call 1-866-873-7103 and mention promo code DisnatTransfer. See details link for more info. $150 $50,000 Disnat 1% Commission Credit Promo none
BMO InvestorLine Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine or fund a qualifying existing account, by transferring in at least $200,000+ in net new assets and you may be eligible to have transfer fees covered up to $200. Use promo code SPARXCASH when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. $200 $200,000 BMO InvestorLine Summer 2018 Campaign September 3, 2018

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Feb. 19, 2019 09:30 PT

Other Promotions

Company Brief Description Minimum Deposit Amount Required Details Link Deadline
Disnat Desjardins Online Brokerage, in conjunction with MoneyTalks, is offering 3 months of the “Inside Edge” investor information service to Desjardins Online Brokerage clients. Use promo code DESJ2016 during checkout to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for more information. n/a MoneyTalks Inside Edge Discount none
Disnat Desjardins Online Brokerage is offering $50 in commission credits for new Disnat Classic clients depositing at least $1,000. See terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 Broker@ge 18-30 Promotion none
Scotia iTrade Scotiabank StartRight customers can receive 10 commission-free trades when investing $1,000 or more in a new Scotia iTrade account. Trades are good for use for up to 1 year from the date the account is funded. Use promo code SRPE15 when applying (in English) or SRPF15 when applying in French. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 StartRight Free Trade offer none
Open and fund a new qualifying account with at least $5,000 at RBC Direct Investing and you may be eligible to receive up to 20 commission-free trades, which are good for up to one year. Use promo code MDFT8 to qualify. This promotion is being marketed towards healthcare workers, so be sure to review terms and conditions or speak to an RBC Direct Investing representative for full details. $5,000 RBC Direct Investing 20 Free Trade Offer Feb. 28, 2019

Expired Offers

Last Updated: Feb. 1, 2019 23:30PT

Digital Advice + Roboadvisor Promotions

Robo-advisor / Digital advisor Offer Type Offer Description Min. Deposit Reward / Promotion Promo Code Expiry Date Link
Discounted Management Open and fund a new Questrade Portfolio IQ account with a deposit of at least $1,000 and the first month of management will be free. For more information on Portfolio IQ, click the product link. $1,000 1st month no management fees KDKFNBBC None Questrade Portfolio IQ Promo Offer
Cash Back Open and fund a new or existing SmartFolio account with at least $1,000 and you could receive 0.5% cash back up to $1000. Use promo code PROMO1000 when opening a new account. See terms and conditions for full details. This offer can be combined with the refer-a-friend promotion. $1,000 0.5% cash back to a maximum of $1000. PROMO1000 January 2, 2020 SmartFolio Cash Back Promo
Discounted Management Open a new account with BMO SmartFolio and receive one year of management of up to $15,000 free. See offer terms and conditions for more details. $1,000 1 year no management fees STSF April 30, 2019 SmartFolio New Account Promotion
Cash Back – Referral BMO SmartFolio clients will receive $50 cash back for every friend or family member who opens and funds a new SmartFolio account. Friends and family referred to SmartFolio will receive $50 cash back for opening and funding an account, plus automatic enrollment into SmartFolio’s mass offer in market at the time. See offer terms and conditions for more details. $1,000 $50 cash back (referrer) $50 cash back (referee) Unique link generated from SmartFolio required. None SmartFolio Website
Discounted Management Open a new account with RBC InvestEase and the standard management fee will be waived until October 31, 2019. See offer terms and conditions for full details. $1,000 No management fees until October 31, 2019 None March 31, 2019 RBC InvestEase Pricing Details
Transfer Fee Coverage Transfer at least $25,000 into Virtual Wealth when opening a new account and you may be eligible to have up to $150 in transfer fees covered by Virtual Wealth. $25,000 up to $150 in transfer fees covered None None Contact customer service directly for more information.
Last Updated: Feb. 1, 2019 23:30 PT