BMO Investorline Review 2023
BMO Investorline Review
- Trading Fees and Pricing
- Account Options
- Customer Service
- Platform Options
- Overall Banking Convenience
- Promotional Offers
BMO Investorline Review Summary:
The BMO Investorline DIY investing platform is a safe and solid offering – but it doesn’t currently sit atop our list of the best Canadian online brokersfor 2023.
If you want a big bank brokerage account – no matter what the costs are – so that you can keep your mortgage, your corporate accounts, your safety deposit box, etc. – all in the same place, then BMO will allow you to do that.
If you’re looking for the online brokerage that we currently believe offers the best combination of low fees, the best platform, and excellent customer service, then check out our Qtrade review. Below you’ll find updated information on BMO Investorline fees, features, ETF trades, and more.
- Best Bank-owned Broker
- 80+ Free ETFs
- Strong App
- Trust and Reputation of 200+ Years
- Solid Consumer Education
BMO InvestorLine is a solid choice if you need to have a big bank brokerage, but with high trading fees it falls behind in the race for Canada’s Best Broker.See Other, Better Rated Online Brokers in Canada
Is BMO Investorline Safe and Trusted?
In a word, YES.
As one of Canada’s oldest and most trusted companies (founded in 1817) the Bank of Montreal is as safe, trusted, and legit as you can get.
InvestorLine has been around longer than the internet – BMO introduced self-directed trading way back in 1988 before moving online in 2000. That’s an impressive history!
BMO InvestorLine is IIROC regulated and CIPF insured. They use 128-bit encryption and multi-factor user authentication to keep your data safe. While any online financial transaction has some risk, BMO is as safe as they get.
BMO InvestorLine Review – Mobile App & Software
BMO has a strong online platform that’s convenient and simple to use. Its mobile app ranked the highest of the big banks in our list of the Best Stock Trading Apps in Canada.
The online platform’s dashboard is streamlined and easy to navigate, but still gives you access to all the tools you need. It’s also extremely customizable, meaning you can hide any tools or features that you’re not interested in seeing regularly. This is a great feature for novice investors or people with simple portfolio needs.
The MDJ editorial team appreciates the ability to get a bird’s eye view of a portfolio on a single screen. This allows users to better understand their asset allocation and make important investment decisions that can help them meet their goals faster.
For the more research-inclined, the BMO platform also gives users access to plenty of industry-leading tools and market data.
The mobile app offers flexibility and convenience. Users report that it’s slightly less comprehensive than the online platform, but it gets the job done. Making trades and moving your money is easy, quick, and secure.
BMO Investorline Free ETF Trading – $0 Commissions
In June 2021, BMO became the first of the big bank brokerages to offer a list of ETFs that are completely free to trade (providing that you hold on to them for at least one day).
This has turned out to be a real game-changer as far as offering value to discount brokerage customers, with other banks such as Scotia iTrade and Desjardins joining in the fun. Qtrade and NBDB also offer completely free buying AND selling of ETFs, with Questrade offering free ETF purchases only.
Sometimes when a bank offers free trades on ETFs, they mean free trades on their own ETFs (looking at you, TD Easy Trade). But there’s no bait and switch when it comes to BMO’s commission-free ETFs, which has some excellent names on the list. My personal favourites include:
- VCN – Vanguard FTSE Canada All-Cap Index ETF
- VFV – Vanguard S&P 500 Index ETF US
- VIU – Vanguard FTSE Developed All -Cap ex-North America Index ETF
- VAB – CA Vanguard Canadian Aggregate Bond Index ETF
- All of the Vanguard and BMO all-in-one-ETFs are available
- Several ESG index ETFs are available
It is excellent to see that creating ultra-diversified, super-simple portfolios just keeps getting cheaper and cheaper for Canadians!
Day traders should remember that the trades are only free if you hold onto the ETF in question for at least 24 hours.
BMO Works Best for Large Portfolios
The BMO InvestorLine 5 Star Program is the bank’s lure for high net-worth individuals and/or active traders. Most of Canada’s discount brokerages have some version of this break for top-tier investors.
The 5 Star Program doesn’t cost anything – users are automatically enrolled if they meet the eligibility requirement: a $250,000 account balance or at least 15 trades in a 3-month span. Here’s a look at the perks that you’ll enjoy at all three levels:
($5M+ OR 180+ trades per quarter)
($250,000+ OR 15-74 trades per quarter)
(2M+ OR 75-179 trades per quarter)
Dedicated Exclusive Customer Support
BMO Market Pro Lite (real-time market quotes)
BMO Market Pro (real time Level 2 quotes)
Capital Markets TSX 60 Research
Exclusive IPO Allocation Options
Access to Private Banking Options
The basic idea of BMO’s 5 Star Program is that if you generate substantial trading fees or have a large amount of money invested with BMO, you’ll get a small break on the $9.95 fee, and you’ll get access to some elite trading information streams, plus portfolio analysis, custom watchlist updating and so on.
With over 12 Million worldwide customers and nearly $900 Billion in assets managed, BMO certainly has the resources to compete with the features that any other Canadian brokerage account brings to the table.
BMO Investorline Review: Trading Fees and Prices in 2023
When we look at BMO Investorline’s Self-Directed trading and account fees, it’s important to keep in mind that major Canadian banks such as BMO and their competitors over at RBC, Scotia Bank, CIBC, and TD, aren’t trying to offer the cheapest products on the market. Instead, the general aim of their products is to be cost-competitive, but to prioritize the following:
- Ultra-safe products backed up by centuries of banking experience.
- A large customer service and technology team.
- Elite usability and design.
- Maximum user customization options.
BMO Investorline Self-Directed Account Fees
While there are no minimum deposits needed to open a BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed account and get started, you’ll be charged quarterly account fees of $25 if your non-registered account balance is under $15,000 or if your registered accounts are under $25,000.
Obviously if you open an account and deposit more than these amounts you will not owe any account fees at all.
BMO Investorline Self-Directed Trading Fees
BMO Investorline’s trading fees are generally competitive with the rest of Canada’s big banks and are higher than Qtrade or Questrade. At a flat $9.95 per trade (it doesn’t matter how many shares you buy) it’s a simple – if slightly pricey – business model.
There is a $25 quarterly account fee ($100 per year) for non-registered accounts under $15,000, and for registered accounts like the TFSA and RRSP if you have under $25,000 in there. Pay attention to this minimum as it can add up in a hurry if you open a few accounts with BMO Investorline but carry a small balance in them for a few quarters.
Obviously the higher fee model is somewhat standard for Canada’s big banks. In return you get to access to massive full service bank that allows you to keep all of your banking activities under one umbrella. You also get a great long-term track record of safety and stability.
Here’s a quick look at the rest of BMO Investorline’s fees:
Stocks & ETFs
$9.95 flat-fee pricing
$9.95 + $1.25 per contract
Gold & Silver
$35 + $1 per ounce
RRSP, LIRA, RRIF, LRIF
$0 for accounts greater than $25,000
$0 for accounts greater than $25,000
$0 for accounts greater than $15,000
BMO Investorline Self-Directed Options Trading Fees
Personally, options trading isn’t a part of my investment portfolio, but if you’re into the adrenaline rush of shorts, hedging, etc., then Investorline is going to charge $9.95 per trade + $1.25 per contract. This is the standard rate across all of Canada’s large banks.
BMO Investorline Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, Non-Registered
As one of Canada’s top online brokers, BMO Investorline gives you access to essentially every type of investable account in Canada, including:
- Non-registered accounts (both CAD and USD)
- Margin Accounts
- RRSP (both CAD and USD)
- Spousal RRSPs
- TFSA (both CAD and USD)
- Spousal RRIFs
- Corporate Accounts
- Non-Profit Organization Accounts
- Estates and Formal Trust Accounts
This is one advantage of a big bank platform: you might pay more in commissions to use BMO InvestorLine Self-Direct, but you’re going to absolutely have access to all of the accounts that you could ask for as a Canadian investor. And again, if you go with ETFs from their commission-free trading list, you’re not even paying more at all.
BMO Investorline Review: What Is adviceDirect?
We’ll take a deeper dive into the unique service known as AdviceDirect in a separate review, but we thought we’d mention it here briefly.
AdviceDirect is a nice little mid-point between a full-service financial advisor model, and a completely hands-off DIY product.
If you want the flexibility and responsibility of using a discount brokerage to manage your own investments, but also feel that you could use some help in selecting specific investments or staying on top of your portfolio, then you may want to look closely at the BMO adviceDirect account.
AdviceDirect’s services include:
- Automated portfolio monitoring
- Unique information flows
- Exclusive investor education options
- A dedicated team of licensed financial advisors
As active investing goes, a premium service like adviceDirect is a solid choice. It gives you access to financial experts – at a much lower price point than traditional mutual fund channels. The MER on mutual funds is usually about 2.5%, while adviceDirect is only 0.75%, with a maximum fee cap per year. That’s an excellent value.
BMO InvestorLine and BMO adviceDirect may complement one another, but they’re two separate products with different applications and services. So while you definitely do NOT need to subscribe to adviceDirect in order to use the BMO InvestorLine brokerage, it could possibly be a better option depending on your experience level and desire for expert support.
You can sign up to adviceDirect by clicking the button below. Make sure you use MDJ’s unique promo code ADMDJ to get between $500 and $2500 credited to your account.
BMO InvestorLine Review FAQ
QuoteMedia Partners with BMO InvestorLine in 2023
As we head into 2023, BMO and QuoteMedia announced that QuoteMedia would be providing the Quotestream™ Web Trader platform (it’s HTML5 portfolio management flagship product) to BMO InvestorLine clients.
David McGann, Product Strategy Director for BMO InvestorLine had this to say in regards to the new offering:
“BMO InvestorLine is focused on delivering forward thinking tools and features to empower investors to make more informed decisions. We have active and high-frequency traders seeking advanced trading platform capabilities and QuoteMedia has the technology and platform ideally suited to meet these needs. We are very happy to be partnering with QuoteMedia to bring these capabilities to our investors.”
Personally, I’m not real big on trying to time the market to the degree or taking part in high-frequency trading. So this doesn’t really change the overall BMO InvestorLine value proposition for me. But I know that the folks that are into day trading are all about the HTML5 information streams, so perhaps it will be a difference maker for some in that community.
2023 BMO InvestorLine Ratings
Every year we make sure to check out the Surviscor and Globe and Mail broker ratings, as we find them the most comprehensive online (other than our own of course).
For the 2023 BMO Investorline report card we’ll start with Rob Carrick over at the G&M. He gives BMO’s brokerage a solid-if-not-spectacular B+, stating:
Log in to the website and you get concise presentation of need-to-know things about your account, including a performance chart with various time frames and a status update on open orders. BMO’s commissions are old school at $9.95 per trade, but clients can trade from a list of almost 100 exchange-traded funds from various issuers at no cost. All in all, a player.
Overall the B+ grade puts them in the 2nd tier of broker options. Could certainly do worse, but like us, he gives Qtrade an “A” top grade.
Surviscor on the other hand was a little harder on the BMO broker. Their rankings focus on customer service, and are based on a compilation of 100,000 user experiences via all platforms throughout 2022.
As you can see from the chart above, Surviscor’s BMO InvestorLine Review clearly shows something to be desired from a user experience and customer service point of view. Something that the stalwart brokerage will no doubt seek to remedy in 2023.
BMO InvestorLine Adds ESG Insights
Looking to tap into the rush to ESG amongst a growing segment of investors, BMO InvestorLine recently unveiled a new feature called ESG Insights. The basic idea is in one or two clicks, investors will be able to access information in regards to which companies are leading their respective industries when it comes to their commitment to ESG principles.
Who Is the BMO InvestorLine Discount Broker Best for?
If you’re willing to put up with higher fees, worse customer service, and a choppier user experience – in order to get all of your financial life under one roof – then BMO Investorline is a great “Big Bank” choice.
We’ll take Qtrade or Questrade every time in an overall comparison, but BMO has certainly made the competition closer with their 80+ commission-free ETFs.
For more broker analysis like this BMO Investorline review, make sure to check out our Ultimate guide to Canadian Online Brokers.
Being a BMO investorline client I am generally pleased. Their platforms are pretty good but could some additional data such as what is your Div rate on shares you have held for years.
Biggest issue is they don’t offer a drip on all Cad shares which is a pain. Also they do not drip any US equity. (Synthetic DRIP at BMO)
I have tried quite a number of different vendors over the years, ameritrade, e-trade, price waterhouse, option express, questrade to name a few, finally settle down with InvestorLine. Here are my 2 cents.
Individual brokers tends to have lower commissions than the bank owned ones, however, they charge ecn fees. No big deal if you only buying 100 shares. But if you are like me, buying in the lot of 2000-5000 shares or more, the advertised $4.95 commission (questrade) will quickly turn into $20+, substantially higher than any bank.
The second reason I switched to InvestorLine was that I have grown my portfolio to 500,000 since, I can now access the market Pro feature which basically live data. You will need to be a frequent trader or pay a substantial fee with companies like questrade.
That being said, you definitely should stay with the individual brokers if you have a small portfolio, to avoid account fees.
As far as customer service, there are always bad apples regardless companies. I’m not happy with InvestorLine, so is questrade, and I don’t think there is much difference between all these brokers. The key is to set up everything properly so you can minimize the chance of calling for support. After all, these online brokers are all for diy.
Stay away from Investorline. Make sure you read the contract very carefully. They change terms without notifying you and their customer service is non-existent. You can literally be on hold for hours before speaking to someone and in this day and age they can’t even give you an indication of how the long the wait will be? Honestly, check out TD. Talk to people – they will tell you the same thing. BMO is not customer focused and does not value your business- look elsewhere
I use both BMO Investorline and RBC Direct. While they both have their strengths and weaknesses, and while BMO does have some good research tools, BMO is simply terrible with customer service and with outside resources such as morningstar giving just as good analysis as what’s offered in the platform, I would say this should be a defining red flag issue.
My husband and I both use Questrade. And while I find it a huge pain to set up my various accounts, now that they are set and we are trading, we’re very happy with it. I think the major perk is the low cost! Interesting to hear about one of the Top 5’s brokerage units.
Just to clarify, there is likely no fee for the TFSA account as you were questioning. Every brokerage I’ve seen charges an annual fee only for RRSP accounts, usually if the balance is under $25,000.
Hi Frugal trader,
Quick question, what are your major reasons why you want to close your interactive broker account? I have read your interactive broker 2015 update posting, by the way. I am asking that as I am thinking of opening interactive broker account to take advantage of their inexpensive margin. If that’s not too attractive and if there are some hassles that I should know before pull the trigger, please let me know. Thanks! Just wanted to let you know that I am a big fan of you and your blog. Keep up the great work!
Thanks for the kind feedback. IB is a great platform, I just don’t use it anymore. I initially signed up for a trading account, now I’m trying to move most of my personal accounts under one discount broker (even if trading fees are higher). Personally, I think the biggest benefit of IB is the FX conversion. Basically spot rate.
Thanks for the quick response.
Was there any inconvenience of using IB in terms of transferring funds?
What would be your feedback on their margin account or managing accounts in general?
No real problem with transferring funds. However, there may be a delay if you transfer funds from one currency and transfer out in another. In terms of margin, one thing to be weary of is if you become underwater. IB will liquidate assets automatically without any judgement to make sure your account stays onside.
While IB has pretty advanced security features (electronic token etc), I actually find them to be a bit of a nuisance. Also, their trading platform isn’t intuitive for newbies.
Thanks so much FrugalTrader. One thing that I really like is their low margin rate and I hope to leave the account open to take advantage in case of major correction in the future (if any…). I may just stick to my TD direct investing account for now to keep my investing activities simple just as you said :) Thanks again!
Another feature I like, BMO Investorline (unlike RBC Direct Investing) offers mutual funds from fund companies with low fees and decent performance such as Mawer, Leith Wheeler and Steadyhand. If you want no effort investing and good returns, you can own what I think is the best all-in-one mutual fund in Canada – the Mawer Balanced Fund.
Thanks for stopping by Gail. Thanks for adding to the review, I’m not a big mutual fund investor but I do like the TD e-series and the Tangerine funds. Have you compared Mawer to Tangerine?
Hi Frugal Trader,
In my personal finance course, I use the Tangerine Funds as examples of cheap all-in-one funds with different risk levels. I also mention the Mawer Fund which I will take any day over Tangerine based on lower MER 0.96 vs.1.07% and better performance: Mawer 5 yr return to Aug 25, is 12.17%, Tangerine Balanced is 8.51%. The limitation: Mawer requires a $5,000 minimum investment which can be a bit high for those just getting started.
I switched all my accounts with BMO Investorline (Margin, RSP, LIF and TFSA) about 2 years ago. I was please with their service and research material, but I was “very” pleased when they included a beautiful real-time platform, called BMO Market Pro. That tool is incredible! You can see all your accounts in one place, trade any stocks, ETFs, options of forex instruments.
But above all, for technical analysts, the charting platform is awesome.
I’m not payed by BMO, I’m just a retired guy trying to become the next guy in the milliondollarjourney saga :-)
Thanks for your feedback Peter. Is there an account size minimum to access BMO market pro?
To answer yr question to Peter Ally, yes, u have to be a Gold account holder to have access to the BMO market Pro. Also you can group all your individual accounts under one umbrella so that those under minimum amount can have their fees waved.