BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed Trading Review: Fees, ETFs, and Brokerage Account Options

   (Editor Rating)

BMO Investorline Review
  • Trading Fees and Pricing
  • Account Options
  • Customer Service
  • Platform Options
  • Overall Banking Convenience
4.3

BMO Investorline Review Summary:

With its new platform updates, BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed really shines when it comes to the ability to customize your user experience. Want all the latest information on specific companies? That can be added. Are you more of a minimalist that prioritizes a slick modern e-feel with lots of white space? A couple clicks and you’re there.

Adding this unique level of customization to their long-established strengths in customer trust, safety, and consumer education, has enabled BMO to leap into the top echelon of Canadian discount brokerages. If you want the convenience of having all of your financial products under one roof – and to have that roof supported by 200+ years of excellence – then the BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed account is an excellent choice.

Of course, in saying that, one must acknowledge that the tradeoff for these elite service and product support levels is slightly higher fees than low-cost providers such as Questrade. Read the rest of our BMO InvestorLine review in order to find out if that tradeoff is the right fit for you.

Exclusive to MDJ readers: get up to $2,000 instant cash back when opening a BMO Investorline account. Just click on the button below and use our promo code MDJCASH when filling up the signup form.

The BMO InvestorLine 2.0 online trading platform is amongst the most popular of Canada’s online discount brokers, and in our ultimate BMO InvestorLine Review we’ll dive deep to see if the platform deserves that spot.

As one of Canada’s oldest and most trusted companies (founded in 1817) the Bank of Montreal – more commonly known by its BMO initials – or “Bee-Mo” to Canadians – it should be no surprise that the InvestorLine Self-Directed discount broker is at the forefront of Canadian brokerage options. 

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 Trading Fees and Prices

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, have never had the reputation for having 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, there are 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 thresholds you will not owe any account fees at all.

BMO Investorline Self-Directed Trading Fees

When it comes to Investorline’s trading fees, you will pay a flat $9.95 fee per trade.  No matter how many shares you buy or sell, this transparent fee will be applied.  The $9.95 price tag also applies to ETF Trades.

Average Example: If the average Canadian DIY investor makes 20 trades per year and keeps $25,000+ in their RRSP and TFSA account, then they would owe a total of $199 for the year.  When the account fees are avoided (such as in this example) the $199 cost of accessing the smooth trading platform, and information resources that InvestorLine brings to the table is a very solid value proposition.

Note: There are no ECN fees when using BMO IntervorLine

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 that see 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)
  • RESP
  • RRIF
  • Spousal RRIFs
  • LIF
  • LIRA
  • Corporate Accounts
  • Non-Profit Organization Accounts
  • Estates and Formal Trust Accounts

The bottom line is that while you might pay more in commissions to use BMO InvestorLine Self-Direct, you’re going to absolutely have access to all of the accounts that you could ask for as a Canadian Investor.

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. 

Essentially, what BMO has created 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, then you may want to look closely at the BMO adviceDirect account.

Automated monitoring of your portfolio combined with unique information flows, exclusive investor education options, and a dedicated team of licensed financial advisors on standby for detailed advice, makes adviceDirect quite valuable to a specific type of investor that may want the benefits of going self-directed, but doesn’t always have time to stay on top of their portfolio.

Naturally, this helpful service doesn’t come free, and with costs ranging from $750 per year (for accounts of up to $100,000) to a maximum of $3,750 at higher asset levels, it’s not for everyone.  It should be noted that these fees also include 30+ free trades, so you can recoup some of the cost on this front. 

If you want to embark down the road of active investing, you’ll have to decide if a premium option such as adviceDirect is a good value proposition.  It’s certainly a superior option to investing through traditional mutual fund channels which take far more than the .75% (with a maximum cap) that adviceDirect charges. 

In any case, you definitely do NOT need to subscribe to adviceDirect in order to use the BMO InvestorLine brokerage.  They are two separate products that may complement one another, but are separate applications and services.

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

Is BMO InvestorLine Safe?

Yes!  When you invest through BMO InvestorLine you will enjoy state-of-the-art cyber security and the trust that can only come with handling Canadians’ money for over two hundred years. 

Not only are your investments protected by an institution that is older than our country, but you will also have the backing of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).  All BMO InvestorLine accounts are covered by $1 Million in fraud insurance per account. 

Of course, it has to be noted that neither BMO, nor the CIPF can guarantee investment returns (or lack thereof).  You will be protected from criminal behaviour or illegal corporate actions, but there is no protection available for simply poor investment performance.

Does BMO InvestorLine have a good app?

Yes!  BMO’s app has been continuously refined over the last few years and allows Canadians access to their brokerage accounts no matter where they are.  The BMO InvestorLine app has the same limitations that all brokerage apps have (which is why I prefer to use a desktop) but it certainly has all the bells and whistles that you’d expect from a large bank’s broker platform.

Does BMO InvestorLine have good investor education tools?

Yes!  BMO had invested in creating a ton of excellent tutorials and informational posts in order to provide value for their clients. 

Can I Open a BMO Investorline DIY Brokerage Account Online?

Yes – “onboarding” with BMO is quick and easy.  Simply click here to…

Is there a minimum investment to open a BMO InvestorLine account?

No, but there is the maintenance account fee described above if you have less than $15,000 in your account.

Is there a BMO InvestorLine practice account?

No, not at this time.  There is however, a ton of excellent how-to information for beginners, including video tutorials.

Can I transfer money from another bank to my BMO InvestorLine Account?

Yes!  While it is quickest and most convenient if you have a BMO account setup, you can easily set up InvestorLine as a recipient for transfer from any of Canada’s major banks.  The new “Move Money” feature at BMO makes this process easier than ever.

MDJ’s Exclusive Promotion with BMO Investorline

If you sign up to BMO you can use our unique promo code MDJCASH. It will enable you to receive free cashback based on your initial deposit amount as follows:

  • $50,000 – $99,999 deposit = $100 cash back
  • $100,000 – $249,999 deposit = $250 cash back
  • $250,000 – $499,999 deposit = $450 cash back
  • $500,000 – $999,999 deposit = $950 cash back
  • 1 Million or more = $2000 cash back

BMO InvestorLine 5 Star Program (Gold, Platinum, and Diamond)

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.  Here’s a look at the perks that you’ll enjoy at all three levels:

Diamond Star ($5M+ OR 180+ trades per quarter)Gold Star ($250,000+ OR 15-74 trades per quarter)Platinum Star (2M+ OR 75-179 trades per quarter)
Discounts5-15%10-20%20%
Dedicated Exclusive Customer SupportCheckCheckCheck
BMO Market Pro Lite (real-time market quotes)CheckCheckCheck
BMO Market Pro (real time Level 2 quotes)CheckCheck
Capital Markets TSX 60 ResearchCheck
Exclusive IPO Allocation OptionsCheck
Access to Private Banking OptionsCheckCheck

What the chart above boils down to 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.

Who Is the BMO InvestorLine Discount Broker Best for?

There are many Canadians who simply feel more secure about investing at the same rock-solid financial institution that they have been banking at since they opened their first chequing account.  If you want the ultimate in security, user experience, and customer service, then BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed is the perfect fit. 

Remember that in all likelihood, when you open a DIY trading account you’re probably not going to go through the paperwork of shifting over any time soon – so you want a broker that has an established track record of dependability, excellence, and innovation. 

The InvestorLine Self-Directed platform has won numerous “best in Canada” awards over the years, and recently trounced big bank brokerage competitors RBC, Scotiabank, TD, and CIBC  in the J.D. Power 2020 Canada Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction study.  With its commitment to constant improvement, I feel secure in saying that BMO will continue to refine its top-end product year-in and year-out for the foreseeable future.

All that being said, it wouldn’t be a fair BMO InvestorLine review without reiterating the obvious tradeoff in recommending a top-end product: cost.  You need to examine your investing strategy and decide if the difference in fees between a low-cost leader like Questrade and a premium product like InvestorLine are worth it. 

At the end of the day, if you want the convenience and safety of having all of your banking + investing needs met under one roof, you simply can’t go wrong with BMO and their InvestorLine DIY discount broker platform.

Sign up to BMO Investorline by clicking the button below and use MDJ’s exclusive promo code : MDJCASH to get between $100 and $2000 cashback depending on your deposit amount.

FT

FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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Peter Ally
5 years ago

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 :-)

gail
5 years ago
Reply to  FT

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.

Gail Bebee
5 years ago

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.

Gail Bebee
5 years ago
Reply to  FT

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.
Gail

BeSmartRich
5 years ago

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!

BeSmartRich

BeSmartRich
5 years ago
Reply to  FT

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?

Thanks!

BeSmartRich

BeSmartRich
5 years ago
Reply to  FT

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!

BeSmartRich

The Follower
5 years ago

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.

Jess @ Best Credit Cards Canada
5 years ago

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.

Nevin
3 years ago

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.

Dave
3 years ago

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

Freeman
2 years ago

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.