National Bank Direct Brokerage Review

   (Editor Rating)

National Bank Direct Brokerage:
  • National Bank Direct fees and pricing:
  • Account options:
  • Customer service:
  • User-friendly platform and app:
3.1

National Bank Direct Brokerage Review Summary

National Bank Direct Brokerage isn’t typically listed as one of the top discount brokerages in Canada. Rob Carrick over at the Globe and Mail gives it one of the lower rankings in the country. It lacks some of the perks and draws of other brokerages such as our #1 rated option: Questrade.  That said, if you bank with National Bank and want to stick to investing specifically in ETFs, National Bank Direct Brokerage might be worth your consideration. Ready to dig in? Below is our full National Bank Direct Brokerage review.

Pros

  • Good pricing (free ETF purchases)
  • Established bank – safe
  • Strong platform to identify trends

Cons

  • Not user friendly as competitors
  • Not as fee-free as discount brokerages
  • No sign-up promotions
  • No app
  • Big bank – negative customer experience 

National Bank Direct is not rated as one of the best Canadian brokerages

View Alternative, Better-Rated, Brokers

National Bank Direct Brokerage has made a lot of changes in the past couple of years to better compete with some of Canada’s top online brokerages. While they admit that they still have some work to do, especially on the tech front, National Bank Direct Brokerage does have some pretty impressive attributes that make them worth considering.  

National Bank Direct Brokerage Fees and Pricing

In 2019, National Bank Direct Brokerage switched up their fees and pricing to become more competitive. There are a few different categories and price points depending on the type of trader you are. Additionally, National Bank Direct Brokerage has discounted fees for young traders, as well as for individuals who have banking accounts with National Bank Direct.

TypeActive InvestorYoung InvestorNational Bank ClientRegular Pricing
Stocks$0.95 per trade$4.95 per trade
+ 10 free trades each year
$6.95 per trade$9.95 per trade
Options$0.95 + $1.25 per contract
(min. $8.20)
$4.95 + $1.25 per contract
(min. $8.20)
$6.95 + $1.25 per contract$9.95 + $1.25 per contract
Options
(Value less than $2,000)
Maximum commission
of $19.95
Maximum commission
of $19.95
Maximum commission
of $19.95
Maximum commission
of $28.95
Exchange-traded funds (ETFs)All Canadian and U.S. ETFs at $0 commission
Mutual funds$0
Commission on most funds (Refer to the complete lists: with and without fees)
Exchange-traded debentures$9.95 per trade$9.95 per trade$9.95 per trade$9.95 per trade

Is National Bank Direct Brokerage the Cheapest?

There are plenty of discount brokers in Canada offering free ETF purchases, topped by no annual fees. View our entire selection below:

National Bank Direct Brokerage No Fee ETFs

National Bank Direct Brokerage offers all Canadian and US buy and sell orders of ETFs at $0 commission. This is pretty significant when it comes to online brokerages as most have a limited number of ETFs with no fees, or charge commission on ETF sales. 

Of course, there are a couple of rules around that. In order to be able to take advantage of the no fee ETFs, each trade needs to involve 100+ ETFs units and has to be completed electronically. Additionally, you need to sign up to receive all documents electronically as well. If these conditions are not met, you will be charged the regular price. 

National Bank Direct Brokerage Trading Fees 

As you can see in the above chart, National Bank Direct Brokerage has four different types of investing accounts which will determine the trading fees you pay.

Active investors get the best deal at $0.95 per trade (+ $1.25 per contract, minimum $850). To qualify as an active investor, you need to make 100+ transactions in shares/ ETFs/ commission options within the last quarter plus receive all documents by electronic delivery.

Young Investors pay $4.95 per trade and get 10 free trades each year. For options, they also pay $1.25 on top of the $4.95 with a minimum of $8.20. To qualify as a young investor, you need to be under the age of 30, make all your transactions online, and receive all documents by electronic delivery. 

National Bank clients will receive a discounted rate of $6.95 per trade (+ $1.25 per contract for options). As with the other accounts, to benefit from this pricing, transactions need to be made electronically and you need to agree to receive all documents by electronic delivery.

Finally, the last option is regular pricing. If you don’t qualify for any of the above categories, you will pay $9.95 per trade (+1.25 per contract for options).

Maximum commissions on Options with a value of less than $2,000 is $19.95 for active, young and client investors or $28.95 for regular pricing.

One important thing to note: As you can see from the descriptions, this pricing is all for electronic transactions. If you place your orders with an agent, you are looking at a minimum fee of $44.95 for Canadian and US stocks and ETFs.

National Bank Direct Brokerage Platform Fees

National Bank Direct Brokerage offers a free suite of 3 tools called Recognia. As per the website, Recognia will allow investors to:

  • Identify bullish and bearish trends
  • Spot value investing opportunities
  • Perform advances stock searches based on your criteria

For active traders who want to better track stocks, National Bank Direct Brokerage offers Market Q. The data feed for Market Q ranges from Level I to Level IV. Level I is real time information on most major North American markets. Level IV is the most advanced and offers market depth on TSX-V. 

Pricing for Market Q depends on your activity level as a trader. Fees will start at $39 for Level I and go up to $148 for Level IV for individuals who make 0-9 trades per month. However, as the number of monthly trades you make increases, the Market Q fees go down. See the chart below for the pricing matrix. 

*Pricing chart found here: https://nbdb.ca/pricing.html (under pricing for tools, blue tab for market Q pricing opens table)

If you would like access to Market Q, you need to call customer support.

National Bank Direct Brokerage Admin and Account Fees 

Those who are interested in opening an account with National Bank Direct Brokerage should know that there is a $100 annual admin fee (this fee is spread across all accounts, not charged per account). However, you can get this fee waived if you meet one of the following conditions:

  • You have assets of $20,000+ as of May 31
  • You carry out a least 5 commission-generating stock/ETF/or option trades between June 1 and May 31.
  • You have an InvestCube Account
  • You are a young investor (under the age of 30)
  • You are enrolled in a National Bank Direct offer for professionals

National Bank Direct Brokerage TFSA, RRSP, and Other Accounts

As with the other big names in discount brokerages in Canada, National Bank Direct Brokerage offers a variety of different accounts including the following:

  • TFSA
  • RRSP/RRIF
  • Spousal RRSP/RRIF
  • RESP
  • Non-registered accounts (cash, margin, and short selling)
  • Individual Pension Plan
  • LIRA
  • LRSP
  • LIF
  • Estate accounts
  • In trust account
  • Investment club account

National Bank Direct Brokerage also offers accounts for corporate entities.

National Bank Direct Brokerage FAQ

Who is National Bank Direct Brokerage Best For? 

National Bank Direct Brokerage is a solid choice for those who are primarily interested in ETF trading. The free buy/sell feature makes this brokerage a standout. It’s also a decent choice for young investors thanks to the discounted youth rates.

That being said, while these low fees are a big advantage, there are other aspects of this brokerage that are lacking including customer service. As you can see from this National Bank Direct Brokerage review, this broker does have some unique attributes. However, in our opinion, it doesn’t quite live up to the standard of our preferred Canadian discount brokerage.  To get the full details on why we love Questrade has been the Million Dollar Journey #1 pick for several years running, check out our Questrade Review

2021 edit – While Questrade is still one of the best, i have recently altered my top pick and currently believe Qtrade is the best broker for Canadians. To see what made me change my mind after so many years, read our Qtrade review here.

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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