National Bank Direct Brokerage Review
Platform and App
National Bank Direct Brokerage Review Summary:
National Bank Direct Brokerage is not 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 many of the elite platform options and usability that several of our other top-ranked Canadian discount brokerages have incorporated.
That said, NBDB broke big news in August 2021 when they became the first big bank online broker to go with $0 trading fees in Canada. Ready to dig in? Below is our full National Bank Direct Brokerage review.
- No Fee Trades
- Good bricks-and-mortar presence if you live in Quebec
- No Mobile App
- Poor Portfolio Analysis Tools
- $100 Account Fee
- No Sign Up Promotions
- Poor Overall Platform Rating
- Long Customer Service Wait Times
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 of the most competitive pricing in the business.
National Bank Direct Brokerage Fees and Pricing
In 2021, National Bank Direct Brokerage cut their per-trade fees down to $0, becoming the first big bank brokerage to do so. Here is a quick look at NBDB’s new fee guide.
- Annual Administration Fee: $100 (If account size is under $20,000)
- ETF Trades: $0
- Stock Trades: $0
- Options Trades: $6.25 – $19.95
- Mutual Fund Fees: Some funds have fees, may do not no
- RRSP3, RRIF or LIF withdrawal: $50
- Internal transfer between registered accounts: $100
- NSF cheque: $45
- Excess contribution reimbursement: $100
- Wire transfer: $75
- Total or partial transfer to another institution (+ commissions if applicable): $150/account
- Portfolio statements by mail: $6 per quarter
- Trade confirmations by mail: $2 per trade (billed monthly)
- Administration of restricted shares (plus commissions if applicable) $250/transaction
- Custodial services for a client $30/security/month
- Donation or substitution of securities (max. $150)
- Registration/delivery of certificate $50/operation
- Registration/delivery of certificate (rush) $200/operation
- Deposit of a stock certificate $100/operation
- Estate settlement $200/estate
Interest rates for margin accounts
Interest rates for margin accounts
|$100,000 or more||2.75%||4.25%|
There is no denying that with their new $0 price tag for ETF and stock trading National Bank Direct Brokerage has set themselves apart from the pack when it comes to pricing. The real question then becomes, is saving a few bucks per year in stock trading commissions worth the use of a sub-par platform? For some it might be, but for others, the sacrifice just won’t make sense.
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 Review: Platform and Customer Service
In many ways, you get what you pay for when it comes to brokerages in Canada. While NBDB is a solid step up on Wealthsimple trade (their free-trade brethren) when it comes to their desktop platform, they are still a far cry from leaders in the field such as Questrade, Qtrade, or even BMO Investorline.
NBDB was having a difficult time keeping up to customer service requests before they went to their $0 trading model (as evidenced by their consistently low scores on the Globe and Mail rankings by Rob Carrick year after year, as well as the general emails and comments that we’ve anecdotally received here at MDJ complaining about wait times). There is no reason to believe that more resources will be dedicated to supporting new customers now that revenues have been sliced down.
National Bank Direct Brokerage has improved their customer onboarding over the last year as they finally moved to a digital setup. For years the company had stuck with the old school “paper-and-mail-it” setup that put it light years behind its peers. Now that it has recently went digital, you can skim various online reviews to find out that many are still having a difficult time accessing the platform if they are a new customer, and even opening new accounts if they were already members of NBDB.
While National Bank Direct Brokerage does have some basic research tools available if you make more than fifteen trades per month, they simply do not offer the suite of products that our preferred online brokers include as part of their platform. The portfolio analyzer tool that Qtrade has pioneered for example is a pretty neat little value add. That type of innovation has been typical of the company over the past decade-plus that they have sought atop Canada’s brokerage rankings.
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:
- Spousal RRSP/RRIF
- Non-registered accounts (cash, margin, and short selling)
- Individual Pension Plan
- 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 two types of investors.
1) Canadians (mostly in Quebec) who have their normal banking with National Bank and prefer the simplicity of keeping everything under one roof.
2) People looking to cut a few dollars per year off of their non-ETF trading fees.
While our MDJ editorial team appreciates the commitment to low trading fees, the $100 account fee, low Globe and Mail ranking, and outdated platform (as well as the complete lack of mobile app) mean that we believe there are simply better options out there.
Qtrade is our preferred brokerage for the majority of Canadians due to their excellent platform and elite record of customer service established over many years. To get the full details on why we rank this online broker #1, check out our in-depth Qtrade Review.