RBC Direct Investing Review 2022: Fees, ETFs, Account Options and More

RBC Direct Investing Review Summary:
  • Online Broker Fees and Pricing
  • Account Options
  • ETF Trading Fees
  • User-Friendly Platform and Mobile App
  • Customer Service
  • Overall Banking Convenience
3.8

RBC Direct Investing Review Summary:

Royal Bank of Canada’s self-directed investment option came onto the scene back in 1989, way before online investing was available to folks like us. As times have changed, RBC direct has stayed committed to offering investment tools to its clients, enabling them to take control of how and where they invest. It’s the largest of the big 5 banks of Canada, it does come with a guarantee of safety and security some online brokers can’t offer.

That being said, we also need to consider some of the disadvantages, such as RBC Direct Investing’s high standard flat trading fee of $9.95 per stock, ETF, and options trade for the standard investor. Even if you are an active trader, RBC you only save $3 with a fee of $6.95 per trade.

In this RBC Direct Investing review, we’ll explain why Canadians can get superior platforms, equal account options, and much lower fees at Qtrade or Questrade – two of the best Canadian brokers.

Pros

  • User friendly, advanced platform
  • Solid mobile app
  • Easy to set up if you bank with RBC
  • Safe and trustworthy company

Cons

  • Higher fees compared to leading online brokers
  • Falling levels of customer service

RBC Direct Investing is not rated as one of the best Canadian brokerages: Their fees are too high and they offer no signup bonus.

View Alternative, Better Rated Canadian Brokers

What is RBC Direct Investing?

Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has an extensive history in Canada, and was one of the first banks in the country to pioneer DIY investing for the everyday investor. Being part of one of the Big 5 Canadian Banks, RBC Direct Investing offers a high level of safety and security.

It also offers other perks, like the ability for customers to convert their RBC Rewards points to investment contributions, an online forum for investors to share ideas and ask questions, a variety of investing tools, a mobile app, and even a free RBC practice account, which are not things you can find at many big bank brokerages.

With RBC Direct Investing, you can trade Canadian and US stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and bonds. You can also use it to fund and manage your TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, and RESP accounts.

If you already have an account with RBC, then opening an RBC Direct Investing account might appeal to you, as it will make the process more seamless and efficient. 

If you are not already an account holder, then it is definitely worth considering other options. As far as the Big Banks go, we really like BMO’s Investorline in part because it offers $0 stock and ETF trading. RBC Direct Investing on the other hand will cost you $9.95 per trade.

You can check out our full BMO Investorline Review for more information about why we prefer it over RBC Direct Investing.

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RBC Direct Investing Review: Trading Fees and Prices

When it comes to the RBC Direct Investing fees and price comparison, it’s important to understand that RBC (and all of Canada’s large banks, for that matter) rarely seek to be the cheapest option available. They entice you with a great platform, the safety of being one of Canada’s most trusted companies, and the convenience of keeping all of your banking under one roof. 

That said, it’s not going to be your most cost-effective option.

When looking at where to invest your hard earned money, you should always be on the lookout for the option that saves you the most. There are a number of brokers that offer stock and ETF trading at a lower cost or even for free. RBC Direct Investing charges $9.95 per trade.

Compare that to Qtrade and Questrade, which offer a lower-cost trading options for stocks ($8.75 with Qtrade, and as low as $0.01 per share with Questrade) as well as $0 cost ETFs, it’s clear where you are going to keep more of your money and add to your bottom line.

RBC Direct Investing Review: Account and Transaction Fees

While it’s true that RBC has a $0 minimum deposit, it does come with other fees you may have to pay later. RBC Direct Investing charges a quarterly maintenance fee of $25 ($100 annually).

However – you can avoid this fee if you do any one of the following:

  • Are a new client, having opened your account 6 months ago.
  • Have $15,000 or more in your combined RBC Direct Investing accounts.
  • Set up a minimum pre-authorized Contribution plan of $100 per month or $300 per quarter.
  • Pay for three trades during any quarter (3-month stretch).
  • Have an RBC student banking account (or have had one in the last five years).
  • Have an RBC VIP banking package, or qualify for the RBC Direct Investing Royal Circle program.

Below is a quick chart of the more common RBC Direct Investing transaction and account fees that you might run into.

Possible Account Maintenance Fee $100 Annually ($25 per quarter)
Inactivity Fee$0
Deposit Fee$0
Brokerage Account Withdrawal Fee$0
RRSP Withdrawals$50
TFSA Withdrawals$0
Home Buyers Plan & Life Long Plan Withdrawals$25
Wire Transfers (to North America)$45
Cheque Requests$10
Confirmation Replacement$2
Statement Replacement$5
Research Account Inquiries$40 per hour (Min. $20)
Certificate Registration $50
Transfer Out$135
Internal Transfers (third party)$25
Estate Account Processing$175 per account

It is worth noting that if you are an RBC account holder, you may pay lower fees, or even $0 fees on certain transactions that non-RBC account holders.

Stock Trading Fees

When it comes to the RBC Direct Investing trading fees, you’re going to pay $9.95 per transaction (including ETF trades) and can trade on any North American stock market. 

If you make more than 150 trades per quarter, RBC will lower that trading fee down to $6.95 per transaction.  

There are no ECN fees when using RBC Direct Investing.

ETF Trading Fees

Unlike Questrade, Qtrade, and Virtual Brokers, RBC Direct Investing does not offer free ETF purchases or sales.  Buying an ETF is treated exactly the same way as buying a stock/share, and incurs the same hefty $9.95 price tag (or $6.95 if you’re one of the day-trader types).  

Online Discount BrokerPer Transaction Cost to Buy ETFsPer Transaction Cost to Sell ETFs
RBC Direct Investing$9.95$9.95
Questrade$0$5
Qtrade$0 – $8.75$0 – $8.75

Options Trading Fees

The RBC Direct Investing options trading isn’t really my thing, but the RBC Direct Investing options trading fees follow the same philosophy as their stock trading fees.  Most people are looking at $9.95 per trade + $1.25 contract fee.  If you make 150+ trades they’ll let you take three bucks off the per trade rate.

Most options traders are substantially more active in their account than everyday ETF index investors, so this fee difference versus low-cost discount brokerages might be more important to them.

Bond Trading Fees

When it comes to purchasing bonds, RBC Direct Investing is definitely not the most cost-effective option. You’ll be charged $18.80 for each US Treasury bond trade. For Canadian bonds, you will pay commission depending on the transaction amount, which starts at $25 per transaction.

RBC Direct Investing Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, Non-Registered

Like all of the leading Canadian discount brokers these days, RBC Direct Investing offers all of the usual accounts including:

  • Non-registered accounts (both CAD and USD)
  • Margin Accounts
  • RRSP (both CAD and USD)
  • TFSA
  • RESP
  • RRIF
  • LIF
  • LIRA

Make no mistake, you may pay a bit more to use the RBC online broker vs some of the lowest-cost Canadian brokerages, but you will get a platform and the account options that go with investing through one of Canada’s largest companies.

RBC Direct Investing Platform & Tools

RBC Direct Investing offers both a web-based and app-based platform. As a now industry standard, users will get access to information through the platform from the likes of Morningstar and RBC Research. These tools are great, but may not be of great use to less experienced investors. 

rbc direct investing platform
Source: https://www.rbcdirectinvesting.com

What could be of benefit to those who are new investors, or even those who want a more hands-off approach is the analyze and rebalance tool. This tool can save users the guesswork of trying to make sure they have the best balance for their investment strategy and even receive suggestions of how to improve it if needed.

In 2018, RBC launched RBC InvestEase, a robo-advisor that compliments its banking and brokerage services, offering a cost-effective tool to its customers who want the benefits of having an advisor without the high cost. We’ve got more information for you over at our RBC InvestEase Review if you’d like to learn more about this service.

One of its most recent additions is the analyst-built screeners by Refinitiv, which are screening tools that can help investors find specific stocks that fit their criteria in terms of risk, industry, potential dividend earnings, and more.

rbc stock screener
Source: https://www.rbcdirectinvesting.com

Overall, RBC has made a solid attempt to keep up with industry standards when it comes to its online platform, and its functions and tools. 

RBC Direct Investing Mobile App Review

rbc mobile app

Most investors expect a mobile app from their online broker these days, and RBC Direct Investing delivered on that front. The app is available on the Apple App store as well as from Google Play. 

The RBC Mobile app receives pretty good reviews, with a solid 3.8 from 33,697 reviews on the Google Play store. Through the app, you can access all of your RBC accounts as well as use it for your investment needs. It has all of the features you would expect from a decent investing app, such as:

  • Safety and security with biometric sign-in 
  • Easy to navigate system 
  • Access to market information
  • Clear and simple account monitoring interface
  • Fast transactions
  • Tracking of your investment performance 

Want to see how RBC’s mobile app measures up to the competition? Check out our full Best Stock Trading Apps Review.

RBC Direct Investing Review: FAQ

Who Is RBC Direct Investing Discount Broker Best for?

After our MDJ editorial team weighed all of the pros and cons in our RBC Direct Investing Review, and compared it to the many other Canadian online brokerages there are to choose from, we really can’t find a good enough reason to recommend RBC Direct Investing. 

Being one of the Big Banks, we would expect an elite level of service and highly competitive products. But that is not what you get when you sign up with them, so your best bet is to find a premium product that really delivers what it should for the high costs, like BMO. See our BMO Investorline Review for more information on why it’s our favourite Big 5 Bank Brokerage.

For a more cost-effective option that provides you with the same great investment opportunities, responsive customer service, easy to use platform, and the same safety and security you get from a Big Bank, we recommend Qtrade.

Justin Bouchard

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dalik
1 year ago

RBC direct investing customer service wait time is always more than one hour. I sent beneficiary information few times. Accounts did not get updated. I would give two stars to Customer Service.

Jennifer Wilson
1 year ago

I do not recommend RBC. I have been a client for more than 25 years. I tried to open an account, 1 week went by and finally I get an email saying call them. I tried for 4 days their line so busy it actually says you cannot hold. I message them. Two weeks goes by and I get a response (finally) saying take a day off work and go into the bank to fill out a form to prove its me. I do that and they send it in. A week goes by and I message them and say what is going on, its been 5 weeks. My partner opened one with TD in less than an hour. That was almost 3 weeks ago and still no response and no account. Go with TD because anyone that cannot get their crap together in this long cannot manage our money.

MB5
1 year ago

If I am not mistaken RBC Direct Investing doesn’t allow holding Mawer mutual funds any longer. I was with them at one point and this made me move. Not sure if other mutual funds are in that situation with them. Everyone else allows Mawer. Mawer is one of the few decent mutual funds left, and that sucked.

Dropthenickel
1 year ago

I wouldn’t give RBC Customer Service 4.5 stars. Over the years, they have missed getting my kids RESP government match, US dividend tax withholding forms, and they often buy at the highest price on my stock purchases. Overall they have a lot of improvement to be done.

AnotherLoonie
1 year ago

Really happy to see a review of one of the less popular brokerages (well, less popular in the DIY community). I use Questrade, but it’s interesting to see how it compares to RBC and others. I’m suprised RBC doesn’t pass along discounts if you have your banking or mortgage with them. Seems like it would be a great opportunity. For example, free ETF trading if you had a chequing account with them.