Scotia iTrade Online Brokerage Review

Scotia iTrade Review Summary:
  • Scotiabank’s Online Fees and Commissions
  • Account Options
  • ETF Trading Fees
  • Customer Service
  • User-Friendly Platform and Mobile App
  • Overall Banking Convenience
3.7

Scotia iTrade Review Summary:

Scotia iTrade is the online brokerage arm of The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank), and many Canadians have certainly found that there is some peace of mind when it comes to having a familiar big bank attached to your online broker. 

If you happen to be an avid day trader or you place a high value on having all of your loans, insurances, bank accounts, and investing platforms with one company, or you are looking for a one stop investment shop with all of your accounts in one place – then the Scotiabank online trading platform might make sense for you. 

Overall, Scotia iTrade is pretty much on par with our most recommended big bank brokerage – BMO Investorline. They both have the same account options, and their fees are identical. What sets BMO apart is their fantastic promotions (sometimes thousands of dollars worth), something which Scotia currently does not offer.

If you’re looking for an online broker with moves just as smooth as iTrade’s – but with lower fees and commissions – then we’d point to Qtrade – our choice for Canada’s best online brokerage.

Pros

  • Great all-in-one solution
  • Ideal for day traders
  • Excellent desktop platform
  • Well known and trusted company

Cons

  • Fees are much higher than other brokers
  • Bad reviews for their mobile app
  • Terrible customer service reviews

Scotia iTrade is not the best Canadian brokerage due to high fees and no available signup bonus.

View Alternative, Better Rated Canadian Brokers

Scotia iTrade launched in 2008, after Scotiabank purchased E*Trade Canada. This was a smart move, immediately bringing in twice as many online customers to its client base. Scotia iTrade made a name for itself in the active day trader community because of its discounted flat rate commissions of CAD $1.25 – $9.99 depending on number of trades. 

That being said, it has also made an effort to appeal to new investors by offering a free simulation tool, as well as other educational materials. 

For all its efforts, its high commissions and fees (no free ETFs!) makes it incomparable to our personal top choices, such as Qtrade and Questrade, which have a number of free and low-cost trading options.

Below is our full Scotia iTrade review, including the trading fees and pros/cons of Scotiabank’s online brokerage.

Scotia Itrade Logo
scotia itrade screenshot2
scotia itrade screenshot3

Trading Fees and Commissions

It’s no accident that Scotiabank’s trading fees and commissions line up very similarly to their main competitors’ at RBC, TD, and BMO.  The $9.95 per trade fee is standard across most of the Big Banks’ discount brokerages.  This is obviously a higher price than Questrade, Qtrade and Virtual Brokers. 

Actually, one of the biggest reasons that we don’t recommend Scotia iTrade, in spite of its advantages, is the lack of free ETF trades.  With Questrade, Qtrade, and Virtual Brokers leading the pack on free ETF transactions, Scotia iTrade continues to charge $9.95 each time you buy or sell units of an ETF.

That said, there is something that Canadians love about the safety and convenience of using our well-known banks.  Certainly there is a long track record of excellence and trust at Scotiabank, and to a lot of people, that’s worth paying more for.

Account and Transaction Fees

Scotia iTrade’s account fees are a bit nuanced.  While the Scotia iTrade TFSA is free to open at any price point, the RRSP, RRIF, or LIRA will cost you $100 per year unless you meet one of the following conditions.

  • $25,000 in combined assets across all of your Scotia iTrade accounts.
  • 12 commissionable trades per year.

The Scotia iTrade RESP account fee is $25, but that fee is waived if your combined accounts add up to more than $15,000.

It’s also worth noting that if you don’t make one commissionable trade each quarter, Scotia iTrade is going to hit you with a $25.00 inactivity fee!

Below is a quick chart of the more common Scotia iTrade account fees that you might run into.

Canadian Controlled Corporation Setup$300
Canadian Controlled Corp. Annually$100
RSP Withdrawals$50
TFSA Withdrawals$0
Home Buyers Plan & Life Long Plan Withdrawals$50
Confirmation Replacement$2
Copies of Statements, Confirms, Cheques and Tax Receipts$5
Research Account Inquiries$50 per hour
Certificate Registration$100
Wire fee (out)$25 + Clearing Fee
Wire fee (in)Free
Estate Account Processing$200 per account

ETF Fees

One of the biggest reasons that we don’t recommend Scotia iTrade (despite the excellent usability of their online trading platform) is the lack of free ETF trades.  With Questrade, Qtrade, and Virtual Brokers leading the pack on free ETF transactions, Scotia iTrade continues to charge $9.95 each time you buy or sell units of an ETF.

Online Discount BrokerPer Transaction Cost to Buy ETFsPer Transaction Cost to Sell ETFs
Scotia iTrade$9.95$9.95
Questrade$0$5
Qtrade$0 – $8.75$0 – $8.75

Options Trading Fees

IIf options trading is what you’re after, the Scotia iTrade options trading fee is $9.99 plus a $1.25 contract fee. If you make 150+ trades per quarter, iTrade will lower that fee down to $4.95 + $1.25. 

Much like their general trading fees, when it comes to trading options contracts, Scotia’s online trading commissions match up closely with the other Canadian big banks.  

Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, Non-Registered

While iTrade isn’t going to outcompete the rest of Canada’s online brokers on price, they aren’t going to be beat when it comes to account offerings.  They offer every account type you can think of, including:

  • Non-registered accounts (both CAD and USD)
  • Margin Accounts
  • RRSP (both CAD and USD)
  • TFSA 
  • RESP (both CAD and USD)
  • RRIF
  • LIF
  • LIRA
  • Canadian Controlled Private Corporation (CCPC)
  • Informal Trust
  • Investment Club
  • Trust or Estate
  • Charity or Unincorporated Organization

Mobile App

While the Scotia iTrade app looks fine to me, (I wouldn’t recommend doing any serious trading on a phone anyway – and it looks like it could handle basic transactions just fine) the 131 reviews in the Google Play Store tell a different story. With only 1.4 stars – this looks to be a serious weakness for the overall iTrade product. Users report many app crashes and long-term inability to log in as being the main issues.

The Apple App Store only gives the platform a 1.3 star rating, with the complaints mirroring those in the Google Play Store. Clearly, the Scotia iTrade Mobile App needs to be an area of improvement for the overall platform going forward. For better rated apps, read our comparison of the best stock trading apps in Canada.

scotia itrade app screenshot
scotia itrade screenshot3

Cash Optimizer

The unique Scotia iTrade Cash Optimizer account is a holdover from iTrade’s origins as E-Trade (which Scotiabank purchased over a decade ago).  Basically, it’s a non-registered account option within iTrade that allows investors to get high-interest savings account type of returns on the investment funds they have sitting in cash. 

I suppose it’s a nice little perk, but I’m not a big fan of having a lot of cash sitting in your investing account anyway.  Either put your money to work in an investment portfolio or I’d toss it in my online high interest savings account to get the best interest rate possible.  See our EQ Bank Review for more details on that decision.

Scotia iTrade vs Qtrade

Now that we’ve explored Scotia iTrade in depth, it’s time for an in-depth comparison to our top online broker in Canada – Qtrade.

Scotia iTrade

Qtrade

ETF Fees

$9.99

$0-$8.75

Mutual Fund Trade Fee

$0

$0

Account Fees

$300 set up fee + $100 annual fee for investment accounts

$25 per quarter, can be waived if certain requirements are met

Inctivity/Low Activity Fee

$25 per quarter

$0 (as long as certain requirements are met *see above)

Tradable Assets

Bonds, Equities, ETFs, GICs, New Issues, Mutual Funds, Options

ETFs, Equities, Exchange-traded debentures, Fixed income, Mutual Funds, Options

User Experience

Average mobile and online trading platform and poor app ratings

Easy to use mobile and online trading platform and moderate app ratings

Customer Service

Many negative customer service reviews due to long wait times, no response to calls or emails, and inexperienced staff

Highly rated customer service

From this comparison, we can understand the reason why some Scotia iTrade customers have jumped ship to get better value and service from their online broker elsewhere.

Scotia iTrade Review – Frequently Asked Questions

So, Who Is Scotiabank’s Online Trading Broker Best For?

While we agree with experts such as the Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick in saying that Scotia iTrade is an excellent overall platform for things like its analyst research materials, available free ETFs, it’s just not enough to stand out among the competition. 

That said, you could do a lot worse than choosing iTrade.  The platform works, although its platforms do need some improvement, the fees are competitive compared to other big banks, and the security they offer will keep your money safe and insured. If you already have other accounts with Scotiabank it might just be easier for you to get all of your banking needs met under one roof.

The important thing is to get started today! The sooner you begin your investment journey, the more your money can grow. We recommend taking a look at Qtrade for its simplicity and reliability, and ease of getting started quickly. Check out our full Qtrade review for more information.

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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Jerry
9 months ago

scotia itrade is a horrible place to trade. hours of wait time for phone calls, backoffice errors, high fees, mystery charges to your account and no one to talk to when it happens. it actually took 2 months for me to get an email response once.. do NOT use this bank – find yourself anyone else to deal with on the planet…

Javier
8 months ago
Reply to  Jerry

Totally agree

Handy
7 months ago
Reply to  Jerry

same experience on the phone on wait time even they have given me the Gold Club access number