Scotia iTrade Online Brokerage Review 2020: Trading Fees, ETFs, TFSAs, and RRSPs

   (Editor Rating)

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

Summary:

Like it’s Canadian “Big Bank Brothers” the Scotia iTrade review can best be summed up as: An elite product – but with a high-end price tag!  If you’re 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 – then the Scotiabank online trading platform makes sense for you.

 

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 Questrade as our #1 most recommended brokerage here at Million Dollar Journey for several years running.

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

Scotia iTrade is not rated as one of the best Canadian brokerages

View Alternative, Better-Rated, Brokers

The Scotiabank trading platform has long been one of the most popular amongst Canada’s online discount brokers. With a history of stability in Canada that stretches all the way back to 1832, the Bank of Nova Scotia is often referred to as Canada’s most international bank. Below is our full Scotia iTrade review, including the trading fees and pros/cons of Scotiabank’s online brokerage.

Scotia iTrade 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 mark for each trade (every time you buy or sell a company’s shares) is standard across all of the Big Banks’ discount brokerages.  This is obviously a higher price than Questrade, Qtrade and Virtual Brokers.  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.

Scotia iTrade 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 mark for each trade (every time you buy or sell a company’s shares) is standard across all of the Big Banks’ discount brokerages.  This is obviously a higher price than Questrade, Qtrade and Virtual Brokers.  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

Scotia iTrade 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

I’m no expert on options trading, but if that’s 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.  

Scotia iTrade 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

Scotia iTrade Mobile App Review

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 1.5 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 1.4 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.

Scotia iTrade Mobile App

Scotia iTrade Cash Optimizer

The unique Scotia iTrade Cash Optimizer account is a holdover from iTrades 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 Review Frequently Asked Questions

Does Scotia iTrade have a practice account?

Yes!  You can get a look and feel for the exact platform that you’ll be using (complete with $100,000 in fictional funds).  

Does Scotia iTrade have an account minimum?

No.  You can open a Scotia iTrade account with any amount of money; however, pay attention to those account minimum fees and inactivity fees we described above.

Is Scotia iTrade Safe?

Yes!  The safety of investing through Scotia iTrade is one of the major reasons the platform continues to attract new customers despite the relatively high fees.  With excellent cyber safety measures in place, as well as Canadian Investment Protection Fund (CIPF) insurance, your investment nest egg is safe from fraud and criminal activity.  

Now, it’s important to mention that “investment safety” does not over the actual risk of investment performance.  No broker or investment trading platform can control the stock, bond, or options markets, and there is an inherent investment risk to any investment.

Does Scotia iTrade have a DRIP or DPP Plan?

Yes.  Scotia iTrade does have a convenient Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP) and/or automated Dividend Purchase Plans (DPPs) available to instantly put your dividend payments back to work on your behalf.

Is Scotia iTrade good for investor information and education?

Yes.  Scotiabank prides itself on the tools and information that are available for investors.  Some of these tools come with premium price points, but a large amount of information is included in the basic online platform.

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, our complete Questrade Review details just why we think iTrade is a step behind our #1 rated Canadian online broker.

That said, you could do a lot worse than choosing iTrade.  The platform is excellent, the fees are competitive (if not super low) and their customer service is purported to be superb.  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.  One thing is for sure, you’re better off using Scotia iTrade than endlessly procrastinating your brokerage choice and never actually getting started on your investing journey!

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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