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
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 all their loans, insurances, bank accounts, and investing platforms under one familiar roof.
Overall, Scotia iTrade is pretty much on par with our most recommended big bank brokerage – BMO Investorline. It’s not a bad platform by any means. They both have the same account options, and their fees are nearly identical.
However, Scotia iTrade struggles with their mobile app and customer service, both of which are bad enough to keep them low on our list of Canada’s best online brokerages.
Our Scotia iTrade review breaks down all the details, from security to pricing to active trader bonuses. We also put Scotia iTrade head to head against Qtrade – our top recommended broker—so you can see where Scotia iTrade falls short.
- Well known and trusted company
- Great all-in-one solution
- Good for day traders and large portfolios
- Excellent desktop platform
- Sustainable investment tools
- 100+ commission-free ETFs
- Practice accounts available
- Fees are on the high side even for big bank
- 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
What is Scotia iTrade?
Scotia iTrade launched in 2008, after Scotiabank acquired E*Trade Canada and immediately rebranded it. This purchase was a smart move, effectively doubling the Scotiabank online client base overnight.
Scotia iTrade made a name for itself in the active day trader community because of its discounted flat rate commissions for active traders. They still offer these discounts, but the discounted fees have climbed from $1.25+ per trade to $4.99+ per trade, putting it on par with (and in some cases higher than) other big banks.
Although it has some good qualities, Scotia iTrade is not one of our most recommended DIY brokers. For investors looking for low fees and enhanced customer service, we would recommend online trading platforms such as Qtrade and Questrade, which have a number of free and low-cost trading options as well as excellent customer service
Scotia iTrade: Safe and Trusted?
Scotiabank was founded in 1832. It’s one of Canada’s Big Five Banks and is used and trusted by tens of millions of clients worldwide. Scotia iTrade has been in operation since 2008 – and its original parent company, E*Trade, is about as old as the internet (it began operations in 1982).
Scotiabank is Canadian Investment Protection Fund (CIPF) insured and regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
When it comes to data security, Scotia iTrade is on par with the other big banks – meaning that it’s as secure as you can get when it comes to online transactions. Scotiabank requires 128-bit encryption, uses firewalls and system monitors, and offers its users free security software.
Which is a long way of saying yes, Scotia iTrade is both safe and trusted. The only risk you incur by investing with them is the risk you incur when you make any investment decisions.
Scotia iTrade Review: 100+ Commission-free ETFs
Scotia iTrade offers investors commission-free trading on over 100 ETFs from a range of companies including:
Free ETF trading is increasingly common – and so is the catch: like other big bank investment platforms, including BMO Investorline, Scotia iTrade will only waive the commission if you hold onto the ETF for at least 24 hours.
That means that regular investors can take advantage of the savings but day traders are better off looking elsewhere.
Trading Fees and Commissions
Aside from their commission-free ETFs, Scotia iTrade’s trading fees are higher than we’d like to see. Stocks and non-exempt ETFs cost $9.99 for average traders to buy or sell (active traders can qualify for discounts- see more below).
This is obviously a higher price than Questrade, Qtrade and other low cost online 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|
|Home Buyers Plan & Life Long Plan Withdrawals||$50|
|Copies of Statements, Confirms, Cheques and Tax Receipts||$5|
|Research Account Inquiries||$50 per hour|
|Wire fee (out)||$25 + Clearing Fee|
|Wire fee (in)||Free|
|Estate Account Processing||$200 per account|
Options Trading Fees
If options trading is what you’re after, the Scotia iTrade options trading fee is $9.99 plus a $1.25 contract fee.
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 iClub: Benefits for Active Traders or High Balances
Like some other big banks including BMO, Scotiabank offers reduced fees and special benefits to active traders and investors who have high balances. Here’s a look at the requirements and rewards for the Scotia iTrade iClub Gold and Platinum membership tiers.
|Scotia iTrade iClub||Gold Membership||Platinum Membership|
|Eligibility Requirements||30+ trades per quarter or $250,000 in assets||$150+ trades per quarter or $1,000,000 in assets|
|Special Pricing/Fees||Annual administration fees waived||Special $4.99/trade fees, annual administration fees waived|
|Other Benefits||-Dedicated client service line for Gold Members|
-Free access to FlightDesk premium service
-Priority registration to iClub members only webinars and educational events
|– Personalized service with dedicated relationship managers|
– Free access to FlightDesk premium service with full customization options
– Priority registration to iClub members only webinars and educational events
-Exclusive invitations to member appreciation events
Scotia iTrade Review: 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)
- RESP (both CAD and USD)
- Business Accounts (Sole proprietorship, corporate, partnership)
- Canadian Controlled Private Corporation (CCPC)
- Informal Trust
- Investment Club
- Trust or Estate
- Charity or Unincorporated Organization
Scotia iTrade Review: Practice Account
One of Scotia iTrade’s features that does stand out is their practice account. The Scotia iTrade Practice Account is an online trading simulator that gives you (an entirely fictional) $100,000 CAD and $100,000 USD to invest.
The practice account is a risk-free way for new investors to get used to the platform and process—and a way for more experienced investors to test out new investment strategies. We don’t see a lot of practice accounts in the DIY investing space, and we’d be happy to see them catch on.
Scotia iTrade Review: Cash Optimizer Account
The unique Scotia iTrade Cash Optimizer account is a holdover from iTrade’s origins as E*Trade. Basically, it’s a non-registered account within iTrade that allows investors to get high-interest savings account-level returns on the investment funds they have sitting in cash.
To be honest, we’re not a big fans of having a lot of cash sitting in your investing account. Either put your money to work in an investment portfolio or toss it in an actual 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: 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 Customer Service
Every time we update our Scotia iTrade review we get new comments complaining about the customer service. And it’s not just our readers, either: Scotia iTrade has 100% negative reviews on Trustpilot. Most complaints centre around wait times and app usability.
Though many of their features are robust and helpful, if you can’t use the app for basic transactions and you can’t get help when you need it, everything else fades in comparison.
Response times and mobile app functionality should be high on Scotiabank’s list of things to improve.
Scotia iTrade vs Qtrade
Now that we’ve explored Scotia iTrade in depth, it’s time for a quick comparison to our top online broker in Canada – Qtrade.
Mutual Fund Trade Fee
$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)
Bonds, Equities, ETFs, GICs, New Issues, Mutual Funds, Options
ETFs, Equities, Exchange-traded debentures, Fixed income, Mutual Funds, Options
Average mobile and online trading platform and poor app ratings
Easy to use mobile and online trading platform and moderate app ratings
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 elsewhere.
Scotia iTrade Review – Frequently Asked Questions
So, Who Is Scotiabank’s Online Trading Broker Best For?
Scotia iTrade isn’t the worst discount broker by any means. But in a field like big bank DIY brokers where the services are so similar, it’s the little things that count. And we’re not impressed by Scotia iTrade’s mobile app reviews or customer service.
While we agree with experts such as the Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick who say that Scotia iTrade is an excellent overall platform, it just doesn’t stand out from the competition, even with its practice account and iClub membership benefits.
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. You should be able to make the investments you want at a price that’s not unreasonably high.
However, if you’re looking for a simple, reliable platform with free ETF trading and lower fees in general, we recommend taking a look at Qtrade instead. Check out our full Qtrade review for more information.