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 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.
- Great all-in-one solution
- Ideal for day traders
- Excellent desktop platform
- Well known and trusted company
- 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.
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|
|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|
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 Broker||Per Transaction Cost to Buy ETFs||Per Transaction Cost to Sell ETFs|
|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)
- RESP (both CAD and USD)
- Canadian Controlled Private Corporation (CCPC)
- Informal Trust
- Investment Club
- Trust or Estate
- Charity or Unincorporated Organization
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.
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.
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 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.