Canadian Online Discount Brokerage Pricing Review & Comparison – Commission Fees and Funding Requirements

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Overview of Common Account Types & CIPF Membership
  3. Commission Fees and Funding Requirements
  4. Overview of Registered Accounts – Fees and Funding Requirements
  5. Overview of Mobile Trading Enabled Sites
  6. Overview of Options Commission Pricing
  7. Conclusion

Last Updated: February 2015

Commission Fees and Funding Requirements

Probably the most frequently sought after information is how much a brokerage account costs and how much money is required to open an account. The table below details the amounts required to open an account, to keep it open and the different commission rates each discount brokerage currently charges.  In our section on understanding discount brokerage pricing, this information is explained in detail.  Very briefly, at most discount brokerages how much you pay usually depends on how often you trade, the size of your order and the share price of the stock you are trading.

As we mentioned at the outset, while we strive for accuracy in our reporting, it is possible that information has changed since we’ve updated it without our knowing and it’s also possible that there may be a discrepancy between what we’ve reported and what each discount brokerage is actually offering and charging. Before making your decisions, please consult with the discount brokerages directly to verify any information you are using to make your decision.

To find out about any of the discount brokerages listed in our comparison tables, simply click on the logo and you will be taken to a detailed review of each discount brokerage. We’ve also got a current deals section to showcase promotional offers currently being advertised by discount brokerages.

CompanyMinimum Opening BalanceMinimum Account BalanceMinimum Balance for Best or Discounted CommissionMinimum Commission per Equity TradeStandard or Maximum Commission per Equity TradeMinimum Trades per Quarter for Best Commission RateInactivity or Maintenance FeesConditions for Inactivity/ Maintenance Fees
$5,000Not RequiredNot Required$9.95$9.9530 [note: this qualifies for Active Trader benefits - no change to commission price though]$25/quarterif account balance is <$10,000 or if <2 commission generating trades placed within quarter
CIBC Investors EdgeNot RequiredNot RequiredNot Required$4.95$6.95150$100/yearif account balance is less than $10,000; Fee is waived if client also has registered account (RRSP, RESP, RIF, LIRA, LIF)
Not RequiredNot RequiredNot Required$8.88$8.88Not Required$25/quarterIf client has <$15,000 across all accounts AND makes <2 trades/qtr AND is not part of preauthorized contribution plan of at least $100/mo
$10,000$1,000Not Required$5$9.95Not Required$30/quarter (Classic)
$30/month (Direct)
(Classic) nactivity fee is charged if < 6 trades executed in last 12 months and portfolio < $15,000 and no registered account is held
(Direct) Inactivity fee is charged if account is inactive for 3 months or more.
Not RequiredNot Required$500,000$6.88$9.88100$25/quarterif account balance is < $10,000, if 0 trades are made within a quarter and if client does not have registered account.
$10,000$2000 (Margin)
Not Required$1.00
[commission is $0.01/share for CDN stocks (min $1 charge/trade) and $0.005/share for US stocks (min $1 charge/trade); refers to "flat rate" pricing]
0.5% of trade value (maximum)Not Required$10/month or $20/month$10/month - commissions fee applies if < $10 in commissions generated in month and and accounts net liquidation value >= 100,000
$20/month - commissions fee applies if balance is <$2000
Not Required (for Cash Acct)
$15,000 (for Margin Acct)
Not Required (for Cash Acct)Not Required$8.99* [negotiable based on trading volumes]$19.99 (standard)30 [note: it is actually a minimum of 10 trades/month to maintain best pricing]$20/monthif 0 trades are placed in a month
Not RequiredNot RequiredNot Required$6.95$9.9530$100/yearif account balance is <$20,000 by May 31st or < 5 commission generating transactions have been made between June 1st & May 31st
$1,000$1,000$500,000$6.95$8.75150$25/quarterWaived if account balance >$25,000 or trade two times per quarter.
$1,000$250Not Required$0.01/share for all plans: $0.01 min for Advantage plan; $4.95 min standard plan$6.95 (max) for Advantage;
$9.95 (max) for standard
Not Required
[Also signing up for Questrade Advantage will get you best commission pricing]
$24.95/quarterif account balance (combined equity across all accounts) <$5000, you must make at least 1 trade per quarter. Fee waived for clients <25 years of age, charitable organizations or those with level 1 data package.
Not RequiredNot RequiredNot Required$6.95$9.95 standard for all clients150$25/quarterif total assets in all RBC Direct Investing accounts is
< $15 000;
if < 3 trades made in quarter across all RBC Direct Investing accounts;
if no PAC for combined $100/month.
For more details click here:
Not RequiredNot Required$50,000*$4.99$24.99 (standard) up to 1000 shares.
For orders > 1000 shares $0.03/share[no maximum commission charge]
150$25/quarterInactivity fee applies if no trades are made in the quarter AND account balance is less than $10 000
Not RequiredNot RequiredNot Required$7$9.99150$25/quarterThe "Custody Fee" can be waived if:
- combined household2 value in all TDDI accounts is >$15,000
-complete > 3 commissionable trades in preceding quarter
-enroll in an automatic contribution plan with $100/month or more
$1,000 (Classic)
$5,000 (Commission-free)
Not RequiredNot Required$4.99 (max) - Classic Commission
$0.00 Commission-free plan (equities only) 1
$9.99 (max) - Classic Commission
150 (Classic Commission)
$24.95/quarterInactivity fee waived if:
a) At least 1 commission-generating trade made within quarter OR
B) Consolidated holdings are >$5,000 OR
C) Client is under 26 years old OR
D) Client is a registered charity
Last Updated: Mar. 8, 2016
Notes:
1. Commission-free plan requires special trading platform and associated data plan.
2. Household accounts are defined as those TD Direct Investing
accounts for clients living in the same household, with the same
address. You must advise TD Direct Investing of these multiple
account relationships.

Next Page: Overview of Registered Accounts – Fees and Funding Requirements

4 comments

  1. Your information on Questrade re commissions is not even close to being correct. Yes, they say $9.95 per trade but that is garbage. How about you dig beyond the posted hype and find out that on all trades with TSX and TSX-V (and other exchanges as far as I know) there are additional charges they hide in the small print that make commissions be not $9.95 but much much more.

    Out of hundreds of trades I have done last year, I bet I only had a few with a $9.95 charge. All the rest were much more…
    and they have not changed anything since then… total ripoff. I am closing my accounts with them. I got screwed by the fine print.

    Don’t believe me… ask them about the additional EXCHANGE & ECN FEES that take that bull crap $9.95 fee automatically up to $17, $50 or more on trades of $5000 or $8000.
    $9.95??? Bull crap.

    • Profile photo of Sparx_Admin

      Thanks for your comments. Sorry to hear you got burnt on extra fees per trade. I think you make some important points for all investors to consider, especially when it comes to the impact of ECN and/or exchange fees. First, however, the standard fees listed on the above table are those from Questrade.

      The ECN/exchange fees should only be incurred when removing liquidity from a market, most commonly when market orders are used. Questrade does label this on their commissions page as well as on their ECN/Exchange Fee page (here). Could it be stated more clearly on their part when it comes to charges? Perhaps, however if there is a lesson to DIY investing, regardless of the brokerage, it’s to read the fine print.

      Another important point you raise is monitoring costs within your account. When you state that you’ve made hundreds of trades, are commissions something you have closely monitored? If not, they can have a major impact on a per trade basis. Further, it is just good practice to frequently monitor the transactions occurring on your account. The more frequently you are checking your account, the quicker you can detect any discrepancies and correct them.

      While it clearly has been an unpleasant surprise for you to have incurred these fees, your trading activity level might be something you point out to Questrade, they may be open to discussing some way to have you stay aboard as a client. If you are intent on switching brokerages for one that caps ALL trading fees (including ECN and exchange fees; additional fees) be sure to verify that they do offer truly FLAT pricing (including for market orders or those orders that remove liquidity).

  2. Agreed with @PhilipJames. I used to trade with questrade until i found out about ECN fees. The ECN fees really changes the trading costs when you are trading penny stocks as volume becomes much greater. Even though i put in trades that does not remove liquidity (ie, putting in limit orders) i would still get dinged ECN fees. I didn’t bother to call them on this as i tried several times to reach their call center without success. There were multiple times when i heard someone pick up the phone but no one was talking to me, and i could still hear noise on their end of the line. But i digress.

    ECN fees can make your trades on penny stocks on AVERAGE $50 to $90 per trade. This is HUGE if you consider most brokerages charge $5 – $8 flat trade fee.
    I’ve switched to CIBC Investor’s Edge for a flat fee regardless of volume and have saved hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars on my trades since i’m an active penny stock trader. The only good thing I can say about Questrade is their platform is nice and has all the features you want. However, their insane ECN fees, poor customer service, and unreliable networks really make it an overall terrible brokerage to trade with. I wouldn’t recommend Questrade to anyone. Just my 2 cents.

    • Thanks for the input on Questrade. I was thinking of them and had not yet calculated what impact the ECN fees would have on me.
      I plan on doing multiple in and out trades of penny stocks. Sounds like those fees would have killed me. Used Scotia Direct in the past and it looks to me like their pricing hasn’t improved.

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