*Updated April 14* Even though this is technically April Fool’s Day, the pullback in deals is no laughing matter. After a very busy March in which there were as many as 35 deals in play, April kicks off with a more modest 24 live deals. The bigger story, however, is recognizing that now might not be the best timing for brokerages to be on the sidelines.
Having compared online brokerage deals & promotions for several years now, there is clearly some seasonality at play. Last year, for example, the transition from March to April saw the deal count drop from 33 to 19.
Discount brokerage deals and promotions typically ramp up at the beginning of a new year and crest heading into the RRSP contribution deadline at the beginning of March, after which things slowly subside.
Coming into 2017, however, it was noteworthy that several online brokerages had launched their major promotional pushes just before the end of 2016, signaling a much fiercer competitive environment for attracting new clientele.
And, although the start of April begins with a major contraction in offers, it is also interesting to see that competitive forces are still at play in the early part of 2017.
While we can’t be certain of the timing of this change, National Bank Direct Brokerage quietly lowered their minimum transfer deposit requirement from $25,000 to $20,000 for individuals to receive a transfer fee credit. The majority of Canadian online brokerages have set the bar at $25,000 to qualify for the transfer fee credit to apply so this move from NBDB might be enough to tip a few competitors to do the same.
Another interesting development at the outset of a new month is absence of special offers listed on the Scotia iTRADE ‘special offers’ page.
Along with BMO InvestorLine, Scotia iTRADE has been a stalwart of the deals race, typically running promotions to attract new clients. Interestingly, the ‘refer-a-friend’ and the ‘Start Right’ offers appear to have been labeled as “programs” (in the Fees section) rather than being listed under the special offers section. The same is true for their ‘buck-a-bond’ offer, which has been a fixture of previous special offer sections.
The restructuring of Scotia iTRADE’s deals could be a consequence of the new website organization but for DIY investors looking for an incentive, this change has made it less clear that there are offers available.
On the surface, it seems that running offers/promotions when DIY investors are in the market for opening an account makes sense. It’s why retailers concentrate their efforts around big shopping dates in the calendar year. Unlike retail, however, the reality is that DIY investors, especially those on the margins, might be driven more by the investment climate than by seasonal deadlines.
With our own internal data showing steady DIY investor interest, markets trading at all-time highs and economic forecasts flashing green, there’s a case to be made that there’s no better time for brokerages to be offering up more promotions rather than less. If investors are coming back to the markets, it will be interesting to see just how long brokerages are going to sit this opportunity out. Stay tuned.
*Update: April 3 – BMO InvestorLine has retired their winter promotion and replaced it with a new offer (see below).*
There were 12 deals that expired at one point or another during March. Here’s a list of the deals that didn’t make it into April (as of April 1st):
- CIBC Investor’s Edge – Cash back promotion
- Credential Direct – Cash back promotion
- HSBC InvestDirect – 50 commission-free equity trades
- National Bank Direct Brokerage – Cash back promotion
- Qtrade Investor – Cash back promotion
- RBC Direct Investing – Pay with points promotion
- Scotia iTRADE – Travel points promotion
- Scotia iTRADE – Transfer fee promotion
- Scotia iTRADE – Visa Gift Card promotion
- TD Direct Investing – 200 commission-free trade promotion
- Virtual Brokers – $10,000 commission rebate offer
- Virtual Brokers – 5i Research Subscription Offer
No deals that were set to expire at the end of March have been extended (as of time of publication).
*Update: April 14 – Qtrade Investor is once again offering their transfer promotion which lowers the minimum deposit amount required to qualify for covering transfer fees from $25,000 to $10,000. This is the most competitive transfer fee offer currently available from a Canadian online brokerage. See table below for more details.*
*Update: April 3 – BMO InvestorLine has introduced a very competitive cash back or commission-free trade deal for DIY investors. For deposits of at least $100,000, eligible individuals can receive either $200 cash back or 20 commission-free trades; for deposits of at least $250,000, eligible individuals can receive either $1,000 cash back or 100 commission free trades. According to the terms and conditions for this deal, the eligible account types are cash or margin (individual or joint) accounts, corporate accounts, sole proprietorship accounts, RRSP and spousal RRSP accounts.*
No new deals or promotions to report (as of time of publication).
Discount Brokerage Deals
- Cash Back/Free Trade/Product Offer Promotions
- Referral Promotions
- Transfer Fee Promotions
- Contests & Other Offers
Cash Back/Free Trade/Product Offer Promotions
|Company||Brief Description||Minimum Deposit Amount||Commission/Cash Offer/Promotion Type||Time Limit to Use Commission/Cash Offer||Details Link||Deadline|
|A Sparx Trading exclusive offer! Use the promo code "Sparx Trading" when signing up for a new account with Jitneytrade and receive access to their preferred pricing package.||n/a||Discounted Commission Rates||none||For more details click here||none|
|Open and fund a new account (TFSA, Margin or RRSP) with at least $1,000 and you may be eligible to receive 5 commission-free trades. Use promo code 5FREETRADES when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions carefully.||$1,000||5 commission-free trades||60 days||5 commission-free trade offer||December 31, 2017|
|Open and fund a new registered account at Virtual Brokers with at least A) $5,000; B) $25,000; or C) $50,000+ in new assets and you may be eligible to receive A) $30; B) $50; C) $100 cash back. Use promo code RRSPCB2017 when signing up. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details.||A) $5,000 - $24,999|
B) $25,000 - $49,999
|Cash back will be deposited just after October 31, 2017||RSP cash back bonus||April 30, 2017|
|Open and fund a new account at Virtual Brokers with at least $5,000 and you may be eligible to receive 2 months of commission-free equity trading and a $250 USD/mo credit towards Edge Trader Pro for 2 months. Use promo code 2MFREE2017 at sign up to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for details.||$5,000||2 months commission-free equity trading + $250 USD/mo platform fee rebate.||2 months||2 months free trading||April 30, 2017|
|Desjardins Online Brokerage is offering new clients 1% of assets transferred into the new account in the form of commission credits (to a maximum value of $1,000). Minimum qualifying deposit is $10,000. To qualify, individuals will have to call 1-866-873-7103 and mention promo code DisnatFlex or email: email@example.com. See details link for more info.||$10,000||1% of assets transferred in the form of commission-credits (max credits: $1,000)||6 months||Disnat 1% Commission Credit Promo||April 28, 2017|
|Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine or fund a qualifying existing account, with at least A) $100,000 or B) $250,000+ in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive A) $200 cash back or 20 commission-free trades; B) $1,000 cash back or 100 commission-free trades. Use promo code CASH when signing up for cash back offer or TRADES to be eligible for commission-free equity trade offer. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer.||A) $100,000 - $249,999|
|A) Cash back: $200 OR 20 commission-free trades|
B) Cash back: $1,000 OR 100 commission-free trades.
|Cash back will be deposited the week of January 8, 2018.|
Commission-free equity trades are eligible for use up to August 6, 2017.
|Cash back or Free trade offer||June 5, 2017|
|Open a new qualifying account with BMO InvestorLine, and fund it with at least A) $100,000; B) $200,000 or C) $300,000+ in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive A) $200; B) $400 or C) $750 cash back. Use promo code PROMO750 when signing up to be eligible. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer.||A) $100,000 - $199,999|
B) $200,000 - $299,999
|Cash back bonus|
|Cash back will be deposited the week of November 6, 2017.||2017 Winter Campaign *Expired*||April 2, 2017 *Expired*|
|Last Updated: April 22, 2017 01:00 PT|
|Company||Brief Description||Minimum Deposit Amount||Incentive Structure||Time Limit to Use Commission/Cash Offer Deposit||Details Link||Deadline|
|Refer a friend to Questrade and when they open an account you receive $25 cash back and they receive either A) $25; B) $50; C) $75; D) $100; or E) $250 depending on the amount deposited amount. Enter code: 476104302388759 during account sign up to qualify. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for eligibility and additional bonus payment structure and minimum balance requirements.||A) $1,000 - $9,999|
B) $10,000 - $24,999
C) $25,000 - $49,999
D) $50,000 -$99,999
|$25 cash back (for referrer per referral; $50 bonus cash back for every 3rd referral)|
For referred individuals:
A) $25 cash back
B) $50 cash back
C) $75 cash back
D) $100 cash back
E) $250 cash back
|Cash deposited into Questrade billing account within 7 days after funding period ends (90 days)||Refer a friend terms and conditions Code Number: 476104302388759||none|
|If you refer a friend/family member who is not already a Scotia iTrade account holder to them, both you and your friend get a bonus of either cash or free trades. You have to use the referral form to pass along your info as well as your friend/family members' contact info in order to qualify. There are lots of details/conditions to this deal so be sure to read the details link.||A) $10,000|
|A) You(referrer): $50 or 10 free trades; Your "Friend": $50 or 10 free trades (max total value:$99.90)|
B) You(referrer): $100 cash or 50 free trades; Your "Friend": $100 cash or 50 free trades (max total value: $499.50)
|60 days||Refer A Friend to Scotia iTrade||tbd|
|If you (an existing BMO InvestorLine client) refer a new client to BMO InvestorLine and they open an account with at least $50,000 the referrer and the referee may both be eligible to receive $50 cash. To qualify the referee must use the email of the referrer that is linked to their BMO InvestorLine account. See terms and conditions for full details.||$50,000||You(referrer): $50; Your Friend(referee): $50||Payout occurs 45 days after minimum 90 day holding period(subject to conditions).||BMO InvestorLine Refer-a-Friend||June 30, 2017|
|Last Updated: April 1, 2017 14:30 PT|
Transfer Fee Promotions
|Company||Brief Description||Maximum Transfer Fee Coverage Amount||Minimum Deposit Amount for Transfer Fee Eligibility||Details Link||Deadline|
|Transfer $15,000 or more to RBC Direct Investing and they will pay up to $135 in transfer fees||$135||$15,000||Transfer Fee Rebate Details||none|
|Transfer $20,000 or more to a National Bank Direct Brokerage account and they will pay up to $135 plus taxes in transfer fees||$135||$20,000||Transfer Fee Rebate||none|
|Transfer $25,000 or more from another brokerage and Credential Direct will cover up to $150 in transfer fees. Use promo code SWITCHME when signing up to qualify for the transfer promotion.||$150||$25,000||Credential Direct Transfer Fee Rebate||none|
|Transfer $10,000 or more to Qtrade Investor from another brokerage and Qtrade Investor may cover up to $150 in transfer fees. See terms and conditions for more details.||$150||$10,000||Transfer Fee Rebate||May 11, 2017|
|Move your brokerage account to Questrade and they'll cover the transfer-out fee up to $150.||$150||$25,000||Transfer Fee Promo||none|
|Transfer at least $25,000 or more in new assets to TD Direct Investing when opening a new account and you may qualify to have transfer fees reimbursed up to $150. Be sure to contact TD Direct Investing for further details.||$150||$25,000||Contact client service for more information (1-800-465-5463).||none|
|Transfer $25,000 or more to Virtual Brokers and they may cover up to $150 in transfer fees.||$150||$25,000||Transfer Fee promo||tbd|
|Transfer $25,000 or more into a CIBC Investor's Edge account and they will reimburse up to $135 in brokerage transfer fees. Clients must call customer service to request rebate after transfer made.||$135||$25,000||Confirmed with reps. Contact client service for more information (1-800-567-3343).||none|
|Disnat is offering up to $150 to cover the cost of transfer fees from another institution. To be eligible, new/existing clients need to deposit $50,000 into a Disnat account. You'll have to call 1-866-873-7103 and mention promo code DisnatFlex. See details link for more info.||$150||$50,000||Disnat 1% Commission Credit Promo||April 28, 2017|
|Last Updated: April 14, 2017 23:30 PT|
|Company||Brief Description||Minimum Deposit Amount Required||Details Link||Deadline|
|Credential Direct has partnered with Trend Micro to offer 50% off Trend Micro Titanium Internet Security. Use code "TrendCF" at checkout.||n/a||Trend Micro Special Offer Code||none|
|Desjardins Online Brokerage, in conjunction with MoneyTalks, is offering 3 months of the "Inside Edge" investor information service to Desjardins Online Brokerage clients. Use promo code DESJ2016 during checkout to qualify. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for more information.||n/a||MoneyTalks Inside Edge Discount||none|
|Desjardins Online Brokerage is offering $50 in commission credits for new Disnat Classic clients depositing at least $1,000. See terms and conditions for full details.||$1,000||Broker@ge 18-30 Promotion||none|
|Scotiabank StartRight customers can receive 10 commission-free trades when investing $1,000 or more in a new Scotia iTrade account. Trades are good for use for up to 1 year from the date the account is funded. Use promo code SRPE15 when applying (in English) or SRPF15 when applying in French. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for full details.||$1,000||StartRight Free Trade offer||none|
|Open a new account with Virtual Brokers with a deposit of at least $1,000 (for the Classic Commission Account) and you may be eligible to win a $250 gift card to the Apple store. Use promo code 250AGC2017 during sign up to be eligible. Residents of Quebec are not eligible for this contest. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details.||$1,000 (Classic Commission Account)||$250 Apple Gift Card Draw||April 30, 2017|
|Last Updated: April 1, 2017 14:30 PT|