Canadian Online Brokerage Review – National Bank Direct Brokerage

Canadian Discount Brokerage - National Bank Direct Brokerage

Mailing Address
1100 University Street, 7th Floor
Montréal, Québec
H3B 2G7
Phone: 1-800-363-3511
Customer Service Hours: Mon to Fri 8 am to 8 pm ET

National Bank Direct Brokerage Review

Updated on: Feb. 8, 2019
Over the course of 2013, National Bank Direct Brokerage (NBDB) made a number of upgrades to its websites (mobile and main website), pricing, customer experience and recently opened a ‘do-it-yourself investor’ zone in downtown Montréal. In addition to the numerous upgrades and initiatives, they were also the recipients of the 2013 J.D. Power Award for Investor Satisfaction among Canadian discount brokerages.
As they are a bank-owned online brokerage, National Bank Direct Brokerage (NBDB) offers the convenience of branch services as well as being able to manage other National Bank financial products with via the standard National Bank online interface.Like their peers, National Bank Direct Brokerage offers online trading in stocks, ETFs, mutual funds and bonds.

Quick Info

Standard Equity Commission $9.95
Best Commission Price $6.95
Minimum to Open Account Not Required
Maintenance/Inactivity Fees $100/year
Commission Free ETFs No

» Get Full Pricing Details

Pricing & Fees

Early in 2014, National Bank Direct Brokerage lowered their standard commission fees to $9.95. Now that NBDB has updated their pricing, what a trade commission costs with NBDB depends on the activity level of the client.
The standard equity trade commission at National Bank Direct Brokerage is $9.95 for all clients regardless of account balance. For active traders (defined as those who trade at least 30 times per quarter) commission rates range between $6.95 per equity trade and $9.95 per trade. What active traders pay depends on the price of the share, with shares at $2.00 or less being charged 0.05% of the value of the transaction (to a maximum of $9.95/trade) and shares of $2.01 or more being charged at $0.01/share (to a maximum of $9.95/trade).

An important consideration for potential NBDB clients is the inactivity/administration fees. At the end of 2013, NBDB revised their administrative fees such that individuals with at least $20,000 in combined assets by May 31st of a given year or who make at least 5 commission-generating transactions (e.g. stock, ETF or options trading) between June 1st and May 31st can have their inactivity fees waived. For those who do not meet these criteria, an annual fee of $100 is charged.

Account Types

The product offering from NBDB includes registered and non-registered accounts in which clients can trade Canadian and US stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds and options.

The registered accounts offered include tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered education savings plans (RESPs). At the time of writing, there are also plans to roll out US dollar versions of the registered accounts. For the moment, these registered accounts can accept deposits in USD and clients can trade (and hold) USD equities, however withdrawals from the account will result in a currency conversion back into CAD.

As with other brokerages, margin cannot be used with registered accounts. Options trading in registered accounts is limited to buying and selling options as well as covered calls.

In the non-registered investment account category, clients can trade with cash and margin accounts. For clients who would like to “short sell” stocks, a margin account with short selling is required.


National Bank Direct Brokerage has platforms geared towards longer term investors as well as active traders. Their standard (or “Classic”) platform is similar to most online trading platforms offered by discount brokerages.

For active traders, NBDB offers Market Q (this is from Interactive Data the same company that owns eSignal) to track stocks and to conduct advanced technical analysis. As it is built off a similar platform to eSignal, the charting and sophistication of data available is robust. While order entry is possible from within Market Q, monitoring open positions as well as win/loss and other trading stats is not.

The data feed for Market Q ranges from Level I (real time information on most major North American markets) to Level IV (market depth on TSX-V). Pricing for data for Market Q depends on a client’s activity level. Pricing for Level I quotes starts at $39/month and can go to $148/month for Level 4, for individuals trading between 0-9 trades per month. For those clients trading 100+ trades per month, Market Q data fees are waived. More information about data pricing and trading level discounts is available on the NBDB website.

Finally, National Bank Direct Brokerage also offers a mobile website which can be accessed by most mobile browsers. The essential functionality required for placing an order, managing funds and tracking order status can be conducted via the mobile website. Click the following link for our in-depth review of National Bank Direct Brokerage’s mobile website.

Reviews & Ratings

 Review What Review Measures Score Date of Ranking
Dalbar Canada Review Client Service Above Average
Above Average
January 2015
January 2014
Globe and Mail Review Overall Impression Letter Grade “B-”
Letter Grade “C+”
Letter Grade “C+”
9th out of 12
Letter Grade “C”
8th out of 12
Letter Grade “B-”
7th out of 12
Letter Grade “C”
February 2019
February 2018
December 2016
December 2016
December 2015
December 2015
November 2014
November 2014
November 2013
JD Power Review Investor Satisfaction 6th out of 8
9th out of 10
1st out of 10
1st out of 10
2nd out of 7
1st out of 11
September 2018
September 2017
September 2016
September 2015
September 2014
September 2013
MoneySense Best for ETFs Runner Up July 2017


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Home Community Canadian Online Brokerage Review – National Bank Direct Brokerage

This topic contains 11 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Niko 1 month ago.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 12 total)
  • Author
  • #10148 Reply

    Pierre Latour

    IMHO, somewhat unstable trading platform. For several weeks, they had the infamous problem not being able to cancel an order (random success actually). The site is down quite often. Very outdated. When an order is filled in several segments, they don’t provide the average share cost for you… Clearly they are not interested to lead the pack, but just want to provide the very minimum and “milk the cow” from captive clients.

    #10149 Reply


    I have verified with national bank’s brokerage branch, and as of today (February 26, 2014), keeping dividends in the US account is possible within TFSA or RRSP. Please update this information.

    #10150 Reply
    Profile photo of Sparx_Admin

    Thanks for your comment Jin. A rep from NBDB did confirm that they are working on deploying USD TFSAs and RRSPs but for the moment it is still a work in progress. According to the rep, clients can have a USD TFSA and RRSP account and they can trade in USD (including receiving dividends in USD) but for the moment if they try to withdraw from either, the funds will have to be converted into CAD. Apparently the process is 2/3 of the way there and potentially by summer 2014 things may be rolling out. Unfortunately there is no link to this on the website so those interested will have to contact an NBDB rep directly for details.

    #10050 Reply
    Profile photo of Sparx_Admin

    Early in 2014, National Bank Direct Brokerage lowered their standard commission fees to $9.95. Now that NBDB has updated their pricing, what a trade c[See the full post at:]

    • This topic was modified 4 years, 4 months ago by Profile photo of Ken Y Ken Y.
    #10051 Reply


    I will be transferring out after only 1.5 months. Website outages are ongoing (and costly in my case) Representatives who lie and won’t but anything in writing when asked.

    If asked my advice we would be to not use this broker at all but I’m only one person.

    #10052 Reply
    Profile photo of Sparx_Admin

    Thanks for your comment Brian. Outages are always a frustrating (and possibly costly) scenario to face when trading online. Unfortunately there are cases (speaking from personal experience at other brokerages too) where connectivity cuts out so it seems like no brokerage is immune to them. That said, the more time one spends in the markets or trading through the day, the more chances there are of being impacted by intermittent outages. As for the client service reps – that sounds tough. It’s usually prudent to get things in writing when conducting any transaction or making a special arrangement – did the reps give you a reason why they did not put what you were asking for in writing? Hope things improve the next go around.

    #10053 Reply


    While agree outages are a risk there has been constant login trouble followed by a complete outage.

    My trading here was exactly 3 weeks, in which I did 8 trades, This is a second account I have valued around 90k. They stalled the paperwork for a week ( and tried to deny the promotional offer so off to bad start) Transfer was quick starting in 10 days plus and extra three for the complete account including in kind stocks. I have only charged brokers twice the first was to Questrade to stop the forced conversions Etrade charged.

    Customer service when offering you something refuses to put it in writing means to me they can’t be trusted.

    Sorry to drag your site down with this review but this was my experience with them, I could very well be the exception.

    #19229 Reply

    Gee Eee

    The worst online trading site. Slow, insecure, every other day you will see the message saying sorry for inconvenience. I lost a lot because fraction of second is very important in online trading. I will transfer my money to other banks. Nbc need to invest a lot on improving the site.

    #19320 Reply


    I am so unhappy with the service of this trading platform!
    It keeps going down and it’s so slow… 2 weeks ago it was down for 3 consecutive days!
    Today it’s down and i am here to rate it down!

    Add to it the non accurate information on their website! like Falsely reporting a CEO of a company selling 75% of his shares!

    I am moving out

    #20226 Reply


    Reading the reviews above, it appears not much has changed to rectify their issues. The website problems are chronic and continue to cost me opportunities and money. I am researching other platforms to move.

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