Canadian Online Discount Broker – National Bank Direct Brokerage

Canadian Discount Brokerage - National Bank Direct Brokerage

Contact Information

Phone: 1-800-363-3511



1100 University Street 7th floor
Montréal, Québec H3B 2G7

Customer Service Hours of Operation:
Mon to Fri 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET

National Bank Direct Brokerage – Review of Pricing

(updated Feb 28/14)

Over the course of 2013, National Bank Direct Brokerage made a number of upgrades to its websites (mobile and main website), pricing and customer experience. In addition to the upgrades to its site, they were also the recipients of the J.D. Power Award for Investor Satisfaction for Canadian discount brokerages.

As with other bank-owned discount brokerages, National Bank Direct Brokerage (NBDB) offers the convenience of branch services as well as being able to manage other personal financial products with National Bank via the back end.

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).  Unfortunately for clients, there are no US dollar versions of the registered accounts available so it is important to account for foreign exchange conversion costs when buying and selling stocks in US dollars. 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.

Now that NBDB has updated their standard commission pricing, how much 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 now $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, a fee of $100 is charged.

The Bottom Line

With their recent price adjustment, National Bank Direct Brokerage is on par with other bank-owned discount brokerages in terms of standard commission pricing on equity and options pricing. While NBDB offers preferred pricing for active traders and the threshold to qualify for active status is low, trade commissions can still range from $6.95 to $9.95 per trade.   In terms of additional fees, even though there are no minimums to open or maintain an account, there are fees associated with balances in registered accounts (like TFSAs, RESPs and RRSPs) and non-registered accounts that are below a combined value of $20,000.  In addition, currency conversion fees levied when trading US dollar listed securities should be factored into the cost of trading through NBDB.

Account Types OfferedFunding Requirements and FeesRegistered Account Types and Fees
TFSAMinimum Opening BalanceNot RequiredTFSAAnnual Charge$100 per year (if account is <$20 000 or if <5 commission generating transactions done between June 1st & May 31st)
RRSPMinimum Account BalanceNot RequiredTransfer Out$150
RESPMinimum Balance for Best or Discounted CommissionNot RequiredWithdrawals$0
CashMinimum Commission per Equity Trade6.95US Dollar Account
Margin ShortMaximum/Standard Commission per Equity Trade9.95RRSPAnnual Charge$100 (if account is <$20 000 as of May 31st or if <5 commission generating transactions done between June 1st & May 31st)
Margin OptionsMinimum Trades per Quarter for Best Commission Rate30Transfer Out$150
CIPF MemberInactivity or Maintenance Fees$100/yearUS Dollar Account
Conditions for Inactivity/Maintenance Fees$100 per year (if account is <$20,000 or if <5 commission generating transactions done between June 1st & May 31st)RESPAnnual Charge$100 per year (if account is <$20 000 or if <5 commission generating transactions done between June 1st & May 31st)
Transfer Out150
US Dollar Account
Last updated: Mar. 8, 2016

National Bank Website Links:

Here are some useful links to important information on National Bank’s website.

Discount Broker Customer Survey Ratings by J.D. Power:
Link to 2013 online broker ratings by the Globe and Mail:

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Home Community Canadian Online Brokerage Review – National Bank Direct Brokerage

This topic contains 13 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  freeEtf 9 months, 2 weeks ago.

Viewing 10 posts - 1 through 10 (of 14 total)
  • Author
  • #26793 Reply


    National Bank Direct Brokerage provides free ETF trading not only for Canadian ETF but also US ETF. Why no other people mention that?

    #26604 Reply

    Jay J

    By far one of the worst brokerages to deal with. I’ve traded with almost every brokerage in Canada. Horrible customer service. Constant outages on their website. Customer service hours are not ideal unless you live back East. Had their system crash on my several times causing me to miss trades with no compensation or acknowledgement of their mistakes. Much better firms to choose. They had a tempting offer initially to transfer my accts over, but ended costing me much more in missed trades.

    #25970 Reply


    CIBC has better commission fee its a flat 6.95$ fee compared to 9,995$ with the National Bank

    #21736 Reply

    June / John Lamphier

    My wife has turned 70 in June this year.How must we change her Spousal RRSP trading account to a RRIF before the end of 2018.We do not have a local Nat. Bk. in our town.We have been doing everything on line for the past years. Thank You. John & June Lamphier

    #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.

    #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

    #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.

    #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.

    #10052 Reply


    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.

    #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.

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