Discount Brokerage Deals and Promotions – January 2015

*Updated Jan 26/15* Welcome to 2015! For many, the start of a new year is the time to mark a new beginning. For Canada’s online brokerages, however, the theme coming into January isn’t so much about being new as it is about being present.

While many of the deals and promotions listed in December were poised to expire at the end of the month, it appears that they would ‘expire another day’.   Curiously, of the 5 6 offers that were extended out into 2015 only the offer from Scotia iTrade (their 100 free trade offer) had its expiry date bumped to January 9th. Whether this is a clue to something possibly coming soon or simply a strange mini-extension, the good news is that it won’t be too long till we find out.

At the outset of January there is one new offer added into the mix, once again from Questrade. Their newest offer (see below for more details) is a commission-free trading offer aimed at clients with deposits of $25,000 or more. Another offer that landed mid-December that warrants mentioning is National Bank Direct Brokerage’s sizeable cash back offer – interestingly aimed at depositors with at least $20,000. Interestingly, brokerages competing for deposits of $20,000 to $25,000 include CIBC Investor’s Edge, NBDB and, now, Questrade.

As the holidays and vacations wear off, and the ramp up to RRSP season begins, we anticipate seeing some major activity from the various discount brokerages. Be sure to check back again throughout January as we monitor the developments with various deals and promotions.

*Update: BMO InvestorLine has extended their tablet app free-trade offer deadline to February 26th. Their ‘smile’ promotion is still scheduled to expire January 18th.

Expired Deals

At the time of writing, there are four offers that officially expired going into January:

  • RBC Direct Investing’s 20 commission-free trade offer
  • Questrade’s 30 free trade offer
  • Questrade’s $250/$100 cash back offer
  • Scotia iTrade’s $500 cash back (or 500 free trade) offer
  • *Update Jan 22/15* BMO InvestorLine’s “Smile Promotion” $250 cash back offer

Extended Deals

Rather than let them slip into history, Canadian discount brokerages sought to extend the shelf life of several big offers, some well into 2015 and others just over a week. Here’s the list of extended offers:

  • Scotia iTrade’s refer-a-friend offer extended to March 15th
  • BMO InvestorLine youth offer extended to March 31st
  • *Update Jan 5/15* BMO InvestorLine tablet app offer extended to February 26th
  • Questrade $50 prepaid Visa offer extended to February 27th
  • Scotia iTrade 100 free trade offer extended to January 9th
  • Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat) $300 commission credit offer extended to March 31st

 New Deals

The only new promotion for January by a Canadian discount brokerage was one launched by Questrade. Specifically their “new year’s” offer enables qualified clients to have 25 commission-free trades which are eligible for use throughout the year. Unlike many commission-free trade offers which have a shelf life of anywhere between 30 and 90 days, this offer is unique given how long clients have to use the commission-free trades (the deadline to use the free trades is December 31st 2015). While the number of trades is not necessarily as high as other offerings, the length of time to use the trades stands out. The caveat, however, is that there is a minimum deposit of at least $25,000 required to qualify. See the table below for additional details.

*Update Jan 11/15* Questrade has just added two additional offers (see below). For one of their offers, they are bringing back the unlimited commission-free trade promotions which last from one to three months depending on the deposit made. The other offer (the “Multi Leg” promotion) enables qualified clients to trade up to 100 trades commission-free.

*Update Jan 12/15*

  • Questrade has resurrected their iPad Mini offer in time for RSP season.  For a deposit of $100,000 or more, individuals can be eligible to receive an iPad Mini 2 (16GB, wi-fi only). In order to receive the iPad Mini, individuals have to fund their account and make at least one commission-generating trade. For more information see the table below.
  • Scotia iTrade has launched a massive offer on the heels of their previous deal expiry.  Scotia iTrade is now offering a modified cash back or commission-credit promotion for deposits from $15,000 to $1,000,000 – yes that’s not a typo.  Scotia iTrade is now the only brokerage to scale up the promotional offers beyond the $250,000 ceiling of other brokerages and with this latest promotion they’ve topped their previous offer (500 trades for $500,000).  The current offer actually goes beyond just commission rebates or cash back, there is also a 90 day free use of their platform (FlightDesk) and a free 2 day educational seminar with their education partner Larry Berman.  The list of terms and conditions for this offer is quite extensive so be sure to read it fully if you’re considering the deal. Some particulars to pay attention to are the rebate period for commission credits (180 days) and minimum balance requirements.
  • RBC Direct Investing has also stepped into the deal arena with a commission-rebate offer.  The promotion enables qualified applicants to receive 20 commission-free (commission fees will be rebated) trades that are good for use for up to one year.  One of the highlights of this offer is that no minimum deposit is required in order to qualify.  See table below for further details.

*Update Jan 16/15*

  • Qtrade has launched a new RRSP-themed contest.  Individuals opening (and funding) or contributing to an RSP account with at least $2,000 by March 2nd, 2015 could be eligible to win a $500 contribution to their account each month for a year.  Given that this is a contest, it is not listed in the table below however for full details, click the terms and conditions link here.  One thing to consider of course is the eligible contribution room within your RRSP to receive the extra top up.
  • Questrade has launched yet another offer, making them the brokerage offering the most promotions this month. Their latest DIY investing offering is a tiered offer unlimited commission-free trading depending on the amount deposited. For deposits of $50,000 or more, Questrade is offering up to three months of commission-free trading; for $25,000 – $49,999 Questrade is offering two months of commission-free trading and for $1,000, individuals can be eligible for one month of commission-free trading.  See the table below for more details.
  • Virtual Brokers has stepped back into the deals & promotions space by offering an RRSP-themed offer. Individuals who deposit at least $5,000 in new equity can qualify to receive 50 commission-free equity trades. For deposits of $10,000 in new equity, Virtual Brokers is offering 100 commission-free equity trades.  This is one of the most competitive commission-free offers for the deposit levels. See the table below for more details.

*Update Jan 22/15*

  • BMO InvestorLine has replaced their $250 cash back offer (the Smile Promotion) with a new RSP-focused promotion with a higher cash back component. Like the promotion it is replacing, the latest offer from BMO InvestorLine (live as of Jan 19/15) requires a deposit of at least $100,000 to qualify. Individuals who qualify for this promotion can receive $300 cash back. See the table below for additional details and deadlines.
  • HSBC InvestDirect is now also offering up its own RSP season themed offer.  In their case, the deal appears to have gone line early in January but has only recently made it onto their website.  The offer states that eligible clients can receive up to 50 commission-free equity trades which are good for up to 88 calendar days.  It is noteworthy that the commission-free trades apply to equity/ETF trades and not to options or fixed-income trades. Also, according to the terms and conditions there is no minimum deposit required nor is there a stated promo code. See table below for more details.

*Update Jan 26/15*

  • One of Canada’s largest online brokerages, TD Direct Investing, has now also jumped into the deals pool this month.  Their latest commission-rebate offer features trading commission rebates on three tiers of deposits.  For deposits of between $25,000 – $49,999 eligible accounts receive up to 50 commission-free trades; for deposits of $50,000 – $99,999, eligible accounts can receive up to 100 commission-free trades and for deposits of $100,000 or more, up to 200 trades may be rebated. This offer applies to equity and options trades.  See table below for additional information.

Discount Brokerage Deals

CompanyBrief DescriptionMinimum Deposit AmountCommission/Cash Offer/Promotion TypeTime Limit to Use Commission/Cash OfferDetails LinkDeadline
Jitney TradeA Sparx Trading exclusive offer! Use the promo code "Sparx Trading" when signing up for a new account with Jitney and receive access to their preferred pricing package and a massive 45% discount on the Real Tick trading platform.n/aDiscounted Commission RatesnoneFor more details click here none
Open a new account with HSBC InvestDirect and you could be eligible to receive up to 50 commission-free equity/ETF trades for 88 calendar days. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details.n/a50 commission-free trades88 days (payout for rebate is within 90 days of end of free trade period) HSBC InvestDirect 2015 Winter Offer March 2, 2015
BMO InvestorLineFor individuals between 18 and 35 who open a new qualifying account with BMO Investorline, they may be eligible to receive 35 commission-free trades, an eBook on investing and potentially waived account minimum fees. Use promo code "New" when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more details on the offer. n/a35 commission-free trades90 days Youth Promotion March 31, 2015
Open a new qualifying account with RBC Direct Investing and you may be eligible to receive up to 20 commission-free trades. A promotion code is required for this offer; click on the the link for the promotional page to generate a code. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details on this offer.n/a20 commission-free trades1 year Terms & Conditions & RBC Direct Investing Trade Free for 1 Year Promotion Page March 2, 2015
BMO InvestorLineDownload the BMO InvestorLine iPad app and you could qualify for up to 5 commission-free trades. This offer is open to new and existing clients and can be combined with other offers. Clients must have a qualifying account in order to be eligible. Read full terms and conditions for details.n/a5 commission-free trades ($50 max value)30 days Tablet Trades Promotion February 26, 2015
Open a new account (TFSA, Margin or RRSP) and receive $50 commission credit . Use promo code: kdkfnbbc$1,000$50 commission credit
nonenonenone
Refer a friend to Questrade and when they open an account you receive $100 and they receive $50. To receive this deal you must be an existing client with an equity account and refer a person that does not reside with you and who has not previously opened a Questrade account.$1,000$50 commission credit (friend)
$100 commission credit (referrer bonus)
60 days Refer a friend none
Open and fund a qualifying account (TFSA, Cash/Margin or RRSP) at Questrade with at least A) $1,000 or B) $10,000 and you may be eligible to receive A) 10 or B) 100 commission-free trades. Use promo code 100FREEML15W when registering. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for this offer.A) $1,000
B) $10,000
A) 10 commission-free trades
B) 100 commission-free trades
60 daysMulti-leg Offer February 27, 2015
Open a new TFSA, margin or registered account with Questrade and deposit at least A) $1,000 B) $25,000 or C) $50,000 to receive either A) 30 days B) 60 days or C) 90 days of unlimited commission-free stock & options trades. Use promo code UNLIMITEDW15 when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more information. A) $1,000
B) $25,000
C) $50,000
Unlimited commission-free trades during associated period.A) 30 days
B) 60 days
C) 90 days
Questrade Unlimited Trading Offer March 2, 2015
Open a new TFSA, margin or registered account with Questrade and deposit at least A) $1,000 B) $25,000 or C) $50,000 to receive either A) 30 days B) 60 days or C) 90 days of unlimited commission-free stock & options trades. Use promo code UNLIMITEDRSP when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for more information. A) $1,000
B) $25,000
C) $50,000
Unlimited commission-free trades during associated period.A) 30 days
B) 60 days
C) 90 days
Questrade RRSP Promotion March 2, 2015
Open a new account (TFSA, Margin, RRSP or FX/CFD) and place at least one trade within 60 days of opening and you may be eligible to receive a $50 prepaid Visa card from Questrade. Use promo code VISA50. Be sure to read terms and conditions for full details on this offer$5,000$50 Visa gift cardCards will be mailed within 40 business days of reaching account funding requirement. $50 Prepaid Visa Card Offer February 27, 2015
Open and fund a new account with at least A) $5,000 or B)$10,000 in net new equity and you may be eligible to receive A) 50 or B) 100 commission-free trades. Use promo code "RRSP15" when signing up for an account to qualify. Be sure to read the terms and conditions of the offer for full details. A)$5,000 - $9,999
B)$10,000+
A) 50 commission-free trades
B) 100 commission-free trades
(max commission per trade $6.49)
Trades must be used by September 30, 2015 (commissions to be rebated by October 2015) RRSP Free Trade Promotion February 27, 2015
Scotia iTradeIf 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
B)$50,000+
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 daysRefer A Friend to Scotia iTrade March 15, 2015
Scotia iTradeOpen and fund a new Scotia iTRADE account with at least A) $15,000 - $49,999, B)$50,000 - $99,999, C)$100,000 - $249,000, D) $250,000 - $499,999, E) $500,000 - $999,999, or F) $1,000,000+ and you may be eligible to receive a corresponding cash-back or commission rebate. For commission-free trades use code: WTT15 or for cash rebates use code: DL5RP. Be sure to read the terms and conditions carefully for rebate and cash back eligibility. This offer also includes a free 'swing trading' course with Larry Berman and 90 days free of FlightDesk.A)$15,000 - $49,999
B)$50,000 - $99,999
C)$100,000 - $249,000
D)$250,000 - $499,999
E)$500,000 - $999,999
F)$1,000,000+
A) 50 commission-free trades OR $50 cash
B) 100 commission-free trades OR $100 cash
C) 250 commission-free trades OR $250
D) 350 commission-free trades OR $350
E) 500 commission-free trades OR $500
F) 1000 commission-free trades OR $1000
180 days for commission-free trades
Cash back to be deposited by November 30, 2015.
1000 Free Trade Offer March 31, 2015
Open a new account and fund it with at least (A) $20,000 or (B)$100,000 and NBDB may provide up to (A) $500 or (B) $1,000 in commission rebates for qualifying accounts. Use promo code "CashBack2015" when signing up. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for eligibility and refund dates.A)$20,000 - $99,999
B)$100,000+
A)$500 commission rebate
B)$1,000 commission rebate
90 days (rebate of commissions depends on sign up date and is outlined on terms/conditions) Cash Back Offer March 31, 2015
Open a new account with TD Direct Investing with at least A) $25,000 B) $50,000 or C) $100,000 and you may be eligible to receive rebates on up to A) 50 B) 100 or C) 200 equity and/or options trades. Be sure to read full terms and conditions A) $25,000 - $49,999
B) $50,000 - $99,999
C) $100,000+
A) 50 commission-free trades
B) 100 commission-free trades
C) 200 commission-free trades
60 days (commission rebates to be issued on Aug. 15/2015) TD Direct Investing Free Trade Promotion March 27, 2015
Open a new account or fund an existing account at CIBC Investor's Edge with at least A)$25,000-$49,999 B)$50,000 - $99,999 or C)$100,000+ and you may be eligible to receive A)$100 cash back and 25 free trades; B)$200 cash back and 50 trades or C)$300 cash back and 100 free trades. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for full details on this offer. A) $25,000 - $49,999
B) $50,000 - $99,999
C) $100,00+
A) $100 cash back + 25 commission-free trades
B) $200 cash back + 50 commission-free trades
C) $300 cash back + 100 commission-free trades
Cash back payout occurs within 30 days of account funding; Time limit to use commission free trades is 60 daysInvestors Edge Cash Back and Free Equity Trades Offer February 28, 2015
Open a new account (TFSA, Margin, RRSP) with at least $25,000 and you may be eligible to receive 25 trades commission free. Use promo code TRADEFREE2015 when signing up to qualify. Be sure to read the terms and conditions for details on this offer.$25,00025 commission-free trades (commissions rebated within 10 days of trade)Trades may be used up until December 31st 2015.Trade Free For a Year Offer January 30, 2015
DisnatDisnat is offering new & existing clients $300 in commission credits which can be used for up to 6 months. To be eligible, new/existing clients need to deposit $50,000 into a Disnat account. You'll have to call 1 800 268-8471 and mention promo code Disnat300. See details link for more info.$50,000$300 commission credit6 monthsDisnat $300 Commission Credit PromoMarch 31, 2015
BMO InvestorLineIf you refer a new client to BMO InvestorLine and they open an account with a)$50,000 - $249,999 or b)$250,000+ the referrer and the referee will both receive cash. The new account must be opened with the referral code specific to the referrer. A) $50,000 - $249,000
B) $250,000+
A) You(referrer): $200; Your Friend(referee): $50
B) You(referrer): $300; Your Friend: $100
Payout occurs after 60 days (subject to conditions).Contact InvestorLine for full terms and conditions.October 30, 2015
BMO InvestorLineOpen and fund a new qualifying account at BMO InvestorLine with at least $100,000 in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive $300 cash back. Use the promo code RSP2015 when signing up for the account. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for eligibility and further details.$100,000$300 cash backPayout occurs after 6 months RSP 2015 Promotion March 31, 2015
Open a new TFSA, margin or registered account with Questrade and deposit at least $100,000 to be eligible to receive an iPad mini. Use promo code IPADMINI15Q2 when signing up. Read the terms and conditions for more information about eligibility. $100,000iPad Mini 2 (16gb wi-fi only) [retail value ~$370 including taxes]iPad Mini will be sent within 60 days of account being funded and 1 commission-generating trade being placed. iPad Mini Offer March 13, 2015
Expired Offers: The following offers have expired this month and are shown for reference only.
Scotia iTradeOpen and fund a new Scotia iTRADE account with at least $15,000 before December 31, 2014 and the commissions associated with your first 100 trades placed within 60 days of the date the account is activated and funded are free. Also, the new FlightDesk platform is being offered for free for 60 days. Use promo code HUN-SP. See details link for further terms and conditions. $15,000100 commission-free trades ($999 value @ $9.99 commission rate)60 daysScotia iTrade 100 free trades + FlightDeskJanuary 9, 2015 *Expired*
BMO InvestorLineOpen and fund a new qualifying account at BMO InvestorLine with at least $100,000 in net new assets and you may be eligible to receive $250 cash back and a rebate of commissions on up to 25 trades made within 50 days of opening the account. Use the promo code SMILE when signing up for the account. Be sure to read full terms and conditions for eligibility and further details. $100,000$250 cash back +
50 commission-free trades (rebated)
50 days (payout for cash back and commission rebate occurs after 6 months)Smile Promotion January 18, 2015 *Expired*

Transfer Fee Deals

CompanyBrief DescriptionMaximum Transfer Fee Coverage AmountMinimum Deposit Amount for Transfer Fee EligibilityDetails LinkDeadline
Scotia iTradeTransfer $15,000 or more to Scotia iTrade from another Canadian brokerage, and iTrade may pay up to $150 in transfer fees. $150$15,000 1000 Free Trade Offer March 31, 2015
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
Qtrade InvestorQtrade Investor will reimburse your transfer fee up to $150 when transferring a balance of $25,000 or more. For reimbursement, please mail or fax a copy of your statement from the transferring institution that shows the transfer charge to Qtrade Investor at 604.484.2627 and indicate your Qtrade Investor account number. $150$25,000 Transfer Fee Promo none
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 $25,000 or more in equity to Virtual Brokers and they'll cover the transfer-out fees up to $150.$150$25,000Transfer Fee Rebate Terms & Conditions March 31, 2015
Transfer $25,000 or more into a new TD Direct Investing account and they will cover up to $150 of transfer fees.$150$25,000 TD Direct Investing Free Trade Promotion March 27, 2015
Transfer $25,000 or more to a National Bank Direct Brokerage account and they will pay up to $135 plus taxes in transfer fees$135$25,000 Transfer Fee Rebate none
DisnatDisnat 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 1 800 268-8471 and mention promo code Disnat300. See details link for more info.$150$50,000Disnat $300 Commission Credit PromoMarch 31, 2015

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One comment

  1. I suggest avoiding BMO Investorline. I have been with Investorline for over 15 years and lately it has been nothing but problems. In the past year their service deteriorated to the level on totally unacceptable. Most problems are with online access and underlying trading system. Here is the list of problems, some of them are extremely critical:

    1. Poor security. Online login to your account taxes maximum of 6 characters in password and these passwords are not even case sensitive. Any teenage hacker can break-in to your account in less than 10 minutes. Trading passwords are more secure, but I am still uncomfortable that it is so easy to access client’s holdings – to me it’s a big privacy issue. I raise this issue with IL over 3 years ago and they told me that this will be fixed soon – nothing is done as of Jan 2015.

    2. Overloaded servers. Try logging in to your account around 9:30am or 4pm. It takes 2-3 failed attempts (with very “informative” errors like “The proxy server did not receive a timely response from the upstream server. Reference #1.ec2bf648.1422285118.ef29fd99” or “We’re sorry. The page you are looking for is currently unavailable. Please try again.”). This morning I couldn’t login to my account for 25 minutes. Even when you are successful with login it takes up to 3 minutes delay until you get to your portfolio page. Often, you get disconnected for no reason just because their servers cannot handle that many simultaneous connections. Typical response from IL support: “our investigation shows that there was no issue related to slower than normal website responsiveness”)

    3. Poor customer service. I reported a number of problems using their support system – the answers I received were either inappropriate (e.g. “we cannot confirm your complaint looking at our server logs) or plain stupid (“May be you should try another browser?”, “Close the session and login again, it may help”)

    4. What scares me most about being with IL is how buggy is their software. Even with such simple things like calculations of totals for market value and unrealized gains/losses. The numbers I see on my portfolio page often don’t correspond to reality – I have to manually export my portfolio page to Excel to get correct numbers. This problem is intermittent, but it occurred to me at least 4 times in the past month.

    5. In one of my accounts I actively trade in options and in the past 3 months I encountered at least 5 days when I would not be able to see bid and ask for all my options for hours. Suddenly, all bid and ask values go to zero and even when you click on the option to trade you get zero values in trading screen. As you can imagine, this is totally unacceptable for options trader as you are unable to trade without knowing what the bids and asks are. I just love the answer I got from IL support (the screenshot was taken at the middle of the trading day and showed zeros for 15+ options, including GOOG, BX, CNQ, ENB, etc.): “With reference to the screenshot you had provided, the prices were reported accordingly as the option holdings had $0.00 bid”.

    At this point I had enough and will be moving to another discount brokerage. It is too bad as IL used to be the best in Canada. I don’t know who re-designed their interfaces a couple of years ago), but apparently it was designed and maintained so badly that they can no longer provide service to clients and they are obviously unable to fix these problems.

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