National Bank Direct Brokerage Review – $0 per trade. Should I consider switching?

The National Bank of Canada recently made a ground-breaking announcement for the Canadian bank. It announced that their online brokerage, National Bank Direct Brokerage will offer no-commission trading

Why is this a ground-breaking announcement? Because this marks the first time that a major Canadian bank offers free online trades on Canadian and US stocks and ETFs. Previously, the only Wealthsimple Trade offered commission-free trades.

I was extremely intrigued by National Bank Direct Brokerage’s announcement. $0 per trade is a lot cheaper than Questrade’s $4.95 trade commission. $0 multiplied by 20 is still $0, whereas $4.95 multiplied by a few times quickly adds up. 

Since this ground-breaking announcement, many readers have asked me if I am considering moving our accounts to National Bank Direct Brokerage and taking advantage of the commission-free trading. 

Therefore, I have decided to do some research and write an honest and comprehensive National Bank Direct Brokerage review based on my findings. Like many Canadians, we already use online brokers like Questrade, TD Direct Investing, and Wealthsimple. With National Bank Direct Brokerage’s commission-free trades, should we consider switching to NBDB? 

About National Bank Direct Brokerage

National Bank Direct Brokerage, NBDB for short, is the online brokerage arm of the National Bank of Canada. Since 1987, NBDB has offered Canadian investors accessible and reliable online trading products and services. Like other online brokerages, NBDB offers self-directed trading of stocks, ETFs, options, GICs, and bonds.

National Bank Direct Brokerage Accounts

NBDB offers Canadian DIY investors many different account options, both registered and non-registered. You can open the following accounts with NBDB:

  • RRSP
  • TFSA
  • RRIF
  • Spousal RRSP/RRIF
  • RESP
  • Taxable accounts (i.e. cash, margin, and short selling)
  • Individual pension plan
  • LIRA
  • LRSP
  • LIF
  • Estate Accounts
  • In Trust Account
  • Investment Club Account
  • Corporate accounts

Compared to Wealthsimple Trade, NBDB offers more account types. Compared to Questrade and TD Direct Investing, NBDB offers similar account types. 

What can I trade using National Bank Direct Brokerage?

NBDB’s online platform allows you to trade just about everything, including:

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • Mutual funds
  • Bonds
  • GICs
  • Exchange-traded debentures
  • Linked notes

National Bank Direct Brokerage Pricing

The biggest draw for National Bank Direct Brokerage is the $0 online trade for stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options. 

Options$0 + $1.25 per contract (minimum fee of $6.25)
Options (Value <$2,000)$0 + $1.25 per contract (max fee of $19.95)
Mutual funds$0 on most funds

While one can purchase mutual funds for free, you still need to pay the fund MER. Also, for most mutual fund transactions, one must purchase a minimum of $1,000. 

If you’re not placing your orders online and placing them by phone instead, you will pay a hefty commission of $44.95 per trade. But who places trade by phone nowadays anyway? Last time I checked, we aren’t living in the 1980s.  

National Bank Direct Brokerage Fees

Despite the $0 online trade for stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options, the NBDB fees caught my eyes immediately. I believe this is where National Bank Direct Brokerage will make money from DIY investors.

First of all, NBDB charges an account administrator fee of $100 annually. The fee is waived if you meet one of the qualifying requirements below.

  • You are a young investor age 30 or under
  • You have assets of $20,000 or more as of May 31
  • You make at least 5 stock, ETF, or option trades between June 1 and May 31
  • You participate in a financial program for engineers, teachers, healthcare, or business professionals
  • You only have an InvestCube account (automatic portfolio rebalancing, $10k minimum investment, 0.30% to 0.50% rebalancing fee. Note: You’re better off using Passiv)

I do like that NBDB will waive the account administrator fee if you are age 30 or under. This may encourage young Canadians to invest. However, if you are over 30 years old, your accounts’ total value is less than $20,000, or you make less than five trades a year, you will need to fork over $100 each year. 

So, if you fall into the latter camp, you might be better off to utilize other online brokers like Questrade or TD Direct Investing, and continue to pay for trading commissions. If you’re looking for no-frill DIY investing, Wealthsimple Trade might be a better option. 

Similar to other online brokers, NBDB has a bunch of transaction and transfer fees that you should be aware of.

  • RRSP, RRIF, or LIF withdrawal fee: $50
  • Internal transfer between registered accounts: $100
  • NSF cheque: $45
  • Excess contribution reimbursement: $100
  • Wire transfer: $75
  • Total or partial transfer to another institution: $150
  • Portfolio statement by mail: $6/quarter
  • Trade confirmation by mail: $2 per trade (billed monthly)
  •  Administration of restricted shares: $250
  • Custodial services: $30 per security per month
  • Donation or substitution of securities: $50 (max $150 per transaction)
  • Registration/delivery of certificate: $50
  • Registration/delivery of certificate (rush): $200
  • Deposit of a stock certificate: $100
  • Estate settlement: $200

National Bank Direct Brokerage – Interest Rates

I don’t recommend investing on margin because you can get into trouble easily. If you do decide to invest on margin, here are NBDB’s interest rates:

Debit balanceCADUSD
$100,000 or more2.75%4.25%

National Bank Direct Brokerage – Opening Accounts

According to many users on RedFlagDeals, the account opening process can be hit and miss.

A small selection of investors stated that the overall account opening process was easy and went smoothly. Going to a National Bank branch and talking to a representative may have contributed to the easy process. 

Alarmingly, many investors stated that the overall process for opening an account with NBDB was much more complicated than Questrade or Wealthsimple Trade. Many of them had to call NBDB and be put on hold for half an hour or longer before talking to an associate.  

National Bank Direct Brokerage – Online Trading Platform

Since I haven’t signed up for an NBDB account and I’m simply doing the review based on what I can find on NBDB’s website, I don’t have any personal experience with their online trading platform. 

Based on what I could find, NBDB’s online trading platform is slightly more advanced than Wealthsimple Trade’s minimalistic simple trading platform. But NBDB’s online trading platform is not as advanced as Questrade or TD Direct Investing. Many current NBDB users have also complained about the poor user interface (UX) of the online trading platform.

NBDB gives you access to analysis and research from National Bank Financial and Morningstar. This should be sufficient for most Canadian DIY investors. 

Younger investors who prefer using mobile apps to trade might be disappointed to learn that National Bank Direct Brokerage currently does not have a mobile app for online trading. To make trades on your mobile phone, you’d have to log in to your NBDB account via the mobile web browser. 

National Bank Direct Brokerage – Market-Q

Market-Q streams market price in real time and allows investors to create up to 20 dynamic watchlists with up to 200 securities each, as well as custom charts. 

This useful tool is not free by default. Market-Q is free only when you carry out 10 or more trades per month. 

Quotes0-9 trades10-39 trades40-99 trades100+ trades 
Level I Quotes$39FreeFreeFree
Level II Quotes$99$60FreeFree
Level I with TSX-V$64$25$25Free
Level II with TSX-V$148$109$49Free

What do these levels mean? With Market-Q Level I, you can get real time quotes from TSX, NYSE, and NASDAQ, which is sufficient for the majority of DIY investors. 

I really don’t like that NBDB is forcing investors to make more than 10 trades in order to get real time quotes. Take Questrade for example, they offer unlimited one-click real-time level 1 data for US and Canadian stock exchanges.

If you don’t make 10 or more trades per month, you will experience a 15 minute delayed price, just like what you get with Wealthsimple Trade (you can subscribe to Wealthsimple Trade’s premium features for $3 a month). Since you shouldn’t quibble over eighths and quarters, not having real-time quotes shouldn’t be a big deal for most DIY investors. 

National Bank Direct Brokerage Customer Service

According to my research on online forums like RedFlagDeals and Reddit Canadian Investor subreddit, National Bank Direct Brokerage has had poor customer service over the years. Many Canadian investors complained about the long phone wait time.

Unlike Questrade, there is no online chat option to talk to an NBDB associate. So when you have a problem, the only option is to call or email NBDB. Many investors using NBDB have reported that they usually have to wait for 30 minutes to 1.5 hours or even longer before talking to someone. This can be extremely frustrating.

A few Canadian DIY investors also pointed out that to use Norbert’s Gambit to exchange currency, you have to call NBDB to start the journaling process (I’m shocked you can’t just email them like Questrade and ask to start the journaling process). This certainly isn’t ideal. However, some investors also pointed out that NBDB has improved the system in recent months such that emailing NBDB about journaling shares works fine.

It appears that NBDB has improved its customer service slightly since the $0 trade commission announcement. Let’s hope the customer service improvement continues.

Pros & Cons of National Bank Direct Brokerage

Before I determine whether we should be considering switching to NBDB, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of National Bank Direct Brokerage.

NBDB Pros:

  • $0 commission for trading stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options.
  • Lots of different accounts available.


  • $100 account administrator fee annually unless condition is met.
  • Less sophisticated online trading platform with poor UX.
  • No online chat available and long phone wait time.
  • No real time quotes unless making 10 trades per month.
  • Web platform only. No mobile app.
  • Lacking some features for more advanced trading.

National Bank Direct Brokerage Review – Summary

Here’s a quick summary of National Bank Direct Brokerage.

Stock/ETF/Mutual Fund/Options Trading Fee$0
Option contract$1.25 to $19.95
Type of AccountsRRSP, TFSA, RESP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF, non-registered, corporate, etc
Minimum investment$0
Account administrator fee$100 per year if balance less than $20k or not meeting other conditions
Synthetic DRIPYes (have to call in to set up DRIP).
DRIP Discount? (Cannot find any info)
Norbert’s GambitYes (have to call to start journaling)
Dual Currency AccountYes
Real-time quotesYes if you make over 10 trades per month
Trailing stop loss supportNo
Multi-legged options tradesNo (Must enter trades separately)
Web PlatformYes
Mobile AppNo

National Bank Direct Brokerage Review – Should I consider switching?

Should I switch to National Bank Direct Brokerage and take advantage of the $0 commission free trading and say goodbye to other online brokers that we currently use?

After going over all what NBDB has to offer and its pros and cons, I came to the conclusion that the answer is no. At the time of writing, it makes no sense for us to transfer all of our investment accounts to NBDB. 

Sure, we’ll save quite a bit of money on trading commissions and since our portfolio is larger than $20k, we won’t have to worry about the account administration fee.

But the painful account opening experience is very concerning.

The poor customer service and no online chat option available are also extremely worrisome. I simply can’t imagine having to wait for 30 minutes or longer to talk to someone. The opportunity cost simply outweighs the trading commissions I may be saving.

Furthermore, I don’t like the idea of using a somewhat outdated trading platform with poor UX. When I buy or sell stocks or ETFs, I like to perform my transactions as quickly as possible. Having to deal with an outdated trading platform will create a lot of frustration.

In other words, while National Bank Direct Brokerage’s commission free trading is nice, it is not enough to persuade me to switch. However, it is possible that NBDB will improve the account opening process and overall customer service experience over time. 

Despite all of that, National Bank Direct Brokerage may be a solid choice for Canadians that are already banking with National Bank and want to keep everything under the same umbrella. 

For most investors who want commission-free stock and ETF trading, I believe Wealthsimple Trade is currently the better option. For more advanced investors, I believe Questrade remains to be a solid choice.

Another important thing to consider is that no-commission trading may cause some investors to pull the buying or selling trigger easier without going through proper stock research and analysis. Emotional buying and selling become a lot easier when there’s no trading commission involved. There’s no need to think twice before pulling the trigger on trades. One simply hits the buy or sell button. This can potentially cause major downfalls for many investors. 

I applaud National Bank for offering $0 commission-free trades for its online brokerage. Although National Bank Direct Brokerage isn’t the right fit for us currently, I hope the announcement will force other Canadian financial institutions to change their online trading fee structure. 

Who knows, maybe Canadian consumers can finally win for once.

As a dividend investor, I think National Bank has a lot to gain from announcing the commission-free trading with National Bank Direct Brokerage. This should hopefully attract more Canadians to invest and bank with National Bank and improve their profits. As a National Bank shareholder, I like what National Bank is doing. This is why I will continue to list National Bank as one of the top 13 Canadian dividend stocks to own

Dear readers, what’s your view on National Bank Direct Brokerage? I’d love to hear your thoughts if you are currently using NBDB or have made the switch.

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66 thoughts on “National Bank Direct Brokerage Review – $0 per trade. Should I consider switching?”

  1. Go somewhere else or you will regret like me for loosing a lot money with hidden charges, high exchange unjustified expenses, slow process and when I questioned they fired me with a registered letter forcing me to move out for violating their own regulation that I happened to sell to myself on a $1 forgotten buy order, after two times without any warning that they would fire me, the third time they forced me out I had to move 17 accounts of myself and my family to another broker, they processed unbelieably slow that took 3 months during the market recovery from October to December 2022 costing me hundreds of thousands of opportunity gain because they froze all my accounts while processing the transfer! I go back to the previous fee broker since and still regret the worst mistake of my life for following their bombarded advertisements on my lap top the previous year!

  2. The bad things for me were:
    -account opening is cumbersome, some forms don’t accept entering phone numbers, have to print and change manually
    -you can not buy GIC’s online! this is a big one now that there are few decent bonds offering yields much better then GIC’s
    -Bond trading and search is cumbersome, hard to sort and see rating, description even

  3. I’ve been using RBC/ TD but I couldn’t stand the $10 buy and sell costs.
    I didn’t mind the interfaces but was looking for something cheaper.

    I started a new account in Wealth Simple Trade and Questrade to test. Wealth Simple Trade is simple and its limitations without Norbert’s Gambit. Not to mention trading US stocks is limiting (conversion rate for buy then later for sell). Questrade was free for ETFS but they had a lot of hidden fees (ECN) that were piling up. I did not like the buy and sell costs for regular stocks. Personally I don’t like the interface for Questrade.

    Once National Bank Brokerage offered free trading I jumped ship. I did have some minor issues setting up the account, many online stated its so easy and no issues, but for me it was. Form issues and in the end I had to hand in physically to a branch. It was a one off I could live with.
    I was extremely happy once I was setup. You really cannot beat free. Penny stocks or other stocks averaging down which you could never do on other platforms.
    Creating manual drips (essentially buying any stock) even if you have received a dividend from another stocks dividend to reinvest is extremely beneficial. I try not to have a lot of cash sitting idle.

    I’ve seen people complain about no APP though I use the web browser on my phone to see the website. Personally I don’t think its a big deal.
    As of August 2022 they have a message on their website saying APP is being worked on and done by end of 2022.

    Personally I think its the best. Its the 6th largest bank in Canada, but I am not convinced the top 5 banks will follow like they had done in the USA (Robinhood, TD Ameritrade etc).

  4. For anyone interested in getting their transfer fee reimbursed from NBDB, please read the following.

    After failing to find anything about the matter on their website, I finally emailed to the Customer Support and here is their answer, verbatim:

    “If the value of the assets transferred amounts to at least $20,000, and you carry out a Buy transaction on a stock, ETF, or option within 6 months of the transfer, we will reimburse you the fee charged by the relinquishing institution (up to $155 plus tax credited one week after the transaction).”

    In addition to that, based on my own experience, if you can’t find information you need on their website (which happens more often than I am used to with other institutions), the best solution is either 1) to email them your question, or 2) to call and talk to a representative.

    It is a different experience and again, they must have a lot of teething issues given the increase interests due to the zero-commission feature. No broker is perfect and they all excel in their own ways.

    Lewis Kwan
    (10+ years with Questrade, 10+ years with Interactive Brokers, and a newbie with NBDB)

    • How is your experience with NBDB. I am a new investor, currently with Questrade, but don’t like there fee especially on Options, I was thinking to switching to Interactive Broker for that reason, then came to know 0$ commission on all transactions by NBDB, but before making any decision just wanted to know if its worth time, hope you would share your experience after using for an year now

  5. I have accounts with Questrade, TD Direct and WS. Have used Questrade for over 10+ years, customer service is a roller coaster ride. Do like Questrade Edge platform for managing multiple accounts in one view. Questrade do not offer an easy way of tracking profit/lost for the year and customer service triggered my search for better option.
    In reviewing NBDB, read that they do charge $6.95/trade for limit/stop loss order etc, may you confirm that? Market order will easily eat up the fee in any trade.

    Thanks for the review.

  6. This information is pretty old. so far,

    1. NBDB opening an account is very simple and straightforward from online. just remember don’t select the beneficial( the beneficial forms can mail later). it will take 20-30 minutes to apply most accounts open (cash, RRSP, TFSA)

    2. NBDB’s one-click price does the real-time price.

    3. the customer service phone call waiting is the best from my experience. I called a lot of times for different questions. all my waiting time is just in minutes. I never get this short waiting time for any other Canadian company(not just for brokerage companies).

    4. NBDB is true zero fees. no commission fee, not ECN fee.

    I was paid about $2000 commission fee every month in Questrsde. with NBDB, the total is $0.

    • Sorry, I disagree with you that the info is pretty old. What I’ve written is based on all my research in the last month. Having said that, glad to hear that NBDB is treating you well.

      • Agreed with the comment. I have recently opened an account an the process was quick and easy. 30 minutes is accurate.

        Not sure how the author performed this “research” but suspect it was inaccurate and not actually going through the process personally.

        Customer service via email is also good.

        Author also fails to mention largest downsides, presenting a poor overall assessment. The biggest is lack of a mobile app.

        • Hi Kevin,

          I’m the author and I went through a pretty comprehensive research myself before writing this post. That’s good to know that the account opening process is now quicker than before.

  7. I had a problem with RBC, because I could not sign a Beneficiary form for my wife, but it turns out it would be the same with any broker.
    I did phone NA and got connected to a person in 15 min, about the same as RBC. He was very helpful and I am considering switching to NA. Of course we are retired and it annoys me that I have funds, (less than $1,000) sitting in our TFSAs & RRIFs that we can’t invest without having to pay $9.95.
    I might do it just for that. We’ll see.

      • WS doesn’t allow for RRIF accounts, so I wouldn’t switch to them. I do have a non-registered account with them, where I compare actual investments in individual DG stock purchases to an ETF (VDY). Five months and VDY is falling behind, by a lot.

  8. Thanks Bob for the detailed review and analysis of National Bank brokerage platform. I think this is a good reference if someone considers switching or to open new account with NBDB.
    Let me share my personal views on whether to switch to free trade platform or not. Please feel free to add or share what you agree/disagree with. I have used Questrade and Wealthsimple trade so far. I personally like Questrade for the interface, portfolio tracking and ease of moving funds, free brokerage for ETFs, etc. Ofcourse there are fees (reasonable IMO), minimum $1000 requirement, etc. But overall questrade is good for investors. Regularly buying small quantities or Dollar cost averaging or buying low-priced stock can be a challenge as $5 brokerage can add up.
    Now Wealthsimple trade (WT) has free trades but for US or non-canadian stocks/ETFs they will charge currency conversion fee. Further, limited stock selection is an issue. Free trades make it easier to do dollar cost average, buying low-price stocks easier, etc.
    I heard in news that Robinhood also makes money by routing order flows. Also there has been issue of technical glitches and incidents. I did not find these issues with questrade or WT.
    Overall I feel any platform that is serious about its business and committed to manage investors money has to make money. The business model could be brokerage fee, subscription or some kind of service-linked fee. The so called ‘free’ would only be limited to select services or select times or limited period or limited customers. Secondly, purely my opinion – the brokerage business is not easy to deal with so players who maintain accounts worth billions of dollars have to have capital strength, access to large infrastructure including servers, back-up systems, security, etc. If they dont make good revenue they will sooner or later face glitches , cause more issues for investors resulting in poor service and delivery and at some point they will wind up and get merged or takenover. At the end of all this users of the brokerage platform will be in trouble.
    Also considering the amount of personnel, infrastructure, regulatory and technology maintenance costs I’d be okay with a platform charging reasonable fee so I can get peace of mind that my broker will not do anything crazy like rerouting my order to another market maker or lending my stocks, etc. Instead if they just charge me reasonable fee based on my trades or activity I feel its justified and transparent and will iron out over medium to long-term since Im more of a long-term investor.

  9. Yes, doing dividend and ETF investing alone would still lure me to NBDB, as $0 cost means ‘DRIPPING’ will become a no-brainer. Compounding is one of the most powerful tools for wealth building but too many fees and restrictions have been placed in front of this tool until NBDB comes along. I am hoping more Canadians will realize this significant development and start to take advantage of it.

    I am also hoping more Canadian brokers will join this zero dollar commission bandwagen.

    • Thanks Lewis. Maybe I’ll consider switching over to NBDB. We’ll have to see.

      I’m a bit concerned with Gary’s comment about how NBDR drips if you enroll in the DRIP program though. I suppose with free trading you can just manually drip yourself manually but it will take more time.

  10. I have been with Interactive Brokers for 10 years, Questrade for 6+ years, and I have recently opened an account with National Bank. I trade mainly options and futures and am thinking of creating a sub portfolio of dividend growth stocks (Canadian and US alike). Below are my own opinion:

    1) Cumbersome onboarding – yes, it took me 3 weeks and multiple communications (emails, mails and phone calls) to get the account opened so it is not the easiest. However, given the influx of new applications which presumably overwhelm the old system of National Bank, it is not surprising. Furthermore, the following will more than make up this inefficiency (to me anyway):

    2) The costs of options trading with National Bank, though not as good as those with Interactive Brokers (no brokers are), are way cheaper than those with Questrade. Likewise, $0 cost to trade US and Canadian stocks means I can implement my own DRIP at any interval I like. Thirdly, I can implement option-selling strategy to acquire dividend growth stocks at a much more attractive price points. I can also do collar trades (options-speak meaning selling a covered-call to finance a protective put on 100 shares of a stock I own so that it costs me nothing to prevent big loss on my stock). All the above would cost me significantly more with Questrade. (This is based on my normal trades of 40 contracts with a total value of under $2,000.00 at a time. Your mileage may vary)

    Just my two cents.

    • Hi Lewis,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. Sounds like the onboarding process was quite painful. But you’re right, given the large amount of new applications, we should probably cut National Bank some slack.

      Good point about implementing your own DRIP whenever you want. If you’re just doing dividend and ETF investing and not option trading, would you still move from IB and Questrade to NBDB?

    • Hi Lewis,

      Could I ask your experience with trading US ETFs and put/call options with Interactive Brokers and National Bank please? Which one is better in your opinion, fees and ease wise?

      Thank you!

  11. I have consolidated RESP, RRSP, LRSP and TFSA with NBDB so far (cash is next). Have to admit their account opening process is some maze to get through (especially the ID verification, as I’m not a NB banking client).

    Once setup, I have not encountered any major issues. They are swamped, so my beneficiary info is not getting update as quickly as I’d like.

    One thing I was not pleased about was my first DRIP that went in last week. Apparently, NBND buys shares of whatever position you setup for DRIP, then sell the fractionals. Confused? Let me explain:

    Let’s say you got $80 for …ENB on Dec 1/21
    NBND would show $80 as dividend received on Dec 1/21 (nothing wrong here, but no drip?)
    A day or so later, they do these transactions:
    1. Buy 1.6504 shares of ENB at a BID price of $48.4729
    2. Sell 0.6504 shares of ENB at a ASK price of $48.17
    Now the transaction list is updated to show the actual reinvestment of 1 share, and fractional deposit of $31.39.

    I have to be honest, I have never paid attention before if QT did that for DRIPs. But this process of NBDB buying fractionals and then selling them seems unnecessary (unless there is a regulatory requirement for them to do this).

    • Wow that’s very interesting about how NBDB drips additional shares. This can be problematic for non-registered accounts. For QT they just buy the full share and deposit the different in your account.

  12. Although you don’t get real-time quotes unless you have Market-Q, there is a way to get the latest price. The 15-minute delay price is there but you can refresh it manually by clicking the refresh icon. You can refresh it as many times as you want, even on the buy/sell window.

    I recently opened some accounts with them and have yet to move my portfolio over from WS Trade to NBDB. The account opening process was quick (next day) but to actually complete the process, they still require the signed full document opening package, which needs to be mailed (or emailed) to them within 25 days or risk suspending the accounts. Margin accounts are opened as Cash accounts first and after they receive and process the account opening documents, the holdings and money will transfer from Cash to Margin.

    As a WS Trade user, I really like the market information and analysis you get with NDBD, as oppose to nothing at WS Trade. I really just miss not being able to use an app and the instant deposits at WS Trade. To move money into NBDB, you can set up a bill payment at your bank to move money (takes 1 business day) or do the bank transfer, like at any brokerage. These options are fine but they still take time. I also don’t see where I can do recurring deposits like I can at WS Trade.

    Overall, I’m not sure if I’m going to move my entire portfolio over to NDBD just yet. I do want to take advantage of having DRIP working for me and the free trades on US trades is important to me as well.

  13. I’ve opened accounts with scotiaitrade, TD waterhouse, wealth simple, interactive brokers, and now NB. All of them were the same. I did have one hiccup with NBDB where they sent me a paper application after i had sent my scans (via email) and i thought i had to send the paper in as well because they needed actual signatures? Why did they send me the paper? It wasn’t clear. I was confused and called them. I’ve now called them twice and waited about 30 minutes. Maybe i was lucky. The other messup they made is they don’t accept your ON health card as ID, but on the application paper package they sent me in the mail (after I had already scanned and sent everything in) said i could send a scan of my health card. But this wasn’t true. Strange, as maybe in Quebec it’s okay to use your health card as ID.

    But let me be clear why i switched from IBKR. After IBKR did that stock trading halt of BB (and other meme stocks) and the CEO came out and basically was worried about the rich guys, I had been dying to leave IBKR, even if they had amazing margin interest %s. IBKR let you trade on a lot of exchanges like Australia, HK etc. I am concerned as I have some BABA stock and not sure if I can transfer them with NBDB to the HK exchange. Do you know?

    Personally, I think everyone should switch so that other brokerages react. Yes it took 20 to 30 minutes to fill everything out and 10 days or so to transfer. But FEES are FEES and i will save money that pays for my 30 minutes of effort. I also will be moving all my WS (because i purchase cdn stocks on ws and US stocks with IBKR) money over. I do love WS UI but they won’t offer usd trades for many years, if ever. I’ve asked many times. They also did something very suspect when Crypto rules changed. They wouldn’t let you access your crypto account unless you consented to a new doc, which you couldn’t read before you consented. I did love the convience of buying crypto with ws as I didn’t have to worry about a wallet. I know not your keys, not your crypto, but i had faith in WS wouldn’t lose my coins.

  14. I had a terrible experience opening up an account with them. Customer Service is the worst. I got my help from their Twitter account. Once I opened up, there are no way of funding it through their system. It can’t link to their chequing/savings account. I have to email them my other banking information to be able to link it with them which is terrible btw. No one responded. Don’t been bother calling their customer service phone. I’m on hold for 2 hours. I dropped the call. Who TF has that time? I complained via Twitter and Twitter responded right away. Even they have limitations serving you. I complained via their feedback form. Just check their FAQ. and try to find the information on how to fund it. Their twitter told me to watch a video but no info. I just closed my National bank and Brokerage account. I’ll stick with Wealthsimple and Questrade for now.

      • I would really like to use their brokerage because it’s free but their technology and customer service are still far away compared to the other 6 banks. I had CIBC and TD and funding, transferring and customer service are way better. In terms of customer service, I still put Questrade at the top.

        • If you already have a National Bank checking account, check the “Transfer” button while in the NBDB site while logged in. It might already have your banking information in. You just select a “From” account between the options, then a “To” account where the money will go. That is how your RRSP, TFSA, RESP, or any other account contributions will be done. If a checking account is not in the list, then it’s a one time setup that is missing.

          • It wasn’t there. I was able to get support but they gave me an email to send my banking information. Why would I send my banking info to an email to connect to their brokerage account? It’s unsecured.

    • I have certainly made multiple trades in a day within my TFSA but trading different stocks. If you’re trading the same stocks in and out on the same day, that may be a red flag from the CRA standpoint. If it seems sketchy, don’t do it.

  15. I’ve been with them for 20+ years. The UX was revamped probably a year ago, it was long overdue. They used to send paper by mail to open account, they now send electronic documents. No app available, but you can still get to NBDB from the NBC app, but it’s just a redirect to the website’s but it’s still a mobile version of the website. They do offer a fee reimbursement on transfers, sometimes it’s during RRSP time, but I also recall they used to have to anytime with a minimum transfer amount. I have no gripes with them because my needs are small. I always had good service and they came through for me in a big way twice by cancelling contributions I made by mistake for RRSP and RESP. My recent experience is with Distinctive Services, where you have your own account manager and a dedicated phone line to a few advisors, does not cost more. I hear this is now by invitation only, and I can guess it must still be based on account size. Whether it was using the normal customer service or the distinctive services, it was good. They also have a Fully Paid Lending program that is starting, again this is by invitation only at the moment. Lastly, I am not a blogger but many friends asked me for a referral. I asked and they don’t seem to have such a thing anymore. They used to give free trades for that, but that is moot now with free trades… They are one of the very few discount brokers to offer the RDSP account, the only other one I know about is TDDI. My personal take is, stay with your current broker if you like the service. If you’re looking elsewhere already, NBDB should be a more than fine choice if your needs are simple like mine, but so would any other bank’s discount brokerage.

    • Hi Francois,

      Thank you for your personal feedback. Sounds like NBDB may be good for investors not looking for a lot of services and just need something simple.

  16. The annual $100 fee is waived for everyone (regardless of account valur) if you make 5 trades in a year.

    5 trades carry no transaction fees and on average, is 1 buy or sell every 2 months. I think everyone can fulfill that. Just buy and sell 5 penny stocks if you must. You probably should advise your readers to take 5 mins and waive the $100 fee that way haha

  17. I have opened tfsa stock ac with NBDB. I havd no bad experience. All looks good. Only pain point is they do not have app. Other than that i am satisfied.

  18. Thanks for the research Bob!
    I currently have Questrade, WealthSimple Trade, and also Scotia iTrade.
    While I only have a minority of holdings in Scotia, I was attracted to their free commission on select ETFs and the opportunity to diversify holdings to different institutions to minimize risk.
    While Scotia’s brokerage isn’t amazing – it does have one thing: It’s been easy to set up bank-to-bank transfers, allowing for free (and instant) cash transfers between institutions.

    Do you know if National Bank offers bank-to-bank transfers? Or free EFT transfers? I see their Interac e-Transfer is not free but is minimal, $1.25.

    • Good question, I think NBDB does offer bank-to-bank transfers, or at least you can fund your accounts using the payment option. They will reimburse you up to $150 per a previous commenter, Mark

    • Yes. I can transfer money from my TD checking account directly to NBDB and vice versa. Transfers have taken 1 day to process. Very easy to setup.

  19. Hi Bob,

    Thanks for putting this excellent analysis together. Very comprehensive and well thought out.

    A few comments:
    1. The lack of real-time quotes (only free if 10 trades per month per account, regardless of the account value) is a big drawback. The last trade price is not known. Hence a market order may not be placed at the best price. This is probably a big source of NBDB’s revenue, to compensate for the lack of trade commissions.

    Even a limit order may not be placed at the right time, or at all, if NBDB does not make it’s revenue on the trade. And with the lack of real-time quotes it is very hard to prove that the trade was not executed at the best price.

    For Canadian brokers not to provide real-time quotes is a real disservice to investors. On this item alone I would not deal with NBDB.

    2. BMO InvestorLine (where I currently have accounts) charges $150 plus HST to close and transfer an account. Will NBDB reimburse the transfer out fees from another brokerage? If not, it becomes very expensive to move accounts over to NBDB…

    One always has to ask if a brokerage charges zero commissions, how do they make up for the drop in revenue? Where will they get the lost revenue to provide their services?

    • Hi Daniel,

      Lack of real-time quotes might be problematic for some investors. It may not for others. It is odd that they have a requirement for 10 trades per month per account to get real time quotes.

      As far as I know, NBDB will reimburse the transfer out frees from another brokerage but you might want to confirm with them.

      I think NBDB makes up for the lost revenue by getting customers to sign up with their banking services and/or getting investors to sign up with the extra investment services.

  20. I recently opened TFSA, RRSP and margin accounts at National Bank (DBDB). The RRSP and TFSA accounts were ready quite quickly. It took longer for the margin and options trading features to enable (about five weeks). Due to the zero commission announcement, they are pretty swamped with new applications.

    I have not done much trading yet, as I have not moved assets over. So I can’t provide a real review of the trading platform.

    Moving investment accounts between institutions is a pain in the butt; no doubt about that. But purely from the perspective of wallet activism (speak with your dollars), I want to reward NBDB for pioneering big-bank zero-cost trading in Canada. The other banks are resting on their laurels because they think people won’t do the work to switch.

    For perspective, I currently trade on the TD WebBroker and CIBC Investors Edge platforms. WebBroker is good, but $9.99 a trade is highway robbery. CIBC is cheaper at $6.95, but the platform is far inferior to TDs.

  21. Mate just the thought of opening new accounts is a big nNO to me….I am with CIBC investors edge and pay $6.95 per trade, yes I pay more. It took a long time to get my accounts open (RRSP x 2, TFSA x 2, personal, RESP, Corporate x 2, 4 kids accounts 12 accounts) I would not do it to save the $6.95, I really do not do a ton of trades, mainly Drip’s it is not worth the time to save the trade cost.

    I like the write up and if I was new would consider it. Thanks for all your hard work.


  22. Thanks for the summary, Bob.

    I wonder when the big 5 and QT will also adopt to FOC trades? I recently moved my QT cdn div portfolio to WST for this very reason. If NB offered fractional trading like WST, I would certainly consider that of value as there are very few holdings I am able to do a full share DRIP right now.

    My only beef with WST is that I find it takes avg 1.5 days to receive payout distributions. When I originally started trading using TD, that was never the case. I guess sometimes you get what you pay for 🙂

    Happy Holidays

    • It would be great if the big 5 and QT adopt to FOC trades…but I don’t see that happening. There are certainly pros and cons for each of these discount brokers.

  23. I have opened 3 trading accounts with NA, QuestTrade and Wealthsimple Trade. Each has its Pros and Cons.
    Questrade is great for trading USA etfs as the process is simple to journal CAD to USD. Wealthsimple Trade and NA are expensive and slow.

    NA and Wealthsimple are great for trading in and out of ETFs are there is $0 cost. Questtrade charge me $4.99 for each sale.

    So I use Questrade to accumulate and Buy USA etfs.

    I use NA to Buy and Sell Canadian ETFs based on weekly charts and I use WealthSimple for trading on the go with their mobile app.


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