Is Scotia iTRADE the top low-cost broker in Canada?

By   |   Verified by Nikita Sheth   |   Updated 27th September 2021

Finty review Scotia iTRADE
  • Low cost broker backed by one of the biggest names in Canadian banking.
  • Trade stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, etc. in Canada and US markets.
  • How does Scotia iTRADE compare against other online brokers for Canadians?

Scotia Bank is one of Canada’s best discount brokers with access to affordable fee structures and commissions and award-winning trading platforms. It's a great choice for new traders, offering educational resources to learn about trading.

Scotia iTRADE is the brokerage arm of this "Big 5" Canadian bank. Scotia acquired E*TRADE in 2008, assuming all the clients and innovative trading technology from the sale. As a result, Scotia Bank doubled its client base overnight.

In our review we cover everything from how it works, trading fees, account types, alternative brokers, and more. Let's get started.

Who is Scotia iTRADE aimed at?

Scotia iTRADE is a good choice for beginner and advanced traders. The company has various trading platforms to suit your trading experience and style. The company's award-winning FlightDesk software is one of the best available and suitable for advanced traders looking for functional and effective trading platforms.

Scotia is the ideal broker for active day traders, giving you access to Canadian and US markets. It suits both day traders and investors taking a self-directed investment or trading strategy. While it is a bank, Scotia iTRADE doesn't offer managed portfolios.

What can you trade with Scotia iTRADE?

Scotia iTRADE gives traders and investors access to Canadian and American financial markets. You can trade the NYSE and Nasdaq, as well as the TSX in Toronto. Scotia iTRADE focuses its offering on stocks and options, and there are plenty of ETFs to trade.

iTRADE lets you trade mutual funds from top firms like ScotiaFunds, Invesco Trimark, Blackrock, Fidelity Investments Canada, Mackenzie Financial, AGF Dynamic Funds, and CI Investments. You also have the option of trading bonds, IPOs, new issuances, precious metals, and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs).

Trading tools

When you sign up for an account with Scotia iTRADE, you get the basic platform included with your account. The basic platform doesn't require you to make a minimum deposit, and you get a free demo account to experiment with the platform and make trades without assuming financial risk.

Scotia iTRADE Basic

The Scotia iTRADE basic platform features a user-friendly interface with intuitive design and real-time quotes. You get access to enhanced charting software with technical analysis and a variety of charting tools. Scotia iTRADE also offers news and research through the platform. Some of the handy tools for traders available through the basic platform include mutual fund and ETF screeners, as well as price alerts on your favorite stocks.

Scotia iTRADE FlightDesk

The FlightDesk trading platform is an upgradable service from Scotia iTRADE; you'll pay a monthly premium based on your trading volume and account size. To get the platform for free, you'll need to have a minimum of $250,000 in assets in your account or make between 30 to 149 trades every month. If you don't meet these requirements for free access, the platform can cost you a monthly fee of $29.99 to $79.99, depending on your account balance and monthly trading volume.

FlightDesk is available in standard and premium versions. This trading platform comes with a host of useful features and functions, such as one-click order entries, bid and ask trend indicators, real-time trade notifications, and options chain trading. You also get market-if-touched order types and a view of historical trades in your order book over the last 90-days.

The FlightDesk software is fully customizable and a highly-sophisticated trading tool. You get access to real-time portfolio value and the streaming real-time market data, as well as news and research, with advanced charting and options analytics data.

Scotia iTRADE Mobile Trading App

Scotia iTRADE also offers a mobile trading app for iOS and Android users. However, the mobile app is more akin to the basic trading platform and better-suited to new traders.

Fees and commission

Scotia iTRADE has an affordable fee structure compared to many other Canadian fintech firms. If you're trading stocks or options, you'll pay a fee of $4.99 for making more than 150 trades per quarter, or $9.99 if you make 149 trades per quarter or less.

Options cost an additional $1.25 per contract. Scotia offers commission-free trades on a range of mutual funds and ETFs. Fees for registered accounts are slightly on the higher side, with withdrawals costing $150 for each transfer. There's also a $300 setup fee for opening your account and a $100 monthly fee.

If you want live market data in real-time, you'll have to pay an additional fee. Nasdaq Level 1 & 2 data costs you $20 and $50, respectively, with NYSE real-time market data subscriptions costing you $127.50 per month. Access to live market data on TSX costs you $42 per month and $48 per month for TSX level 2 data.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Discounted commission structures for active day traders.
  • High-quality, award-winning trading platform.
  • Access to market research by Scotia Banks top analysts.
  • Demo account for practicing your strategy.

Cons

  • Annual fees for registered and unregistered accounts.
  • The Premium FlightDesk trading platform costs an additional monthly fee.

Alternatives

  • Qtrade Investor: Offers simple, easy-to-understand, low-cost trading on US and Canadian markets, but without the complex charting of IKBR and the like thereof. There are 100 commission-free ETFs to trade, and you can practice your strategy in a demo account until you're comfortable about risking real money in the markets.
  • Questrade: Discount brokerage services for Canadians offering cheap commissions with a broad range of assets to trade, including stocks, ETFs, Forex CFDs, options, and commodities. The trading platform is easy to navigate, and it's a good choice for active day traders, cost-conscious traders, and ETF traders.
  • TD Direct: The brokerage arm of TD Bank, TD Direct offers discount broker services for trading the US and Canadian financial markets. It has a comprehensive trading platform, letting you trade a wide range of assets, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, and more. Fees are expensive compared to Scotia iTRADE, another leader in bank-based brokers. However, they offer you a range of order types, with a user-friendly trading platform and educational resource to help you navigate the markets.
  • Wealthsimple Trade: Offers Canadians the best way to trade the markets for free. This fintech offers commission-free trading, with access to Canadian and US markets for stocks, commodities, ETFs, and more.
  • IBKR Canada: While IBKR lets you trade a range of assets in markets across 135 countries, you'll need a Pro account if you want to trade as a Canadian resident. The IBKR Lite package is not available for Canadians, while the IBKR Pro account suits intermediate to advanced day traders. The Pro account also comes with fees and commissions on your trading activities, and it's one of the more expensive options for Canadian traders.

Comparisons

Helpful side-by-side comparisons of Scotia iTRADE against its leading competitors.

FAQs

Is the Scotia iTRADE practice account available free?

Yes, you can trade your strategy in a demo account before putting real money at risk.

Is there an iOS or Android app available?

Yes, Scotia iTRADE offers you a mobile trading app for iOS and Android devices.

How old do you need to be to sign up for a Scotia iTRADE account?

Scotia iTRADE requires clients to be 18 years or older when opening an account.

Can you open an account as part of a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)?

Yes, Scotia iTRADE offers you TFSA and RRSP accounts. Registered account holders get the following choices.

  • Tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs)
  • Registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs)
  • Registered education savings plans (RESPs)
  • Registered retirement income funds (RRIFs)
  • Locked-in retirement accounts (LIRAs)
  • Locked-in retirement savings plans (LRSPs)

How do I deposit funds?

Use the transfers tab in your Scotia OnLine® or Scotia Mobile App when transferring from your Scotia checking or savings account. You can also make a deposit using an EFT to Scotia if you don't bank with the company.

What is the minimum deposit required?

There is no minimum balance required to open a Scotia iTRADE account.

How long does it take to withdraw settled funds?

Scotia iTRADE takes up to three business days to process your withdrawal to your nominated bank account.

Verdict

WIth their customizable platform, Scotia iTrade is a good option for traders of all experience levels. The Basic platform provides novice traders a user-friendly interface with intuitive design, real-time quotes, research, news, technical analysis, and a variety of charting tools.

The more advanced FlightDesk platform comes in standard and premium versions with tools for more technical analysis as well as one-click order entries, bid and ask trend indicators, real-time trade notifications, and options chain trading. Though their fees and account minimums are slightly on the higher side with discounts for high volume traders, they provide a full suite of tools to help you invest.