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BMO InvestorLine is an online trading platform for self-directed investors who want to be in charge of their investment portfolios.

If you are comfortable with buying and selling stocks and other investment products, the platform is fairly straightforward: sign up, do your research, trade, and track your portfolio performance.

That said, cost-conscious investors will quickly notice that the trade commissions on BMO InvestorLine are higher than average, and, you could save on fees by using alternative brokers.

Also, a minimum of $5,000 in available funds is required for most accounts (excluding TFSA or RESP), so it may not be suitable for newbies who are looking to invest small amounts or their spare change.

This BMO InvestorLine review covers its main features, benefits, fees, tools and research options, account types, and more.

What is BMO InvestLine?

BMO InvestorLine is the online investing service operated by the Bank of Montreal (BMO) Financial Group.

BMO is one of the top banks in Canada and the oldest, given that it was founded in 1817.

In addition to its self-directed investing platform, BMO also offers:

  • InvestorLine adviceDirect: An online trading service with access to personalized advice at an extra fee.
  • BMO Smartfolio: A robo-advisor service that invests your portfolio on autopilot using low-cost ETFs. This service comes with an annual management fee.

The BMO InvestorLine App is available on the App Store and Google Play.

BMO InvestorLine Review

BMO InvestorLine Accounts and Investment Types

Investors can open various types of accounts, from registered to non-registered ones.

The registered trading accounts available are:

  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP0
  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  • Locked-in Retirement Accounts (LIRA, LIF, LRIF, LRSP)

The non-registered trading accounts include cash, margin, business, non-profit organizations, estate, or formal trust accounts.

Learn about how investment accounts work in Canada.

This platform is not short on the securities you can hold inside your account. It offers:

  • Stocks
  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
  • Mutual Funds
  • Fixed Income Assets including bonds, Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), debentures, etc
  • Options

BMO InvestorLine Trading Fees

Trading fees and commissions on this platform are high compared to competitors such as CIBC Investor’s Edge or Wealthsimple Trade.

Over time, paying high fees can erode your long term returns especially when you are making frequent small trades.

A flat $9.95/trade commission applies to stocks and ETFs using the online platform.

If you place stock trades by telephone using a BMO representative, these fees apply:

Stock Price
Canadian Exchange
U.S. Exchange
$0-$0.245
2.5% of principal value
3% of principal value
$0.25-$1.00
$35 + ½ cent/share
$39 + 2 cents/share
$1.01-$2.00
$35 + 2 cents/share
$39 + 3 cents/share
$2.01 – $5.00
$35 + 3 cents/share
$39 + 4 cents/share
$5.01-$10.00
$35 + 4 cents/share
$39 + 5 cents/share
$10.01 – $20.00
$35 + 5 cents/share
$39 + 6 cents/share
$20.01 and over
$35 + 6 cents/share
$39 + 7 cents/share
$30.01 and over
$35 + 6 cents/share
$39 + 8 cents/share

For equity trades with a principal value of $2,000 or less, a minimum commission of $43 CDN/USD applies.

Options cost $9.95 plus $1.25 per contract.

When you place options trades by telephone through a BMO InvestorLine representative, the applicable fees are:

Option Price
Commission per contract
$0-$2.00
$35 + $1.50
$2.01 – $3.00
$35 + $2.00
$3.01 – $4.00
$35 + $2.50
$4.01 – $5.00
$35 + $3.00
$5.01 and over
$35 + $3.50

Options trades with a principal value of $2,000 or lower attract a $43 USD/CAD minimum.

More than 9,000 mutual funds are available on the platform and they can be bought or sold with no commissions.

A minimum purchase amount ranging from $100 to $25,000 may apply to mutual fund purchases. Also, an early redemption fee of $35 or more may apply to funds held for less than 90 days.

Commissions on bonds, T-bills, GICs and strip coupons are included in the quoted price.

Gold bullion deposit has a $35 + $1.00/oz commission, and it is $35 + $0.10/oz for silver bullion. Similar fees apply to gold and silver certificates.

Trades involving a foreign currency conversion pay a spread of up to $1.75% in addition to other fees and commissions.

BMO InvestorLine Account Fees

Non-registered accounts with a balance of less than $15,000 pay a $25 quarterly account maintenance fee.

For registered accounts (such as TFSA or RRSP), an annual $100 fee applies if your balance is less than $25,000.

This quarterly fee is waived for clients who also hold a registered account or who have made 2 or more commissionable trades in the past 6 months.

Other general account fees include:

  • Account transfer out: $150
  • Mailed paper statement: $2/month
  • Internal transfers for non-registered account: $25
  • Security registration fee: $50/security
  • RRSP/RRIF deregulation: $50

BMO InvestorLine Trading Platform and Tools

bmo investorline trading platform
Source: BMO InvestorLine

BMO InvestorLine offers a platform that meets the needs of new and experienced investors alike.

It has a mobile app that works for trading on the go, and a web interface you can access on a computer.

The basic trading platform supports alerts, watchlists, interactive charts, stock, screeners and trading tools.

The screeners allow you to filter investments based on multiple criteria including Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) features, volatility, and more.

And, clients can access research reports from MorningStar, Thompson Reuters, and S&P Global Ratings.

BMO Market Pro is available to active traders who make 75 or more trades per quarter. This advanced trading platform offers real-time streaming data, U.S. and Canadian options trading and a customizable dashboard.

You can also access BMO Market Pro if you keep a minimum account balance of $2 million.

BMO has a 5 Star Program with lower account fees, real time data, dedicated support, and discounts for eligible investors.

To be eligible for this program, you must make at least 15 trades per quarter or invest a minimum of $250,000.

The BMO 5 Star Program has three membership tiers:

  • Gold Star: Invest $250,000+ or make 15-74 trades per quarter
  • Platinum Star: Invest $2 million+ or make 75-179 trades per quarter
  • Platinum Star: Invest $5 million+ or make 180+ trades per quarter

BMO InvestorLine adviceDirect

If you want the hands-on approach of self-directed investing while having access to professional investment advice when needed, adviceDirect may be for you.

This service offers:

  • 24/7 portfolio monitoring
  • Personalized investment advice
  • Trade recommendations
  • Advisor support

You need a minimum deposit of $50,000 to open an adviceDirect account and annual fees apply as follows:

  • A $750 flat fee for accounts between $50,000 and $100,000
  • 0.75% for assets between $100,000 and $500,000
  • $3,750 maximum fee for accounts that are $500,000+

BMO Smartfolio

Online wealth management services or robo-adivisors are a middle-ground between self-directed investing and costly mutual funds.

BMO’s robo-advisor service, BMO SmartFolio, offers automatic rebalancing, ETF portfolios, free financial advice, and hands-free investing at a lower cost compared to traditional wealth management fees (up to 2% or higher).

SmartFolio has a 0.40% to 0.70% annual management fee. In comparison, Questwealth and Wealthsimple Invest (both robo-advisors as well) have fees ranging from 0.25% to 0.50%.

Other competing robo-advisors in Canada are CI Direct Investing and RBC InvestEase.

Is BMO InvestorLine Safe and Legit?

BMO is a Big 5 bank in Canada and one of the largest banks in North America.

It is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

CIPF membership means that your account is protected against insolvency by up to $1,000,000.

BMO also offers a 100% electronic banking guarantee for personal banking customers. This means that losses to your personal bank accounts resulting from unauthorized transactions through BMO Online and Mobile banking are reimbursed (terms and conditions apply).

BMO InvestorLine Pros and Cons

Below are some of the benefits and downsides of the BMO InvestorLine platform.

Pros

  • Robust trading platform and research tools for active traders.
  • Access to investment advisors via the adviceDirect service option.
  • Flat fee pricing and discounts are available when you have a large account balance.
  • Variety of account types and investment.

Cons

  • Higher than average trading commissions. You will get lower fees with Questrade or Wealthsimple Trade.
  • Advanced trading tools, support and discounts target active investors and those with a large portfolio.
  • The $25 quarterly fee for a non-registered account with less than $15,000 invested and the $100 annual fee for registered accounts with less than $25,000 adds up.
  • A $5,000 minimum is needed to open most accounts, squeezing out newbies who are looking to start small
  • The BMO InvestorLine mobile app is poorly rated by users.

BMO InvestorLine vs. Alternative Trading Platforms

Find out how BMO InvestorLine compares to competing trading platforms such as RBC Direct Investing, Questrade, and Wealthsimple Trade.

BMO InvestorLine
TD Direct Investing
Wealthsimple Trade
Questrade
Stock and ETF trading fee
$9.95/trade  
$9.99/trade 
$0
$4.95 – $9.95/trade
Options/contract
$9.95 + $1.25
$9.99 + $1.25
N/A
$9.95 + $1
Commission-free ETFs
No
No
Yes
Yes ( purchases only)
Standard Trading fee discount
None
$7/trade for active traders (stocks)
N/A (no trading fees)
$4.95/trade for active traders (stocks)
Types of accounts
TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RESP, LIRA, margin, corporate, non-profit, formal trust
TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RESP, RDSP, margin
TFSA, RRSP, personal non-registered
TFSA, RRSP, RESP, LRSP, LIRA, RRIF, LIF, margin, corporate, partnership
Minimum Investment
$5,000 minimum for most account
None
No minimum balance
$1,000
Maintenance fee
$25/quarter if balance less than $15,000 (non-registered) or $100/year if balance less than $25,000 (registered)
$25/quarter if balance is $15,000 or less
None
None
Platform
Web and mobile app
Web and mobile app
Web and mobile app
Web and mobile app
Transfer fees waived?
Up to $200
Up to $150 with transfers of $25,000+
Up to $150 on transfers of $5,000+
Up to $150/account
Other features
Access to paid investment advice via adviceDirect
Has dedicated platform for U.S. options trading
Access to low-cost robo-advisor (Wealthsimple Invest) and HISA
Access to low-cost robo-advisor (Queswealth)
Promotion
N/A
N/A
Get a $10 cash bonus with Wealthsimple Trade;  $50 cash with Wealthsimple Invest
Get $50 in free trades; or invest $10,000 free for one year (with Questwealth)
Learn more
 

Is BMO InvestorLine For You?

Self-directed investors can use this platform to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, GICs, and precious metals.

It compares well with its competitors based on the accounts offered, investment types, research and analysis tools.

The $5,000 minimum investment balance required for most accounts eliminates this platform if you can only afford to invest using small contributions and are not opening a TFSA or RESP.

If you are an experienced investor looking for access to advanced charting and streaming real-time data, you will need to make 75+ trades to qualify for the BMO Market Pro platform. Alternatively, an account balance of $2 million or more can get you this perk.

If you are looking for priority support, active trading and/or a high account balance is required as well.

Overall, BMO InvestorLine appears to be better suited to active traders and high net worth investors.

BMO InvestorLine FAQ

How do I open a BMO InvestorLine account?

The application process can be started online and takes about 20 minutes. You will need your social insurance number, one piece of government issued photo ID, your employment details, banking information, and at least $5,000 in available funds (excluding TFSA or RESP).

How do I fund my BMO InvestorLine account?

You can transfer funds to your account from your BMO bank account or from another financial institution. You can also transfer existing investments from another financial institution.

What is the minimum balance requirement?

You will need to deposit or transfer at least $5,000 to your account after it has been approved. The minimum balance requirement does not apply to TFSA or RESP accounts.

How do I contact BMO InvestorLine?

You can reach them by phone at 1-888-776-6886. You can also fill out a questionnaire to have them call you within 24 hours.

Are you a current BMO InvestorLine client? Let us know about your experience with the platform in the comments.

BMO InvestorLine Review
3.6

Summary

BMO InvestorLine is a discount brokerage platform offered by Bank of Montreal. This BMO InvestorLine review covers its benefits, fees, platforms, downsides and alternatives.

Pros

  • Robust trading platform for active traders.
  • Access to paid professional advice via adviceDirect.
  • Discounts for traders with large accounts.
  • Access to multiple account types and investments.

Cons

  • Higher than average trading commissions. 
  • Advanced trading tools target those with a large portfolio.
  • A $25 quarterly fee for accounts with less than $15K to $25K.
  • $5,000 minimum account requirement for most accounts
  • A poorly rated mobile app.