This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

A Scotia iTrade brokerage account offers do-it-yourself investors access to a variety of investment accounts, products, and trading platforms.

Owned by one of the biggest banks in Canada, Scotiabank, it is one of a few online brokers to offer commission-free ETFs.

Scotia iTrade’s flat-fee trading commissions are high compared to the pricing on independent discount brokers such as Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade.

This Scotia iTrade review covers its account offerings, trading platforms, fees, pros and cons, and alternatives.

What is Scotia iTrade?

Scotia iTrade is a division of Scotia Capital Inc. and the online brokerage arm of The Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank).

Scotiabank is a top-five bank in Canada based on its assets and market capitalization, and was founded in 1832.

It purchased E*Trade Canada in 2008 and launched it as Scotia iTrade in 2009.

Scotia iTrade Account Types

Traders using Scotia iTrade have access to registered, non-registered, and non-personal accounts.

The registered accounts you can open on the platform include:

  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Registered Retirement Savings Account (RRSP)
  • Registered Retirement Income Accounts (RRIF)
  • Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP)
  • U.S. Dollar Registered Accounts

For non-registered accounts, you can open a Scotia iTrade Cash Account, Scotia iTrade Margin Account, and a Scotia iTrade Cash Optimizer Investment Account.

Businesses can also use the platform for their direct investing needs.

Non-personal accounts available include:

  • Investment Club
  • Sole Proprietorship, Corporate, and Partnership Accounts,
  • Trust or Estate Accounts
  • Accounts for Non-Profit Organizations

Practice accounts are available if you want to test the trading platform without using real money.

Scotia iTrade Investment Types

The investment products you can buy on Scotia iTrade include stocks, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), mutual funds, bonds, new issues, GICs, and options.

Scotia iTrade was the first bank-owned brokerage in Canada to offer self-directed investors access to sustainable investing tools.

You can use the tool to rate over 1,200 companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange and Russell 1000 Index based on how they perform with Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors. 

Scotia iTrade Fees

Scotia iTrade’s trading commissions are among the highest in the industry at $9.99 per equity trade. This is similar to the base fee for TD Direct Investing and a few cents more than RBC Direct Investing and BMO InvestorLine.

Compared to these big bank offerings, Wealthsimple Trade does not charge trading commissions when you trade stocks and ETFs.

Commissions
Stocks
Options
Standard fee
$9.99
$9.99 + $1.25 per contract
Active trader pricing
$4.99
$4.99 + $1.25 per contract
Phone-assisted trades
$65
$65

To qualify for active trader pricing, you must place 150 or more trades per quarter.

Fixed income asset trades placed online cost $1 per $1,000 of face value. A minimum commission of $24.99 applies to each trade. If placed over the phone, an extra $65 fee applies.

For Exchange Traded Debentures, the fee is $1 per $1,000 of face value. A minimum commission of $24.99 applies to each trade. If you use the assistance of a phone representative, an extra $65 fee applies.

Scotia iTrade has 40+ commission-free ETFs you can buy without paying trading commission, when you execute your trade online or through TELE-TRADER, and hold the ETF for at least one business day.

Regular trading fees apply when you sell.

Administrative Fees

A “low activity account administration” fee of $25 per quarter is charged if your account balance is $10,000 or less (non-registered accounts).

A $100 registered account fee is levied per year on RRSP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF when the balance is less than $25,000 (waived in some cases).

These fees are waived, if you are under 26 years of age.

Other fees to watch out for:

  • Account transfer out: $150
  • Copies of statements or confirmations: $5 each
  • Canadian Controlled Private Corporation (CCPC) set up: $300
  • CCPC annual fee: $100
  • Monthly paper statement fee : $3
  • Unclaimed account fee: $60 per quarter

Scotia iTrade Trading Platforms and Tools

Scotia iTrade trading platform
Source: Scotia iTrade

Scotia iTrade clients have access to a numbers of trading platforms and research tools.

Scotia Online is the standard interface that is integrated with your banking account. It offers access to research reports from Reuters, ValuEngine, Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets, Sabrient, and more, plus portfolio charting, sustainable investing, and screeners.

The Scotia iTrade mobile app can be used for buying and selling stocks and ETFs on the go. It is available on the App Store and on Google Play.

Experienced investors and active traders can use the Scotia iTrade Flight Desk platform for access to powerful tools of options trading, customizable layouts, advanced strategies, in-depth analysis, heat maps, and level 2 real-time streaming quotes.

There is a fee for using the Scotia iTrade Flight Desk Standard or Premium service:

Trades or total assets per quarter
Standard Service
Premium service
$50-$250k assets
$29.95
$69.95
0-8 trades, or <$50k assets
$39.95
$79.95
9-29 trades
Free
$39.95
30-149 trades or >250k assets
Free
Free
150+ trades
Free
Free

Scotia iTrade has a well developed listing of free educational resources for new and experienced investors with how-to videos and guide.

The Scotia iTrade iClub has two membership tiers.

If you make 150+ trades per quarter or have $1 million in assets with Scotia iTrade, you gain Platinum iClub membership and enjoy;

  • Dedicated personalized service
  • Free Flight Desk Premium service
  • Low commissions starting at $4.99 per trade
  • Access to iClub member-only events

A Gold iClub membership is open to clients who place 30 or more trades per quarter or have $250,000 in assets with Scotia iTrade. It offers:

  • Dedicated personalized service
  • Free Flight Desk Premium service
  • Annual administration fee waivers on registered accounts
  • Access to member-only events

Scotia iTrade Pros and Cons

What are the benefits and downsides of Scotia iTrade?

Pros

  • A robust trading platform for experienced and active traders.
  • Access to a practice account if you want to test-run the platform without committing funds.
  • Young investors under 26 years can waive the low activity quarterly fee.
  • A referral program that pays you up to $100 or 50 free equity trades per referral.
  • Active traders and high net worth investors get a discount or commission and free access to the Flight Desk platform.
  • Offers a few commission-free ETFs (purchases only).
  • Newcomers to Canada get 10 free equity trades through the Start Right Program when they invest a minimum of $1,000 in a Scotia iTrade account.
  • Access to a tool that helps to identify sustainable investments.

Cons

  • The standard trading commissions on this platform are some of the highest. You will get lower fees to trade stocks and ETFs on Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade.
  • The $25 quarterly low activity fee can add up to $100 per year for small accounts and newbies.
  • The advanced trading platform and tools cater to active traders and high net worth investors.

Is Scotia iTrade Safe?

Scotiabank is one of the largest banks in Canada and has been around for over 188 years.

Scotia Capital Inc. is registered by the Investment Industry Regulatory of Canada (IIROC) and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).

The CIPF insures your account up to $1 million against the insolvency of a member firm.

Also, Scotia iTrade offers a security guarantee and will cover funds and securities unlawfully removed from your account as a result of fraudulent and unauthorized online transaction in your Scotia iTrade account (terms and conditions apply).

Scotia iTrade vs. Alternative platforms

The table below shows how Scotia iTrade compares to RBC Direct investing, Wealthsimple Trade, and Questrade.

Scotia iTrade
RBC Direct Investing
Wealthsimple Trade
Questrade
Stock trading fee
$9.99
$9.95
$0
$4.95-$9.95
Options fee/contract
$9.99 + $1.25
$9.95 +$1.25
N/A
$9.95 + $1
Commission-free ETFs
A few (purchases only)
No
Yes (free to buy and sell)
Purchases are free; fees apply when you sell
Trading commission discount
$4.95/trade for active traders (stocks)
$6.95/trade for active traders (stocks)
N/A
$4.95/trade for active traders (stocks)
Types of accounts
TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RESP, cash, margin, investment club, trust, corporate, partnership, non-profit organizations
TFSA, RESP, RRIF, RRSP, margin, corporate, cash investment club, partnership
TFSA, RRSP, personal non-registered
TFSA, RESP, RRSP, LRSP, LIF, LIRA, RRIF, margin, corporate, partnership
Minimum investment
None
None
None
$1,000
Maintenance fee
$25 per quarter if balance is ≤ 10,000
$25 per quarter if balance <15,000
None
None
Platform
Web and mobile app
Web and mobile app
Mobile app; web and mobile app for robo-advisor
Web, mobile app, desktop app
Transfer fees waived?
Up to $200 with transfers of $15,000+
Up to $150 on transfers of $5,000+
Up to $150/account
Other features
Sustainable investing tools; referral program
Robo-advisor platform; RBC Investease
Access to low-cost robo-advisor (Wealthsimple Invest)
Access to low-cost robo-advisor (Questwealth)
Promotion
Get a $10 cash bonus (Wealthsimple Trade); $50 on Wealthsimple Invest
Get $50 in free trades when you invest at least $1,000
Learn more

Scotia iTrade FAQ

How do I waive the fee on Scotia iTrade?

Active traders get a discount of $5 per trade for equities and options ($4.95 vs. $9.99). To qualify, you must place 150 or more trades per quarter. Investors with $1 million in assets also enjoy this discount. The $25 quarterly low activity fee is waived for clients under age 26.

How do I fund my Scotia iTrade account?

You can easily transfer funds from your Scotiabank chequing or savings account. You can transfer funds from another financial institution by filling out an electronic funds transfer form. Lastly, you can transfer existing investment from another bank to Scotia iTrade by completing a transfer authorization request.

How do I contact Scotia iTrade?

Call 1-888-872-3388 from Monday to Friday (8am to 8pm ET) or email [email protected].

Which brokerage platform are you using? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

Scotia iTrade Review
3.8

Summary

Scotia iTrade is one of the largest brokerage platforms in Canada. This Scotia iTrade review covers its fees, pros, cons, and alternatives.

Pros

  • Robust trading platform for experienced and active traders.
  • Has a referral program.
  • Access to a practice account. 
  • Young investors under 26 years can waive the quarterly fee.
  • Active traders get a discount on trading fees.

Cons

  • Flat-rate trading fees are high.
  • A $100/year fee for small accounts increases costs for those investing small sums.
  • The advanced trading platform and tools cater to active traders and high net worth investors.