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E-Trade (now iTrade) Canada Review

Nobleea, a regular reader here, posted a comment about being a user of E*Trade (now iTrade) Canada. Since I’ve never used E*Trade before, I thought it would be great to get a review from a long time user. Thanks Nobleea!

Frugal Trader asked me to do a review of E*Trade (i-trade), as I am a customer. I will try and follow the same format as he has used for previous brokerage reviews. I have been a customer of E*Trade since 2003, when I deposited a small $1100 cheque to fund my account.

Account types

Like most online brokerages, they offer several account types:

  • Cash (both US and CAD). This is the basic account for trading stocks and mutual funds.
  • Registered. For self directed RSP users.
  • Savings. E*Trade has a Cash Optimizer savings account with a pretty high interest rate. 4.15% at the moment I believe.
  • Options. For trading and creating options on popular stocks.
  • Margin. Trading on margin.

The Application Process

  • The last two accounts are a little bit more complicated. I have had a cash account since 2003 and have just opened a registered account. You can trade US equities and funds in a CAD currency account, but you obviously get hit with the forex (>1% each way) for each trade. You can have both CAD and US cash accounts simultaneously.

Commissions on Equity Trading, there are two price levels:

  • $19.99/ trade for 1000 shares (2c per share thereafter for shares over $1, $19.99 flat for shares under $1) for accounts with less than 30 trades/quarter or less than $50K in account assets (for US equities it is $19.99 flat regardless of equity price or amount of shares)
  • $9.99 flat fee/trade for accounts with more than 30 trades in the previous quarter or more than $50K in account assets.
  • There is no difference in price for limit or market orders. They also offer Trailing Stop Orders which allows you to enter a stop order with a trigger price that changes with the market. E*Trade does dividend reinvestment, but will only purchase whole shares, with the remained being deposited as cash.

Real Time Quotes

  • Real time quotes are available for US and CAD equities. Real time Level II information is also available on CAD equities (not sure about US equities). This is helpful when you are placing an order to see what the spread is like and if any iceberg orders exist.

Mutual Funds

  • Access to over 3200 mutual funds. E*Trade charges nothing for mutual fund trades as long as you hold the fund for at least 90 days.
  • Otherwise, they charge a fee of $38.88 or 1%, whichever is greater. I have not bought any mutual funds through E*Trade.
  • ETFs are also available.

Funding

  • You can set up E*Trade as a biller in order to fund your account. This takes 3-5 days for the money to show up in your E*Trade account.
  • A better option is sign up for the automatic debit system where you can transfer cash back and forth between bank and brokerage in a day. Sometimes in can be done the same day if the timing is right. The good thing is that as soon as you initiate a transfer from your bank account to E*Trade, you can use the money immediately to buy stocks, even if the actual money has not been transferred yet.

Security

  • E*Trade offers a key fob security device which increases the security of your password by creating a new password every 60 seconds. You enter your regular login and password and then add on the 6 digit security code from the key fob which changes automatically every minute. The key fob is free if you have more than $50K in account assets or $30 if you have less. I received mine a week ago.

Concerns

  • Broker assisted trades over the phone will cost you extra, $35, I believe. Their telephone operators do not appear to be of the highest caliber, but are generally helpful. I have to exercise some warrants before the end of the month, so we’ll see if they can handle that.

Final Thoughts

  • E*Trade Canada is good if you qualify for Power E*Trade, which is the cheaper price level once 30 trades/quarter is achieved (or $50K in account assets). Otherwise, there are better deals available. It is best for frequent traders who have a good grasp on what they are doing.
  • If you are interested in stock trading, check out some of the free stock trading tools that I use.

Thanks again for the review Nobleea. If you guys want to see how E*Trade stacks up against other discount brokerages, check out my Canadian Discount Brokerage Comparison article.









42 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. 1. Daniel M,

    I had a account a while back with E-Trade Canada, poor service, runarounds and a rude customer service agent made me decide to close my account and deal with a full service broker.

    I am very comfortable dealing online for all my other needs.

  2. 2. HalOtis

    Thanks for the overview.

    I was thinking about switching away from my current online broker. E-Trade Canada doesn’t seem that much better that’s it’s worth the switch.

  3. Etrade is setup definitely for the active trader, they have a hidden fee on their trade commissions if you dont trade enough, kinda lame. BUT, they do have offer some great tools from what I hear and if you are an active trader well than more power to ya!

  4. 4. nobleea

    Well, I just excercised the warrants I had. It was rather easy, only took 3 minutes over the phone. I guess we’ll see whether they did it right next week!

  5. What I want to know is if the Canadian Etrade account can be funded with US bank ACH.

  6. No, canadians cant do that with their etrade due to USA stupid laws.

  7. 9. Doug

    Etrade Canada is awful, they will charge you $50 to close an account and $10 just to send you a cheque. Plus if you don’t trade for 3 months, they charge a $25 low activity fee. Beware.

  8. Doug, they will only charge you the inactivity fee if you have less than $5k balance in your account.

  9. 12. dave

    I had been an Etrade customer since 2003 when I bought a small stock, not worth very much (ended up being less than $25 value over the last few years), and recently bought a stock worth a few thousand a few months ago. I was shocked to see a my cash account balance -$25, for a quarterly fee! Apparently you need to have over $5000 in assets with them before they waive this fee.

    I had asked why they never charged me this over the last 5 years, and their response was “I really don’t know, consider yourself lucky!”. I switched my account and future business over to TD Waterhouse, which has no fees as long as you sign up for e-statements. (of course trading fees apply, but no inactivity fees).

    The only reason they never charged me, was because they knew if they had, and my account was not worth anything, I would simply not do future business with them. Shady bastards.

  10. No, canadians cant do that with their etrade due to USA stupid laws.

  11. 14. Hans

    Stay away…

    Uneducated staff, imposible to escalate issues
    Hidden fees – what you save in trading commission you will pay in FX and low interest rates
    New owners (Scotia) don’t care either

  12. 15. Some Guy

    E*Trade is very speedy. If you make a max $5K internet payment from a Canadian bank before 1PM, the money “arrives” in your E*Trade account the next business day, regardless of whether you’ve set it up for quick EFT, or not. The down side is, you can trade with the money right away, but you can’t withdraw it back to your bank account until the 10 business day holding period passes. So far, I’m impressed.

  13. 16. Thinkingaboutit

    Im seeing way to many people complaining about Forex fees for trading US equities. The people who are complaining say they are active traders yet they seem extremely unintelligable. Learn to read before opening an account. I dont see any hidden fees at any brokerage. Yes they are in fine print but its your fault for not reading the fine print. Back to forex fees for us equities. If you trade Us equities just change your account into USD this way you dont get hit with a fee everytime you trade. Before you bash a company and sway people away from them with your comments make sure it wasnt your own stupidity that caused you the problem.

    I myself am looking for a new brokerage and im having a tough time. I have over 25k but less than 100k and im looking at Etrade, IB, Tradefreedom, Questrade. Etrade seems the safest in security terms, IB I hate their platform completely, Tradefreedom seems reasonable but they seem amateur for some reason, Questrade cheap commisions but heard way to many problems with them regarding people’s money in account etc etc . I am currently with TDW and was an active trader but i havent traded in about a year. I will be an active trader again but until i do 150 trades a quarter ill be paying $30 fees which is unacceptable. I would love to stay with them but they are unwilling to help me and i will be closing both of my accounts with them all because of this. TO me thats stupid business but hey i dont own a bank.

  14. 17. E*Trade problems

    Would definetely recommend against E*Trade. There are a lot of hidden fees – low activity, issues cheque, etc., etc. The worst part is that all these fees are not clearly documented so you don;t find out about them until after you have opened an account. I switched to Interactive Brokers and found it much more straigth forward.

  15. 18. Smith

    I been using e*trade now i*trade canada for a few years. There is a fee charge list and if you plan to invest in US equities its best to have USD account.

    I never had a problem with their service provider. Although I have more than 5k invested and did not use them as financial advisors. (called them up one time to correct a mistake in using cdn instead of from my usd account. It was fixed fast. Their system is accurate and pretty secure.)

    I found lots of comments are ridiculous. You state one thing yet fail to provide the other thing you had find better and what exactly was wrong with it.

    I checked the fee charge list on others if you can find it that is and found itrade to be competitive.

  16. 19. StockStalker

    For the past couple of months, or so I have been unable to purchase $2-$5 TSX-listed stocks on margin. Would anyone confirm whether $2 stocks are still marginable with iTrade, or is this just fiction and that iTrade forgot to update their margin rules under Help section when they merged with Scotia Investing?

  17. 20. Ryan

    Probably the worst customer service of any of the brokerages I have been with. They lose forms like it is their hobby. They lost my quick transfer application, my father’s account application, my father’s RRSP transfer form, and my roommate’s account application form. You know things are bad when you have to call and get an employee to check if the address written on the website is in face the correct one. I have been with them for about 3 years now and am in the process of closing my account and moving to CIBC Investors Edge.

  18. 21. John

    Service has gone WAY downhill since Scotia took over. “Realtime” quotes are actually previous business day end-of-day quotes for anything that trades on NYSE-ARCA. Telephone customer support has gone from E*Trade-Canada-bad to functionally non-existent. Online company updates happen in geologic time, for example, Crescent Point announced conversion from income trust to corporation March 4 2009, executed change July 2 (CPG.UN is now CPG). iTrade is STILL (as of Jul 13) quoting as CPG.UN close of biz July 2 and is un-tradeable in my account.

    My suspicion is that when Scotia took over, they did not acquire source code for online programming from E*Trade. Consequently they are now unable to make program upgrades or modifications.

    My advice based on personal experience… STEER CLEAR OF iTRADE!!

  19. 22. May

    I have very bad experience with questrade so I am thinking to open an account with etrade canada. Is this a good company to trade stock? I will follow up to see your comments. Thank you all.

  20. 24. HHH

    I recently opened scotiaitrade account. The account was opened quickly, however they forgot to transfer the account from my previous broker. When I phoned to inquire about it, first it seemed to them that I didnt send the transfer form to them, but after being placed on hold, they were able to find it in their office. Took another week to transfer over…..the the comission fee. I had over 50 in the account, however, I was given the 19.99 comission fee. Phoned once, they told me this would be corrected for the next day. Two days later, nothing changed so I phoned again and they changed it few hours later…….
    As for the easy transfer between bank account, if you want to transfer mony out it aint that easy, takes up to 10 days for the whole process to take place……As for the 100 free trades..they cover only up to 9.99……..lots of fine print and misleading info…………yet have to make a trade…..will update my experience in few weeks……

  21. 25. newbie

    HHH, ya i called them recently for info. They make it sound good but then there is lots of fine print. They said there is no free 100 trades if you have less than $50,000. So I am still thinking if I should sign up.

    Holding my money for 1 week! thats too much. Also, I think there is a min. usage fee right?
    I have been told that TOS is very good.

  22. 26. GG

    lost 1000.00 bucks today because of itrade.

    I called and yelled and they wouldn’t help , got 2 free trades.

    I was in TNA for 30k, up 400.00 , went to put in my sell order, and the ticket said my account did not exist. 0.00 money in my account 250k gone.

    I called yelling, market tanking ! and they said because we’re are in the process of switching over your account to a margin account……more yelling…get it sold over the phone, wanted to charge me a 45.00 fee, more yelling…no charge sir, sorry…. I want 100 free trades, no sir, I’ll give you 2 , hang up…..

    no more itrade, switching again to someone else….

  23. 27. Newbie

    U serious? I have been using them for a month now, and I agree with everyone, their customer service sucks, but here and there u will get a good agent.
    Otherwise time will tell if they are really bad, because their platform and everything is fine.

  24. They were pretty bad before and I don’t think I’d chance it with the new outfit since we already moved everything to TD.

  25. 29. Trader

    I am a Trade Freedom customer using the trading platform the Edge, from the time on when Scotia bought Trade Freedom, the service has significantly deteriorated while in the same time Scotia has increased the fees across the board; the latest new fee they implemented is a $30.00 charge for the platform which used to be free with Trade freedom. At this time I am looking for another broker. Any suggestions?

  26. 30. Dugger

    I currently conduct all my banking through Scotia and have an online trading account with Scotia McLeod Direct (SMD), but was thinking of switching to Scotia I-Trade as the fees with SMD are killing me. I’m a fairly low volume trader (~24 trades / yr) playing with mainly CND & US small cap stocks in my TFSA, which gives me a base of $5-10K to work with. I have been reading through the various reviews, but can not decide which online service would best suite my needs (although I am currently leaning towards TDW). Any in-sights and suggestions would be greatly appreciated…!

  27. 31. Toby

    I’d stay away from ITRADE, if I were you, Dugger. They have mismanaged my accounts, have just magically lost one, have enormous phone wait times for customer service and when you do get a rep, they are surly, do not listen, are ill informed and just plain worthless.
    I have had them make many mistakes, so that now I have to calculate every day what should be where, otherwise they can make mistakes to the client’s detriment.

  28. 32. Peter

    All Scotia products (including their banking) are worst. Very poor customer service. We have to wait loooong for everything. Worst complaint resolving system. Inexperienced staff. Keep off from them.

  29. 33. Al.

    Absolutely terrible, after 9 months of trying to get the proper mailing address entered onto my account, I have yet to receive a statement since March 2009.
    On phone calls they appear condescending and don’t listen to what you are trying to tell them, and when I finally sent in a letter of complaint resulting in a phone cal from a ‘specialist’ her follow up email said “we consider the problem now solved”.That was in June, it is now January 2010 and I am still statement less. I am in the process of transferring to Questrade who also offers on line statements something that seems to be beyond the skill of ITrade; their charges are also much more reasonable.

  30. 34. Geoff

    The lower trading fees is why I switched from RBC direct. Like cell phone plans, we Canadians sure get hosed when it comes to trading. I transferred $50K which qualifies for $9.99 equity trades, whereas $100K is required at RBC.

    The transfer was done during the changeover debacle last Dec 09. It was only 2 weeks ago that missed dividends and trading fee rebates were credited. I must have placed a dozen calls to my personal account manager to get it sorted out. Eleven to many in my opinion. That being said, he saw it through which is the only reason I did not transfer back. If it were left to their general customer service, which I believe is utterly lacking, I would have taken my money and ran.

    Compared to RBC, iTrade’s general web platform is very weak. I have subscribed to Globe Investor Gold for decision making. In addition, if you are a MAC user like me, you will quickly find their platform cannot fully support your computer. When I inquired about it, I was told institutions use PC’s so I should buy a laptop otherwise I’m SOL.

    I’m also alarmed by what I’m reading about their currency exchange. At this point in my investing career I’m mostly building core positions in dividend paying stocks. I have a USD account but I question if utilizing the TSFA at iTrade for foreign equities is a good idea.

    In summary I believe you get what you pay for. I definitely don’t have the peace of mind I had at RBC. I am much more diligent in keeping track of dividends owed and general record keeping at iTrade. Although I disagree with RBC’s play dough online poker site practice account marketing strategy, I will probably switch back once my positions grow to the $100k needed.

  31. 35. Joel Surette

    In addition to the terrible currency exchange and other issues mentioned above, I thought I would share some of my experience:

    BNS has really screwed up Etrade. I don’t know if they’re not funding it or what but customer service is in the toilet. The interface is terrible so we are forced to call in anything other than the simplest option orders. The guys answering the phones are either incompetent or pretend to be – very frustrating, when trying to place a simple option spread order. The web site goes down for hours at a time and entire option chains quotes mysteriously disappear permanently (anyone look up RUT lately?). Not to mention that fun weekend in December during which they changed a LONG call position to a SHORT position out of nowhere forcing me to deposit 20K to cover a margin call which should never have been issued in the first place.

    Going forward my “core” holdings will be at RBC and I’m going to optionsxpress for option trades, at least you can enter orders directly without being forced to talk to rude, slow and sometimes stupid customer service reps. A sad end to a 10 year old Etrade account, oh well.

  32. 36. Geoff

    UPDATED REVIEW to my original post on Feb 5 2010. Tax season is here and I find myself sorting through stock confirmation receipts for roughly a dozen trades that I skimmed around my core holdings in non registered’s for the last two months of 2009.

    One of the first things I asked before I signed up as a new customer was- Does iTrade send a year end summary of security dispositions? The answer was yes. The truth has me reeling.

    My mailed statements (which look mickey mouse) do not show adjusted book values in my non-registered accounts. I can understand this be the case for securities transferred in-kind from my old (soon to be new again) institution but I have since bought two new ones and guess what-no book value. At least not on my paper statements. Online they are stated except for the one security where the number on my screen does not match the number on my confirmation receipt. Is iTrade for real??!! Also, still waiting for a income summary for a trust company I own and were already half way through March.

    In my first review I stated I would wait until my portfolio grows to the needed value to qualify for $9.99 trades at my old institution-RBC. Needless to say the transfer paperwork is currently in progress. iTrade is simply not worth the headache.

    I keep thinking about iTrade’s commercial shown everywhere. The one where customers are throwing each other a ball then answering why they trade with iTrade. I see it as something different. The customers are actually employees and the ball is a hot potato representing your money.

  33. 37. Tom Blacky

    I cant believe their year end finale trade summary. Not a summary at all, they make you do the math on every stock traded, and then you have to figure out the years total, WHAT A FRUSTRATION!! Fine if you traded a half dozen times in a year but I’ve got 612 trades to go through now. Last years summary was what I’m used too its similar to TD Canadatrust where everything is calculated for you, You just scan down through the pages to see the amount you made or lost per stock traded, on the finale page of the summary they showed your total net loss or gain. I had a great year and even requested to pay them if the they would kindly run my trades through last years summary program, I begged as politely and kindly as I could but I was spoken too like I was a piece of garbage the most offensive remarks, I ever from a discount broker so I’m leaving with my half mill and its back to TD… I did find out however that last years summary was Etrade program. Not impressed!!

  34. 38. Paul

    Sorry to hear the year end summaries are useless this year. I put all my trades into a spreadsheet anyways as no broker seems to so average cost correctly but still… how hard is a y/e summary with calculations???

    My main beef with iTrade is customer service. They are so lazy and useless and misinformed. Their main purpose is to not answer and pass the buck. This time I emailed to say I was sending in cash to meet a margin call. I was away for the day so they just email back saying they didn’t have my account number so can’t help. ie they had my name and last 4 digits, and the specific margin email, but were unable to look up my account! What a joke they are. So instead they sell the wrong security to meet the call, they sell a marginable one so they have to sell twice as much!

    Only once was I able to escalate, the poor useless manager just had nothing to say. Be warned, iTrade is useless on service. Each year I say I will transfer out, this year I will try one account at TD and one at Questtrade and see how it goes.

    Also, the iTrade platform has bugs in it I complained about in 2006! They do no upgrades, just a few minor ones when Scotia took over and cut service quality even more. Some of the site works fine, I have not had problems placing trades, other than they dont open the system until after 8am EST! ie if you place a change order it will tie up your margin as if it is a buy, so you cant place your 2nd change order! Amazing but true.

    My advice – Stay away! Not worth the headache. I will finally move and hope for better,

  35. 39. James B.

    THE WORST CUSTOMER SERVICE EVER!!!!

  36. 40. m.n

    I just closed my account with them and moved somewhere else.

    Things you should know if you make a U.S, trade make sure you move your money from canadian optimizer account over to U.S margin account other wise these thief’s they charge you 5 cents for conversation fees per dollar for each trade on the buy and sell and even if you have a US margin account they still convert it to canadian to make extra from you which i don’t think anybody else does.

    Another words if you are an active trader this is not a site to use since if you make like 20 trades it could cost you a few hundreds of dollars in conversation costs aside from trading costs. when it was E*trade the service was much better and rubbery did not take place in bright day light.

  37. 41. m.n

    Uh i forgot to mention, it really is about options not so much trading the stocks it self. Since i do have an account with two other brokers i noticed that

    never ever it is a good idea to sell or buy at market price with scotia trade since i did test them and bought and sold the same amount of option on i trade an another platform at the same time on two different screens and pressed entered with less a a second difference and to my amazement the market price on both buy and sell using i trade was more on the buy side and less on the sell side.

    So be very careful with these guy they cheat like there is no tomorrow.

  38. 42. Andre

    Firstly what weak chart structure, no 200 dma or any other Moving average, no basic volume indicator other than the ancient bar graph. This is like playing soccer against Pele do you think you could beat him?

    You might mention flight desk which is so totally un-user friendly it blows my mind, Scotia would even offer such a hard to navigate tool. Especially at $60/ month and baby boomers as their main clients. They want money and every penny they can get.

    Just so many basic flaws. I could pick out in a day cretiquing, such as me qualifying for $9.99 trades, but initially charging me 24.95 plus an additional after-hours placement charge. I phoned they said, “it gets updated next quarter or some bs.” I missed all the tax loss selling bottom buying, because I’m not into getting screwed and don’t do well appealing my case. That’s about $4k gone. How hard would it be to incorporate this into their crap platform.

    Usd conversions are obviously a huge money maker, they can charge what ever they want. I made $2 a share on a Gold stock and was still down at the time.

    I don’t know how much training their employees get but it’s not enough, they are fairly clueless. The trader I talked didn’t know the most basic stuff.

    My password I use 10+ times a day, went invalid one day.

    The security questions are a joke where do you live, what’s your phone number give me a break, a scam could have a field day. Maybe check the phone I am calling from, is the same one on file, I asked, Scotia can’t see my number nor do they care.

    Anyways beyond their joke of a platform, that they reassure me is changing for the better soon. Is that I noticed they are nickle and diming me to death. Check your account very closely for bank fraud. Not that they will ever be charged, the untouchables beyond the law, banks.

    Would it be too much to ask to see where you are, plus minus for year/month, this is the computer age 2012, Scotia get out of the stone ages. Financial reports from years ago, not even candlesticks, or moving averages. I have to download every bit of company news, just link me.

    I thought Scotia McCloud was bad, I couldn’t believe how prehistoric it was. I assumed this would be better nope it’s worse way worse. People including me have their life savings here, and this the best they can do. Even Yahoo financial is better, it has the basic tools needed to make prudent investing decisions.

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