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National Bank Direct Brokerage Review

Pay no commissions when you trade stocks, ETFs and other investments on this self-directed trading platform.

Get help figuring out which investments could be the best fit for your portfolio with an array of research tools.

National Bank is the first bank in Canada to eliminate commissions when you trade stocks, ETFs, options and other investments. You don’t need a minimum balance to get started with an account, and you can sign up in a matter of minutes. Just be aware that National Bank Direct Brokerage doesn’t have a mobile app, which could be a deal-breaker for some users.

National Bank Direct Brokerage account types

There are several different types of accounts you can sign up for with National Bank Direct Brokerage, depending on your needs.

Registered accounts

  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Invest money for your retirement and get a deduction for your contributions that you can apply to this year’s taxes.
  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). Put money into a TFSA to earn tax-free interest and dividends on your everyday savings.
  • Registered Education Savings Plans. Set money aside for your child’s education and get matched contributions from the government when you invest in an RESP.

Non-registered accounts

  • Cash account. Use available cash from your account to buy investments and pay taxes on any interest, dividends or capital gains you earn.
  • Margin account. Borrow money against the investments in your account to fund additional investments, but you’ll need to pay interest on what you take out.
  • Short-selling account. Borrow shares from National Bank and sell them immediately in the hopes of buying them back later at a lower price.

What investments does National Bank Direct Brokerage offer?

National Bank Direct Brokerage offers several different types of investments:

  • Stocks. You can purchase shares in a company and earn money on them if the company performs well (or lose money if it performs poorly).
  • Exchange traded funds. ETFs let you put your money into a pool of stocks or bonds so you can earn an average revenue across several investments at one time.
  • Bonds. Bonds allow you to give a loan out to a company or government, which they then pay you a fixed rate of interest on for a set period of time.
  • Options. For more experienced investors, options allow you to speculate and bid on how an asset is going to perform on the stock market.
  • Mutual funds. Similar to ETFs, mutual funds are pooled stocks or other securities that are usually managed by a dedicated portfolio advisor.
  • Debenture. You can earn a fixed rate of interest on these long-term securities, which are issued by a company and secured against its assets.

Who is National Bank Direct Brokerage best for?

National Bank Direct Brokerage is best for new and experienced investors who want to take advantage of zero commissions on stocks, ETFs and other investments. It’s an exceptionally good fit for customers of National Bank that want an integrated platform to manage their own portfolios.

It may also be a good fit for beginner investors who want to move into more advanced investing options in the future without changing platforms.

How easy is National Bank Direct Brokerage to use?

National Bank Direct Brokerage offers an online platform that’s relatively easy to use for beginners and experts alike. You can sign up for an account by filling out an online application and providing your banking information.

Once your account is set up, you can customize your home page and select how you want to display your accounts to make the platform easier to navigate.

What research does National Bank Direct Brokerage provide?

National Bank Direct Brokerage offers the following research tools to help you choose the best investments for you.

  1. Comparison tool. Line potential investments up next to each other to figure out which one best fits your portfolio.
  2. Performance tracking. Find out which investments in your portfolio are fluctuating the most to better manage your risk and reward.
  3. Insight and analysis. Enjoy a suite of tools to optimize your search results and get up-to-the-minute market news, insights and analysis.
  4. Watch lists. Create lists of securities to monitor so that you can keep up to date on how certain investments are performing.
  5. Price alerts. Set up an alert to notify you when an investment reaches a price where you might want to buy or sell it.

Pricing and fees

National Bank is the only bank in Canada that doesn’t charge commissions to trade stocks and ETFs. This is exceptional in a market where the standard buy/sell price for investments is between $4 and $10 per trade.

However, you may be required to pay National Bank Direct Brokerage fees if you’re buying options. You’ll also pay a foreign exchange fee if you buy and sell US assets, which most other brokerages do as well.

Is National Bank Direct Brokerage safe?

National Bank Direct Brokerage is operated by the sixth-largest commercial bank in Canada. It has branches in most Canadian provinces, serves over 2 million clients and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). This fund protects any money you deposit up to $1 million in the case that National Bank Direct Brokerage goes bankrupt.

How does National Bank Direct Brokerage keep my money safe?

National Bank Direct Brokerage keeps a number of bank-level safeguards in place to protect your account and personal information. It also uses data encryption and 2-factor authentication (2FA) to protect your account.

Pros and cons


  • No commissions. Avoid paying commissions when you trade stocks, ETFs and other investments.
  • Several account types. Put your money into an untaxed or taxable account, depending on your preferences.
  • Many research tools. Get help figuring out which investments could be the best fit for your portfolio with an array of research tools.
  • Secure platform. Rest easy knowing that your investments are protected by a leading national Canadian bank.


  • Fees for some investments. You’ll have to pay a fee to trade options and some mutual funds.
  • Exchange rates. You might pay exchange rates that are above the mid-market rate if you’re buying or selling on foreign markets.
  • No National Bank Direct Brokerage app. There is no National Bank Direct Brokerage app that you can download to your phone to manage your portfolio.

How do I sign up?

Follow these steps to open a National Bank Direct Brokerage account:

  1. Visit the National Bank Direct Brokerage home page.
  2. Scroll down and select the red “Open an account” button.
  3. Log in to your National Bank account (if you have one) to sign up for access.
  4. Select the “Open this form” prompt if you don’t have a National Bank account.
  5. Fill out the online application with personal information such as your name, address, phone number and banking details.
  6. Review and submit your application and provide supporting documents.

How do I contact National Bank Direct Brokerage support?

You can contact National Bank Direct Brokerage by sending an email, calling its support line or visiting a branch in person. You can also visit its online support centre to find answers to common questions such as how to sign up, fund your account and start trading.

Bottom line

National Bank Direct Brokerage lets you trade stocks, ETFs, options and other investments without paying commissions. It is a safe and easy-to-use platform that provides a wealth of research tools to help you get the most out of your self-directed portfolio. Find out more about how this platform works and sign up today to start investing.

Frequently asked questions about National Bank Direct Brokerage

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