RBC Direct Discount Brokerage Review

I recently moved my investment accounts from Questrade to RBC Direct in order to take advantage of the RBC 1% rebate deal so I thought it would only be fitting to do a review of their services.

Who are they?

RBC Direct is the discount brokerage arm of the Royal Bank of Canada which is the biggest Canadian bank.

Good things about RBC Direct

I like the trading platform – it looks nice, easy to use and is well designed.  There is also access to analysts reports etc.  It does the job.

If you would like to compare all the different Canadian discount brokerages, check out the Canadian discount brokerage comparison.

Bad things about RBC Direct

Everything else.  🙂

Fees – ridiculous fees in my opinion.  $10/trade is not bad for a passive investor but why anyone would pay $29 a trade is beyond my comprehension.  I’ve outlined the fees at the bottom of the post.

No electronic money movement
unless you have a RBC bank account.  This is the stupidest thing about RBC – yes, I understand they want to ‘bundle’ all their services but forcing investors to open up new accounts to use their discount brokerage when most of the other discount brokerages offer excellent electronic money movement options is just bad business.  Get out of the stone age RBC!

In order for me to put money into the account, I have to write a cheque and mail it to them.  If I want to remove any money – I have to pay $10 for a cheque to be written.  My plan is to keep all cash in the account until next year when I can move back to Questrade and then withdraw it electronically.  The most annoying part of this is that when I looked into the 1% deal – a customer service rep told me on the phone that I could do electronic money movement which turned out to be false.  Speaking of customer service….

Bad Customer service

I won’t bore you will the multitude of issues I’ve encountered with RBC but suffice to say that I think their computer system was probably build sometime in the 20’s which makes it very hard for the customer service reps to do their job.

Most of the reps are pretty good although one time I called without an account number and the rep told me it was “very hard to look up an account without the account number”.  I challenged him on it and he somehow was able to find the account immediately just using my name.  Kudos jackass…kudos.


I can’t really recommend RBC Direct since I really don’t like them and can’t wait to collect my 1% and go back to Questrade.  However, if you already do your banking with RBC and have a $100,000 in assets then they are not a bad choice.  If you don’t meet those criteria then look elsewhere.

Trading Fees

  • $28.95 per trade unless you have $100,000 in household assets at RBC Direct or complete more than 30 trades per quarter.
  • $9.95 if you have $100,000 in household assets at RBC Direct.
  • $9.95 if you make between 30 and 149 trades per quarter.
  • $6.95 for those super-active traders who do at least 150 trades per quarter.

Annual account fees

  • No fees if total client assets are $15,000 or more.
  • If assets are less than $15,000, a $25 quarterly fee will be charged regardless of the number of accounts.  Can be avoided by making three or more trades in all accounts

Other discount brokerages reviews

Questrade discount brokerage review.

26 replies on “RBC Direct Discount Brokerage Review”

Ouch. I’m *SO* glad I didn’t go for this, sounds like a lot of aggravation for a couple hundred bucks (what it would have been worth to me).

I posted on something similar about Harvey’s free hamburger give-away ( It seem kind of crazy that they offer big money to get people to try them out, then offer a really bad experience.

I find E*Trade’s $20 trades pretty annoying, $29 trades is outrageous.

I’m sure if you surveyed a good sample of RBC customers the results wouldn’t be as bad as they were for me.

I do regret moving my open account though – the 1% bonus is not worth the hassle since I can’t easily move money in and out.

Great post! I’ve got an account with RBC direct investing, well, 3 accounts (RSP, non-registered, and TFSA), same with my wife.

I agree with all your points. It only makes sense if you have existing banking accounts (they do offer a high-interest e-account which is decent enough) and over $100k.

I really didn’t start using this account exclusively until our family built up our accounts large enough to benefit from the lower fees.

Good points, but I am confused in that a relative uses RBC, has well over a $100k and is charged 6% for trades In and out????

Howard – you should ask your relative for more details. The only way I can see to have a percentage like that is either they are trading very small lots of stock ie $150 at a time. Or they are selling back-end mutual funds (with fees) from one fund company and being charged to buy front end with another fund company.

If either case is true they they need to change their investing strategy.

All clients of discount, phone/internet, direct brokers, such as RBC Action Direct, should be aware that these brokers can and will sell and surrender your shares without informing you either in advance of, during or after doing so. They may appear to be forwarding shareholder communications from your investment, but they can and will change that practice at will, when it suits them.

I have had a recent personal experience with RBC Action Direct in the instance of a friendly takeover bid by Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) of Shell Canada in 2005/6. RBC forwarded all offers by Shell to me up to the final ?closure of offer? on March 30. By law then, if RDS had acquired 90% or more of the shares, they could apply to the Government for authority to invoke a compulsory sale of the outstanding shares. I wasn?t kept informed of this action nor of its progress i.e. neither its approval nor the date of implementation. The RBC Action Direct simply sold and surrendered my Shell shares on April 25 without informing me before, during or after acting.

Be aware that sale of your shares by your broker can occur without your advance knowledge, direction or consent at least anytime there is a ?successful? takeover bid involving your shares.

Apparently, it is every direct broker?s stated policy not to be responsible for informing its client, you the shareowner, particularly when proceeding to execute a ?compulsory? sale and surrender of the client?s holdings, without the client?s knowledge or authority. I guess the brokers are already assured of their fees, so why bother informing the client/owner.

This, I believe, is wrong as a matter of principle. But also, this ?breach of trust? by the broker can preclude your right to transfer the shares prior to the approved compulsory sale, be that transfer to a registered charity or to other person(s) or entity(s) prior to their surrender and sale. In Canada at least, there can be a significant reduction or elimination in the capital gain tax by implementing such a transfer prior to the sale. In the case of my modest holding of Shell Canada shares, there was a net loss of benefit of more than $7000.

Ask your direct service broker if it is their policy act only on your direction and/or to inform you before executing any and all sales of your holding(s). For RBC Action Direct the answer is clearly ?NO, THEY DON?T!?

The RBC Action Direct’s $29/trade is decieving because it depends on number of shares you buy. I have paid over $200 per single trade and could be even higher. Their active trade statuse is almost impossible to acheive and maintain without doing lot of useless trades. I decided to move to CIBC’s Edge package, it’s $400 for 50 trades and then it gets even cheaper. I do would not recommend RBC Action Direct to any one. I complained to them and they told me to get lost.

I’ve been with RBC for a number of years, but in the last few weeks, I have been frustrated to no end by technical difficulties with their online trading system; when it goes down, they recommend you use their telephone trading platform – problem with that – it’s just as unreliable; if you want to talk to an actual person, expect to wait 15-20 minutes – big problem if you’re trying to buy or sell a stock on the move. I will be switching to another broker soon.

I’ve just returned from a meeting with RBC folks about opening a TSFA self-directed investing account. Their fee structure blew me away which surprised them. Wondering whether I might be out to l checked out your blog. Based on your experience and those who responded , I’ll be looking elsewhere. Well done!

My biggest complaint with RBC DI is that whenever you phone them you get a different rep every time and when that person finally comes on the line, they usually speak with an accent you could cut with a chainsaw. On
top of that some of them are incredibly stupid, or obtuse, or perhaps both.

After staying 5 years with RBC and giving them thousands in comission fees i finally transferred my account to scotiaitrade.
Main reason, $28.95 for each 1000 shares traded! this is rape!
Also, RBC is very arrogant, I sent them email asking if they would match scotia’s comission fees and they basically told me I could go puck myslef as they didnt care if I closed my account…..well, if few thousand people do it, watch out RBC for you’ll lose clients fast.
Lastly many times I was unable to log in due to tech difficulties on their side……

Although my problem with RBC Direct invoved specifically their ignorance of capital gain tax excemption for securities donated to registered charities, it was their arrogance and unwillingness to accept any responsibility for not keeping me, their, client informed by continuing to forward the company’s bullletins, etc. and for surrendering my shares for cash without my authority or even my foreknowledge of their actions, that leads me to say “Don’t trust RBC Direct”. Their Ombudsman was also a joke.

Recently RBC Investing did an update on there site. I am a small investor who enjoys trading as a challenge. The site always gave you information on analyst ratings, comments on the market, stock picks , analyst information on different stocks, gas, oil and gold market. Know only the investor with $250,000 can get that information. (THE INNER CIRCLE). Why would a small investor stay with them and pay higher fees and know we don’t even get any Stock Analysis information. The site is absolutely useless.

Don’t agree. RBC DI was very good. I tried the same 1% promo then went back to investorline because of the drip issue, which i now kind of regret.

The only thing i didn’t like was the fact that you had to have Drip on all or none, no selection. Other than that, I had excellent dealings with service, and believe me, they were checking often if I was happy with the move over there.

RBC is clean, well organised, their site is so much better than BMO, which is disorganised, littered with old content and exprired links. I keep on telling them, but things don’t change fast. Example: they have the bright idea to add links to BMO research, and they don’t list the stock symbol or company, just the title of the article, so you have 30 links on a page and no idea which companies are being featured. You have to open each pdf to find out the mystery.

Other example, the layout on the holdings screen, what a mess, US and CAN all mixed up, with US options in the middle, etc. I hope they get their act together.

I think rbc really has a flawless user interface, categorized investments, etc. If they have another promo, i will switch back i think.

Worst of all, it seems that bmo is not bundling a single commission for multiple orders for the same stock on a single day, whereas RBC seems to as I was reviewing my trades for 09, say 3 orders sheets (with 10 partial fills on each) on same day for a total commish of 9.95. BMO would charge me 3 times.

I need to be absolutely sure rbc is really doing this as a policy. If so, this is a HUGE advantage over bmo.

If happens that you want to add more to your position on the same day as price evolves. If true RBC would be giving unlimited buy orders same day on same stock for free!!

Jazzi – I liked the interface at RBC – my complaints had to do with the setup of the account and money transfers if you didn’t have a bank account at RBC – that part is inexcusable.

RBD direct investing’s service makes me so unhappy. Their system is so old and has so many bugs. But when I pointed out that and gave them advices, they argued with me and never try to improve. For example, for the investment commission fee, in the customer service, it says, if you have $100,000 or more in total in household, you will automatically qualify for a flat commission rate of $9.95 per trade. But in the link on the bottom, in very small font, it notes actually you need to call by yourself–hardly to notice! Maybe they do it on purpose to make you lose money! Besides, it is hard to keep it on track by ourselves because we manage our own account seperately even living in the same household, and it didn’t indicate what is the time window you need to call to qualify to get all your refound. When I asked, they said maybe not all, can only be some. Some? What does that mean? The answer doesn’t make sense and is so not clear.It may make me loose thousands of dollars.

In conclusion, to save my money, energy, and time, I’m ready to get out.

Don’t know why RBC direct investing’s service is sooooooooooooo bad. They asked me to do the job myself, and check with me today togive me the refound, but it’s totally a differnt answer this morning. Not only I wasted my money, I also wasted my time . I’d better do find a lawer for me!

Remember, don’t go to them!

It’s not well advertised, you CAN transfer funds electronically to RBC Direct, by adding them as a bill in your source account. Note that it only works for deposits to Registered accounts.
I’ve not had any trouble with customer service. They quickly corrected a trade mistake I made when I sold something in the wrong account.
My biggest beef with RBC Direct is common to a lot of online brokers. Online bond trading is terrible. The search is html circa 1993 and the markup for us retail bond investors is brutal.

I am looking for the Terms and Conditions for the 1 % bonus RBC. Credential Securities had the same promotion in 2010. The only difference I can find so far is that the RBC bonus was completely tax free and Credential Securities is 100% taxable and they issue a T5. If I had the RBC Terms and Conditions I would give it to Credential and they could ask CCRA why the difference. Thank you.

My issues are all of the above.. no matter what your wealth.

RBC Direct Investing is still in the model of the 80’s whereby the customer has to adapt to them instead of them adapting to you.

One of my top 3 most frustrating organizations I have dealth with.

If my wife and I each had $500,000 in RRSP’s $200,000 in non RRSP’s and $20,000 in TFSA’s we would each get 1% of $720,000 as a bonus for transferring to accounts at RBC DI??? It seems too good to be true.

We would be buying index funds and balancing only once a year in each fund to keep the pre-allocated asset mix constant, so the cost of trades doesn’t really matter, although it would seem that we would qualify for $9.95 per trade. What’s the catch?? When does it expire?? And why is the sign-on bonus not taxable?

Does the RBC DI fund allow Direct Re-Investment of dividends in the non RRSP funds to avoid paying capital gains on dividends? How do they manage disposition of US currency from sale of US funds — are they always converted back to Canadian?


It is sometimes hard to evaluate the appropriateness or relevance of a post such as this one when there is no date displayed (at least on my Apple computer). Is there anyway that I can uncover the date of this article? If not, may I request that future posts show the date somehow? Thanks

The last conversation and correspondence with RBC Direct was the last week of March, 2006. Their covert sale of my Shell Canada shares was a couple of weeks latter in April 2006.

If you are trading options, this is one of the worse platforms you can use to trade. I recently joined RBC DI, stock trading is OK. Not great. It still feels like I am using a 1998 web page. My biggest problem with this platform is that you cannot place a stop loss order on options. Add to that the 20 minute delay and the slow order processing and what you have is a perfect formula to loose all your money. It is impossible to keep up with the options price (up or down) and it seems I am always pricing myself out of the market. I had to modify my order at least 15 times before I finally got my order filled. When that happened the price had fallen more than 50% when I could have stopped my loses at 20%. THIS IS UNFORGIVABLE for a company that claims to be conservative.

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