BMO Investorline Review 2023 – Account Types, Fees + Promo

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Is BMO Investorline Safe and Trusted?

In a word, YES.

As one of Canada’s oldest and most trusted companies (founded in 1817) the Bank of Montreal is as safe, trusted, and legit as you can get. 

InvestorLine has been around longer than the internet – BMO introduced self-directed trading way back in 1988 before moving online in 2000. That’s an impressive history!

BMO InvestorLine is IIROC regulated and CIPF insured. They use 128-bit encryption and multi-factor user authentication to keep your data safe. While any online financial transaction has some risk, BMO is as safe as they get.

BMO InvestorLine Review – Mobile App & Software

BMO has a strong online platform that’s convenient and simple to use. Its mobile app ranked the highest of the big banks in our list of the Best Stock Trading Apps in Canada.

The online platform’s dashboard is streamlined and easy to navigate, but still gives you access to all the tools you need. It’s also extremely customizable, meaning you can hide any tools or features that you’re not interested in seeing regularly. This is a great feature for novice investors or people with simple portfolio needs.

The MDJ editorial team appreciates the ability to get a bird’s eye view of a portfolio on a single screen. This allows users to better understand their asset allocation and make important investment decisions that can help them meet their goals faster.

For the more research-inclined, the BMO platform also gives users access to plenty of industry-leading tools and market data.

The mobile app offers flexibility and convenience. Users report that it’s slightly less comprehensive than the online platform, but it gets the job done. Making trades and moving your money is easy, quick, and secure.

BMO Investorline Free ETF Trading – $0 Commissions

In June 2021, BMO became the first of the big bank brokerages to offer a list of ETFs that are completely free to trade (providing that you hold on to them for at least one day).

This has turned out to be a real game-changer as far as offering value to discount brokerage customers, with other banks such as Scotia iTrade and Desjardins joining in the fun. Qtrade and NBDB also offer completely free buying AND selling of ETFs, with Questrade offering free ETF purchases only.

Sometimes when a bank offers free trades on ETFs, they mean free trades on their own ETFs (looking at you, TD Easy Trade). But there’s no bait and switch when it comes to BMO’s commission-free ETFs, which has some excellent names on the list. My personal favourites include:

  • VCN – Vanguard FTSE Canada All-Cap Index ETF
  • VFV – Vanguard S&P 500 Index ETF US
  • VIU – Vanguard FTSE Developed All -Cap   ex-North America Index ETF
  • VAB – CA Vanguard Canadian Aggregate Bond Index ETF
  • All of the Vanguard and BMO all-in-one-ETFs are available
  • Several ESG index ETFs are available

It is excellent to see that creating ultra-diversified, super-simple portfolios just keeps getting cheaper and cheaper for Canadians!

Day traders should remember that the trades are only free if you hold onto the ETF in question for at least 24 hours.

BMO Works Best for Large Portfolios

The BMO InvestorLine 5 Star Program is the bank’s lure for high net-worth individuals and/or active traders. Most of Canada’s discount brokerages have some version of this break for top-tier investors.

The 5 Star Program doesn’t cost anything – users are automatically enrolled if they meet the eligibility requirement: a $250,000 account balance or at least 15 trades in a 3-month span. Here’s a look at the perks that you’ll enjoy at all three levels:

($5M+ OR 180+ trades per quarter)

($250,000+ OR 15-74 trades per quarter)

(2M+ OR 75-179 trades per quarter)

Dedicated Exclusive Customer Support

BMO Market Pro Lite (real-time market quotes)

BMO Market Pro (real time Level 2 quotes)

Capital Markets TSX 60 Research

Exclusive IPO Allocation Options

Access to Private Banking Options

The basic idea of BMO’s 5 Star Program is that if you generate substantial trading fees or have a large amount of money invested with BMO, you’ll get a small break on the $9.95 fee, and you’ll get access to some elite trading information streams, plus portfolio analysis, custom watchlist updating and so on.

With over 12 Million worldwide customers and nearly $900 Billion in assets managed, BMO certainly has the resources to compete with the features that any other Canadian brokerage account brings to the table.

BMO Investorline Review: Trading Fees and Prices in 2023

When we look at BMO Investorline’s Self-Directed trading and account fees, it’s important to keep in mind that major Canadian banks such as BMO and their competitors over at RBC, Scotia Bank, CIBC, and TD, aren’t trying to offer the cheapest products on the market. Instead, the general aim of their products is to be cost-competitive, but to prioritize the following:

  • Ultra-safe products backed up by centuries of banking experience.
  • A large customer service and technology team.
  • Elite usability and design.
  • Maximum user customization options.

BMO Investorline Self-Directed Account Fees

While there are no minimum deposits needed to open a BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed account and get started, you’ll be charged quarterly account fees of $25 if your non-registered account balance is under $15,000 or if your registered accounts are under $25,000.

Obviously if you open an account and deposit more than these amounts you will not owe any account fees at all.

BMO Investorline Self-Directed Trading Fees

BMO Investorline’s trading fees are generally competitive with the rest of Canada’s big banks and are higher than Qtrade or Questrade.  At a flat $9.95 per trade (it doesn’t matter how many shares you buy) it’s a simple – if slightly pricey – business model.

There is a $25 quarterly account fee ($100 per year) for non-registered accounts under $15,000, and for registered accounts like the TFSA and RRSP if you have under $25,000 in there.  Pay attention to this minimum as it can add up in a hurry if you open a few accounts with BMO Investorline but carry a small balance in them for a few quarters.

Obviously the higher fee model is somewhat standard for Canada’s big banks.  In return you get to access to massive full service bank that allows you to keep all of your banking activities under one umbrella.  You also get a great long-term track record of safety and stability.

Here’s a quick look at the rest of BMO Investorline’s fees:

$9.95 + $1.25 per contract

$0 for accounts greater than $25,000

$0 for accounts greater than $25,000

$0 for accounts greater than $15,000

BMO Investorline Self-Directed Options Trading Fees

Personally, options trading isn’t a part of my investment portfolio, but if you’re into the adrenaline rush of shorts, hedging, etc., then Investorline is going to charge $9.95 per trade + $1.25 per contract. This is the standard rate across all of Canada’s large banks.

BMO Investorline Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, Non-Registered

As one of Canada’s top online brokers, BMO Investorline gives you access to essentially every type of investable account in Canada, including:

  • Non-registered accounts (both CAD and USD)
  • Margin Accounts
  • RRSP (both CAD and USD)
  • Spousal RRSPs
  • TFSA (both CAD and USD)
  • RESP
  • RRIF
  • Spousal RRIFs
  • LIF
  • LIRA
  • Corporate Accounts
  • Non-Profit Organization Accounts
  • Estates and Formal Trust Accounts

This is one advantage of a big bank platform: you might pay more in commissions to use BMO InvestorLine Self-Direct, but you’re going to absolutely have access to all of the accounts that you could ask for as a Canadian investor. And again, if you go with ETFs from their commission-free trading list, you’re not even paying more at all.

BMO Investorline Review: What Is adviceDirect?

We’ll take a deeper dive into the unique service known as AdviceDirect in a separate review, but we thought we’d mention it here briefly.

AdviceDirect is a nice little mid-point between a full-service financial advisor model, and a completely hands-off DIY product.

If you want the flexibility and responsibility of using a discount brokerage to manage your own investments, but also feel that you could use some help in selecting specific investments or staying on top of your portfolio, then you may want to look closely at the BMO adviceDirect account.

AdviceDirect’s services include:

  • Automated portfolio monitoring
  • Unique information flows
  • Exclusive investor education options
  • A dedicated team of licensed financial advisors

As active investing goes, a premium service like adviceDirect is a solid choice. It gives you access to financial experts – at a much lower price point than traditional mutual fund channels. The MER on mutual funds is usually about 2.5%, while adviceDirect is only 0.75%, with a maximum fee cap per year. That’s an excellent value.

BMO InvestorLine and BMO adviceDirect may complement one another, but they’re two separate products with different applications and services. So while you definitely do NOT need to subscribe to adviceDirect in order to use the BMO InvestorLine brokerage, it could possibly be a better option depending on your experience level and desire for expert support.

You can sign up to adviceDirect by clicking the button below. Make sure you use MDJ’s unique promo code ADMDJ to get between $500 and $2500 credited to your account.

BMO InvestorLine Review FAQ

QuoteMedia Partners with BMO InvestorLine in 2023

As we head into 2023, BMO and QuoteMedia announced that QuoteMedia would be providing the Quotestream™ Web Trader platform (it’s HTML5 portfolio management flagship product) to BMO InvestorLine clients.

David McGann, Product Strategy Director for BMO InvestorLine had this to say in regards to the new offering:

“BMO InvestorLine is focused on delivering forward thinking tools and features to empower investors to make more informed decisions. We have active and high-frequency traders seeking advanced trading platform capabilities and QuoteMedia has the technology and platform ideally suited to meet these needs. We are very happy to be partnering with QuoteMedia to bring these capabilities to our investors.”

Personally, I’m not real big on trying to time the market to the degree or taking part in high-frequency trading.  So this doesn’t really change the overall BMO InvestorLine value proposition for me. But I know that the folks that are into day trading are all about the HTML5 information streams, so perhaps it will be a difference maker for some in that community.

Who Is the BMO InvestorLine Discount Broker Best for?

If you’re willing to put up with higher fees, worse customer service, and a choppier user experience – in order to get all of your financial life under one roof – then BMO Investorline is a great “Big Bank” choice.

We’ll take Qtrade or Questrade every time in an overall comparison, but BMO has certainly made the competition closer with their 80+ commission-free ETFs.

For more broker analysis like this BMO Investorline review, make sure to check out our Ultimate guide to Canadian Online Brokers.



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