I asked reader Dan if he would be willing to share his thoughts on Credential Direct, a brokerage with which he is familiar and I am not. Dan wrote back with the following review (Thanks Dan!). You can also check out the reviews of other discount brokers: Qtrade, Questrade, RBC Direct, TD Waterhouse, BMO InvestorLine and Scotia Direct.
Last fall I started to look around for an online broker for my RRSP account. I was tired of paying $125 for the yearly administration fee, along with the $80 plus sales commission fee. I had an RESP account with TD Waterhouse at the time, so I used it as my benchmark.
Credential Direct was founded in 2000 by Canada’s credit union system. You do not need to be a member of a credit union to open an account. It is a division of Credential Securities, which is a CIPF member.
I was very impressed with Credential Direct for a number of reasons:
The first thing that caught my eye was the annual RRSP fee is only $50. This fee is waved with $15,000 or more in the account. There is no inactivity fee. When I opened my RRSP account a Canadian dollar and a U.S. dollar cash account was opened at the same time.
The fee for trading stocks is $19 for 1000 shares or less or a trade value of $2,000 or less.
If you trade 1001 shares or more and stocks priced $1 or less the fee is 1% of the trade value. For trades with 1001 shares or more and stocks priced $1.01 or more, the fee is 2 cents/share. Options are $19 plus $1.25 per contract. The maximum fee is $250. Also if you spend over $2,500 in one month on commissions, you get a 10% rebate. These fees are web based only, add $14 for telephone orders. If you are an active trader online, which is 25 trades per quarter or more, the fees are a flat $9.95. Options would be $9.95 flat plus $1.25 per contract.
Here is a link to an excellent comparison chart with other major online brokers.
Credential Direct seems to have access to all of the different mutual funds that you will find elsewhere. CD does not charge any fees to purchase or redeem funds, but the mutual fund could still charge you. The transaction amount must be $1,000 or more or the fund company minimum, whichever is greater. Money Market fund purchases are a $2,500 minimum purchase.
Credential Direct also seems to offer a wide selection of federal, provincial, municipal, corporate, coupon and money market issues. I am not very well versed in bond sales, yields, etc, thus I can not give much insight into this.
Credential Direct, has a Tools tab which has a portfolio section, technical events section, a technical screener, financial screener, options screener, options valuation section and a mutual fund screener. The technical event section uses the Recognia Technical Analysis service, as does TD Waterhouse.
You get free real time quotes and free level 2 quotes. For me this was a big plus. You can also transfer money to and from any bank account in Canada (there are a few rules regarding the transferring money out of registered accounts, nothing major), again a big plus as there is no need to change banks to transfer money.
You also get online statements, an account history, performance, holdings and account summary. A research section with daily research papers from Desjardins Securities, Stockhouse Bullboards, Stockscores weekly newsletter and Stockscores signal and sentiment scores plus fairly good charts. They do not have a real time chart during market hours; it works on a 20-minute delay like most places.
You can have a cash account, a margin account, a margin account with short sales, or an options trading margin account. These can be in CDN or US funds. I do not know if you can do a “wash” trade in the RRSP account.
You can fill in the application forms online; print them off to sign, then mail. I have phoned the customer service a few times and the people were first rate, courteous and professional.
The website itself is good, and easy to read. I have had no problems with it. I have found the odd time that the server seemed a bit slow, but not painfully slow. I would anyone considering a discount broker to have a good look at Credential Direct; you will be surprised at everything that is there.