RBC Direct Investing Review 2023

  • 8.2

RBC Direct Investing review summary

RBC Direct Investing is a Canadian stockbroker regulated by the top-tier IIROC. RBC Direct Investing is an established company with a banking background and fast account opening for RBC banking clients. Customer service is reliable and quick, while education resources are also great, covering a lot of tools, including a demo account. It is a good choice for beginner investors. RBC Direct Investing’s most obvious weakness is its outdated mobile trading app. Also, the product portfolio covers only the US and Canadian markets, and withdrawal and deposit options are limited. BrokerChooser gave RBC Direct Investing a 4.1/5 rating based on analyzing 500+ criteria and testing via opening a live account.

RBC Direct Investing is a regulated broker, it is overseen by a top-tier financial regulator in Canada . RBC Direct Investing is also covered by investor protection and it offers negative balance protection in selected jurisdictions. We at BrokerChooser always test brokers with real money, including the withdrawal process.

You can’t open an account at RBC Direct Investing if you live in Pakistan. See the best alternative available in your country.

RBC Direct Investing pros and cons

Pros Cons
Quick, useful customer service Only US and Canadian markets covered
Easy account opening in some cases Lack of withdrawal/deposit options
High-quality educational tools Outdated mobile trading platform

RBC Direct Investing main highlights

🗺️ Country of regulation Canada
💰 Trading fees class Average
💰 Inactivity fee charged No
💰 Withdrawal fee amount $0
💰 Minimum deposit $0
🕖 Time to open an account 1-3 days
💳 Deposit with bank card Not available
👛 Depositing with electronic wallet Not available
💱 Number of base currencies supported 2
🎮 Demo account provided Yes
🛍️ Products offered Stock, ETF, Fund, Bond, Options
Our overall rbc-direct-investing-review rating
  • 8.2

  • Fees
    7
  • Account opening
    7.4
  • Deposit and withdrawal
    4.8
  • Web Trading platform
    5.8
  • Mobile trading platform
    2
  • Desktop trading platform
    2
  • Markets and products
    4.8
  • Research
    8
  • Customer service
    10
  • Education
    8
RBC Direct Investing review

Fees

RBC Direct Investing has no mutual fund fees and low non-trading fees. However, withdrawals are only free for RBC banking clients, while there is also an account fee under a certain account balance.

Pros Cons
Low non-trading fees Quarterly account fee
Low stock and ETF fees / Free stock trading High withdrawal fee for non-RBC clients
Low fund fees
No mutual fund trading fee
No withdrawal fee for RBC clients
RBC Direct Investing fees snapshot
AssetsFee levelFee terms
US stockLowCAD 9.95 per trade; CAD 6.95 if you make more than 150 trades per quarter
EURUSDNot available
Mutual fundLowNo fee
Inactivity feeLowNo inactivity fee

How we ranked fees

We ranked RBC Direct Investing’s fee levels as low, average or high based on how they compare to those of all reviewed brokers.

First, let’s go over some basic terms related to broker fees. What you need to keep an eye on are trading fees and non-trading fees.

  • Trading fees occur when you trade. These can be commissions, spreads, financing rates and conversion fees.
  • Non-trading fees include charges not directly related to trading, like withdrawal fees or inactivity fees.

In the sections below, you will find the most relevant fees of RBC Direct Investing for each asset class. For example, in the case of stock investing commissions are the most important fees.

We also compared RBC Direct Investing’s fees with those of two similar brokers we selected, Questrade and Qtrade. This selection is based on objective factors such as products offered, client profile, fee structure, etc. See a more detailed rundown of RBC Direct Investing alternatives.

To have a clear overview of RBC Direct Investing, let’s start with its trading fees.

RBC Direct Investing trading fees

RBC Direct Investing trading fees are average.

Stock fees and ETF fees

RBC Direct Investing’s fee structure is mostly transparent. Stock, ETF and options fees are volume-tiered, and you get a discount after 150 trades per quarter.

RBC Direct Investing has overall low stock and ETF commissions compared to all brokers.

RBC Direct Investing stock and ETF commission of a $2,000 trade
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
US stock $7.4 $8.8 $5.0
UK stock
German stock – 

RBC Direct Investing charges a flat fee for stocks and ETFs of CAD 9.95 per transaction if you have less than 150 transactions per quarter. If you trade 150 times or more in a quarter, you will be charged CAD 6.95 flat per transaction.

If you prefer stock trading on margin, you should check RBC Direct Investing’s margin rates.

Trading on margin basically means that you borrow money from your broker and can purchase more shares than you could with just the available cash in your account. You have to pay interest on this borrowed money – the interest rate is called the margin rate. It can account for a significant portion of your trading costs.

RBC Direct Investing margin rates are average.

RBC Direct Investing annual margin rates
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
USD margin rate 7.5% 6.0% 10.8%
GBP margin rate
EUR margin rate

Fund fees

RBC Direct Investing charges no fees for mutual fund transactions

RBC Direct Investing commission for a $2,000 fund purchase
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
Mutual fund $0.0 $0.0 $10.0

Bond fees

RBC Direct Investing has generally low bond fees.

RBC Direct Investing commission of a $10,000 government bond trade
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
US Treasury bond $18.5 $25.0 $0.0
EU government bond

Options fees

RBC Direct Investing options fees are low when it comes to trading stock index options. 

RBC Direct Investing stock index options commission of 10 contracts
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
US stock index options $16.6 $21.3 $20.0
UK stock index options
German stock index options

RBC Direct Investing charges a flat options trading commission of CAD 9.95, plus CAD 1.25 per contract if you trade less than 150 transactions per quarter. If you trade 150 times or more in a quarter, you will be charged CAD 6.95 flat + CAD 1.25 per contract.

Non-trading fees

RBC Direct Investing has low non-trading fees. It charges no inactivity fee and there is no withdrawal fee in some cases. However, there is an account management fee of CAD 25 per quarter if your account balance is below CAD 15,000, and the withdrawal fee can be quite high in certain cases (see below).

RBC Direct Investing non-trading fees
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
Account fee Yes Yes No
Inactivity fee No Yes No
Deposit fee $0 $0 $0
Withdrawal fee $0 $0 $0

The withdrawal fees vary strongly based on whether you have an RBC bank account or not, which account type you choose, and which withdrawal method you use. See the table below for details:

RBC Direct Investing withdrawal fees
Account typeWith RBC bank accountWithout RBC bank account
Margin, cash, RESP, TFSA accountsFreeCheque: CAD 10
Wire: CAD 45
RRIF accountFree up to 2 withdrawals, CAD 25 each afterCheque: CAD 10
Wire: CAD 45
RRSP accountCAD 50 plus taxCheque: CAD 10
Wire: CAD 95
RRSP account under Home Buyer’s Plan or Lifelong Learning PlanCAD 25 plus taxCheque: CAD 10
Wire: CAD 95
RBC Direct Investing review

Account opening

RBC Direct Investing has an easy, fully digital and fast account opening, with no minimum deposit. However, account opening for non-RBC bank clients is more complicated.

Pros Cons
Fully digital Account opening complicated for non-RBC bank account holders
No minimum deposit

What is the minimum deposit at RBC Direct Investing?

There is no required minimum deposit at RBC Direct Investing.

Account types

RBC Direct Investing offers different account types based on ownership:

  • Individual or personal account: account is owned by an individual
  • Joint account: account is owned by two or more individuals
  • Non-personal accounts: account is owned by a legal entity

Within the individual account, RBC Direct Investing offers several account types:

RBC Direct Investing individual account types
Account typeWho is the account targeted for?

Cash account

Clients preferring a flexible and liquid account

Margin account

Clients focusing on margin trading

Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

Clients preferring easy access to money and tax-free investments

Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

Clients focusing on retirement without easy access to money

Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)

Clients focusing on the further growth of their investments and preferring flexibility in payment and withdrawals

Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)

Clients saving for education

How to open your account

RBC Direct Investing has easy, fully digital and fast account opening. The process is different depending on whether or not you are an existing RBC bank client:

  1. If you have an RBC bank account: the account opening process is fully digital and account opening times range between 1-2 business days.
  2. If you don’t have an RBC bank account and choose cash/margin/TFSA/RRSP/RRIF accounts: you may choose either a fully digital 24-hour application or a print-and-mail application. The fully digital option will be evaluated through credit scores from a third-party company and if RBC needs further clarification, they will contact you for the additional documents.
  3. If you don’t have an RBC bank account and choose RESP/non-personal accounts: you have to download, print and mail an application form.

RBC Direct Investing review – Account opening

Our best alternatives to RBC Direct Investing are:

The highest ranking competitors are:

  1. Qtrade Direct Investing full review
  2. Questrade full review
  3. TD Ameritrade full review
  4. Interactive Brokers full review
RBC Direct Investing review

Deposit and withdrawal

Withdrawals and deposits are free if you have a bank account with RBC. On the other hand, credit/debit cards and electronic wallets are not available and most withdrawal options carry a fee if you are not an RBC bank client.

Pros Cons
No deposit fee Credit/Debit card not available
User-friendly Fewer withdrawal and deposit options for non-RBC clients
Free withdrawal for clients with RBC bank account

Account base currencies

At RBC Direct Investing, you can choose from 2 base currencies: USD and CAD.

Base currencies at RBC Direct Investing vs similar brokers
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
Number of base currencies 2 2 2

This selection is average compared to competing brokers.

Why does this matter? For two reasons. First, if you fund your account in the same currency as your bank account, you are not charged a currency conversion fee. Second, if you trade assets in the same currency as your account base currency, you don’t have to pay a conversion fee.

A convenient way to save on currency conversion fees is by opening a multi-currency bank account at a digital bank. These usually offer bank accounts in several currencies with great currency exchange rates, as well as free or cheap international bank transfers. Opening an account only takes a few minutes on your phone.

Deposit fees and options

RBC Direct Investing charges no deposit fees.

If you are an RBC banking client you will have the following options:

  • Electronic Transfer from RBC bank account
  • RBC Rewards Points
  • Certified Cheque

If you are NOT an RBC banking client you can choose from these options:

  • Transfer from another institution
  • Certified Cheque
RBC Direct Investing deposit options
RBC Direct Investing Qtrade Direct Investing Questrade
Bank transfer Yes  Yes   Yes 
Credit/debit card No  No   Yes  
Electronic wallets No No   Yes  

A bank transfer from an RBC bank account should take about 1-3 business days, but transferring from a non-RBC account can take several more business days. A certified cheque may take even longer, 1-2 weeks to process.

Also, you can only deposit money from accounts that are in your name.

RBC Direct Investing review – Deposit and withdrawal – Deposit

RBC Direct Investing withdrawal fees and options

RBC Direct Investing charges no withdrawal fees for margin, cash, RESP and TFSA accounts if you have an RBC bank account, but a high withdrawal fee for RRSP withdrawals and non-RBC bank clients.

RBC Direct Investing withdrawal fees and options
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
Bank transferYesYesYes
Credit/debit cardNoNoNo
Electronic walletsNoNoYes
Withdrawal fee$0$0$0

How long does it take to withdraw money from RBC Direct Investing? We tested the bank transfer withdrawal and it took one business day to process. If you are a non-RBC client you should expect a minimum of 3 business days or more processing time.

How do you withdraw money from RBC Direct Investing?

  1. Log in to your account.
  2. Move your cursor over ‘My Portfolio’ to open the drop-down menu.
  3. Click on ‘Transfer Cash’.
  4. Choose the account to withdraw from, the amount, currency and method.
  5. Choose which account to transfer to.
  6. Initiate the withdrawal.
 
RBC Direct Investing review

Web trading platform

RBC Direct Investing does a great job of covering the basics, and has clear fee reports. On the other hand, there is no two-step login and the design feels outdated.

Pros Cons
Clear fee report No two-step (safer) login
Price alerts Limited customizability (for charts, workspace)
Outdated design
RBC Direct Investing platforms to choose from
Trading platformScoreAvailable
Web
2.9
stars
Yes
Mobile
0.7
stars
Yes
DesktopNo

RBC Direct Investing offers an in-house developed web trading platform, which is available in English and French.

Look and feel

The web trading platform is OK. It has a functional feel but since it is not very customizable, it is still somewhat lacking.

RBC Direct Investing review – Web trading platform

Login and security

RBC Direct Investing provides only a one-step login process. A two-step login would be more secure.

When you log in to a device for the first time, you have to answer a security question. After the first time, the accounts can be accessed with the common login ID and password combination.

Search functions

The search functions are not user-friendly. You must provide a company’s specific ticker symbol in order to get any results.

RBC Direct Investing review – Web trading platform – Search

Placing orders

You can use the following order types:

  • Market
  • Limit
  • Stop
  • Stop limit

To get a better understanding of these terms, read this overview of order types.

There are also order time limits you can use: Day, Good ‘Till Time or All-or-None.

RBC Direct Investing review – Web trading platform – Order panel

Alerts and notifications

You can set alerts and notifications through the web trading platform. You can specify a price and will receive an email alert if the price is reached. 

Portfolio and fee reports

RBC Direct Investing has clear portfolio and fee reports. The reports can be found by hovering over ‘My Portfolio’ and clicking on ‘View & Manage my Documents’.

RBC Direct Investing review

Mobile trading platform

RBC Direct Investing’s mobile app is outdated, has limited functionality, and numerous bugs and freezing issues. On the plus side, there is biometric authentication for Face/Touch ID.

Pros Cons
Touch/Face ID login Not user-friendly
No price alerts
Bugs

Similarly to the web trading platform, RBC Direct Investing has an in-house developed mobile trading platform, available for both for iOS and Android. We tested it on iOS.

Most of the functionalities are the same as the web trading platform. It offers the same order types, has the same search functions and offers only one-step login.

Look and feel

The biggest difference is that the RBC Direct Investing mobile trading platform is not user-friendly at all. The design is severely outdated and we experienced many glitches and bugs.

RBC Direct Investing review – Mobile trading platform

Login and security

RBC Direct Investing provides only a one-step login, but does allow biometric authentication such as FaceID.

Search functions

The search functions are OK. You have to provide the company’s specific ticker symbol in order to get any results.

 

 

RBC Direct Investing review – Mobile trading platform – Search

Placing orders

You can use the same order types and order time limits as on the web trading platform.

 

 

RBC Direct Investing review – Mobile trading platform – Order panel

Alerts and notifications

Contrary to the web trading platform, you cannot set alerts.

RBC Direct Investing review

Desktop trading platform

RBC Direct Investing does not provide a desktop trading platform.

RBC Direct Investing review

Markets and products

You can trade multiple asset types, but some important ones like forex or CFDs are not available. The offering is also limited to the Canadian and US markets.

RBC Direct Investing asset classes
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
StocksYesYesYes
ETFsYesYesYes
ForexNoNoYes
FundsYesYesYes
BondsYesYesYes
OptionsYesYesYes
FuturesNoNoNo
CFDsNoNoYes
CryptoNoNoNo

RBC Direct Investing offers most of the basic asset classes, although its product offerings lag behind that of competitors.

Stocks and ETFs

RBC Direct Investing provides access to standard North American stock exchanges. This could be perfect for clients who focus exclusively on the North American markets.

RBC Direct Investing stock and ETF selection
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
Stock markets (#) 5 7 8
ETFs (#) 3,100 3,100 1,800

Funds

RBC Direct Investing offers an average amount of mutual fund providers, but less than some of its direct competitors.

RBC Direct Investing mutual fund selection
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
Fund providers (#) 83 140 145

Bonds

RBC Direct Investing offers bonds in various categories, such as municipal, corporate and provincial bonds.

Compared to its competitors, the number of bonds is not outstanding. However, it can be an ideal selection for investors who prefer Canadian fixed income securities only.

RBC Direct Investing bond selection
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
Bonds (#) 1,000 1,800 1,500

Options

RBC Direct Investing’s options market selection is below average. You can trade options on the Montreal Exchange and the CBOE exchanges.

RBC Direct Investing options selection
 RBC Direct InvestingQtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
Options markets (#) 2 2 6
RBC Direct Investing review

Research

RBC Direct Investing offers many useful research tools on a user-friendly interface. However, the available charts and news are quite basic.

Pros Cons
Trading ideas Baisc news feed
Data on asset fundamentals Basic charting tools

With no desktop application and its underwhelming mobile app, the main source of research for RBC Direct Investing is through its web trading platform. This provides decent research capabilities allowing you to use many different technical and functional data tools 

Trading ideas

On RBC Direct Investing Trading’s web trading platform you can find a lot of analyst content provided by third parties such as Morningstar and Trading Central, which can be used to gather trading ideas.

RBC Direct Investing review – Research – Recommendations

For screening stocks, we recommend using IBKR GlobalAnalyst. It will create searchable and a

Fundamental data

RBC Direct Investing offers fundamental data. Via the research tools, you will find company and sector analyses, annual and quarterly financial statements, as well as an overview on insider trading.

At the IPO Centre, RBC Direct Investing’s clients can subscribe to the firm’s IPO Bulletin for information on the latest IPOs and secondary offerings.

sortable tables so that you can compare companies grouped by region or country or industry at current prices in the currency of your choice.

In the picture below, we searched for US-listed consumer discretionary companies and sorted them so we see those with the highest earnings growth first.

RBC Direct Investing review – Research – Fundamental data

Charting

RBC Direct Investing has OK charting tools, which are easy to use but not very customizable. There are 55 technical indicators, which might be enough for most people, although it is less than what you’ll find at other competitors.

RBC Direct Investing review – Research – Charting

News feed

The news feed is updated in real time but is basic and not customizable. It is split into Breaking News, Top Stories and More Headlines, with a function to search for more specific topics.

RBC Direct Investing review

Customer service

RBC Direct Investing has great email and live chat support, providing fast and relevant answers. On the other hand, phone support is a bit slow and there is no 24/7 availability.

ProsCons
 Phone support  No 24/7 support
Live chat 
Relevant answers 

You can contact RBC Direct Investing via:

  • live chat
  • phone
  • email

RBC Direct Investing provides a fast live chat. An agent was connected within a minute and we got relevant answers. For example, the withdrawal fees are not easy to understand through their fee table, but customer service was able to provide useful help. 

Phone support is OK. We received accurate answers, but had to wait  around 5-10 minutes until someone was connected. 

RBC Direct Investing’s email support works well. We got quick and relevant answers, with customer support sending us pre-written paragraphs to answer our questions within 1 day. 

We missed the 24/7 availability. You must wait for business hours in North America to contact support.

RBC Direct Investing review – Customer Service

RBC Direct Investing review

Education

You can use a lot of educational resources, including tutorials and educational videos, and users can also try out a demo account. One useful resource that is missing is webinars.

ProsCons
Demo account No webinars
Trading platform tutorial 
Educational videos 

At RBC Direct Investing you can learn in the following ways:

  • Demo account
  • Platform tutorial videos
  • General educational videos
  • Quality educational articles

By far the most useful educational tool RBC Direct Investing offers is the practice (demo) accounts. Using these you can simulate investing and trading, even before depositing funds.

One of the best sources of educational materials is the RBC Direct Investing website, where you can read blog posts on investing and search for information in the ‘Getting Started’ section. Finding answers to generic questions using the search function is fairly simple. Information is available on various topics, such as order types, strategy types and funding.

The YouTube channel is another useful source of educational content even if it’s not updated regularly. It mostly provides videos on the basics, such as products and services.

RBC also offers free investment seminars in Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver for people living in those areas.

RBC Direct Investing review – Education

RBC Direct Investing review

Safety

Backed by its parent, the Royal Bank of Canada, which has a long history of banking and is publicly listed, RBC Direct Investing is considered to be safe. It is also regulated by a top-tier financial authority.

Pros Cons
Majority of clients belong to a top-tier financial authority No negative balance protection
High level of investor protection
Banking background

Is RBC Direct Investing regulated?

Yes, it is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).

How you are protected

Protection matters for you because the investor protection amount and the regulator differ based on the entity. With RBC Direct Investing, this is not an issue because all customers are covered by RBC Direct Investing Inc.

RBC Direct Investing Inc. is a member of CIPF. Therefore, the clients of RBC are eligible for the CAD 1 million coverage offered by CIPF.

RBC Direct Investing investor protection
Country of clientsProtection amountRegulatorLegal entity
Canada, USACAD 1 millionCIPFRBC Direct Investing Inc.

It is also worth noting that RBC Direct Investing does not provide negative balance protection.

Background

RBC Direct Investing’s parent company, the Royal Bank of Canada, was established in 1864, which means it has been operating for more than 150 years. The longer the track record of a broker, the more proof we have that it has successfully survived previous financial crises.

As the Royal Bank of Canada holds a banking license, it is subject to tougher regulations than brokers.

The Royal Bank of Canada is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange. This is a big plus for safety, as it means its financial statements are released regularly and transparently.

Having a banking background, a parent listed on a stock exchange and providing financial statements, and being regulated by a top-tier authority are all great signs for RBC Direct Investing’s safety.

RBC Direct Investing review

Bottom line

RBC Direct Investing is regulated by the top-tier IIROC. Its parent company, the Royal Bank of Canada has a banking license and is listed on the stock exchange. It offers an easy, fully digital and fast account opening for clients who already bank with RBC. Education resources are outstanding, providing a lot of relevant and useful tools. Customer service provides fast and relevant answers.

There are some drawbacks, though. The product portfolio covers only the US and Canadian markets, you can’t use credit/debit cards or electronic wallets for money transfers, and the mobile app is in desperate need of an update.

Overall, since RBC Direct Investing has great account opening, advanced research and education tools, feel free to give them a try.

RBC Direct Investing review

FAQ

We recommend RBC Direct Investing for investors, including beginners, focusing on the canadian and us markets.

Below you can find links to all aspects of RBC Direct Investing in this comprehensive collection.

Lower fees, lower costs?

We detailed this in our RBC Direct Investing fees article.

What about the minimum deposit?

Our ultimate guide to the RBC Direct Investing minimum deposit is updated regularly.

How to start your RBC Direct Investing account?

Look no further than our evaluation of the RBC Direct Investing account opening.

How’s their trading app?

Here’s our expert view after checking the RBC Direct Investing trading app.

Is the quality of customer service satisfactory?

All you need to know about the RBC Direct Investing customer service.

Legit or scam?

Is RBC Direct Investing legit features all the key aspects you need to look at to see if a broker is safe and legit.

Free or premium? Or both?

A glance at actual costs and whether RBC Direct Investing is really free.

Is this broker good for beginners?

We checked it in Is RBC Direct Investing good for beginners.

Should you buy your silver bullets on RBC Direct Investing?

Research for silver bugs in the Silver buy on RBC Direct Investing guide

I want to trade options, are they available at RBC Direct Investing?

We explored the topic in Can you trade options on RBC Direct Investing?

What is the minimum account balance at RBC Direct Investing?

Check out the current account balance requirements at RBC Direct Investing in our What is the minimum account balance at RBC Direct Investing article.

Looking for commission and fees data for RBC Direct Investing?

We collected them in RBC Direct Investing commission and fees.

How do you withdraw money from RBC Direct Investing?

We tested it and collected the options and costs in How to withdraw money on RBC Direct Investing.

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