Which of the Big 5 Brokerages Offer a US Dollar Side, Journal, Ledger or Sub-Account for an RRSP?

The Big 5 Canadian banks are BMO, CIBC, RBC, ScotiaBank, and TD. Each of these has an associated discount brokerage. Only some of these brokerages, however, allow you to keep US stocks in a US dollar part of your RRSP account. This is a recap of which ones have this option, which is variously called a US dollar side, journal, ledger or sub-account.

What Use is a US Dollar Side to an RRSP Self Directed Brokerage Account?

Recently I set up a US dollar sub-account in my BMO InvestorLine RRSP account. This lets me buy and sell stocks in US dollars and receive distributions, dividends and profits without paying any foreign currency conversion fees.

I knew I couldn’t do this for our CIBC Investor’s Edge RRSP. They don’t offer this option.

Then today I was reading an article by the Canadian Capitalist posted in a roundup by Michael James on Money. I was surprised to read that at TD Waterhouse you can’t just set up this kind of US ledger in your RRSP.

That led me to do some quick checking into this issue. Here’s what I found out:

Which Brokerages Have US Dollar RRSP Accounts or Sub-Accounts

Brokerage US Dollar Sub-Account Available?
BMO InvestorLine Yes
CIBC Investor’s Edge No
RBC Direct Investing Yes
ScotiaBank iTrade No
TD Waterhouse Direct Investing No but with ***

*** According to the Canadian Capitalist article TD Direct Investing does offer a sort-of compromise. It lets you buy and sell stocks in US dollars and keep the monies in US dollars between buys. It does not, however, let you receive distributions and dividends in US dollars.

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Do you use a self-directed brokerage for your RRSP? Can you keep all of your profits, distributions and dividends in US dollars till you’re ready to spend them? Please share your experiences with a comment.

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