10 Best Virtual Brokers in Canada 2021

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Virtual brokerage services, also known as online trading platforms, are among the best and most affordable ways to invest and earn money in Canada by trading stocks, regardless of your financial level or market experience.

Canadians are presented with a variety of investment options and financial managers, including robo-advisors and full-service brokerages, which are in most cases associated with high fees and add-ons. 

With online brokerages in Canada, you can take control of your investments and manage your money to access the stock market with low fees, flexible financial products, and reliable trading tools. 

There is an overwhelming number of discount or online brokers in Canada, with different features and services. As such, it is not easy to identify the best online brokers. Therefore, we’ve taken quality time to research the best online trading platforms in Canada to help you make informed decisions. 

What Is an Online Broker?

An online broker, virtual brokerage, or discount broker is a trading platform that lets investors buy and sell stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments using a trading or brokerage account. 

Online brokers, known as self-directed investment platforms, are not permitted by law to provide clients’ financial or investment advice. As a result, they are suitable for do-it-yourself (DIY) investors. You have to do your market research to choose your investment portfolio and handle your trades without guidance or input from an advisor. 

How Online Brokers Work In Canada 

Online brokerages offer investment options to trade the stock market. Self-directed investors can open a brokerage account to buy and sell stocks and other securities at low fees. 

Unlike robo-advisors and fund managers, discount brokers leave asset allocation, investment portfolio, and other investment decisions solely to the investor’s control.

Many discount brokerages charge low or zero fee commission per trade and are regarded as alternatives to full-service brokerages that charge high commissions and account management fees. Besides, some brokers offer cross-border stocks trading in both Canadian and US exchanges. 

Stock Trading in Canada 

The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is the largest exchange in Canada and the world’s 8th largest exchange by market capitalization, with about $3.25 trillion in assets. 

Hence, the TSX is by far the most cited in terms of investment in Canada. With convenient access to trade stocks and other securities, Canadians can leverage the availability of diverse options in financial products and investment platforms, such as online discount brokerages.

To provide brokerage services, online trading platforms must be licensed as securities brokers in Canada and regulated by relevant authorities, such as the Canadian Investor protection Fund (CIPF), and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). Therefore, self-directed brokers in our list meet the above requirements for Canadians to trade Canadian (and US-listed) stocks. 

Best Virtual Brokers in Canada

1.           Questrade (Self-Directed Investing) 

Questrade is an industry leader among online trading platforms in Canada. Since its establishment in 1999, Questrade has remained a low-cost alternative to Canada’s big banks and large brokerages, with over 200 thousand accounts opened annually and about $20 billion in assets under administration. 

The Questrade platform charges no annual fee and provides access to Canadian and US stocks, including exchange-traded funds (ETFs), stocks, options, bonds, foreign exchange (FX), international equities, GICs, and more. Self-directed investors are also provided with four unique trading platforms for web and mobile trading.

Questrade offers two pricing options – Standard pricing and Advanced pricing (for active traders). You can trade stocks at $0.01 per share of $4.95 min to $$9.95 max, while ETF trading is commission-free. For a detailed overview of Questrade products and services, read our Questrade review

  • Annual fees: $0
  • Stock trading fees: $4.95 to $9.95 ($0.01 per share) 
  • ETF trading fee: $0 (free) 
  • Trading platforms: Available on desktop and mobile app (iOS and Android) 
  • Account Types: TFSA, RESP, RRSP, LIRA, RRIF, LIF, RIF, and margin accounts.
  • Regulations: CIPF, IIROC
  • Maximum investment: $1,000
  • Account opening and closure fee: Free
  • Customer Service: Phone, Email, Live Chat, and Mailing Address.

Pros

  • No annual fees
  • Commission-free ETF trading 
  • Wide range of investment options, including stocks, ETFs, precious metals, forex, etc. 
  • Multiple trading platforms 
  • No inactivity fee. 

Cons  

  • Requires minimum investment of $1,000
  • Available to Canadian residents only. 

2.           Qtrade Investor 

Operating since 2001, Qtrade Investor is an online brokerage service in Canada that allows investors to buy and sell up to 100 ETF commission-free. DIY investors have access to online and mobile trading platforms to take advantage of market opportunities from a wide selection of investment options, including stocks, mutual funds, options, IPOs, ETFs, Bonds, and GICs.

Qtrade Investor has a regular $8.75 per stock trade fee for all investors and $6.95 per stock trades for active investors. Young investors of age 18 to 30 are offered $7.75 commissions for stock and ETF trades. Also, clients of Qtrade Investor can trade mutual funds and up to 100 ETF for free. 

  • Pricing: $8.75 per stock and ETF trades
  • Account Types: TFSA, RESP, RRSP, LIRA, LIF, RIF, LRIF, RSP, cash, and Margin account. 
  • Administrative fees: $25 per quarter (waives on conditions) 
  • Account Transfer fee: $150
  • Regulations: CIPF, IIROC 
  • Trading Platforms: Online and Mobile 
  • Account Closure fee: $100
  • Customer Service: Phone, email, and mailing address 

Pros 

  • Commission fee-free trade on mutual funds and a selected list of 100 ETFs.
  • No minimum balance is required. 
  • Low price offer for young investors. 
  • Excellent trading tools and educational resources. 
  • Multiple trading accounts and investment options. 

Cons                            

  • A quarterly administrative fee of $25.
  • Limited ETF for commission-free trades. 
  • An account transfer fee of $150 and an account closure fee of $100

3.           Interactive Brokers Canada

Professional investors who love international trading will enjoy the low-cost commissions of Interactive Brokers Canada. Established in 2000, Interactive Brokers Canada provides trading and investment services to individual and institutional investors to trade in over 135 markets in 33 countries and 23 currencies, using a single integrated account. 

Interactive Brokers Canada offers a wide range of financial instruments such as stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, bonds, metals, forex, futures, etc. DIY investors on this platform can trade Canadian stocks, US stocks, and other securities. Interactive Brokers Canada has a fixed commission rate of C$0.01 per share for Canadian stocks and USD 0.05 per share for US stocks.

  • Pricing: CAD 0.01 per share and USD 0.005 per share on stocks. 
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trading Platform: Web and Mobile (iOS and Android) 
  • Regulations: CIPF, IIROC 
  • Account Types: RSP, TFSA, Margin account (individual and institutional accounts). 
  • Customer Service: Phone, Live chat, email, and Mailing address.

Pros

  • Suitable for regular and active traders and investors. 
  • Wide range of financial products, including stocks, ETF, forex, etc. 
  • Low commission rate. 
  • No account minimum is required. 

Cons

  • Not suitable for casual investors and low volume traders. 
  • Account maintenance fee on less active traders. 
  • Too complicated for beginners. 

4.           TD Direct Investing

TD Direct Investing provides you with a wide range of investment accounts and research tools to plan your investments. TD Direct Investing is an industry leader in online investing and trading, making trading accessible and affordable for self-directed investors. The platform is suitable for both beginner and experienced investors to trade Canadian and US stocks. 

TD Direct Investing has superb customer service to provide you with timely support. Though the broker is one of Canada’s most expensive online brokers at $9.99 per trade, it provides excellent trading tools and research and outstanding trading platforms.

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Pricing: A standard online commission rate of $9.99 on Canadian and US stocks, or $7.00 for active traders. 
  • Trading Platforms: Web and mobile
  • Account Types: Margin, Cash, TFSA, RSP, RESP, RIF, LIRA, LIF, RDSP, etc. 
  • Regulations: CIPF, IIROC 
  • Customer Service: Phone and Live chat 

Pros 

  • Flexible trading platform. 
  • Intuitive TD mobile app. 
  • Educational resources are available. 
  • Multiple accounts options. 

Cons 

  • High fees on trades 
  • Limited option for funding trading accounts.

5.           CIBC Investor’s Edge

The CIBC Investor’s Edge is the brokerage arm of the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC), one of the “Big Five” banks in Canada. CIBC Investor’s Edge is an online investment service suitable for DIY investors, equipped with several trading accounts, including registered, non-registered, and margin accounts. Self-directed investors are also provided with access to research and trading tools to trade and monitor market trends. 

Clients of this broker are provided with multiple investment products, including stocks, ETFs, Options, mutual funds, GICs, fixed income, and precious metals. CIBC Investor’s Edge has a flat fee of $6.95 for every online equity trade, with no minimum account balance or minimum trade requirement. 

Active traders who make over 150 trades per quarter are charged $4.95 per trade, while eligible students on CIBC Smart Account are charged $5.95 per trade. 

  • Account maintenance: $100 annually for account balances less than $10,000 to $25,000.
  • Pricing: $6.95 per trade on Canadian and US equities and ETFs.
  • Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, RESP, LIRA, RRIF, LIF, Cash, and margin accounts.
  • Trading Platform: Mobile app 
  • Minimum account balance: None
  • Regulations: CIPF, IIROC 
  • Customer Service: Phone, email, mailing address, and online chat. 

Pros

  • Multiple investment options. 
  • Access to charting tools and analytics. 

Cons

  • Annual account maintenance fee of $100

6.           Scotia iTRADE

Scotia iTRADE is the online trading service of Scotiabank, one of Canada’s Big Five banks. Scotia iTRADE provides you with a step-by-step guide on how to manage your investments on your own terms. DIY investors are provided with tools and resources and high-powered trading platforms accessible on desktop and mobile. Beginner investors can use the practice account risk-free to build their trading skills and familiarize themselves with the trading platforms.

With Scotia iTRADE, you pay a flat rate of $9.99 per trade. Also, active traders with more than 150 trades per quarter pay $4.99 with 50 commission fee-free ETFs. Self-directed investors are provided with multiple investment types, including Bonds, equities, ETFs, options, mutual funds, new issues (IPOs), and GICs.

  • Account minimum: None
  • Pricing: $9.99 per trade. $4.99 per trade for active traders. 
  • Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, RESP, RRIF, US Dollar registered account, Cash, Margin, investment club, Trust or Estate accounts, Sole proprietorship, Corporate, and partnership account, etc. 
  • Regulations: CIPF, IIROC                                    
  • Trading Platforms: Online and Mobile 
  • Customer Service: Phone and email 

Pros

  • Practice account available 
  • Access to educational, research, and analytical tools 
  • Commission fee-free ETF trades 

Cons

  • Maintenance fee charged on inactive accounts.
  • A high flat rate of $9.99 per trade. 

7.           Wealthsimple Trade

Wealthsimple Trade is a commission fee-free self-directed brokerage in Canada, with over $8.4 billion in assets under management. The online broker charges zero commission on stocks and ETFs with mobile-only access to trade Canada and US exchanges. 

Wealthsimple Trade offers DIY investors to buy and sell only stocks and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). With as little as $1, you can execute trades on your smartphone in just a few taps or clicks. Check our review of Wealthsimple Trade to help you make informed decisions. 

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Pricing: Commission fee-free trade on stocks and ETFs
  • Inactivity fee: $0
  • Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, and non-registered personal accounts. 
  • Trading Platform: Mobile app 
  • Regulations: CIPF, IIROC 
  • Customer Service: Phone and email. 

Pros

  • No commission fee on stock and ETF trades.
  • No account minimum or withdrawal fee is required.
  • Intuitive mobile app 

Cons

  • Limited account types. 
  • Single access to trade via mobile app only. 
  • Only stocks and ETFs are available as financial products. 

8.           Virtual Brokers

Virtual Brokers offer commission fee-free trades on ETF (buying only) and mutual funds. With a minimum rate of $1.99 per trade and a maximum of $7.99, self-directed investors can enjoy the competitive rates to build their investment portfolios. 

DIY investors are provided with several trading tools and resources, including alerts, charting, analysis, financial planning, market futures, and more. 

  • Account minimum: $1000
  • Pricing: $1.99 to $7.99 per trade. Commission-free on mutual funds trade and ETF buying.
  • Trading Platforms: Desktop and mobile app (free and paid apps) 
  • Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, RESP, RRIF, Locked-in RRSP, RLIF, and all-in-one accounts. 
  • Account Transfer: $150 per account. 
  • Regulations: CIPF, IIROC 
  • Customer Service: Phone, email, and mailing address.

Pros

  • Free ETF buying and commission-free mutual funds trading
  • Superb research tools. 

Cons

  • Account minimum balance of $1000
  • An inactivity fee of $24.95 per quarter.  

9.           BMO Investor Line Self-Directed

The Investor Line Self-Directed online trading platform from BMO lets you invest in stocks, ETF, mutual funds, GICs, and bonds. DIY investors can enjoy the zero minimum balance requirement on all account types, with no account fees on balances of over $15,000.

With a flat rate of $9.95 per trade, you have access to trade Canada and US exchanges using any of the available trading accounts, including LIRA, RRSP, RESP, corporate accounts, and more. 

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Trading Platform: Online and mobile 
  • Pricing: $9.95 flat rate per trade. 
  • Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, RESP, RRIF, LRIF, LIF, Cash, Margin, Individual, Joint, LIRA, LRSP, RLSP, Trusts, Investment Club, etc
  • Regulations: CIPF, IIROC 
  • Customer Service: Phone, email, and mailing address. 

Pros

  • Educational and research tools available 
  • No minimum balance is required. 
  • Multiple investment accounts.

Cons

  • A high trading fee of $9.95 plus $1.25 per contract.

10.         RBC Direct Investing

With no minimum account balance requirement, the Royal Bank of Canada’s Direct Investing online brokerage offers DIY investors the access to invest whenever and however they want. The self-directed investing platform offers analytical, charting, educational, and trading tools to help you choose the right investment portfolios. You can trade stocks, options, ETF, bonds, and mutual funds at a $9.95 flat rate per equity trade. Active traders with over 150 trades per quarter oat $6.95 per equity trade. 

  • Account minimum: $0
  • Account Types: TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RESP, Cash account, Margin account, and non-personal account. 
  • Pricing: $9.95 flat rate on stocks and ETFs. $6.95 per trade for active traders with over 150 trades per quarter. 
  • Regulations: CIPF and IIROC 
  • Trading Platform: Mobile (iOS and Android) 
  • Customer Service: Phone, email, and mailing address. 

Pros

  • Multiple trading accounts.
  • Variety of investment options. 
  • Zero account minimum 

Cons

  • High flat rate on trades

Note: The rates and commission fees above are subject to periodic change at the issuers’ discretion. Please consult the respective providers for current rates and fees before investing.

Factors to Consider In Choosing an Online Broker

Online trading platforms offer juicy features and services, such as low or zero trading fees. However, there are some factors to consider in determining if a discount broker is suitable for your investment goals or not. These include:

Educational and Research Tools

Self-directed online brokers are not permitted by law to provide investment advice. The best they can do is provide you with quality educational resources and tools to thrive in the market. This is essential for beginner investors who are just starting in the financial market.

Account Types

You should take time to consider the different brokerage accounts offered by your preferred online broker if it meets your investment needs. Depending on your investment goals, several registered and non-registered account options, including Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA), Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), and more, are available to choose from.

Trading Products

Ensure that your broker supports the class of assets you want to trade. Some of the most popular assets include stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and Options.

Customer Service

Place a call to your preferred brokers to ascertain their responsiveness to enquiries and account support. It is essential to have reliable and responsive customer support while trading the stock market.

Account Minimum

You should find out the minimum balance requirement to open a brokerage account and other related charges before signing up with a broker.

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Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.

Kareena Maya is a freelance writer focused on the personal finance and travel spaces. He frequently writes about credit cards, banking, student loans, insurance, travel rewards and more. His work has been featured in publications such as Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Credit Karma, Finance Buzz, The Ascent and Student Loan Planner.