Go with this platform if you want to Get 2 free stocks when you open a Wealthsimple Trade personal account and deposit and trade at least $150.
Look elsewhere if you want to trade more complex securities like options or if you want to hold USD in your account.
Wealthsimple Trade is all about low fees. It does not charge any commissions on trades. And you can make as many trades as you like, free of charge. There are no annual fees or account minimums. It is one of the lowest-cost trading options available to Canadian investors. Wealthsimple Trade stacks up favourably against the other platforms we looked at when it comes to educational resources and tools, with various savings calculators, articles and investor masterclass videos to teach you the basics. If there is a catch, it's that you are limited in the types of securities you can trade, as Wealthsimple Trade offers mostly stocks and ETFs. You can open a non-registered account, RRSP or TFSA. There is a mobile and web platform, and the application received some of the highest user ratings among platforms we looked at.
Go with this platform if you are an experienced investor and want reams of information and fancy analytical tools to help you trade.
Look elsewhere if you are a new investor.
The fact that Interactive Brokers promises to take your investing to the next level signals the type of investors the platform wants to attract. In short, it is well suited to those with plenty of experience in online trading and with plenty of money to trade. It offers access to stock markets in 33 different countries and 68 different order types, including stocks, options, currencies and bonds – far more than other brokerage platforms we looked at. Interactive Brokers has a tiered pricing structure when it comes to commissions. Basically, the more you trade the cheaper it becomes. There is a minimum commission of $1 per trade and a maximum of 0.5% of the total trade value. The Interactive Brokers web portal has a detailed educational section, with webinars, videos and even a Traders' Academy. It also offers analytical tools to help you make better trading decisions. The offering is so detailed it may be daunting for beginners. Interactive Brokers even lets you borrow money to buy shares, something a beginning investor should be very wary about doing.
Go with this platform if if you are a beginner who wants the comfort of a well-established financial brand.
Look elsewhere if you want a quality mobile experience.
Scotiabank is one of Canada's Big Six banks. Commissions start at $9.99 per trade, although this is lowered to $4.99 per trade if you make more than 150 trades per quarter. It charges an annual fee of $100 on accounts with less than a $25,000 balance. Here's a cool thing. Scotia iTrade offers a so-called practice account with a fictional portfolio of $100,000 that lets you use the platform and get your feet wet with different kinds of trades using what is essentially play money. Mobile users weren't impressed with the UI or the overall speed of the experience.
Bonds Options Mutual Funds ETFs GICs International Equities
Stock Trading Fee
Option Trading Fee
$9.99 + $1.25 contract ($4.99 + $1.25 contract if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
ETF Transaction Cost
$9.99 ($4.99 if completed 150 trades or more a quarter)
Go with this platform if you want an easy-to-use platform with low trading commissions and plenty of investment options.
Look elsewhere if you don't want to pay an annual fee to maintain your account.
BMO Investorline is not the cheapest, nor is it the most feature-heavy online platform available to Canadians, but it does achieve a nice middle ground. The platform charges a flat fee of $9.95 per trade and slaps annual fees on accounts of less than $15,000. However, there is no minimum account balance requirement. On BMO Investorline you can trade stocks, options, ETFs, mutual funds, GICs and bonds. BMO Investorline has both a web portal and a mobile application, which is not rated well in the big app stores. Users complained about the equity search function not working properly, among other things. Like the other trading platforms affiliated with Canada's big banks, BMO Investorline makes both its own and third-party investment research available to users. This means you can do a lot of reading about the stocks you like if you have the time to wade through it.
Go with this platform if you want to be able to trade a variety of securities and are less concerned about trading commissions.
Look elsewhere if you want low fees.
CIBC Investor's Edge is an online brokerage that lets you trade a variety of different investment types through its online trading platform. You'll be able to put your money into registered and non-registered accounts, depending on your preferences. The platform is user-friendly and provides a number of resources to help you get acquainted with using the platform. It also gives you access to plenty of research tools to help you make informed decisions about your investments.
Go with this platform if you want low fees and the ability to trade various types of securities.
Look elsewhere if you want low fees but you aren't ready to start buying anything other than stocks and ETFs.
Questrade is one of the cheapest places to buy and sell securities online in Canada. Compared with Wealthsimple, it offers a much larger selection of securities you can trade, including options, foreign currencies and commodity futures. Questrade does not charge an annual fee and you don't pay any commissions when you buy ETFs. Other trading fees range between $4.95 and $9.95. Questrade offers both a web platform and a mobile application. The latter has not been well received by users, judging by the ratings it has received in app stores. Users complained about prices quoted on it lagging actual markets and long loading times.
Go with this platform if you want competitive commissions and access to educational tools and online tutorials.
Look elsewhere if you aren't planning to have a minimum of $25,000 in your account or fund it regularly (since you will incur a quarterly fee).
A well-known investment broker, Qtrade Direct Investing offers an easy-to-use online platform and a mobile trading platform. With low and competitive commissions, you'll also be able to trade 100 ETFs commission free. Plus, you'll get access to a nice mix of independent research tools and online tutorials designed to help you make more-informed decisions about your investments.
Go with this platform if you don't plan on making a lot of trades.
Look elsewhere if you want low fees.
There is nothing that makes TD Direct Investing really stand out from the other trading platforms we looked at. Like BMO Investorline and Scotia iTrade, it is affiliated with a large, long-established Canadian bank. It charges a standard commission of $9.99 to trade Canadian and US stocks and an annual fee of $100 for accounts with a balance below $15,000. This is the priciest commission rate among platforms we compared, though it does list mutual funds as being commission-free. TD Direct Investing lets you invest with a non-registered cash account, as well as TFSAs and RRSPs. It also offers margin accounts that let you borrow money to invest. TD Direct also makes the equity research from TD's investment banking operations available to users. TD Direct Investing doesn't have a dedicated trading application, but the functionality is built into TD Bank's main application. For this reason the ratings below are not entirely comparable with those for the other trading platforms.
Stock Trading Fee
Option Trading Fee
Between $7 and $9.99 (+$1.25 per contract)
How we chose the best online brokers in Canada
We’ve chosen the best online stock broker trading platforms on this page based on an independent set of criteria. None of these picks are sponsored – we also take into account providers and cards that we aren’t partnered with – so that our selections are chosen without bias. We take these factors into account when choosing our top picks:
Fees and commissions.
Types of securities available.
Types of trades supported.
Mobile/desktop support and user interface.
Additional notable features offered such as research tools, educational resources, practice accounts, etc.
No single trading platform will be the best choice for everyone, so compare your options before picking an online brokerage.
How to find the best stock trading platform in Canada
When searching for the best stock trading platform for you, ask yourself the following questions:
What type of stock trader am I? Are you a casual trader, an active trader or an experienced investor? From the user-friendliness of a platform to the level of market research and educational tools that come with your account, it’s important to find an investment service that works with your trading needs.
How often will I trade? If you buy or sell shares infrequently — say, 1-2 times per month or less — you’re likely more of a casual investor. With a higher trading frequency comes the need for an online investing platform that offers an affordable tier structure and an extensive range of features.
What will I be trading? While stocks are a very commonly-traded security, you may also want to buy and sell other securities such as bonds, CFDs, currencies, options and futures. Also consider whether you want to trade domestic securities, international securities or a combination of the two.
What will it cost me? Besides ongoing management and account maintenance fees, consider trading fees and whether you can get these fees waived or reduced if you satisfy certain criteria.
How to compare the platforms for online stock trading in Canada
Before signing up for a brokerage account, consider factors that include:
Fees. This is the big one. Look beyond what trading commissions a platform charges and ask about account minimums, transfer fees and costs for other securities.
Available securities. Some platforms offer a wide range of securities, while others specialize in only one or two. Make sure the platform you pick can cater to your trading interests.
Research tools. Beginners may want a platform with educational resources, while active traders will need robust analytics tools.
Types of trades supported. Consider the options available when you are buying or selling shares. In addition to present-time trades, can you also hedge against risks by placing market orders, limit orders or stop orders?
Mobile support. Most trading platforms offer mobile trading support, but applications typically aren’t as robust as the desktop version of the platform. If you prefer to trade on your mobile device, check investor feedback in Google Play and the App Store.
Customer feedback. Explore customer feedback in places like the Better Business Bureau and Reddit to find out what investors really think about the platform.
Your personal needs. If you’re just a casual investor, do you really need an investment platform that offers a lot of bells and whistles? On the other hand, some platforms aimed at beginner traders may not have all the features an experienced investor needs.
Our 'promoted' products are presented as a result of a commercial advertising arrangement or to highlight a particular feature. Promoted products are not a recommendation, an indication a product is the best in its category, nor represent all products in the market. It is important to compare your options and find the right product for you.
How do I compare costs?
Most online trading platforms will either charge you a commission on the trades you make or charge various other service fees. That said, some online stock brokers now let you trade for free, depending on what you are buying or selling.
But as noted above, comparing these costs can quickly become confusing. For example, discounts on the number of trades over a certain amount don’t apply to people making a few trades a year. There are also minimum balance fees and differing commissions depending on the type of security you are buying or selling.
It’s probably best to first decide what kind of investor you want to be. Do you have a lot of money to start investing with? How many trades will you make each year? Are you going to buy securities like ETFs, which people tend to buy and hold? Or are you seeking more complex securities like options and commodity futures?
Disclaimer: The value of any investment can go up or down depending on news, trends and market conditions. We are not investment advisers, so do your own due diligence to understand the risks before you invest.
I’ve found the best stock trading platform in Canada. How do I open an account?
Once you’ve found the best stock trading platform to make online investments, it’s usually pretty easy to apply to open an account. If the platform is run by your bank and you can access online banking services, you can usually initiate or even complete the application process by logging into your online banking portal. If approved, you’ll likely be able to access online investment services through this portal as well.
When applying for an account with an investment services provider, you’ll typically need to provide the following KYC (know your client) information:
Your name, address and contact details
Proof of identification (scanned and electronically sent to the investment company) such as a valid driver’s license or passport
Proof of your income or the source of the funds that you plan to invest
Employment details like where you work, how much you earn and how to contact your employer
Proof that you have reached the age of majority in the province in which you live (either 18 or 19 years old)
Proof of any any prior financial trading experience (if required). Platforms geared towards more experienced investors may require you to prove that you know what you’re doing, but many platforms are open to brand new investors.
Your bank account details to support transfers to and from your regular bank account and your investment account(s)
Once you’ve deposited funds into your account you’re ready to start trading. Note that a minimum deposit amount may apply.
The best stock trading platform for you depends on what kind of investor you are. Before you open an account, be sure to compare basic fees. But also look at what other resources and features a platform offers and how its cost structure matches up with your own trading needs.
Frequently asked questions about stock trading in Canada
It really depends on your needs and your experience level with stock trading. From Finder’s list of partners, here’s some direction. For ease of use and for beginner traders, Wealthsimple Trade is a good choice, but it doesn’t offer a lot of research options like some other platforms, and it only offers access to stocks and ETFs at this time. For advanced trading and research, Inteteractive Brokers provides access to market data 24 hours a day, six days a week and can be used to invest in global stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds and funds from one single account. And finally, if you’re a trader looking for pre-built portfolios, Questrade is an ideal platform choice, where you can buy stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, ETFs, GICs, international equities, IPOs and precious metals.
Generally speaking, no. But you’ll need money to fund your account and some platforms require you to have a minimum balance in your account.
A paper trading account allows you to make hypothetical trades through a virtual stock exchange. Investors can practice trading strategies without putting any real money at risk.
A robo-advisor is a computer-based portfolio management service. Robo-advisors use algorithmic trading strategies to make investment suggestions based on your risk tolerance and investment goals. You can use our guide to robo-advisors to compare providers and learn more.
Yes. But this is definitely not for the faint of heart and even more definitely not for inexperienced investors. Day traders buy and sell stocks on the same day. It can be lucrative, but also extremely risky. You should also consult with a professional about the tax implications in Canada of money earned from day trading.
When looking into day trading, the account type matters more than the platform. Make sure the platform you select is capable of supporting multiple trades a day and ensure that the account type you are using (i.e. non-registered) is set up for day trades.
When you place a buy or sell order, you will need to select whether you want to place it ‘at market’ or ‘at limit’. Market orders will be executed at the best available price on the market at the time the order is lodged, while limit orders allow you to set a maximum (when buying) or minimum (when selling) price limit for your transaction. If your limit price is never reached on the market, your order will not be executed.
Yes, many providers will allow you to open a demo account and perform fake stock trades to get a feel for how the system works. This can be a great way to determine whether a certain platform is right for you.
There are a couple of ways in which you can generate wealth through stocks:
Buying a selling. You earn a profit by selling stocks for more than you paid to buy them. A key stock trading skill is knowing how to find and buy (1) undervalued stocks that you can sell for a higher price or (2) stocks issued by companies with strong financial futures in the hopes that these stocks will rise in value.
Holding stocks that pay dividends. You earn money on stocks issued by companies that regularly pay dividends, or a portion of its profits paid to shareholders.
“Diversifying” your stock portfolio is a risk-reducing strategy in which you buy stocks across a wide range of industries, markets and investment opportunities. If one stock investment fails, you still have other stock investments to rely on. Whereas, if you invest in one company or industry alone, and that company or industry takes a down turn, you could lose a lot, or even all, your money.
Trading stocks is a fairly straightforward process. Getting used to the tools and resources that let you do so can be complicated, depending on which platform you use. Some investment platforms have a steeper learning curve than others. The best stock trading platform for you will depend on the time and effort you’re willing to put into managing your investments yourself.
If you really don’t want to have to deal with the learning curve, look for online investment services that offer professional help. Robo advisors provide an excellent way to “set and forget” your investments by using algorithms to determine the best investment strategy for you and automating the maintenance of your account.
Yes, depending on the stock trading platform you choose and possibly on the level of membership you choose, you may very well be able to access expert stock recommendations.
Yes, many online stock trading platforms provide access to international securities. But not all do, so if you’re interested in buying and selling international stocks, make sure you verify this before registering for an account.
That depends on the investment service provider you go with. Some offer joint accounts, while others don’t, so check with your provider to find out for sure.
You can, as long as the order is still open and has not been executed (processed). However, keep in mind that market orders are placed instantly, so this option only realistically applies to limit orders.
The best approach to improve your trading skills is to expose yourself to information from a wide variety of sources. From trading strategies to financial news, company announcements and market activity, staying up to date with anything related to any industries or companies you’re interest in — or to the domestic and international economy at large — will help you know what decisions to make.
Consider taking an investment course offered by places like Udemy, Morningstar’s Investing Classroom or Skillshare. These types of courses of often taught by licensed, experienced professionals with years’ worth of knowledge to pass on. Make sure you only study with a trusted educational institution or training organization.
You may also want to check out our beginner’s guide to stock trading, which covers how to open an account and place an order, along with some common investing strategies.
Yes, there are some ways you can borrow money to purchase stocks. The most common is margin trading, which is offered by some banks and large stockbroking firms and involves using your existing shares or managed funds as security. It is also possible to use the equity in your home to take out a loan for investment purposes, or take out unsecured loans, although these will have high-interest charges.
However, remember that there are many risks associated with borrowing money for an investment on which returns are far from guaranteed. Generally, you should avoid borrowing to invest unless you’re an experienced investor and are sure that you can repay the loan even if your investment fails.
Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of futures, stocks, ETFs, CFDs, options or any specific provider, service or offering. It should not be relied upon as investment advice or construed as providing recommendations of any kind. Futures, stocks, ETFs and options trading involves substantial risk of loss and therefore are not appropriate for all investors. Trading CFDs and forex on leverage comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.
Grant Surridge is an editor at Finder, specializing in finance. He’s worked in journalism and communications for over a decade, his previous roles including business reporter at the National Post and online editor at Reuters. Grant has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba and a Journalism degree from the University of King’s College. Grant is a long-suffering fan of his beloved hometown Winnipeg Jets.
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