How to open a stock trading account

How to choose the best stock trading account for your needs and start investing in Canadian and international markets.

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Online stock trading allows you to buy and sell stocks in publicly listed companies over the Internet. Where previously you needed a broker in order to access the stock market, these days investors can trade directly by opening a stock trading account with an online stock trading platform.

This guide allows you to easily compare online stock trading accounts, and takes you through the steps involved when choosing a platform.

Steps to open a trading account

  1. Choose a broker
  2. Select your membership level
  3. Provide ID
  4. Link bank account
  5. Submit application
  6. Start trading

Open a stock trading account today

Name Product Available asset types Stock Fee Option Fee Account Fee ETF Transaction Cost
Questrade Stock Trading Platform
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, GICs, International Equities, IPOs, Precious Metals
$4.95 - $9.95
$9.95 + $1 per contract
$0
Free
Opt for self-directed investing and save on fees or get a pre-built portfolio and take some of the guesswork out.
Interactive Brokers
Stocks, Bonds, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, Currencies, Futures, Precious Metals
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
$1.50 min. per order
$0 (if monthly commissions are equal to or greater than US$10.00)
Min. $1.00, Max. 0.5% of trade value
Access market data 24 hours a day, six days a week and invest in global stocks, options, futures, currencies, bonds and funds from one single account.
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Name Product Minimum Opening Deposit Commission Available Markets Platforms
Forex.com
US$100
Minimum US$25
Forex
Metals
Commodities
Indices
Shares
Forex.com Desktop, Forex.com Web Trading, Forex.com Mobile Trading, MetaTrader 4
CFDs are leveraged products which involves greater risk than using cash resources only. You could lose all or more of your initial investment. Trade 80+ currency pairs and 220+ CFDs in equities, commodities and indices on Forex.com.
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Why trade stocks online?

When people think of stock trading, many imagine a crowded and chaotic trading room floor. The reality is that, thanks to modern technology, the vast majority of stock trading is done online.

Trading stocks online offers a secure and easy way to manage your investments. You can place trades at a time and place convenient to you, while buying and selling stocks offers the potential to benefit from stock price increases and also enjoy an income from dividend payments.

There are, of course, risks attached to trading stocks, including the potential to lose the money you invest, so it’s important to make sure you’re aware of those risks before you start trading.

Online stock trading

How do I choose an online stock trading platform?

You’ll need to carefully consider your trading needs before deciding on the right online stock trading platform. Some of the issues to consider include:

  • Trading knowledge and experience. Some online stock trading platforms are designed to suit retail investors, rather than institutional investors and traders. Other trading platforms have special features geared towards highly experienced traders, such as advanced charting tools, speedy execution of trades and live market data. These features may come at a cost, however, and may not add much value if you are a less experienced trader.
  • Available markets. Some stock trading platforms only provide access to companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) while others will also allow you to place trades on international markets. Some trading platforms will also provide access to other trading instruments, for example forex and contracts for difference (CFDs).
  • The fees involved. There are 2 main costs you need to consider when choosing a stock trading platform: the brokerage fee and the ongoing fee. The brokerage fee applies each time you place a trade and is usually around $5-$20, but could be higher based on the size of the transaction. Ongoing subscription fees are charged monthly and vary depending on the provider and the account features you select.
  • Trading resources. From educational tutorials to research and investment advice, check what tools a platform offers to help you make informed trading decisions.
  • Customer service. If you ever have a problem or need help with a trade, check to make sure you will be able to access prompt and helpful customer support.

How to open a stock trading account

The exact process for opening a stock trading account varies depending on the trading platform you select. However, you’ll generally need to complete the following steps when signing up:

  1. Choose your broker. Research a range of options to find the online stockbroking provider that offers all the features you want at an affordable price. Some providers also offer a choice of stock trading platforms, for example a free web-based platform for casual investors and a more complicated software package with a monthly subscription fee for experienced traders.
  2. Choose your membership level. Some providers offer a choice of membership tiers, each with a different level of features and a different ongoing fee. For example, you may need to choose between a Bronze, Silver or Gold trading account.
  3. Provide your details. You’ll need to provide your full name and a valid form of government-issued photo ID, as well as your email address, phone number, residential address and Social Insurance Number (SIN).
  4. Link your bank account. You’ll need to supply details of the bank account which will be used to finance your trades and you may be required to deposit a minimum amount. Some stock trading platforms will also require you to open a cash management account with a specific financial institution before you can start trading.
  5. Submit your application. Your application to open a stock trading account will usually be processed within 1-2 business days.
  6. Start trading. Once your application has been approved you can login to your account and start trading.
It’s also worth pointing out that it can be a lot easier to open a stock trading account if you’re an existing customer of the same financial institution. In this case, you won’t have to provide your name, contact information or proof of ID.

Frequently asked questions

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 comes with a higher risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. Past performance is not an indication of future results. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before making any trades.

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