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Best Canadian Brokers for Stock Trading
Canadian citizens looking to invest online in the stock market have a variety of options. Online brokers come in different flavors, from deep discount to full service, while others are known for their trading tools or research.
When it comes to investing in Canada, the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is most often cited because it is the 11th largest in the world, with more than $3 trillion in total assets. In most cases, Canadians also have easy access to trading securities on both the NYSE and NASDAQ exchanges in the United States, which are the largest and second largest in the world, respectively.
Canada's Best Online Brokers 2023
Here are the top brokers for trading stocks in Canada.
- 4.5 Stars - Best Overall
Qtrade Direct Investing
- 4.5 Stars - Best for Research
- 4.5 Stars - Best for Professionals
TD Direct Investing
- 4 Stars - Diverse Trading Tools
CIBC Investor’s Edge
- 4 Stars - Transparent Fees
- 3.5 Stars - Best for Low Costs
Stock trading in Canada
To service Canadian residents, online brokerages must be licensed as securities brokers in Canada and maintain a physical presence. The brokers we found that meet these requirements include (in alphabetical order): BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor's Edge, HSBC InvestDirect, Interactive Brokers, National Bank, Qtrade Direct Investing, Questrade, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTRADE, TD Direct Investing, Virtual Brokers and Wealthsimple.
Herein we will break down the best online brokers available to Canadian residents looking to trade stocks online in Canada and the United States.
Best Canadian online trading platforms
Here are screenshots of the trading platforms for Questrade, Qtrade, and Interactive Brokers.
Trading differences: Canada versus the United States
Trading stocks online in Canada is similar in many ways to trading as a U.S. resident in the United States. Canadian investors fund an account, make a deposit, then place trades through a web or desktop platform, manage a watch list, and conduct research, just as U.S. investors do.
However, there are several important considerations of which Canadian investors should be aware before selecting a broker in Canada, considerations that are not a concern in the U.S.
- Annual fees – In the U.S., it is very rare to see an online broker charge annual fees (also listed as inactivity fees or maintenance fees), whereas in Canada every broker does. Questrade is the best in this area, as only $1,000 across all accounts is required to avoid an annual fee. In contrast, for example, Scotia iTRADE, HSBC, BMO InvestorLine, and CIBC Investor’s Edge all require at least $25,000 for RRSP accounts ($10,000 for non-registered accounts) to avoid paying an annual fee.
- Mobile app availability – While every online brokerage offers a mobile app in the U.S., in Canada not every broker does, and the quality can be dramatically different as far as features go. Several of the largest Canadian banks, including HSBC and National Bank, do not offer clients a separate downloadable app for mobile trading at all.
- Trading tools and platforms – The larger Canadian brokers do a good job with stock research, thanks to their use of popular third-party providers such as Morningstar and Trading Central (Recognia), which are also widely used in the United States. However, actual trading tools and platforms can vary significantly among brokers.
- Order types – Market orders, limit hours, and stop orders are standard across the industry. However, trading U.S. stocks from Canada can vary from broker to broker in terms of what is available. This includes after-hours trading. Advanced order types, such as conditional orders, will also vary from broker to broker.
- Banking services – Banks that offer online trading in the U.S. (for example, Merrill Edge through Bank of America) provide a seamless client experience. Moving money between accounts, changing between bank and brokerage accounts through one login, tax reporting, and similar functionality are all expected to be present as part of the holistic trading experience. This also flows into in-person service at a local branch office. In Canada, the client experience can vary significantly from bank to bank.
How to select a good Canadian brokerage
Canadian brokerages work hard to stand out against one another beyond branding and marketing. What really matters though is the trading experience you receive once you are a client with a funded account.
Here’s a list of tips to keep in mind to help you select the right broker the first time:
- Know your account type beforehand. Are you opening a taxable account or a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)? If you are starting with a regular account, as many investors do, then at least take the time to explore the broker’s RRSP offering. In particular, check the minimum account balance (or minimum trade activity) requirement to avoid annual fees, which vary by broker. This way, you won’t be surprised when you go to open an RRSP account later.
- Does the broker offer commission-free ETFs? Exchange traded funds (ETFs) have soared in popularity over the past decade. Thousands of ETFs are available to buy, and many providers – BlackRock iShares, Vanguard, and State Street Global Advisors' SPDR are the three largest issuers – now partner with brokerages to make their ETFs commission free to customers. Questrade, Qtrade Direct Investing, National Bank, and Scotia iTRADE all offer them. Our research determined that Questrade has the best all-around offering of commission-free ETFs.
- Make sure your broker supports the asset class you want to trade. If you only trade stocks, options, or funds, then no problem; any broker will service you. However, if you want to trade complex options, forex, or futures, you will need to do your research ahead of time.
- For active traders, read the fine print to compare potential service benefits. Discounted commissions are just one perk of being an active trader. Some brokers will increase the quality of the market data being streamed into the account. Others will grant access to better research tools or offer dedicated customer support. For seasoned traders, Interactive Brokers is king, thanks to its ultra-low trading costs and excellent trader tools.
- Customer service. When contacting a brokerage for account-related inquiries, all investors look for fast connection times and helpful representatives to assist them. Like all businesses, support quality and timeliness can vary. For a quick gauge, once you narrow down your selections to two, call both brokerages on the phone and ask them both several questions. This speedy exercise may reveal a lot about what to expect as a client. Tip, call shortly after the stock market opens if you can, which is traditionally when support is busiest.
- Account security. Is two-factor login available? What is the broker’s security policy? How are your assets protected and secured on an ongoing basis?
Which bank is best for stock trading in Canada?
Many Canadian banks offer customers the ability to buy and sell shares of stock. However, the costs to trade are almost always more expensive than using a stand-alone discount online broker such as Questrade or Qtrade Direct Investing. In addition, stand-alone brokerages offer more comprehensive research and better trading tools. All in all, besides the convenience factor, we do not recommend Canadians use their bank to invest in stocks.
What is the best stock trading website for beginners in Canada?
Questrade is the best Canadian online broker for beginners. Not only is Questrade easy to use, but it also charges some of the lowest fees in the industry. Questrade is available to all residents of Canada, and charges equity traders $.01 per share, with a $4.95 minimum and $9.95 maximum per trade.
Do any Canadian stockbrokers offer forex trading?
Yes. Interactive Brokers is regulated and offers forex trading to residents of Canada. For a full list of regulated forex brokers, read our guide to the Best Canadian Forex Brokers on our sister site, ForexBrokers.com.
Are online stock brokers safe?
What does a broker do?
Your online broker acts as an intermediary, connecting you to the stock market. When you use an online broker to buy and sell shares of stock, the broker routes your orders a market center to be filled, and you receive the shares. Your brokerage account is where the shares of all the companies you own are held until you are ready to sell.
Best Canadian Brokers Summary
|Canadian Online Broker
||$.01 per share
|Qtrade Direct Investing
||Best for Research
||Best for Professionals
||$.005 per share
|TD Direct Investing
||Diverse Trading Tools
|CIBC Investor's Edge
Explore further guidance on trading in Canada, here and on our sister site, ForexBrokers.com.
About the Editorial Team