There’s quite a kerfuffle going on among Canadian stockbrokers, who are competing for your loonies by offering deeply discounted trades, high-quality tools and/or convenience. So who’s skookum and who are the hosers? Each broker has its own unique blend of strengths and weaknesses, and we call them out for you here.
Canada plays a significant role in the global economy. The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) is the 12th largest in the world, with more than $3 trillion in total assets. While it's large, it’s also heavily concentrated in the financial, energy, industrial and material sectors, which are all cyclical, meaning their stock prices are sensitive to economic strength and weakness.
Investors seeking to diversify away from cyclical companies will appreciate brokers who can buy and hold foreign currencies and stock. All five of the brokers reviewed here can buy stocks in the United States. One of our top overall picks, Interactive Brokers, particularly stands out for its global investing capabilities.
Canada's Best Online Brokers 2023
Here are the top brokers for trading stocks in Canada.
$.01 per share ($4.95 min / $9.95 max). For residents of Canada, Questrade is the best online broker for trading, not only on the Canadian stock market, but also the U.S. stock market. The client experience is seamless, the tools are numerous, and commissions are competitive. Read full review
$0.01 per share ($1 min / 0.5% of trade value max). Interactive Brokers is our top pick for professionals because of its institutional-grade desktop trading platform. Professionals aside, Interactive Brokers also appeals to casual investors thanks to its Client Portal web trading platform. Read full review
$8.75 per trade. Qtrade Direct Investing shines for its user-friendly website and all-around client experience. While Questrade has the upper hand with its trading platform, Qtrade provides a more robust stock research center and portfolio analysis tools.
$9.99 per trade. As the most expensive broker in our review, TD Direct Investing offers investors a diverse set of trading tools and research through its WebBroker and Advanced Dashboard platforms. The broker’s mobile app, TD App, provides a similarly clean experience.
$6.95 per online equity trade. For casual investors looking for low-cost trades, who are willing to use a broker without all the bells and whistles, CIBC Investor’s Edge is worth considering. The broker is noteworthy for its transparent account fees and low trading costs across the board.
$0 per trade. For long-term investors who want to set it and forget it or trade on a more passive basis, Wealthsimple is a great choice. Wealthsimple offers a robo-advisor managed solution as part of its Wealthsimple Invest platform. Read full review
Stock trading in Canada
To service Canadian residents, online brokerages must be licensed as securities brokers with the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization, or CIRO, not to mention keep up with the regulator's name changes. CIRO consolidates the functions of the former Investment Industry Regulatory Organization (IIROC) and Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA), which themselves were renamed New SRO in early 2023; that has now been supplanted by the latest moniker. Canada is served by 262 brokerage firms and 108,000 representatives.
Here's a breakdown of StockBrokers.com's picks for top brokers in Canada.
1. Questrade - Best Trading Platform
Beginners and long term investors will find Questrade’s website simple to navigate. Traders will gravitate to Questrade Edge, the desktop trading platform. It’s available for both Windows and Mac and is the best trading platform for casual Canada traders. Edge has an extensive array of tools, including depth of market, extensive charting capabilities and an options P&L calculator The platform is intuitive to use and easy on the eyes. Active traders who need Level 2 and real time options pricing data can offset expensive monthly data fees through commission rebates.
Questrade Canadian stock commission: Buys and sells are $0.01 per share, with a minimum of $4.95 and a maximum of $9.95.
Questrade options commission: Buys and sells are $9.95 plus $1.00 per contract.
Questrade account fees and minimums: No fee to open an account, and no inactivity fee. Minimum required $1,000 balance to begin investing.
2. Interactive Brokers - Best for Professionals and Active Traders
Unlike the other brokers here, Interactive Brokers isn’t Canadian. It’s based in the U.S., but it can execute trades in 33 countries. IBKR, as it’s known, serves a wide array of investors, from the small fractional share first time investor to the largest hedge funds. It has a tool for virtually every need, but its complexity often makes using it confusing for beginners and casual traders.
In exchange for tolerating a bit of inconvenience here and there, clients get access to very low trading costs, world-class tools and a suite of mobile apps. We found the mobile apps to be remarkably user-friendly, and IBKR Portal, its everyday investor website, easy enough to navigate and loaded with information.
IBKR Canadian stock commission: $0.01 per share, minimum $1.00, maximum of 0.5% of trade value.
IBKR options commission: $1.25 per contract, minimum $1.50.
IBKR account fees and minimums: No minimum and no inactivity fees.
3. Qtrade - Best for Long-Term Investors
Qtrade is oriented toward long-term investors. It comes with a solid suite of Morningstar and FactSet research. Itchy traders will likely be happier at Interactive Brokers or TD Direct, but there are automated trading ideas from Trading Central. Qtrade’s standout feature is its excellent portfolio management tools. Don’t miss the geekily named Portfolio Analytics tab, because it has some very easy-to-use gadgets that will help you evaluate the risk in your portfolio.
The education section is hit or miss. If you’re just starting out on your investing journey and are looking for book – err, web – smarts, here’s a helpful tip: Scroll to the bottom to find the most relevant “how to” and “what are” articles. Don’t ask us why Qtrade did it this way.
Qtrade Canadian stock commission: Buys and sells are $8.75. Traders with 150+ trades per quarter and/or $500,000 in equity get lower rate of $6.95.
Qtrade options commission: Buys and sells are $8.75 plus $1.25 per contract. Active investors (see above) pay $6.95 plus $1.25 per contract.
Qtrade account fees and minimums: No fee or minimum to open an account. There is an administrative fee of $25 per quarter that is waived under many circumstances.
4. TD Direct Investing - Diverse Trading Tools and Great Education
TD Direct is polished and provides enough features to satisfy almost everyone, with a robust web trading platform and a clean investing website. It’s logically laid out and smoothly bridges the gap between banking and investing. Novices will get off to a great start, thanks to top notch education articles and videos that cover a broad range of topics and are clear and engaging.
We say “almost everyone” because its web trading platform, TD Advanced Dashboard, simply doesn’t have the depth of Interactive Brokers’ Traders Workstation (few brokers do). Casual traders will find Advanced Dashboard to be sufficient and current TD banking clients will appreciate keeping their banking and investing at the same firm.
TD Direct charges the same commission for trading U.S. shares as it does for Canadian shares. On the bright side, TD offers real-time data for free.
TD Direct Canadian stock commission: $9.99 flat fee.
TD Direct options commission: $9.99 plus $1.25 per contract.
TD Direct account fees and minimums: No minimum deposit. $25 quarterly maintenance fees that will be waived under certain conditions.
5. CIBC Investor’s Edge - Transparent Fees
Investor’s Edge has a convenient interface and offers PDF research reports from CIBC World Markets and Morningstar. If you’re a trend follower, you’ll be happy with Investor’s Edge’s collection of sentiment indicators. Charts are clean. Active traders may have to weigh CIBC’s flat $6.95 commission and nice research against the comprehensive platforms offered by Questrade and Interactive Brokers.
Like TD Direct Investing (see above), CIBC does not offer free trading of U.S. shares.
CIBC Canadian stock commission: $6.95 flat commission.
CIBC options commission: $6.95 plus $1.25 per contract.
CIBC account fees and minimums: No minimum. No annual account fees for TFSA and RESP. $100 if the balance of a non-registered account is under $10,000. RRSP, RRIF, LIRA and LIF accounts have $100 annual fee if balance is $25,000 or less.
6. Wealthsimple - Best Zero Commission Broker
Wealthsimple doesn’t charge commissions for listed Canadian and U.S. stocks and ETFs and it doesn’t charge inactivity fees. It does have an options fee of $3 and charges for early exercise and assignments.
There’s a lot of marketing power in the number zero, but investors get very limited features, other than outstanding ease of use (there’s not much there to master). If you plan to buy a few ETFs and have no plan on selling them, then Wealthsimple is a fine choice.
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 and check the minimum account balance (or minimum trade activity) requirement to avoid annual fees, which vary by broker. That can help you avoid some surprises.
Check whether the broker offers commission-free ETFs. Exchange traded funds make it easy to build a diversified portfolio with relatively small account balances or quickly put on a tactical position in an entire sector, industry or even asset class.
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 crypto, complex options, forex, or futures, you should ensure the broker will be able to support you ahead of time.
If you are an active trader, 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.
If you’re trading non-Canadian stocks, check the foreign exchange spreads. Some brokers advertise commission-free trading of U.S. stocks but make money from the currency conversion.
Try out the customer service before opening your account. Look for fast connection times and helpful representatives. 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.
Most Canadians will be happiest with Questrade. It offers a wealth of investor-friendly tools and an easy-to-use platform at a reasonable price. Active traders and professional investors will be well-served by Interactive Brokers, which has very low pricing and professional-quality tools.
Which bank is best for stock trading in Canada?
TD Direct Investing has excellent education and an acceptable browser-based trading platform. Carefully weigh the convenience of keeping all your financial assets under one roof against the usually better rates and tools offered by independent brokers such as Questrade and Qtrade.
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 offers exceptional features at a low cost. 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.
Which broker has zero fees in Canada?
There are several zero-commission brokers in Canada. Wealthsimple has no account maintenance fees, no inactivity fees and charges no commission on Canadian and U.S. stocks and exchange-traded funds. There are fees for options trading and exercises and currency conversion, along with some administrative fees. National Bank Discount Brokers is zero-commission, but does charge inactivity fees. Mogotrade also doesn’t charge commissions, but its offerings are limited to stocks and ETFs. We prefer brokers that offer clients more investment options and tools.
What are the differences between investing in Canada vs. the United States?
If you are new to trading in the Canadian market but have experience trading in the U.S. or other markets, you'll find much that's familiar. Canadian investors fund an account and make a deposit, then place trades through an internet browser, desktop or mobile app. You can 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 annual fees are very common. Wealthsimple does not charge a maintenance fee and doesn’t have a minimum account size. Questrade only requires a minimum of $1,000 to avoid an annual fee. In contrast, Scotia iTRADE, BMO InvestorLine, and CIBC Investor’s Edge all require at least $25,000 for RRSP accounts to avoid paying an annual fee.
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). However, the 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.
Do any Canadian stockbrokers offer forex trading?
Yes. Canadian brokers routinely offer forex trading. Make sure to comparison shop the brokers you are considering using, because pricing can vary dramatically. Some offer tiered pricing. For more detail and a rundown of our top picks, read our guide to the best forex brokers in Canada.
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 to a market center to be filled, and you receive or release the shares. Your brokerage account is where the shares of all the companies you own are held until you are ready to sell. Brokers are also required to provide you statements on your account and cooperate with authorities when required.
But that’s just the barest minimum. Ideally, an online broker should provide you comprehensive information on the investments you own and/or are considering buying or selling. It should also give you market research and high-quality investor education.
Best Canadian Brokers Summary
Commission structures vary widely across brokers. Larger and frequent investors should check the detailed pricing of any broker under consideration.
Blain Reinkensmeyer has 20 years of trading experience with over 2,500 trades placed during that time. He heads research for all U.S.-based brokerages on StockBrokers.com and is respected by executives as the leading expert covering the online broker industry. Blain’s insights have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and the Chicago Tribune, among other media outlets.
Sam Levine has over 30 years of experience in the investing field as a portfolio manager, financial consultant, investment strategist and writer. He also taught investing as an adjunct professor of finance at Wayne State University. Sam holds the Chartered Financial Analyst and the Chartered Market Technician designations and is pursuing a master's in personal financial planning at the College for Financial Planning. Previously, he was a contributing editor at BetterInvesting Magazine and a contributor to The Penny Hoarder and other media outlets.
Carolyn Kimball is managing editor for Reink Media and the lead editor for the StockBrokers.com Annual Review. Carolyn has more than 20 years of writing and editing experience at major media outlets including NerdWallet, the Los Angeles Times and the San Jose Mercury News. She specializes in coverage of personal financial products and services, wielding her editing skills to clarify complex (some might say befuddling) topics to help consumers make informed decisions about their money.
Steven Hatzakis is the Global Director of Research for ForexBrokers.com. Steven previously served as an Editor for Finance Magnates, where he authored over 1,000 published articles about the online finance industry. Steven is an active fintech and crypto industry researcher and advises blockchain companies at the board level. Over the past 20 years, Steven has held numerous positions within the international forex markets, from writing to consulting to serving as a registered commodity futures representative.