Best Online Trading Platforms in Canada 2021

With a growing number of online broker services now available, it’s important to find the best brokerage in Canada that works for you.

This article provides a detailed breakdown of the top 8 best brokers for Canadians based on platform-tools, investment products, and trading fees.

Read on to find out what you should consider when choosing the best stock broker for your investment interests.

Best Online Brokers For Canadian Traders 2021

Here are the top 8 best online brokers in Canada based on investment choices, platform tools, and trading fees.

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers offers experienced Canadian traders a top-tier trading platform. 

The firm offers Canadians low trading fees and a wide range of investment products and markets. Premium research and trading tools are offered through the platform.

Interactive Brokers has fast order execution, thanks to its IB SmartRouting technology. This makes it the best choice for active day traders.

While this broker caters well to active traders, beginners will find it hard to navigate the platform. Less experienced traders should look elsewhere.

Interactive Brokers Logo
PROS
CONS
Fast order execution
Trading platform is not user-friendly
Full selection of securities available
Complicated account opening process
Great market research
Fractional shares offered
Customized alerts on the trading platform

XTB

XTB offers the best forex trading platform for Canadians. It charges low fees for forex trades, which makes it stand out to other competing brokers.

The firm offers fast and inexpensive deposits and withdrawals. Opening an account is a quick and user-friendly process.

On the negative side, there are high fees for stock CFD trading. The available investment products are limited to only CFDs and forex. 

XTB logo
PROS
CONS
Low forex fees
High fees for stock CFDs
Free and fast deposit withdrawals
Product portfolio limited to CFDs and forex
Easy account opening
Limited fundamental data

Wealthsimple Trade

Wealthsimple Trade stands out for its zero-fee stock and ETF trades. This is a great choice for Canadian retail traders wanting a cheap trading platform.

The platform has a simple design, giving you access to a large selection of US and Canadian stock and ETF markets. 

Wealthsimple Trade is only available through a mobile app though. There is currently no desktop platform, which might be a downside for you.

Wealthsimple Logo
PROS
CONS
Zero commission fees on trades
Limited research provided
No minimum account requirements
Only access via mobile app
No inactivity fee
Limited investment types available

BMO InvestorLine

BMO InvestorLine is the Bank of Montreal’s trading platform. It offers great resources for Canadians that are new to investing.

The brokerage offers tools aimed at new investors. This includes online tutorials and demos, bi-weekly educational emails, and webcasts by expert traders. 

BMO InvestorLine has a big downside though. Customer service is known is to be slow and unresponsive at times. Customers only have the option to contact them via telephone.

BMO Investor Line Logo
PROS
CONS
Beginner-friendly
Unresponsive customer service
Great educational resources
Market research offered

Qtrade Investor

Qtrade Investor is a solid all-around brokerage choice for Canadians. It’s best for traders looking to trade ETFs.

Qtrade Investor offers a user-friendly website along with robust stock research. Although the software design is outdated, the platform does provide excellent portfolio analysis and management tools.

Its fees are competitive, but they aren’t leading in this category. Fees apply for account balances lower than $25,000.

PROS
CONS
User-friendly trading platform
Outdated mobile platform
ETFs and mutual funds available
Fees for accounts smaller than $25,000
Great customer service
In-depth market research

RBC Direct Investing

RBC Direct Investing is a platform offered by the Royal Bank of Canada. This brokerage service offers Canadian traders in-depth research reports. 

The firm’s customer service is efficient and reliable. Education resources are great for beginners and a demo account is available to try out trading strategies.

RBC Direct Investing's biggest downside is its outdated mobile app software. Also, there are limited withdrawal and deposit options.

RBC Direct Investing Logo
PROS
CONS
Thorough market research 
Outdated mobile trading platform
Great educational resources
Limited withdrawals and deposits
Demo account available
Useful customer service

Scotia iTRADE

iTRADE is best for active traders. The firm offers discounted commissions and several premium trading platforms that cater well to experienced Canadian traders. 

Scotiabank customers have the option to link their trading and bank accounts. This makes managing your finances a whole lot more convenient. 

Traders have access to thorough market research supplied by Scotiabank. There is also a demo account available.

While the brokerage does provide educational resources, this isn’t recommended for beginners or long-term retirement investors.

Scotia iTrade Logo
PROS
CONS
Discounted fees for active traders
Annual fees for registered and unregistered accounts
Premium trading platforms
Added cost for access to premium FlightDesk platform 
Thorough research provided
Demo account offered

TD Direct Investing

TD Direct Investing is one of the most expensive brokers available in Canada. If you’re looking for high-end trading tools and premium research, then the cost will be worth it.

The broker gives you access to both simple and more advanced trading platforms. Its mobile app offers a similarly smooth experience. 

If you’re looking for a budget broker, then you’ll have to look elsewhere. Both trading and non-trading fees are steep compared to its competitors.

PROS
CONS
Premium trading platforms offered
Expensive trading and non-trading fees
Thorough market research
Wide selection of US and international investment products
Versatile mobile app

How To Pick an Online Brokerage in Canada?

Regulation

Regulated brokers should be registered with at least one financial regulating body. Canadian brokers are regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). Brokers need to follow the rules set by the IIROC.

Traders vs active traders vs long-term buy and hold investors

Active trading is buying and holding an asset for only a few seconds or minutes. You then sell the asset shortly after. This takes advantage of brief fluctuations in the price of the asset. Some brokers reward active trading by lowering trade commission rates.

Long-term investing is more passive. It involves buying and holding trades for months or years. Brokers that don’t charge fees for inactivity are best for long-term investors.

Different brokers will reward different investment styles. You need to make sure that your broker’s commission rates suit your trading style. 

Account Security

Account security features help ensure that your trading account is protected from hackers and malware. Most online brokers make customer account security a priority because of growing cyber threats.

You must be aware of the security policies of your online trading platform. You should choose a brokerage that offers features such as two-factor authentication.

Fees & Commissions

Stock brokers charge a wide range of different fees. You need to be aware of all the fees that your broker charges in advance. It's important to know how to determine the commission charges on all of your trades.

Annual fees are better than per-transaction fees. This means that your broker won’t earn commissions through unnecessary transactions.

Assets Available

There is a range of financial assets available for you to invest your money into. Stocks, bonds, options, and derivatives are the most common types.

You need to make sure your brokerage offers the investment products that you're interested in.

Account Types

Brokerage services offer many different types of accounts to investors. These include cash accounts, retirement accounts, and margin accounts.

You should be aware of which accounts your broker offers. There might be different trade fees and account minimums for each type of accounts.

Professional Accounts

A professional trader is someone who earns a living by trading other people's money. Some brokers offer accounts specifically for professional traders. Professional traders usually trade products with higher risk, such as binary options.

Retail Accounts

A retail trader is someone who trades their own money but does not trade for a living. Some brokers cater more for retail traders with lower fees and no minimum account balance.

Demo Accounts

Demo accounts, also known as paper trading accounts, are offered on many trading platforms. These allow new customers to try out trading strategies by investing fake virtual money in real-time markets. This is particularly useful for beginner traders.

Educational Resources

If you're a beginner, you'll need advice on how to analyze data and diversify your portfolios.

Beginners need to choose a broker that offers educational resources. These include video tutorials, forum discussions, and how-to articles.

Trading platforms that encourage communities and crowdsourcing are great for beginners. This allows you to copy trade strategies and discuss ideas with other traders.

Research Tools Available

You must be aware of the growth prospects of a company before investing in it. Access to thorough records of a company’s history will showcase its earnings and performance on the market.

A good online broker should provide a variety of market research. If you're a beginner, you'll need advice on how to analyze this data and diversify your portfolios.

Trading Tools Available

You should look for a brokerage that offers enough tools for thorough security analysis. This includes research on market data, analyst ratings, and real-time news.

A good broker will include historical price data from issuing companies in their stock profiles. You should also have access to financial statements, earnings reports, and dividend payments.

Mobile Trading

Mobile trading is trading that is done on an app on your smartphone. A mobile trading platform is a mini version of a proper desktop trading platform.

If you're looking for an easy way to access your accounts on-the-go, then you need a broker that offers a mobile trading platform.

Order Execution

Order execution is when your brokerage completes a buy or sell order on your behalf. You send all your orders to your broker to be executed.

You should look for a broker that has fast order execution. This is particularly if active trading is your investment strategy.

Is Day Trading Legal in Canada?

Yes, day trading is legal in Canada. It is regulated by the Canadian government. The government sets trade rules and has a process to document income and losses made from trading. Profits made from day trading are taxed. 

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