The United States and Canada share commonalities — including a booming economy and stock market. The Toronto Stock Exchange (the largest in Canada) is the 12th largest stock market in the world. That's why you need to know the best online brokers in Canada.
The Toronto Stock Exchange has a market cap of $3.3 trillion. Through an abundance of natural gas and energy resources, an agricultural market that dominates in the production of wheat and grains and a newly thriving legal cannabis market, more and more investors are looking north for future profits. If you aren’t a native Canadian, you may still buy and sell stocks on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).
However, you’ll first need to understand the differences between trading stocks in the United States and Canada, as well as select a Canadian or international brokerage firm to help execute trades on your behalf. Before you sign up for an account with a Canadian bank or brokerage firm, make sure you read our comprehensive guide to getting started in international trading.
The Best Online Brokers in Canada
- Best for New Investors: Wealthsimple
- Best for Sophisticated Investors: IBKR
- Best for Momentum Traders: CenterPoint Securities
- Best for Banking and Investing: National Bank of Canada
- Best for Investors: CIBC
- Best for Instant Execution and No Hidden Commissions: IFC Markets
- Best for Canadian Investors: Questrade
- Best for Active Trading: Scotia iTrade
- Best for Gathering Information: Qtrade
- Best for Self-Directed Investors: BMO Investorline
Not sure where to start? Take a look a the best online brokers in Canada to get started with your trades.
1. Best for New Investors: Wealthsimple
Wealthsimple is the most convenient investment platform you can use. As you use this robo-advisor, it automatically invests your money, uses the best strategy for your situation and reinvests your dividends.
A visit to Wealthsimple also allows you to learn how to invest. You can check out the education section where you can study investing and personal finance—with this platform, it is very simple to grow as an investor. Additionally, you can call the customer service team or submit a support ticket when you need assistance.
With additional options for fund allocation, halal, eco-friendly and socially-responsible investments, Wealthsimple helps you get to the heart of the matter in mere moments.
- Using this platform to manage large holdings can help you get an idea of how your family portfolio is performing
- This is also a good place to go when you need retirement support and advice
- While there are unique account options, they are not always going to fit in with your needs
2. Best for Sophisticated Investors: Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers isn’t a Canadian-based online broker. Instead, it offers a U.S.-based trading suite with international functionality and capabilities.
With an eye towards professional investors, Interactive Brokers’ fees are exceptionally low. You can expect to pay around $0.008 CAD per share for trades of less than 300,000 shares with a minimum commission of just $1 CAD. Interactive Brokers also offers additional discounts for high-volume traders and fees decrease as the volume of the trade increases. Though Interactive Brokers does charge an account maintenance fee for less-active traders that ranges from $10 to $20 per month, this is on the lower end for brokers offering TSX trades.
- This platform aims to keep its fees as low as possible while maximizing offerings
- You can use this platform to manage portfolios for clients or yourself
- IBKR may seem like “too much” for someone who has specific investing needs
3. Best for Momentum Traders: CenterPoint Securities
CenterPoint Securities is ideal for active and momentum traders who need advanced tools and quality customer service. With this platform, you can trade in Canada with better execution, a robust short inventory and advanced trading platform options.
This is a good place for Canadian traders to go if they want to make trading their life or need to manage large portfolios for clients or family.
- Yes, the platform works well for momentum trading, but it also works well for swing traders and other strategies
- You can use this platform to access a range of assets that can make your portfolio more diverse
- Yes, this platform is quite unique, but it may not offer the trading options that you’re looking for
4. Best for Banking and Investing: National Bank of Canada
While the National Bank of Canada is not a stock broker, it offers several options that allow you to prepare for retirement, save and manage your investments. You can invest in NBI funds and portfolios, try various savings plans, investment plans and retirement plans. Guaranteed Investment Certificates are also available.
This is the best place to go in Canada when you want to work with a traditional bank and invest at the same time. Think of NBC as a place where “total money management” is possible.
- You can use this platform when you’re already a customer
- Pairing your banking and investing helps you track your money more easily
- This platform is not a “true” stock broker, meaning that you may need more functionality and options
5. Best for Investors: CIBC
For investments, you'll pay a flat fee of only $6.95 per online equity trade with no minimum. You can conveniently trade from anywhere, using CIBC's desktop platform and mobile app. Customize your trading experience with screeners, technical insight, their morning news call, advanced charting, alerts, watch lists, and more.
As for tradable securities, CIBC offers equities, ETFs, options, mutual funds, GICs, fixed income and precious metals.
- Flat rates help you keep track of your overhead
- The charting capabilities on the site are helpful for those who prefer to complete a technical or fundamental analysis
- You may not find the specific assets which intrigue you
6. Best for Instant Execution and No Commissions: IFC Markets
IFC Markets is a popular forex and CFD broker that connects you with these assets better than the average broker. At IFC Markets, you benefit from several options like:
- The GeWorko Portfolio Quoting Method for creating synthetic assets
- 15 years of industry experience
- Insured by AIG Europe
- The specialty quoting method is extremely important part of how this platform functions
- The platform offers a range of pairs and underlying assets that are intriguing to investors
- While this platform is robust, you need to know that CFDs can be quite risky
7. Best for Canadian Investors: Questrade
Benzinga's 2021 FinTech Awards Winner for Best Canadian Brokerage, Questrade is a low-cost Canadian online broker that offers quite a few fintech innovations. Only available in Canada, you can trade equities, bonds, forex, commodities, options and ETFs on the site with good pricing and a simple interface. Best for active traders and those who wish to control costs, the platform also offers:
- Low commissions
- Greater functionality for ETF traders
- Rebates on active trades
- No annual maintenance fees
- Practice accounts
- Trading with no fees keeps money in your pocket and provides opportunities for reinvestment
- ETF trading functionality on this platform can help you invest over the long-term
- While you can practice and get rebates, this platform may not offer the options that you need
8. Best for Active Trading: Scotia iTrade
Benzinga's 2021 FinTech Awards Listmaker for Best Canadian Brokerage, Scotia iTRADE is the brokerage arm of Scotiabank. Because it’s part of one of the Big 5 banks in Canada, it works well for active traders, new investors and those who wish to keep self-directed portfolios. Scotia iTRADE also offers:
- Low commissions for active traders
- Multiple trading platforms
- Research tools
- Demo accounts
Because you have access to a massive bank that can provide you with the reach you deserve, it’s much easier to build a portfolio, diversify, research and invest simply rather than keeping multiple accounts across several institutions.
- Because you can demo your investments, you have time to practice, learn how these investments will work and get an idea of how you want to manage your portfolio
- Connecting to the trading platform of your choice is much better for investors because it helps streamline the process for you
- While the platform is user-friendly, it may not provide the functionality you were looking for
9. Best for Gathering Information: Qtrade
Investing with Qtrade gives you access to stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, GICs and other securities with competitive prices. Investors on Qtrade are using a seamless platform that’s easy to navigate, can gather information quickly and enjoy a simplified trading experience.
Plus, you get:
- Frictionless onboarding
- Competitive incentives
- An industry-leading customer experience
- Intuitive trading options
- Enhanced portfolio analytics
- Low-cost trading options
- Commission-free ETF trading
- Canada’s best online trading support
- Because onboarding and incentives are powerful on this platform, it helps newer investors feel comfortable as they begin investing
- The lack of commissions on ETFs helps you double down on your savings because you’re also investing in a long-term asset
- While the platform is a simple place to invest, you may not find the assets or options that you’re looking for
10. Best for Self-Directed Investors: BMO Investorline
Benzinga's 2021 FinTech Awards Listmaker for Best Canadian Brokerage, BMO Investorline serves as the Bank of Montreal’s (NYSE: BMO) (TSX: BMO) self-directed investment service. when you use Investorline, you gain access to 3rd-party research and educational tools. Plus, there is a desktop and web trading platform that are paired with a powerful mobile app.
Investorline allows you to trade Canadian-listed stocks, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), stock options, mutual funds and guaranteed investment certificates. The platform works well for active traders who manage their own portfolios. Plus, you can set up a registered savings plan. BMO Investorline also offers:
- Several account types
- Research and educational options for all types of traders
- Flat brokerage fees
- Investing with a bank partner often makes investors feel safer
- The research tools that you get are more than enough for you to learn as you invest
- While this brand is partnered with a large bank, you may prefer to invest with a dedicated brokerage house
Best Tool in Canada: Stocktrade
Canadian investors don’t want to miss Stocktrades.ca’s tools. If you want to increase your returns in an industry plagued with misinformation, Stocktrades’ main priority offers refreshing objectivity and offers investors accurate, timely and high-quality investment news and information.
You’ll get high quality research on some of the best growth, dividend and value stocks in the country.
Whether you choose Stocktrades’ free plan or Premium access, you’ll get 40 years of combined self-directed investment experience.
Stocktrades.ca’s free plan offers:
- Limited access to foundational stocks
- Custom model portfolios
- Growth stock screeners
- Dividend safety screeners
Stocktrades Premium offers full access to the following for a mere $20.83 per month:
- Canadian growth stock picks
- Canadian dividend stock picks
- Annual foundational stock picks
- 9 model growth portfolios
- Dividend safety screeners
- Growth stock screeners
- Custom research requests
- Brand new IPO centre
- Q&A section
Access your membership today.
What You Need to Know About Trading in Canada
- Prices are listed in CAD
When you’re reading stock quotes on Canadian exchanges, most assets will have prices listed in CAD instead of the USD that’s used on Wall Street. Though some trading software programs will allow you to change the viewable currencies, online listings generally default to listing Canadian securities in CAD. Keep a live currency conversion calculator (like the one available for free at XE.com) to help you enhance your trading and quickly convert prices back to your native currency.
- Canadian markets are less liquid
Though the Canadian stock market may expand every day, it still pales in comparison to the market that American traders frequent. The total market capitalization of the Toronto Stock Exchange is about $2.28 trillion — compare that number to $30.2 trillion in average daily market capitalization on the NYSE alone.
This means that shares of stock are bought and sold much less frequently on the Canadian stock market when compared to the American market. If you’re planning on day trading through a Canadian brokerage firm, keep this lower level of liquidity in mind when formulating your trading strategy.
This is especially important when it comes to diversifying your portfolio. Yes, you can diversify using Canadian stocks, but you can only go so far. You may need to find other forms of investment—gold, silver, commodities, bonds, crypto, etc.—to fill the gap.
- Canadian accounts charge maintenance fees
In the United States, it’s pretty uncommon to see a brokerage account charge fees for inactivity or maintenance unless the brokerage firm is aimed only at large-scale professional traders. In Canada, the vast majority of brokerages charge account maintenance fees (sometimes referred to as “service fees” or “annual fees”) unless you make a high number of trades or have a very high-value account.
The best online brokerages institute a low account minimum to avoid annual fees, but these minimums may be as high as $5,000 CAD. Don’t be surprised when you see that paying an annual fee is basically unavoidable for most people and consider annual fees when you’re making your final brokerage decision.
- Not every Canadian broker offers the same equities
In the United States, most brokerages offer a host of equity types to maximize commissions and bring in more high-profile traders. It’s common for brokerage firms that specialize in stock offering to also give traders the option to trade options, futures contracts, mutual funds, ETFs and even sometimes cryptocurrencies and currencies.
In Canada, offerings will vary significantly depending on the broker, so make sure your brokerage offers every type of asset you want to trade before you open an account or make a deposit.
- Canada has different tax-advantaged account types
In the United States, we’re used to dealing with multiple account types, from IRAs to 401(k)s to SEP IRAs. When you open an account with a Canadian brokerage firm, you’ll usually be limited to two types of accounts: taxable accounts and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs).
If you are under the age of 69 and you regularly pay income tax to the Canadian government, you probably qualify to open an RRSP, which is most similar in tax function to a traditional IRA in the United States. If you aren’t a Canadian citizen, immigrant or permanent alien, you probably only qualify to open a standard taxable account.
What to Look for in a Canadian Online Broker
- Great research offerings
Like most brokerage firms in the United States, brokers in Canada often offer free trading and educational tools and suites to help new traders learn the ropes and older traders enhance their trades. Though offerings will vary depending on the broker and its client, the best brokers offer free tools to help traders get ahead of the game.
- Support for the assets you want to trade
If you only want to trade Canadian securities listed on the TSX, every stock broker that operates online will be able to execute the trades you’re looking for.
However, if you’d also like to trade on other international markets or you’re interested in getting started in forex, options or cryptocurrency trading, you’ll need to double-check and make sure that your broker also offers these services.
- Extended customer service options
Most people don’t enjoy racking up hundreds of dollars in international calling fees because of an error on their Canadian brokerage account. Look for an international broker that offers chat and email customer service options in addition to standard calling choices to limit money lost in phone bills.
- Account security features
Prosecuting fraud and account mismanagement are very difficult to do across national borders. Look for brokers that offer enhanced security features (like two-factor authentication and reCAPTCHA requirements) to ensure that you are the only one who is able to access and use your account.
- Mobile app
When you open an account with a Canadian broker, look for a firm that offers a functional and user-friendly mobile app. Mobile apps allow you to invest as you travel, give you instant access to your account and allow you to trade at all hours.
Final Thoughts on the Best Online Brokers in Canada
It’s impossible to name a single “best” online brokerage for Canadian trading because each of our top five picks has its points of strength and points of weakness. If fees and commissions are on your mind, Interactive Brokers should be your first stop.
If you’re searching for a complete suite of advanced trading tools, you’ll fall in love with TD Direct. If you’re young and hungry for information, Qtrade might be right for you. Before you choose a broker, sit down and create a “wish list” of everything that you want in a broker and arrange your priorities by level of importance to you — this will help you pick the perfect match for your individual needs.
Do all stock brokers offer the same products?
No, stock brokers do not always offer the same products and access. Look at the offerings of your preferred broker to ensure it provides you with the versatility you need.
Can a stock broker help you invest in crypto?
Some stock brokers also offer cryptocurrency trading, but others avoid digital currency entirely.
Where can I find credible online brokers in Canada?
You can find credible online brokers in Canada by looking at the above list.