Free stock trading burst onto the scene just a handful of years ago, and investors everywhere rejoiced. In the US, trading apps like Robinhood made trading uber accessible on their free trading platform, and since then, Canada has come out with its own versions of zero-cost trading apps.

It’s easy to understand this arms wide open approach when it comes to free stock trading because, well, it’s free. That’s not to say there aren’t pitfalls to watch out for. After all, these brokers have to make money somehow, and if it’s not from commission and fees, then where does it come from?

In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look into free stock trading in Canada, with a focus on ETFs, but if you want to see our full guide to the best online brokers in Canada if you want to learn about more options.

Comparison of the Best Free Stock Trade Brokers in Canada

There are a number of options when it comes to opening a commission free brokerage account in Canada, and you can see our top picks in the chart below. Some of these options even offer commission free trading for US stocks, and while some are not completely free, they offer low fee commissions. It’s also important to note that all of these brokers have free stock trading apps in Canada.

Star Rating4.9 / 5
ETF Comissions

FREE buying and selling of 100+ ETFs

Stock Trading Fees

$8.75 per trade or $6.95 for active investors

Canada's Best Overall Broker - Buy & Sell ETFs for Free, Best Online Platform, Low Cost, Superb Service
Star Rating4.4 / 5
ETF Comissions

Free BUY of ETFs (full trading prices apply to ETF sales)

Stock Trading Fees

$0.01 per share with a minimum of $4.95 per trade and a max of $9.95

Runner Up Best Broker - Best Options Trading, Advanced Data Streams, Customer Service Lacking
Star Rating4.1 / 5
ETF Comissions

$0 for buying or selling ETFs

Stock Trading Fees

$0 for buying or selling stocks

$0 Trades, Poor and Buggy Platform / App, Terrible Account Options, Depends on high-fee crypto trading to make money
Star Rating3.7 / 5
ETF Comissions

$0 ETF purchases and a minimum of $4.99 per trade when selling

Stock Trading Fees

$9.99 per trade or $4.99 for active investors

None

Great for Canadian expats, free mutual funds, competitve rates
Star Rating3.2 / 5
ETF Comissions

$0 for buying or selling ETFs

Stock Trading Fees

$0 for buying or selling stocks

None

Very low fees, but a subpar trading platform - no mobile app, poor customer service, and no welcome bonus
Star Rating3.0 / 5
ETF Comissions

50 free Canadian ETFs available, $4.95-$24.95 per trade for all others

Stock Trading Fees

$9.99 per trade or $4.99 for active traders

None

Medium Cost, High ETF Fees, Good Convenience, Integrated Savings Account

As you can see, there are a number of options for where to get commission free stock trading in Canada. Now, it’s a matter of looking at the details to understand what “free” actually means and how it can affect your bottom line.

What is Free and What Still Costs Money?

We’ve given you the rundown on the free ETFs and stocks, and minimum account deposit costs, so now let’s take a look at other commissions and fees that these brokers charge. This is often a place where brokers charge more in order to make up for the lost commission on trades.

Broker

Mutual Funds

Options Trading

Annual Fee

Inactivity Fee

Free

$8.75 + $1.25 per contract or $6.95 + $1.25 per contract for active traders

$25 per quarter (can be waived if certain requirements are met)

Charged as an administrative fee if minimum requirements are not met

$9.95 per trade

$9.95 per trade + $1 per contract

None

None

Not Available

Not Available

None

None

Free

$7.99 per trade + $1.25 per contract

$24.95 per quarter (can be waived if certain requirements are met)

None

$0 for buying or selling most funds

$0 per trade + $1.25 per contract

$100 (can be waived if certain requirements are met)

Charged as an administrative fee if minimum requirements are not met

Free

$9.99 per trade + $1.25 per contract

$100 for certain accounts (can be waived if certain requirements are met)

$25 per quarter (can be waived if certain requirements are met)

This comparison shows that although some brokers are committed to really offering free services to their clients, others are making up for free in other places.

Commission Free Investing Canada: Is It Really Free?

Growing up, grandpa might have told you nothing is ever free. 

While that might not be 100% true, it’s a cliche for a reason. Brokers need to make money somehow, and if it’s not from your trades, then where does it come from? 

Some online brokers sell your purchase information to other Wall Street companies so that those “big fish” can then turn around and “front run” your trade – making them massive profits in the long run as they continuously skim miniscule amounts from millions of investors every day.

Some online brokers will purposely delay the payment for order flow – leading to slightly higher buy prices and marginally lower sell prices. Many experts say that such practices should not be allowed, as it is allowing big investment firms access to unfair advantages. Others argue that without these methods in place, traders will not be able to access commission free ETFs or stocks, which may turn some potential investors off from jumping into the market in the first place.

Another way discount brokers save money is by cutting customer service costs. This means that if you have an urgent issue that you need to solve, it could take weeks to get a reply. When it comes to problems with your money, you probably want these things to be solved right away, as each day that goes by can mean more money lost.

Over time, we believe some of these strategies will no longer be allowed as regulators clamp down on these potentially unfair practices. Until then, it’s best to do your research and decide what you’re willing to give up to save money on your investments. 

Will There Be a 100% Free Broker in Canada in the Future?

Some were hopeful that Robinhood Canada would become a reality for us here in the way North, but it likely won’t be happening. Robinhood said that it won’t be launching anywhere else anytime soon. 

Not all is lost! We’ve highlighted some of the best options for commission free investing in Canada. To learn even more about our top picks, check out our full reviews.

Frequently Asked Questions

Summary

While we don’t know exactly what the future of free stock trading in Canada will look like, what we do know is that the sooner you get started, the more potential you have to earn money for your own future. 

Personally, the MDJ team agrees that they just can’t stomach the sneaky ways that Wall Street big shots make money skimming the buy orders from “free” stock trading platforms, and consequently, we still prefer low-cost Qtrade, to the “no-cost upfront” brokers.

We hope we’ve helped to clarify some of your questions when it comes to free stock trading in Canada. 

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