The best free stock trading apps in Canada can help you cut fees to the bone, and DIY invest yourself to a substantial nest egg. That said, there is no such thing as a truly free stock trading in Canada.  We’ll go into detail about what “free” really means when it comes to investing in Canada, and how to compare the various DIY investing platforms in Canada.

Since trading apps like Robinhood came onto the scene, DIY investment has given investors control over how they invest, and how much they spend to do it. Before that, investment firms and big banks charged hefty management fees and usually had relatively high minimum balances.

Below, you’ll see a quick comparison of our top Canadian stock trading platforms, but you can also head over to our full rundown on the absolute best online brokers in Canada to get the in-depth details.

Comparison of the Best Free Stock Trade Brokers in Canada

When selecting a broker, the key is to look for hidden charges and fees that might not be advertised up front. We’ll break it down below in our review of the six best zero commission online brokers in Canada.

Star Rating4.8 / 5
ETF Commissions

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 Rating4.2 / 5
ETF Commissions

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 Rating3.8 / 5
ETF Commissions

$0 for TD ETFs only

Stock Trading Fees

$0 for the first 50 stock trades per year, $9.99 thereafter

None

Offers some free trades and a goal setting section on the app. Limited by only offering TD ETFs on the platform and high fees for more than 50 trades per year.
Star Rating3.4 / 5
ETF Commissions

$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 Rating3.3 / 5
ETF Commissions

$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 Rating3.1 / 5
ETF Commissions

$0 for buying or selling ETFs

Stock Trading Fees

$0 for buying or selling stocks

None

Free trading and lower fees for young investors, but quarterly fees for other investors and an outdated platform.

While there are multiple options to choose from when it comes to free stock trading in Canada, you’ll want to know about any hidden fees, what products are on offer, and most importantly, know that your money is safe and sound.

Read on to find out more about what to expect from each of our top picks, and to find out which one might be really worth it for you and your goals.

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

$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

Not Available

Not Available

$0

$0

$0 for buying or selling most funds

$1.25 per contract, minimum $8.75

$30 inactivity fee per quarter, waived if certain requirements are met

$100 per year for registered accounts, waived if certain requirements are met

We can see that although some brokers are really committed to offering free services to their clients, others are making up for free in other places.

1. Qtrade – Best Free Stock Trading in Canada

One of our top recommended discount brokers in Canada, Qtrade’s got a fantastic promo offer, free portfolio simulator to help new investors learn the ropes, excellent customer service and range of account options.

  • ETF Trading Fees: More than 100 free ETFs available
  • Stock Trading Fees: $8.75
  • Options Trading Fees:$6.95 + $1 per contract
  • Annual Fees: $0

2. Questrade – Best For Low Fees

Questrade has long been one of our favorite online brokers and for good reason. Their ultra low fees, free ETF purchases, access to a number of trading options to help you build a diversified portfolio. Active trader pricing and excellent research resources make it a great choice for your free online broker.

  • ETF Trading Fees: $4.95 + ECN fees
  • Stock Trading Fees: $0
  • Options Trading Fees:$9.95/m + $1 per contract
  • Annual Fees: $0

3. TD Easy Trade – Best New Free Stock Trading Brokerage

TD Easy Trade, formerly TD Goal Assist, was created with the new investor in mind. It’s limited in the type of trading you can do, as well as in that it only has TD ETFs available. It’s an app-only platform that provides users with a goal planning feature, allowing them to easily track and monitor their progress. As it’s a relatively new TD product, we’ll have to wait and see how it evolves.

  • ETF Trading Fees: $0 for TD ETFs, which are the only ones available on the platform
  • Stock Trading Fees: $0 for the first 50 trades per year, $9.99 thereafter
  • Options Trading Fees: N/A
  • Annual Fees: $0

4. Wealthsimple Trade – Best $0 Commission Broker

When it comes to free, Wealthsimple Trade delivers. It offers 100% free commissions on all trades, and is one of the few brokerages offering crypto trading. Because of its low costs, customers shouldn’t expect stellar customer service, and some will find its platform to be too basic for their needs.

  • ETF Trading Fees: $0
  • Stock Trading Fees: $0
  • Options Trading Fees: Not Available
  • Annual Fees: $0

5. National Bank Direct Brokerage – Best Bank For Free Stock Trades

As far as the big banks go, National Bank Direct Brokers, or NBDB, was one of the first to offer free trading. While it is one of the few brokers with a brick and mortar presence, its trading platform definitely needs some work to compete with the other purely online brokerages offering zero fee trading.

  • ETF Trading Fees: $0 for trades made online
  • Stock Trading Fees: $0 for trades made online
  • Options Trading Fees: $0 + $1.25 per contract
  • Annual Fees: $100 if account holds less than $20,000 or fewer than 5 trades are made per month

6. Desjardins – Best for Active Traders

Desjardins waited a while to jump into the free online trading game, and as such, they still have some work to do to get caught up. The platform leaves a lot to be desired, and even so, comes at a cost. While Disnat Classic is free of charge, Disnat Direct, which is aimed at more active traders, can cost up to $155 per month.

  • ETF Trading Fees: $0
  • Stock Trading Fees: $0
  • Options Trading Fees: $1.25 per contract/$8.75 minimum
  • Annual Fees: $0 (but keep in mind there is a $30 inactivity fee if certain requirements are not met)

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 cliché 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.

Another thing to be aware of is that 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.

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. 

How to Choose a Free Trading Platform in Canada

Whether you are choosing a free trading platform in Canada or another brokerage, you want to make sure you have a variety of options, that your money and information will be safe and secure and that you can access the account when, where and how you prefer.

When looking at investment options, you should consider what free products are offered. For example, although free trading platforms like TD Easy Trade and Wealthsimple Trade are free, you won’t have the flexibility of choosing from all the available investment options out there. If you are looking for tax-advantaged accounts, such as RRSP and TFSA, you need to be sure the free stock trading platforms you’re looking at have them.

Safety and security are also top of the list when it comes to investing your precious money, so look for brokerages that are insured by Canadian regulatory bodies. Other security features such as data encryption and 2-factor authentication are definite musts. In case of any security emergency, you want to make sure that a customer service representative will be able to help. So, it’s worth looking into how the free stock trading platform you’re considering fares in that area.

Finally, with more investors relying on mobile versions of trading platforms, then it might be a deal breaker for you if the brokerage doesn’t offer a mobile app (like NBDB).

Keeping these factors in mind, you should be able to choose the best free stock trading platform in Canada for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Selecting a the Best Free Stock Trading Broker for Me

When I first started DIY investing about two decades ago, there was no such thing as free stock trading or free trading of ETFs. Basically, the market was dominated by big bank platforms that wanted like $20 per trade!

These days, fees have come down considerably since low-cost platforms like Qtrade, Questrade, and Wealthsimple have given Canadian DIY investors more choice. The most important thing to keep in mind is simply that there is no such thing as a completely free DIY brokerage – they all make money off of you in some way. It’s best to read the fine print, and compare what actual fees you’re likely to incur.

If you are looking for the best balance of low-cost stock trades, an excellent overall online platform (complete with a super easy mobile app), and top-notch customer service, then Qtrade would be my first recommendation. 

You can read why here in my detailed Qtrade review, and I should note that they currently have the best promotional introductory offer that I’ve ever seen in the Canadian brokerage space.  (I think they’re trying to make a big splash for RRSP season!)

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Pete
10 months ago

TD Direct is not free.

Bob
10 months ago
Reply to  Pete

The TD Direct platform has many flaws. You can’t open a joint account. You can’t designate a beneficiary. You can’t buy ETFs from providers other than TD… Might be a “good” product for someone who doesn’t have a family or a partner.