Best Canadian Online Brokers – June 2024

Now that we’ve hit summer, it’s time to take a look at the latest offerings from Canada’s best online brokerages. As always, our latest Canadian brokers comparison takes a look at fees, account options, desktop and mobile user experience, as well as customer service.

I’ve been using Canadian discount brokerages for nearly twenty years now, and have been writing about them for nearly that long as well. (My broker reviews were some of the first articles I wrote on this site back in 2005.) I continue to be amazed at how much more cheap and convenient DIY investing has gotten in Canada since back when I started.

Don’t miss our head-to-head comparison of the best promo offer codes for Canadian brokerages available right now!

Our Top Online Brokers in Canada: Quick Comparison

Star Rating4.9 / 5
ETF Comissions

FREE buying and selling of 100+ ETFs

Trading Fees

$8.75 ($6.95 elite accounts)

Canada's Best Overall Broker - Buy & Sell ETFs for Free, Best Online Platform, Low Cost, Superb Service, Rated #1 by The Globe and Mail & Surviscor
Star Rating4.3 / 5
ETF Comissions

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

Trading Fees


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

FREE buying and selling of 80+ ETFs

Trading Fees

$9.95 ($7.95 elite accounts)


Best Big Bank Brokerage - 80+ Free ETF Trades, Big Bank Convenience, High Fees.
Star Rating3.8 / 5
ETF Comissions

$9.95 per ETF trade

Trading Fees

$9.95 ($6.95 elite accounts)


Canada's Biggest Bank, Good Mobile Platform, High Fees
Star Rating3.8 / 5
ETF Comissions

$9.95 per ETF trade

Trading Fees

$9.99 ($7 for Active Traders)


Serviceable Platform, Good Convenience, High Fees
Star Rating3.7 / 5
ETF Comissions

$9.95 per ETF trade

Trading Fees



Medium Cost, High ETF Fees, Good Convenience, Integrated Savings Account
Star Rating3.4 / 5
ETF Comissions

Free to buy and sell

Trading Fees

$0 Trades

$0 Trades, Poor and Buggy Platform / App, Terrible Account Options, Depends on high-fee crypto trading to make money

What Are The Best Canadian Trading Platforms?

When people talk about the best Canadian trading platforms, they are probably referring to online brokerages. These are the companies that produce the websites and apps that allow you to login and trade everything from basic index ETFs to stocks, options, and more exotic securities.

You may also see these trading platforms referred to as “discount brokerages. That name comes from the discount these brokerage accounts provided to clients versus the $30-per-trade fees that were normal for over-the-phone stock trading back in the day. So when I talk about “online brokers,” “online brokerages,” or “Canadian discount brokers” these terms are all referring to the same type of Canadian trading platform. They do not include the fully automated style of investing that has been popularized by Canada’s robo advisors.

Our 2024 Stock Broker Choices

Picking the best online brokerage account for your individual needs and tastes isn’t an exact process. There are just too many variables involved to definitely say. “This is the Best Canadian Broker for every single person.” Hence, we go into great depth with our Canadian trading platform reviews, and designate each broker for the type of customer that could benefit most from using it.

With that being said, we have 4 ranking pillars that we use to determine the quality of each of Canada’s discount brokerages:

  1. Stock and ETF trading Fees
  2. Brokerage Accounts Fees
  3. Quality of Customer Service
  4. Promotions and Bonuses

Qtrade Direct Investing – MDJ’s Top Canadian Broker

After all of that anecdotal and quantitative research, we think that Qtrade is likely to be the best online broker in Canada, at least for most people in 2024. That said, as always, we’ll be paying attention to our comment boards and inboxes in order to implement any real-time feedback we get from the Million Dollar Journey community.

Don’t take our word for it… longtime Canadian personal finance veteran, Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail says that:

No other broker is good in so many different areas and no other broker makes such consistent year-by-year improvements.

Qtrade’s commitment to innovating additional value to their platform – while keeping the site incredibly user-friendly for both new investors and veterans – means that Qtrade has actually expanded its lead over the last few years. That they’ve been able to consistently deliver such an elite product – while cutting fees to amongst the lowest in Canada – has allowed the broker to continue to set that value bar higher and higher.

The only real competitor to Qtrade when it comes to offering well-rounded broker features for rock-bottom prices is Questrade. Read on to find out why we have Questrade at #2, and what types of investors might benefit more from the other trading platforms we review.

Million Dollar Journey’s Overall Rating:4.9 / 5
User ExperienceExcellent
Customer ServiceWorld Class
Free ETF TradingYes – Buy & Sell More Than 100 ETFs For Free
Trading Fees $6.95 – $8.75
Minimum Balance$1
Current PromotionUp to $150Cashback
Full ReviewQtrade Review

Qtrade Direct Investing Pros:

  • FREE buying and selling of 100+ ETFs
  • Consistently rated #1 over the past decade
  • Excellent Customer Service
  • One of the best apps on the market
  • Elite investor tools
  • Ultra-easy account opening
  • Best Canadian Online Brokerage for 2023 Surviscor + “A” Grade by the Globe and Mail
  • $150 Welcome Bonus

Qtrade Direct Investing Cons:

  • Pesky inactivity fees (can be easily avoided)
  • Not the cheapest trading fees in Canada for all instruments 

For More information about Qtrade’s fantastic promo visit our Qtrade promo page.

Runner Up Canadian Trading Platform – Questrade

Questrade is a truly-usable discount brokerage that has amongst the lowest costs in Canada.  Questrade charges a penny-per-share-traded (bought or sold) – but with a minimum of $4.95, and a maximum of $9.95. Personally, I’ve never bought more than 495 shares of a stock or unit of an ETF before – but I’d like to have an account big enough to try it some time.

There are no annual fees (no matter the size of your account, though there is an account minimum of $1,000) and no fees charged when you buy ETFs.

It’s not like the rest of the Questrade package is lacking something major, it’s simply a tribute to how far some of the other brokerages have come, that we no longer rank them #1. The Questrade app and website have seen tremendous upgrades in the last couple of years, and the vast majority of people that we have recommended Questrade to over the years have been quite happy with them.

That said, there is no doubt that customer service emerged as a weak spot for the quickly-growing company during the pandemic. Several of the writers on this website saw wait times of over four hours for both the online chat and call-in options. Emails went over a week between response times at various points.

Of course, if you’re not the “customer service” type, and simply want access to a great platform at the lowest price – then Questrade makes a ton of sense for you.

Million Dollar Journey’s Overall Rating:4.4 / 5
User ExperienceExcellent
Customer ServiceLacking in the last 2 years
Free ETF TradingFree buying of ETFs (full trading prices apply to ETF sales)
Trading Fees $4.95-$9.95
Minimum Balance$1,000
Current Promotion$50 in Free Trades
Full ReviewQuestrade Review

Questrade Pros:

  • No Fees To Build an ETF Portfolio!
  • Very Low Trade Costs (ideal for building a dividend-heavy portfolio)
  • $0 Annual Account Fees
  • 24-Hour Paperless Account Opening
  • Globe and Mail “A” Rating + Best DIY Brokerage Website
  • Good Promo Offer
  • Solid USD Trading Options
  • $50 in free trades for new accounts

Questrade Cons:

  • Better options online for those interested in doing in-depth analysis research on stocks prior to purchase
  • Customer service rating took a real hit the last couple of years – the main reason we now rank Qtrade ahead of Questrade.
  • Only 2.9/5 app rating on Google Play – reviews mentioned delay in pricing on app vs desktop

BMO InvestorLine – Solid If Unspectacular

Much like their fellow big bank cousins, BMO InvestorLine is a perfectly serviceable brokerage option – it’s just not your best bet. The $9.95 per trade fees, as well as various account fees just make it too pricey to take the top spot.

That said, if convenience is your main goal and you want to keep all of your banking and investing services under one roof, then BMO’s broker can do everything that you need it to. If you have a large portfolio to invest, BMO will also lessen the account fees that you’ll have to pay.

One place BMO InvestorLine stands out amongst the big banks is that they do have 80 ETFs that they allow to be bought and sold for free. They are unique in this regard. Qtrade allows 100+ ETFs to be traded for free, and Questade allows all ETFs to be purchased for free (but not sold for free) – but BMO is the only big bank brokerage with this feature.

If you’re looking for a brokerage that excels at customer service and user experience though, you probably want to look in another direction. BMO ranked #13 on the latest Surviscor Canadian brokerage rankings.

Million Dollar Journey’s Overall Rating: 4 / 5
User ExperienceSolid – could use a refresh
Customer ServiceBetter than average
Free ETF Trading$9.95 per ETF trade (aside from 80 free ETFs)
Trading Fees $9.95 ($7.95 for elite accounts)
Minimum Balance$0
Current PromotionNone
Full ReviewBMO InvestorLine Review

BMO InvestorLine Pros:

  • Best bank-owned broker
  • Convenient option for many Canadians who bank with BMO
  • Includes all major account options
  • 80 ETFs that can be traded for free
  • Well known and trusted company

BMO InvestorLine Cons:

  • Fees are much higher than other brokers
  • 3.6/5 for their mobile app
  • Missing the latest information and user experiences advantages that the leading Canadian brokerages have made over the last three years.

Lowest Fees Canadian Broker – National Bank Direct Brokerage

National Bank Direct Brokerage shook up the world in August of 2021 when they announced that they would be the first of Canada’s “Big Banks” to roll out commission-free purchases of not only ETFs, but also shares of Canadian stocks as well. This was a crafty move by NBDB, as the online broker has struggled to make any headway in the past, and this has garnered the a unique value proposition.

If per-trade fees are the be-all and end-all when it comes to what you need from your broker account, then National Bank Direct Brokerage is definitely worth a look. That said, there are several reasons why the broker perennially receives one of the lowest grades in Canada from many of the personal finance authorities. 

NBDB does not have a mobile app of any kind yet, and its online platform leaves much to be desired when compared to the well-oiled machines that our top choices bring to the table. Finally, there are no real portfolio analysis tools or investor information sources available at NBDB, so it really is the “no frills” option when it comes to the Big Bank brokerages.

If you’re wondering how NBDB is going to make money if they don’t charge any fees, it’s important to point out that they will charge you a $100 account fee if you’re account is under $20,000, and that they will make money off currency exchange when you buy stock in US Dollars, and/or when you “buy on the margin” (borrow money from National Bank in order to make investments).  So don’t worry about poor old National Bank – they’ll still do just fine!

Million Dollar Journey’s Overall Rating:2.8 / 5
User ExperienceLacking – Bad platform and no mobile app
Customer ServiceMediocre at best
Free ETF TradingFree buying and selling of ETFs
Trading Fees $0 for Canadian or US stock trades
Minimum Balance$0
Current PromotionNone
Full ReviewNational Bank Direct Brokerage Review

NBDB Pros:

  • No Fee Trades
  • Good bricks-and-mortar presence if you live in Quebec

NBDB Cons:

  • No Mobile App
  • No Portfolio Analysis Tools
  • $100 Account Fee 
  • No Sign Up Promotions
  • Poor Overall Platform Rating
  • Onboarding Process is Labour Intensive

Other Canadian Online Brokers

Even though Qtrade and Questrade are practically neck and neck for the title of the best online broker, and BMO represents the best compromise option when it comes to using a discount broker that Canadians are familiar with, that doesn’t mean they are the only viable choices. Luckily, we Canucks have plenty of good options available if you want to see if there is a better fit.

Read on to find out a little more about “the best of the rest”, including what we like and dislike about each of the other trading platform options in Canada.  We also have detailed reviews for all of those companies which will be linked from the relevant part of text – so if you want to learn more about a specific one you can simply click the review link and get all the added info you need.

RBC Direct Investing – 2nd Best Mobile App (After Qtrade)

As mentioned above, all of the big banks trading platforms are quite comparable and could all be classified as ‘elite products’. The biggest upside is of course the fact that if you already bank with them, opening a brokerage account with a specific bank becomes easier and much more convenient. In that regard, RBC is no different.

RBC Direct Investing offers you the same trade-off as other big banks do – you pay higher fees and in return enjoy an excellent platform and a lot of account options to choose from. In RBC’s case, their biggest advantage is their mobile app, which has the best ratings out of all the options listed on this page.

Million Dollar Journey’s Overall Rating: 3.9 / 5
User ExperienceExcellent
Customer ServiceGood
Free ETF Trading$9.95 per ETF trade
Trading Fees $9.95 ($6.95 elite accounts)
Minimum Balance$0
Current PromotionNone
Full ReviewRBC Direct Investing Review

RBC Direst Investing Pros:

  • User friendly, advanced platform
  • Fantastic mobile app
  • Easy to set up if you bank with RBC
  • Safe and trustworthy company

RBC Direct Investing Cons:

  • Much higher fees compared to other online brokers

TD Direct Investing – Great Platform

If it weren’t for the fact they neither have an ongoing promotion, nor offer free ETF trading, TD Direct might well have been placed higher on our list. With the TD Webbroker, they have arguably the best trading platform in Canada – at least for desktop users. While their mobile app isn’t the best, it is also a very good product and overall user reviews are very positive.

If you already bank with TD, or if you know you are going to make a lot of use of their excellent trading platform, then signing up with TD Direct Investing can’t be a bad decision ever. That said, even though their software might be a little bit better – they simply can’t compete with the value one might get from Qtrade’s low fees.

TD’s big news in 2022 has been the rollout of their new mobile app, TD Easy Trade. It should be noted that this app is not connected to TD Direct Investing, and instead is an update of the TD GoalAssist platform that came out in 2020. It is more like a competitor to Wealthsimple Trade than a true online trading platform.

Million Dollar Journey’s Overall Rating: 3.8 / 5
User ExperienceExcellent
Customer ServiceVery Good
Free ETF Trading$9.95 per ETF trade
Trading Fees $9.99 ($7 for Active Traders)
Minimum BalanceNone – But fees apply to accounts holding less than 15K
Current PromotionNone
Full ReviewTD Direct Investing Review

TD Direct Investing Pros:

  • One of Canada’s most trusted financial companies
  • Easy and convenient if you already bank with TD
  • Modern, easy to use platform
  • Good amount of account options to choose from

TD Direct Investing Cons:

  • Higher trading fees, ETFs in particular
  • Very high account fees unless you maintain a $15K balance

CI Direct Investing – Competitive Fees + Best Brokerage for Canadian Expats

Formerly known as Virtual Brokers, CI Direct Investing is an excellent brokerage option for Canadian expats who are now residing overseas. The vast majority of Canada’s online brokers will not accept expat clients, so CI’s broker really distinguishes itself in this regard.

It’s also worth noting that CI is one of the biggest financial companies in Canada and the brokerage has been in the business since 2009 – so it’s not a small newcomer to the scene.

While CI has continued Virtual Broker’s tradition of having low fees, it has yet to really catch up to our market leaders when it comes to the trading platform’s user experience, as well as overall customer service.

The mobile app in particular has been much criticized.  The lack of an attractive promotional offer makes it even more difficult to recommend this Canadian broker to anyone other than expats.

Million Dollar Journey’s Overall Rating:3.7 / 5
User ExperienceBad
Customer ServiceGood
Free ETF Trading$1.99 To Buy and $7.99 to Sell
Trading Fees $1.99 – $7.99
Minimum Balance$25,000 – Only applies to non-residents
Current PromotionNone
Full ReviewCI Direct Trading Review

CI Direct Pros:

  • Very competitive fees, similar to industry leaders
  • Best solution for Canadian expats
  • Trustworthy and safe with a long positive track record
  • Great fees and platform for very active traders

CI Direct Cons:

  • Not the best product for passive investors
  • Platform is overall not very user friendly or nice
  • Pretty basic mobile app
  • No promo offers for new signups

Scotia iTrade –  Excellent for Traders Who Like Scotiabank

Like most of the big banks, Scotia’s trading product is an elite one. The platform is modern and integrates very easily with all other Scotia products so you get a very good ‘all in one’ solution for your financial needs. 

Scotia iTrade is particularly attractive for those who want to deposit large amounts of money and be very active with their accounts. If you do that, then it somewhat mitigates the higher fees and the overall convenience and ease of use really shines through.

Scotia’s trading fees are higher than the top brokers on this list, but are on par with all the other big banks. The only real major downside is their mobile stock trading app – it got abysmal reviews and hasn’t been updated in a long while.

Million Dollar Journey’s Overall Rating:3.7 / 5
User ExperienceGood, except for the mobile app
Customer ServiceGood
Free ETF Trading$9.95 per ETF trade
Trading Fees $9.95
Minimum BalanceNone
Current PromotionNone
Full ReviewScotia iTrade Review

Scotia iTrade Pros:

  • Great all-in-one solution
  • Ideal for day traders
  • Excellent desktop platform
  • Well known and trusted company

Scotia iTrade Cons:

  • Fees are much higher than other brokers
  • Bad reviews for their mobile app

Editor’s Note: Still looking for more brokers? Read our reviews of HSBC, Interactive Brokers or Desjardins. All 3 are perfectly fine choices, but we failed to identify any field where they shine above the rest, and our user’s reviews weren’t stellar to say the least.

CIBC Investor’s Edge – Not Canada’s Best Online Broker

Look, not every online broker can be “one of the best in Canada.” By definition, someone has to be on the outside looking in.

At the moment, that “someone” is CIBC’s brokerage account. You can read our CIBC Investor’s Edge Review for all the details on the platform, but suffice it to say that the mediocre user experience doesn’t really justify the high account fees.

If you have the rest of your accounts at CIBC, it’s not the end of the world to also have a CIBC Investor’s Edge account. You might even be able to use that account to negotiate a slightly better mortgage rate, or get some savings account fees removed.

That said, there is just no denying that while IE’s per-trade fees are competitive, those annual account maintenance fees can really chew up your returns when you’re getting started with investing. The lack of any sort of free ETF trading is also a big negative in my opinion.

Finally, there is just no denying the substantial amount of negative feedback that we’ve received in the comment section of our review over the years. It’s certainly possible that a company with the resources that CIBC has (I mean… the company made $5 billion last year) could take a great leap forward at any time – but for now, Investor’s Edge ranks near the back of the discount brokerage pack.

Million Dollar Journey’s Overall Rating:3.5 / 5
User ExperienceAverage
Customer ServiceBelow Average
Free ETF Trading$6.95 per ETF trade
Trading Fees $6.95
Minimum BalanceNone
Current PromotionNone
Full ReviewCIBC Investor’s Edge Review

CIBC Investor’s Edge Pros:

  • Excellent cash back offers
  • Lower fees than other big banks
  • Possible to purchase fractional shares

CIBC Investor’s Edge Cons:

  • High fees on ETF trading
  • $100 per year account maintenance fee
  • Most negatively mentioned customer service of all MDJ brokerage reviews

Are These Canadian Stock Brokers Safe?

The first question that most risk-averse Canadians have in regards to opening a discount brokerage account is: Are Canadian online brokers safe?

In short: YES!

Look, in a day and age when the USA’s top secret files can get hacked, it would be dishonest to say anything is 100% safe from prying eyes.  That said, Canada’s online brokers have as good a safety record as any financial institution on the planet when it comes to preventing data breaches, malware, and other types of fraud.

All that to say – your money and investments are exactly as safe with an online brokerage account as they would be with any other type of investing or banking in Canada.  

You can rest easy knowing that if these brokerages ever had an internet security issue, they would most assuredly be out of business quite quickly.  They have incredibly strong incentives to make sure that they have the best talent in the world working hard to keep your information safe.

Common online broker security measures include the following:

  • SSL encryption
  • Ultra-secure servers
  • Two-step authentication process when logging in
  • Automatic logout
  • Regular system monitoring

Of course, it’s not just up to the online broker. You need to be cautious as well. If you are investing online (or sharing any personal information online, really), you should take the following steps to better protect yourself online.

  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware programs on your computer
  • Use strong passwords that are hard to guess
  • Take advantage of two-factor authentication when offered
  • Always be mindful of who is around when you are entering your account information. As much as possible, this should be done when you are alone at home. If you need to step away from the computer, make sure to log out first.

At the end of the day, yes, investing online does have risks, it’s not typically seen as a risky activity. As mentioned above, there are plenty of security measures in place and procedures you should be following as well. It’s really just about being smart and cautious with your personal information.

Are Qtrade and Questrade as safe as BMO, RBC, TD, CIBC, and Scotia?

I think most Canadians understand intrinsically that the Big Banks are safe.  After all, the massive banks have been around for over two hundred years, and are some of the biggest businesses in Canada.  People assume that their money will be safe.

Fewer Canadians make the same assumption about our other top discount brokers.

The bottom line is that Qtrade and Questrade have all of the internet safety measures that are described above, but additionally, they have the same CIPF-insurance backed accounts that the big banks enjoy.

What is the CIPF you might ask?

The Canadian Investor Protection Fund is basically an insurance coverage the the Canadian Government created in order to protect Canadian investors in case a brokerage went bankrupt or became insolvent.  

This insurance covers each investment account to $1 Million.  That’s $1 Million each for your RRSP, TFSA, non-registered, etc.

So even if the company was in trouble (which it isn’t – since Qtrade for example is owned by Canadian financial conglomerate Avisio Wealth), your personal assets would still be safe – just like BMO, TD, RBC, Questrade, and any other online broker in Canada.

Now, it shouldn’t need stating, but I’m going to say it here anyway: No broker account or financial advisor can protect you against basic investment risk!

The Canadian online broker can keep your information safe from being hacked, there are steps that can be taken to minimize vulnerability to fraud, and the CIPF will protect your assets from a company that is in trouble – but there are no guarantees when you invest in stocks, bonds, ETFs, or commodities. Again, this might be obvious to you – but you wouldn’t believe the questions that end up in our inbox sometimes!

Why did we decide to rank Qtrade above its primary rival, Questrade?

  • Over the years, the inbox and comment boards at MDJ have consistently had significantly more complaints about Questrade’s customer service standards vs Qtrade’s customer service.
  • While Questrade has improved its phone and line chat wait times over the last couple of years, my personal experience (as well as several 3rd-party reviewers such as Surviscor) confirms that Qtrade is still significantly ahead when it comes to both user experience and customer service.
  • Qtrade’s free ETFs represent a nice little upgrade on Questrades “free to buy – but to not sell” ETFs.
  • Finally, I just think that Qtrade’s overall investor education package, combined with the app and desktop platforms are a significant advantage. Both brokerages are good options, and I actually have accounts with both (I kept my old Questrade one for research purposes), but Qtrade has simply managed to out-innovate their primary rival at Questrade for several years now.

Qtrade isn’t the unchallenged leader in every single category – but they have no glaring weaknesses, and absolutely shine when it comes to free ETFs, elite customer service, and unparalleled access to information and education tools. See our in-depth Qtrade Review for more information, or this Questrade vs Qtrade comparison.

The newest edition of the Globe and Mail (with the help of Dalbar Canada) 2024 discount brokerage rankings just came out and once again ranked Qtrade ahead of Qtrade, earning an A grade.

Globe and Mail authors stated that, “Qtrade has lived at the top levels of this ranking for ages because it’s always making big and small improvements.”

“Any broker can fill an order to buy stocks, exchange-traded funds, mutual funds, bonds and more. Qtrade helps you build a well-constructed portfolio and then monitor it to ensure it continues to work for you.” and, “They may be the king of steady year-by-year improvement.”

I should take a second to note that between 2009 and 2016 I was a very happy Questrade user. I still think they are a solid step above the big bank online brokers. It’s just the case that Qtrade currently offers more advantages (plus a significantly better promo offer) than Questrade. Unless you’re a big options trader, or making 50+ trades every month (without selling any ETFs), then Qtrade should be the choice.

I will say that there is one other area I have to rank Questrade #1: Funny Commercials. “You’re not still using your dad’s money guy are you?!” still gets me more often than not. Kudos to Questrade for actually injecting some real math into a 30-second spot in order to show Canadians just how much money MER fees are going to cost them when they invest in mutual funds instead of low-fee investing options.

Comparing Canadian Stock Broker Trading Fees for ETFs and Stocks

Everyone is looking for low investing fees in Canada, and there’s no doubt that online discount brokers offer the best rates relative to mutual funds and even robo advisors. But, just how much better off are you with a discount broker? Let’s take a look:

BrokerETF Trading FeesECN Fees
QtradeFree to buy or sell the top 100+$0
Questrade$0 to buy, $4.95-$9.95 to sell$0.0008- $0.004 per trade per order
BMO InvestorLine$9.95 to buy and sell$0
TD Direct Investing$9.95 to buy and sell$0
RBC Direct Investing$9.95 to buy and sell$0
National Bank Direct BrokerageFree to buy and sell$0

When it comes to ETFs we need to remember that even though a few of the online brokers mentioned in this article offer free ETFs to buy, you often need to pay a fee to sell. This is one area that allows Qtrade, BMO, and NBDB to really shine.

Another fee that you will want to keep in mind are ECN fees. So, what exactly is an ECN fee? ECN stands for Electronic Communication Network and these fees are essentially service charges that you will pay on your trades, although they can sometimes be avoided.

You can see from the chart above what the average price of an ECN fee is for each broker.  If you’re buying and selling relatively small amounts of shares, the fee won’t add up to much. However, if you’re making large Market Orders (as opposed to limit orders) and “removing liquidity from the market” – then you might end up paying something like $2-$5 per trade on a 500 share purchase or sale. 

I think it’s also worth mentioning that Canada has some of the highest investment fees in the world. A Morningstar 2017 global study compared the investment fees and expenses in 25 different countries around the world. So, where did Canada fall on the scale? 

At the bottom. 

We paid the highest investment fees out of all the other developed countries on this list. When you read or hear stats like that, it’s really no wonder that more and more Canadians are becoming interested in taking the proverbial bull by the horns and getting into DIY investing themselves rather than paying others to do it for them. After all, the end goal is to make money – not flush it away on unnecessary expenses such as buying yachts for mega-wealthy yacht owners..  

Bottom Line: If you’re a passive investor or prefer to diversify through ETFs, you really can’t beat Qtrade’s free ETF policy.  If you’re more into margin trading, or want to specialize in trading options, then Questrade is worth a strong consideration as well.

2023 Surviscor Canadian Online Broker Rankings

The new 2023 Surviscor rankings coming out for Canadian online brokers were recently released, and as expected, my preferred brokerage continue to take the top spot.

Surviscor raved about the best broker in Canada saying: “Qtrade Direct Investing provides the best customer service experience amongst Canadian Online Brokerage firms as measured by the 2023 Surviscor Online Brokerage Service Level Experience review.”

brokers ratings 2023

Glenn LaCoste, the Preside of Surviscor Group stated, “Congratulations to Qtrade Direct Investing for its continued service response excellence and its breadth of service interaction choices for all types of digital investors.”

Christine Zalzal, the Head of Online Brokerage and Digital Wealth over at Qtrade was happy to accept the award stating:

What makes a great online brokerage firm for investors is not only a great online trading experience but also being supported by a great service team. At Qtrade, we’re always listening to our customers. A strong customer-focused culture is embedded into our DNA. As more Canadians explore the world of self-directed investing, we’re continuing to invest in our people and our platform to help build their confidence to build their wealth.”

Given the expertise that Surviscor has 18 years of experience in reviewing Canada’s online brokers, they have substantial credibility with the space. The data is the culmination of approximately 2,200 individual service interactions throughout the previous year.

Qtrade continued with its Surviscor Canadian online broker ranking dominance by taking the #1 spot in the 2024 DIY investing desktop comparison. 

These rankings were released right at the end of 2023, and Surviscor confirmed my personal opinion that Qtrade’s online desktop platform is simply the best when it comes to user experience and investor education. My preferred brokerage continues to impress with new innovation each year.

2023 Globe and Mail Carrick Canadian Online Broker Ratings

Each year The Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick releases the 2nd best (*wink*) discussion of Canada’s online brokerages.  While Rob doesn’t update his brokerage ratings throughout the year like we do, he has been writing about personal finance since almost the dawn of the discount brokerage platform in Canada, so his expertise is well known.

Here’s what he had to say about Qtrade in 2023:

Grade: A

For commissions at a flat $8.75, this consistently top-ranked broker gives you one of the better websites and apps for looking after your investments.

More than many others, Qtrade has created a mini-me app that reflects the high level of utility in the website, including a quickie chart that shows portfolio results over the past year. Online, there’s a Portfolio Score tool that slices and dices your holdings to provide insights on returns, fees, downside risk, income and environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. Unlike some brokers, Qtrade never coasts.

While many of Canada’s top online brokers go through ups and downs, Qtrade’s consistency is what sets them apart.  To prove my point, here’s what Carrick had to say last year:

“As has often been the case in this ranking over the years, Qtrade Direct Investing is the broker that does it best. Other brokers beat Qtrade in specific areas like commission costs, but Qtrade’s overall goodness becomes apparent as soon as you log in and find a neat little dashboard to get you up to speed on your investments.

Qtrade’s consistently strong showing in this ranking speaks to another of its virtues, constant improvement. Other brokers get better in fits and starts, while Qtrade moves ever forward.”

The Best Brokers Mobile App in Canada

To be completely honest, I rarely use my online brokerage mobile app. I simply prefer to see everything laid out on my dual monitors (maybe I’m just old). That said, I’ve followed the rollout of several new broker mobile apps over the past couple years as trading from your phone has become all the rate. 

Most people that I talk to tend to find that every Canadian broker app either doesn’t have all the features that they want, or find the platform has too many options and isn’t as “clean” a user experience as they prefer.  

When you’re trying to pack everything in a brokerage platform on to a small screen, it can be a difficult balance to get right.

Once again we see Qtrade come out as the best Canadian online broker app, as they have yet again refined their already-best-in-class offering from last year. Qtrade’s app has the best ratings in the app store for good reason, as they offer a smooth user experience combined with the ability to view and trade from all of your accounts in a simple intuitive manner.

Read our full stock broker app comparison.

2024 Best Canadian Brokerage Promo Offers

While it’s common for the best Canadian brokerage promo codes and offers to come out before RRSP season hits, Qtrade has really raised their game this year.

They’re offering up to $150 in direct cash back to folks who open a qualifying account and make a deposit before October 31, 2024.

Here’s how much cash you can snag from Qtrade just for using their platform:

New Funds / Assets Transferred Cashback Bonus
$1,000 – $9,999$50
$10,000 – $24,999$100
$25,000+ $150

Some other details include:

  • If you’re just getting started – that’s ok.  Qtrade will still send 50 bucks your way if you open an account and deposit $1,000
  • There is an Early Bird bonus available to folks who open an account with at least $50,000 by the end of 2023.  You will get a 20% discount on trading fees if you maintain at least $50K in the account.
  • Total assets across all new Qtrade account will qualify.  In other words, if you switch over your TFSA and RRSP from another brokerage, plus start an RESP with Qtrade, you can combine all of the assets in those accounts in order to meet the funding thresholds in the chart above.

Questrade also has a unique promo offer code where they’ll provide you with $50 in free trades.  Obviously that’s not quite on the same level, but it’s something!

Who Should Use an Online Trading Platform?

When it comes to investing there are two categories that DIY investors need to seperate all new information into.

Category 1: Things you can control.

Category 2: Things you cannot control.

It might be surprising to most beginning investors to find out that most investors spend the vast majority of their time worrying about Category 2 than they do Category 1.

Category 2 includes things like how the market is doing on a day-to-day basis, whether a recession is coming soon, or how inflation worries will affect commodity prices. There is just no mathematical argument that you will be able to predict these occurrences with any level of consistency.

What you can control on the other hand is cutting down on the fees you pay in order to put your money to work for you. There is a reason why the people involved with investing money are rich – it’s because they’re taking your investment dollars home with them!

The best discount brokerages in Canada allow you to cut out all of the middle men and get your nest egg growing for a few bucks a month. Gone are the days of paying $30 per trade, plus 2%+ of your entire account in order to get access to the stock market.

Our top Canadian discount brokerages won’t charge you any annual fees, allow you trade ETFs for free, and have very minimal per trade commissions of $5-$8.

So, what sort of tradeoffs do you have to make in time and energy in return for cutting all those fees (which add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars for many Canadians over their investing lifetime)?

Honestly, the learning process is now very gentle. Here’s a quick primer on how to buy stocks in Canada that shows you exactly what is needed in a step-by-step fashion.

If you’re willing to spend an hour or so to setup the initial paperwork and read our how-to guide – in exchange for saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in investing fees – then using an online brokerage account is the right path for you.

Best Online Brokers for Trading and User Experience (Ranking)

In order to determine the best online brokers for trading and user experience I relied upon my own personal experience (I currently keep 6 brokerage accounts open, with one being my main account, and the other five for research purposes) as well as the experiences of other authors at MDJ.  Between us, we have active or inactive accounts at all of the major online brokers in Canada.

I also took into consideration the dozens of comments we get on our articles, as well as the emails we receive in regards to user experiences.  Much like the Surviscor ratings actually.

After all that research, and looking into the costs and ease of trading, as well the as quality of user experience (with customer service factored in) our ranking of best online brokers for trading and user experience is (Click the links for detailed review of each):

  1. Qtrade
  2. Questrade
  3. TD Direct Investing
  4. RBC Direct Investing
  5. BMO Investorline
  6. Scotia iTrade
  7. National Bank Direct Brokerage
  8. DI Direct Investing
  9. CIBC Investor’s Edge
  10. Wealthsimple Trade

Alternative to Online Brokers in Canada: Robo Advisors

I should take a second to point out that if you really want the ultimate in low-maintenance hands-off investing (like many of my friends do) then the Wealthsimple robo advisor platform has really distinguished itself from the rest of the pack when it comes to instant portfolio solutions, and is rated our best robo advisor in Canada

You’ll pay more in fees than you would with a discount brokers account, but it is still less than 25% of what you’d be paying with a typical Canadian mutual fund. They’ll even give you $50 cash when you open an account!

Canadian Online Broker Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Best Online Broker in Canada?

Qtrade is our overall pick for the best online broker in Canada.  Their combination of low prices, elite customer service, and constant innovation is simply the best in class. 

That said, the best online brokerage account for YOU is the one that you are most likely to use.  So if low costs are your priority, then Questrade or Wealthsimple Trade might be a better bet. 

If keeping things simple and convenient by using a big bank is your preferred banking strategy, then we recommend BMO InvestorLine, with RBC and TD coming in 2nd and 3rd respectively.  See our above comparison for more detailed information.

Are Online Brokers and Buying Stocks Online Safe in Canada?

Yes. If you read the section above on all of the ways online brokers keep your investments safe, then you are likely reassured that you will not be at risk of losing money to a broker’s fraud or the brokerage going bankrupt.  There are very strict Canadian regulations on all of this stuff, and being a member of the IIROC, all the Canadian discount brokerages adhere to high safety standards.

Of course, we’re discussing safety from non-investment risk factors here.  Please keep in mind that there nothing any investment platform can do to protect you from inherent investment risk.  Your investments can obviously go down in value, and this has nothing to do with which brokerage you choose.

What is The Best Free Online Broker in Canada?

There is no free online broker in Canada. You are either paying account fees, trading fees, or the brokerage is selling your information to other companies in exchange for a $0 upfront fee. The closest ones to being free are NBDB and Wealthsimple Trade.

How Do I Open a Broker Account in Canada?

While it used to involve emailing signed documents back and forth to open a brokerage account in Canada, the last few years have seen more and more brokerages adopt online signatures in order to speed the account opening process. 

It’s now easier than ever to sign up with a Canadian online broker and begin buying and selling stocks online. 

You simply need to input your basic personal information (including your SIN), choose your account (RRSP, TFSA, Non-registered, margin, etc.) and then use the digital sign up for the platform. Processing times can vary depending on the brokerage and the time of year.

Read our guide on how to buy stocks in Canada for a complete, step by step guide for opening your brokerage account.

How Much Does an Online Brokerage Cost?

How much an online broker costs is going to depend on what type of investing you want to do and what level of information you want to pay for. Online brokerages generally depend on annual account fees and trading commissions as their main fees to users. 

Some brokers also have inactivity fees. You’ll see in our 2023 Canadian brokerage comparison that we reveal what each broker costs when it comes to account fees, trading commissions, and ETF commissions.

What Canadian Online Broker Has The Best Customer Service?

Qtrade consistently ranks as the best broker for customer service, followed by the big bank brokers at BMO, TD, RBC and Scotia. 

Of course, it’s not easy to quantify exactly what “great customer service” looks like, but we feel confident in stating Qtrade is at the top of the Canadian brokerage rankings due to the large number of emails and comments we get at MDJ, plus our constant reviews of both Moneysense magazine’s, and the Globe and Mail’s new broker comparisons each year. 

Never has customer service been more important to consumers as in 2021 as we have seen many online brokerages really struggle with 4 hours+ delays in responding to online and phone inquiries.  This is one of the key reasons we decided to rank Qtade above Questrade as our overall #1 Canadian discount brokerage this year. Read our detailed Qtrade vs Questrade article for a full comparison of the two.

Which Bank is The Best For Stock Trading in Canada?

While Qtrade is our best stock trading brokerage in Canada for 2023, if you feel the need to keep your financial life simple, and stick to one of the big banks, then we recommend the BMO Investorline brokerages over its competitors offerings at TD, BMO, RBC, and especially CIBC.

What Portfolio Should I Build With an Online Broker?

If you want to prioritize simplicity, we recommend an all-in-one ETF, whereas if you want to prioritize cashflow we are big fans of dividend investing.  Check out our article on the best dividend stocks in Canada for 2023 for more information.

Can You Buy Stocks on a Mobile App?

Yes, buying stocks on mobile apps has never been easier or more convenient.  While I personally still prefer to use my desktop, the brokerages have been steadily improving their apps over the last decade. 

Our #1 ranked mobile app for Canadian discount brokerages is Qtrade, but the major banks (TD in particular) have also poured significant resources into improving their usability over the last few years.

For more information on mobile trading, read our comparison of the best stock trading apps in Canada or this list of the best Robinhood alternatives in Canada.

What is a Discount Broker Margin Account?

A margin account is simply a regular non-registered trading account with one special feature: It lets you borrow money to invest. 

While some people are able to use a margin account to make large gains (with the broker’s money) in a shorter period of time, we generally don’t advise people to try this type of investing. 

Statistically, you’re far more likely to lose money than gain money if you’re “trading on the margin” due to fees and basic human inability to pick stocks in the short term.

What is The Best Canadian Trading Platform for Beginners?

Qtrade. When you’re just starting out as a Canadian DIY investor you want a simple intuitive platform, low fees, access to investor education resources, and great customer support in case you make a logistical error. Qtrade simply excels in exactly those areas.

What is The Best Canadian Broker For Options Trading?

Questrade or IBKR are probably the best choices for options trading in Canada, but to be honest, options aren’t really our thing.

How Do Online Brokers Make Money?

In Canada, online brokers still make most of their money through per-trade commissions. These have been coming down in recent years (and there are even a few brokerages that have almost eliminated them entirely). 

In addition to these easy-to-understand fees though, brokerages also make money by charging account fees, documentation fees, and most of all, through the forex fees that they charge if you buy stocks outside of Canada in another currency. Finally, if you keep cash balances in your account, brokerages can lend that money out like a bank does.  

Day Trading Platforms in Canada

We’re not big fans of day trading at MDJ.  The raw data against thinking you can outsmart the market enough to cover the increased trading costs just doesn’t exist.

That said, if you want to try your hand at quickly moving in and out of investment positions, then understanding what to look for in a Canadian day trading platform could make a pretty big difference to your bottom line.

You want to look for an online broker platform that emphasizes:

  • Low per-trade fees (making use of “elite tier” pricing for people who make 50+ trades per month).
  • The easy ability to use leverage – along with a relatively low interest rate on said leverage.
  • The ability to trade non-conventional investment products like forex, CDRs, and cryptocurrencies.

There aren’t actually that many Canadian day trading platforms that meet these criteria.  Avatrade is probably the one most geared toward hardcore traders who what to use CDRs to place daily (hourly?) leveraged bets on market outcomes.  Check out our Avatrade review for more details.

We still think the Qtrade vs Questrade decision is the way to go if you’re a dividend investor or index investor who wants to dabble with a “core and explore portfolio”.  Qtrade’s customer service can help smooth out any unexpected mistakes, while Questrade’s slightly lower non-ETF price-per-trade has to be more heavily weighted when you’re making several trades each day.

Again, worth reiterating here that we’re more about using online broker platforms to invest for the long term and cut fees to the bone, not to use them as day trading platforms meant to squeeze out small trading gains several times per day.

Final Words of Wisdom About Canada’s Online Brokers in 2024

As Canadians rush outside to enjoy their well-earned summer, it’s not only the temperatures that are heating up.

The competition between Canadian online brokers continues to benefit the consumer. (Us!)

With more and more investors shifting to DIY investment options – and away from high-cost mutual funds – Canadian banks and independent investment companies continue to fight for market share. There are basically two ways to standout in this crowded market:

1) Offer very low trading fees and account fees.

2) Offer the best possible user experience when customers arrive at your platform – and then follow that up with elite customer service that helps people get the answers they want ASAP.

If you don’t have an FHSA account, are still charging ten bucks per trade, or investors find your website clunky to use – then they are going to go somewhere else in a hurry. 

In addition to better account options, lower fees, and WAY better platforms, the increased online broker competition has also led to better promotion offers as companies try to tempt you to switch over. Qtrade’s current promotional offer of $150 cashback is a really solid incentive to at least give them a try! Their new FHSA account qualifies you for this offer as well.

Simply click the orange button below to take advantage of the offer.

Choosing the best Canadian online broker for you should involve taking a look at what you truly value when it comes time to invest your own money. Numerous studies have shown that an investor’s comfort level with their brokerage account can substantially impact the amount of money that they invest over the long term.

It makes sense that if a person feels intimidated or just kind of “negative” about the whole investing experience, then they are less likely to put more money to work for them. That hesitation can add up to a much smaller nest egg as the decades pass by!

Over my 18 years of helping Canadians invest, I’ve noticed that removing behavioral barriers and making the process as simple as possible is key to building long-term success.

Low fees are a big deal, and let you keep more of your hard-earned money where it belongs – in your investment account. BUT, you also need to feel comfortable with whatever your final choice of DIY trading platform is.

Let me know what your recent experience with Canada’s online brokers have been, as I always take recent comments and emails into consideration when I update the 2024 brokerage rankings!

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FT is the founder and editor of Million Dollar Journey (est. 2006). Through various financial strategies outlined on this site, he grew his net worth from $200,000 in 2006 to $1,000,000 by 2014. You can read more about him here.
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4 months ago

With a Questrade account, you can also get a Passiv Elite membership account for FREE.
Passiv has been very helpful for me to keep track of investment allocations and goals as well as for re-balancing purchases for the portfolio when I put new cash in.

Allen B.
1 year ago

I agree with Cheryl (below). The BMO Investorline platform used to be simple, easy to use and intuitive. Now it’s horrible, ridiculously complex, and not at all user friendly. I have had bad experiences with their phone support as well. After at least 5 years at Investorline, I’m changing.

1 year ago

Thanks so much for this! I’m looking for a platform that lets me buy shares inside a joint account with my spouse. Do any of these have that possibility?

Kyle Prevost
1 year ago
Reply to  Elle

Hi Elle. Pretty much all of these brokers would give you that ability.

1 year ago

BMO Investorline recently changed its platform and it just awful. Some minor improvements but overall clunky and hard to navigate. After 10 years I am now considering changing to another broker. Very disappoint in BMO now.

1 year ago

I opened three accounts with Questrade yesterday. One was a LIRA on which I messed up the application. I called their customer service line and was speaking with a rep in less than a minute. He solved the problem I had and offered to stay on the line as I filled out the account.
As always, YMMV but maybe this is a good sign?

1 year ago

Thank you very much for this article, it has a lot of useful information

2 years ago

I trade for family and friends using the BMO, TD and RBC platforms. I would rate BMO as the best of these platforms by a significant margin. BMO offers no fee trading in a large number of ETFs, a website superior to the RBC platform and, for retirees in particular, access to the much underappreciated AdviceDirect option. AdviceDirect provides daily portfolio monitoring, individual stock selections/advice, modest fees and a large number of free trades. A great product. It’s not for everyone but it is a unique and valuable option.

The description of the TD platform is not up to date. TD Goal Assist no longer exists. It has been replaced by a product called TD Easy Trade. This app offers 50 free trades a year to newbie investors and, as well, no fee purchases of TD ETFs. Decades long TD Direct Investing clients are offered nothing in the way of free trades and many are justifiably and predictably upset.

3 years ago

Which Canadian Broker offers the best Options trading platform? Is there anything close to IB? I use TD Currently and it seems very lacking in the Options area and expensive. The Monthly fee you mention with IB is paid for with 1 or 2 Options trades. I am looking to generally trade TSX and US based Options

3 years ago

You can also use them for passive and index investing which doesn’t require the same amount of expertise or commitment. If you want to copy the same index investing strategy as a robo advisor, you absolutely can; no one will stop you. That being said, using an online trading platform will require slightly more time and effort than a robo would but, again, you are saving yourself money in terms of the fees so it just might be worth your time

Nathalie Poulin
3 years ago

In comparing discount brokerage platforms, you have omitted Disnat from your list. It’s too bad that you are unable to provide information for investors who choose to invest with a French Brokerage. I would have liked to see how it compares to the others you have listed. Thanks

Kyle Prevost
3 years ago

Hey Nathalie – the truth is, that I just don’t know anyone who has used it. Would you be up for answering a few questions?