Canadian Online Discount Stock Brokerage Comparison 2020

As we enter into a new decade of dividend and index investing I thought it was time for an update to our Canadian online broker article (whose first version dates back as early as 2006).  Use the table of contents below to dig into our criteria and comparisons as we look at the Best Canadian Online Discount Brokerages in 2020.  If you want to trace the unique evolution of Canada's  best discount brokerages over the years, our comment section going back to when Dani California was a hit new song is pretty interesting!

What is an “Online Discount Brokerage” or “Discount Stock Broker”?

Before we dive into this topic, let me take a minute and explain what an online discount brokerage, or a discount stock broker is. An online discount broker is essentially a way for you to trade stocks, bonds, ETFs, and a few other types of more niche investments, online. However, there’s no “middle man” like the old movie idea of “stock broker” when you use an online discount brokerage.  You don’t get a person or company to do the buying or selling for you. You are the one in charge. A discount stock brokerage account operates in the same way as traditional brokers do in that these platforms allow investors such as you and me to buy and sell assets such stocks, bonds, mutual funds, GICs, and ETFs. However, as mentioned above, with an online discount brokerage it is you, the investor, calling the shots. This DIY-type of approach comes with a significantly lower commission cost than what you would pay to a traditional Canadian stockbroker (leaving more money to compound as your investments grow!) making it a very attractive option for those willing to do a very small amount of leg work.

Tl;DR Best Stock Broker for Canada 2020

Questrade: one of the oldest and most reputable brands in Canada offering ultra-low fees and particularly on ETF purchases, as well as all the premium options you'd expect from a great discount broker.

How Does An Online Discount Brokerage Work?

The reason why online discount brokerages fees are so much less than what you would pay if you went to a traditional Canadian stockbroker is because, at the end of the day, they are an online business and it’s you, not them, that is doing the majority of the  work.  A traditional broker will do the planning and research for you, then give you advice during your personal consultation. Online brokers don’t offer those services, it’s all DIY. You need to do the research and planning to build your own portfolio as you see fit.  (Although we’d make a strong argument that with Canada’s all-in-one ETFs and our top Canadian dividend stocks there isn’t much research and planning left for the average investor.) 

The online broker just serves as the platform to execute your requests. This is great in terms of the money that you can save by taking this online approach. However, as I said above, you do need to be confident and sure of what you are doing as there is nobody else to step in and advise you like a traditional stockbroker would.   If you are interested in opening an online brokerage account, it can be done relatively quickly from the comfort of your own home.

Once you open an account with a discount brokerage in Canada (don’t worry, we’ll be sharing more about the best online brokers later in this article), you can transfer your money from your chequing or savings account (or another brokerage account if you are changing firms). The money transfer will take a couple of days, or up to a week depending on your financial institution. Once you have the money in your online brokerage account you can start purchasing investments as you see fit.

The Best Canadian Discount Brokerage for 2020

When it comes to finding the best discount brokerage in Canada, we have a few choices depending on what you are looking for. These are our top picks for online brokerage in Canada in 2020.

#1: Questrade

Our top pick for the best Canadian discount brokerage is Questrade. Here’s a look at why they’re #1. To start with, Questrade has incredibly low costs. In fact, they are one of the lowest-cost brokers in the country. 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.

So, yes, this means if you created a portfolio entirely of ETFs, you’d pay $0 with Questrade, making them one of the best online brokerages for ETFs in Canada. Other trading fees range from $4.95-$9.95 and, should you choose to transfer your TFSA or RRSP, Questrade will cover the transfer fees. While the low costs are great, they aren’t the only reason why Questrade is our top pick for the best online brokerage in Canada.

Questrade is also one of the oldest and most reputable companies in the business. With more than 30 years behind them, Questrade is also one of the fastest growing companies in Canada as well. Plus, since they are covered by the Canadian Investment Protection Fund, you know your money is in safe hands. Finally, for those of you who need elite information platforms to actively trade assets, Questrade has options for you as well. Of course, Questrade, like every other business, has its downsides. In the case of Questrade, one of the things I don’t like about the company is that they charge fees for inactivity. This means that if you don’t place a trade every quarter or have less than $1,000 in your accounts, you will be charged a quarterly fee of $24.95. Now, given that $1,000 is the account minimum and one trade each quarter is very minimal work (even for those following the couch potato investment strategy), this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you do fall behind on trade or go under the minimum for a prolonged amount of time, you will be penalized for it.

Our advice is simply to login and buy one unit of your favourite ETF each quarter to avoid this trigger.  If you’re making monthly or quarterly additions to your portfolio like a good DIY investor should be, then you’ll never have to worry about it. It’s worth noting that Questrade has now won several awards from Canada’s newspapers and financial publications.

#2 Qtrade Investor

Qtrade Investor is my second choice when it comes to Canada’s online trading platforms. While they are more expensive than Questrade, Qtrade is known for its incredible customer service. When it comes to fees, there is no annual fee. Qtrade offers mutual funds and select ETFs for free, and there is a flat rate of $8.75 for all other trades. There are no account minimums and Qtrade also covers transfer fees (up to $150). However, if you do go under $25,000 combined between RRSP and TFSA you will be penalized with an annual $100 fee. 

If you are big into trading and will do more than 150 trades per quarter and/ or have over $500,000 in assets, you can take advantage of a lower trading rate of $6.95 with the Investor Plus tier.  As mentioned above, Qtrade has a reputation for fantastic customer service. They are easy to reach by email or phone (they even have a call-back option).

Additionally, the Qtrade website and platform is very clean-cut and easy to use. Plus, they are members of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund as well as the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. 

#3 BMO InvestorLine

While online banks are becoming more and more popular with many Canadians, there are still some individuals who prefer the old, trusted names of some of Canada’s biggest financial institutions. If this sounds like you, then I recommend BMO’s discount brokerage options: BMO InvestorLine.

Unfortunately, BMO InvestorLine isn’t the cheapest when it comes to online discount brokerages in Canada. Their trade fees are $9.95 per trade and non-registered accounts with less than $15,000 will face an annual fee of $100 (this fee is waived once your account goes above $15,000).  Registered accounts with BMO InvestorLine are free to open, including an RRSP, TFSA, RESP, RRIF, or LIRA.

That being said, while fees are an important consideration, they aren’t everything.  BMO InvestorLine has a lot of advantages as well. To start with, they have an award winning platform; in 2018 BMO InvestorLine received the highest ranking in self-directed investor satisfaction according to the J.D. Power 2018 Canada Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study. It’s also a very user-friendly portal with a reliable customer service team and an impressive collection of 3rd party research. 

#4 WealthSimple Trade

If you are looking for rock bottom rates and fees, then WealthSimple Trade may be worth a look. I’ll admit, as it stands right now, WealthSimple Trade wouldn’t be my first pick for most investors. That being said, they have only been around since March 2019 and I do expect them to grow and improve.  When you look at how quickly Wealthsimple is innovating and evolving, I think they’re a safe bet to eventually grow into an excellent discount brokerage platform. 

At this time, Wealthsimple has absolutely no fees for buying or selling stocks of ETFs. They also have no opening or closing account fees. In fact, the only real fee here is if you request paper statements instead of email statements in which case you’ll be charged a $20 fee. So, how do they make money?

Well, for any US trades they charge a 1.5% base conversion fee. However, even then, that’s a pretty decent deal seeing as most traditional Canadian stockbroker fees for US trades are 2% or higher. Another perk; there is no account minimum.  However, as nice as ‘free’ sounds, right now WealthSimple Trade is pretty basic compared to other online brokerage accounts. They offer limited stocks and ETFs, the platform can only be accessed via the app, and they only have 3 types of accounts: TSFA, RRSP, or a non-registered personal investment account.

Who Should Use an Online Trading Platform?

The promise of low investing fees is attractive to everyone, but the concept of doing your own trading can also be quite intimidating. However, it doesn’t have to be. Part of what makes online trading platforms so enticing is that they really can work for everyone due to the fact that they are so customizable. Online trading platforms can work well for both active and passive investing. For those who are unsure of the difference between the two, active investing is a much more hands-on approach.

An active investor will try to pick and choose which stocks or bonds will perform best and trade accordingly. Passive investing, on the other hand, involving having a little piece of every company or bond in a market, rather than relying on a select few. Passive investors usually rely on index investing (the couch potato strategy) when it comes to their investments and is seen as an effective long-haul investment strategy.   For those interested in active investing, you will essentially have to become your own portfolio manager.

This requires knowledge and understanding of the stock market and also involves you needing to do your own research. It will take time and effort; however, if this is the strategy you wish to use and you are confident in your abilities, then using an online trading platform instead of a traditional financial planner can save you a lot of money. That being said, you don’t need to be an active investor to make an online trading platform work for you.

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. 

Check out our Questrade vs Wealthsimple article for a detailed look at whether robo advisors or online brokers would be the best fit for your passive investing strategy. Using an online trading platform does not necessarily mean you need to be trading on a regular basis; 4 times a year is enough if that’s your preferred strategy. However, you do need to be interested and disciplined enough to keep up with your research as nobody else will step in to help you if you take this approach. If you aren’t confident in your abilities, don’t have the time, or would rather have some personal interaction or advice to help you out along the way, then you are probably better to go with a financial planner or even a robo advisor.

However, if you are willing to put in some time and do the research, then an online trading platform could work really well for you, whether you are interested in pursuing active or passive investing. 

Are Online Trading Platforms Safe?

When it comes to managing your finances online, there are always questions about safety. Of course, doing anything online comes with some risks including identify theft, malware or viruses, phishing schemes, and data breaches to name a few.

Obviously, all of these risks can have quite serious effects. Especially when it comes to your personal information and money. However, you can rest easy knowing that online brokers go to many lengths to protect both their websites as well as their clients.

Common broker security measures will include the following:

  • SSL encryption
  • 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.

Top Discount Brokerage Promo Offer Code for 2020

With discount brokerage fees getting slashed to the bone in the competition between Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade, the discount broker promo offer code 2020 battle is almost irrelevant to ETF index investors.  That said, it never hurts to have $50 in free ETF trades available, or $50 in free trades available if you are pursuing a dividend investing strategy, and/or using a Smith Maneuver.  Simply click below to check make use of our best Canadian discount brokerage offer code.

Questrade promo (no code needed):

Comparing Canadian Stock Broker Fees

Everyone is looking for low investing fees in Canada, and there’s no doubt that online discount brokerages 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.

Fees to Trade ETFs: When it comes to ETFs we need to remember that even though a few of the online brokerages mentioned in this article offer free ETFs to buy, you do need to pay a fee to sell. Here’s a breakdown of ETF fees among our selected discount brokerages.

  • Questrade: $0 to buy, $4.95-$9.95 to sell
  • Qtrade Investor: $0- $8.95 to buy and $8.95 to sell
  • BMO InvestorLine: $9.95 to buy and sell
  • Wealthsimple Trade: $0 to buy and $0 to sell (select ETFs)

Wealthsimple is the winner here when it comes to fees to trade ETFs; however, keep in mind that their ETF selection is also quite limited right now. 

ECN Fees 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. Here’s what you can expect to pay in ECN fees with each respective online broker.  

  • Questrade: $0.0008- $0.004 per trade
  • Qtrade Investor: $0; Qtrade tries to avoid having you pay any ECN fees. However, they do indicate that if you have repeated high volume trades on the active side of the Canadian market you may be charged. In this case, they will try to contact you first to notify you of any ECN charges. 
  • BMO InvestorLine: $0
  • Wealthsimple Trade: $0

As you can see, our top pick, Questrade is one of the only online brokerage that regularly charges ECN fees. While these fees are annoying, when you consider that Questrade also has much lower trade fees than some of the other options, those pesky little ECN fees don’t seem so bad.  When you actually do the math on investing $1,000 or $5,000 at a time, you're looking at under a loonie in ECN fees.

Annual Fees What about annual fees? Here’s the breakdown. 

  • Questrade: None
  • Qtrade Investor: No official annual fee; however, you will be charged $100/year if your combined accounts go under $25,000
  • BMO InvestorLine: $100/year  for non-registered accounts of less than $15,000
  • Wealthsimple Trade: None

Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade come out on top when it comes to comparing annual fees. However, do keep in mind that Questrade does have a minimum requirement of $1000. 

Comparing Questrade Fees to BMO InvestorLine Fees Questrade is my overall winner for the best Canadian online discount brokerage for 2020, but, again, I do recognize that some people are hesitant about these new-comers in the financial sphere and prefer more tried and tested names. However, before you make up your mind that you want to stick with one of Canada’s biggest financial institutions rather than trying someone newer, let’s take a second to pit the two against each other. For trading fees, Questrade ranges from $4.95-9.95 with the added bonus of offering users to buy ETF for free.

BMO InvestorLine has a flat trading fee of $9.95 for everything. Perhaps the biggest difference though, in terms of fees and where you can save, is the annual fee. Questrade has a minimum initial funding requirement of $1,000, which is very reasonable, and charges $0 annual fees.   BMO on the other hand allows you start a registered account for free, but charges a $100 annual fee on every non-registered account under $15,000.  At the end of the day, being comfortable with your chosen online broker is important. But, if you are really looking to cut down on those fees, then it’s probably worth your time to try someone new and try Questrade. 

I think it’s also worth mentioning that Canada has some of the highest investment fees in the world. This 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 trading 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.  

Ultimate Summary of Canadian Discount Brokerages Fees and DRIP Options

In addition to trading fees, keep an eye on annual maintenance fees if you are below the minimum balance, and especially foreign exchange fees.  Most discount brokers will hide the fee in the exchanged amount.  Some investors also like the simplicity of a Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP), and while it shouldn't be a primary comparison point, we'll including that in the feature table below as well (last update January 4, 2019):

Broker Fees Free ETFs? Drip
Questrade (Rated #1) $4.95 for up to 495 shares ($9.95 max) $9.95 per mutual fund trade ETFs are free to buy, reg commission to sell Yes (for buying) $0 for balance above $5k $19.95/ quarter if balance < $5k
QTrade $8.75/ trade or $6.95/ trade if assets > $500k Yes (select group) $100/ yr admin fee if under $25k balance $60/ yr for USD RRSP
Scotia i-Trade (formally e-trade) $24.99 or $9.99 /trade with $50k in assets or 30+ trades /quarter, $4.99/trade with 150+ trades /quarter Yes (select group) Yes
IB Min $1 /USD trade. Max 0.5% of trade value ($0.005/ share) No $10 USD $50/year annual RRSP fee Min $10k to open an account
BMO InvestorLine $9.95/ trade no minimum balance No $100/ yr if balance < $25k
RBC Direct Investing $9.95/ trade no minimum balance $6.95/ trade if 150+ trades / quarter No $25 / quarter if balance < $25k
Credential Direct $8.88 / trade No None
TD Direct Investing $9.99/ trade no minimum balance $7/ trade if 150+ trades / quarter No $100 / yr if balance < $25k
Virtual Brokers  $0.01/share with cap of $9.99  + ECN fees Yes (for buying) $50/ yr if balance < $15k, $50/ yr for USD RRSP

UPDATE: Due to popular demand, below is the foreign exchange fee/spread charged by each of the brokerages to convert your CAD->foreign currency.
Brokerage Forex Fee/Spread (each way)
E-Trade 1.5% (not confirmed)
IB 0.01% + 2.50USD
Questrade 1.99%
BMO 0.90%
TDW 1.40%
BNS ~1%
CIBC 2%
RY ~1%
QTrade 1.75% for < $10k, 1.60% for > $10k but < $25k
Virtual Brokers 0.75%

The Best Discount Brokerage for ETFs in Canada

Before I share my thoughts on the best discount brokerage for ETFs in Canada, let’s dig a little into ETFs, what they are, and how they work. ETF stands for Exchange Traded Fund and an ETF is a collection of stocks or bonds that can be purchased at one price. ETFs can be both actively or passively managed, however, they are most commonly used for passive investing as most are not managed by humans (whereas mutual funds are) and are programmed by an algorithm.  Due to the fact that they can be passively managed and require much less monitoring and work than mutual funds, ETFs are one of the most popular investment options among Canadians. 

For a detailed look at the fees and services involved with picking your own ETFs vs going with an all-in-one ETF vs robo advisors vs mutual funds, check out our Best Canadian All-in-One ETFs article. So, what’s the best discount brokerage for ETFs in Canada?  Well, I’d have to go with Questrade As you’ll remember from above, Questrade allows you to buy ETFs for free, though you will pay a fee to sell them. Now, you might be remembering that Qtrade also allows you to buy for free; however, Qtrade only offers a selection of ETFs free to purchase, not all. The rest come at a fee which, in my books, put Questrade at the top. Of course, you could argue that Wealthsimple Trade allows investors to both buy AND sell their ETFs for free, whereas Questrade only lets you buy for free. Again though, Wealthsimple Trade falls short when it comes to selection and the overall platform.

Wealthsimple Trade only offers 3 types of accounts (basic RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered accounts) versus Questrade who offers, well, pretty much any account option you could want. I will say though, while I choose Questrade over Wealthsimple for DIY brokerage, I do prefer Wealthsimple’ robo advisor. You can read more on my comparison between these two in this Wealthsimple Vs Questrade article. For these reasons, I’d say that Questrade takes the top spot for the best discount brokerage for ETFs in Canada. 

The Best Discount Brokerage Mobile App in Canada

Since discount brokerages are online, it’s important to have a portal that is easy to use, read, and understand. Most (but not all) discount brokerages can be accessed online from your laptop or desktop as well as from an app on your phone. What you prefer to use is a personal choice, but apps help keep everything close and handy. After all, does anyone ever leave home without their phone anymore? So, what’s the best Canadian online brokerage app? Again, based on my experience, I say Questrade because it really lets you stay on top of everything all on one platform. This wasn’t always the case, but with Questrade’s latest updates, they are on par with anything the big banks have going. To start with, I like the look of the app. It’s pretty clean-cut and clear to read and understand. It lets me trade in real time and manage all my Questrade accounts.

The Questrade app also has some great features. These include:

  • Symbol Lookup: which allows you to look up the symbol you are interested in. From this feature, you can access news and history to help you make a more informed decision. 
  • Alerts: You can customize your alert settings to get instant alerts on the items you put on your watchlist.
  • Charting: Take a look at a range of charts that show patterns and volatility to help you better build your trading strategy.  There are also some handy research tools available on the app as well. These include built-in research from industry leaders including Morningstar and Recognia. You can also get access to real time data and, as mentioned above, create your own personalized watchlists. Right now, the Questrade app can be used on iOS devices (iOS 8 or higher) or Android devices (Android 5.0 or higher). 

The Best Canadian Discount Brokerage for Customer Service

Quality customer service is essential for every business, and while each of the options in the Canada discount brokerage review has a customer service option, when it comes to the best discount brokerage for customer service it’s pretty neck in neck right now between Qtrade and Questrade. Everything you read about Qtrade mentions their customer service. First of all, they make it really easy to get a hold of their customer support team. You can reach them by phone or email, or even have them call you with the call-back option.

They also have a walk-in office located in Vancouver, BC. Sure, that doesn't help everyone but the fact that they actually do have an in-person office that you can visit makes them pretty unique in the world of online financial businesses.  However, there have been a few recent changes to the Qtrade customer service within the past 2-3 years.

They used to have an online chat option which customers loved but that disappeared in recent years. There have also been recent comments in online threads about exceptionally long wait times recently which customers who have been around for a while are finding incredibly frustrating.  Questrade, on the other hand, has really upped their game in the past couple of years. There is a toll-free number you can use to give them a call and, unlike Qtrade, Questrade does have an online chat option to help you get the answers you need right away. 

There has been plenty of positive feedback for both of these online brokers and their customer service. Additionally, both options seem to have a number of loyal users which also speaks to customer care. Qtrade has definitely been the long-time leader for this category, however, their recent decline in services has left room for Questrade to push forward and, perhaps, even ahead. 

How to Use an Online Broker for Beginners

Interested in trying your hand at online brokerages? Here’s how to get started.

First of all, you’ll need to figure out your purpose for trading and how aggressive or active you want to be. Do you want to be trading daily? Or are you more interested in the couch potato style of approach? There’s no right or wrong answer, online brokerages work equally well for both strategies. You just need to know what you want to do and have a plan in place that you will keep up with.

Once you are confident in your knowledge of the stock market and know what type of approach you want to take in your investing, you need to choose your online brokerage platform. I’ve shared what I consider to be the best options in this Canada discount brokerage review, but the final choice is up to you.  For those who want to practice before getting started with real money, Questrade has a free practice trading account that you can demo for up to 90 days.

Not only is perfect for trying your hand at trading to see if you enjoy it, but it also allows you to test-drive the Questrade platform and see if it is a good fit for your needs as well. Once you’ve chosen your preferred online broker, filled out the required paperwork, and transferred the funds you’ll follow these steps to start buying: 

  • Log in to your chosen platform
  • Figure out which stocks you want to buy. You can use the ticker symbols to look them up. 
  • Decide how many shares/units you wish to buy. Note, before you purchase, you’ll need to do a bit of math here; cost of share/unit x amount you want to buy.
  • You will then need to enter the details of the trade. This includes the order type you want to use as well as the duration; how long you want the order to be active for. 
  • The discount brokerage will then confirm with you that you want to purchase “x” units or shares of an ETF or stock, at a price of “x” dollars, for a total cost to you of “x”.
  • Click “buy”

And that’s it! Congratulations, you just bought your first stock. 

Using USD In Your Discount Brokerage TFSA and RRSP

For folks who have large portfolios and really want to cut fees to the bone, using a specific discount brokerage to hold USD-priced investments can be a real differentiator.

The main advantage to holding USD-denominated stocks in your in RRSP, TFSA, or non-registered accounts is that you aren’t charged with a Foreign Exchange (aka Forex, FX) Fee.  Basically, if you’re just using a vanilla RRSP account, and you wire your Canadian Dollars over for your monthly or quarterly investment in USD stocks, then you are paying somewhere between 1.5% and 2% in foreign exchange fees.  That’s a pretty substantial amount!  If you’re an active trader that is automatically converting currency often, it’s going to drastically eat away at your returns.

Now, as with all things investing, it’s worth pointing out that this is “cherry on top” stuff and NOT something that you should allow to hold you back from getting started.  If you simply want to purchase an excellent all in one ETF each month - that holds USA stocks (and many others) and is conveniently available in Canadian Dollars - then you should do that and not worry about any of this forex stuff.

If on the other hand you really want to pay attention to dividend withholding taxes (thoroughly explained in our RRSP/TFSA Withdrawal article) and have your USA-indexes separated from the rest of your ETF portfolio, then having a USD-based account in order to purchase USA-based ETFs such as VTI makes sense.

Similarly, if you plan on purchasing US-based dividend stocks, it makes sense to take your Canadian money and convert it to USD by using Norbert’s Gambit, and then keeping it in USD as you buy and sell.  Obviously if you’re fortunate enough to earn USD, then you can simply transfer it to your USD trading account without converting it back and forth to CAD.

While RBC and Questrade were the first two discount brokerages to offer USD-based registered accounts, it’s now fairly standard across the country, with most of the major discount brokerages offering the option in some form or fashion.  Both of these first-movers now offer USD TFSAs and RRSPs for no extra cost.  Other online brokers have now begun to offer these unique accounts as well, but some do charge you for the privilege.  The notable exception to this generalization is Wealthsimple Trade - which currently does not offer USD RRSPs or USD TFSAs.

The bottom line for the vast majority of investors in Canada is that they simply do not need to worry about USD RRSPs or USD TFSAs.  Simply getting exposure to American companies through Canadian Dollar index funds that are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange is an excellent option.  This is especially true if your portfolio is less than $500,000.  For the few active traders of US stocks or folks that really want to shave those few points of withholding tax off of their USA-ETFs, then make sure to check that you’re not getting charged for a feature that RBC and Questrade offer for free. 

Comparison Summary of Canada’s Best Online Brokers

If you know DIY investing is for you (and that's a big if) and you are looking to minimize your trading fees, as well as your annual fees, while wanting to remain your money to be kept safe by a reputable, Canadian, financial establishment, then in our opinion it boils down to the 4 best stock brokers in Canada for 2020. Our absolute #1 choice for the majority of Canadians is Questrade but using either of the 4 makes sense (depending on the usage). 

Questrade Qtrade  BMO InvestorLine Wealthsimple Trade
Fees to Trade ETFs $0 to buy, $4.95-$9.95 to sell $0- $8.95 to buy and $8.95 to sell $9.95 to buy and sell $0 to buy and $0 to sell (select ETFs)
ECN Fees $0.0008- $0.004 per trade $0 $0 $0
Annual Fees None No official annual fee, however, you will be charged $100/year if your combined accounts go under $25,000 $100/year  for accounts less than $25,000 None
Strong points Smoothest online platform and app, no ETF fees, and $50 sign up promo Easy to reach, professional customer service Award winning platform, impressive 3rd party research, bank security No ETF nor stock fees (but 1.5% base conversion fee for US trades) and very limited platform

Please post any questions on Canada's online discount brokerages below as we'll updating this article throughout 2020 and beyond.  We're also interested in hearing about your personal online broker experiences so that MDJ readers can get as must firsthand information as possible before they chose their Canadian discount brokerage.

506 Comments

  1. Nikolai on April 1, 2015 at 12:53 pm

    @Justin,

    I am and I am slowly transferring more family accounts to IB. As I said in one of the previous posts – I simply calculated my total commissions for my existing TD Waterhouse accounts for past years, calculated what minimums I will need to pay to IB for maintaining them and estimated my transaction costs. Even if I simply keep the same (relatively inactive) transaction pattern I save quite a bit of money with IBC.

    For the calculations, they have the process outlined on one of their pages. It is a bit unclear, but briefly it is like this: they calculate the total minimums for all accounts (plus the advisor one) and compare it to total amount of commissions they collect for all of these accounts in month. If they collected more than that minimum – you are off the hook ;) If it is less – then they go account by account and charge the difference between $10 and whatever you have paid for each account. And that’s how they calculate the additional charge. Of course they skip the accounts that have 100K – they are not subject to the minimum fee.

  2. Nikolai on April 4, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    By the way, just found something interesting about IBC…I have noticed that they have charged me a mysterious “IRA Quarterly Fee” for both TFSA accounts. Either I misunderstood something, or they were not supposed to – this fee is only mentioned for RRSP accounts. Inquiring…

  3. Justin on April 4, 2015 at 10:23 pm

    @Nikolai

    That is interesting, please keep us updated.
    So the umbrella “advisor” account actually counts as one account but you can’t trade in it. If you linked up 3 trading accounts, you need to generate $40 minimum if instead of $30?

  4. Nikolai on April 5, 2015 at 12:26 am

    @Justin

    Yes, the advisor account adds another $10/month to the total required commission amount linked to it.

  5. Nikolai on April 7, 2015 at 1:11 am

    Follow-up on IBC and TFSA quarterly fees – got the answer to my ticket. “These fees were charged by mistake, they will be reversed shortly.”. Good. However, it proves, unfortunately, one very simple thing I have learned in the past from other financial institutions: trust no one. Even the banks make mistakes. I prefer to think of them as mistakes – otherwise it would be too depressing ;)

  6. jxg67 on April 17, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    Questrade is very bad. They have ECN fee hiden. I was charge $90 in one transaction for selling 100K penny stocks. Find another broker who doesn’t have hiden fee. Otherwise you’ll regret.

  7. art on April 21, 2015 at 7:26 pm

    Having been a Questrade client for years, I have to say that I am sick and tired of their incompetence regarding tax slips.

    First – they release them late – at least a month later than my TD Brokerage account does. This causes problems for me since I have to file US tax return too – which is due April 15th.

    Second – they release them with errors. Last year they cancelled all the T slips for my family and released amended ones – which caused problems with the CRA for my mother in law – problems that I am only now getting straightened out.

    This year I could not understand our tax slips – since they did not match earnings listed on monthly statements. I sent Questrade a request for explanation – they responded by notifying me that amended tax slips are now available…
    This is after the date US taxes were due – so now I will have to file amended returns again. Since everything is computerized – I simply find such incompetence inexcusable.
    As much as I liked other aspects of Questrade – I’ll be moving all of our accounts elsewhere.

    • Carl - Team Questrade on April 27, 2015 at 5:49 pm

      Hi Art,

      This is Carl from Team Questrade. I’m sorry to hear about the difficulties you encountered in obtaining accurate, timely tax slips.
      If you are still having troubles with either understanding the slips provided, or if you are missing any information, please send me an email at cbranch@questrade.com and I will escalate the matter.

      Thanks,
      Carl from Team Questrade

  8. Rob on April 22, 2015 at 12:10 pm

    Reporting back from transferring 2 TFSA and 2 RRSP accounts from RBC to IB brokers. It was a bit tedious , but it got done.
    All I can say that IB brokers surpasses any broker in Canada overall. With pricing, robust platform , security , etc. Very happy I made the move. Thanks again to all the folks here on answering questions and for the info.

  9. Nikolai on May 4, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    Hi,

    Need an advice on frugality :) I have recently discovered that I cannot transfer certain things to Interactive Brokers. More specifically, some stuff from the companies like Manulife, Sunlife etc. Reason: they have no ATON, thus automated transfer is not possible and IBC deals only with ATON. They do not want to process T2033 forms.

    So, here is the question: what is the most economical way to get the funds (more specifically – just cash) from such a dinosaur RRSP to IBC? I was thinking maybe about something like Questrade – they seem to support ATON, they most likely can handle T2033 and their transfer fees are more reasonable than with TDW and alike. I hate the idea of opening another registered account as a proxy just for transferring something once (or once a year) but the alternative is to withdraw, suffer the tax deduction, then put some of my own money, extra tax paperwork…But maybe someone knows a better/faster/cheaper solution?

  10. John on June 3, 2015 at 12:40 am

    @Nikolai

    Did you ever figure out what was the best course of action transferring assets into IB RRSP? I’m in the similar situation as you…I have cash in a RSP savings @ Tangerine doing nothing but I can’t get it over there without withdrawing then contributing. The only way I can think of is to transfer into Questrade and then transfer out again… Such a hassle.

    Maybe its better just to stick to questrade but the availability to sell options + US conversion makes IB a better choice

  11. Nikolai on June 5, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    @John,

    I have just solved my problem by opening an account with TD Waterhouse, transferring the funds into that account (in cash) using T2030 form and then transferring that account in full to IBC. Looks like this is the only way. $135+tx sucks, but if the amount in question is significant than it is not that bad. Yes, it is a bit complicated but then it gets simpler when you have all of your buying power under the single account.

    I think Questrade changes a bit more for the transfer. I checked a couple of brokers from the list that IBC offers – $135 was the lowest price. Also I did not want to deal with the brokers that I never dealt with. Like, for example, I would never deal with Desjardins or RBC, I think I am not compatible with their mentality ;)

  12. Anna on August 12, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Hi everyone, can someone give me a few suggestions, i’ve been trying to find answers but can’t seem to get to the bottom of this. I want to play NASDAQ stocks, and be able to do this: short sell, trade after hours and pre-market hours. I am in Canada. Can someone suggest to me a Broker to do this with? I am currently with BMO Direct InvestoreLine and i trade NASDAQ stocks with them all the time, but just regular trades, with $10 fee per trade (so $20 to buy and sell in total). Thanks!

    • FrugalTrader on August 12, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      Anna, if you are a frequent trader, take a look at Interactive Brokers Canada. https://milliondollarjourney.com/interactive-brokers-review.htm

      • BillAck on April 24, 2020 at 6:44 pm

        Who has the best margin rates?



      • Kyle Prevost on April 25, 2020 at 11:03 am

        I believe IB does… but truthfully I don’t track those all that closely as I don’t trade on margin.



    • Carl - Team Questrade on August 14, 2015 at 3:44 pm

      Hi Anna,

      While I may be just a little biased, since you are an active Canadian trader I’d definitely recommend that you look into Questrade.
      With Questrade you get low commission fees on equity trades, access to both pre- and post-market trading, and short selling through our IQ platform.
      For more information, you can read the MDJ review right here: https://milliondollarjourney.com/questrade-review.htm

      Thanks,
      Carl from Team Questrade

  13. Nikolai on October 29, 2015 at 11:03 am

    I am going to throw another stone at TD Waterhouse. Back in May I have transferred several accounts from them to Interactive Brokers. Once the transfer has been completed, the account have immediately disappeared from WebBroker and it was impossible to get any statements or other documents about them. To my surprise, two accounts have re-appeared in the end of September with some cash balances on them. Once I have noticed it, I have immediately downloaded all the new documents for them. And this is where I found that few days after the transfer was done back in May/June I have received some dividends on these accounts. TD Waterhouse has never done the residual transfer, which is supposed to be done “promptly” according to IIROC 2300.8 rule. Since then (it’s been 3 weeks) I am fighting with TD to get my cash transferred to IBC. So, not only they have failed to do the transfer, they were quietly holding these money for several months and up until now I have spent over 2 hours of my time fighting with them. Unfortunately, these are RRSP accounts, so simply taking the cash out is not the option I would consider.

    • Nikolai on October 29, 2015 at 10:53 pm

      Replying to myself. Got some more info from IBC clearing department. According to them TD Waterhouse is not able to properly do residual transfers! So, the solution seems to be re-initiate the full account transfer (as silly as it sounds – do another full account transfer several months after the first one was done ;) ). Hrrr…..Called TDW, spent another 20 minutes on the phone, told them to put a note “do not even think about charging the fee for this transfer” on all accounts, initiated new transfers, fingers crossed.

      Seriously…I had quite good opinion about TD – except their fees and outdated platforms. But non-compliance to IIROC rules….this is something I would not expect from them.

      • Nikolai on November 20, 2015 at 12:50 pm

        Believe it or not. After fighting for weeks with TDW I have resolved the issue – got these residuals transferred. I thought I would never hear about it again. Guess what? Just got a call from IBC about that. TD Waterhouse tried to CHARGE my IBC account for $2.30 mentioning some sort of fee. I told IBC to reject the transfer and called TDW. Turns out, TDW has sent me a paper bill and that was the fee for it. Paper bill for the account that has been enrolled in e-bills since the beginning, that has been fully transferred to another broker TWICE! OMG. The only thing I could tell the guy – do whatever you want but I do not want to hear about these accounts and any fees from you again anymore. The fee has been refunded (of course). Lets see what happens next. I am actually going to file a complaint to IIROC about this residual transfer story.



  14. stacey dutton on December 20, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    We have 2 rrif accounts in canada with tdwaterhouse but retired in england.
    TDW will on longer do direct wire transfers and will only send cheques. It cost us over $100 to cash the cheques and put into our canadian dollar uk bank account plus we could not convert the money for 6 weeks to make sure it cleared the canadian bank first.
    Do you know of any brokers in canada who we can transfer out rrif’s to that will arrange our annual withdrawals via wire transfers?

  15. robert on March 30, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    CIBC Investors Edge is the worst brokerage platform by far. Sure, the commission rate seems quite good, but the couple bucks you’ll save each month isn’t worth the opportunity cost you’ll face due to their system issues.

    I know someone who works there, and they warned me that 12% of all their client trades don’t go straight to the stock exchange. The order needs to be reviewed by an employee, a process that takes anywhere from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. Do you want to wait 5 minutes while the market moves away from your target price? And that’s if they don’t have any major system issues. When they do have major system issues (about twice per month), your equity or option order may be stuck in their system for anywhere from 5 minutes to more than an hour. They tend to have this problem whenever the market becomes very volatile (most traders trade more frequently on volatile days , but you probably won’t be able to with CIBC)
    The positive side of this is that if your order takes longer than 5 minutes to be approved, and if you call to complain enough or threaten enough, CIBC will pay your opportunity cost (you must be able to show that your trade would have been filled if approved within 3 minutes, so don’t use a limit price really close to the market price). This process requires a lot of time on the phone though.

  16. Nikolai on April 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm

    Just made an interesting discovery about Interactive Brokers. I still love them :) but they do have some weirdness too. I was verifying my tax calculations, which I always do with any broker. I have spotted a strange mismatch between my calculated cost basis and what IBC reported in their statements. I never rely on broker’s cost basis because they often do not do it right, they do not account for the things like ROC or reinvestment dividends for ETFs…Long story short, it turned out IBC uses them calculation method that is commonly used in US (IRS-approved) – FIFO. So, not like in Canada where you have to work with average cost. So, in case if you have a position that you have built over time with several purchases and then you sell a part of it, then both the cost basis of the remaining position and the capital gain/loss from the sale will be incorrect. As well as the numbers for any subsequent operations.

    • FrugalTrader on April 8, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      Thanks for the tip Nikolai. Do you have registered accounts with them as well?

      • Nikolai on April 8, 2016 at 12:32 pm

        I do – from the moment they have announced it. So far so good – for RRSPs, spousal RRSP and TFSAs. The only hiccup I have discovered was a “IRA fee” (RSP fee) that they have charged also to our TFSA accounts. But they have fixed the problem promptly after my inquiry.



  17. jz on April 8, 2016 at 9:38 pm

    Hi,

    I came across this post when googling “Tangerine ATON transfer”. I’m in a similar situation now – have RRSP with manulife and want to transfer to a self-directed RRSP account with IB. Looks like transfer from manulife -> other bank -> to IB is the only cost efficient option. My question is, does anyone know if BMO supports ATON?

    Thanks!

    • Nikolai on April 8, 2016 at 11:56 pm

      @jz

      It is not so much of a question if BMO supports ATON (most likely they do) but rather if IBC can do ATON with BMO. I have just logged in to my IBC account and checked what delivering institutions are offered for ATON transfers. The only item in the list that looks like BMO is “BMO Nesbitt Burns”. Not sure what it is. When I click on it I see this prompt:

      “Choose BMO Nesbitt Burns for Investor Line accounts also.

      Enter your account number with 10 digits even though your statement may only show 8. Check with your broker for the additional digits at the end of your account number. An incorrect account number will delay the transfer of assets.”

      But, interestingly enough, I see “Manulife Securities Incorporated” in that list.

      Even if BMO is not in the list, you should check who actually does the account management for them. It may be another company, although I doubt that. For example, I know that Penson does it for several brokers and when I choose “Penson…” I get this prompt:

      “Choose Penson Financial SVS for Disnat Direct, Questrade, optionsXpress Canada and Virtual Brokers accounts.”

      Neither Tangerine nor ING are in that list…

      With something like TD your transfer will cost you about $143+$25+tx, so about $190. The expenses that you cannot recover. Well, you can look at $143 from different perspective – these are RRSP money, tax-free. Still, quite an amount.

      • jz on April 9, 2016 at 12:26 am

        @Nikolai

        Thanks for the detail!!

        I did see Manulife on the list and I tried to initiate the transfer but failed – I guess my RRSP is with other subsidiary of Manulife…

        How did you come up with the $143 + $25? For banks like TD and BMO they seem to have an annual admin fee of $100 if balance is < $25k, and I'm sure will fall into that range if I'm just using them as a proxy, so does it mean additional $100?

        I'm comparing several options and so far I know Questrade will charge a $150 for transfer out (probably + tax too) and seems no other fees apply.

        Thanks!!



      • Nikolai on April 9, 2016 at 8:23 pm

        @jz

        I was assuming that you would be doing cash transfer, not in-kind transfer. Usually the choice of the investment finds with these companies (SunLife, Manulife etc) is so poor that it is either impossible or not practical to do in-kind transfer.

        TD, for example, has two types of self-directed RRSP. One is $100/year, another one is $25/year. It is limited to cash and mutual funds. So, it is going to be $25 for the account and $143 of the full transfer fee.



      • jz on April 9, 2016 at 10:17 pm

        @Nikolai

        Thank you! Very helpful info. I will be doing in-cash transfers so don’t need the $100 account :)



      • Sunil Shegaonkar on April 10, 2016 at 12:57 am

        RSP account transfer is a frustrating headache, and time-consuming.
        Most of all, every financial institution has their own set of fees for one service or the other. I am against such fee-structure, I wish CRA should regulate the transfer fees as well. In-kind transfer may be possible for MF investment via selling & buying back again, it can be risky for equity investment. Depending on type of stocks & quantity, one can easily loose money upward of $100, due to market volatility. It can be time-consuming process, but all financial institutions have to provide the in-kind transfers if they support the same services on their platforms. Many of them do not provide services to our satisfaction even after paying fees.



      • Nikolai on April 11, 2016 at 12:59 pm

        @Sunil Shegaonkar,

        I would not say that RRSP account transfer is such a horrible experience. What is better – do a bit of paperwork and enjoy a rich choice of investment tools or continue losing money in these company-assisted RRSPs with SunLife/ManuLife and others where you have like 5-8 mutual funds with MERs over 2.5%? I did a couple of transfers in the past. The idea was to prepare for them in advance, slowly sell your positions in these mutual funds over time. Then you are all-cash and you do your transfer.



  18. Sunil Shegaonkar on April 9, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    Most brokering company will have provision for in-kind transfer, because they cannot ask the client to sell their securities at other fin institution and then buy on their platform. Transfer from one institution to another is big headache and on top there are hefty fees charged. I do not know why the fees are not regulated by BoC, that will just simply the whole scenario.

  19. Jason on April 11, 2016 at 12:24 am

    How have you found trading with IB ? Is it as bad as everyone says it is? I am with Questrade but the commissions are way to high and they seem to have hired cheap help for their customer assistance team.

    • FrugalTrader on April 11, 2016 at 9:34 am

      Note that with IB, you are required to make spend a minimum amount of commission ($10USD/month) or else they will charge you the difference. As well, with IB, data feeds are extra. If you make more than 2 trades a month with Questrade, then IB may be worth it (providing you get data fees from elsewhere).

      • Nikolai on April 11, 2016 at 12:53 pm

        @FrugalTrader (re: $10 fee)

        Yes, but only for the accounts under 100K. I did my math and even if I do the same (modest) number of transactions IBC is cheaper. I was with TDW before. Minimal commission is $9.99, IBC’s monthly fee ;) Sell and buy few covered calls and you are way above $20 in commissions with TDW. I am not even mentioning the crazy $43 assignment fee…



    • jz on April 11, 2016 at 12:48 pm

      I’ve heard both good and bad things about IB and Questrade.

      Tried both platforms and like the IB one better for options trading. In my opinion, if you are serious about trading, you need to find a platform that you are comfortable with.

      IB offers cheap commissions so it’s better for active traders. On the other side, if you are more of a passive or dividend style trader, Questrade might be better as they offer free DRIP.

  20. reader on April 12, 2016 at 11:31 am

    hello,
    I can not see older comments other than those shown on this page. There were some comments I want to review in 2014 and 2015. Anyone can help? Thanks

    • FrugalTrader on April 12, 2016 at 11:54 am

      Thanks for noticing this, it seems to be a bug in the system for displaying older comments.

    • FrugalTrader on April 12, 2016 at 11:56 am

      Problem fixed!

  21. Bill on August 18, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Virtual brokers, to get “commission-free” trades, you have to subscribe to an “application-based trading platform”.
    https://www.virtualbrokers.com/commissions-and-fees
    This costs $150/month
    https://www.virtualbrokers.com/en-us/platform-and-data-fees
    Otherwise, it’s $4.99 – $9.99, same as the others.

  22. Patrick on October 13, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    I have had a Shareowner account for about 10 years. I used to contribute every 3 months and pay the associated fee, but during the great recession I couldn’t afford it so stopped contributing. Since then I have paid zero fees, and I’m up 350 %. I don’t fool around with it- I just get a notification of dividends reinvested every so often.
    They have tried to upsell me to a managed account, but I haven’t seen too many managed accounts that are up 350% in the last 7 years.
    I did look into transferring the stocks into an RRSP or TFSA, but they have have fees associated with these. I’m not worried about capital gains tax, because I have enough losses in my other active brokerage accounts (TD Waterhouse and Thinkorswim) to offset my gains for a while. I have learned that it is far more lucrative to just re-invest dividends and compound gains than it is to fool around buying and selling. I’m sure some people are successful traders, but I have proven to myself that I fall into the 97 % that are not.
    Shareowner also calculates your adjusted cost base, eliminating the tax nightmare associated with taxable re-invested dividends.
    W.r.t. commissions and TOS, in the USA you can get a $0.99 per contract fee, with the $9.99 waived. Unfortunately this is not available to Canadians. If anyone can figure out how to get the reduced commission schedule without having to become a resident of USA, please share…

  23. Marni on February 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    What about the dilemma of a US-dollar RRSP account that does NOT drip (BMO Investorline). They have auto drip for Cdn equities but not US! This to me is a huge disadvantage and I’d love to hear feedback. Are there any US dollar RRSP accounts that have auto drip for US equities?

  24. junior on July 25, 2017 at 12:00 am

    Hi,

    Do you know if Interactive Brokers charges withholding tax for stock on TSX when DIV is paid in USD?

  25. Lisa on April 20, 2018 at 10:04 am

    This is soooo helpful! I have a question for you. Still looking to leave my FT job with my defined pension.

    Now I have a question for you. I probably have 30/40K, obviously looking to transfer it to a LIRA but also supposed to go live in the US next year. What would you recommend? Transfer this pension over to Questrade (or something better maybe?) or look into USD options. Although not great with conversion! As a rule of thumb, when you want to invest USD, is there a website you would recommend? I am also a freelancer and making USD. Will soon be only making USD working from home.

    Thanks a bunch!!

    • FT on April 20, 2018 at 12:27 pm

      Lisa, before you transfer, did you compare the benefit of keeping the pension in place vs taking the commuted value? Would you retain health benefits if you keep it in place?

      IF you are looking to invest with USD dollars, any of the discount brokers will do. We’ve had good success with Questrade, BMO is also good for transferring funds back and forth from CAD/USD.

  26. Lisa on April 20, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    I haven’t just yet but since I am looking at moving to the US I would honestly prefer to invest this money myself. I need to check for health benefits but since I don’t think that I’ll be living in Canada when I retire (not even being from CA originally) I couldn’t care less at this time to be honest with you!

    Am I wrong though?

    • Lisa on April 20, 2018 at 4:20 pm

      Oh yeah and forgot to mention that I have only contributed to this pension plan for 3 years so I don’t think that I will get much anyway.

  27. FT on April 20, 2018 at 4:25 pm

    Sounds like you are making the right move. One thing though, I believe that Canadian brokerages require either Canadian citizenship or Canadian residency.

    • Lisa on April 20, 2018 at 4:59 pm

      I am Canadian so that shouldn’t be an issue. However, that’s a silly question but can I keep all my accounts if I leave Canada? I think it has been the biggest concern for me since I am afraid that I may have to close all the accounts at some points! However I should be able to keep my LIRA open if if I leave right?

      I just don’t want to invest in CAD funds if I then need to close everything because I am no longer a resident.

      • FT on April 21, 2018 at 2:15 pm

        You’ll need to confirm with an accountant, but you may need to file a Canadian tax return if you maintain Canadian assets (RRSP/LIRA is exempt I believe). I’d be interested to hear what you find out about the taxation issues when moving to another country.



      • Lisa on September 5, 2018 at 4:22 pm

        Hello!

        Just wanted to follow up to let you know that I have now fully received the check from the DB Plan and opened a LIRA. After checking with my bank, I will keep both the LIRA and my RRSP if I move to the US but will need to close my TFSA.

        Since I am still slowly learning about stocks and equity, my LIRA has been opened (for now) with one of the big banks but I plan to do it online when I am more confident about investments.

        Getting my cheque was surprisingly extremely fast. (Less than 3 weeks) which is almost extraordinary for PSPP! Some of it was in cash and taxed at a 30% rate which… well, it is what it is.



      • FT on September 6, 2018 at 8:43 am

        Congrats on getting everything figured out! All the best!



  28. Steve on June 5, 2018 at 8:30 pm

    Scotia iTrade is the worst!! Buy and sell US stocks in the same account and they will charge you big FX costs to do nothing, i.e. to change USD into USD. These fees dwarf the trading commission. The only way to avoid these fees at Scotia is to pay another fee! All for doing nothing. Meanwhile all the other brokers have zero cost for this kind of transaction (and no fee on top of that).

    • sunny on June 5, 2018 at 11:52 pm

      I am surprised and shocked to see USD to USD Fx charge !!
      You can approach the regulators after complaining with itrade.
      BTW, which one the best brokerage for dealing with 100-150 trades per Quarter ?

      • Steve on July 24, 2018 at 10:48 pm

        Tell me which regulators you think can be approached about Scotia’s ludicrous FX charges? OSFI really only deals with banking, not dealers. And the OSC will laugh you off the block if you ask them about FX because they do not consider FX to be a security. As far as regulation of FX goes, fair treatment of customers means nothing.



  29. HW on July 28, 2018 at 1:38 pm

    I recently discovered that sometimes a trade takes 4 business days to settle for Questrade. I bought it on a Friday just before close and it showed it settled on the folloing Wednesday. Usually I don’t pay attention to the actual settlement date, but this one time I did pay attention and it surprised me. I wonder if it’s normal for all brokers.

  30. sunny on July 28, 2018 at 2:45 pm

    HW,
    Generally T+2 days is the norm set few years ago. That is the notification I received from Questrade. Now I have only RSP with Questrade. Before that notification, it was T+3 days. I just wonder if that late settlement hampered your trading. In that case you must contact Questrade.

  31. Ferris on June 24, 2019 at 6:23 pm

    Hi,
    My Scotia Itrade acct has CAD and USD cash balances. Why do you say NO to USD RRSP. To me, it has.

    Ferris

    • FT on June 25, 2019 at 11:04 am

      Thanks for noticing that – updated!

  32. Graeme on August 30, 2019 at 4:08 am

    hi! I have a LIRA at RBC with a reasonable chunk of change ready for investing. ( > $50 000). I was thinking about using the Dogs of the TSX/DJI method (appreciate thoughts/comments on that) plus some diversification. Also wondering about your thoughts as to which company would be better suited for this type of investing … a lot more passive with only about 25 – 30 trades initially and fewer per year after that.

    Thank you for your insight!

  33. Joy Joseph on February 1, 2020 at 5:26 pm

    Does anyone know how to purchase individual stocks, for example, most of the time we buy presents to children during their birthdays, instead is it possible that we can buy an individual stock like TD Bank or Royal bank. It will be an invaluable present for their future.

  34. RG on February 2, 2020 at 12:55 pm

    What online brokerages offer D and F series mutual funds so you can buy mutual funds with lower fees?

  35. Mike on February 2, 2020 at 10:20 pm

    Curious why CIBC Investor’s Edge didn’t even make the list of also-rans. $6.95 per trade and no charge to set up DRIPs. No annual fees if you maintain a decent balance. They do charge to buy ETFs but so do others who made the list. I’ve been with them for years – very happy. They offer a large array of mutual funds. I’m not an active trader so I don’t often use their research tools but they’re fairly complete – symbol lookup, charting, news, financial details, etc. Oh well.

  36. Samantha on February 9, 2020 at 11:31 am

    I got to move to Questtrade, because I’m tired of paying $10 to RBC for small ETF purchases.

    • Mohammad Usman on April 24, 2020 at 12:34 pm

      Can someone help me which brokers can I register with to trad on Canadians TSX

      • sunny on April 24, 2020 at 8:06 pm

        Mohammad Usman,
        There are several brokering companies that can provide you with a self-directed trading account. You can search for discount brokers in Canada, all result is ready.
        You can also check their commission and fees, comparison of.
        Qtrade, Questrade, CIBC investor Edge, TD, RBC, SCOTIA – all of them provide services to that end.



  37. Rommel on June 8, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    I’m from Canada. Is Wealthsimple Trade good for a beginner like?

    • Kyle Prevost on June 8, 2020 at 5:33 pm

      It really depends what you want to do with a discount brokerage account Rommel. If you want to day-trade stocks (which I don’t recommend) then no. If you’re looking for a cheap/free way to invest in index funds – then yes!

  38. KimberyAsh on June 20, 2020 at 11:08 pm

    I’ve had a joint cheq/sav account and a HELOC with BMO for the last 12 yrs. I don’t make more than 6 or 7 trades a year, but since the fee’s are waived – as my balance is well over the minimum – and the price per transaction is pretty competitive, I haven’t had the need to switch. Been pretty happy with them providing my primary banking needs for some time.

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