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Updated: August 03, 2023

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6 Best online brokerages in Canada for 2023

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Updated: August 03, 2023

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware this post may contain links to products from our partners. We may receive a commission for products or services you sign up for through partner links.

Self-directed investing has exploded in popularity thanks to online brokers driving down costs and making it easy for investors to manage their own portfolios. Gone are the days of $29 trades. Today, investors can trade stocks and ETFs for free from their mobile devices or access robust market research tools and charts to help them trade like a pro.

An online broker lets you buy and sell stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds online within your trading account. They’re often called “online brokerage” or “discount brokerage” because this trading method is more cost-effective than a traditional brokerage.

Using an online broker, you’re the boss: you make the investment decisions and choose what to purchase. While you can purchase individual stocks and bonds through your online broker, most DIY investors opt to build their portfolios out of ETFs. This strategy lets you build a highly diversified portfolio without worrying about purchasing dozens of individual stocks.

But with so many platforms out there, you may be asking, “What’s the best online brokerage in Canada for me?” To help you get started, we’ve put together a guide comparing the best online brokers in Canada, as well as some tips on how to choose the best trading platform in Canada for you.

Summary of the best online brokerages in Canada 2023

Best for
Overall Best Trading Platform in Canada
Start Investing with Questrade and get $50 in Free Trades (when you fund your account with $1,000
Best for Commission-Free Trading in Canada
For a limited time, get a $25 cash bonus when you open a Wealthsimple Trade account and fund at least $150
Best Big Bank Brokerage
Best for Stock Trading
Best for Customer Service
Get a $50 bonus for each new Qtrade account you open and fund, up to $150. Use BONUS150 and our exclusive link to qualify. Terms and conditions apply.
Best for Research

1. Questrade: Overall best trading platform in Canada

  • Rating: 9.6/10
  • Account maintenance fees: $0 per year
  • Trading commission: $4.95 – $9.95 + Free ETF purchases

Already got an investment account with another institution? Moving your investments to Questrade is easy. Just fill out an online form and Questrade will handle the transfer. Plus, it covers any transfer fees up to $150 per account.

On the downside, the account minimum is $1,000. So if you’ve got less than that to invest, you might want to go with a commission-free trading platform (like Wealthsimple Trade account) instead. Investors should also watch out for ECN fees, which are charged on buy/sell orders that are filled immediately (avoid these by placing limit orders).

Questrade login screen

Related: Questrade review

Questrade pros and cons



  • Low trading fees for Canadian and US stocks
  • No annual fees or inactivity fees
  • Free ETF purchases
  • Pays transfer fees up to $150
  • Instantly deposit up to $3,500 into your Questrade account and start trading immediately.


  • Need a minimum of $1,000 in your account to start investing
  • ECN fees charged on buy/sell market orders
Visit Questrade

2. Wealthsimple Trade: Best for commission-free trading in Canada

  • Rating: 9/10
  • Account maintenance fees: $0 per year
  • Trading commission: $0

If you’re looking for the best commission-free trading platform in Canada, Wealthsimple Trade account allows you to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, and even crypto without paying any fees. There are also no account minimums, annual fees, or inactivity fees. So you can test-drive the platform without getting hit with trading fees for each transaction.

If you’ve got investments at another institution, you can move them to Wealthsimple Trade using your desktop, mobile phone, or tablet. It also won’t cost you a dime to do this: Wealthsimple Trade also reimburses transfer fees for investment transfers that are greater than $5,000 in value.

Wealthsimple login screen

The downside: Wealthsimple Trade currently only supports RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered account types, and clients can only hold Canadian dollars.

Related: Wealthsimple Trade review

Wealthsimple Trade pros and cons



  • Commission-free trading
  • Buy fractional shares
  • $0 annual fees
  • Offers crypto trading
  • Reimburses transfer fees for investment transfers that are greater than $5,000 in value


  • Limited account types (RRSP, TFSA, non-registered)
  • Can’t hold USD so clients pay FX fees when buying and selling US-listed stocks and ETFs with a free account
Visit Wealthsimple Trade

3. BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed: Best online brokerage with a big bank

  • Rating: 8.5/10
  • Account maintenance fees: $0 - $100 per year
  • Trading commission: $9.95

BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed is an excellent choice for anyone looking to get started with an online discount brokerage at a big bank who doesn’t want to pay commissions on ETF trades.

BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed is an excellent choice for anyone looking to get started with an online discount brokerage at a big bank who doesn’t want to pay commissions on ETF trades.

In 2021, BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed launched an impressive list of 80 commission-free ETFs for clients to trade (including Vanguard, iShares, and BMO ETFs).

BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed’s user-friendly portal, along with its impressive library of third-party research and solid customer service, will help you invest with confidence, whether you are a seasoned investor or a complete beginner.

BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed isn’t the least expensive discount brokerage, with fees on accounts under $25,000. Still, their zero minimum balance requirement, 80 commission-free ETFs, and award-winning platform are enough to overcome any drawbacks.

Related: BMO InvestorLine Review

BMO InvestorLine pros and cons



  • 80+ commission-free ETFs to trade
  • Excellent online and mobile app
  • Hold USD and CAD in non-registered and registered accounts
  • Great third-party research
  • $0 minimum account balance for RRSPs and TFSAs


  • $9.95 per trade on stocks and ETFs that aren’t included in the 80 commission-free list
  • $100 for account balances less than $25,000
Visit BMO InvestorLine Self-Directed

4. CIBC Investor’s Edge: Best for stock trading

  • Rating: 7.5/10
  • Account maintenance fees: $0-$100 per year
  • Trading commission: $6.95 per online equity trades only

CIBC Investor’s Edge is the discount brokerage arm of CIBC Investor Services Inc. and a subsidiary of CIBC bank. Its newly redesigned website has given the platform a nice user experience.

CIBC Investor’s Edge offers flat fee commissions of $6.95 for stock and ETF trades. That’s the cheapest of all the big bank brokerages, although CIBC doesn’t offer any commission-free ETF trading.

Clients won’t pay account fees when they hold more than $25,000 in their RRSP and more than $10,000 in a non-registered account (TFSAs and RESPs are free).

CIBC Investor’s Edge pros and cons



  • Flat fee stock and ETF trading at $6.95 (lowest among all big bank brokers)
  • Newly designed website
  • Advanced quotes and research


  • No commission-free ETFs
Visit CIBC Investor’s Edge

5. Qtrade: Best for customer service

Related: Questrade review

Qtrade is a good alternative to Questrade and has a reputation for amazing customer service, ranking in the top 1 or 2 in Surviscor’s annual brokerage reviews. The company is trustworthy, too. Operating since 2001, a division of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc., Qtrade has $12 billion in assets and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.

If you’re interested in trading ETFs, Qtrade offers over 100 commission-free options. These ETFs cost you nothing to buy or sell with no minimums required, making this a good option for easy and diversified investing at any level.

Maintaining an account with Qtrade is slightly more expensive than Questrade, but still very cost-effective, setting you back $100 per year for portfolios with less than $25,000 in combined assets. This fee is waived if any of the following apply: it is less than one quarter since account opening, you have $25,000 or more in assets, completed 2 commissioned trades in the last quarter, completed 8 commissioned trades in the last 12 months, set up a $100/mo recurring deposit, qualify for the Young Investor offer.

Most investors will pay $8.75 per trade with Qtrade, and there are no account minimums. If you incur fees when transferring your assets to Qtrade, they will cover $150 or more in tax when transferring $15,000 or more.

To better understand what you get with Qtrade, read and compare Qtrade vs. Questrade in our review.

Qtrade pros and cons



  • Second-to-none portfolio analytics tools and multiple portfolio views
  • In-depth research and analysts’ reports
  • Stock/ETF/mutual fund screening tools
  • $8.75 and $6.95 stock trades and 100 free ETFs (free to buy and sell, no minimums)
  • Use stop-loss, stop-limit, trailing-stop orders


  • Fees for portfolios smaller than $25,000 may apply
Visit Qtrade!

6. CI Direct Trading (formerly Virtual Brokers): Best online broker in Canada for research

Rating: 7/10

Account maintenance fees: $0 - $100 per year

CI Direct Trading logo

Trading commission: $1.99 to $7.99

CI Direct Trading ( formerly Virtual Brokers) is one of the best online brokers in Canada, with offerings on par with Questrade and Qtrade.

CI Direct Trading offers free ETF trades, which is perfect for index investors, and they charge 1 cent per share for stock trading (minimum $1.99, maximum $7.99). There is a $25 per quarter fee on accounts with balances under $5,000.

CI Direct Trading has several trading platforms to choose from and a huge research center to help you stay ahead of the curve when making trades.

Related: Virtual Brokers (now CI Direct Trading) review

CI Direct Trading pros and cons



  • Free ETF purchases
  • Stock trades at 1 cent per share (minimum $1.99)
  • No fees for accounts over $5,000
  • Excellent research tools for beginner to advanced investors
  • Robust investment performance reporting options


  • $1,000 minimum account balance

Comparing the best online brokerages in Canada

Online Investing Platform
Account Minimum
Commissions per equity trade
Free ETF Transactions
Mobile/Desktop Trading
Paid Transfer Fees
$4.95 - $9.95
Yes (purchase only)
Up to $150 per account
Yes, for investment transfers greater than $5,000.
80 commission-free ETFs
$6.95 per online equity trades only
100 commission-free ETFs
Up to $150
CI Direct Trading
$1.99 - $7.99
Yes (purchase only)
Up to $150


  • How do online trading platforms work?


    Online brokers have democratized investing for investors who are willing and able to self-manage their own portfolios. Clients can build their own portfolio of stocks and/or ETFs online or from their mobile device. Trades can be made with a click (or tap) of a few buttons. Most importantly, online brokers have reduced trading fees to as low as zero in many cases, making it easy and cost-effective for investors to build and manage their own investments.

  • Why should I use an online brokerage?


    What is the benefit of purchasing your own investments directly and rebalancing manually when your investments slip out of their ideal asset allocation? There is one thing that draws in DIY investors: low fees.

    The reason that most DIY investors choose to work with an online broker is to minimize the management expense ratio (MER) they pay on their investments. MERs are the management fees associated with individual funds. MERs are expressed as a percentage of your assets and vary depending on the style of investing you choose.

    Mutual funds in Canada have some of the highest MERs in the world, at an average of 2.5%. Robo advisors offer a lower MER, usually less than 1%. DIY investing offers the lowest MER possible, with a portfolio of ETFs easily coming in at 0.25% or less.

    The differences in these fees may not seem like much, but they can erode thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars from your portfolio, given a long enough time horizon.

  • How much do online brokers charge?


    Big bank brokerages typically have the highest trading fees at $9.99 per trade for stocks and ETFs. But many online brokers offer commission-free ETFs and low cost stock trading. Online brokers may charge other fees, such as an account fee for small balances, or an inactivity fee for accounts with no trades over a period of time.

  • Are online brokers safe?


    Yes! Online brokers are members of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), which protects your cash and securities in the event of a member firm’s insolvency. CIPF protection covers $1 million for combined general accounts (cash, margin, TFSA), $1 million for combined registered accounts (RRSPs, RRIFs, and LIFs), plus $1 million for all RESPs.

  • What is the best trading platform in Canada?


    Our extensive research into Canada’s online brokers found that Questrade offers the best trading platform in Canada thanks to its free ETF purchases, no account fees, availability of every account type, and extensive trading tools.

The bottom line

When it comes to getting the most out of your portfolio, the best option is to invest your money yourself, cutting out the middle person and vastly reducing the fees you’ll pay over the lifetime of your investments. While using an online broker to invest your money may seem intimidating at first, a simple portfolio built out of ETFs will give you the growth needed to reach a comfortable retirement, while keeping you in the driver’s seat of your money.

All of the online brokers listed above are good choices, but each has strengths and areas for improvement. However, if you’re looking to take the hassle out of DIY investing plus save big on fees, Questrade is your best bet and our top choice for the best online brokerage in Canada. Ultimately, the right one for you depends on your financial situation, but it’s not a question of if you should switch to an online broker to manage your money – it’s when.

Online brokerage services are offered through Qtrade Direct Investing, a division of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc. Qtrade, Qtrade Direct Investing, and Write Your Own Future are trade names and/or trademarks of Aviso Wealth.

About our authors: faces of finance

Jordann Brown
Jordann Brown, Author
Robb Engen
Robb Engen, Author

Jordann Brown is a freelance personal finance writer whose areas of expertise include debt management, homeownership and budgeting. She is based in Halifax and has written for publications including The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, and CBC.

Robb Engen is a leading expert in the personal finance realm of Canada and is also the co-founder of Boomer & Echo, an award-winning personal finance blog. You can find his monthly column in the Toronto Star’s Smart Money section or see him featured in well-known financial publications, like the Globe & Mail, Financial Post, MoneySense, CBC, and Global News. He is a fee-only advisor who helps Canadians at all different stages get their finances on track and prepare for retirement. Robb lives with his wife and two daughters, who keep his life and hands full, in Lethbridge, Alberta.


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