Whether you’re just starting out in the world of investing or have some experience, it’s important to have access to a trading platform that works best with your investment strategy. Thankfully, there are a variety of stock trading platforms in Canada, many of which are commission-free. Free stock trading platforms can help you save on trading fees that may cut your profits. Depending on the investment platform you use, you can save up to $10 when buying and selling your stocks.
What Makes A Stock Trading Platform Free?
Trading stocks traditionally comes with commission fees, which generally cost up to $9.99 per trade. Instead, ‘free’ stock trading platforms do not come with any commissions on trades. Zero-commission stock trading has garnered plenty of attention from investors looking to keep a little more money in their pockets on trades.
That said, there may still be certain fees charged aside from commissions on trades, such as administrative, upgrade, and inactivity fees. Moreover, rather than charging separate fees, these companies will use spreads to cover their costs.
What Are Spreads?
You might not have to pay any commissions on each trade with a zero-commission trading app, but these platforms still make money in other ways, including through something called the ‘spread’. This represents the difference between the price that a broker buys an asset for and the price they sell it at. Brokers typically sell assets to investors for a slightly higher price than what they pay for it, and buy it back from investors at a lower price than the asset’s true market value
Best Free Stock Trading Platforms
Here are a few commission-free trading platforms to consider to make trading your investments easy and affordable.
|Wealthsimple Trade||TD Easy Trade||National Bank Direct Brokerage||Desjardins Online Brokerage||MogoTrade|
|Trading Commissions||$0 on stocks and ETFs||-$0 on first 50 stock trades|
-$9.99 per trade after
|-$0 on stocks and ETFs||-$0 on stocks and ETFs||$0 on stocks and ETFs|
|Account Minimum||None||None||$20,000 |
($100 fee charged if less than this amount)
($30 fee charged if less than this amount)
|Types of Investments||-Stocks|
|Best For||Traders looking for a well-rounded platform||Beginners||Traders who want access to many investment types||Traders who want advanced tools||Environmentally-conscious traders|
Wealthsimple Trade is a popular investing platform in Canada, and the first in the country to offer zero-commission stock trades since the app launched in 2019. In particular, the app is popular among both self-directed investors and novice traders who appreciate its easy-to-use interface.
The Wealthsimple Trade app is available to traders in Canada, the US, and the UK. Investors can buy and sell stocks, ETFs and crypto through its platform. Moreover, it offers both registered (RRSP and TFSA) and non-registered investment accounts.
Wealthsimple Trade Features
- Fractional share trading. This allows you to purchase small portions of stocks, which means you don’t need thousands of dollars to purchase blue-chip stocks like Google, Apple, Microsoft and other high-valued stocks.
- No account minimums. You don’t need to meet any investment minimums to trade on Wealthsimple Trade. You can start investing with as little as $1.
- Robo-advisor platform. If you’re new to investing and prefer someone else to manage your investments, you can automate your investments with Wealthsimple’s robo-advisor. That too, without the sky-high fees that are typical with traditional brokerages.
Wealthsimple Trade is a free stock trading app, there are no fees for trading, withdrawing or depositing. Wealthsimple Trade makes its money by using a pricing system called “spreads”. Do note, that you may be charged foreign exchange fees for certain trades, but this can be avoided by upgrading to Wealthsimple Trade Plus for $10/month).
TD Easy Trade
One of Canada’s Big 5 banks, TD Bank, has its own online trading platform that offers commission-free stock trading. TD Easy Trade was designed with beginner investors in mind and boasts an easy-to-use interface. There is no account minimum, though the free trades end once you’ve made 50 trades in a year. After that, each trade will cost $9.99.
With TD Easy Trade, investors can trade stocks, TD ETF and some ADRs. You can invest using registered accounts (TFSA, RRSP) or individual cash accounts.
TD Easy Trade Features
- Educational tools. Use TD’s “how to” videos, webinars, and live master classes to learn as you go and build a solid investment portfolio.
- Licensed investment reps available. If you need help with your investments, you can easily access licensed trade reps via the TD Easy Trade Contact Center.
- No account minimums. You don’t need thousands of dollars to start trading with TD Easy Trade.
As mentioned above, TD Easy Trade comes with 50 free stock trades a year. After which, each trade would cost $9.99. There are no account minimums, so you can start trading with as little as you want. Moreover, you get unlimited zero-commission trades for TD ETFs. There’s also no account maintenance fees which can often eat away at your profits.
National Bank Direct Brokerage
National Bank Direct Brokerage is a division of the bank of the same name, which is one of the biggest banks in Canada. The investing platform offers zero-commission trading on equities and ETFs. Most mutual fund trades are also commission-free, but some conditions apply. Investors can buy or sell stocks, bonds, ETFs, options, mutual funds and GICs using the National Bank Direct Brokerage platform. You can use it to invest in registered accounts (RRSP, RESP, TFSA) or taxable investment accounts (personal and corporate).
National Bank Direct Brokerage Features
- Educational tools. Get ideas for new investments from National Bank Direct Brokerage articles and analyses.
- Watchlists. Build a watchlist of stocks you’re keeping an eye on to keep track of their price fluctuations.
- 24/7 virtual assistant. Get your questions answered around the clock with the online brokerage’s virtual assistant.
With National Bank Direct Brokerage, there are no commission fees on all stock and ETF transactions online and there are no minimums required to start trading. Options also have zero commission fees, however, there is a $1.25 charge per contract. Certain investment funds also come with no transaction fees including BMO Guardian Funds, CGF Mutual Funds Corp., TD Asset Management Inc. and many more.
Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat)
Desjardins Online Brokerage is a credit-union-owned stock trading platform that does not charge any trading commissions when you buy or sell equities and ETFs on its Disnat Classic platform. Most mutual funds are also commission-free, though some exceptions apply. This platform is designed specifically with newbie investors in mind thanks to its user-friendly interface and research tools.
Investors can use Disnat to invest in stocks, bonds, options, ETFs, mutual funds, treasury bills and new issues. Like Wealthsimple Trade, Disnat offers both registered accounts (RRSP, RESP, TFSA, RRIF, LIRA, LIF) and non-registered accounts (cash and margin). However, there is a minimum investment requirement of $1,000 to start trading with Desjardins Online Brokerage.
Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat) Features
- Real-time quotes. Get up-to-the-minute updates on stock prices every time you refresh your screen.
- Simple navigation. Easily find what you’re looking for with Disnat’s easy-to-use navigation system.
- Customizable charts. Upgrade to Disnat Direct and enjoy fully customized charts, as well as real-time streaming and unlimited quotes.
With Disnat, there are no commission fees on all equities and ETF transactions. Most mutual funds also have zero commission fees. For Options, there’s a minimum $8.75 fee per options transaction ($1.25 per contract). There’s also a $30 quarterly inactivity fee for accounts with less than $15,000.
One of the newer trading platforms in Canada is MogoTrade, which also offers free stock trading to Canadian investors for stocks and ETFs. The platform is owned by fintech firm Mogo, which also provides a host of other services including online wealth management, personal loans, free credit scores, and a prepaid credit card.
A unique aspect of MogoTrade is its environmentally-conscious focus. Each investment made will contribute to improving the health of the planet. More specifically, the platform is dedicated to helping replenish Canadian forests through its partnership with companies like Flash Forest.
The Mogo commission-free trading platform is currently unavailable but will be launching soon. Right now, you can add your name to a waitlist until the platform is out of its beta mode. In the meantime, you can use the platform’s free live-streaming to begin tracking stock prices and build your watchlist.
- Environmentally conscious. Each investment you make helps restore Canadian forests destroyed by wildfires by planting more trees.
- Short-term loans. In addition to trading, you can also use Mogo to get access to short-term loans, even if your credit is poor.
- Platinum Prepaid Visa card. To help build your credit scores, you can take advantage of Mogo’s prepaid credit card that lets you earn 2% cash back in Bitcoin.
The MogoTrade app is a commission-free trading app for stocks and ETFs.
How To Choose The Best Free Stock Trading Platform In Canada
Before you pick a free stock trading platform, consider the following factors first:
- Fees. While the trading platform you’re looking at may not charge any commissions on trades, there may be other fees that you’ll be stuck paying, including admin fees. Be sure to look at all fees you’ll have to pay to get a clear picture of what it will cost you to use the platform you choose.
- Investment accounts. You may have specific investment goals in mind, and if so, the type of investment accounts available to you will matter. Find out what accounts the trading platform offers, such as registered accounts and non-registered taxable accounts.
- Investment types. Are you looking to simply trade stocks and ETFs? Or are you looking for more of a variety of investment types? Different platforms may offer different options such as mutual funds, GICs, and other investments.
- Minimum account balance. If you’re only planning to trade in small amounts, then a platform that does not have any minimum requirements would be best.
- Order types. Depending on whether you’re a beginner or a more advanced trader, you’ll want to find out what order types are available to you, such as market, stop order, or limit, among others.
- Security. The trading brokerage you select should be registered as a member of CIPF or IIROC, which will ensure that your assets are protected up to $1 million in case the brokerage goes under. Other security features to protect your account, such as encryption and 2-factor authentication, are also helpful.
Is zero-commission trading in Canada free?
What is the best stock trading platform for beginners in Canada?
Is Questrade free?
Does Qtrade offer free stock trading?
Ultimately, the free stock trading platform you choose should match your needs and trading style. Some may be better suited for novice investors who don’t need a variety of investment products to choose from, while others may be better for more advanced traders looking for more options to invest in. Consider your investing style before choosing the best trading platform for you.
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