Top 5 Trading Platforms in Canada

Top 5 Trading Platforms in Canada

Top 5 Trading Platforms in Canada

What Is a Trading Platform?

In simple terms, a trading platform is software that allows investors to place trades and monitor accounts via an online broker.

Platforms can be used to trade a variety of different products including:

A trading platform makes the markets more accessible, creating a bridge between individuals and previously difficult-to-negotiate financial markets. By investing with a trading platform, you may find it quicker and easier to build your investment portfolio.

Whether you have some trading experience or are completely new to the concept, there is a platform for you.

Key Points for Choosing a Trading Platform

When trying to decide which platform is best for you, there are many things to consider. As everyone is unique, nobody is going to have exactly the same financial needs as you. So, it is important to make sure that whichever platform you choose is the best one for your individual needs.

First, decide what type of trading you want to do. Many platforms specifically deal with one sort of trade, such as forex or stocks. Choose one that specializes in your preference.

Next, consider how much you are willing to commit to investing. Many of the free or low-cost trading platforms will have minimum investments, so make sure that you are comfortable committing to that amount each month.

Type of Platform

When considering investing via a trading platform, there are two main types to choose from:

  • Prop platforms – Created by brokers and tailored to their individual preferences. Prop platforms are popular with experienced brokers and traders who appreciate the complex features usually available to them on these platforms.

  • Commercial platforms – Created by businesses and usually less specific than prop platforms. Commercial platforms are generally more popular with people who are new to trading platforms as they tend to be more user-friendly.

Your Financial Position and Long-Term Goals

Each platform will offer something slightly different from the next, so you will need to consider your current financial position and what you hope to gain from trading. For example, are you hoping to make money quickly over the short term, or are you prepared to wait for a longer-term investment?

All platforms will have fees or a commission process of some kind, although some may not charge initially to set up an account.

Also check:

  • Whether there are any minimum investment requirements
  • Whether the platform charges commission
  • What the withdrawal and transfer fees are
  • Whether you will be charged if your account becomes inactive

Minimum Deposits and Fees

Trading platforms vary enormously when it comes to minimum deposit requirements and fees. Some work on a commission structure whereas others will charge a set amount to complete trades.

Some platforms require a minimum deposit when you open an account, and you may find that you are unable to trade if your balance is below a set limit. There may also be charges for accounts that are not very active.

The type of platform and fee structure that you choose will vary depending on how much you are looking to invest and how active you plan on being. Read through each platform's fee structure before deciding on the best one for you.

Analytical Tools

If a platform offers a large array of analytical and research tools, it is probably aimed at more experienced users. This does not mean that the platform is entirely unsuitable for beginner traders, but it may be worth considering whether you are going to understand all of the available tools.

Although it is nice to be able to consult a wide variety of data sources, sometimes less is more when starting out on a trading platform.

Educational Resources

If you are new to trading, it may be worth checking whether your preferred platform offers educational resources.

These will help you to learn the financial jargon and skills that you may need. Some platforms offer demo accounts and educational tools to help investors build their knowledge.

Platforms targeted at more experienced investors will not have as many of these options available or will feature educational tools and resources which are more targeted at building on established knowledge.

Real-Time Feed and News

Some platforms will offer real-time updates and information; others will offer delayed updates which may be more detailed as the data has been analyzed before being made available.

Finding out which type of data you prefer can help you to find a trading platform that offers information and updates more suited to you.

Customer Support

How much support do you feel you will need? Some platforms offer 24/7 support and chat functions whereas others only offer customer support during business hours or via email which can take two to three working days to be processed.

If you are new to trading or not particularly computer literate, you may wish to consider a platform with more support or one with a good FAQ section.

Alerts

How much time do you have available to manage your account? If you are unable to constantly monitor the platform, it may be worth considering a platform that can send out alerts and manage actions for you. This will enable you to get on with other things while your account does what you want it to.

Types of Investment

There are many different types of investment available. Research these thoroughly so that you can choose one which feels best for your personal needs.

Once you have chosen which type of investment you want, you will be able to narrow down the seemingly endless list of trading platforms to those that specialize in your chosen form of investment.

If you are unsure which type of investment you prefer, there are still options available. Some platforms will specialize in more than one type, and it is always possible to have accounts on more than one platform.

Ease of Use

Some platforms are designed for people with advanced trading knowledge. These often have complex user interfaces and use language which may be difficult to understand if you are new to investing. You may also find that some platforms are not suited to people with limited computer skills.

Choose a platform that you are confident you can begin using straight away. You will be spending a considerable amount of time tracking and managing your investments, so it is vital that you are able to quickly and easily access the information you require. If you choose to upgrade to a more complex system in the future, this is relatively easy to do.

Security

It is easy to assume that all trading platforms are secure, but you should always check that it is listed on the stock exchange and fully regulated. Whichever platform you choose will have access to your financial information, so you need to choose one with the safest possible login and security settings.

The Top 5 Trading Platforms in Canada

All five of the following trading platforms are regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), and investors are protected up to the value of $1 million per account by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).

Top 5 Trading Platforms in Canada
Top 5 Trading Platforms in Canada

1. Questrade

Established in 1999, Questrade is only available to Canadian residents and offers a wide variety of investment options.

Key features:

  • Automatic portfolio-building feature
  • Web and mobile platforms
  • Low trading fees starting at $4.95 for stock trades
  • Real-time data (requires a subscription)
  • Easy-to-use interfaces and instructional videos
  • Customer support via phone (office hours), email, online chat and live brokers (market hours)
  • Two-step login, with biometric options available for the mobile app
  • Minimum trading balance of $1,000
  • No inactivity fee
  • Robo-advisor service available

Visit Questrade

2. QTrade

QTrade was founded in 2000 and is available to Canadian and US residents. Because of its long history, QTrade is considered one of the safest trading platforms available.

Key features:

  • No minimum deposit required when opening an account
  • Commission is charged at $8.75 per trade
  • You will be charged an inactivity fee if you do not meet the minimum number of trades or deposits within a quarter (no fee for accounts with a balance of over $25,000)
  • No withdrawal fees
  • Web and mobile platforms
  • One-step login with the option of setting security questions
  • Customer support via phone (office hours) and email
  • Demo account, tutorials and instructional videos available
  • Accounts closed within the first 12 months will be charged $100 plus tax

Visit QTrade

3. Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers launched in 2000 and is part of the Interactive Brokers Group which was founded in 1978.

Key features:

  • Delayed market data is available free of charge. Live data requires a subscription.
  • Web and mobile platforms
  • A variety of platforms are available, suited to both beginner and experienced investors
  • There are inactivity fees of up to US$20 per month if the account balance is below US$100,000
  • $50 withdrawal or closure fee
  • Quarterly management fee of $12.50
  • Wide range of products available
  • Net worth or minimum income restrictions apply to many of the accounts
  • Customer support available via phone (office hours), web chat (office hours), email and FAQ section on the website

Visit Interactive Brokers

4. RBC Direct Investing

RBC Direct Investing is run by one of the biggest banks in Canada. Originally founded in 1864, RBC has over 17 million customers worldwide.

Clients who use RBC Direct Investing are protected by an online security guarantee that protects users against 100% of losses caused by unauthorized access to an account.

Key features:

  • Online community for investors to discuss ideas
  • Website and mobile app
  • Real-time Level 1 data available to all traders free of charge
  • No commission fees
  • Stock trading fees starting at $9.95
  • No minimum investment
  • Robo-advisor service offering digital investment advice
  • Maintenance fee of $25 per quarter for accounts with a balance below $15,000
  • Customer support available via phone (office hours), email via the website contact form and Investor Centre locations.

Visit RBC Direct Investing

5. Wealthsimple Trade

Founded in 2014, Wealthsimple is an online digital platform inspired by the success of the US Robinhood trading app.

It offers a fully automated investment process that makes it accessible to everyone, whether experienced traders or newcomers to the world of investment trading.

Clients can access customized profiles designed to fit their needs and requirements.

Weathsimple Trade is part of Canadian ShareOwner Investments Inc.

Key features:

  • No fee for buying and selling stocks
  • No inactivity fee
  • Desktop, website and mobile app
  • No minimum balance to open an account, but a minimum balance of $100 is needed to trade
  • Free financial advice is available to investors (excludes self-directed investors)
  • $20 fee for paper-based statements; no fee for digital statements
  • Ready-made portfolios including socially responsible options as well as the ability to create your own portfolio
  • Customer support via phone (office hours) and email

Visit Wealthsimple Trade

Final Thoughts

With so many trading options available, choosing one can feel overwhelming. It can be difficult to know whether a specific trading platform will suit you. Doing your research is vital as many of the platforms will require a fairly sizable investment of both time and money.

Some trading platforms will offer free trials, which are worth doing if you are unsure about committing. This will give you a chance to see how the platform works and decide whether or not it is what you are looking for.

Once you are sure about what you need and what you hope to gain, investing and making money via a trading platform really is just a click away.

WikiJob does not provide tax, investment or financial services and advice. The information is being presented without consideration of the investment objectives, risk tolerance, or financial circumstances of any specific investor and might not be suitable for all investors. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of principal.


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