Looking to start investing in Canada? The best free stock trading platforms can help you save on some pesky investment fees.
Also known as zero-commission trading, this guide covers 5 free stock trading apps that don’t charge a commission when you place orders to buy or sell stocks.
By using these brokerages, you are saving up to $10 per trade, and this can add up over time to increases in investment returns.
Read on to learn about the top zero-commission trading platforms in Canada and what they offer.
Best Free Stock Trading Apps
The top free trading platforms are:
- Wealthsimple Trade – overall best free stock trading app
- Desjardins Online Brokerage
- National Bank Direct Brokerage
- TD Easy Trade
1. Wealthsimple Trade – Overall Best Free Stock Trading App
Wealthsimple Trade was the first free stock trading app in Canada when it launched a few years back.
Since then, we have seen other banks and credit unions introduce their versions of zero-commission trading or lower their trading fees.
Simply put, Wealthsimple Trade is the best stock trading app for beginners. You can use the platform to trade stocks, ETFs, and even crypto.
For those large-cap stocks with hefty prices (e.g. Apple, Shopify, Tesla, Facebook, etc.), fractional share trading is available, so you can buy small portions of stocks without having to shell out thousands of dollars each time.
You can open both registered (RRSP and TFSA) and non-registered investment accounts. And there are no account minimums to worry about either.
If you are not confident with self-directed trading or want professionals to manage your investment portfolio, you can use the company’s robo-advisor platform, Wealthsimple Invest, and pay significantly lower fees than your bank’s mutual funds.
Fees: There are no trading commissions or account maintenance fees. When you buy USD-denominated stocks, a currency exchange fee applies.
You can avoid paying FX fees by upgrading to Wealthsimple Trade Plus, a $10 monthly subscription that includes USD accounts, unlimited price alerts, real-time data, and instant deposits up to $5,000.
Cons: Wealthsimple Trade does not offer options trading. Also, the market data on the free account is delayed by 15 minutes.
Trade stocks and ETFs for free
Great trading platform for beginners
$25 cash bonus when you deposit $150
Transfer fees waived up to $150
2. Desjardins Online Brokerage
Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat) is the only credit-union-owned free stock trading platform on this list.
It offers stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, treasury bills, new issues, and more.
You can use Disnat to invest in registered accounts (RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, LIRA, LIF, RESP, and non-registered accounts (Cash and Margin).
Fees: On the fees front, Disnat waives trading commissions when buying or selling stocks and ETFs.
There is a minimum fee of $8.75 per options transaction and $50 per trade for fixed-income securities.
Also, you can expect to pay a $30 quarterly inactivity fee if your account is less than $15,000 and you do not qualify for a waiver.
Other admin fees include account transfer fees, cheque withdrawals, etc.
Cons: Options trading is not commission-free. There is a $30 quarterly inactivity fee for small accounts.
Learn more in this detailed Disnat review.
3. National Bank Direct Brokerage
This zero-commission trading platform can be used to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, and GICs.
And you can invest these products in various accounts, including TFSA, RRSP, RESP, and taxable investment accounts (personal and corporate).
Fees: No trading commissions when you buy stocks and ETFs. For options trading, there is a minimum fee of $6.25 per trade.
There is a $100 annual account administration fee if your account balance is lower than $20,000, and you do not qualify to waive it.
Other fees apply when you withdraw funds from registered accounts, transfer accounts to another financial institution, and more.
Cons: $100 account inactivity fee if you have a small account. Also, it does not have a dedicated trading app.
Learn more in this National Bank Direct Brokerage review.
4. TD Easy Trade
Even the big banks are jumping on the free-trading app wagon, with TD recently introducing TD Easy Trade, a trading app “designed for beginners”.
This platform offers 50 commission-free stock trades per year and has no account minimum. You can also buy and sell TD ETFs commission-free.
Account types on TD Easy Trade are limited to TFSA, RRSP, and individual cash accounts, which is a far cry from the offerings on the more robust TD Direct Investing platform.
Fees: Clients get 50 free stock trades per year. After that, they pay $9.99 per trade. FX fees may apply to trades involving a different currency (e.g. USD).
While there are no account maintenance fees, these admin fees may come into play depending on your transactions:
- Account transfers to another financial institution: $150
- RRSP withdrawal fees: $100 (full) or $25 (partial)
- Wire payments: $17.50 (incoming)
- Wire payments (outgoing): $30 – $80
Cons: Commission-free stock trading is limited to 50 trades. You pay $9.99 per trade after. It also has limited investment products, with only stocks, TD ETFs, and some ADRs.
Learn more in this TD Direct Investing review.
MogoTrade is the latest free stock trading platform in Canada.
MogoTrade is currently in beta, and while you can use it for free live-streaming data, active stock trading is not yet available.
MogoTrade accounts include RRSP, TFSA, and personal non-registered investment accounts.
Fees: There are no trading commissions for stock and ETF trading.
Cons: Does not offer margin accounts, and investment products are limited to stocks and ETFs. Also, the platform is not yet fully functional.
Learn more about MogoTrade.
Other Free Trading Platforms in Canada
In addition to the free stock trading options listed above, the following trading platforms offer zero-commission ETF trading.
Questrade is one of the best brokerage platforms in Canada. It was established in 1999 and has over $30 billion in assets under management.
Investment products on Questrade include stocks, ETFs, options, FX, bonds, GICs, mutual funds, and precious metals.
You can open several accounts, including TFSA, RRSP, RESP, LRSP, LIRA, LIF, RRIF, margin, and more.
Fees: ETF purchases are free; when you trade stocks (or sell ETFs), you pay 1 cent per share ($4.95 minimum & $9.95 maximum per trade). Options trades are $9.95 + $1 per contract.
There are no inactivity fees; however, admin fees apply to account transfers, wire transfers, certified cheques, etc.
Trade stocks, ETFs, options, etc.
Low and competitive trading fees
Top platform for advanced traders
Get $50 trade credit with $1,000 funding
Qtrade is a top trading platform offering multiple investment securities (stock, ETFs, mutual funds, options, bonds, and accounts (registered and non-registered).
It also offers a free practice stock trading trial account for 30 days.
Fee: 100+ ETFs can be bought and sold for free; For all other ETFs and stocks, you pay $8.75 per trade. Options cost $8.75 + $1.25 per contract.
There is a $25 quarterly inactivity fee for account balances less than $25,000.
Other admin fees also apply, i.e. account transfer fees, cheque requests, account deregistration, and more.
Offer: Our readers get up to $2,000 cashback + a $50 bonus on signing up. Conditions apply.
What is Free Stock Trading?
Free stock trading in Canada is also referred to as zero-commission trading. It means you pay $0 commissions when you buy or sell stocks using the platform.
Stock trading commissions can generally cost up to $9.99 per trade, and this is why it was a big deal when the first free trading platform was launched in Canada.
Free stock trading does not mean the absence of all trading fees.
For example, some platforms have no fees when you trade stocks, but they may charge fees on options trades.
Also, you should look out for administrative, inactivity, and upgrade fees.
Best Free Stock Trading Apps
|Brokerage||Trading commissions||Account minimum||Products||Best for|
|Wealthsimple Trade||$0 for stocks and ETFs||$0||Stocks & ETFs; crypto||Overall best|
|Disnat||$0 for stocks/ETFs; $8.75 minimum for options||$0 ($30 quarterly fee if balance <$15k)||Stocks, ETFs, options, bonds, mutual funds||Trading tools|
|National Bank Direct Brokerage||$0 for stocks/ETFs; $6.25 minimum for options||$0 ($100 annual fee if balance <$20k)||Stocks, ETFs, options, bonds, mutual funds, GICs||Multiple products|
|TD Easy Trade||50 free stock trades; $9.99/trade after||$0||Stocks, TD ETFs, ADRs||Beginners (for trading stocks only)|
|MogoTrade||$0 for stocks and ETFs||$0||Stocks & ETFs||Green investing|
How To Choose A Free Stock Trading Platform
When choosing an online trading platform, you should consider the following:
Investment products: Does the platform offer the investment product you plan to trade? You want easy access to the financial instruments you are interested in (such as stocks, ETFs, or options).
Investment accounts: Depending on your investment goals, you may want access to registered accounts (RRSP, TFSA, RESP, etc.) and non-registered taxable accounts (personal or business).
Fees: In addition to trading fees. Watch out for account inactivity fees that apply when your balance is below a threshold.
Trading tools: Free stock trading could mean limited access to trading and analysis tools. If you plan to day trade, live streaming data is important.
Find out about the available (and free) educational resources, market data packages, charting, etc.
Security: Is the brokerage registered as a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF)? And the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC)? CIPF membership means your assets are protected up to $1 million against insolvency.
What security measures does it have in place to protect your account – encryption, 2FA, etc.?
Minimum deposits: If you plan on investing small amounts, a no-minimum balance broker is preferable.
Order types: Beginners may be fine with basic order types like market, limit, and stop orders. Experienced traders may want access to advanced order types.
Customer service: Read user reviews about the quality of customer support provided by the trading platform. Can you easily reach someone by phone if required?
Mobile App: Plan to trade on the go? You should choose a free stock trading platform that is easily accessible on all devices. Look at the ratings for their mobile app on the App Store and Google Play.
What is The Best Free Trading Platform?
The overall best free stock trading app in Canada is Wealthsimple Trade.
For trading tools and options, the best free trading platform is Disnat.
For green investing, the top free trading platform is MogoTrade.