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Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading: A 2023 Comparison

Wealthsimple Trade and CI Direct Trading stand among the best brokerage platforms in Canada that offer commission-free ETFs.

Both online brokerage platforms are great for self-directed investors who want to cut trading fees while remaining in control of their portfolios.

This Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading comparison covers their investment accounts and products, trading fees, minimum investment, trading platforms, and more so that you can choose the one that fits your investing needs and goals.

What is Wealthsimple Trade?

Wealthsimple Trade is an independent online discount brokerage platform that allows DIY investors to trade with zero fees and no minimums.

It was established in 2019 and is operated by ShareOwner, a registered investment dealer that offers financial services across Canada.

The online brokerage offers registered and non-registered accounts and thousands of stocks and ETFs to self-directed investors who want to take control of their investment portfolios.

DIY investors can buy and sell stocks and ETFs on popular Canada and US exchanges with zero commission, which is great given that it can cost $5-$10 to trade stocks on some online brokerages.

So if you like to actively trade stocks and own your investment game by managing your portfolio daily, Wealthsimple is a great place to slash trading fees and maximize your returns.

If you are a hands-off investor, you can take advantage of Wealthsimple Invest, a Robo-advisor that allows you to invest with low-cost, professionally managed portfolios.

What is CI Direct Trading?

CI Direct Trading is an independent online discount brokerage platform based in Toronto that offers DIY investors commission-free ETF purchases.

The online brokerage was established in 2009 and was formerly known as Virtual Brokers.

In 2020, Virtual Brokers was fully acquired by CI Financial Corp, a global asset management company that trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker “CIX,” with over $194.2 billion in assets under management.

It was then rebranded to CI Direct Trading and now operates as a division of CI Investment Services Inc.

CI Direct Trading offers self-directed investors a variety of trading platforms, dedicated mobile apps, trading accounts, and a wide selection of investment products so they can take control of their investment game.

If you like a more conservative, hand-off investment approach, you can use the CI Direct Investing platform, a Robo-advisor that offers professionally managed investment portfolios at a fee.

Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading: Account types

Both Wealthsimple Trade and CI Direct Trading offer registered and non-registered accounts to meet the investing needs of different traders. However, CI Direct Trading offers more account options than Wealthsimple Trade.

Wealthsimple Trade offers the following account options:

CI Direct Trading offers the following account types:

  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Tax-free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF)
  • Locked-in Retirement Savings Plan (LRSP)
  • Registered Life Income Funds (RLIF)

Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading: Investment Products

Wealthsimple Trade offers three investment products, while CI Direct trading offers up to 6 products.

Wealthsimple investment products include:

  • ETFs
  • Stocks
  • Cryptocurrencies

Direct Trading investment products include:

  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
  • Stocks
  • Options
  • Mutual Funds
  • Exchange-Traded Debentures
  • Fixed Income Securities

Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading: Minimum Investment

Both Wealthsimple and CI Direct Trading do not have a minimum investment requirement, which is great for investors who want to start small.

That said, CI Direct Trading requires non-Canada residents to have a minimum of $25,000 in their accounts.

You may also need to deposit at least $200 in your Wealthsimple Trade account to earn a $25 bonus.

Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading: No Commission ETFs

Commission-free trading is becoming popular in Canada and is one of the factors to consider when choosing the best brokerage platform in Canada.

Both Wealthsimple and CI Direct Trading offer no-commission ETFs to help you maximize your returns.

Wealthsimple allows you to buy and sell ETFs and stocks commission-free. That’s to say, Wealthisimple offers fee-free trading for all the investment products on the platform.

CI Direct Trading only offers commission-free ETF purchases, but you’ll incur a trading fee of $1.99-$7.99 per trade when selling ETFs on the platform.

Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading: Trading Fees

As mentioned above, Wealthsimple Trade offers fee-free trading, and you can buy and sell unlimited stocks and ETFs on the platform without worrying about trading commissions.

So how does Weathsimple make money?

The platform charges a base conversion fee + 1.50% on USD trades.

If you want access to USD accounts, real-time data, and instant deposits up to $5,000, you can upgrade with a Wealthsimple Plus subscription for $10 per month.

CI Direct Trading fees come in as follows:

  • ETFs: Free to buy; $1.99 to $7.99 per trade when selling
  • Stocks: $1.99 to $7.99 per trade
  • Options: $7.99 + $1.25 per contract.

CI Direct Trading offers a discounted fee of $3.99/per trade to active traders who have placed at least 150 trades in the previous quarter.

You won’t incur any fees to trade mutual funds and Fixed income securities, but you’ll pay a flat fee of $24.99 +$1 for each Exchange-Traded Debentures transaction of  $1000 par value.

Additional fees apply when you place stock orders via telephone.

Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading: Admin & other fees

Wealthsimple Trade doesn’t charge account maintenance fees. CI Direct Investing has a few maintenance fees, including:

  • $15/quarter for registered accounts
  • $25/year for RESP
  • $24.95/quarter account inactivity fee

Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading: Platforms

Wealthsimple Trade offers web and mobile stock trading apps, while CI Direct Trading offers web, desktop, and mobile trading platforms.

CI Direct Trading’s trading platforms and tools include:

  • CI Direct Mobile App: Allows you to trade, view your account details, and transfer funds in and out of your account on the go.
  • Dashboard: A web-based platform that allows you to easily trade stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, and more.
  • PowerTrader Pro: A desktop-based platform that allows access to advanced trading tools to allow traders to place and manage complex options trades and strategies.
  • RealTick EMS: A desktop-based platform that allows access to global liquidity and advanced real-time analytics across global equity, futures, and options markets.
  • ITS TraderLite: A high-performance desktop-based platform that offers low system footprints, buddy trading, registered trader functionality, and US market data and order entry capability.

Customer Service

Wealthsimple offers customer service via phone, chat, and email. You can reach someone by phone from 8 am to 8 pm from Monday to Friday and 9 am to 6 pm on weekends.

CI Direct Trading offers customer service via telephone and email. Their customer representatives are available Monday to Friday from 8 am to 7 pm.

Security

Wealthsimple Trade and CI Direct Trading are members of the Investment Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) protects your account for up to $ 1 million against insolvency.

They also use security features like SSL encryption and 2FA to keep your account safe.

Promotions

Wealthsimple Trade

wealthsimple logo

Trade stocks and ETFs for free

Great trading platform for beginners

$25 cash bonus when you deposit $200+

Transfer fees waived up to $150

Currently, CI Direct Trading does not appear to offer any account opening incentives or promotions.

Wealthsimple Trade vs CI Direct Trading vs Questrade

 Wealthsimple TradeCI Direct TradingQuestrade
ETF and stock trading feeFree to buy and sell$1.99-$7.99 per trade$4.95-$9.95 per trade
Commission-free ETFsFree ETF tradesFree to buy; pay a fee of $0.99 to $7.99 when you sell.Free ETF purchases; Pay a fee when you sell 
Trading commission discountETFs and stocks are free to buy and sell $3.99/trade for active traders$4.95/trade for active traders.
Types of accountsTFSA, crypto, RRSP, and personal non-registered accounts.TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, RESP, RLIF, LRSP RRSP, RESP, TFSA, RRIF, LIRA and non-registered accounts.
Minimum investmentNoneNone for Canada residents; $25,000 for non-residents$1,000
Maintenance feeNone$24.95 per quarter if balance is less than $5,000None
PlatformWeb interface and mobile appWeb interfaces, mobile and desktop appsWeb interfaces, mobile and desktop apps
PromotionsFund your account with $200 or more to get a $25 cash bonusN/AInvest at least $1,000 to get $50 in free trades.

Wealthsimple Trade vs. CI Direct Trading: Conclusion

Wealthsimple Trade and CI Direct Trading are great online brokerages for DIY investors.

That said, Wealthsimple Trade has the overall win with commission-free trade offerings and zero account maintenance fees.

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Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. He has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, CBC News, Financial Post, Toronto Star, CTV News, Canadian Securities Exchange, Credit Canada, National Post, and many other personal finance publications. You can learn more about him on the About Page.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

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