Best Trading Platform Canada – Start Investing in Stocks

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Welcome to the world of stock market investing! There are some hurdles when you get into investing but for you, I will make sure knowing the best trading platform in Canada to signup with is not an obstacle. In 5 minutes you’ll be a pro. Let’s go!

Today we’ll look at:

  • Why invest in the stock market in the first place
  • The best trading platform (Canada) look-fors and how to get started.
  • My review of the Canadian choices
  • My winner of BEST TRADING PLATFORM IN CANADA: Questrade

By the way, if you’re looking for the best trading platform in the US, I got you covered right here.

Is investing in the stock market really that great?

YES. Yes it is. 

If you’re growing your wealth but avoiding stocks, you’ll be falling behind. Maybe someday you’ll have some real estate but stocks and bonds have a place in everyone’s life. Especially if you are just getting going in your finances. Here’s why: 

  • It’s easy to get started. Don’t be intimidated by the thought of the investment world. Getting started with stocks is super simple. Start with this review. 
  • There’s basically no maintenance (if you do it right.) That’s right. You don’t have to be a money genius or look at any reports. There are a lot of automation tools that make investing very straight forward and we will use them.
  • Everyone needs liquidity. If you find yourself needing cash fast – stocks and bonds are easier to sell than real estate or anything else. So everyone needs them. 
  • It’s lucrative. Minimum effort for awesome returns.  
  • It’s easy to strike a balance. A balanced portfolio has stocks and bonds. Both are easy to buy and sell, and easy to adjust to your tastes when done right. 

If investing in the stock market is so great, why doesn’t everyone do it?

Two reasons. Intimidation and endless choices. 

Most people are scared of the idea of the stock market. They see it as something risky that can crash in flames any minute. The people who work in finance don’t help that image. They’re deliberately angry and intense.

Also, no one wants to be overwhelmed with choices. How much to invest? What to invest in? When to buy? When to sell? Where to invest? Bleh. I’m dizzy just typing that. 

I am blowing up those 2 excuses as we speak.

The truth about investing in the stock market

The truth is, investing in the stock market is a lot easier than people think. So that’s what we’ll be sorting out right now. The very very first step is to sign up and get familiar with a trading platform

How to choose a trading platform

Here are my look-fors: 

  • Low or zero-fee ETF trades. I love ETFs (ETFs are groups of stocks instead of individual stocks) and I hate fees. This rule cuts a lot of competition for me. 
  • Low or zero monthly fees. Always be wary of extra fees! 
  • Automation. Be it auto-withdrawals, auto-investing or robo-advisors, I don’t want to do things a robot can do. 
  • Stellar support and a good app. Because I’m a sucker for nice things.

Best Trading Platform in Canada

The winner: Questrade 

It’s no secret that I love Questrade and I’ve used them for many years. (In fact, I’ve set up a how-to guide in this article.) Here’s why I love them for investing in stocks:

Lowest cost  

It’s no secret that I despise fees. What’s nice about Questrade is that they don’t nickel and dime you. You know exactly how much you’ll be paying, and it’s way less than any other trading platform. 

You need to have $1000 invested with Questrade across ALL your accounts to avoid fees.

That’s easy! Most places put the limit at $15K-$25K per account! And we Canadians have to have a lot of accounts to maximize our investing (RESP for each kid, RRSP for you and your spouse, TFSA, etc.) imagine having to deposit $25K for each one! There’s also this: 

  • Their robo-advisor is by far the cheapest. It’s 0.2% if you invest over $100K, and 0.25% if you invest less than that. It’s literally unbeaten.
  • Free ETF purchases and $10 ETF sale costs. I sell at most once a month and I buy way more often. So I’d spend at most $120/yr on fees. Awesome!

The extra touches with Questrade:

  • Sweet app: The app is great and what can I say, I like things to look nice. 
  • Access to QuestWealth robo investor. (More on that here.) 
  • Socially Responsible Investing. You can access SRI funds with a simple click! 

Runner up: WealthSimple 

WealthSimple is for people who want a 1-stop shop. Here’s what you get:

  • Trading stocks is literally FREE. I mean that’s crazy. 
  • You can also buy crypto through them. (Good thing? Bad thing? Don’t know. But it’s there.) 
  • You can deposit money directly into your account from your paycheck. I love automation! 
  • Free e-transfers. 
  • Sweet app – you know I like my apps. 
  • A 0.5% management fee which is pretty low. (And 0.4% if you invest over $100K.).
    • This is the main reason I prefer Questrade. See below.

I mean WealthSimple is pretty cool, but I still recommend Questrade. Why?

Robo advisors. 

A robo-advisor is a service that automatically chooses the most optimal investment allocation based on your preferences. They’re an alternative to wealth managers who choose your investments for you at much higher fees. 

I think robo advisors are great for investors – especially those without too much money. Once you start investing more, then it’s worth doing index investing by hand to save on the fees. 

(Even if you don’t plan on using a robo-advisor, I’d still recommend having an account that makes it easier to access one in case you change your mind, or go through a rough patch when you can’t focus on your money.) 

So say you invest $500K using robo-advisors. You’ll be spending:

Less in fees? Yes please! 

Other trading platforms with free ETF trades: 

I checked out all the accounts out there, and here’s a summary of their pros and cons:

Qtrade investor and Scotia iTrade:

These are kind of like Questrade but there are more fees. Honestly, if you look at their fee structure, you’ll feel like you’re getting nickel and dimed. 

  • Have under $25K in your account? That costs $25 per quarter. 
  • Like using US dollars? That’s $15 USD per quarter per account. 
  • Had enough and decide to close your account? No problem. That’s $150. 

Why would I bother when Questrade does that for free AND lets me move my money freely in and out of a robo-advisor account? 

Investing and trading through your bank?

BMO investorline, CIBC Investors Edge, RBC Direct Investing, TD Direct Investing

All of these are offered through a standard bank, and most banks suck. 

I used to invest with TD. They charged my $10 for each trade. Buy or sell. My first year investing I was a little feisty and I spent $250 on buying stocks when I only owned a few $K. And I would have lost more money selling them. That’s when I barely even had money to invest with! Brutal!

A friend of mine still invests with TD and he realized he spent around $5K on fees last year. Not a chance I’m forking that over! 

Most banks know it’s more convenient to invest with them. In fact, they’ll casually bring up opening an account with them before you’ve done your own research, and then they gouge you for it! 

Taking a bit of time to set up your own investing account is totally worth it given the hundreds or thousands of dollars you’ll save! 

So I’ve opened an account. Now what?

If you’ve opened and funded your account, congratulations. You’re an investor. The next step is to read up on investing basics and start investing that money! 

Read more about investing:
Simple Investing for beginners: From beginner to investor in 15 minutes
Beat the stock market with indexes?! Simple strategic asset allocation
Investing Made VERY Easy: 7 Reasons Robo Advisor Performance is Great for the Cost

Questrade Questwealth portfolio: A beginners guide to setting up the best robo advisor in Canada

TL;DR – Best Trading Platform Canada

  • I recommend Questrade as the best trading platform to start investing in the stock market. 
  • Questrade has the lowest management fees and it’s free to purchase ETFs
  • They have an awesome Robo-advisor account
  • Questrade also offers nice touches like a sweet app and easy SRI.

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