Best Online Brokerages For Day Trading In Canada (2021)

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This post covers some of the best brokerages for day trading in Canada.

Canadians have access to several traditional and online brokerages. But which ones are best for day traders?

This post provides a list of the top online brokerages for day trading in Canada including their fees, pros and cons, and other information you need to choose the best one for you.

What is Day Trading?

Day trading is a type of active trading or speculation that involves the buying and selling of securities within the same trading day. That is, all positions are closed before the end of the trading session.

According to Investopedia, day traders “execute intraday strategies to profit off of price changes for a given asset.”

Depending on the trading strategy, the risk involved in day trading can be low to high with the rewards commensurate with the level of risk. Swing Trading, Trading the news and Arbitrage are some of the popular trading strategies.

Professional day traders are knowledgeable and experienced in the security they’re trading, versed in reading charts and doing research, and disciplined enough to commit to their trading plan.

Ready to start day trading as a Canadian? check below for the top online brokerages for day traders in Canada.

Best Brokerages For Day Trading in Canada

Here are the top online brokerages for Day traders in Canada:

  • Questrade
  • Interactive Brokers
  • Qtrade Investors
  • TD Direct Investing
  • Wealthsimple Trade*

Learn more about each brokerage, their fees and pros in the following section.

1. Questrade

  • Minimum Opening: $1,000
  • Fees: As low as $0.01 for stocks
  • Best for: Large caps and options

First on this list of the best online brokerages for day trading in Canada is Questrade.

Questrade is a full-service online brokerage that has been serving Canadians for over 2 decades. It has consistently ranked high on MoneySense Annual ranking of Canadian brokers.

Questrade offers several tools and platforms that are fast, fully customizable and suitable for active traders or day traders. These include Questrade Trading, IQ Edge, Questrade Global and the Questrade mobile app.

Questrade Fees & Market Data Pricing

Day traders can unlock lower and preferential pricing at Questrade when they subscribe to one of the Advanced Market Data Packages.

Table:

Security TypeFixed Plan CommissionsVariable Plan Commissions
Stocks$4.95/trade1 cent/share; min: $0.01, max: $6.95/trade
ETFsBuy: Free
Sell: $4.95/trade
Buy: Free
Sell: 1 cent/share; min: $0.01, max: $6.95/trade
Options$4.95 + $0.75/contract$6.95 + $0.75/contract

The standard price to trade stocks at Questrade is 1 cent/ share but subject to a minimum of $4.95 and capped at $9.95. Options cost $9.95 + $1/contract.

Market Data: Questrade offers 4 different data packages, but you can also subscribe to individual market data add-ons if none of their packages fit your trading needs.

The Questrade market data packages are:

  • Basic (Free): Unlimited, real-time snap quotes
  • Enhanced ($19.95 per month): Live streaming data on multiple US exchanges, TSX level 1 and index quotes
  • Advanced U.S. Data Package (USD 89.95 per month): Level 1 and level 2 market data for the most liquid US exchanges and select Canadian market data
  • Advanced Canadian Data Package (CAD 89.95 per month): Premium market data for Canada and select US data.

Subscribing to either the Advanced U.S. Data Package or Canadian Data Package will unlock the active trader pricing at Questrade.

The best part is the market data fees are 100% rebatable.

You’ll get a fee rebate of $19.95 once the total commissions you pay in a month exceed $48.95. That means you can effectively get the Enhanced market data package for free.

And if you generate a total commission of $399.95 or more in a month, you’ll get a rebate of $89.95 and pay $0 for the advanced market data plans.

Note that Questrade’s individual market data add-ons are not rebatable.

Pros and Cons of Questrade

Pros of Questrade:

  • Low minimum opening account balance
  • Commission-free ETFs purchase
  • Great selection of web and mobile trading tools and platforms
  • Reliable customer service via chat and phone
  • Reimburse your transfer-in fees up to $150
  • Intuitive interface for traders

Cons of Questrade:

  • ETF sales are not free
  • ECN fees may apply though they can be avoided

Sign up for Questrade here and get $50 Trade rebate + $150 transfer reimbursement.

Related: Questrade Promotion (Up to $300 in total bonus)


2. Interactive Brokers

  • Minimum Opening: $0
  • Fees: As low as $0.005/share for stocks ($1 min.)
  • Best for: Global stocks and small cap stocks

Interactive Brokers is the best brokerage for day trading in Canada for active traders that want exposure to global stocks at a low cost.

Through its award-winning trading platform, day traders get access to 135 markets across 33 countries and can trade in 23 different currencies.

Interactive Brokers is also the only online brokerage that support fractional shares trading in Canada. This is a great feature that lets you invest in any stock irrespective of its share price.

The general minimum deposit requirement at Interactive Brokers is $0, but they require a minimum balance to access some products and services. For example, you need a minimum deposit of $2,000 for margin accounts. Similar deposit requirements may apply for some market data subscription.

Interactive Brokers Fees

Interactive Brokers offers fixed and tiered pricing for many of its products. With tiered pricing, your commission per share will decrease with higher trade volumes.

That is, the higher the number of shares you trade, the lower the commissions.

Also, the fees vary across the countries, products and more. In addition, you may need to pay for market data, research and news, and monthly fees. With all the fees at Interactive Brokers, it can quickly get overwhelming.

The fixed pricing for trading Canadian and US securities are below:

TABLE

CountryFixed PricingMin. Per OrderMax. Per Order
CanadaCAD 0.01/shareCAD 10.5% of trade value
United StatesUSD 0.005/shareUSD 11% of trade value

If you’re on the tiered pricing, the commissions for the base tier (less than 300,000 shares/month) are below:

CountryTiered PricingMin. Per OrderMax. Per Order
CanadaCAD 0.008/shareCAD 10.5% of trade value
United StatesUSD 0.0035/shareUSD 0.351% of trade value

There are also monthly account maintenance fees that can be avoided if the total commission for the month is higher than the fees, or you maintain an account balance of USD 100,000 or its equivalent in your local currency.

The standard monthly activity fees is $10. But it is $20 for account with balances below $2,000 and $3 for clients aged 25 and below.

Pros and Cons of Interactive Brokers

Pros of Interactive Brokers:

  • Lowest trade commissions
  • Access to several investment products from a single integrated platform
  • Smart routing for best price execution
  • Several tools for day traders including APIs, mobile app and a chat-based interface
  • Access to global securities and more products
  • Best margin rates

Cons of Interactive Brokers:

  • Monthly activity fees may be charged, though could be avoided
  • The commission and fee structure are quite complicated and may be hard to understand
  • Customer support isn’t that great
  • No margin calls. They’ll auto-liquidate your positions instead

3. Qtrade Investor

  • Minimum Opening: $0
  • Fees: $6.95/share
  • Best for: Stock research and analysis

Qtrade is owned by Aviso Wealth, an independent wealth management firm with over $90 billion in asset under management.

It has been operating in Canada for over 20 years and consistently ranks as one of the best online trading platforms in the country.

The Qtrade trading platform is known for its robust portfolio analytics tools, top-notch customer support and decent pricing.

Qtrade Fees

Qtrade provides reduced pricing through Investor Plus to clients with either $500,000 in assets or those that make at least 150 trades per quarter.

Security TypeStandard CommissionsInvestor Plus Commissions
Stocks$8.95/trade$6.95/trade
ETFs*$8.95/trade$6.95/trade
Options$8.95 + $1.25/contract$6.95 + $1.25/contract

There’s a quarterly administrative fee of $25 but it is waived if you satisfy one of the following: hold $25,000 or more in assets, complete at least 2 commission generating trades in the previous quarter, setup recurring deposits and so on.

You can also buy selected ETFs for free, but some conditions apply. For example, the order value must be $1,000 or more and you must hold the ETF for at least one business days.

Pros and Cons of Qtrade Investor

Pros of Qtrade Investor:

  • Great customer service
  • Robust market data and stock research tools
  • Easy online application process
  • No commission mutual fund trades
  • Commission free trading on 100 selected ETFs (conditions apply)

Cons of Qtrade Investor:

  • Higher fees and commissions
  • Requirements to qualify for lower pricing are high

4. TD Direct Investing

  • Minimum Opening: $0
  • Fees: $0
  • Best for:

TD Direct Investing is from TD Bank, one of Canada’s largest banks. It provides a feature rich investing platform to Canadians looking to trade securities listed on both U.S. and Canadian exchanges.

Day traders using TD Direct Investing can choose between its 3 integrated trading platforms: WebBroker, TD app and Advanced Dashboard.

TD WebBroker is the basic, easy to use trading platform for all clients. TD app is a mobile app that lets you trade anywhere you go with easy order entry and alerts. Advanced Dashboard is for active traders looking for more tools, analytics, charts and research.

TD Direct Investing Fees

TD Direct Investing has the highest fees among the brokers for day traders in Canada covered in this post.

The commission to trade US and Canadian stocks start at $9.99 flat. To qualify for Active Trader pricing, you must have done a minimum of 150 trades in the previous quarter.

Here’s a summary of the trading commissions at TD Direct Investing:

Security TypeStandard PricingActive Trader Pricing
U.S. & Canada Stocks$9.99/trade$7.00/trade
U.S. & Canada Options$9.99 + $1.25/contract$7.00 + $1.25/contract

Other relevant fees include a quarterly account maintenance fees of $25 for accounts with balances below $15,000. You may also have to pay for market data depending on your needs.

Real-time snap quotes are available for free. But professional traders with 30 or more trades per quarter can get real time streaming Level I quotes for $199/month or Level II data for $80/ month.

The prices are higher for users with less than 30 trades per quarter: $229/month and $100/month for Level I and Level II quotes respectively.

Pros and Cons of TD Direct Investing

Pros of TD Direct Investing:

  • Offers diverse trading platforms and tools
  • Exclusive research reports
  • No commission mutual fund trades

Cons of TD Direct Investing:

  • High fees and commissions
  • Only offers flat fees even for active traders
  • Quarterly maintenance fees
  • High trade threshold to qualify for active trader pricing
  • Limited product offerings

5. Wealthsimple Trade

  • Minimum Opening: $0
  • Fees: Zero commissions
  • Best for: Swing Trades on Canadian stocks

Finally on this list of the best brokerages for day trading in Canada, we have Wealthsimple Trade.

Wealthsimple Trade is a commission-free trading app from Wealthsimple, Canada’s most popular robo-advisor. It provides access to TFSA, RRSP and cash or non-registered accounts.

While it is great for buying Canadian stocks without paying any commissions, you should NOT be using it for day trading in Canada for the following reasons:

  • No margin accounts
  • USD balances are not allowed
  • 1.5% currency conversion cost for trading USD
  • Day trading may be flagged, and your account suspended.
  • Limited data and no research tools

Wealthsimple Trade lacks many of the basic tools a day trader should have in their toolbox. So you may use it for swing trading or to gradually build a low-cost, well-diversified investment portfolio in your registered non-registered accounts.

But it’s a big NO for day traders.

Learn more: Wealthsimple Trade Promotion & Referral Code


What to look for in an Online brokerage for Day Trading

Before you choose a brokerage for day trading in Canada, here are some things to consider:

Trading commission

Obviously, the lower the trading fees the better because you get to keep more of your gains. For most traders, a brokerage that offers low commissions per share or tiered pricing is preferred. For example, Questrade’s 1 cent per share or Interactive Brokers’ $0.0035 per share.

Fixed pricing is attractive if you’re trading high volumes, but it may be more expensive at lower volumes.

Market Data Subscription

In choosing the best brokerage for day trading in Canada, you should also consider the available market data and how much it’ll cost you.

Questrade, for example, does a great job of bundling the data for the most liquid exchanges together for a low monthly fee that is 100% rebatable.

Related: Benzinga Pro Coupon Code and Review (Get 25% life-time discount)

Available Asset Types and Products

The best brokerages for day trading provide plenty of options when it comes to the available investment products on the platform. Most brokerages in Canada will let you trade stocks, ETFs and Options that are listed in Canada and U.S.

But only a handful, like Questrade and IB, provide access to more exotic products like CFDs, FX, commodities and so on.

Related Post: Best Brokerages For Options Trading In Canada

Order Types

The more the order types you have, the more control you have over your trades, how they are filled and at what prices.

Again, most brokers will have the basic order types, but you’ll need more as a day trader. IB is best for advanced traders so it’s unsurprising that it has over 100 order types and algos to choose from.


Alternatives to Day Trading in Canada

Day trading is hard and not everyone has the mental and emotional mindset or control needed to be successful at it.

Most people are better off just investing passively using one of the alternatives to day trading below:

Self-directed Investing

This is the traditional approach to investing where you open a brokerage account, do some research into some stocks, and place the trades. When to contribute, what to buy, when to rebalance and all other investment decisions are handled by the investor.

Self-directed investing used to be complicated, costly and sometimes time-consuming. But anyone can now build a diversified portfolio quickly at a low cost.

With ETFs, you can get exposure to many stocks within a sector, country or asset class with a few buys. Even better, with all-in-one ETFs lets you build a diversified portfolio across asset classes, sectors and geography with a single buy.

And the best part is, you can buy ETFs for free at Questrade or Wealthsimple Trade.

Related Posts:

Robo-advisors

Robo-advisors provide automated investing accounts to their clients through digital platforms.

Unlike self-directed investing, all the day-to-day investment and portfolio management are handled by the robo-advisory service. This includes portfolio selection and rebalancing, but the client is responsible for choosing an asset allocation that fits their risk appetite and financial goals.

The investor only needs to set up regular contributions to the investment account and watch their portfolio value grow over time.

Canadians have several popular and low-cost robo-advisors to choose from. Wealthsimple is the most popular with an annual management fee of 0.50%.

Questrade also has a managed account called Questwealth Portfolios with an annual fee of just 0.25% for deposits below $100,000.


Day Trading Taxes in Canada

In general, investing gains are treated as either capital or business income in Canada.

Capital gains have preferential tax treatment. Only 50% of the gains are taxed at your marginal tax rate. However, if your gains are deemed to be business income, you’ll lose the tax advantage.

Your gains will be fully taxed at your tax rate. However, you’ll be able to deduct any losses you make during the year from your gains. You can also claim any expenses you incurred because of your trading activities.

Eligible expenses could include brokerage commissions, purchase of equipment laptop, trading software subscription, internet bills and many more. Just make sure you keep the receipts for the expenses.


FAQs: Best Day Trading Online Brokerages in Canada

What is the best online brokerage for day traders in Canada?

Overall, Questrade is arguably the best brokerage in Canada for most day traders. It offers a good selection of products at a low fees. And the market data pricing is fully rebatable.

However, day traders looking to trade international stocks, like the ones listed in Europe and other parts of the world, may be better off with Interactive Brokers.

Are there commission free brokerage for day trading in Canada?

Unfortunately, unlike our neighbours to the south, there are no commission-free brokerages available to Canadian day traders. While Wealthsimple Trade allows commission free investing, it discourages day trading on the app. And it’s missing many of the tools and features that are necessary for day trading.

Will my day trading gains be taxed?

All your trading gains will be subject to taxes in Canada. As a day trader, your gains will likely not meet the criteria for capital gains so you won’t enjoy the tax advantages.

The income and/or loss will be treated as business income and fully taxed at your marginal tax rate for the year.

Should I day trade in my TFSA?

TFSA and other registered accounts are meant for tax-advantaged investing. That means, you should not be day trading in the accounts.

If you trade frequently in your TFSA, you may be audited by the CRA, and if found to be in breach of the rules, the gains will be fully taxed.

They’ll consider the frequency of your trades, how long you hold in the investments, your intention, how much time you spend trading and so on to determine

Which account should I use to day trading?

You should only use a non-registered or taxable investment account to day trade in Canada. Your registered accounts such as RRSP, TFSA, RESP etc., should be completely avoided.

As mentioned earlier, trading using any of the registered accounts may result in being audited by the CRA.

Related: Best Investments For Non-Registered Accounts In Canada

Simon is a CPA by day and a Personal Finance Blogger by night. With over a decade experience in financial services, he's passionate about personal finance, investing and helping people take control of their financial life.

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