The Motley Fool Canada’s top trading apps at a glance:
|Broker||Basic trading fee|
|TD Direct Investing||$9.99|
|CIBC Investor’s Edge||$6.95 (for online equity trades)|
Note: This page focuses specifically on the stock-trading apps from Canada’s leading online brokers. For a full list of our top online brokers, please visit our online brokerages page.
Our top pick: Wealthsimple Trade
To a large extent, it’s no big surprise that Wealthsimple Trade is so popular among investors: $0 trades. And that is a major benefit of Wealthsimple Trade’s offering. But the app is clearly one that most investors enjoy, as it currently has a rating of 4.7 on Apple’s App Store and 4.6 on Google Play. Positive feedback from users could summed in a word: easy. Most users seem to find the app easy to use and set up. And, of course, they love the low fees. On the other hand, negative reviews lamented the lack of real-time prices on the non-premium version, delays on transferring money, and that the app isn’t as feature-rich as some competitors. Overall a great app if you’re looking for a simple, streamlined investing experience with low fees, but less ideal if you’re looking to day trade or leverage advanced features.
Runner-up: TD Direct Investing
Big banks aren’t always on the forefront of technology, but clearly TD is getting something right, as its app has an average 4.5-star rating on Apple’s App store and 4.3 on Google Play. With the TD Direct Investing platform you pay more than you will to trade ($9.99) versus the other brokers listed here, but in exchange you get the features and resources that you’d expect from a big bank. When it comes to the app specifically, users tend to like the ease of use. And the app not only covers your investing accounts, but all of your TD accounts, so you can manage all of your TD-related finances in one place. On the other hand, since the app isn’t investing-focused, it’s not that investing-tailored experience that other apps offer. Common issues that app users seem to have revolve around logging into the app and having the app crash on them.
Also consider: CIBC Investor’s Edge
CIBC’s Investor’s Edge platform stands out in general because of the comparatively-low, flat-fee pricing for online trades from a big bank ($6.95 per online trade). The app doesn’t get ratings quite as high as Wealthsimple or TD, but with a 3.7 on Google Play and a 3.5 on Apple’s App Store, it is still quite well reviewed — again especially compared to other big-bank apps. Users rating the app well comment on the stability of the app and the intuitive display of account information. A big knock that users had, however, was that it’s difficult to see buy price / book value. Some users also commented that placing an order is a slow process. Plus, for a limited time, customers can get up to $2,000 cash back when transferring $10,000 or more into their Investor’s Edge account.
What are stock-trading apps?
A stock-trading app lets you buy or sell stocks as well as manage your investment portfolio from the comfort of your mobile devices. With a stock-trading app, you don’t have to worry about dealing with human brokers. You can place an order from the app, and someone within the trading platform will execute the order on your behalf.
What is the top stock-trading app for beginners in Canada?
When you’re just starting out, you want your trading app to have a simple interface, great customer service, and enough educational resources to help you learn how to invest wisely.
That said, one great stock-trading app for beginners is Wealthsimple. The trading platform is simple to navigate, and they have a fairly strong suite of research and tools. Commissions and fees are low, and it offers a good selection of stocks and ETFs.
Which online app is best for experienced traders in Canada?
For those who want more from their investing app, TD Direct Investing can be an excellent choice. For one, you’ll get a vast array of trading tools, in-depth research, and educational resources. You’ll also have access to advanced types of investments, such as options and future contracts. It’s extremely user friendly, which makes it easy to navigate from your mobile devices, and you also have the option of accessing your account on desktop.
Because of its comprehensive package, TD Direct Investing is a bit more expensive than some of the other stock-trading apps listed here. You’ll pay commissions to make trades, and you’ll also pay a maintenance fee to keep your account open (waived if you hold $15,000 in assets). But for the data and tools that you’re getting, this app could definitely be worth it.
What is the top free stock-trading app?
Our top free stock trading app in Canada is Wealthsimple Trade.
In fact, it’s the only no-commission brokerage available to Canadians. You’ll pay nothing to buy or sell stock through Wealthsimple’s trading app. The research tools are limited, however, and not every security is listed through Wealthsimple. But if you’re looking for a basic account without paying commissions, Wealthsimple could be right for you.
What should you look for in a good stock-trading app?
When you’re shopping for stock-trading apps, you’ll want to look for six major things: fees, account minimums, securities offered, accounts offered, customer service, and promotions.
Perhaps the most important factor to consider when comparing stock-trading apps are fees. Even the smallest of fees could significantly reduce your portfolio’s return, especially if you trade frequently. Here are the most popular fees to look out for:
- Trade commissions: these are fees you’ll pay to buy or sell securities, such as stocks, options, or ETFs. On the best trading apps, these fees are fairly low — anywhere between $4.99 to $9.99 per trade.
- Management fees: occasionally, you’ll pay a small fee to your trading app for the maintenance of your account. Often, this will be a small percentage of your overall portfolio.
- Transfer fees: if you decide to transfer your stocks to another trading app, your broker could charge you a fee for the transfer.
- Inactivity fees: oftentimes, stock-trading apps will charge a small “inactivity fee” if you don’t execute a certain number of trades within a specific cycle. For example, you may be required to trade stocks at least five times within a 12-month cycle, or you’ll have to pay a $50 charge.
2. Account minimums
Some trading apps require you to have a certain amount of money in your account in order to trade stocks. This is your “account minimum.” Many of the best trading apps in Canada don’t require an account minimum for basic accounts, but if you want to engage in more risky investing strategies, such as trading options or buying on margin, you should expect to maintain an account minimum.
3. Securities offered
Recall that a “security” is simply a catch-all term for investments from stocks to mutual funds to bonds to gold to cryptocurrency. Nearly all trading apps allow investors to trade the most popular securities: stocks and funds. But if you want to engage in more advanced security trades, or if you want to try your hand at options or future contracts, you’ll want to be sure your trading app allows those transactions.
The same goes for cryptocurrency. Though many trading apps now allow you to buy and sell crypto within the platform, you’ll want to double check to be sure you can before you open an account, if that’s something you want to invest in.
4. Accounts offered
Most trading apps allow you to open a non-registered retirement account — that is, a retirement account that has no tax advantages. The best apps will also allow you to trade securities within a registered retirement account, such as a TFSA or an RRSP.
5. Customer service
Perhaps nothing is worse than encountering a problem with your trading app and waiting for customer service to respond to your questions. When it comes to the best trading apps in Canada, you’ll want to be sure yours has stellar customer service. Read reviews ahead of time before you make a decision, and be sure to check how customers can communicate problems (email, online chat, telephone).
While you shouldn’t open an account on a trading app just for the promotion, often when you find a good trading app, the promotion can be icing on the cake. Likewise, if you’re stuck between two great trading apps, a small promotion, such as a $50 sign-up bonus, could be the decisive factor.
7. Educational materials
Whether you’re interested in just trading stocks or you want to engage in more advanced investing strategies, be sure to check if your trading app has charts, tools, and investment articles.
8. Fast data
For those who want to engage in trading stocks, you’ll want your app to be fast. Nothing is worse than missing a lucrative trading opportunity because your app was lagging by a few minutes.
Are stock-trading apps safe?
Stock-trading apps are typically built with the utmost security. The best ones will use up-to-date encryptions and two-factor authentications, helping you get your investments safe.
That said, trading apps can be risky from an investing perspective. As with any investment, when you buy and sell stocks, you can lose money. One might argue, in fact, that trading apps could increase your risk, since these platforms are designed for traders, not necessarily long-term investors. That doesn’t mean you can’t use your trading app for long-term investments. It just means you need to practice more disciplined trading, as you don’t want to lock in losses based on emotion alone.
Is a stock-trading app right for you?
A stock trading platform is ideal for investors who want to engage in short-term trading, as these apps allow you to track stocks from the comfort of your mobile devices. The low commissions and fees won’t eat into your investment returns, and the tools and charts help you make the right investing decisions.
That said, stock-trading apps aren’t for everyone.
When you’re a new investor, or you’re just looking for long-term investments, you might not be interested in trading stocks on a regular basis. While, true, you can hold long-term securities within your trading app, many are geared toward day traders and investors who want to make short-term gains. The fact that it’s an “app” and not a desktop account hints at this purpose: investors can track their securities throughout the day, even if they’re far from their computers, and they can make quick decisions based on the research and stock movements that they see.
If you’re not ready (or interested in) trading stocks on a regular basis, you may be better served by a traditional online broker. Many online brokers offer accounts that you can access on your desktop, though not always with an accompanying mobile app. Often, because these accounts aren’t geared toward day traders, they have fewer charts and data, which might confuse a beginner investors just starting to invest anyway.
That said, certain trading apps, such as Wealthsimple, are designed for beginners, and you should have no problem creating an account and trading stocks within it. At the end of the day, you should always research your options before choosing one, then pick the trading app or online brokerage that feels best for your investing goals.
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