Questrade do have many things going for them. They are certainly one of the cheapest Canadian stock brokers to trade with. They’re commission structure is a little unusual, they charge 1 cent per share with a $4.95 minimum and a $9.95 maximum. This commission structure makes it suitable for both large and small traders.
They have no minimum balance to worry about either.
They currently have a promotion on where you get 100 free trades if you fund your account with more than $10,000. They’ll also give you 10 free trades if you fund an account with $1,000.
They will also pay the transfer costs of up to $150 from another broker on accounts over $25,000.
They offer support via the phone and online chat. I have spoken to them a few times, and have always spoken to a competent person at the other end.
OptionsXpress are an international broker that have offices all over the world. I always think their name is a little misleading. They started off as an options broker about 10 years ago, but now they offer trading services in most instruments including stocks.
OptionsXpress charge 1 cent per share, with a $9.95 minimum if you make more than 9 trades in a quarter. Otherwise they charge 1.5 cents per share with a $14.95 minimum. So this is quite a bit more than Questrade.
One of the things I love about OptionsXpress is their platform and virtual trading. The platform is very easy to use and you can sign up for a virtual account that let’s you trade stocks, futures, options, bonds and much more. Also, there is no time limit on the virtual account, as long as you login regularly, it won’t be terminated.
Like OptionsXpress, Interactive Brokers offer trading in many different instruments, all from one account.
Interactive brokers are aiming to get the more experienced clients. They do have a hefty minimum account balance of $10,000 and they charge a flat 1 cent per share with a $1 minimum.
They received a 4 star “low cost” award from Barrons
A few final notes
There are so many stock brokers to choose from in Canada, so you can afford to be choosy. Many brokers are extremely expensive and do not provide a good deal for their customers. I’ve not mentioned those here, as I don’t want to send them business.
As you may know, brokers fall into two broad categories discount brokers and full service brokers. Full service brokers often offer a wide range of services including retirement planning, trading advice, risk management advice and much more.
Full service brokers are very expensive, i’ve mentioned Questrade charge up to $9.95 and OptionsXpress charge up to $14.95. Full service brokers can charge in excess of $150 per trade.
I’ve not listed full service brokers as I believe do not represent good value for money. If the advice they give you costs you money, they still get paid very well.
One final thing I feel I must say, make sure you practice your trading on a virtual account with pretend money. If you have a solid strategy, make sure you at least spend some time getting to know the platform first.
If you are not sure of your strategy, practice it first, OptionsXpress have an excellent virtual platform. I know it may not be what you want to hear, but practicing your strategy for several months is often a good idea before trading it with real money.