Independent investing has increasingly become popular over the past few years. Because of this, most investors have turned to commission-free trading platforms and apps such as the California-based Robinhood. The Robinhood app is one of the most famous investment apps in the U.S. currently.
Most independent U.S. investors use it in the stock market because they don’t have to pay for the trades. Users get to save on commissions when they trade options, stocks, or cryptocurrencies. But is it available in Canada?
Therefore, it doesn’t permit anyone not a legal U.S. resident to purchase or sell securities. However, U.S. citizens and legal residents can use the app to trade outside the country.
Robinhood Alternatives in Canada
If you are in Canada, here are some of the Robinhood alternatives you can use.
- Commission-free trading
- No account minimums
- Trade instantly with up to $250 in instant deposits
- User-friendly mobile app
- Personal, TFSA, RRSP account options
- Account protection by CIPF
- Wealthsimple Crypto
- Wealthsimple Invest
Wealthsimple Trade allows traders to buy and sell stocks and ETFs on top Canadian and U.S. stock exchanges with no trading commissions. Brokerage firm, Canadian ShareOwner Investments Inc., a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), operates Wealthsimple Trade. Under the CIPF program, all customer accounts are insured up to one million dollars against bankruptcy.
You can sign up via the website or the mobile app available for both iOS and Android to start trading. Just like Robinhood, Wealthsimple doesn’t have any commissions for any trade.
Since the account has no minimum balances, you can start with as little as $1. There’s no paperwork, and you can effortlessly search and track stocks with your watchlist.
With Wealthsimple, you can now buy fractional shares for certain Canadian and US companies. Traders can opt to purchase fractions of a share instead of spending thousands of dollars for a whole share. Wealthsimple Trade has fractional shares for Amazon, Google, Tesla, Microsoft, Apple, among others.
You can either trade through your taxable account or use the tax-free TFSA account or the RRSP alternative as an account holder.
If you are more inclined to trading cryptocurrencies, this company has Wealthsimple Crypto that allows you to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum. Your coins will be held by Gemini Trust Company LLC, which is a regulated crypto custodian offering $200M in insurance coverage.
When the company started, it only launched an app in 2019. The beta desktop version was later established in 2020 and is now available for use.
The Wealthsimple investment app is one of the best in Canada. Based on its high rating app, 4.7/5 on the App Store and 4.5/5 on Google Play, it has an intuitive interface, well suited for beginners who want to learn how to trade quickly.
Although Wealthtrade is an excellent alternative to Robinhood in Canada, there are some shortfalls. Investors can’t trade bonds, options, or FX.
In addition, there are no margin accounts. As a Canadian investor, you can’t hold, withdraw or deposit cash in USD. You can only trade using CAD and pay a 1.5% conversion fee each time you buy and sell USD stocks or ETFs.
- Commission-free ETFs
- Self-directed investing
- Multiple account types
- CIPF and IIROC money protection
- No monthly fees
- Huge selection of securities
- Investors can hold and trade in USD and CAD
- Questwealth Portfolios
Questrade is one of the largest independent discount broker platforms. Having been in operations for 21 years, the company has $25 billion in assets under administration.
It offers free trades when you purchase exchange-traded funds (ETFs), but investors have to pay commissions for most other types of trades. Because of this, it’s more suitable for traders who want to purchase ETFs and hold them for the long term.
Even though Questrade is not commission-free for all trades like Robinhood and Wealthsimple, it’s still a popular option among Canadians. There are also no annual fees, and they have the best USD trading options in Canada and a wide range of account options. Despite charging trading fees, they are still a low-cost leader in online investing.
With Questrade, you can trade with registered and non-registered accounts, including TFSA, RRSP, RESP, LIRA, LIF, RRIF, corporate and margin accounts. You can also trade in USD, which saves you conversion fees.
Just like with Robinhood, traders can also trade in a vast selection of securities from stocks, bonds, ETFs options, FX, CFDs, GICs, IPOs, to precious metals.
If you trade via Questrade, your customer account is protected with up to $10 million if the company goes bankrupt because the company is a member of CIPF and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
Traders have access to multiple trading platforms with Questrade. You can either use the browser-based platform, mobile app, or the downloadable desktop platform. Also, if you are an active trader, you can access advanced trading tools.
The downside of Questrade is that clients can only start trading if they have at least a $1,000 deposit in their account, unlike Robinhood at $1. In addition, the commission-free trade on ETFs only applies when buying. If you are selling ETFs, there is a $4.95 to $9.95 fee per transaction. Options, stocks, and mutual funds also cost up to $9.95 per trade.
Investors can also use the company’s Robo-advisor, Questwealth Portfolios, to access lower fee portfolios designed by professionals to help customers reach their goals. The management fees for this program start at 0.25% for assets under $100,000, the lowest in Canada.
Customers rate the mobile app very poorly at 2.9/5 on Google Play and 1.8/5 on the App Store due to its functionality.
- Low Commissions
- Fractional shares trading
- Can invest globally in 135 markets
- Wide range of securities
- Account types for both registered and non-registered accounts
Ranked as the best online broker of 2021 above Robinhood, Interactive Brokers (IBKR) has its headquarters in Montreal, and they are a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
Having been in operation for several decades, Interactive Brokers offers its clients various account types, both registered and non-registered accounts. These include TFSA and RRSP account options. In addition, they also have a set of market research tools and market data subscriptions that their clients can sign up for.
Unlike Robinhood, all their trades are not commission-free, but they have some of the lowest fees in the industry, which also come with tight spreads and extensive tools to allow you to trade globally in 135 markets.
For stocks, their trading fees are under a fixed commission structure, i.e., $0.005 per share for US stocks and $0.01 CAD per share for Canadian stocks. The minimum commission is $1 per trade.
If you want to trade options, the commission ranges from $0.25 – $0.65 per contract with a minimum per order of $1. For CAD, it starts at $1.25 CAD per contract, with a minimum per order of $1.50 CAD. This price goes down if your trading volume is higher.
Interactive Brokers allow customers to trade in 33 countries and 24 countries. You can invest globally from a single integrated account and fund your trades using multiple currencies. In addition, the company allows you to access all types of market data 24/6.
The IBKR mobile app provides the functionality for clients to trade and manages their accounts on the go. With the app, you can also deposit funds with a mobile check deposit.
To keep your account safe, you can use their integrated IB key two-factor security. The app is available for download on Google Play and the App Store.
- No account minimums
- No monthly fees
- Commission-free TD ETF trades
- Cash accounts
- Tax-free savings account (TFSAs)
- Retirement savings plan (RRSP)
- $9.99 flat fee to trade stocks on major North American exchange
TD GoalAssist is part of the TD Bank Group, Canada, which offers products and services to over 26 million customers globally. The TD GoalAssist app is perfect for beginners. It has a straightforward app that helps customers reach their goals, plus tons of educational videos to help them get started.
TD GoalAssist helps traders build investment plans that align with their goals with no minimum balances and no monthly fees. When choosing an investment account, you can use a cash account, the TFSA, or the RRSP account.
You can buy and sell all TD ETFs commission-free. However, for stocks listed on the major Canadian and U.S. exchanges, customers have to pay a flat fee of $9.99 CAD/U.S.
This dollar commission is applied to stocks in U.S. dollars. However, the account is denominated in Canadian dollars; therefore, you have to pay a foreign exchange conversion fee to trade in USD.
With TD GoalAssist, you can’t trade options, FX, and many other securities. The trading options are a bit more limited.
To start trading, open the account online, select the type of account you want, and complete an application form. Once the account is open, you can transfer funds online.
If you are moving cash from another brokerage, you can consult with the TD GoalAssist team to get information on how to cover the transfer fees up to $150. After your account is funded, you can monitor your investments on iOS and Android smartphones on the go.
- Self-directed trading
- The CIPF protects deposits
- Low trading fees
- Dual currency trading on all accounts for USD and CAD
- Multiple account types
Virtual Brokers is a Canada-based brokerage firm. A division of CI Investment Services Inc., formerly known as BBS Securities Inc., it provides self-directed trading for investors like Robinhood.
This company has multiple account options: TFSA, RRSP, RESP, RRIF, LIRA, and LIF. They also have an All-in-One Account that allows you to trade stocks, options, and exchange-traded funds.
The platform is ideal for beginners with a simple sign-up process. The company also provides several market research tools to guide you in making decisions about the best investment choice.
However, once you open an account with Virtual Brokers, you’ll have to pay a quarterly fee of $25 for account maintenance if your account balance is not above $15,000.
What are the Key Features of These Canadian Trading Platforms?
These trading platforms and companies provide an alternative to Robinhood. Because Robinhood is still not available in Canada, here are some of the key features.
- Commission-Free Trading
While not all of the platforms provide commission-free trading, some of them have this product. This allows traders and investors to save on costs while trading on other securities.
- Multiple Securities
Before selecting a trading platform similar to Robinhood, you need to check the type of securities they trade in. These can be stocks, cryptocurrency, precious metals, options, or mutual funds. You should choose a platform that fits your trading goal.
- Account Types
Most of these Canadian platforms have multiple trading accounts for their clients. They range from cash accounts, taxable personal accounts to tax-free savings accounts. All these options come with their own benefits.
- CIPF Protection
Security is essential when dealing with funds. In this case, an ideal trading company in Canada should be protected by the CIPF, which insures the funds, should the company go bankrupt.
- Trading Currency
Some of these companies allow trading with dual currency, USD and CAD, while others only work with one denomination. If you are trading in Canadian dollars and don’t want to incur extra costs, you can opt for a platform that doesn’t charge any conversion fees or allows both currencies.
Robinhood is one of the most popular trading apps. Its commission-free feature is a major attraction to investors. However, since it’s not operating in Canada, there are other alternatives that investors can use.
We have analyzed some of these key platforms and their distinct features and product offerings.
These trading platforms are an excellent option and alternative if you want to trade in Canada. They have some benefits to their customers. Therefore, before selecting one of them, analyze the type of products the company offers to its customers.