How to choose the best online broker

If you want to manage your own investments, how do you choose the best online broker?

We recommend that you consider six factors:

ease of use

Ease of use

The best online brokers put serious effort into designing intuitive, easy-to-use features for both experts and beginners. It should be quick and easy to manage your investments on desktop and mobile devices. Most brokers allow you to access a trial account where you can get a feel for their features and functionality.

tools and research

Tools and research

The best online brokers offer the most sophisticated tools and research sources to help you plan and set goals, find and evaluate investing ideas, trade, and review your portfolios. A full range of tools should include screeners, watchlists, notifications, and real-time quotes.

account info

Account information

To manage your investments, you want rich data and complete insight into your accounts and holdings. The best online brokerage firms provide detailed account summaries and performance reports. They also allow you to switch easily among multiple account views, so you can see if you're on track to meet your investment goals.

customer service

Customer service

If you have a question or need to resolve an issue, you want to know how you can get prompt, accurate help. From the best to the worst, levels of customer service vary widely. Every year, Surviscor evaluates online brokerages for customer service. Qtrade Investor was their top-ranked broker in 2018, 2017 and 2016.

innovation

Innovation

Online services evolve rapidly. The best online brokers are committed to continuous improvement, so you always know you're getting the leading-edge new features to help you achieve your investing goals.

cost

Cost

It’s a given that you want great value. Low commissions and fees reduce the cost of trading and help you keep more of your money invested. Competition between brokers keeps online trading very affordable.

Listen to the industry experts

Finding the best online brokerages based on these criteria can be a bit of a chore. Fortunately, there are good third-party evaluations to turn to, including annual rankings of online brokerages from The Globe and Mail, Surviscor and MoneySense.

surviscor

  

Globe and Mail

  

moneysense

  

Best in class

Qtrade Investor has consistently received strong reviews from industry evaluations.

Take the example of The Globe and Mail, which has been publishing columnist Rob Carrick’s review of online brokers for well over a decade. Over those years, Qtrade Investor has continually finished in the top-tier, including nine number-one rankings.

Overall, there's an attention to client-friendly detail at Qtrade that other brokers don't match."

— Rob Carrick, Personal Finance Columnist, The Globe and Mail (2018)
Broker Year 2018 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
Qtrade Investor A A A- A B+ 2 1
BMO B B B B+ B 3 3
CIBC C C+ C- C C 10 8
Desjardins C B- C- C- C 9 9
HSBC C D D F D 11 12
National Bank C+ C+ C B- C 12 11
Questrade B+ B+ A- B+ B 8 10
RBC B B B- B B 5 5
Scotia iTrade B+ B B B B 4 4
TD B B+ B+ B C 6 7
Virtual Brokers B A A A- A 1 2

Source: The Globe and Mail's annual online broker ranking published 2011 to 2018.

The annual ranking used numbers until 2012 and letter grades from 2013 to 2018.

More samples of recent endorsements include:

Winner

2019 Winner – Surviscor Brokerage Service Award

Winner

Surviscor Brokerage Service Award 

2019, 2018, 2017, 2016

First place

The Globe and Mail Online Broker Ranking

2018, 2016

Best overall – Top online brokerage

MoneySense Best Online Brokerage Review

2018, 2017, 2016