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The 5 Best Online Brokers for ETF Investing

By Sophie Albo | Published on 09 Aug 2023

    Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) have surged in popularity in the last decade due mainly to its flexibility and strong diversification. Most online brokers give you the ability to buy different securities such as mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, stocks, fixed income, options and new issues. However, some investors only care about being able to buy ans sell ETFs. We know that selecting the right online broker is not an easy task to do. This is why we have gathered the 5 best Canadian online brokers who offer some form of commission-free ETFs.


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    Qtrade Direct Investing is a Canadian brokerage owned by the financial services firm Aviso Wealth. They are known to have attractive pricing, low commission fees on stocks and ETFs, bonds and mutual funds compared to their competitors. The Qtrade trading platform, Qtrade Investor, gives you easy access to the markets in real-time. The platform provides in-depth research tools to help you set goals, find new investment ideas and review your portfolio. As for the pricing level, equity commissions are $8.75 per trade and options trades are $8.75 plus $1.25 per contract. There are no trading commissions when you buy and sell any of 105 free exchange-traded funds. Qtrade offers Morningstar as a resource for information.

    • Account maintenance fee: $25 per quarter; waived if the account meets one of the following conditions: maintain a balance greater than $25,000; have carried out at least 8 billable transactions during the last 12 months; have carried out at least 2 billable transactions during the last quarter; establish a systematic investment plan of at least $100 per month (or $50 per month for 18 to 30-year-olds)
    • Minimum amount to open a brokerage account: $0
    • Commission-free ETFs: 100 commission-free ETF


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    Questrade is the largest independent online brokerage in Canada with over $18 billion in assets under management. For Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), the purchase is free and the sale works the same way as shares. As a result, Questrade allows you to buy any ETF for free, but the standard commission apply when you decide to sell them : $0.01 per share (min. $4.95 to max. $9.95). You have two platforms available, IQ Web (website) and IQ Edge (desktop application). Both offer relatively the same functionality, but active investors will probably prefer IQ Edge because they will have access to more options and customization. The IQ Web platform is very easy to use and you will have a complete experience. IQ Web does a great job of providing basic trading options. These include quotes, charts, watch lists, news and account management. For the IQ Edge desktop platform, you’ll have many more customization options, including the addition of quick trade buttons, alerts, a profit and loss calculator, filtering, and a list of market participants for the U.S. and Canadian markets. Questrade offers Morningstar as a resource for information.

    • Account maintenance fee: $0
    • Minimum amount to open a brokerage account: $1,000
    • Commission-free ETFs: All free to purchase (Canada and US) and cost $0.01 per share traded, for a minimum of $4.95 and a maximum of $9.95. 

    Wealthsimple Trade

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    Wealthsimple Trade is one of the newest Canadian online brokerage platforms, which position itself as Canada’s version of US based Robinhood. They differentiate themselves from their competitors by offering commissions-free trading on Canadian stocks and ETFs. Compared to other online brokers who charge different fees depending on the type of transaction you make, Wealthsimple is the cheapest option when it comes to buy and sell Canadian Canadian securities. As for investing in US stocks or ETFs, it’s far less appealing, as unlike other brokerages, Wealthsimple Trade does not allow their clients to hold US dollars. As a result, for every trade involving a US securities, their clients will pay a currency conversion fee of 1,5%, making it far less appealing.

    This online broker is advantageous for Canadian investors who are just starting out and are happy with limiting their investment to Canadian stocks and ETFs, because they require no minimum amount to open a brokerage account and no account maintenance fee. Wealthsimple Trade’s platform was designed primarily for mobile but you always have the option to invest via their web platform.

    Open a new Wealthsimple Trade account through Hardbacon and receive a $10 cash bonus and commission-free trades on your new Wealthsimple Trade account when deposit and trade at least $100.

    • Account maintenance fee: 0$
    • Minimum amount to open a brokerage account: 0$
    • Commission-free ETFs: Free to buy and sell (Canada and US)

    CI Direct Trading

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    CI Direct Trading is a prominent and innovative player in the realm of online trading and investment services. Through its user-friendly platform, clients can access a wide range of assets, including stocks, commodities, forex, and cryptocurrencies, enabling them to diversify their portfolios and potentially capitalize on market trends.

    One of CI Direct Trading’s distinguishing features is its emphasis on education and support. The company offers comprehensive resources, such as tutorials, webinars, and market analysis, helping traders of all levels enhance their skills and make informed decisions. It offers a web-based platform along with a mobile platform. By using their web-based platform, you can view your purchasing power, net equity, margin and open orders on the same page before you trade. The simple layout is designed to get the job done quickly. On CI Direct Trading platform, you can buy ETFs for free. However, selling your ETF shares will cost 1¢/share, with a minimum of $1.99/trade and a maximum of $7.99.

    • Account maintenance fee: Administration costs $24.95 per quarter. This fee is waived if one of the following conditions is met: maintain a combined balance across all accounts greater than $5,000; carry out at least 1 billable trade of $1.99 or more per quarter; or be under 26 years old. Almost all accounts are free to hold but an RESP costs $25 per year.
    • Minimum amount to open a brokerage account: $1,000
    • Commission-free ETFs: All free to buy

    National Bank Direct Brokerage

    National Bank Direct Brokerage is a division of National Bank Financial. This online broker offers a very wide range of financial products and investment tools. They are one of the cheapest online brokers for active investors and younger investors and one of the first bank owned brokerage to have reduced the commission rate. As for the sale and purchase of ETFs, U.S. or Canadian ETFs are commissions-free. The only requirements are that you must have a minimum of 100 ETF units in the transaction and that you must opt-in to receive your documents electronically. National Bank Direct Brokerage offers two platforms; The Market Q platform and the classic platform. The Market Q platform is for active investors. NBDB offers Morningstar and Trading Central as resources.

    • Account maintenance fee: All accounts with less than $20,000 must pay a $100 account maintenance fee. However, you can avoid these fees if you make more than 5 trades per year, if you have an Investcube account, if you are an active investor (more than 100 trades per quarter), if you are a young investor (18 to 30 years old), or if you have taken a promotion for professionals.
    • Minimum amount to open a brokerage account: $0
    • Commission-free ETFs: All (Canada and US)
    CIBC Investor’s Edge
    CIBC Investor’s Edge
    Transaction Fee:
    $5.95 for students
    $4.95 if more than 150 trades/quarter
    Free online trading for young investors 18-24, $0 per online stock and ETF trade. No annual fees. No minimum balance required.
    Get cash back when you open a new Investor’s Edge account by applying at your local Banking Centre and transfer funds from outside CIBC to your new account to get cash back. Terms and conditions apply.

    100 free trades and up to $4,500 cash back

    Sophie is the content specialist at Hardbacon. Her passion for fintech and personal finance was revealed during the 2016 Cooperathon where she received special award.