So, you're getting into the stock market and you need a broker. And perhaps you've heard about eToro, the Israel-based fintech providing retail traders with discount brokerage services. Established in 2007, eToro is one of the leading retail trading apps, with more than 20 million users. eToro markets itself as a social trading platform, allowing users to research and copy the trading strategies of other investors.
The eToro trading platform opens international financial markets to retail traders, allowing trading and investment in stocks, commodities, ETFs, indices, and currencies. However, eToro isn't available for Canadians to use. This article will examine comparable alternatives for Canadians.
Our top pick
Ranked as one of Canada’s best discount brokers, Qtrade Investor gives retail traders everything they need to manage their portfolio and day trading activities.
Although the Qtrade Investor platform does not offer the social trading aspect of eToro, investors get a comprehensive range of account and order types, with a variety of markets and assets to choose from. Qtrade Investor offers competitive commission structures and excellent customer service.
The Qtrade platform comes with innovative and user-friendly tools that help you navigate trades and orders, choosing the right entries and exits. There are research tools to evaluate investment or trading opportunities, and you get a reliable mobile trading platform.
- Simplified trading platform with easy to understand charts.
- Managed portfolios available.
- Access to 100 commission-free ETFs and mutual funds.
- Discounted commissions for active day traders.
- Access to high-quality research by Scotia analysts.
- Demo account available for paper trading.
- Not available to US residents.
- No option for funding through credit cards or e-wallets.
Questrade is one of Canada's top discount brokers, with options for trading on a desktop platform or through a mobile interface. Although it lacks the social trading aspect of eToro, this web-based trading platform offers investors and day traders basic charts, real-time snap quotes, research tools, and watchlists. It's easy for novice investors to learn and use, and you get a good variety of order types.
The downloadable trading platform, IQ Edge, features excellent customization options, with additional order types and research tools included for traders and investors. You get snap quotes in real-time on both the web-based platform and IQ Edge. If you want real-time market data feeds for quotes, you'll need to pay an additional monthly fee. The Questrade mobile app offers traders a similar experience to the web-based platform but with a scaled-down version for mobile compatibility.
- User-friendly, flexible trading platform.
- Free ETF purchases.
- Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
- A wide variety of account options for traders.
- Research tools and education resources provided.
- Only accepts Canadian clients.
- Deposits only available in USD or CAD.
- High minimum deposit (CA$1,000).
- Restrictions on margin trading.
As the brokerage division of Scotiabank, Scotia iTRADE launched in 2008 after acquiring E*TRADE Canada. The acquisition doubled Scotia's client base, and the firm has won several awards in the fintech space and a ranking as one of the top brokers in Canada.
Scotia iTRADE provides traders and investors with discount commission structures along with an effective trading platform for active day traders. Although there is no social trading functionality like with eToro, iTRADE gives you both educational trading resources suited to beginner traders and the extensive research tools needed by advanced traders.
Scotia iTRADE is a great choice for new traders looking to learn more about trading and the markets. You also get access to a wide range of Canadian and International ETFs with no trading fees.
- Discounted commission structures for active day traders.
- High-quality, award-winning trading platform.
- Access to market research by Scotia Bank’s top analysts.
- Demo account for practicing your strategy.
- Annual fees for registered and unregistered accounts.
- The Premium FlightDesk trading platform costs an additional monthly fee.
For experienced traders
Interactive Brokers, a.k.a. IBKR, is one of the leading international discount brokerages. Most suitable for active experienced traders, their trading platform is complex, with time being required to learn and use effectively. However, Interactive Brokers offers you a professional-level trading experience, with access to a wide range of markets and assets, plus commission-free trades on ETFs and stocks.
The company launched the IBKR Lite service in 2019, offering a user-friendly platform for new traders. IBKR Lite offers you unlimited commission-free trades on stocks and ETFs listed on US exchanges. Unfortunately, IBKR Lite is not available to Canadian residents.
If you're a seasoned day trader in Canada, the IBKR Pro platform gives you access to advanced trading tools. Though there is no social trading like with eToro, you can trade a wide variety of assets, including futures, options, fixed income, mutual funds, and much more. IBKR Pro and Lite give you access to 135 exchanges in 33 countries.
- Low exchange rates for CAD deposits.
- Access to US and international markets.
- Wide variety of financial assets including ETFs, stock, forex, futures, options, and more.
- Suitable for experienced day traders.
- Tax liability implications for Canadians.
- IBKR Lite is unavailable to Canadians.
- Poor mobile app interface.
- Expensive monthly fees.
- Almost non-existent customer service for Canadians.
Wealthsimple Trade is an online discount trading platform where you can trade ETFs and stocks on the most popular US and Canadian exchanges with no commission. It's Canada's only zero-commission broker, letting you trade ETFs and stocks with no fees and no account minimum required.
The user interface is highly regarded, being clean and user-friendly on both desktop and mobile. Wealthsimple Trade is more similar to Robinhood than eToro in many regards, chiefly in terms of the user interface and cost structure. However, it lacks eToro’s social trading capability (as do most brokers).
- Commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs.
- User-friendly mobile trading apps for iOS and Android devices.
- No minimum account balance.
- CIPF protection on account balances up to $1 million.
- Invest in TFSA and non-registered accounts.
- No margin accounts available.
- RESP accounts not available.
- No real-time market data.
- Not suitable for "scalping" strategies.
What to look for in an eToro alternative
Here's what we think are the important things to look out for when deciding which broker to use.
- Tradable assets and markets: When choosing your discount broker, make sure you have access to the assets you want to trade or invest in. Do you want to trade ETFs, stocks, forex, or commodities? Maybe you're looking to expand your strategy to cryptocurrencies? Choose the broker offering you the best range of assets you want to trade.
- Who it’s designed for: Your prospective broker should offer a bouquet of services to suit new traders and professionals. Look for platforms like Questrade and Qtrade Investor, which offer access to as many tickers and markets as eToro. In addition, your prospective broker should offer you user-friendly trading and research tools to help you navigate the markets. Finding an alternative broker with eToro's community feel will be challenging though, if not impossible considering the choice available.
- Trading fees and commissions: Before you commit to any discount broker, make sure you read through the fee table, including any minimum account balance requirements. Check the fees per trade and other charges for currency conversions and inactivity.
- Functional and user-friendly mobile apps: Look for brokers offering a mobile trading platform. With mobile apps, you stay in touch with your portfolio and asset price action, allowing you to make timely investment decisions in volatile markets.
- Demo accounts: Demo accounts let you practice with paper trading before you put real money at risk. This investment simulation account will let you practice and master your trading strategy with real market data without putting your hard-earned money at risk. A demo account also gives you a chance to test the platform’s features before committing.