Review Score: B+
Updated: Feb 2017
Virtual Brokers is one of the best discount brokers in Canada for most users. This review will show that it is fairly low cost, feature rich and well suited for most investors and a very nice option for active traders.
By all accounts, signing up for Virtual Brokers is fairly fast and relatively painless. You only need $1000 to open an account, but $5000 if you want to qualify for their commission free plan.
Understanding Virtual Brokers fees now requires you to understand the fee structure for their two different account types. Standard and Commission Free Accounts.
Standard Accounts have the following Fees
- $9.99 per stock trade
- $9.99 + $1.25 per contract for options trading
- $5000 balance required for zero inactivity fees
- No ECN fees
Commission Free accounts charge $0 per stock trade. This sounds like a no-brainer, but additional fees make it attractive only to very active investors.
- $0 per trade, but the account holder must subscribe to a Virtual Broker Data plan.
- Data plans cost $150 USD per month for Edge Trader Pro and $250 USD per month for PowerTrader Pro.
- You also have to pay ECN fees which can be onerous
So while the commission free plan may not have commissions on trades, you will still pay at least $150 USD per month. So, this plan might make sense for very active traders, but you would need to make dozens of trades every month to be saving money on commissions
Features, Support and Tools
- RRSPs and RESPs are available
- TFSA are available
- Mutual Funds can be held in your accounts
- You can buy ETFs with no commission which is a great feature and should hopefully become standard at all brokerages.
- A smartphone app is available
- Detailed income reports are available in your account
For the average investor, Virtual Brokers is a decent, low cost brokerage. They offer free ETFs, and many other features. However, their commission fees are not the lowest in Canada unless you are a very active investor. In this case, you can make unlimited trades for at least roughly $150 USD per month. Virtual Brokers is a great broker, but has a few failings that prevent it from being near perfect.