Surviscor Canadian Online Brokerage Experience Reviews - Canada's Best and Worst Online Brokers

Canada's Best and Worst Self-Directed Online Brokers

TD Direct Investing Provides the Best Overall DIY Investing Experience in Canada

Choosing a winner in any one of our reviews is a big deal for us at Surviscor and the Best Overall Online Broker is even more challenging as it uses multiple reviews to crown a winner. We look at lots of things to help Canadian investors understand the different options out there, like what each platform offers, their service levels, and how much they charge for commissions and fees. We want to help self-directed investors make smart choices without getting confused by all the ads.

But it's tricky because there are so many online rankings that aren't really fair. Some of them are paid for by the companies they're ranking, so they're not unbiased. We're not saying the whole industry is dishonest, but it can be hard to trust everything you read. That's why we do what we do and how we do it.

To figure out what's reliable, it's important to know the difference between someone's opinion and real facts. Honest reviewers will tell you if they've been paid to write about a company. Also, if you see a really positive review on a website that sells the company's products, it might not be totally honest.

Watch out for other signs too, like when a review only talks about one company and ignores the competition, or if it doesn't explain the methodology used to come up with the rankings, or there are a limited number of firms reviewed and/or mentioned. These are some of the red flags that suggest the review might not be trustworthy. Companies want to look better than their competitors, so they might try to make themselves seem better than they really are.

Our advice is to be careful, look for your own value, make informed investment decisions, and simply to embrace the difficult self-directed investing by understanding the never-ending ups and downs along the way. Good luck and enjoy the read.

It's never a bad time to question your current status-quo and explore alternative relationships. Be aware of the misleading sometimes marketing messages that typically are based on cost and/or minor, and usually insignificant, platform differentiators and find your own value. If you want $0 stock and ETF commissions, there are plenty to choose from despite what you may have read. And if you don't mind paying some commissions for the important extras, then make sure you understand the difference between $5 and $10 per trade.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group

What Makes Surviscor Rankings Different?

The Cornerstone Experiences of an Overall Investor Experience

A Dozen Digital Lessons

The BEST and WORST Online Brokerage Firms for 2024

We're proud of our reviews because they give you lots of detailed info that really matters. We dig deep to tell you what's good and true about each online brokerage firm, without getting influenced by their ads or if they're connected to Surviscor. We're all about making sure Canadian investors get the facts they need. Here are our 2024 rankings:

Digital RankOnline Brokerage FirmExperience ScoreRead Company Review
1TD Direct Investing90 %View Company Review
2Desjardins Online Brokerage84 %View Company Review
3National Bank Direct Brokerage81 %View Company Review
4Questrade70 %View Company Review
5CIBC Investor's Edge68 %View Company Review
6Qtrade Direct Investing67 %View Company Review
7Scotia iTRADE61 %View Company Review
T-8Wealthsimple Trade60 %View Company Review
T-8BMO InvestorLine60 %View Company Review
T-8CI Direct Trading60 %View Company Review
T-8RBC Direct Investing60 %View Company Review
12Laurentian Bank Discount Brokerage17 %View Company Review
Not RatedCG DirectView Company Information
Not RatedInteractive Brokers CanadaView Company Information

We say goodbye to HSBC InvestDirect in 2024 due to the RBC Royal Bank takeover of HSBC Bank of Canada. This sould be a good thing for HSBC customers when it comes to digital-based financial services.

In a tightly contested online brokerage environment, the smallest differentiation can prove to be the reason for an investor to choose a firm. Our advice is be careful of the endless amount of false, or stretched, marketing claims, and choose a self-directed investing partner based on their real merits, truths, and how they perform versus their peers.

Glenn LaCoste, President and CEO of Surviscor Group

What Makes Surviscor Rankings Different?

Snapshot of TOP TIER Firms

Snapshot of TIER 2 Firms

Snapshot of TIER 3 Firms

Snapshot of BOTTOM TIER and Non-Ranked Firms

Surviscor Personalized Validation and Selection Tool scorChoice for Consumer Bankers and Online Investors to find their own #1 firm

A Dozen Digital Lessons

This is not Surviscor's first rodeo. We have been analyzing Online Brokerage firms since the early 2000's and have been witness to every new firm launch, every different platform introduction and changes, the constant decline of customer service, and years of commission battles which has drastically reduced fees for 2024 self-directed investors.

Here are some of the high-level lessons learned from our four main digital-based online brokerage reviews:

#1 - No Free Lunch - 15 Years and Counting

If you follow the 15-plus years of public-facing Surviscor proprietary and partner-based reviews, or the dozens of TV and press interviews, there's a great chance you have heard Surviscor's #1 buyer-beware message, that there is NO FREE LUNCH in life. The genesis of the statement, and its best relevance, revolves around low-to-no-cost marketing messages. We have seen all the moves and the smokescreens that typically accompany the messaging and we are not saying that the firms are lying. We are simply pointing out that a fee reduction typically comes with a vague higher cost elsewhere and/or a reduced experience. Just ask yourself if it truly makes sense that a firm is willing to do business with you and make no money. #LogicOverLunch

#2 - There is Value in Paying a Commission

Many novice investors are drawn to $0 commission deals without fully understanding the offerings of each brokerage and the value of paying a commission. In doing so, they miss out on valuable benefits like in-depth market quotes, timely analyst research, and the crucial opportunity to grow with a supportive partner. For example, consider TD EasyTrade's requirement for $0 trades, which mandates the use of its basic mobile platform. Why isn't this offer available on its more comprehensive TD Direct Investing WebBroker platform? It's primarily a marketing strategy. Ultimately, any savings in trade costs should be balanced against the potential loss of guidance, education, and market insight - key elements for novice or average DIY investors. #PayToPlay

#3 - Self-Directed DIY Investing is NOT Easy

The number of university marketing graduates claiming to be Customer Experience experts is at an all-time high. Why is it important? Because senior online brokerage executives are being convinced that reducing the amount of functionality provided through mobile platforms, along with key supporting features that enhance digital experiences, is what new investors are looking for. For example, TD EasyTrade commercials state exactly that fact and are trying to convince investors that giving them less will make the overall experience better. This couldn't be further from the truth. Self-directed investing is far from easy and new investors should pay the small prices to learn and become a better investor. #InvestingIsChallenging

#4 - Not Every Experience is Alike

At first glance, placing a trade is a placing a trade and getting a quote is getting a quote. The truth is, there are many differences and investors should take notice. The best firms consider each investing task process from end to end and maximize the overall experience with supporting features to enhance the functionality and investment journey. #DemandTheBest

#5 - Define Your Own Relationship Value

Value can be interpreted in various ways, but when it comes to online brokerage firms, it often hinges on the self-directed investor. With 14 firms currently under scrutiny, it's highly probable that each investor has better alternatives to explore. Ultimately, firms generate revenue through assets under administration, foreign exchange conversions, and trading activity. It's crucial to understand what you bring to the table and actively seek out the most advantageous deal for yourself. #DefineYourValue

#6 - Individual Firm Digital Discrepancies are Narrowing

For years, the four cornerstones of a self-directed DIY investing experience consistently indicated large inconsistencies between desktop and mobile-based platforms when we focused in on a firm's individual rankings firms. For example, a firm was ranked #3 in desktop experience but ranked #8 within the same pool of online brokerage firms. The good news is that most of the firms are starting to narrow that platform rankings gap which will make it easier for new investors to choose better financial partner firms. #FindTheBest

#7 - Desktop Platforms are Essential for Personal Growth

Account management, educational material, and deeper investment information to form investment strategies play an important role in self-directed investing. The plain truth for new investors is that a robust desktop platform is essential for personal investing growth and to enhance each self-directed investing journey. DIY investing is not easy and relying only on handheld mobile platform experiences may force your journey to stop well before its necessary. #EmbraceTheDesktop

#8 - Handheld Investing Platforms Lack Depth

The question that begs some answers is why are there so many firms lagging when it comes to offering complete online investing services on handheld devices? The honest answer is that the firms choose not to invest in what you the investor needs, which includes robust navigational designs that delivery ease of use along with critical self-directed investing features and functionality. #DemandMoreOnMobile

#9 - Do NOT Rely on App Store Ratings

You would be shocked by the number of banking brain trusts that gauge development success by the platform ratings on both the App Store and Google Play platforms. While app stores serve as the vehicle to download the desired mobile banking application, it's essential to exercise caution when relying solely on user reviews when determining which banking firm to trust. It's not that these reviews are necessarily fabricated, but can be manipulated; instead, they often emphasize superficial usability factors rather than the comprehensive features and functionality of the app. #BewareThe Rating

#10 - Regulators Blind to False Marketing

For such a highly regulated industry, the regulators appear to turn a blind eye towards the practice of false advertising through stretched or misleading marketing statements designed to attract investors. Our most recent example is Interactive Brokers Canada who comes up as a #1 Rated Firm on search engines despite the claim being an Interactive Broker USA claim. If a firm needs to use false misrepresentation or use peer sites to attract you, then run away as fast as you can. There are too many reputable firms to consider. #BeCarefulOfTheMessage

#11 - Secure Interaction Methods Remain Nothing to Brag About

Online brokerage firms make a big deal about the danger of non-secure interactions. The message to onlookers is that customers receive better treatment and more effective methods once inside the walls, but the research continues to indicate otherwise. In most cases, those areas of customer interaction within the walls are dated and poorly designed for near-instant messaging and the turn-around times are not as fast as one would hope once signed-in. #DecliningService

#12 - The Big Banks continue to Miss the Service Mark

Service levels at most of the Big Bank owned online brokerage firms is worst than disappointing. For the longest time, the traditional Big Five set the standard for customer services across all financial services and even non-related industries. Sadly, today, based on 2023 data, only two of the now six big banks respond to non-secure service interactions in less than a day, while RBC Direct Investing (49 hours) and BMO InvestorLine (52 hours) are in the 2 - 3-day club, Scotia iTRADE (72 hours) is in the 3-4 day club, while National Bank Direct Brokerage is the worst big bank answering in 107 hours on average. #ServiceNotTopPriority

Surviscor Personalized Validation and Selection Tool scorChoice for Consumer Bankers and Online Investors to find their own #1 firm

The Cornerstone Experiences of an Overall Investor Experience

Being one of the Best Online Brokers in Canada does not mean having either the best desktop and/or mobile platform. It has nothing to do with having the best service levels and/or the lowest advertised price. To win the prestigious Surviscor award, a firm must be effective at the four key cornerstone experiences which make up an investor's complete experience. The experiences are:

Online Platform Experience

Surviscor's Online Brokerage Experience Review explores a typical desktop-based online investor experience, including both the pre-login and login areas, which evaluates the online journey through each investor process and typical investor experience. View the Online Experience Rankings

Mobile Platform Experience

The Mobile Brokerage Experience Review explores a typical mobile device-based investor experience, including both the pre-login and login areas, which evaluates the mobile journey through each investor process and typical investor experience. View the Mobile Experience Rankings

Commission & Fees Experience

The Commissions & Fees Experience Review evaluates each firm using five trade-related investor profiles, including over 16,000 individual trades, interest rates, account rates and account-related fees, to determine the best overall commissions and fees experience offered to self-directed investors. View the Commission & Fees Experience Rankings

Customer Service Level Experience

Service reputation is the cornerstone of any consumer and business relationship. The Service Level Experience Review explores daily service responsiveness and service interaction capabilities at all firms, both inside and outside the customer login process and across all digital devices. The latest 12-month service responsiveness portion included 142 service interactions in a 12-month period ending December 31, 2023. View the Brokerage Service Experience Rankings

Snapshot of TOP TIER Firms

There are three TOP TIER firms that score above 80% when looking at the overall digital-based online brokerage investor experience across the Four Cornerstone Self-Directed Investing Experiences. Here is a quick look at each firm's results:


  • Desktop Platform
  • Improved Service Responsiveness
  • Consistent Investor Experience across platforms

  • TD Easy Trade platform - Poor solution for new investors
  • Making its long-time customers use inferior mobile app to save money

Go to the Complete TD DIRECT INVESTING Review


  • $0 commission for Stocks and ETFs
  • Competitive Options commissions
  • Industry-leading Research

  • Platform designs need improvements
  • Service Responsiveness could improve



  • $0 commission for Stocks and ETFs
  • Competitive Options commissions

  • Platform designs need improvements
  • Service Responsiveness needs to improve


Snapshot of TIER 2 Firms

There are three TIER 2 firms that score between 67% and 70% when looking at the overall digital-based online brokerage investor experience across the Four Cornerstone Self-Directed Investing Experiences. Here is a quick look at each firm's results:

#4: QUESTRADE (70%)

  • Industry-leading service levels
  • Industry-leading mobile platforms
  • Desktop platform

  • ECN fees
  • Commissions on ETF sales

Go to the Complete QUESTRADE Review


  • Competitive commission structures
  • Improved Service Responsiveness

  • Below-average online-based Investor experience
  • Inadequate service responsiveness
  • No significant changes to digital features and functionalities over the last decade

Go to the Complete CIBC INVESTOR'S EDGE Review


  • Industry-leading Desktop experience
  • Service responsiveness

  • Fees and commissions are on the higher side
  • Mobile-based experience

Go to the Complete QTRADE DIRECT INVESTING Review

Surviscor Personalized Validation and Selection Tool scorChoice for Consumer Bankers and Online Investors to find their own #1 firm

Snapshot of TIER 3 Firms

There are five TIER 3 firms that score between 60% and 61% when looking at the overall digital-based online brokerage investor experience across the Four Cornerstone Self-Directed Investing Experiences. Here is a quick look at each firm's results:

#7: SCOTIA iTRADE (61%)

  • Desktop platform experience
  • Improved mobile platform experience

  • Inadequate service responsiveness
  • Commissions are expensive

Go to the Complete SCOTIA iTRADE Review


  • Mobile platform experience
  • Average desktop platform experience

  • Inadequate service responsiveness
  • Commissions are expensive

Go to the Complete BMO INVESTORLINE Review


  • Average desktop platform experience
  • Average mobile platform experience

  • Inadequate service responsiveness
  • Commissions are expensive

Go to the Complete CI DIRECT TRADING Review


  • Average desktop platform experience
  • Average mobile platform experience

  • Service responsiveness could improve
  • Commissions are expensive

Go to the Complete RBC DIRECT INVESTING Review


  • $0 commission for Stocks and ETFs
  • Competitive Options commissions

  • Weak mobile platform
  • Poor desktop platform experience
  • Poor Service Responsiveness

Go to the Complete WEALTHSIMPLE TRADE Review

Snapshot of BOTTOM TIER and Non-Ranked Firms

Bottom Tier Firms typically miss the mark for self-directed investors unless they have a niche product or service offering. These firms typically offer a below-average overall online brokerage experience across the Four Cornerstone Experiences but could have the occasional bright spot to consider.


  • No Positives

  • Desktop platform experience
  • No real mobile platform
  • Expensive Commissions
  • Poor Service responsiveness


Interactive Brokers (Canada) is not fully reviewed by Surviscor as it mainly caters to professional traders and has very US-centric digital platforms and supporting information which does not cater to a Canadian self-directed investor. While we may start to cover this firm again, we would need to see that they are committed to being Canadian and they would need to stop their very suspect marketing practices which are leading Canadians to believe they are one of the best Canadian firms. Go to the Complete INTERACTIVE BROKERS Review

Canaccord Genuity Direct is a Surviscor #BuyerBeware firm as the platform does not cater to the discipline of self-directed investing despite some strong first impression service levels. Go to the Complete CG DIRECT Review

What Makes Surviscor Rankings Different?

The Surviscor Experience Reviews are the largest and most unbiased evaluations in North America, known for uncompromised facts and truth, about true customer experiences and digital journeys. The differentiation between Surviscor reviews, other ranking firm reviews, and individuals who claim to cover the Canadian online brokerage and consumer banking industries are:

  • Surviscor reviews are based on a lot of OBJECTIVE FACTS and not on subjective firm-sponsored, or limited sample size results, that are unfortunately all over the internet.
  • Firms cannot sway the outcome nor dictate if they are reviewed or not in Surviscor reviews. If they have a pulse and offer the service, they are fair game.
  • Award distinctions are not given by sponsored ghost writers or false marketing pieces and messages or even better, pay-to-play reviews that promote brand exposure.

The Bottom Line: Do Your Homework

Online brokerage firms need to be really good at giving customers a great experience and fair prices. At Surviscor, we're known for being strict and fair. We don't play favorites - if a firm is doing great, we'll say so, but if they're not, we'll call them out on it. Our goal is to find the firms that offer the best experiences and top-notch products and services to their customers.

With so many firms out there, it can be tough to figure out which one is right for you. That's why it's important to look beyond the ads, do some research, and find the firm that meets your needs best. #FindYourRightFirm

The Surviscor Disclaimer

Surviscor takes immense pride in being tough critics and remaining completely unbiased when assessing online brokerage firms, whether they provide exceptional or subpar experiences. Our goal is to recognize firms that excel in offering top-notch products and services to deserving customers. We believe that Canadians deserve the best when it comes to managing their hard-earned money, and having a reliable online brokerage partner is essential, not just a privilege. #DemandTheBest

Explore other Surviscor Rankings

This review is only one of many Surviscor yearly digital experience reviews for Online Self-Directed Brokerage and Consumer Banking firms. Take a look at your current firms, firms you always thought about using, and maybe you'll even find a new firm to consider.