Day trading is interesting because it is a niche of securities trading that is more intuitive than securities trading in general.
To explain, consider stock trading. Stock trading can give you a headache with how complicated it is. But day trading the same stocks is much easier. Why is this?
To start with, let’s define day trading.
Day trading is any kind of trading that involves buying into a position and selling out of the same position within the same trading day. You can do this with any security, from shares to cryptocurrency.
If you buy a share in a company when the market opens, then sell before it closes on the same day, then you are a day trader. There are some restrictions put on day traders, but they depend more on the platform you are using than the specific laws around day trading. Take Questrade, for instance.
Questrade disallows users from day trading on their platform if they have less than $2,000 in their account. You cannot close a position the same day you opened one on that platform. Some platforms put mandatory days between opening and closing a position as a means of enforcing risk management.
Interactive Brokers, in contrast, will allow you to day trade as long as you say you have more than $25,000 in assets. They will not ask you to prove you have this much, only that you say you do.
Simply put, it is because stock trading normally involves a lot more patience and analysis. Day trading involves its own kind of patience and analysis, but you can always just sell your shares for a slightly higher price and be on to the next trade before the market closes.
It is baked into the premise of day trading that you make your money by not overstaying your welcome. With normal stock trading, you are waiting days, maybe weeks, to try and sell at the best price. But there will be times where your patience is punished rather than rewarded.
A stock might open at a much lower price than that at which it closed. Lots can happen in the after hours and pre-market time periods. With day trading, however, you will never reach the same highs as normal stock trading. But you will never expose yourself to the same amount of risk either.
In short, day trading is a well-regulated way to make small amounts of money fast. The more capital you go into it with, the more money you make. But the essential strategy is not to chase big payouts, instead focusing on consistent, low-risk income. This utilizes very different skills than normal stock trading.
With all that in mind, you are probably wondering: What are the best day trading platforms in Canada? To answer that, we looked through tons of different platforms and came up with the top ten best ones.
There are two things that day traders hate: Trade restrictions and commission fees. Both of these are the biggest external obstructions to trading. No matter how good your strategy or profitable your trades, you will be forced to make less money under the conditions set by these restrictions.
It is no wonder then that the best day trading platform in Canada is Wealthsimple. It is easy to use, connects with markets all over both Canada and the United States, and has no commission fees.
Another factor that plays to its success is its learning and research tools. These are features you will hear a lot about in this list, as learning and research tools are the place where most trading platforms make themselves unique from the rest. Wealthsimple’s tools are focused on helping new traders learn.
That makes them an ideal starting point for anyone who is just getting started with day trading. This is the most important time to learn how the stock market works, since it is the time when you are most open to developing new habits. Once you have made a few trades it becomes harder to adapt.
It is simple psychology: The more you do something one way, the harder it is to change your ways.
Every platform is struggling to go in two opposite directions at once: Should it be welcoming to new traders, or supportive of experienced traders? Wealthsimple is no different. And while it is admirable that they dedicate so strongly to their choice, it means that experienced traders will feel left out.
Experienced traders will feel underserved by the lack of advanced trading and analysis tools. You can use their research suite to do a lot of fundamental analysis of the context around a stock, but there are no charting tools for looking at the stock on a more technical level.
This is particularly galling to experienced day traders, since technical analysis is so much more important to them than fundamental analysis. What does that mean? Well, in short, fundamental analysis concerns itself more with the industry and market, while technical analysis focuses on the stock itself.
Fundamental analysis is easier for people to understand, so Wealthsimple focuses on that. It is not a bad thing, as it keeps things simple, but it means you have to find your technical analysis tools elsewhere.
We go now from one of the most simple platforms to one of the most complicated. Interactive Brokers is one of the most well-known international trading platforms in the world. This means that it does not just connect Canada to the New York Stock Exchange, but the London Stock Exchange, Hong Kong, Beijing, and even Sydney. In short, anywhere there are stocks, Interactive Brokers lets you trade them.
You can trade through their website, though the app that they offer is well-known within the industry. This app is called the Trader Workstation. It features everything that the website has while also providing you with an incredibly customizable interface. The information it provides is staggering.
Everything from research about different industries in different countries, news about what is going on in market trends throughout the day, and tools for analyzing the stocks underlying this information.
Of course, all of this is bundled with lexicons and articles that detail the different facets of trading and how to interpret them. These are important for making niche trades—that is, trades that you find through search tools, rather than trades that are presented to you by the market.
It is easy enough to make a few hundred dollars selling Amazon stocks when its share price goes from $3000 to $3100 day in and day out. But if you do not have that capital to start with, you might find yourself needing to get innovative. That is exactly what Interactive Brokers can help you do.
Of course, all these tools are not presented to you so simply. Whether it is on the website or on the platform’s desktop app, you are going to have to navigate through half of these to get to the other half. And moreover, you are going to need to know what to look for in the first place.
This is a trading platform that does not even bundle its search interface with its order interface. That means if you want to buy shares in a company, you have to find the company in one tab, research it in another, and place an order for the number of shares you want in a third. It’s not very intuitive.
Everything you use to learn from the app is easier to get to, but still harder to navigate than most other apps. All in all, it makes for a poor user experience if you are not accustomed to it. But people can adapt to anything, and the lack of commission fees and trade restrictions will more than make up for it.
When talking about research and learning tools, it is easy to act like they exist in a vacuum. As if they can be used constructively, linearly, infinitely.
This is not how learning works in any industry, and day trading is no exception. Getting something out of learning and research tools is a matter of setting goals.
Questrade understands this. It helps you in two ways: First, it helps you set those goals. For most trading, that means setting up a long-term plan for how to make the most money in a given amount of time (usually over more than ten years). But day trading works differently than long term investing.
The second way Questrade helps you is more easily applied to day trading, and that is by connecting you to the information that is material to the trades you are looking to make. Let’s look at an example.
If you are looking to buy Tesla stocks, then you can read endlessly on the different parts of an electric car. Through this reading, you can figure out a huge variety of industries to invest in. But you will quickly find there are more industries than you have money to spend.
Questrade uses robo-advisors, a support team, and their own research materials to make prioritizing the most profitable stocks easy. These tools can even help day traders make last-minute decisions.
The biggest issue with Questrade is its commission fees. Nobody likes commission fees, especially for day trading as it is usually done at a high volume of trades. Questrade does have a special discount for high volume traders though, so you will not be hemorrhaging as much money.
It might also turn some advanced traders off due to its focus on assisted trading, which makes its research materials hard to navigate unless you search for the right topic.
BMO Investorline offers something that not many other trading platforms in the world offer: The ability to get advice for your trading strategy that is personalized to what you are trying to do.
Right off the bat, this makes it extremely appealing to both new and old traders. Whether you are looking to make a retirement account, or want to grow your investment capital to make bigger and bigger day trades, BMO Investorline can help you figure out how to do that and with what stocks.
Obviously, this means it comes with a lot of the usual advantages of a trading platform. It has a mobile app as well as a desktop app, learning and analysis tools, as well as a knowledge base to help you do your own research if you are not interested in paying for their personal advice program.
All of these things are quite adequate, so it does not stand out like other trading platforms do. Except that it gives you something that no other platform does in the form of this personalized advice.
Though there is one problem. This personalized advice is gated by a subscription fee. The yearly cost is $750, which shakes out to more than $60 a month. You get the advice for free if your trading account is funded with more than $50,000, which is a good or a bad thing depending on who you ask.
They also have commission fees on their trades. The trades have a flat fee, and then there is an additional, smaller fee on top of them for each share you are buying in the trade. This can cut heavily into penny stock day trading but affects day trading at all levels.
There are a lot of entry points for new traders these days, but the way they work is different for each type of trading.
If you are looking to trade for long-term growth through big investments in growth industries, then you will have different beginner tools than someone trading to make an income.
Scotia iTrade is a great platform for beginner day traders because it gives you the tools you need to really get into the flow of day trading. People use a lot of words to describe day trading, and while “flow” is one of them, it is not the one you are going to read in an economics textbook.
The flow in this case is referring to the feeling of day trading. Compared to other forms of trading, day trading has a lot more room for intuition. After all, many of your trades will be done based on small price increases. There are so many factors at play in the time between the seconds that it is basically impossible to keep track of them mentally. Trying to do so can leave you with crippling choice paralysis.
Scotia iTrade benefits that flow by making trading easier. The harder it is to execute your choices, the more time you have to doubt yourself. The easier it is to execute your choices, the less doubt you have.
Scotia iTrade’s interface is designed to keep everything on one page and involve as few button presses as possible to get through trades. Anyone who is truly new to trading will hear this and think, “Isn’t that how a trading page is supposed to be done?” To which we say, “You have not used many trading apps.”
While the philosophy of keeping all of one’s tools on the same page works wonders for trading, it also means that Scotia iTrade’s research knowledge base and its analysis tools also share real estate.
This does not make them dysfunctional or anything, but it does mean they can feel cluttered. Many beginner traders who don’t know to look for certain tools will go a long time before finding out that certain tools exist, simply because they are buried under everything else.
Scotia iTrade also has a steep commission fee per trades that will turn off a lot of day traders.
Trading apps on the phone come in one of two flavors: They are either trying to cram all of the functionality of a desktop app into the space of a phone screen, or they are trying to remove functionality until they can easily fit their app into a phone screen.
There is not much in between. Or there wasn’t until TD Direct Investing came along. They are far from the first phone app for making trades, but they might be the first phone app to let you customize your interface. This means that you will start with a feature-light phone app where the most you do is trade.
But that is not how most people’s apps will end up. For many beginner traders, their apps will start to incorporate more of their watchlists and research for what is going on in the world. For advanced traders, their apps will present more analysis tools to them and use more alerts.
You will see this very list judge apps based on the volume of tools they offer up to their users. And as valuable as it is to judge them that way (it gives you a good impression of who the app caters to), not all users are going to use all tools. TD Direct Investing caters to that fact above all else.
Rather than loading you down with tools you won’t use just so they can make a claim of how much they have to offer, they let you control what tools are put in front of you.
This way of designing the app comes with two issues: First, it basically requires users to customize their experience in order to have an experience on par with other apps. Not every user wants a customized experience. In fact, some users will simply feel like the app is expecting them to do all the work.
The second issue is that a customizable interface makes some tools simply easy to miss. If you give most traders a box of trading and analysis tools and tell them to pick the three most important ones, they will probably not be able to come away with an optimal (or even functional) selection of tools.
While TD Direct Investing allows you to reconfigure your interface at any time, beginner traders in particular run the risk of doing it once and then forgetting that they can even customize it.
These are mostly problems for the lowest common denominator of beginners, however. For most beginners, the app is an easy-to-use introduction to the advanced tools involved in trading.
Not a lot of people know this, but banks are some of the biggest hotspots of day trading. When you put your money in a bank, the bank can do whatever they want with it.
As long as they are able to hand you back the amount of money you ask for, anything goes behind the scenes even if it’s not their money.
They usually use this privilege to invest people’s money and grow it. If you are keeping $100 for someone, then you can invest that $100 and turn it into $120. As long as you can give them $100 when the time comes, then who is to say you were stealing from them?
CIBC Investor’s Edge is the trading platform of one of the biggest banks in Canada. Essentially, it allows you to make use of the same tools that CIBC brokers use to make money. This includes a good interface and research tools, but particularly noteworthy is their system of alerts and notifications.
You can customize the alerts to many different degrees and conditions. If you want to be notified when a stock has risen, of course you can do that. But you can even set it up to notify you when a stock has climbed at a certain rate. These notifications can be more passive as well, focusing on pure reminders.
Naturally, these notifications work on both the desktop app and the phone app. The CIBC knowledge base is large as well, comprising tons of articles and news stories about both the theory and the practice of what goes on in the stock market.
The big thing that day traders will be excited about is CIBC’s lowered commission rates program. This allows you to cut commission fees down if you meet certain standards of trade volume and profit.
CIBC definitely tends more towards the advanced side of things. It is meant for professional stock traders after all, and you are basically using those same tools.
On a related note, some people will not feel very enticed to get a CIBC Investor’s Edge account since it requires them to have a CIBC account to begin with. It is a great deal for people who already have such an account, but if your banking is done elsewhere, then you are not given much reason to switch.
Of all the types of trading, day trading has the most diverse community. There are a few reasons for this. To begin with, it is the most fun form of trading as it has the most frequent demands.
The ability to micromanage it for the smallest gains and optimizations helps people find things to talk about.
But perhaps most importantly, it pulls together people from a variety of different economic classes. Growth trading has more lower and middle class people doing it, as does penny stocks. Foreign currency is the realm of the rich. But day trading can be done as easily with $50 as with $50,000.
No trading platform helps you feel this better than RBC Direct Investing. What they have that no one else has is a place where day traders can connect and share their insights with each other. This means chat rooms, direct messages, and articles written by actual users.
This can do a lot for you in two different ways. First, you will be able to actually talk with the people who are providing you your research insights. That means if you doubt them, you can seek clarification. And if you have faith in them, you can seek critical analysis from both them and others in the market.
The second thing you can do is make a name for yourself. This will usually mean finding people willing to take the trades you are offering. If you have ever fondly imagined becoming the source of everyone’s best trading information, then this is the place for you.
More opportunistically, you can also use these tools to figure out who is buying what. This will help you go so far as to create scarcity in the market as you not only predict the market itself, but the people in it.
The only thing we really mentioned regarding RBC Direct Investing’s features is its community. That is because most of its other features fail to really stand out. Its interface is not the easiest to work with, its analysis tools are objectively lesser than other platforms, and its commission fees are a little high.
And that is the biggest condemnation of all, isn’t it? They are “a little high”. They are not the highest, they are not the lowest. But all the same, RBC Direct Investing is on this list for a reason. Part of that reason is that it provides a community that you cannot get anywhere else.
And the other part of that is that it does not provide anything else worth changing platforms to get.
Day trading has a barrier to entry that is hard to ignore. You really have to learn three skills before you can really get started doing it. First, you need to learn what the stock market is and how to even read it.
Then, you need to understand how to use the tools a trading platform gives you in order to make purchases from that market. And finally, you need to learn what purchases are wise and unwise to make. This is a lot, and many advanced traders forget how much goes into even buying one stock.
QTrade is well aware of these barriers and works to get rid of them as easily as possible. To this effect, they have some of the best tools for teaching you how to operate within the stock market of any platform. These include the usual articles and tutorials, but also videos and podcasts.
The videos are tutorials that focus on actually working the platform, as is befitting a visual medium. The podcasts, however, are focused on explaining the theory of stock trading. Ask yourself: Of all the stock trading theories in this very article, how much did you skim over?
Knowledge like that is important, but no one is going to fault you if your eyes glaze over when you see a wall of expository text. The podcasts allow you to absorb that information more passively, greatly increasing your ability to retain it. It also means they can offer more of it with more nuance.
Along with this improved experience is a clean interface and tools for finding the best trades you can.
QTrade’s big weakness is its commission fee structure. It is just shy of being one of the most expensive commission fees out there. This still makes it low enough to consider, and there are programs for lowering it. But you are not guided towards those programs like you are guided towards everything else.
Most of what we have talked about so far has been exclusively focused on day trading stocks. There is a good reason for this: Stocks are much more safe than other securities, especially to day trade.
But not everyone wants to trade in the safest stocks. Foreign currency trading is one of the most popular methods of trading that is more risky than stocks, but less risky than something like day trading options.
And if you are day trading stocks in Canada, then CMC Markets is the place you want to be doing it. They offer the best “leverage” of any trading platform in the country, meaning that you can take on trades with the least risk and the lowest fees. They also happen to have the biggest selection of currencies.
If you use CMC Markets, you will notice that they also trade in other securities that you can day trade, like commodities and ETFs (as well as normal stocks). Because of this, their knowledge base is rich with analysis on both the state of the world economy, as well as economies localized in certain countries.
These are meant to make it easier to trade things like stocks and commodities, but it can actually do wonders for foreign currency trades too. In short, the breadth of their platform works to great advantage no matter what you are trading with them.
While their interfaces are highly intuitive, the securities themselves are on the more complicated side. You need a lot of knowledge just to know how to day trade foreign currency. And on top of that, it is known to be riskier than trading normal stocks. You can easily overlook something that costs you big.
So, streamlined appearances aside, you should really consider this an advanced trading option in basically every way.
We have talked about the core of day trading. Let’s get into the details. We mentioned foreign currency trading as having more risks associated with it compared to stock trading, and options being even riskier still. Why is that? And while we’re at it, what makes trading a security more or less risky to begin with?
This is the easiest type of risk to identify. A trade that changes its price frequently will require a lot of skill to buy at a low price and even more skill to sell at a high price. Part of the reason why stocks are considered low-risk is because this is one of the only ways a stock can be risky.
Timed trades are things like options, binary options, and CFDs. With these, you have to sell them by a designated time. This means that you can only wait so long for them to make up lost value before they force you to accept the loss. And this is on top of the existing risk of volatility.
This is why you will hear so many horror stories of people spending $100,000 on options. They expect to make $1,000,000, but all that ends up happening is their options expire after losing value.
One does not usually think of long-term trading as riskier than short-term trading. It is more a matter of how much money you initially invest. But the risks of long-term trading come from the fact that most people make long-term trades with large amounts of money.
The issue with doing this is that it is really no better than short-term trading in the grand scheme of things. If you can’t tell where a stock will go in a day, then you can’t tell where it’ll be in a year, since even more unexpected things can develop in a year.
This does not mean long-term trades are bad. But big bets on long-term trades are, as is buying a security with the intention of just sitting on it waiting for it to pay out. That money is better spent on a stock that you know will give a small payout in the shorter term, and then be reinvested.
There are tons of great options for day trading in Canada. Just be sure to manage your risks and try to buy in high volumes to keep your commission fees low. These ten trading platforms will help you out. Remember, even if it does not seem like it, the stock market wants you to make money.
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