9 Best Options Trading Platforms In Canada (2022): Lower Your Fees

If you are looking to invest using options or to try your luck with trading options, the different options trading platforms in Canada come with a lot of variety.

You will have to make the decision about which self-directed brokerage to use.

Whether you are looking to invest or trade options, keep in mind that the seller of options wins 95% of the time.

We will cover the best options trading platforms in Canada below to help you choose the best one.

Best Overall
Questrade
  • Excellent Account Variety
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing
  • Easy Interface
  • Very Low Trade Commissions
  • No Account Fees
     
Low-Cost
Interactive Brokers
  • No Account Minimum
  • Platform That Is Tailored For Seasoned Traders And Investors
  • Very Low Trade Commissions
  • Access To Research And Market Info
     
Customer Service
Qtrade
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing
  • No Account minimums
  • Excellent Customer Service

Criteria to Consider when Choosing an Options Trading Platform

When choosing an options trading platform that is best for your particular situation, you will have to consider whether you will be frequently trading options or using them to invest for the long term.

Investors looking to trade options often will want to focus on minimizing the cost of each individual trade.

Long-term investors (such as those using LEAPS) may be more concerned with customer service, support for different account types, or access to information.

There are several key elements to look at when choosing the best options trading platform through a discount brokerage:

  1. Trading Commissions: these commissions are usually charged in two ways (a fee per trade as well as a fee per options contract).
  2. Account Variety: some discount brokerages are more flexible in the accounts that they support than others.
  3. Account Fees: these fees are sometimes charged on a regular basis – either monthly, quarterly, or annually. Some platforms allow certain investors to waive these fees based on trading activity or by meeting other criteria.
  4. Frequent Trader Fee Program: if you are trading options constantly, you may be able to qualify for lower commissions at some brokerages (provided that you meet the minimum options trades per quarter).
  5. Ease of Use: how understandable the trading platform is.
  6. Minimum Fees per Trade: some brokerages charge a minimum fee per trade, regardless of how few contracts you buy or sell.
  7. Customer Service: some brokerages offer better service regarding account or trade support, over the phone or online.

9 Best Options Trading Platforms in Canada

1. Questrade: Well-Balanced and a Great Option for most Options Trading

  • Account Variety: Excellent
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing: Yes
  • Trading Commissions: Low (especially with active trader pricing)
  • Account Fees: None
  • Account Minimum: Yes

Do use Questrade if: You are looking for a well-rounded options trading platform with competitive trading costs

Do not use Questrade if: You are looking to invest less than $1,000 (the account minimum)

Questrade takes the number one spot on our list due to being the most well-balanced platform currently available to Canadians. The self-directed platform is easy to follow and will appeal to both beginner and intermediate investors and traders.

In terms of option trading fees, Questrade offers regular clients fairly standard pricing.

Regular clients will be paying $9.95 per options trade plus $1 per option contract. The $1 fee per options contract is lower than other brokerages (which typically charge $1.25).

This can save you quite a bit in fees when trading a large amount of options contracts.

Questrade is an excellent option if you are looking to do a large number of trades through the active trader pricing package. This package is activated when an advanced market data package is purchased for $89.95 per month.

Active trader pricing is offered through fixed or variable options, which mainly impact stock and ETF trading. Once you qualify to be an active trader, your new option trading costs drop to:

  • Fixed: $4.95 per trade plus $0.75 per options contract
  • Variable:  $6.95 per trade plus $0.75 per options contract

Questrade, unlike most other brokerage options, does come with a $1,000 account opening minimum. Investors with small accounts may not meet Questrade’s minimum in order to open an account.

Pros
  • Questrade is great for trading other asset classes as well, in addition to options
  • Excellent account options for a non-bank, self-directed brokerage
  • Lowest trading cost per options contract
Cons
  • Charges fees per trade (some competitors don’t)
  • $1,000 minimum opening balance required to start trading
  • Only allows Canadian and US options

2. Interactive Brokers: Low-Cost and Professional Interface

Interactive brokers logo
  • Account Variety: Good
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing: Tiered pricing only for US options
  • Trading Commissions: Very low
  • Account Fees: Medium (high for accounts under $2,000)
  • Account Minimum: No

Do use Interactive Brokers if: You are a cost-sensitive, professional options trader

Do not use Interactive Brokers if: You are new to investing and trading options

Interactive Brokers is a close second-place choice as a top options trading platform in Canada. Although it does not offer quite as much flexibility as Questrade, it is widely used by professional investors and traders in the Canadian investment industry.

The platform’s option trading fees are extremely low, and you can save a substantial amount of money when trading options. Your savings will be especially high if you trade a low number of option contracts on a frequent basis.

Option trades at Interactive Brokers cost $1.25 per options contract without charging clients a trade fee.

This trading fee at competitors usually ranges between $4.95 to $9.99 at competing discount brokerages, meaning that you will save a substantial amount in fees on each trade.

The $1.25 fee per option contract is charged for a monthly option contract volume of under 10,000 contracts. Although it’s unlikely that regular investors will be trading over 10,000 contracts per month, your costs decrease if you trade more per month.

Below is the price table for Canadian option contracts:

Monthly Volume of ContractsTier
Less than 10,000 option contracts$1.25 per contract
10,000 – 50,000 option contracts$1.15 per contract
50,001 – 100,000 option contracts$1.05 per contract
100,001 option contracts or more$1.00 per contract

US option contracts have different prices based on both monthly contract volume as well as the contract premium:

US option contracts logo

Keep in mind that Canadians only have access to IBKR Pro – IBKR Lite is only available to US residents.

Interactive Brokers does not have an account opening minimum, unlike Questrade. Despite not having a minimum, the platform charges a substantial amount of account fees relative to peers.

If your account balance is below $2,000, you will be charged a monthly fee of $20. This monthly fee decreases to $10 per month for accounts over $2,000 and to $3 a month for clients under the age of 25.

Clients of the platform will also get access to a lot of free and premium news providers, as well as market research.

Pros
  • Very low cost of trading options with no trade fee (outside of a per-contract fee)
  • Professional platform with excellent features and research
  • Scales in pricing for very high option trading volumes
Cons
  • High account fees that are charged on a monthly basis (for small accounts)
  • May be confusing for newer investors or traders

3. Qtrade: Excellent Customer Service

  • Account Variety: Limited
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing: Yes
  • Trading Commissions: Average
  • Account Fees: Average
  • Account Minimum: No

Do use Qtrade if: You want to use a platform with excellent customer service

Do not use Qtrade if: You want to use the lowest-cost option trading platform

Qtrade is a non-bank discount brokerage that is frequently quoted for excellent customer service. Although the platform is fairly robust, the account variety offered at Qtrade is limited relative to bank peers.

Qtrade’s option trading fees are fairly average, costing $8.75 per trade as well as $1.25 per option contract. If you meet certain criteria, you will be deemed as having an Investor Plus account, allowing you to access a reduced rate of $6.95 per trade plus $1.25 per option contract.

At least one of the below conditions must be met for an Investor Plus account:

  • 150+ trades per quarter
  • $500,000 or more in assets per client ID

Qtrade does not have an account opening minimum.

The platform charges clients a quarterly fee of $25, which is waived under specific circumstances:

  • Over $25,000 in assets
  • Completed at least 2 commission-generating trades in the last quarter
  • Set up recurring deposits

Qtrade, like other discount brokerages, provides clients will access to market research and news. It also provides several portfolio analytics tools:

  • Portfolio Simulator
  • Portfolio Creator
  • Portfolio Score
Pros
  • Great customer service
  • Access to good portfolio analytics and tools
Cons
  • Average trade and account fees

4. National Bank Direct Brokerage: Low Cost and Excellent Account Variety

National Bank Direct Brokerage Logo
  • Account Variety: Excellent
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing: No
  • Trading Commissions: Very low
  • Account Fees: Average
  • Account Minimum: No

Do use National Bank Direct Brokerage if: You want to use the lowest-cost bank-owned options platform with great flexibility

Do not use National Bank Direct Brokerage if: You are trading very high option contract volumes (Interactive Brokers is superior)

National Bank Direct Brokerage is also an excellent option trading platform to consider in Canada, coming in as a number 3 choice.

National Bank Direct Brokerage is operated by National Bank, one of the major Canadian banks, unlike Questrade and Interactive Brokers (which are non-bank independents).

One of the main benefits of being a bank platform is that the brokerage offers an excellent account-opening variety.

National Bank Direct Brokerage’s options trading fees are very low, coming in just behind Interactive Brokers. The platform charges $1.25 per options contract, with a $6.25 minimum trade cost per option trade.

There is no fee for trading (outside of the per-contract fee), and total trade costs are capped at a maximum trade fee of $19.95 for option trades that have a value of less than $2,000.

The bank brokerage does not offer lower fees for higher volumes of option trading.

National Bank Direct Brokerage does not have an account opening minimum.

The $1.25 fee per option contract is charged for a monthly option contract volume of under 10,000 contracts.

Although it’s unlikely that regular investors will be trading over 10,000 contracts per month, your costs decrease if you trade more per month.

You do not need to be a client of National Bank (banking or otherwise) in order to open a National Bank Direct Brokerage account. The platform charges clients an annual fee of $100, which is waived under specific circumstances:

  • You are a client that is under the age of 30
  • Your total National Bank Direct Brokerage assets are over $20,000
  • You participate in a financial program for teachers, engineers, healthcare, or business professionals
  • You only have an InvestCube account

National Bank Direct Brokerage clients will also have access to some market research and news provided through the platform.

Pros
  • Excellent account options
  • Major bank-owned brokerage
  • Extremely competitive pricing
Cons
  • No high-volume option trading pricing

Major Five Bank Self-Directed Brokerages

The remaining five options trading platforms belong to the five major banks in Canada – we will continue to rank them below. These brokerages belong to:

  • Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)
  • Scotiabank
  • Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
  • Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
  • Bank of Montreal (BMO)

Since the major five banks have such a strong hold over a large portion of the population in Canada, the self-directed brokerages offered by each are slightly less competitive than independent brokerages (in terms of fees).

One benefit of working with a self-directed brokerage from one of the five banks (similar to National Bank’s platform) is that they have excellent support for virtually any investment account that can be opened in Canada.

5. CIBC Investor’s Edge

CIBC Logo
  • Account Variety: Excellent
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing: Yes
  • Trading Commissions: Average
  • Account Fees: Average
  • Account Minimum: No

Investor’s Edge is the discount brokerage offered by CIBC. Opening an Investor’s Edge account does not require that you currently bank with CIBC.

In terms of options trading, CIBC offers three different fee schedules depending on which category you belong to:

  • Regular investor
  • Active Investor (you complete more than 150 trades per quarter)
  • Student Investor (you are over the age of 25 and have CIBC Smart for Students)
Investor TypeOption Trading Fees
Regular Investor$6.95 per trade plus $1.25 per option contract
Active Investor$4.95 per trade plus $1.25 per option contract
Student Investor$5.95 per trade plus $1.25 per option contract

CIBC Investor’s Edge does not have an account opening minimum.

The brokerage charges an annual account fee of $100 for non-registered accounts (if the market balance of the account is under $10,000) and for RRSP, RIF, LIRA, and LIF accounts (if the market balance of the account is under $25,000).

6. Scotia iTrade

  • Account Variety: Excellent
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing: Yes
  • Trading Commissions: Average
  • Account Fees: Average
  • Account Minimum: No

iTrade is Scotiabank’s self-directed discount brokerage. You do not need to bank with Scotiabank to open an iTrade account.

Scotia iTrade offers preferred pricing for clients that complete over 150 trades per quarter. The platform’s option fees for regular clients are $9.99 in trading fees plus $1.25 per option contract.

For clients trading more than 150 times per quarter, Scotia iTrade’s option trade fees decrease to $4.99 per trade plus $1.25 per option contract.

Scotia iTrade does not require investors to deposit a minimum amount to open an account.

RRSP, RIF, LIRA, and LIF accounts with iTrade will be charged a $100 annual fee if the balance is under $25,000 and fewer than 12 commissionable trades were completed throughout the year.

Non-registered accounts are charged a $100 annual fee which can’t be waived.

7. RBC Direct Investing

RBC logo
  • Account Variety: Excellent
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing: Yes
  • Trading Commissions: High
  • Account Fees: Average
  • Account Minimum: No

RBC Direct Investing is Royal Bank of Canada’s self-directed discount brokerage. Similar to other major bank brokerages, you do not need to be an existing RBC client to open an RBC Direct Investing account.

RBC Direct Investing also offers preferred pricing for clients that complete more than 150 trades per quarter. The brokerage’s option fees for regular clients are $9.95 in trading fees plus $1.25 per option contract.

Clients that are trading more than 150 times per quarter have their option trade fees decrease to $6.95 per trade plus $1.25 per option contract.

RBC Direct Investing does not have an account opening minimum amount.

Clients that have over $15,000 across all of their RBC Direct Investing accounts are not charged an annual maintenance fee (of $25 per quarter).

Clients with less than $15,000 across their RBC Direct Investing accounts will have to pay this fee unless any one of the below conditions is met:

  • Have been an RBC Direct Investing client for less than six months
  • Have signed up for a pre-authorized contribution of at least $100 per month in an RBC Direct Investing account
  • Completion of three or more commission-paid trades during the quarter
  • Have a group RRSP with RBC Direct Investing
  • Qualified for the RBC Direct Investing Royal Circle program
  • Have a specific RBC Student banking package
  • Have an RBC VIP banking package

8. TD Direct Investing

  • Account Variety: Excellent
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing: Yes
  • Trading Commissions: High
  • Account Fees: Average
  • Account Minimum: No

TD Direct Investing is Toronto-Dominion bank’s self-directed discount brokerage. You can open an account with TD Direct Investing without being a client of the bank.

Similar to most major bank brokerages, TD Direct Investing offers lower commissions for clients that complete over 150 trades per quarter. The platform’s option fees for regular clients are $9.99 in trading fees plus $1.25 per option contract.

For clients trading more than 150 times per quarter, TD Direct Investing’s option trade fees decrease to $7.00 per trade plus $1.25 per option contract.

TD Direct Investing does not have an account opening minimum amount.

TD Direct Investing accounts are charged a $25 quarterly fee which is waived if any of the below conditions are met:

  • The first householded account has been open for less than six months
  • A household account is signed up for a systematic investment plan of at least $100 per month
  • Any household account completes three or more commission-paid trades during the quarter
  • Household accounts include an RDSP
  • Householded accounts have total assets of $15,000 or more

9. BMO InvestorLine

BMO
  • Account Variety: Excellent
  • High Volume Option Trading Pricing: No
  • Trading Commissions: High
  • Account Fees: Average
  • Account Minimum: No

BMO InvestorLine is the Bank of Montreal’s self-directed discount brokerage. A BMO InvestorLine account can be opened without being a client of BMO.

BMO InvestorLine does not offer lower trade commissions for frequent traders. The platform’s option fees for regular clients are $9.95 in trading fees plus $1.25 per option contract.

The brokerage does not have an account opening minimum.

BMO InvestorLine charges clients a $25 quarterly fee for non-registered accounts with an account balance of less than $15,000. This fee is waived if clients hold a registered account with BMO InvestorLine and for clients that make 2 or more commissionable trades in 6 months.

Registered accounts with BMO InvestorLine will also be charged an administration fee if the total account value is less than $25,000. RESPs are charged an annual fee of $50, while all other registered accounts are charged an annual administration fee of $100.

Conclusion

Best Options Trading Platforms In Canada

When considering our extensive list of criteria for selecting the best options trading platform in Canada, Questrade comes out on top as the best choice for most Canadian investors.

Professional investors or traders that trade high volumes of options may decide that Interactive Brokers is the best option for them – make sure to do a cost-benefit analysis for your particular situation.

In terms of overall features, the self-directed brokerages offered by the major five banks lag behind our top picks.

Make sure to take a look at our comprehensive review of the best trading platforms in Canada, especially if you want to look at features that are not option-related.

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Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

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