Canadian Online Discount Brokerage Pricing Review & Comparison – Overview of Options Commission Pricing

Table of Contents:

  1. Introduction
  2. Overview of Common Account Types & CIPF Membership
  3. Commission Fees and Funding Requirements
  4. Overview of Registered Accounts – Fees and Funding Requirements
  5. Overview of Mobile Trading Enabled Sites
  6. Overview of Options Commission Pricing
  7. Conclusion


Last Updated: January 2015

Overview of Options Trading Commission Pricing
In this section we compare the commissions and fees associated with options trading.  Trading in options is generally for more advanced investors for many reasons one of which is that there are many more complex transactions that can take place using options contracts.    If you would like to learn more about options trading, we highly recommend you visit the Options Industry Council (OIC) website here.

While all Canadian discount brokerages offer options trading capabilities, the pricing between brokerages varies substantially.  In addition, options commission pricing is also very complicated compared to equity (stock) trading commission pricing.

All the discount brokerages charge commissions for options trading on a “per contract” basis, meaning they charge commissions based on how many options contracts are purchased.   The fee that is charged per contract can be a fixed dollar amount, or the fee can vary depending on the price of the option itself.  Some discount brokerages also charge a fixed commission amount (what we refer to as a “base commission fee”) per options trade regardless of how many contracts are purchased, whereas other discount brokerages will not have a base commission fee, but instead have a minimum charge per trade. Be aware that while most discount brokerages have the same pricing for US or Canadian options commissions, certain brokerages have different per contract pricing depending on whether the option is Canadian or American.

In addition to commission fees for buying or selling options contracts, Canadian discount brokerages also charge fees for exercising or being assigned an options contract. In our pricing table, we are assuming the underlying instrument of the option contract is a stock.  Exercise/assignment pricing is a bit more complex than options commission pricing because the exercise/assignment usually involves the purchase/sale of an amount of stocks.  The price you pay for exercise/assignment can be a simple flat fee, or there can be variable pricing that depends on your trading activity level, the price of the stock at the time of exercise/assignment, the number of shares involved or a combination of these.

CompanyStandard Rate Base Commission PriceStandard Rate Per Contract Standard Rate Minimum Charge per TransactionActive Rate Base Commission PriceActive Rate Per Contract Active Rate Minimum Charge per TransactionOptions Assignments & ExercisesMinimum Activity/Balance For Best Pricing
$9.95$1.25N/A$9.95$1.25N/AStandard/Active: $43 (min) [final fee varies according to stock price as outlined on standard equity commission schedule]N/A
$6.95$1.25N/A$4.95$1.25N/AStandard: $6.95
Active: $4.95
150+ trades per quarter
$8.88$1.25 N/A$8.88$1.25N/A$43.00 (min) + web rateN/A
Classic: n/a
Direct: n/a
Classic: $1.25
Direct: $1.25
Classic: $8.75
Direct: $8.75
N/A$1.25$8.75$30N/A
$9.88$1.25N/A$6.88$1.25N/AStandard/Active: $43.00 (min) [final fee varies according to stock price as outlined in telephone equity commission schedule]100+ trades/quarter or >$500,000 balance in combined personal deposits at HSBC
N/A[USD] $0.25 - $0.70 [depending on option price]
[CAD] $1.50
[USD] $1.00
[CAD] $1.50
N/A[USD] $0.15
[CAD] $1.50
[USD] $1.00
[CAD] $1.50
Standard/Active: $0100,000 contracts per month
N/A$1.25 $12.5N/A$1.00$10.00Standard/Active: $10.005,000 contracts per month
$9.95$1.25 N/A$9.95$1.25N/AAssignments: charged at standard electronic rates; Exercises: charged at representative rate ($44.95 min)N/A
$8.75$1.25N/A$6.95$1.25 N/AStandard/Active: $45.00 (min) [final fee varies according to stock price as outlined on broker-assisted fee schedule]150+ trades per quarter or $500,000+ in Qtrade assets
$9.95 (Standard)
$6.95 (Advantage Plan)
$1.00 (Standard)
$0.75 (Advantage Plan)
N/AN/AN/AN/AStandard: $24.95
Active: N/A
N/A
$9.95$1.25 N/A$6.95$1.25N/AStandard/Active: $43.00 (min) [final fee varies according to according to stock price as outlined service representative-assisted equity commission schedule]150+ trades per quarter
$24.99$1.75 N/A$4.99$1.25 N/A$50 + base + contract (min)[final fee varies according to number of shares as outlined on equity fee schedule]

150+ trades per quarter
$9.99$1.25 N/A$7.00$1.25 N/AStandard/Active: $43.00150+ trades per quarter
Classic: $9.99
Commission-free: $0.00
Classic: $1.25
Commission-free:
$USD
<=10K contracts: $0.75
$CAD
<10K contracts: $1.25
Classic: N/A
Commission-free: $5.00 (Both USD & CAD)
$4.99 (Classic)Classic: $1.25
Commission-free:
$USD
10,001 - 50K contracts: $0.70
50,001 - 100K contracts: $0.45
100K+ contracts: $0.35
$CAD
10,001 - 50K contracts: $1.15
50,001 - 100K contracts: $1.10
100K+ contracts: $1.00
N/AStandard: $40.00
Active: N/A
150+ trades per quarter
Last updated:
Apr. 2017
Next Page: Conclusion

4 comments

  1. tremendous summary, thanks for that. Canadian offerings are substantially more expensive than our American brothers.Do these platforms all offer Level2 pricing , direct routing and non-affressor volume rebates. When a platform attempts to attract “players” it is the aforementioned paramters that seal the deal.
    It seems to me that Canadian based platforms are very much geared to the intoductory/non-sophisticated trader ie:retail trader by definition, as opposed to experienced sophisticated traders.
    i stumbled upon your site as a Canadian based trader who do to regulatory parameters cannot register with American discount options brokers to trade US Equity Options.
    Additionally, with such an acute customer demographic base, it is simply hilarious that these firms attempt to be rigid in their pricing models regarding commissions and fees.An elementary equation of supply of potential customers (minimal) and available broking platforms (plenty) make the decision to select a broker that is very simply for the client to offer the prospective broker what they are prepared to pay NOT for the broker to state this is what the fees and commissions are. At best these brokers can attempt to close their platform sale with a client at their offered rates, but ANY sophisticated trader will simply counter offer what they are willing to pay and the broker that meets those rates, secures the clients business.
    this is 2013, NOT 1973.

  2. It sure does suck to be Canadian when it comes to online brokerages for commissiions.
    When will the rules loosen up and let the u.s. brokerages back in canada?

  3. Its high time the Canadian Brokerages thought about becoming more competitive with the Americans. Its a matter of time only, American brokerages will open their doors for the Canadians and at that point there will be a large exodus from the Canadian brokers.

  4. Canadian exodus to US owned brokerages is already happening. Check out the competitive commissions offered by Interactive Brokers of Chicago (Canada has Montreal office)

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