Canadian Online Brokerage Review – Virtual Brokers

Virtual Brokers

Office Address
199 Bay St., suite 2600
Toronto, ON
M5L 1E2

Mailing Address
BBS Securities Inc.
199 Bay St. Suite 2600
PO BOX 108 STN Commerce Court
Toronto, ON
M5L 1E2

Email Address:
Phone: 1-877-310-1088
Customer Service Hours: Mon to Fri 8:00 am to 6 pm ET

Virtual Brokers Review

Updated on: Feb. 8, 2019
Virtual Brokers, a division of BBS Securities Inc, is one of the youngest of the Canadian online discount brokers. Although (and maybe because) they haven’t been around as long as other brokerages, Virtual Brokers is able to offer pricing and platforms that help them stand out from their competitors.

Given that they offer a number of account and pricing options for investors and traders alike, those considering Virtual Brokers should understand what kind of trading style and needs they have so as to select the products/services that best suit their needs. For active traders and those looking for real-time data, however, be sure to consider the costs for data subscription for streaming quotes as part of the total cost of ownership with this provider.

Quick Info

Standard Equity Commission Min: $1.99
Max: $7.99
Best Commission Price $1.99/ticket ($0.01/share)
$3.99/ticket (active trader)
Minimum to Open Account $1,000
Maintenance Fees $24.95/quarter
Commission Free ETF Yes

» Get Full Pricing Details

Pricing & Fees

As of late December 2018, Virtual Brokers has updated their commission pricing by lowering their commissions and moving to a slightly different method of charging for trades. While their previous trading commission plans are available to customers already on the plan, they also do offer access to those commission plans to new customers upon request.

The new commission plans offer DIY investors pricing of $0.01/share with a range between $1.99 to $7.99 per ticket for equity trades as their standard rate, and for active traders, defined as those who trade over 150+ trades per quarter, the standard per ticket pricing is $3.99 flat.

For those unfamiliar with per ticket pricing, this refers to the direction of a trade (buy or sell) and it means that you get charged by the direction of a trade in a particular security. This is usually clearer with an example, so if an investor buys 100 shares of BCE, at 10am, then buys another 200 shares of BCE at 1pm on the same day, the total commission charged would be 300 shares x $0.01 = $3.00 (as opposed to 2 commission charges being charged for two trades.) Click here for a more detailed example.

Combined with the commission-free buying of ETFs and the 150 commission-free ETFs (buying and selling), Virtual Brokers offers investors competitive value. For active traders, there is particularly compelling value with a “per ticket” system and lower commission charges.

Another important fee to note is the quarterly inactivity fee of $24.95. This fee can be waived if: the individual makes at least one commission-generating trade worth at least $6.49 within a quarter; or is under the age of 26; or has at least $5,000 across all accounts; or is a registered charity.

As mentioned above, Virtual Brokers offers commission-free ETF trading (buying and selling) on 150 ETFs and commission-free buying on all ETFs.  Check out our detailed look at commission-free ETFs to learn more about how these work.

Account Types

Like their peers, Virtual Brokers offers a number of account types. Virtual Brokers offers clients the ability to trade in both registered accounts and non-registered accounts.  In addition, Virtual Brokers offers trading in stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds and options.

Registered accounts include tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered education savings plans (RESPs).  While Virtual Brokers offers US dollar accounts for all registered accounts, they do so for a fee. For registered accounts you cannot use margin or short stocks. Options trading in registered accounts is limited to buying and selling options and writing of covered calls.

The non-registered account offered by Virtual Brokers is called the “All in One” account which is a combination of equity, option, margin and short accounts all rolled into one.  This enables individuals the opportunity to access margin (should they want to) to finance a trade that they may not have the ability to do otherwise.


Virtual Brokers offers a number of trading platform options – many more than most other brokerages. There are professional level trading platforms available however most individual investors would be interested in the standard platforms.  The web-based trading platforms offered have been consolidated to just one: VB WebTrader. There are now several application-based trading platforms for users to choose from PowerTrader Pro (by Sterling) and the relatively new VB Wave.  In terms of mobile trading platforms, they also offer PowerTrader Mobile which is supported on Android and iPhone.

When considering a trading platform, keep in mind the kinds of trading and analysis tools that you will need, especially because most application-based platforms require a monthly subscription fee ranging from $75/mo CAD to $580/mo USD (ITS TraderLite).  Although VB WebTrader offers free snap quotes, some very active traders tend to prefer streaming quotes for which Virtual Brokers offers streaming Level 1 data for Canadian markets at around $20/mo (the TSX/TSV combo is $25/mo) CAD and US streaming Level 1 data can be added on for $4 or $5/mo USD. Additional market data feeds (e.g. Level 2), can be added on with pricing varying by market.

Reviews & Ratings

 Review What Review Measures Score Date of Ranking
Dalbar Canada Review Client Service Not Rated
Not Rated
January 2015
January 2014
Globe and Mail Review Overall Impression Letter Grade “A”
Letter Grade “B”
Letter Grade “A”
1st out of 12
Letter Grade “A”
1st out of 12
Letter Grade “A-”
2nd out of 12
Letter Grade “A”
February 2019
February 2018
December 2016
December 2016
December 2015
December 2015
November 2014
November 2014
November 2013
JD Power Review Investor Satisfaction Not Rated
Not Rated
September 2014
September 2013
MoneySense Runner Up – Fees & Commissions
Top Pick – ETFs
July 2017
July 2017


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Home Community Canadian Online Brokerage Review – Virtual Brokers

This topic contains 84 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  9 Best Trading Platforms in India for Superior Trading – 2019 5 months ago.

Viewing 10 posts - 11 through 20 (of 85 total)
  • Author
  • #18884 Reply


    I recently suggested my girlfriend open an account at Virtual Brokers. She started depositing small amounts of money every couple of weeks into her account only to have Virtual Brokers charge her exorbitant in activity fees that were decimating her equity. I called Virtual Brokers on her behalf in order to address the situation. My complaint was met with an attitude of apathy and aggressive hostility by a representative named Steve. He sensed my frustration, egged me on, made fun of my account size, and denied my request to speak to a manager. While my account is not the largest by far it is significant and growing on a yearly basis. I have a large account and another financial institution from which I was transferring a set amount on a yearly basis to my virtual Brokers brokers account. I guess they aren’t interested in that yearly deposit continuing. Since I was the one who suggested my girlfriend open the account and because my account size is significant I felt that virtual Brokers would consider reversing these exorbitant fees in order to keep my girlfriends business. Clearly that is not the case and according to Steve, the Virtual Brokers representative who took my call and who Apparently has several more zeros in his account than I have, didn’t feel that my request was worthy of consideration. I would warn all people considering to use Virtual Brokersto stay clear. Unless Virtual Brokers takes action and fires bullies like Steve nobody should consider opening an account with Virtual Brokers.

    #18877 Reply


    I just found out they have a new inactivity fee they have been charging me every quoter. I was never notified of this! Most of the time, when I call for assistance, they refer me to the training manual. I find the reps obnoxious and rude.

    #18772 Reply


    I have incurred several losses because of virtualbrokers. I made the EXACT same iron condor trade on Think or swim paper money (starting at a net gain/loss of 0). On virtualbrokers, I started with a net loss of close to $100 with the same trade. So, instead of giving me the options at the price they’re worth, they gave me the trade at a price of $100 too much using a market order.

    They’ve screwed me over when making credit spreads, as my buying power went way down, even though my MAXIMUM loss wasn’t that high. This made me unable to sell options or even make my trades. Within 2 days, while my think or swim paper money account is up $140 WITH TD COMMISSIONS, my real VB account is down $150 making the EXACT same trades.

    I’ve also wasted several hours trying to properly use WV web-trader and its shit interface. As a university student, my money and time is extremely tight and important to me.

    Finally, I’ve tried to contact them about technical problems i’m facing and I’ve never received a reply. I am not impressed with VB and I would definitely not recommend them if you could use another decent trading platform.

    #17331 Reply


    So far so good. I didn’t have any issue in 2 months. VB seems to change their fees often so I’m going to look out for that.

    Money transfers are quick (24 hours or so). I’m mostly buying ETF and mutual funds with few equities.

    Admin might want to update ETF fees. Every ETF is free to buy and 9.99$ to sell on the classic commission. VB removed the list of free to sell ETF.

    Basically it’s almost the same of Questrade now. Equities are more expensive at VB but there are no ECN fees. Mutual funds are free for VB while Questrade is 10 bucks. ETF are free to buy for both but VB is more expensive to sell (depending on ECN fees).

    #17045 Reply


    ab_chart wrote: I kinda like the fact of the penny structure that allows me to buy small quantities at a low commission fee and it seems to work out versus having to pay between 4.99 to 9.99 with questrade…

    I don’t know why they terminated my penny structure while they let you continue. Mine was terminated and they let me know after the fact. I am forever careful with them because of that. I don’t plan to stay with them for very long. Once I have all my remaining trades sold, I will leave.

    #17002 Reply


    They are a rip off, they charged me 15% on borrowing fees to short the market. When I call to get an explanation, all they say is that volatility is high so they charge whatever they want, they were never able to tell me where the volatility came from. Stay away from them!

    #16932 Reply


    Hi ab_charts – thanks for sharing your comments. Sorry to hear you were so disappointed. You mentioned that you have another brokerage in Canada, would you be able to share who that is and how VB compares? Also, were you having trouble getting orders filled on limit orders or market orders? If it was the latter then that would definitely be concerning. While every trader/investor should factor in settlement periods (T+3 in Canada for now but it looks like it’s moving to T+2 sometime in 2017) most brokerages’ platforms should report balances and available capital to trade in real time. Keep us posted if you stick around with VB or if you decide to switch.

    #16882 Reply


    I’m in favor of having the Ontario Securities commission looking into their business practices…

    —Just decided to open an TFSA + all in one account around 5 month ago.
    I kinda like the fact of the penny structure that allows me to buy small quantities at a low commission fee and it seems to work out versus having to pay between 4.99 to 9.99 with questrade… and if buying a larger amount i just pay 9.99 that isn’t bad.

    but, I am very disappointed with VB and with the globe and mail that is pumping so much this broker— sometimes takes days for my orders to clear up even after them being already filled, it takes days with orders to be settled and on pending… I have to always calculate and make sure my balance is correct because I can’t trust it anymore…
    I can’t understand how this really works… I have accounts with 3 brokers, two in canada and one in europe… BV is the most worst in terms of organization and the way and how quick it shows on their orders/positions and balance/net equity. if the order gets filled, why doesn’t it show right away instead of having to wait sometimes days… like today.

    i do not advice BV to anyone.

    #16822 Reply


    Comparing VB and Questrade, it seems to me that Questrade’s commission is cheaper. Both need at least $1000 start up capital. For me, I am more interested in IB (Interactive Brokers). However, I still have shares at my VB Classic account waiting to be sold at the right time. That will take a while. Since that VB account has high commission, I think I would use it to mainly trade options, that would give me better leverage. Noq I have a better understanding about trading than when I first joined VB and I now also have more resources.

    #16803 Reply


    Sparx_Admin wrote: Client service is a very tricky thing to get right at any financial service firm.
    Response: Very true indeed. From my experience, VB is like its previous Options Xpress, they can give you the talk as if they are teaching you cause you don’t know anything. I have encountered this a few times, more so when I was new to trading. Seems that it is not uncommon to encounter arrogance in trading. Don’t know why we all think we are so smart!

    I have called VB this morning to try again (as they did not reply my email) to resolve my issue with them as to why they switch me to Classic structure without pre-warning. The supervisor explained that because I traded odd lots (along with others doing the same), the company decided they couldn’t survive on the penny per trade structure and we had to be switched. So VB can’t honor all of their previous clients joined before 2016 the penny structure anymore. Now I am planning to sell off my previous stocks through their trading desk.

    For VB’s commission free (for equity) structure, one has to maintain a balance of $5000, which I don’t mind. But, there is a data fee and the lowest cost is $150US/mth. I am now checking into different brokers and see which one is most suitable for my trading.

    If anyone here have any suggestions, please feel free to post. Thank you very much.

    I then asked the supervisor about the

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