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

Website: https://www.virtualbrokers.com/
Email Address: info@virtualbrokers.com
Phone: 1-877-310-1088
Customer Service Hours: Mon to Fri 8:00 am to 6 pm ET


Virtual Brokers Review

Updated on: February. 17, 2016
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  $9.99/trade
Best Commission Price $0.00/trade (commission-free plan)
$4.99/trade (active trader)
Minimum to Open Account $1,000 (classic plan)
$5,000 (commission-free plan)
Maintenance Fees $24.95/quarter
Commission Free ETF Yes

» Get Full Pricing Details

Pricing & Fees

As of mid-January 2016, Virtual Brokers has changed their commission pricing structure to offer two pricing plans: a “classic” commission structure and a “commission-free” trading plan. Virtual Brokers is the first Canadian online brokerage to offer a commission-free trading plan however there are some important details and conditions that are associated with this option.

Their previous pricing plans (the “penny”, “per trade” and “per share”) are still available to existing clients who opened their accounts before January 12th 2016. The commission plans at Virtual Brokers have been simplified from three to two, with their classic plan offering a price of $9.99 flat (i.e. including ECN fees) and the commission-free plan offering free trading on equities. Combined with the commission-free buying of ETFs and the 150 commission-free ETFs (buying and selling) Virtual Brokers offers investors competitive value.

Their revised standard commission structure however, is now no longer the lowest ‘cost’ offering for equity trades. There are also a number of other fees and charges to be aware of. The commission-free trading plan, for example, while ground breaking, is typically going to be more appealing to active traders, the main reason being the requirements for trades to be placed via specific trading platforms and the resulting data feed charges associated with that. In addition, the commission-free trading plan has a higher threshold for opening an account ($5,000 vs $1,000), ECN and clearing fees may be charged on trades. Note that if the account balance in the commission-free account falls below $2,000 and a trade is executed or if the trade is placed via the web platform (instead of the trading application) or the mobile app, the classic commission pricing will be in effect. 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 within a quarter; or is under the age of 26; or has at least $5,000 across all accounts; or is a registered charity.

Commission Plan Min/Max Commission ECN Fees Extra
Classic Commission Standard: $9.99
Active (150+ trades/qtr): $4.99
No
Commission-free Plan $0.00 (equities only) Yes

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.

How can Virtual Brokers offer commission-free pricing? Well, if there is a catch it comes in the form data fees. Specifically in order to use the commission-free trading plan, trades must be placed via their “application based” trading platforms (Edge Trader Pro and PowerTrader Pro) which require a data plan of $150 USD/mo (for Edge Trader Pro) and $250 USD/mo (for PowerTrader Pro). At the time of writing that roughly translates into $205 CAD/mo for Edge Trader Pro and $342 CAD/mo for PowerTrader Pro.

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. The fees for USD registered accounts have recently been updated as has the RRSP minimum balance fee (this fee has now been removed). 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 gives individuals the opportunity to access margin (should they want to) to finance a trade that they may not have the ability to do otherwise.

Platform/Data

Virtual Brokers offers a number of platform options – many more than most other brokerages.  There are professional level interfaces available however most individual investors would be interested in the standard platforms.  The web-based platforms offered include VB WebTrader, VB WebTrader Lite and Meridian. The application based platform is PowerTrader Pro (by Sterling).  In terms of mobile trading platforms, they also offer PowerTrader Mobile which is supported on Android, iPhone and Blackberry.

When considering a platform, keep in mind the kinds of trading and analysis tools that you will need.  Although VB WebTrader offers free snap quotes, some very active traders tend to prefer streaming quotes for which Virtual Brokers offers 3 packages ranging from $29/mo to $160/mo.  Depending on the type and numbers of trades, clients who trade a certain amount can qualify for data plan discounts/rebates.

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 “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 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 Fees & Commissions
Best for ETFs
Runner Up
Top Pick
July 2017
July 2017

Compare

Coming Soon

What Would You Like to do Next?

Home Community Canadian Online Brokerage Review – Virtual Brokers

This topic contains 83 replies, has 4 voices, and was last updated by  Liza 3 weeks, 4 days ago.

Viewing 10 posts - 11 through 20 (of 84 total)
  • Author
    Posts
  • #10202 Reply

    sam

    I’ve been a happy customer with VB for many years. HOWEVER, since last few months, as others mention, I noticed a big difference in their customer and tech service, as their services and customer cares are deteriorating big time. Yesterday I was on line for over ONE hour to speak to their tech rep without any success. I also have ETF commission charge error issues and they just blame it on their computer programming. and their 60 days reimbursement policy is completely ridiculous… I am telling them if they continue like this, they will lose big time.

    I’m not sure if their upper management knows about these issues. Anybody has email or phone number of any of the VB executives? I think we all need to take our complains to the top and if they don’t bother to fix the issue, we should just take our business somewhere else.

    #10203 Reply

    Jay

    I am researching for a new online broker because my current online broker (Questrade) is proving themselves to be persistently incompetent. They ignore problems and complaints. They pass the buck to “supervisors” who never do a damn thing to look into problem raised or serious issues. In fact, if you raise a complaint to Questrade’s own “supervisors” email, you will just get the same clod who mismanaged your issue in the first place – but now claiming that his “supervisor” wants him to continue working the complaint. Really?!! Hillarious!
    Questrade’s known issues:
    – no commitment to resolve issues including closing accounts and transferring funds
    – blame problems on “back office” (note Pension Financial, their old back office, have folded)
    – ignore written, legal requests
    – lose mail (routinely)
    – no supervisory personnel
    – etc.

    All this to save a few bucks in trades?! No Thanks and never again. Can V*B really deliver competent service at same/similar low/zero fee structure? I have no idea, but some of the comments here give me reason to pause and reflect on the host of problems that Questrade causes on their own customers and which providers really can provide a reliable trustworthy service.

    #10204 Reply

    Taunia

    Nope. VB is probably worse than Questrade. If you can afford to open an account with TOS than I highly recommend you do. I have heard only positive feedback about them. I guess at the end of the day we get what we pay for. Unfortunately most of us are stuck with brokers such as VB and Questrade because of the account requirments. Not everyone can afford to dump $5K or $10K to open an account. The other awesome broker is IB (Interactive Broker). They require $10K to open though but they are cheap on commissions.

    #10205 Reply

    Neil wiatrowski

    I was with TDW but got tired of them telling me that eventually my US equities would be held in US currency. So I transferred over to RBC and took advantage of the 50 free trades they gave me for switching, as well them paying the transfer fees on all three of my transferred accounts. I do miss TDW’s 24/7 customer service, but as a pretty active trader, I am now paying $6.95 per trade with RBC. I have been looking into switching to either VB or Questrade, but I haven’t heard too many positives for either company. If anyone has a brokerage they are truly happy with I’d love to hear from u. I do between 50 – 75 trades per month so I’d prefer to hear from someone who does similar trading volume.

    Thanks and good trading to all

    #10206 Reply

    niuniuma

    virtual brokers is a scam indeed. they return your money in 15 business days. it’s ridiculous. dont go with them.

    #10207 Reply

    Steve

    If you are looking for non-registered accounts go to Interactive Brokers. They are the best broker I have ever used.

    #10208 Reply

    Steve

    Hi
    If you trade a lot check out Interactive Brokers. The cheapest by far. The only downside is no registered accounts with them. If they ever offer registered accounts that will be the end of the Canadian banks dominance in the online investing space in Canada.

    #10209 Reply
    Profile photo of Sparx_Admin
    Sparx_Admin
    Keymaster

    Thanks for your comment – sorry to hear you’ve had a bad experience!

    #10210 Reply
    Profile photo of Sparx_Admin
    Sparx_Admin
    Keymaster

    Thanks for your comment Steve. Interactive Brokers is a popular choice for very active traders however depending on the order volumes being executed, pricing can become greater than what someone would pay with flat pricing at other brokerages. I agree that if registered accounts become available at IB, that would really be a challenge to the other brokerages out there. For very active traders having a great/stable platform, reliable data, reasonable costs, really good record keeping and responsive service are selling points.

    #10211 Reply

    saeed

    I would recommend VB to every body. they are back on track with good service and with the least commission in the world. I have been with them for 3 years now, I had some problem with them back in early 2013 but now everything is back to normal and I hope it stays this way…

Viewing 10 posts - 11 through 20 (of 84 total)
Reply To: Canadian Online Brokerage Review – Virtual Brokers
Your information: