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

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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 4 posts - 81 through 84 (of 84 total)
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  • #22075 Reply

    David

    I am Just wondering to open account in VB. Is stock trading free of commission even with Web trader ? Does anyone knows about it.

    #22552 Reply

    Toni

    Worse customer service ever. I could write several paragraphs here detailing all the incidents I had. Even with the new ticketing system still can’t seem to deliver.
    I have several portfolios with nearly a million dollars invested. I manage in there all my family’s registered accounts too.
    I would take all our positions out if it wasn’t that I took me so much effort to open the accounts and do the transfers. I can’t afford to go through that again in the short term, but if they keep under-performing, like are right now, I’ll strongly consider going elsewhere.

    I would not recommend this platform for any serious investor. Go put your money elsewhere .

    #22771 Reply

    Adrian

    Virtual Brokers fee structures are borderline fraudulent! Beware of them changing fee structures without EMAILING but relying on you checking their millions of messages on the online portal (to read the fine print). WOULD NOT RECOMMEND.

    Any issues brought up with them are dealt with very poorly. Some of the worst customer service I have ever encountered.

    #25470 Reply

    Liza

    The commission structure works well for me and is the only reason I am still with them. As soon as I find someone offering the same or lower commissions, I will leave. Reason: abysmal customer service. Like some of the other posters, I could write pages (not just paragraphs) about the countless incidents. Let’s not forget spelling and grammatical errors on their website, BTW.

    So, if you want customer service – steer clear.

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