Canadian Online Discount Broker – optionsXpress

Contact Information

Phone: 1-888-280-8020


311 West Monroe Street, Suite 1000
Chicago, Illinois 60606

Customer Service Hours of Operation:
Mon to Fri 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET

Discount Brokerage Pricing Review

*Update: As of Sept. 2012 optionsXpress Canada has suspended accepting new Canadian accounts

OptionsXpress is a different animal compared to other discount brokers because it has a much more sophisticated options trading platform relative to its competitors.  Because optionsXpress also allows its clients to trade stocks, however, is why we’ve decided to include them in our review.

Even though this discount broker is a subsidiary of Charles Schwab, a massive American discount broker, and it has an American office and sister company by the same name, optionsXpress Canada is catered towards Canadians and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). Like other Canadian discount brokers, optionsXpress allows for trading of stocks, mutual funds, options, ETFs and bonds. In addition, you are also able to trade futures. The registered accounts available include tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) and registered retirement savings plans (RRSP) accounts.

OptionsXpress Canada does not require a minimum amount (for cash accounts) to open an account nor do you have to maintain a minimum balance.  For margin accounts, a minimum deposit of $2000 is required to open and maintain the account. Their commission pricing for stock trades is based on trading activity, so the more often you trade, the better the rate you get. The best price they offer for trading stocks is $9.95 per trade up to the first 1000 shares, and $0.01 per share for orders of 1001 shares or more. This “best price” is offered to clients who trade more than 9 times in a quarter.  For those who trade less frequently than 9 times a quarter, the starting rate for a trade is $14.95 for orders between 1 and 1000 shares after which point the cost switches to $0.015 per share (for trade orders of 1001 shares or more). One very interesting pricing feature is that they have no fee broker assisted trading, a very rare feature amongst any of the Canadian discount brokers.

The Bottom Line

OptionsXpress Canada’s pricing seems to favour infrequent investors/traders who keep the order sizes small.  With account minimums only for margin accounts, and no inactivity fees as well as no additional charge (other than the commission for the trade) to having a broker assisted trade, if you need a bit of extra hand holding or just require access to phone rep assistance when making trades, optionsXpress’ model is certainly unique. If you have an understanding your trading habits and requirements, you can certainly figure out if optionsXpress makes sense for you.

Account Types OfferedFunding Requirements and FeesRegistered Account Types and Fees
TFSAMinimum Opening BalanceNot RequiredTFSAAnnual Charge$0
RRSPMinimum Account BalanceNot RequiredTransfer Out$60
RESPMinimum Balance for Best or Discounted CommissionNot RequiredWithdrawals$0
CashMinimum Commission per Equity Trade$9.95US Dollar Account
Margin ShortMaximum Commission per Equity Trade***$14.95**RRSPAnnual Charge$0
Margin OptionsMinimum Trades per Quarter for Best Commission Rate9Transfer Out$60
CIPF MemberInactivity or Maintenance FeesNoneUS Dollar Account
Conditions for Inactivity/Maintenance FeesNoneRESPAnnual ChargeNot Applicable
Transfer OutNot Applicable
US Dollar AccountNot Applicable
Options Xpress Website LinksHere are some useful links to important information on Option Xpress’s website.

Discount Broker  Ratings:Link to ratings by Barron’s:

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