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Canadian Online Discount Broker – Virtual Brokers

Canadian Discount Broker - Virtual Brokers

Contact Information

Phone: 1-877-310-1088

Email: info@virtualbrokers.com

Website:www.virtualbrokers.com

Headquarters:

4100 Yonge Street, Suite 506
Toronto, ON M2P 2B5

Customer Service Hours of Operation:
Mon to Fri 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET

Virtual Brokers Pricing Review

[updated Jan. 2014]

Virtual Brokers, a division of BBS Securities Inc, is one of the newest and fastest growing Canadian online discount brokers. Like its competitors, 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 (see table below). 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.

Of all the Canadian discount brokerages, Virtual Brokers offers three competitive pricing plans: “The Penny” plan, a “per trade” plan and a “per share” plan. The penny plan rates vary from a minimum of $0.01 per trade to a maximum of 9.99 per trade (with no ECN fees).  The pricing for the penny plan is based on the volume of shares you buy, and the price of the share you’re buying. If you buy small amounts of stocks under $1, this pricing structure could be very appealing.  On the other hand, if you typically trade large volume orders then this plan is more or less in line with other discount brokerages. A better option for large volume orders might be the “per trade” plan which charges $6.49 per trade regardless of the order size or transaction volume.  Fees such as ECN fees or exchange fees are charged in addition to the per trade price. Check out the following link for an in-depth look at the pricing of “The Penny” plan.

A neat feature of the plans with Virtual Brokers is that users can select the plan they would like to use for the trading day when logging into the VB trading system, so users can select the plan (and therefore pricing) that fits their intended trading pattern for the day.

 

What’s the catch? Well, there is an important one – data fees.  While snap quotes are free for their Meridian & Web Trader, streaming quotes are not. In order to get streaming quotes, you’ll need to subscribe to a data package. Pricing for data packages starts at $18.25/mo for the basic package and can go as high as  $104.50/month for comprehensive access to streaming market data.  Individual exchange data is available for purchase too if you’re only interested in specific exchanges.  Thus, deciding whether or not streaming (real-time) quotes are necessary is important because you could end up spending a minimum of $54.75/quarter plus whatever you pay for commissions.

The Bottom Line

Overall Virtual Brokers’ pricing and flexibility are going to be tough to match and beat for many Canadian discount brokerages, especially for certain types of order sizes and trading/investing styles. With a low minimum opening balance of $1000, flexible and sometimes rock-bottom pricing, and no minimum trading requirements it certainly seems like they’re hitting the right notes with costs. 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.

Discount Brokerage Pricing Review Table

Account Types OfferedFunding Requirements and FeesRegistered Account Types and Fees
TFSAMinimum Opening Balance$1,000
TFSAAnnual Charge$0
RRSPMinimum Account BalanceNot Required1Transfer Out$150
RESPMinimum Balance for Best or Discounted CommissionNot RequiredWithdrawals$25 (partial withdrawal)
$50 (full withdrawal)
CashMinimum Commission per Equity Trade2$1.99 ($0.01/share)
$3.99 (active trader)
US Dollar Account $15/quarter
Margin ShortMaximum Commission per Equity Trade$7.99
$3.99 (active trader)
RRSPAnnual ChargeFree
Margin OptionsMinimum Trades per Quarter for Best Commission Rate150
Transfer Out$150
CIPF MemberInactivity or Maintenance Fees$24.95/quarterUS Dollar Account$15/quarter
Conditions for Inactivity/Maintenance FeesInactivity fee waived if:
a) At least 1 commission-generating trade made within quarter OR
B) Consolidated holdings are >$5,000 OR
C) Client is under 26 years old OR
D) Client is a registered charity
RESPAnnual Charge$25
Transfer Out$150
US Dollar Account$15/quarter
Last Updated: Jan. 2019

Virtual Brokers Website Links:

Here are some useful links to important information on Virtual Broker’s website.

Discount Broker Customer Survey Ratings by J.D. Power:
  • Not featured in 2013
Link to 2013 online broker ratings by the Globe and Mail:

More Online Broker Profiles

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20 comments

  1. Data fee is not mandatory. I didn’t buy any data plan and if I don’t trade or trade among free trade ETF list, I don’t pay no commission. Not even a cent.

  2. Virtual Brokers is a scam. If you want to withdraw fund from the account, it will take several weeks to process. It doesn’t post the dividend i am supposed to receive the end of last year in my account. I have sent them email, and they don’t even bother to reply. It’s a scam.

  3. Stay away from Virtual Brokers. After 1 month and several emails and phone calls, dividends received are still not in the account. Cash transfer made into the account almost a month ago still not in the account. All they can say is that they are behind in their work, but I’m still out a couple of thousand dollars. Been waiting almost a month for a cash transfer out of the account. It seems like once they have your money, they won’t give it back to you. The few bucks you save on commissions is lost other ways.

  4. I have had absolutely no problems with Virtual Brokers. I have been receiving my dividend payments with no problems. Cash transfer into the account took around 4 days.

    I have contacted them a couple times concerning: opening the account, trading platform questions, and about their new mobile app soon to be available. Each time I was able to get customer service quickly and they answered all my questions perfectly.

  5. ive tried to open an account with VB and they haven’t bothered responding to my emails for a month straight. Should I bother exerting this much effort to be their customer? They don’t even bother replying me , I’ve followed up 3 times. I can’t afford to pay the $30 one way comission on TD 🙁

  6. I am also thinking about transferring to Virtual Brokers after horrific experience with Questrade’s new platform. I believe Virtual Brokers are quite overwhelmed right now with all the customer transfers from OptionsXpress, but they seem helpful enough in my correspondence with them, although a bit slow. They pointed out their #1 rating with the Globe & Mail article in Nov/12 (I think that was the magazine issue) so that’s positive. Some of the posts here are causing me to have second thoughts. I just hate to transfer over if they’re no better than what I’m dealing with at Questrade. It’s such a hassle to move accounts. Does anyone else have experience with Virtual Brokers?

  7. I’ve joined the long and patient queue of would-be Virtual Brokers customers. It seems that since they came No. 1 in the Globe & Mail’s 2012 broker’s survey and took on the Options Xpress customers in Canada that they’re completely overwhelmed. Comments here and elsewhere on the net over the last 2 to 3 months have been universally negative.

    Their communications are abysmal. They don’t make excuses for delays, they just don’t answer e-mail. According to other posters, getting them on the phone is hopeless.

    I’ll stick with my saga and see how long it takes for them to get my account activated, but I’m already unhappy and I’m not even a customer yet!

    If you’re thinking of transferring, maybe give them 6 months or a year. I’m betting they get knocked off the Globe & Mail’s throne in 2013.

  8. Got a couple of questions.

    -I noticed that VB’s commission structure per equity trade is $6.49 or $0.99 on the “99” plan. Is anyone eligible to be on the “99” plan, regardless of account size or trading frequency?

    -How much does VB charge each time you transfer money out of an “All-in-one” account?

    -Is Questrade really all that bad? I have a friend who has been with them for two years with no problems. He enjoys the 3.33x leverage they offer (vs. 2x at VB), as well as $4.99 flat commission.

    Thanks

    • Hey Tommy,

      According to Virtual Brokers anyone is eligible for “The 99” commission structure regardless of account size or trading frequency. Also withdrawing funds via Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) is free.

      Regarding your question about Questrade, ask yourself what is important to you when trading. Do you trade often and need to contain your costs? Is reliability of the system essential? There are outages and customer service issues no matter which brokerage you’re with. Try out whoever you think will meet your needs best.

  9. I’ve been with VB for a few years now and am about to switch back to TDW. I got charged a $100 commission yesterday on an ETF buy while under their free ETF commission structure. After talking to several of their reps on the phone they told me to send an email to support. They replied and told me they would reimburse in 60 days. So I have to wait 60 days to get my money back because they screwed up? And this isn’t the first time they’ve overcharged me commissions, and every time I have to call and complain and wait months for a refund. They think because they have a 99 cent commission structure no one will leave, but it makes no difference when you’re trading over 1000 shares (which is the bulk of my trading). Their streaming data fees are also high, $35 plus extra for each exchange you want. I’m paying over $40 and all I get is TSX level 1. I also haven’t been able to place an order in my RESP account all month because it’s all messed up since their transfer of accounts from Penson. It still doesn’t work even after several phones calls to get it corrected. They also rip you off with US currency conversions and won’t allow you to do Norbert’s Gambit. Don’t waste your time with them.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. 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

    • 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.

      • 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.

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

  15. 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…