As more Canadians become interested in personal finance and want to make changes to their investment portfolio on the go, there’s a mobile app for that.
Several apps allow you to trade stocks, buy exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for free, or do investing on your behalf.
Many apps are similar in terms of what they can do, but there are also some differences.
Let’s take a look at what you can do with investment apps and what we consider to be the best investment apps in Canada.
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The Best Investment Apps in Canada
There are several apps to choose from, and each one has its advantages, but here are some of our favorites:
1. Wealthsimple Trade
Wealthsimple Trade is one of the best trading apps because you can make free trades. You heard that right! With Wealthsimple Trade, there are no trading commissions whatsoever.
You can buy ten shares or 10,000 shares of a certain stock or ETF, with no commissions. That’s what makes Wealthsimple Trade so enticing to many investors, including some active investors.
Wealthsimple Trade does have some limits, though. You can only trade stocks and ETFs. If you want to buy or sell options, mutual funds, preferred shares, and bonds, you’re out of luck.
Wealthsimple Trade currently only offers non-registered cash accounts, Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs), and Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs). That means you can’t open an RESP or trade stocks on margin.
If you’re thinking about investing in cryptocurrencies, you can also trade them using Wealthsimple Crypto in the Wealthsimple Trade app.
Currently, Bitcoin and Ethereum are the only two cryptocurrencies purchasable through the app. However, the company does plan to offer additional cryptocurrencies in the future.
Keep in mind that cryptocurrencies can only be held in a non-registered account at Wealthsimple Trade, which means any capital gains are taxable.
2. Wealthsimple Invest
Wealthsimple Invest makes investing a whole lot easier. There’s no need to research investments or rebalance your portfolio. That’s because this robo-advisor does it for you, so there’s less hassle.
Using Wealthsimple Invest is somewhere between being a do-it-yourself investor and having a financial advisor choose mutual funds for you. It’s not as time-consuming, nor do you have to pay the large annual fees that mutual funds charge. While robo-advisors do charge fees, Wealthsimple Invest’s are quite reasonable.
For those with less than $100,000 in assets, the annual management fee is 0.5% plus the ETF fees (about 0.2% annually). For those with $100,000 or more in assets, the annual management fee is 0.4% plus the ETF fees. There’s also the option to invest in a Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) portfolio.
Wealthsimple Invest has a lot more account types to choose from when compared to Wealthsimple Trade.
You can get an RRSP, TFSA, RESP, Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF), Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA), as well as non-registered, joint, and business accounts.
Questrade is one of Canada’s largest online brokerages. It’s known for its low stock trading commissions ($4.95/trade vs. around $10/trade at brokerages owned by the big banks) and free ETF purchases.
Questrade offers the most in terms of trading. On top of stocks and ETFs, you can also buy and sell bonds, options, mutual funds, and much more.
You also have many different non-registered account options (such as margin, investment club, or corporate) and registered account options (such as RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs, RRIFs, or LIRAs).
There’s also real-time market data free with all accounts. All of this makes Questrade more appealing to active investors.
The one big negative is that you need an account balance of at least $1,000 to begin trading with Questrade.
All the other apps mentioned in this article don’t have an investment minimum, meaning it will be harder to start investing if you don’t have a lot of money.
4. TD GoalAssist
TD GoalAssist is fairly new to the game, having launched late last year. There’s no account minimum and no monthly fees. Unlike TD Direct Investing, TD GoalAssist is limited in terms of what investments you can buy—just stocks (including preferred shares) and TD ETFs.
While stock trades cost $9.99 (the same as TD Direct Investing), you can buy and sell TD ETFs for free (which aren’t free with TD Direct Investing).
TD currently has 34 different ETFs, so there’s a good chance you’ll find one that suits your needs.
Of those 34, three are asset-allocation ETFs called the TD ETF One-Click portfolio with conservative, moderate, and aggressive options.
The app also allows you to create savings goals and shows you how much you need to invest in order to achieve them.
There are also free educational videos to learn more about how to choose your investments and how to keep your plan on track.
While TD GoalAssist does have its advantages, it also has advantages. The fact that you can’t buy any other ETFs except for TD’s is one.
Moka (formerly known as Mylo) starts off small by investing your spare change.
When you open an account and link to your debit or credit card, it will round up purchases up to the nearest dollar and automatically invest the difference (or more). The concept is similar to an app called Acorns, which is only available in the United States.
Your money is invested in a portfolio of ETFs, similar to Wealthsimple Invest. You can also add additional deposits from your bank account on top of the spare change that’s invested. Moka also provides an option to invest in an SRI portfolio.
Although Moka does have a lot going for it, only TFSAs, RRSPs, and non-registered accounts are available.
Also, the monthly fee of $3 is quite steep if you’re only putting away a small amount every month. It will only be a bargain if you have a much larger portfolio.
What is an investment app?
Online brokerages, robo-advisors, and other investing services offer investment apps, which are digital applications available on a customer's phones, tablets, or computer.
These apps are primarily used for making online trades of stocks or ETFs. Some apps allow you to invest in cryptocurrencies or make investment decisions on your behalf—freeing yourself from having to choose. And some of these apps also allow you to buy and sell options, bonds, and other types of investments.
What do investment apps do?
Investment apps let you hold investments in various types of accounts, such as a Non-Registered Account, Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), or Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). (If you’re looking to reduce the amount of tax you pay, an RRSP, TFSA, or RESP are your best options.)
How to choose the right investment app
There are many investment apps to choose from, which might make choosing the right app a difficult process.
An investment app, first and foremost, should cater to your investment and financial goals.
If you want to trade stocks and ETFs, there are a few options. If you want to trade cryptocurrencies or not pay commissions on any stock or ETF trade, you have fewer options.
That said, knowing what type of investment you’d like to purchase will make a massive impact on the investing app that you’ll choose.
If you’re new to investing, stick with a robo-advisor. Once you’re more experienced, you can graduate to an online brokerage.
Whatever you decide, there are many great apps to choose from that have made investing a lot easier for both beginner and experienced investors.
Frequently Asked Questions
There are a few ways to tell if an investing app is safe or not:
- It is regulated by a provincial or federal government agency,
- It is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), or
- It offers 256-bit encryption, which is what most large Canadian financial institutions use.
Before using an investment app, it’s best to check if the company checks all the boxes.
Investing apps are available on Apple’s App Store (for iOS devices) and Google Play (for Android devices) under the Finance category.
Suppose you’re a customer of a specific financial institution, online brokerage, or investment company. In that case, you can also usually find out whether or not they have an app on their website by finding the Google Play or Apple Play verification.
The answer to this question depends on your investing experience, risk tolerance, and financial goals.
Since you’re new to investing, you shouldn’t be putting all of your money in something you don’t understand, such as cryptocurrencies.
Additionally, you shouldn’t invest everything in one or two stocks because it will be riskier than an ETF, which is more diversified.
It’s best to learn more about investing and choose the app that offers features aligned with your personal financial goals.