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Detail shot of an old share certificate
Detail shot of an old share certificate

Stock basics

The fees for buying and selling stocks Add to ...

When you buy and sell stock, you pay a fee to your adviser or investment firm. This fee is called a commission. Commissions reduce the return on your investment in a stock.

Comparing commissions

This table shows the range of fees you might find, depending on the type of firm you invest with. Learn more about how advisers are paid.

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Type of firmDo they offer advice?​              Fees
​Full-service investment firm







Commission-based account – commissions typically range between $75 and $100 each time you buy or sell.

Fee-based account – you pay an annual fee, which includes the cost of advice and trading commissions. The fee is typically 1-2% of the value of your account.

​Discount brokerage firm



​Varies, based on the size of your trade and/or account. Typical fees range up to $30 each time you buy and sell, but some start as low as $5.


Example – You invest $1,000 in a stock and make $80 when you sell. That’s an 8% return on your investment. Then, you have to pay a $10 commission. This means you only get to keep $70. So your 8% return drops down to 7%.

You invest $1,000 in a different stock and make only $50 (or 5%). You have to pay the same $10 fee to the adviser. That means you get to keep only $40, and your return drops from 5% to just 4%.

The return you get from any stock investment will be reduced by what you pay in commissions and fees, and any tax you pay on the money you make.

3 ways to reduce commissions

  1. Limit your trading – If you buy and sell stocks often, you'll pay a lot in commissions. This will reduce your returns.

  2. Ask for a lower rate – If you trade frequently enough to be considered an active trader, your adviser or investment firm may give you a better deal on commissions.

  3. Pay for the level of service you need – If you’re new to stock investing, you may want the advice of an adviser at a full-service firm. If you have experience investing in stocks and doing your own research, you’ll save in commissions with a discount brokerage.

Content in this section is provided in partnership with Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help Canadians make better money decisions. To find out more, go to: GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca


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