With more and more discount brokerages being launched in Canada, it can be difficult to find a great platform to use. The push towards lower fees also reduces profitability for some companies, which in turn leads to a poor client service experience.
Qtrade Direct Investing places a huge emphasis on its clients’ experience, having been voted the best online brokerage 23 times over the past 16 years.
We will provide a Qtrade review below, covering the platform’s features as well as what investors can expect from the platform.
- Exceptional Customer Service
- Access to Great Research and Resources
- 100+ Commission-Free ETFs for Trading
- Average Fees
What is Qtrade?
Qtrade is a self-directed discount brokerage offered by Aviso Wealth. Aviso Wealth as a company was created fairly recently (2018) as three main Canadian credit unions joined forces:
- The Credit Union Centrals
- The Co-operators (through its subsidiary CUMIS)
Qtrade allows you to manage your investments and trade as you see fit. As a discount brokerage, you lack the benefits of working with a professional advisor but save on the fees that would be associated with working with one.
Qtrade offers fairly average pricing when compared to major bank brokerage peers in Canada. The brokerage has instead chosen to focus on the client experience, constantly upgrading its platform and winning awards for the quality of its offer.
Discount brokerage clients typically tend to focus greatly on trade commissions and broader fees that a platform charges. Qtrade does not stand out in this regard.
Qtrade offers standard pricing for clients, as well as reduced pricing for clients that place more than 150 trades per quarter or have more than $500,000 in assets (per client ID).
The standard trade commissions for various asset classes at Qtrade are:
- Stocks: $8.75 per transaction
- ETFs: $8.75 per transaction (Qtrade also offers 100+ ETFs that are free to trade)
- Options: $8.75 per transaction plus $1.25 per options contract
- Mutual Funds: $8.75
- Fixed-Income Securities: $1 per $1,000 face value, with a $24.99 minimum fee and a $250 maximum fee
Clients that place more than 150 trades per quarter or have more than $500,000 in assets per client ID are considered Investor Plus clients. These clients are charged lower trade commissions:
- Stocks: $6.95 per transaction
- ETFs: $6.95 per transaction (Qtrade also offers 100+ ETFs that are free to trade)
- Options: $6.95 per transaction plus $1.25 per options contract
- Mutual Funds: $6.95
- No fee for USD-registered accounts
Qtrade also offers preferential pricing for young investors. This applies to clients that are between the ages of 18 to 30. In order to qualify for the preferred pricing, young investors must set up a $50 or more automatic pre-authorized contribution to a Qtrade Investor account.
Young Investor pricing includes:
- Stocks: $7.75 per transaction
- ETFs: $7.75 per transaction (Qtrade also offers 100+ ETFs that are free to trade)
- Mutual Funds: $7.75
- No account minimums
- No quarterly administration fees
Qtrade also waives quarterly administration fees if your accounts (per household) are under $25,000 and you have set up a regular recurring contribution of $100 or more per month.
The quarterly administration fee is $25 per quarter. On top of the above exceptions, this administration fee is also waived if:
- Your accounts have more than $25,000 in assets as of the last business day of each calendar quarter
- You have completed 2 commission-generating equity or options trades during the last quarter
- You have completed 8 commission-generating equity or options trades during the last 12 months
- You have been a client for less than one calendar quarter
Closing a Qtrade account within the first year also comes with an account closure fee of $100. US dollar registered accounts (RRSP, RRIF, and TFSA) are also charged US $15 per quarter per account.
Equity and options trades placed over the phone with a representative also cost a minimum of $45 per order.
Qtrade is a bit pricey in terms of trading fees, especially now that several brokers offer commission-free trading for stocks and ETFs.
If you are looking for lower-cost alternatives to Qtrade, some other excellent discount brokerages to consider include
- Wealthsimple Trade
- Interactive Brokers
- National Bank Direct Brokerage
- Desjardins Online Brokerage (Disnat)
Qtrade Account Support
Qtrade offers excellent support for different account types. The platform offers most of the major accounts used by the majority of Canadians:
- Non-Registered Cash – Individual
- Non-Registered Cash – Joint
- Non-Registered Cash – Trust
- Non-Registered Cash – Estate
- Non-Registered Cash – Society
- Non-Registered Cash – Religious Organization
- Non-Registered Cash – Investment Club
- Non-Registered Cash – Corporate
- Non-Registered – Margin
- Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
- Individual Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
- Spousal Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
- Locked-In Retirement Savings Plan (LRSP)
- Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
- Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
- Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA)
- Life Income Fund (LIF)
Since Qtrade is owned by what is essentially a credit union company, it is no surprise that it offers excellent account support (similar to major bank brokerages). This is sometimes not the case with independent discount brokerages.
Qtrade Platform Features
Qtrade’s platform is available online or through iOS or Android applications on your mobile phone. Trades can also be placed over the phone, although this is not recommended due to the high fees.
Qtrade offers several features:
- Multiple portfolio views
- Stock/ETF/mutual fund screening tools
- Excellent research and analyst reports
Qtrade offers an extensive education section for both beginner and more seasoned investors.
The platform addresses six important steps when investing:
- Plan – setting investing goals with planning tools and calculators
- Discover – finding investments with screeners and research
- Evaluate – analyze your ideas with data and reports
- Trade – execute your orders in a quick and simple manner
- Monitor – observe markets and companies with real-time quotes through watchlists and alerts
- Review – different portfolio views offering insights and performance tracking
Qtrade Vs Other Discount Brokerages
Qtrade Vs Wealthsimple Trade
Wealthsimple Trade is one of Canada’s discount brokerages that currently offers no commission trading for stocks and ETFs. Unlike Qtrade, Wealthsimple Trade only supports stocks and ETFs within its self-directed accounts.
Wealthsimple Trade is also much more restrictive in terms of account variety. If you are looking to open more complex account types that are not available at Wealthsimple Trade, Qtrade is a good alternative to consider.
If you are thinking of only trading ETFs, especially those that are on Qtrade’s free-to-trade list, Qtrade’s platform is likely more robust and offers substantially more resources.
Cost-sensitive investors will likely gravitate towards Wealthsimple Trade for the commission savings that the platform offers. If you highly value an excellent customer service experience and having a resource-rich platform, Qtrade will be the better option out of the two.
You can open a Wealthsimple Trade account by clicking here.
Qtrade Vs Questrade
Another popular platform among Canadian investors is Questrade, an independent discount brokerage. Questrade offers a more variable trade commission structure (based on shares or ETF units traded), which may allow investors to access better prices for specific trades.
Questrade allows you to trade stocks for 1 cent per share ($4.95 minimum to $9.95 maximum), buy ETFs for free (and sell for 1 cent per unit, $4.95 minimum to $9.95 maximum), and trade options for $9.95 plus $1 per contract. In a lot of cases, these costs are lower than those from Qtrade.
Questrade allows investors to purchase an advanced market data plan (through an additional monthly fee), which reduces trade commissions further. Questrade supports a large variety of accounts, which is similar to the offer from Qtrade.
Unlike Qtrade, Questrade has a minimum account opening requirement of $1,000 before you can start investing or trading. Investors that are looking to start with small accounts may not be able to open a Questrade account (and can opt for Qtrade).
You can open a Questrade account by clicking here.
Qtrade Vs Interactive Brokers
More seasoned investors and traders in Canada have likely heard of Interactive Brokers. The platform markets itself to this segment of the investment crowd and offers sophisticated tools and resources.
In terms of trade commissions, Interactive Brokers charges clients significantly lower trade commissions than Qtrade. With regard to investment asset classes, both Interactive Brokers and Qtrade allow investors to trade a wide range of investments (with Interactive Brokers offering a slightly wider selection).
With Qtrade’s large focus on an exceptional client experience, the platform and customer support are likely superior to Interactive Brokers’ (especially considering the many awards that Qtrade consistently wins).
Qtrade Customer Reviews
Qtrade’s discount brokerage does not currently have any Google reviews.
The platform’s iOS application has a fairly poor rating on the Apple App Store. It has an average rating of 1.6 out of 5 across 7 reviews:
The app reviews mention issues such as:
- A lack of detailed screens
- The application not working at all for some users
- No information about investment performance is shown in-app
- Options quote not updating
As an overall platform, Qtrade has won a large number of awards from a lot of media outlets. These include:
- Best Online Brokerage – 12 first-place wins from The Globe and Mail
- Best Overall Brokerage Experience – first-place win in 2020 from Surviscor
- Best Online Brokerage Experience – 4 first-place wins from Surviscor
- Best Online Brokerage – 3 first-place wins from MoneySense
- Best Independent Broker – 3 first-place wins from MoneySense
- Best Customer Service Experience – 5 first-place wins from Surviscor
- Top Pick for Service Interaction – 3 first-place wins from MoneySense
Aside from Qtrade’s poor app ratings (which are average from only 7 reviews anyway), the platform promises investors an excellent client experience.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Qtrade Owned by?
Qtrade is currently owned by Aviso Wealth. Aviso is one of Canada’s largest independent wealth management firms.
How does Qtrade Make Money?
Qtrade primarily makes money from the trade commissions and fees that it charges clients for using its discount brokerage.
Does Qtrade have a Minimum Deposit?
Qtrade does not currently have an account opening minimum in place. Keep in mind that if your account value is less than $25,000 and you have not set up recurring contributions of at least $100 per month to your Qtrade account, you may be responsible for paying administration fees of $25 per quarter.
How do I get my Money out of Qtrade?
Similar to withdrawing money from most discount brokerages, there are several ways to get your money out of Qtrade if you decide to leave for whatever reason.
Before closing down your account, be mindful of certain fees:
- A $100 fee (plus tax) will be charged for closing any account within the first year
- A $150 transfer-out fee will be charged for moving to another financial institution
- A $125 (plus tax) de-registration fee for de-registering a TFSA or RRSP
Getting your money out of Qtrade can be done by transferring to another financial institution, liquidating your holdings and withdrawing cash to your account on file, or by de-registering a registered account.
Our Final Verdict
Qtrade is a great platform to consider if minimizing trade costs is not a primary concern. The incredible amount of awards that the brokerage has won promises an unparalleled experience for investors.
Qtrade’s trade commissions and fees are relatively competitive when compared to those charged by major bank discount brokerages. When Qtrade’s commissions and fees are compared to current industry cost leaders (such as Wealthsimple Trade), Qtrade charges substantially higher fees.
If you are focused on having a great experience with the platform and with customer support (in the event of any issues), Qtrade is the first platform to consider. It is difficult for a discount brokerage to both offer best-in-class resources and service while also being a cost leader. By using Qtrade, you are accepting higher costs in exchange for more of a white-glove experience.
If you are interested in learning more about other options in the self-directed discount brokerage space, be sure to read through our comprehensive guide on the best trading platforms in Canada.