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Qtrade vs. Questrade 2021: Which is Better?

Last updated May 7, 2021

If you’re looking to invest in Canada, you might be overwhelmed by all of the choices.

I have tried several different investing platforms over the years, and I found Questrade to be my pick for the best Canadian discount broker.

However, Qtrade is another formidable Canadian platform that has become popular over the years. While their names sound eerily similar, both Canadian discount brokers are not the same. I’ve spent a lot of time researching and comparing the two platforms.

If you are looking for a comparison of Qtrade vs. Questrade, this post will give you all the information you need to make a well-informed choice between the two top Canadian discount brokers.

Qtrade vs. Questrade 2021: A Quick Look at the Two Canadian Discount Brokers

This section of my Qtrade vs. Questrade comparison will give you a quick overview of both Canadian discount brokers and introduce you to these giants in Canada’s discount broker market.

About Qtrade

Qtrade logo

Qtrade is a Canadian online broker founded in 2000 striving to offer investors financial investment services through an intuitive online trading platform. It is a self-directed investment platform that aims “to empower self-directed investors to achieve their financial goals by delivering Canada’s best online brokerage experience.”

The platform combines an easy-to-use online and mobile platform, powerful research tools, and excellent customer support with one of the lowest cost structures in the industry to give you one of the best discount brokerages available in Canada.

According to the company’s website: “Value and commitment to continuous improvement are the reasons why Qtrade Investor has been ranked among Canada’s very best online brokers for the past decade.”

Pros

  • Provides market-leading customer service
  • Has an easy to navigate mobile and online platform
  • Offers robust educational and research tools
  • Offers free trading for a list of 100 selected ETFs

Cons

  • Only covers U.S. and Canadian markets
  • Charges a quarterly $25 administration fee per account

About Questrade

Questrade is a self-directed investment platform that allows you to build your own portfolio at a low cost.

The discount broker boasts over $15 billion in Assets Under Management (AUM). It has earned the reputation of being the fastest growing online brokerage firm in Canada, with over 50,000 new accounts opened each year. This is primarily due to its low fee structure for trading stocks and ETFs.

Founded in 1999, Questrade is a discount broker that has been around for a while. It is known mainly for its online trading platforms that let Canadians buy and sell ETFs, stocks, and other investments to build their own portfolios. The platform has won an award for being one of Canada’s “Best Managed Companies” eight times over the years.

Pros

  • Offers free ETF purchases
  • Does not charge a quarterly inactivity fee
  • Provides a very affordable fee structure for trading stocks, options, and more
  • Morningstar powers its comprehensive research tools for investors

Cons

  • ECN and FX fees may apply to certain trades
  • Requires you to invest at least $1,000 in your account before you can start investing

Qtrade vs. Questrade – How Do They Work?

Qtrade

Qtrade is a platform that focuses on empowering you to make better self-directed financial decisions. It offers excellent research and support tools to give you all the information you need regarding investments. This allows you to be in control of your investing decisions.

You can make your trades using its Qtrade Investor platform. The trading platform boasts the following features:

  • In-depth research and analyst reports
  • Multiple portfolio views
  • Screening tools for stocks, ETFs, and mutual funds
  • Quick access to the market
  • The use of stop-loss, stop-limit, and trailing-stop orders

Qtrade Investor focuses on six stages of investing to help you succeed as an investor:

  1. Planning: The platform helps you set achievable investing goals by using various calculators and planning tools.
  2. Discovery: You can find investing ideas quickly on the platform through its screening tools and independent stock research.
  3. Evaluation: You can evaluate your investing strategy using reports from industry-leading analysts and fundamental data available through the platform.
  4. Trading: After deciding what investments you want to make, you can execute quick trade orders to buy and sell on the platform.
  5. Monitoring: You can use the platform’s real-time alerts, up-to-date data, and watchlists to monitor your investment portfolio’s progress.
  6. Review: You can use intelligent portfolio views to benchmark your portfolio’s performance against industry standards.

Questrade

Questrade is also a platform that wants to empower you to make your own financial decisions by helping you do the research. Questrade achieves this by providing you with some of the most comprehensive research tools and resources to make well-informed investing decisions based on your financial goals.

Questrade focuses on three quick and customizable platforms:

  • Questrade Trading: Questrade Trading is their standard web application that allows you to trade stocks, manage your investment portfolio, and do your research.
  • Questrade app:  The Questrade app is an intuitive mobile app that lets you make trades and manage your investment portfolios on the move. It enables you to take advantage of a moving market, wherever you are.
  • IQ Edge: IQ Edge is Questrade’s proprietary software designed specifically for active traders with expert knowledge regarding investing markets. It is a free but powerful software that lets you analyze, pick, buy, and sell stocks. You have to download it separately.

Questrade emphasizes empowering you as an investor. It provides you with a range of tools to help you, whether you are a beginner or an experienced investor.

Qtrade vs. Questrade – Features and Benefits

This section of my Qtrade vs. Questrade comparison will discuss the features and benefits for both discount brokers to give you an overview of each trading platform. I will also compare their features and discuss which platform beats the other in each aspect.

Qtrade vs. Questrade – Brokerage Investing Account Options Available

With Qtrade and Questrade, you have the option of opening several types of accounts that can cater to a variety of your financial goals:

  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  • Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Non-registered cash account
  • Non-registered margins account

You can open a particular type of account with these online brokers, depending on your situation and your goals. The margin account is a type of account with features similar to a cash account. However, you can borrow money against securities you already own to leverage your investments using the margin account.

When it comes to account options in the Qtrade vs. Questrade debate, you can enjoy the same benefits with either of them. Both discount brokers offer anything that a Canadian investor could ask for. They also offer corporate account options, USD account options, spousal RRSP options, and pretty much any other account you can find anywhere else.

Qtrade vs. Questrade – Quality of Customer Service

The influx of Canadian investors into the investing world has highlighted the importance of excellent customer service in recent months. Comparing the customer service offered by Qtrade and Questrade gives us a clear winner: Qtrade. However, this is more of a recent development in the discount broker space.

My experience in working with Questrade has been terrific over the years. Its customer service representatives have always been available through online chat, email, and telephone. The staff has been courteous and helpful. However, there has been a massive downpour of negative feedback regarding their customer service – particularly over the last year.

Questrade’s customer service has been respectable over the years, winning the 2019 DALBAR Seal for Service Excellence for the second year in a row. However, its recent negative feedback can be attributed to Questrade’s customer service being overwhelmed with many new people racing to open new accounts and/or making new trades.

Regardless of the circumstances, a trading platform needs to be fully equipped to handle customer service properly, especially when an increasing number of Canadians are venturing into the investing space for the first time.

Qtrade has long enjoyed an excellent reputation for providing its users with an excellent customer service experience. Qtrade’s market-leading approach to customer service makes it a clear winner against Questrade in this area, but I can see Questrade adjusting to improve in the future as well.

Qtrade vs. Questrade – How Much Do They Cost?

As with any investing platform, fees are a significant concern you should consider when choosing which discount broker to use. Qtrade and Questrade are both lower-cost alternatives to traditional financial institutions and robo-advisor products. However, the costs of using each platform are different.

Qtrade Fees

Qtrade has two different pricing tiers: Qtrade Investor and Qtrade Investor Plus.

Qtrade Investor

Qtrade Investor is for all investors.

  • Stocks: $8.75 per trade
  • Options: $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
  • ETFs: Free (when you choose from their selected list of 100 ETFs) or $8.75 per trade (when you choose from all their other ETFs)
  • Mutual Funds: Free
  • Fixed-income assets and exchange-traded debentures: $1 per $1,000 face value ($24.99 min / $250 max)

Qtrade Investor Plus

Qtrade Investor Plus is for active traders who make over 150 trades per quarter or have $500,000 in assets with the platform.

  • Stocks: $6.95
  • Options: $6.95 + $1.25 per contract
  • ETFs: Free (when you choose from their selected list of 100 ETFs) or $6.95 per trade (when you choose from all their other ETFs)
  • Mutual Funds: Free
  • Fixed-income assets and Exchange-Traded Debentures: $1 per $1,000 face value ($24.99 min / $250 max)

Questrade Fees

Questrade offers very competitive pricing and beats out all its competition with its bare-bones fee structure.

  • Stocks: $.01 per share, with a minimum of $4.95 to a maximum of $9.95 per trade
  • ETFs: Free to buy, but you have to pay $0.01 per share per sale, costing a minimum of $4.95 to a maximum of $9.95 per trade
  • Options: $9.95 + $1 per contract
  • Mutual Funds: $9.95 per trade, although Deferred Sale Charge fees may apply if you withdraw them early
  • Bonds: Minimum purchase of $5,000
  • GICs: Minimum purchase of $5,000, although fees may apply if withdrawn early
  • International Equities: 1% of the trade value, with a minimum of $195.00 plus applicable exchange or stamp fees, charged in the currency of the account where you placed the trade
  • IPOs and New Issues: Free but requires a minimum $5,000 purchase
  • Product Precious Metals: US$19.95 per trade

When it comes to the cost of using both platforms, Qtrade offers a significant advantage over Questrade since it is completely free when you buy and sell from its list of 100 ETFs. Although Questrade also allows you to buy any ETFs it offers for free, you have to pay to sell them.

But while Qtrade also allows you to trade mutual funds without charging you, mutual funds are an investment that I do not recommend. Check out my video on why mutual funds in Canada are awful here. Nonetheless, the higher fees for Qtrade could be worth it if you are a self-directed investor who wants better customer service from a platform.

Overall, Questrade comes out as the clear winner when you consider all the fees that the discount broker charges for self-directed investing.

Qtrade vs. Questrade – Key Features

Qtrade

Qtrade has several excellent features that you can consider, including:

  • A Low Fee Structure: Qtrade Investor charges $8.75 for stock trades for everyone, offering a discounted rate of $6.95 per trade for active investors (making 150+ trades per quarter).
  • Outstanding Customer Service: Qtrade has industry-leading customer service that is an integral part of the discount broker’s experience.
  • An Easy to Use Platform: Qtrade has a simple but intuitive platform that makes investing more accessible for investors. It is easy to navigate, and Qtrade’s support team is quick to respond if you ever need help.
  • Comprehensive Research Tools: Qtrade delivers fantastic research and analyst reports that you will have access to while using the platform. It emphasizes providing you with as much information as possible to empower you for success in self-directed investing.
  • Easy to Move Investments: If you have an account with another financial institution or investing platform, you can easily transfer your balance to Qtrade. The platform also offers reimbursements for transfer fees for up to $150.
  • Investment Accounts Designed for You: Qtrade features all the accounts you might need to suit your situation.
  • Multiple Investment Choices: You can choose several assets that you can invest in through Qtrade, including stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, IPOs, ETFs, and GICs.

Questrade

Questrade offers even more features that make it an attractive discount broker to consider, including:

  • Zero Annual Fees: Many online brokers charge a fee between $50-$100 per year for using their platform, especially investors with smaller accounts. However, Questrade charges zero annual fees for using its platform.
  • Ultra-Low Trading Fees: You can purchase ETFs through Questrade for free. It means that you can transfer money into your Questrade account and create an ETF portfolio at zero cost. However, it will cost $0.01 per share to sell your ETFs, with a minimum of $4.95 per trade to a maximum of $9.95 per trade fee. You may have to face this cost while rebalancing your portfolio.
  • An IPO Centre: Questrade offers an IPO Centre, where you can review the most recent IPOs, sign up for the IPO Bulletin, and purchase IPOs by filling out an online form. Questrade lets you purchase IPOs for free with a minimum $5,000 purchase.
  • Ideal for Beginners: Its ultra-low fee structure and comprehensive research tools make it ideal if you want to start small and test different features. You can even choose to use a pre-built portfolio through Questrade’s robo-advisor called Questwealth.
  • Easy to Move Investments: If you have an account with another financial institution or investing platform, you can easily transfer your balance to Questrade. The platform also offers reimbursements for transfer fees for up to $150.
  • Service Agents on Call: You can contact their service agents if you need assistance. Questrade also has a ton of easy-to-understand resources.
  • Investment Accounts Designed for You: Questrade features all the accounts you might need to suit your situation.
  • Multiple Investment Choices: You can choose several assets that you can invest in through Qtrade, including stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, IPOs, ETFs, and GICs.
  • Enabling You to Invest on Your Own Time: Setting up an account is super easy, and you get access to a free mobile app that lets you invest on the move whenever you want.

Advantages of Qtrade over Questrade

Qtrade offers a few but significant advantages over Questrade:

  • It offers unparalleled customer service that people throughout different online platforms cannot stop raving about.
  • It gives you slick initial updates as soon as you log into your account.
  • The platform does not charge any fees and commissions for buying mutual fund products. I do not consider mutual funds an ideal investment option for Canadians, but it is advantageous for Qtrade users who prefer investing in mutual funds.

Advantages of Questrade over Qtrade

Questrade offers a wide range of advantages over Qtrade, including:

  • It charges absolutely nothing in annual fees.
  • ETF purchases are completely free, letting ETF investors save hundreds of dollars in commissions over the years.
  • Questrade has an excellent promo offer code of $50 in free trades when you sign up.
  • The process of setting up an account is quick, easy, and paperless.
  • It only charges $4.95 in trading fees, which is significantly lower than Qtrade Investor’s $8.75.

Considering the advantages each platform has over the other, Questrade’s benefits outweigh Qtrade’s benefits by a substantial margin.

Qtrade vs. Questrade – Which Should You Go For?

While my Qtrade vs. Questrade comparison weighs heavily in favour of Questrade, I will discuss both discount brokers and for whom they would be ideal.

Use Qtrade if:

  • You are interested in investing in mutual funds (something I do not recommend).
  • You do not mind paying more in fees to enjoy superior customer service.
  • You are an active trader, trading over 200 times a month.

You can check out my detailed Qtrade review here to learn more about the discount broker.

Use Questrade if:

  • You are an index investor interested in purchasing a lot of ETFs. It offers a broader number of ETFs that you can purchase for free, unlike a selected list of ETFs for Qtrade.
  • You want to cut your costs for investing to bare bones.
  • You do not need a lot of assistance when it comes to maintaining your portfolio.

You can check out my detailed Questrade review here to learn more about the discount broker.

Qtrade is an exceptional discount broker, but Questrade is the clear winner in the industry. 

Qtrade vs. Questrade – The Verdict

Questrade’s no-fee ETF purchases, zero annual fees, and overall ultra-low-cost fee structure can let you create and maintain a portfolio for years before you owe any fees. You get to control your investments and practice as a self-directed investor using the platform’s substantial data to help you make better financial decisions.

Unless you want to fully automate your investing decisions with a robo-advisor product that can balance your portfolio to align with your investing goals and risk tolerance, Questrade is an ideal platform to consider.

There are multiple prominent trading platforms in Canada, which I have reviewed in my list here.

If you want to use Questrade’s robo-advisor product, you can also use this offer code to enjoy up to $10,000 in your Questwealth account managed for free for a year.

Qtrade vs. Questrade
Christopher Liew, CFA

Christopher Liew, CFA

Author Bio - Christopher Liew is a CFA Charterholder with 11 years of finance experience and the creator of Wealthawesome.com. Read about how he quit his 6-figure salary career to travel the world here.

2 Comments

  1. Hem Pandey

    Hi Christopher<

    Could you please compare robo advisors between Wealthsimple vs RBC Investease, which one is better?

    Reply
    • Christopher Liew, CFA

      Hey Hem, that’s a great idea, I’ll add it to my content plan for the future! Thanks for the suggestion.

      Reply

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