Deciding on which discount broker in Canada to choose can be a challenge with all of the available choices.
I’ve tried a few different investing platforms in the past. I have been using Questrade for over six years now, so I know the ins-and-outs of the trading platform.
I’ve written this comprehensive Questrade Review that can hopefully help you decide if it’s the right discount brokerage for you.
Questrade has over $9 billion of Canadian assets under management (AUM)
Discount Broker / Trading Platform
- Free ETF Purchases
- Only $1,000 minimum investment needed
- Market research by Morningstar
- Affordable trades for stocks, options, and more
- Easy to use platform
- Inactivity fees quarterly.
- Mobile app has low ratings
- ECN and FX Fees on certain trades
Table of Contents
Things to consider before choosing a discount broker
Discount brokers solve the problem of overpaying for investing and is ideal for do-it-yourself (DIY) investors.
Use a Discount Broker If:
- You want to pay the lowest amount of fees for investing your money.
- You know a bit about investing
- You can perform research on your investments and construct your own portfolio.
- You understand the risks involved with investing and what your personal risk tolerance and investment goals are.
Don’t Use a Discount Broker if:
I don’t recommend using a discount brokerage if you don’t know anything about investing and don’t want to learn. You might end up making poor investment decisions. Instead, you could possibly look into robo-advisors, or getting a financial advisor (I recommend a fee-based one if you decide on that).
How to Judge a Discount Broker
When looking at choosing a discount broker, it’s crucial to look at a few key things:
- Fees: Since the name of the game is discount, having low fees are the most important factor in choosing a discount brokerage.
- Platform: No matter how cheap a discount broker is, you must make sure that the platform is easy to use, the reporting features are easy to understand, and that it doesn’t crash too much.
- Features: You must see if the discount brokers features satisfy your investment needs
- Customer service: Try to gauge how much support you can receive if you need it.
We’ll go over these points in detail and more below.
What is Questrade?
With over 50,000 new accounts opened annually and over $9 billion in AUM, Questrade is the leading discount brokerage in Canada. The company was founded in 1999 in Toronto.
Questrade is known mainly for its online trading platform, where Canadians can buy and sell ETFs, stocks, and other investments and build their own portfolios.
If you’re confident in your investment skills and shopping around for the best discount brokerage in Canada, Questrade should be shortlisted as one of your options.
There are two main types of fees with any discount brokerage: it’s account fees, and it’s trading fees.
- Annual Fees: $0
- Minimum Investment: $1,000
- Transfer Fees: $0, and you will be reimbursed $150 per account
- Withdrawal Fee: $0
- Inactivity Fee: $0 – $24.99/month (See details below)
- Foreign Exchange Fee: (See below)
One of the best things about Questrade is it’s zero account fees and minimums. You must be aware though of the inactivity fee, which is $24.99 every quarter. To have that fee waived, you must hold $5,000 in your accounts, or make at least one trade in your account.
Because of this inactivity fee, if you don’t either invest $5,000 or make at least one trade per quarter, I wouldn’t recommend signing up with Questrade because the fees will eat into your already small holdings inside your account.
An easy way to get around this is to buy an ETF every month (which is free!) so you meet the trading requirement.
If you’re trading foreign stocks such as in the U.S, be aware that there will be a foreign exchange fee for converting your Canadian dollars into whatever currency is needed. Every brokerage has its own version of this fee.
Here are the costs to do trades on Questrade:
- ETFs – Free to buy ETFs, ($4.95 – $9.95 to sell)
- Stocks – $0.01 per share buy or sell ($4.95 – $9.95)
- Options – $9.95 plus $1 per contract
- GICs and Bonds – Free if at least $5,000 purchased
- International Equities – 1% of total buy or sell value, with a minimum of $195 plus any additional stamp or exchange fees.
- Initial Public Offering (IPO) – Free if at least $5,000 purchased.
- Precious Metals – $19.95 USD per buy/sell
Questrade Monthly Plans
If you’re a high-volume advanced trader, Questrade offers Enhanced and Advanced pricing.
- Enhanced ($19.95/month): If you spend more than $48.95 in trading per month, you’ll get the entire $19.95 rebated to you. Enhanced comes with additional features for traders. This is good if you aren’t a super high volume trader, but want more market data and research tools.
- Advanced ($89.95/month): Here’s where the fees get interesting. If you choose the Advanced option, you get discounts on your trades. You also get a rebate if you spend $48.95/month in commissions of $19.95. If you spend $399.95/month in commissions, you will get the entire $89.95 rebated.
- Fixed-rate (most popular): Stocks drop to $4.95 per trade. This is perfect if you are a high-volume trader.
- Variable-rate: 1 cent/share cost, up to $6.95 per trade. Great for buying a few shares of expensive companies.
High volume traders should be aware of Questrade ECN fees, which can be applied when making trades.
Fee Comparison to Competitors
Since ETFs are all the rage these days, I wanted to do a comparison with Questrade to its competitors in terms of fees. As you can see, Questrade is extremely competitive in fees for Its ETFs and annual fees.
Wealthsimple Trade is cheaper than Questrade, but the main issues I have with the platform is it is only available as a mobile app, and it’s missing key accounts that you can trade such as an RESP, LIRA, or RRIF. If you’re ok with those, then Wealthsimple Trade might be a good option for you to look at also.
One company that can beat Questrade for ETF fees is Wealthsimple Trade, which offers $0 commission for both buy and sell trades for ETFs. Wealthsimple Trade is also a great platform, but it is only available as a mobile app.
- Accounts available: TFSA, RRSP, Margin, RESP, Spousal RRSP, LIRA, Locked-In-RRSP, RIF, LIF, Family RESP, Business, Cash Account
- Automatic Deposits: Yes
- Questrade DRIP (Dividend Reinvestment Plan): Yes
- Portfolio Rebalancing: No
Most popular accounts:
1. Questrade TFSA
Your TFSA is excellent for reaching your long or short-term investment goals. It’s my favorite investment account in Canada.
I set up a Questrade Dividend Reinvestment Plan (DRIP) to automatically reinvest all my dividends inside my TFSA so I don’t have to worry about it.
2. Questrade RRSP
The RRSP is designed to save for retirement in a tax-efficient way. The account can be one of your core forms of retirement income as you grow older.
3. Questrade Margin Account
For the traders who want access to more capital, a margin account can be right for you. Be aware of the risks involved with trading on margin. It does involve risk and you are basically investing with borrowed money. I like the versatility of Questrade, you can even purchase bonds and GICs by calling their trade desk.
Section 4: Features & Benefits
Questrade offers four main trading platforms:
The main trading platform on Questrade.com can be accessed by your desktop computer.
Features: Symbol lookup, news, historical info, and charting. You can set up smart alerts and charts on the platform also.
Who should use it: This basic platform will be enough for the 90% of investors who aren’t doing in-depth research or frequently trading on the platform. If you need to trade an ETF or stock, it gets the job done and it’s easy to use and nice to look at.
Check out this video on how to place a trade on the platform:
2.Questrade IQ Edge
Questrade IQ Edge is a free downloadable trading desktop platform. It’s best suited for active and pro traders.
Who should use it: If you’re a casual or passive investor, it’s probably a bit overkill to use IQ Edge, but it does have a cool interface and features.
Features: Charting, Screeners, and customizable and instant smart alerts for the stocks you are tracking.
Check out this IQ Edge walkthrough from Questrade:
You can trade currencies and commodities with the Questrade Global Platform. The platform has access to over 15 international exchanges.
Who should use this: The platform was designed for foreign exchange (FX) and contract for differences (CFD) traders in mind, so if you fit the bill this can be a fantastic choice for you.
Features: Get access to live charting, global economic market research releases, and smart alerts for currency tracking.
4.Questrade Mobile App
There is a Questrade mobile app available on both iOs and Android. As more people are moving away from desktop computers, mobile apps will only increase in popularity so it’s nice to have this option available.
Who this is for: If you want the ability to monitor your investments and make trades on your phone, this is the right app for you. But be aware that it is rated quite low in the app stores and is prone to bugs.
Features: Ticker lookup, mobile alerts, charting
The mobile app has less than a 2-star rating on both iOS and Google Play, which is concerning and probably means they aren’t any good. I have tried the mobile app but I prefer to use my desktop to make trades anyways.
Questrade Market Research
There are three fantastic market research tools that are available for Questrade customers. Let’s go over them:
1.Questrade Market Intelligence (Powered by Morningstar)
Morningstar is an unbiased third-party researcher. The company is the engine that drives Market Intelligence, which is Questrade’s fundamental market research tool. The tool provides analysis for stocks and ETFs. There is also access to mutual fund research.
If you’re looking to either get quick and accurate up to date stock information or in-depth market analysis, you’ll be able to find the information in Market Intelligence.
2.Questrade Intraday Trader
This tool was built in mind for technical traders. You can use the Intraday trader to monitor the target markets that you are interested in trading in. You can also set up chart patterns to visualize the data that you are analyzing in the way that you like it.
You can set up a target trade and when it is triggered, you will get notifications with charts and a description of what happened.
3.Questrade IPO Centre
If you want to tap into the exciting world of Initial Public Offerings (IPOs), you’ll need to find a tool that can help you analyze each new offering. This tool was designed for the sole purpose of helping you make informed IPO investment decisions.
Questrade Portfolios is the robo-advisor portion that is offered by Questrade. I won’t get into too much detail here since this article is focused on the discount broker platform of Questrade.
If you don’t want the hassle of constructing your own portfolios through Questrade’s discount brokerage platform, Questrade Portfolios has a team that will do it for you. It is also unique in that it has active managers that will manage the investments, which is rare for a robo-advisor.
Not only that, but the fees are also extremely cheap looking at a management fee of only 0.25%, plus the M.E.R for each ETF. It’s an option well worth looking into.
Questrade Customer Service
Service is available through online chat, email, or telephone. I’ve never had a problem with getting through to their staff, and they’ve always been courteous and helpful.
If you invest more than $250,000 with Questrade, you join the Questrade Platinum group. It comes with its own dedicated phone lines, and shorter email wait times also. The normal customer service is already great, so this is a nice perk for the higher net worth individuals.
Is Questrade Safe and Legit?
Like every major bank in Canada, Questrade is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). CIPF can potentially cover up to $1 million of losses in case Questrade somehow becomes insolvent.
On the tech side, Questrade uses 256-bit SSL digital certificate, which encrypts your data to protect it from third-parties. You can set up automatic alerts that will show you if anyone attempts to access your account.
Questrade comes with a guarantee that if an unauthorized transaction in your account occurs because Questrade’s systems have been breached, the company will reimburse 100% of your loss.
Google Reviews of Questrade
If you google Questrade Toronto, there are some interesting reviews that pop up. It only gets 2.5 stars out of 5, and there are over 200 reviews. A lot of the issues revolve around account set up or customer service.
I haven’t personally experienced these issues, but I thought it’d be best to show them here to provide an unbiased look at Questrade. There are lots of 5-star reviews also, and I have never had any problem with the customer service or platform itself.
Questrade vs Wealthsimple
Comparing these two is kind of comparing apples to oranges. Questrade is known mostly as a discount brokerage and Wealthsimple as a robo-advisor. However, they both allow you now to trade stocks and ETFs.
Although Wealthsimple Trade can provide cheaper trades for most stocks and ETFs than Questrade, it is still missing a desktop application, and there are many accounts you can’t trade either. If you’re looking for a full-service broker, Questrade is my pick for trading stocks and ETFs still.
Read my full Wealthsimple Trade review here.
Questrade vs Qtrade
Both of these are solid choices. You will likely pay less in fees with Questrade, but Qtrade is known for having exceptional customer service.
Questrade is great for ETF investors who want to construct a low-cost portfolio, and Qtrade wins out with its mutual fund research and trading. I don’t recommend investing in mutual funds due to its high fees, which is why I chose Questrade.
Questrade vs TD Direct Investing
Questrade wins out in fees, live chat support, having a mobile app, and free ETF purchases. TD Direct investing has free e-series funds and the comfort of being backed by a large bank.
If you do your banking at TD, it could be nice to have everything in one place, but I choose Questrade over TD Direct investing because that wasn’t important to me.
How to Sign Up For Questrade
Questrade Referral Program
If you refer your friends or family to Questrade, you get $25 for every person. You also get $50 for every third referral. It’s a great incentive for you to recommend Questrade.
If you’re looking for a versatile and cheap discount brokerage in Canada, hopefully, this Questrade review has helped you decide what to do.
It’s a great product for trading stocks, ETFs, and options for cheap, with pretty much any account a Canadian could ask for and solid market research tools.
Questrade gets two thumbs way up from Wealth Awesome. I’ve been using it for years now and couldn’t be happier with it, and to me, it’s one of the best trading platforms in Canada.