Advertiser Disclosure This post may contain an affiliate relationship with companies that Wealth Awesome believes in personally. We may receive a fee when you click on a link, at no additional cost to you. Read our disclosure for more details.

RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade 2021: Which Trading Platform Is Better?

Last updated May 31, 2021

Picking out the best trading platform in Canada can be challenging. There are plenty of trading platforms available to Canadians, and each platform offers unique qualities and features that set it apart.

I’ve used several trading platforms over the years, and Questrade has been my favorite. It is one of the most well-known trading platforms in Canada.

However, the Royal Bank of Canada is also a highly reputable name in Canadian finance, and it offers its own online trading platform called RBC Direct Investing.

My RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade comparison article will discuss the two trading platforms to help you make a better decision regarding which online brokerage would suit your financial goals better.

RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade – A Quick Look at the Discount Brokers

This section of my RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade comparison will offer a quick overview of both online brokerages and introduce you to these industry giants.

About RBC Direct Investing

rbc direct investing logo

RBC Direct Investing is the brokerage division of the Royal Bank of Canada, one of the most important financial institutions in the country. The bank has an extensive history. It has been around since 1864, and it boasts over 17 million clients worldwide.

RBC Direct Investing enjoys a reputation of being a very safe and reliable brokerage due to the financial institution’s long-standing reputation. The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), a top-tier financial authority, regulates it. The platform offers a lower-cost solution to investing with the backing of a major bank.

Pros

  • Boasts high-quality educational tools
  • Covers transfer fees of up to $200 for transferring from another financial institution
  • RBC customers can easily open an account
  • $0 minimum deposit required to open an account

Cons

  • Only covers U.S. and Canadian markets
  • Standard flat trading fee is higher than others

About Questrade

Questrade is a self-directed trading platform that lets you create your own portfolio at a lower cost than traditional financial institutions. The online brokerage firm proudly boasts over $25 billion in Assets Under Management (AUM). It has earned a reputation for being the fastest-growing online brokerage firm in Canada. Over 200,000 new accounts open with the discount broker each year.

Questrade was formed in 1999, and it has been operating as a discount broker for a while now. It is known mainly for its online trading platforms that let Canadians buy and sell ETFs, stocks, and other securities to build their own portfolios. The platform has won an award for being one of Canada’s “Best Managed Companies” nine times since it has been around.

Pros

  • Free ETF purchases
  • Requires only $1,000 to begin investing
  • Offers a very affordable fee structure for trading stocks, options, and more
  • Provides comprehensive research tools for investors powered by Morningstar

Cons

  • ECN and FX fees apply to certain trades
  • Does not boast the best customer service

RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade – Investing Accounts Available

RBC Direct Investing and Questrade allow their customers to open multiple account types with the trading platform based on their financial goals and investment objectives.

Accounts Offered by RBC Direct Investing

  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Margin Account
  • Cash Account
  • Non-personal accounts like corporate account

Accounts Offered by Questrade

  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Margin Account
  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Spousal RRSP
  • Locked-In Retirement Account
  • Locked-In RRSP
  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  • Family RESP
  • Business Account
  • Cash Account

RBC Direct Investing and Questrade offer their customers a wide range of accounts to open using the respective trading platforms.

RBC Direct Investing offers registered and non-registered accounts, along with lesser-known account types. Questrade offers more variety in terms of the registered accounts you can open with the online broker, giving it a slight edge over RBC Direct Investing.

RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade – Research Tools

This section of my RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade comparison will discuss each platform’s research tools offers to make the user experience better.

Research Tools Offered by RBC Direct Investing

RBC Direct Investing is available to users through a web trading platform and a mobile app and boasts various powerful research and educational tools for users. Traders using the discount broker can access research reports from RBC Research and Morningstar, along with technical analysis data from Trading Central.

You can use several screeners on the platform to select securities based on your requirements and narrow down your options to view your preferred securities. The discount broker streams real-time level 1 data to all its traders, regardless of their account balance with the platform. It also offers real-time level 2 quotes for free stocks and ETFs trading on the TSX and TSXV.

RBC Direct Investing is a very beginner-friendly platform that offers new investors the chance to learn through free investment seminars delivered by RBC representatives.

Here are some other tools for research and trading available through RBC Direct Investing:

  • Watchlists: Useful for keeping you updated on the securities you are interested in.
  • Analyze and Rebalance Tool: Professional analysis for your self-directed portfolio, along with suggestions on how to rebalance it.
  • Performance Tool: Helps you measure your self-directed investment portfolio’s performance compared to various benchmarks.
  • Alert: You can set up customized alerts to monitor prices, events, and announcements necessary to make better investment decisions.

RBC Direct Investing also lets clients access an online forum where you can interact with other traders on the platform anonymously, view what they are investing in, and get valuable tips for investment strategies from other users.

Research Tools Offered by Questrade

Questrade provides you with three different research tools that you can use based on the information you seek to make investment decisions:

  • Questrade Market Intelligence
  • Questrade Intraday Trader
  • Questrade IPO Center

Market Intelligence is Questrade’s fundamental market research tool. It is powered by Morningstar, effectively making the third party its primary research partner.

Market Intelligence lets you gain information through analyses on stocks, ETFs, and mutual fund products available on the platform. It also offers quick and accurate stock information and in-depth market analyses to help you make more well-informed investing decisions.

Meanwhile, as its name suggests, Intraday Trader is a research tool designed for active traders who need access to more technical information regarding securities. It lets you monitor your target markets and even set up chart patterns that visualize the data for you.

Technical traders would enjoy this feature because it lets you visualize the analytical data according to your preference. You can set up a target trade, and when it is triggered, this tool will send you notifications with charts and a description of what happened.

For its part, investing in Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) and new issues on stock markets is an exciting aspect of becoming a trader. The IPO Center offers you a better chance to fully utilize the potential of new listings on stock markets. It offers detailed information about the latest and upcoming IPOs and in-depth analyses to help you find excellent new opportunities.

RBC Direct Investing and Questrade offer robust research and analysis tools to help self-directed investors make better investment decisions. However, RBC Direct Investing has access to more comprehensive data due to the backing of RBC itself.

RBC Direct Investing edges past Questrade due to the online forum that lets the online brokerage firm’s users interact with each other for tips and advice anonymously while staying updated on investing trends and strategies.

RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade – Customer Service

It is becoming increasingly crucial for discount brokers to provide a more robust customer service experience to their users. The number of people relying on online brokerages keeps rising as more Canadians realize the importance of creating alternative revenue streams to boost their overall income.

Many of the people have little to no experience or knowledge about how these firms work. Even the financially savvier traders using these trading platforms may require assistance for questions or concerns they might have.

This section of my RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade review will take a closer look at each platform’s customer service experience and which one is better than the other.

RBC Direct Investing Customer Service

The IIROC regulates RBC Direct Investing, and its parent company is one of the most reputable financial institutions in the country. It is only natural to expect that the trading platform offers an excellent customer service experience.

RBC Direct Investing offers excellent customer support through email and live chat. The representatives who deal with queries from clients provide fast and relevant answers, showing that the customer service team is well-versed in how everything works with the firm. The answers provided on chat and email are pre-written paragraphs regarding the different topics.

You can also call RBC Direct Investing regarding queries if you prefer talking to a person. RBC Direct Investing has a multilingual team of expert customer representatives available during business hours in Canada.

Unfortunately, phone support is quite slow with the trading platform. It also does not offer 24/7 support over the phone, even when it is available. Customers can find themselves waiting for a long time until they are connected with someone. You might find their customer service frustrating if you prefer talking to someone on the phone regarding your concerns.

Questrade Customer Service

On the other hand, Questrade has a good reputation for maintaining an excellent customer service experience for its users. My experience with Questrade has always been top-notch over the years.

The customer representatives know what they are talking about, are very courteous, and know how to guide you through any problems. You can reach the customer service team through online chat, email, and phone. So, it is no surprise that Questrade won the 2019 DALBAR Seal for Service Excellence.

However, I would like to point out that Questrade’s customer service has been getting a lot of negative feedback in recent months. It is likely due to an overwhelming number of new customers joining the platform and not enough members in the team to cater to them. My experience tells me that the discount broker will scale and adapt to the issue.

RBC Direct Investing boasts a good customer service experience. However, Questrade stands out as the winner between the two trading platforms.

RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade – What Do They Cost?

Many people prefer to work with independent discount brokers over traditional financial institutions because these platforms offer a lower-cost solution for their investing journeys. However, the cost of using each platform is different.

RBC Direct Investing Fees

RBC Direct Investing offers a lower-cost alternative to trading securities than traditional brokerage firms and robo-advisors. Unfortunately, RBC Direct Investing charges a higher fee. The platform offers a flat-rate trading fee for equity securities, ETFs, and options.

  • Stocks: $9.95 per trade, regardless of the number of shares, and $6.95 per trade for active traders
  • ETFs: $9.95 per trade, regardless of the number of units, and $6.95 per trade for active traders
  • Options: $9.95 and $1.25 per contract

When you place a trade for an ETF or stocks using RBC Investment Services Representatives over the phone, you can expect to pay a higher fee, depending on the value of the trade:

  • Trades of $0 – $0.50 will cost 2.5% of the trade amount.
  • Trades of $0.51 – $2.00 will cost $35 plus $0.02 per share.
  • Trades of $2.01 and over will cost $35 plus $0.05 per share.

Options trades over the phones can result in even more expenses. You can expect to pay $35 per options trade plus $.175 per contract commission. When your trade value over the phone is $2,000 or less, RBC Direct Investing charges a minimum $43 fee.

Trading mutual funds through the trading platform is commission-free. However, you may incur charges for deferred sales, setup fees, and early redemption fees.

Trading any Treasury bills, debentures, bonds, and other market instruments come with commissions that are already included in the quoted price. The maximum commission for these securities charged by RBC Direct Investing is $250 per transaction.

Trading precious metals come with a minimum of $43 in commissions, and the fees are in US dollars. You have to pay a commission of $28.95 plus $1 per ounce for gold certificates. Trading silver certificates, you can expect to pay $28.95 plus $0.10 per ounce.

Additionally, you can expect to pay quarterly account maintenance fees of $25 per quarter if your account balance is lower than $15,000. You can request RBC Direct Investing to waive the maintenance fee if:

  • You have been a client for less than six months;
  • You have made at least three commissionable trades in the quarter;
  • You have a student banking account with RBC;
  • You have opened a group RRSP account through RBC Direct Investing;
  • You have set up automatic contributions of at least $300 per quarter or $100 per month to your account;
  • You have qualified for the RBC Direct Investing Royal Circle Program
  • You have a VIP Banking package from RBC.

Additional fees you can expect with the platform include:

  • RRSP withdrawal fees: $50
  • Internal transfers with a third-party name: $25
  • Account transfer-out fee: $135
  • Statement replacement charges: $5

If you are a client with an account balance of $250,000 or more, you can qualify for RBC Direct Investing’s Royal Circle Membership and its perks. These perks include preferred rates and priority support.

Questrade Fees

Questrade is known for its bare-bones fee structure, and that is another significant reason why it is my top pick for the best discount broker in Canada. The discount broker does not charge any account maintenance fees and minimums. However, Questrade does charge an inactivity fee of $24.95 per quarter.

Fortunately, you can easily waive the inactivity fee if you have $5,000 invested through the broker or make at least one trade per quarter. Purchasing an ETF through the platform is an ideal way to waive the inactivity fee because the online broker does not charge commissions for ETF purchases.

There is also a foreign exchange fee for converting your Canadian dollars into whichever currency necessary to facilitate foreign stock trading.

Besides the account fees, here is a look at the trading fees you can expect to pay with the platform:

  • Stocks: $.0.01 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 and $1 per contract
  • Mutual Funds: $9.95 per trade
  • Bonds: Free with $5,000 purchase
  • GICs: Free with a minimum of $5,000 purchase
  • International Equities: 1% of the trade value with a minimum of $195.00 and applicable exchange or stamp fees, charged in the currency of the account in which the trade is placed
  • IPOs and New Issues: Free but requires a minimum $5,000 purchase
  • Product Precious Metals: US$19.95 per trade

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

Questrade also offers several discounts and promos that you can capitalize on to reduce your costs further. If you are a new investor, signing up to the discount broker through this promo offer code of $50 in free trades could be an excellent way to begin your journey as a self-directed investor.

RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade – The Verdict

Comparing the features, benefits, and fees for both platforms clearly show why I consider Questrade the favorite trading platform for so many Canadians like myself. It is a trading platform with a bare-bones fee structure that cuts down on costs.

However, some people might find RBC Direct Investing ideal. I will briefly discuss for whom both online brokerages would be ideal.

Use RBC Direct Investing if:

  • You prefer trading mutual funds (something I would not recommend).
  • You don’t mind paying higher fees.
  • You prefer the backing of a traditional financial institution.

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.
  • 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 to learn more about the discount broker.

My RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade comparison clarifies why Questrade is the clear winner in almost every respect if you are a self-directed investor looking for a low-cost investing solution. RBC Direct Investing is a discount brokerage of a traditional financial firm, after all. Expectedly, using the platform for trading incurs high costs.

Questrade also offers a robo-advisor product that can help you invest in your choice from multiple professionally managed portfolios that align with your risk tolerance and investment goals.

If you are interested in using the platform so that you do not have to manage your portfolio yourself, you can use this offer code to enjoy up to $10,000 in your Questwealth account managed for free for a year.

RBC Direct Investing 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

    Hi Chris,

    Could you please compare about the robo advisors between Questrade vs Welthsimple vs RBC Investease.

    It would be highly appreciated.

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Categories