Here’s our updated 2021 Questrade Review.
After extensive research, we find that Questrade is the best online brokerage in Canada and we explain to you the reasons for it.
Questrade is Canada’s low-cost leader, offering no-fee ETF purchases. With its low fees and easy-to-use DIY trading platform, hundreds of thousands of Canadians trust Questrade with 9 billion of their hard-earned dollars. The platform provides the full range of investments from Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) to securities on popular accounts, including RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs, and non-registered accounts.
⦁ Low trading fees
⦁ No annual expenses
⦁ No Fees on ETF Purchases
⦁ Multiple trading platforms
⦁ Excellent customer service
⦁ Pays for your transfer fees
⦁ Top reputation in Canada
For a discount broker that you can trust, Questrade is your best bet– Canada’s biggest online brokerage firm. Built up in 1999 and headquartered in Toronto, Questrade has earned the title as Canada’s fastest-growing online brokerage, partly thanks to their bare-bones fee structure and great trading platforms. Read our Questrade review for the complete explanation on why this the best trading platform.
You can use Questrade’s investing platforms to build a portfolio from stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, even precious metals and GICs, and using these various options, build any type of portfolio.
With its low fees and ease of use, Questrade is our top pick for the best overall online brokerage in Canada.
Questrade is the best way to save money on your DIY investing and the way they do that is by cutting fees. Questrade charges no annual fees, and when you start investing, you’ll pay just $4.95 per trade up to a maximum of $9.95 to buy stocks, and $0 per trade to buy ETFs. This means that you can sign up for Questrade, transfer money into your account, and build an ETF portfolio all for $0.
If you’re an active trader, you can also gain access to one of several market data plans that Questrade offers. For a monthly fee, you can get active trader pricing, live streaming data, and other data add-ons. This is perfect for active traders. Here are your options:
- Basic (Free with all accounts): This is great for novice traders, and you’ll get free Canadian level 1 snap quotes, free U.S. level 1 snap quotes, and one-click real-time data.
- Enhanced ($19.95/month CAD):you’ll get everything that comes with Basic, plus enhanced level 1 live streaming data, live streaming for Intraday Trader, and additional data add-ons. In addition, if you spend more than $48.95 in trading commissions, you’ll get an automatic $19.95 rebate.
- Advanced ($89.95/month CAD): This package is for the most active traders. You get active trader pricing unlocked, advanced Canadian level 1 and level 2 live streaming data, select U.S. level 1 live streaming data, and individual data add-ons are available. You can earn a partial rebate if you spend more than $48.95 in commissions — for this, you’ll get an automatic rebate of $19.95. If you spend more than $399.95 in trading commissions, your monthly fee is automatically rebated.
If you sign up for the Advanced plan noted above, you will unlock active trader pricing. This gives you low fees on trading so you can trade as much as you want without having to worry about breaking the bank. There are two plans to choose from once you unlock this feature:
Fixed: “Great for high volume share and option trading at one low price.”
- Stocks: $4.95/trade
- Options: $4.95 + $0.75 / contract
- ETFs: Buy for free; Sell for $4.95/trade
Variable: “Great for buying a few shares of expensive companies.”
- Stocks: 1¢/ share (min $0.01 to max $6.95)
- Options: $6.95 + $0.75 / contract
- ETFs: Buy for free; Sell for 1¢/share (min $0.01 to max $6.95)
$0.01 per share (min. $4.95 to max. $9.95 per trade)
• No Fees on ETF Purchases
$9.95 + $1/contract
Forex & CFDs
Spreads as low as 0.8 pips under normal market conditions
$9.95 / trade
Bonds & GICS
Free with min. $5,000 purchase
1% of trade value, min. $195.00 plus applicable exchange or stamp fees
IPOs & New Issues
Free with min. $5,000 purchase
$19.95 USD / trade
- 1 Questrade Features
- 2 ⦁ No Annual Fees:
- 3 • Mobile Trading App:
- 4 Start investing with Questrade and get $50 in free trades!
- 5 A Peek inside Questrade
- 6 IQ Edge
- 7 IQ Web Platform
- 8 Questrade Forex
- 9 Get low fees and invest in USD with Questrade FX Global
- 10 Mobile App
- 11 Security: Is Questrade Safe?
- 12 Pros
- 13 Cons
- 14 The Last Word
- 15 DISCLAIMER
Whether you are a beginner or experienced investor, Questrade offers a bunch of features that distinguish it from other online brokers. Getting started with Questrade is a breeze thanks to no annual fees and a minimum investment of just $1,000. Automatic deposits are easy to set up, and when you move an investment account from another brokerage, Questrade will reimburse transfer fees up to $150 per account.
Types of accounts
RRSP, TFSA, RESP, margin accounts, LIRA, corporate, forex, CFDs
Automatic Portfolio Rebalancing
None! Questrade will reimburse transfer fees up to $150 per account
Website, App, Online Chat, Phone
Basic “Democratic” pricing: $0.01 per share (min. $4.95 to max. $9.95 per trade)
Some online brokerages charge a fee between $50-100 per year to “maintain” your RRSP or TFSA, especially for balances under $15,000. Questrade charges no annual fees and no inactivity fees. This is a perk for smaller investors since a $100 annual fee on a smaller account (say $10,000) is equal to a 1% fee – which essentially negates any savings you’d accrue by going the DIY route.
⦁ No Annual Fees:
You can purchase ETFs for free! That means that you can transfer money into your Questrade account and build an ETF portfolio for $0. It does cost $0.01/share to sell your ETFs, with a minimum fee of $4.95 per trade to a maximum of $9.95, which you may need to do to rebalance your portfolio.
It’s $0.01 per share, with a minimum of $4.95 and up to a maximum cap of $9.95 per trade to buy stocks. For example, if you were to purchase 100 shares, you’d pay the $4.95 base fee + $1.00, for a total cost of $5.95.
Your portfolio will likely contain a mix of stocks along with less volatile assets like bonds and GICs. Questrade charges a spread that is built into the price of the bond and varies depending on the individual bond. There is a minimum purchase amount of $5,000 to buy bonds. Trading GICs at Questrade is commission-free, but the minimum order is $5,000 (some GICs may have higher minimums).
Questrade offers support over the phone, through chat, or by email. The “Chat with Us” feature is especially handy, allowing clients to type and instant chat with a Questrade representative (Monday to Fridays from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM EST). They also have a searchable self-help function that provides information and support on a range of topics. Plus, Questrade recently received the 2019 DALBAR Seal for Service Excellence — a prestigious award that recognizes service leaders within the financial services industry.
A big bonus is you can hold USD in your registered accounts, which means you don’t have to do the dreaded currency conversion if you have USD to invest. You can also convert your CAD into USD with their currency converter too to save money on foreign exchange fees. Avoiding needless currency conversion fees are another way to keep your money working for you!
When switching to Questrade, some financial institutions may charge you a transfer fee. Don’t sweat it – Questrade will reimburse transfer fees up to $150 per account. This is a good deal considering transfer out fees can be hefty at most places, it is obviously a pretty strong incentive for people to switch from their other brokerage to Questrade.
Questrade allows you to purchase Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) for FREE (no commissions) with a minimum purchase of $5,000. IPO occurs when a private company goes public (offers shares on a stock exchange) for the first time. Questrade has an IPO Centre where you can review the most recent IPOs, sign up the IPO Bulletin, and buy IPOs by filling out an online form.
• Mobile Trading App:
The New Questrade Mobile App works flawlessly on smartphones, tablets, and is available in the Apple App Store and Google Play stores. The app is targeted at investors who trade frequently, but it’s handy to have regardless. The power to trade “on the go” means you’ll never miss an investment opportunity.
Start investing with Questrade and get $50 in free trades!
A Peek inside Questrade
Here’s another example of what a watch list might look like with the Questrade trading platform. I like the colours in the red and green to help you discern/visualize how the stocks that you are watching are doing more easily. If you’re wondering what a watchlist is, the basic idea is that if you pick stocks, you might want to keep your eye on how your “targets” are doing at any specific time. This allows you to quickly pull up a screen and see if there have been in any movements in the companies that you are interested in.
Here’s what Questrade’s investment return page looks like in the chart format, it’s an easy way to analyse your portfolio’s performance.
Another platform that Questrade has is called IQ Edge. This platform is suitable for investors looking to trade in higher volumes (not couch potato investors) and has a darker, more intense layout. IQ Edge is much more customizable and lets you adjust the settings to accommodate your personal needs.
It also has pre-installed option trading layout, and IQ Edge gives you the ability to make advanced trading orders, such as conditional orders and multi-leg options strategies. IQ Edge is highly customizable and created for advanced day traders (not my style).
Here’s a screenshot of what IQ Edge looks like, as you can see it’s much more detailed compared to the regular Questrade Platform and is complete with advanced trading tools:
IQ Web Platform
Questrade also has a third platform to choose from called IQ Web Platform. This platform allows you to add customizable gadgets that are easily accessible when you log in. Here is a screenshot of a margin account on IQ Web.
For the vast majority of DIY investors who are using ETFs to build passive investing portfolios, you won’t need IQ Web or IQ Edge. Just stick to the basic trading platform, and you’ll be just fine.
For the more sophisticated trader, Questrade offers a platform to trade currencies, commodities, and global stock CFDs (contracts for difference). With Questrade FX Global, investors can access global markets through more than 15 international exchanges and trade over 110 currency pairs. Questrade Global mobile is available for Apple and Android devices.
You may have never heard of a stock CFD, but it works much like an ETF that tracks an index. In this case, the stock CFD tracks the performance of a stock. The advantage of CFDs is they can give you exposure to international companies at a lower cost than owning international stocks directly.
It’s important to understand that trading CFDs is extremely risky, and investors can lose money quickly due to the use of leverage. An estimated two-thirds of retail accounts lose money trading CFDs.
Questrade is one of the only full-service brokers that allows investors to trade forex. It offers competitive pricing with target spreads as low as 0.8 pips. The “spread” is the difference between the bid price that someone is willing to pay, and the ask price that someone is willing to sell at.
Why would you want to trade forex? It’s the world’s largest financial market with more than $4 trillion exchanged each day. Markets are open 24 hours and have a low barrier to entry, meaning even beginner investors can get into forex trading. Trading currency pairs seems highly intuitive – we’ve all at some point closely monitored exchange rates such as CAD-to-USD or USD-to-EUR. If you believe one currency will rise or fall versus its trading pair, then you would place a trade making that bet.
Questrade Global is packed with research tools and insights designed to keep you on top of the securities that interest you the most. Best of all, the account is free – meaning there’s no annual fee, and no opening or closing fees.
The best feature Questrade offers here is its 30-day risk-free practice account, where investors get $100,000 CAD in virtual cash to try their hand at trading forex and CFDs. When you’re ready to move from a practice account to the real deal, simply open either an Individual Forex & CFD account, or a Joint Forex & CFD account.
With an individual account, you’ll get access to global markets and can trade 24 hours a day. A joint account gives you all the advantages of an individual account, plus allows you to pool investments with a group of two or three investors for a bigger stake in the market. There’s also the potential for corporate, partnership, informal and formal trusts, investment clubs, and sole proprietorship accounts.
If you’re the type of investor who wants to engage in forex trading – and we’re not suggesting that you are – then you should ask yourself if Questrade is the right platform for this activity. The top competitor to Questrade in the forex broker space is Interactive Brokers.
Interactive Brokers offers a similar number of currency pairs (105) along with more than 7,400 CFDs across global markets. The biggest difference between Questrade and Interactive Brokers is that while Questrade offers competitive spreads as low as 0.8%, Interactive Brokers doesn’t publish its average forex spread and instead charges a trading commission of between $16 to $40 per trade. Active traders may be entitled to lower pricing based on their trading volume.
Interactive Brokers is highly rated for advanced forex traders, but the downside is there’s no practice account feature to test out the platform – you’re immediately thrown to the wolves to fend for yourself.
Questrade’s practice account sets it apart from Interactive Brokers and will give beginners an edge to get their heads wrapped around forex trading before putting their real money on the line.
Get low fees and invest in USD with Questrade FX Global
Questrade also has a mobile app, and it has gone through a lot of changes recently to make it easier to manage and less clunky. Their mobile app is available for both iOS and Android. You can use the app to either check on your investments or even make trades on the go.
Security: Is Questrade Safe?
Questrade is as safe as any other brokerage. The company is a registered investment dealer and a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). They’re also a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), a not-for-profit insurance program. These Canadian regulatory organizations oversee Questrade’s operations and ensure that they adhere to strict investment industry standards.
The company also takes your security seriously: Questrade has numerous technology and infrastructure installed to protect your money. Your account is encrypted and securely stored, and you will receive an alert if there’s suspicious activity in your account. With security measures such as PIN numbers and Touch/Face ID, you can feel assured that only you can access your account. They also care about your privacy: Questrade promises to never sell, trade or share your information with anyone.
Above all, Questrade promises 100% reimbursement for any unauthorized transactions in your Questrade account that result in direct losses to you, and your account is insured for up to $10 million in the event that Questrade becomes insolvent.
- Low fees: As the leading online discount brokerage, Questrade provides the lowest trading fees in the industry.
- No annual account fees: No yearly, monthly, or quarterly account fees. Zip. Nada.
- Buy ETFs commission free: It costs $0 to buy ETFs.
- Hold US dollars in registered accounts: Clients can hold both US and Canadian dollars in registered accounts, including RRSPs and TFSAs. This means you can invest in the US without paying currency conversion fees each time you trade.
- Online and mobile platform: An online brokerage is only as good as its online platform.
- Questrade offers a web browser-based trading platform, a dedicated desktop program, and a mobile app.
- Pays transfer fees: Questrade will cover up to $150 in transfer fees per account.
- Quarterly Inactivity Fee: If no trades are made in a quarter, Questrade charges $24.95 for accounts under $1,000.
- Minimum Balance Requirement: Certain accounts require a minimum investment of $1,000 to open.
The Last Word
The decision to move forward with an online brokerage is unique in every situation and should be made to suit individual goals and risk tolerances. Questrade offers a broad range of investments over a variety of popular accounts for an endless array of opportunities to meet the needs of both beginners and experienced investors. Combined with modest fees, commission-free ETFs, a user-friendly online platform and mobile app, Questrade is an excellent option for investors looking to reduce the expenses that impact returns over the long term.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Romain is an independent trader and investor specializing in financial market analysis and trading systems. He worked as a professional long/short equity trader for a trading firm in New York and has a passion for building mechanical trading strategies. He has been in the industry since 2008.
This post expresses the opinions of the writer and is for information, entertainment purposes only. Romain is not a registered financial advisor or certified analyst. The reader agrees to assume all risk resulting from the application of any of the information provided. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns and financial trading is full of risk.) Please read the Full Disclaimer