Questrade Review 2021: Canada's Favourite Discount Brokerage
There are a number of discount brokers in Canada and Questrade is easily one of the most popular ones.
In this Questrade review, we’ll look at what Questrade is, what it has to offer, and the pros and cons of using this particular discount brokerage.
What is Questrade?
Questrade is a self-directed online brokerage that allows Canadian citizens and residents to trade stocks, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), options, precious metals, and much more.
The Toronto-based company was founded in 1999 and has more than $9 billion in assets under administration. It was also recently named number one in the J.D. Power 2020 Canada Self-Directed Investor Satisfaction Study. The brokerage has consistently been ranked high versus its competitors.
Questrade competes with both big bank and non-bank owned brokerages, including TD Direct Investing, BMO InvestorLine, CIBC Investor’s Edge, RBC Direct Investing, Scotia iTrade, Interactive Brokers, Qtrade Investor, Virtual Brokers, Desjardins Online Brokerage, National Bank Direct Brokerage, Wealthsimple Trade, and HSBC InvestDirect.
How does Questrade work?
Questrade offers both self-directed investing as Questrade and a robo-advisor called Questwealth Portfolios.
With a self-directed investing account, you decide which stocks or bonds to buy and how much you want of each asset class in your portfolio. The decision making is entirely in your hands.
On the other hand, with a passive investing account, Questwealth Portfolios chooses a selection of ETFs for you based on your own investment goals and risk capacity.
You need a minimum of $1,000 to start investing with Questrade or Questrade Portfolios.
It might take a young investor some time before they have that much saved up. In that case, they may be better off investing with a no-commission brokerage like Wealthsimple Trade.
Questrade Review 2021: Account options, fees, and more
Questrade has something to offer all types of investors, but it might not be the right fit for all of them.
Below, we’ll take a closer look at Canada’s favourite discount broker and if they’re right for you and your investing goals.
Questrade: Account options
Questrade offers both non-registered and registered accounts, meaning you have access to many different trading accounts, such as a margin account, Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP), Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA), and Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF).
Questwealth Portfolios offers a socially responsible investment (SRI) option. This is ideal for those who want to invest in the market, but want to avoid companies that aren’t considered socially responsible.
Questrade: FeesOne of the biggest reasons why someone chooses a discount brokerage lies greatly in its trading fees. No one likes to pay a lot to make trades, and Questrade is one of the most competitive brokers for pricing.
Stock trading commissions start at $4.95 a trade and go up to a maximum of $9.95. It costs one cent per stock too. Most of Questrade’s competitors charge around $10 per trade.
ETF purchases are free but come with a commission when selling. Trading options cost $9.95 for each trade, plus $1 per contract.
As of October 1, 2020, Questrade no longer charges a quarterly inactivity fee. That means there are no annual fees. Other brokers still charge a similar fee on most of their accounts unless they reach a certain minimum balance.
Questrade: PackagesQuestrade offers four market data packages:
- Basic: The basic package costs nothing at all and offers real-time market data. This package is great for new traders.
- Enhanced: The enhanced package offers everything the basic package offers plus live streaming, real-time data. This package is for intermediate traders and costs $19.95 a month, but they’ll waive this fee if you trade often.
- Advanced Canadian: The advanced Canadian data package is for active traders, which comes with advanced Canadian streaming data. This package costs $89.95 a month, but the fee can be waived partially or in full, depending on how many trades you make.
- Advanced U.S.: The advanced U.S. data package is also for active traders and comes with advanced U.S. streaming data. This package has a monthly fee of $89.95 USD, which can be partially or fully waived depending on how often you trade.
Two active trader pricing plans are only available with either of the advanced data packages.
The fixed plan’s trading commissions are $4.95. Options commissions are $4.95 plus $0.75 per contract. ETFs can still be bought for free and sold for $4.95 per trade.
The variable plan’s trading commissions are as low as a penny per share up to a maximum of $6.95. Options commissions are $6.95 plus $0.75 per contract. ETF purchases are still free. ETF sales, however, are just a penny per share up to a maximum of $6.95 per trade.
The trading commissions at Questrade are among the lowest compared to the big banks. The minimum commission for stock trading is $4.95, half of what most big banks charge.
Questrade doesn’t charge a commission to purchase ETFs while most brokers charge their standard commission or limit you to a certain selection of ETFs that can be traded for free.
The Questwealth Portfolios’ management fee of 0.25% is half of what Wealthsimple Invest and many other robo-advisors charge. Once you accumulate $100,000 or more in assets, the fee drops to 0.2%. That’s lower than the 0.4% Wealthsimple Invest charges for clients with a portfolio worth $100,000 or more.
Questrade may charge electronic communication networks (ECNs) or alternative trading systems (ATSs) fees on top of regular trading commissions.
Most brokerages include this cost in their commissions, but Questrade breaks it out. This may come as a surprise when you expect to pay nothing when purchasing ETFs.
While Questrade doesn’t charge a commission for buying ETFs, you still have to pay one when you sell.
There are other brokers, such as Scotia iTrade and Qtrade Investor, that allow you to buy and sell popular ETFs without having to pay a commission at all. With Wealthsimple Trade, there are no trading commissions on ETFs or stocks whatsoever.
Questrade: Mobile Accessibility
You can access the trading platform using your computer or the Questrade Mobile app. For the app, you'll require an Android device running Android 5.1 or higher or an Apple device running iOS 10 or higher.
Although, it should be brought to light that the app does not have positive reviews. It currently has ratings of 2.3/5 stars on Google Play and 1.9/5 on the App Store.
Users have complained about being logged out of the app after a couple of minutes, problems related to freezing, and how slow it is. Those aren’t the kind of issues that any customer—especially those using mobile trading—wants to face.
Questrade: PromotionsQuestrade offers you a $25 referral bonus for every friend that opens an account. For every third referral, you get a $50 bonus. Very few brokers offer a cash reward for referrals, which makes this a great bonus.
Questrade: Pros & Cons
There are pros and cons with every discount broker, and Questrade is no exception. Here are Questrade’s pros and cons:
Pros: The Good StuffLow Fees
No inactivity fees
$25 Referral bonus
Low MER (0.25%)
Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) options
Cons: The Not So Good Stuff
ECN and ATS fees
ETF selling fees
High minimum investment
Our final thoughts
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, Questrade is good for beginners and all types of investors. Its trading platform isn’t complicated, making it easy to buy and sell stocks. The trading commissions are lower compared to other brokerages ($4.95 vs. about $10).
Trading ETFs is also cheaper because you don’t have to pay a commission each time you buy, but only when you sell. Most brokers do charge a commission when you buy and sell ETFs.
It depends on how you invest your money. If you invest in safe investments like GICs, then you’re guaranteed to make money.
If you invest in stocks, which are riskier, you can make or lose money. Stocks aren’t guaranteed to go up although a diversified portfolio tends to rise over long periods of time.
Does it cost money to sign up for Questrade? No, it’s free to set up a Questrade account like it is for most online brokerages. You don’t need a minimum to open an account, but you do need a minimum balance of $1,000 to begin trading.
The company used to charge a fee if you didn’t maintain a minimum balance or trade regularly, but this fee was discontinued as of Oct. 1, 2020.