Questrade Review 2021

Questrade Review

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.

Table of Contents

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A Questrade Review for 2021: Account Options, Products, 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: Packages

Questrade 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. For more information and an indepth comparison check out our Questrade vs Wealthsimple review

Questrade: Fees

One 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 no annual fees. Other brokers still charge a similar fee on most of their accounts unless they reach a certain minimum balance.

Questrade: Desktop Accessibility

Questrade has two major trading platforms: Questrade Trading (formerly known as IQ Web) and Questrade IQ Edge.

Questrade Trading is the basic web trading platform for the online brokerage’s customers and is for Windows, Mac, and Linux users. It also works on iOS and Android devices. Questrade Trading is designed for novice to average investors.

Its key tools and features include:

  • Symbol lookup—This allows you to look at news and historical information.
  • Alerts—You can monitor investments and get instant notifications.
  • Charting—Review charts to view patterns and volatility of specific stocks.
  • Market data—Real-time market data and quotes.
  • Watchlists—Create multiple watchlists for investments that are of the most interest to you.

IQ Edge is a downloadable desktop platform, which is only available for Windows and Mac users. This platform is designed for more advanced and active users.

IQ Edge has many of the same tools and features as Questrade Trading except they’re better looking and more state of the art.

For instance, you can trade conditional or bracket orders as well as multi-leg option strategies. You can also customize the desktop and move different charting, research, and data windows anywhere you like.

There are different colour themes available as well, which makes it easier on the eyes.

The platform looks similar to what many professional traders have and gives Questrade an advantage over some of its competitors.

Both Questrade Trading and IQ Edge are free to use but don’t come with free trades.

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: Safety and Security

Questrade is a member of both the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).

IIROC is a self-regulatory organization that oversees all investment dealers and trading activity across the country. It writes the rules that set investment and regulatory industry standards. All the major banks and online brokers in Canada are members of IIROC.

CIPF protects property held by member firms on behalf of clients if the firm goes out of business.

The limits are $1 million for all general accounts (margin, cash, and tax-free savings accounts), $1 million for registered retirement accounts, and $1 million for all registered education savings plans (RESPs).

Questrade goes one step further by providing up to $10 million in insurance for all self-directed and managed accounts.

While your investments are safe should Questrade become insolvent, it doesn’t protect your investments if they fall in value.

Questrade also provides an online security guaranty and offers security tools to ensure accounts are protected. For instance, all online web applications use 256-bit encryption, which encrypts transactions through a secure connection.

The brokerage offers two-factor authentication (also called two-step verification). This adds a layer of security so only you can access your account. When you log in with your username and password, you also have to submit a code that’s either emailed or texted to you.

Finally, Questrade will send you an automated email alert if your account is accessed from a new device.

Questrade: Customer Service

There are many complaints about Questrade’s customer service if you look online. Many customers have complained about long wait times, getting disconnected, or having trouble accessing funds in their accounts.

However, long wait times have been an issue for several brokers, especially during the pandemic.

Despite these problems, there are a few ways to get in touch with customer service if you need help with your self-directed account.

The best way to talk to a human is by calling 1-888-783-7866. The phone hours are Monday to Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern time. The live chat function on the website is also available and the hours are the same as the toll-free number.

For other needs, the hours vary. For instance, if you have questions about your foreign exchange or contracts for difference (CFDs) account, the phone hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday. The live chat function is only available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. All times are Eastern time. There’s also a different number: 1-866-980-9591.

There are different hours and a different toll-free number if you want to open an account.

It seems unnecessary to have distinct numbers and hours depending on the type of help you need, but that’s how Questrade chooses to do business.

Questrade: Promotions

Questrade 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.

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Start investing today with a complimentary $50 in free trades for any account activation of $1,000 or more.

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, 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.

Get a comparison of Questrade and Wealthsimple in Wealth Rocket's Questrade vs. Wealthsimple article.

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 Stuff

Logo Low Fees
Logo No inactivity fees
Logo $25 Referral bonus
Logo Low MER (0.25%)
Logo Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) options

Cons: The Not So Good Stuff

Logo Unsatisfactory app
Logo ECN and ATS fees
Logo ETF selling fees
Logo High minimum investment

Our Final Thoughts

As this Questrade review notes, the brokerage has a lot of positives. Its fees are lower than what most of the big banks charge and its trading platform is easy to use. But its app has poor reviews and the $1,000 minimum to begin trading may turn off some new investors.

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 Guaranteed Investment Certificates (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.

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