Questrade vs. TD Direct Investing: A Comparison for 2021
Two of the absolute heavyweights in the self-directed investment space are Questrade and TD Direct Investing.
Questrade continually wins accolades from personal finance websites and industry pundits. It is considered one of the most highly-rated, fastest-growing, and best online brokerages in Canada. They also won Canada’s Best Managed Companies for the tenth consecutive year in a row.
Meanwhile, TD Direct Investing introduced the first computer trading service in Canada from in 1993 and the first online brokerage service in 1996.
For over 30 years, TD Direct Investing has supported and innovated self-directed investing while also placing itself among Canada's most trusted and best online brokerages.
But between the two, which one is truly better for your self-directed investing needs? Learn more in this Questrade vs. TD Direct Investingcomparison.
Table of Contents
Questrade vs. TD Direct Investing: Overview
Founded in 1999 and serving only Canadian investors, Questrade is an online-only brokerage offering both web and mobile application trading platforms.
Its trading style comes in two varieties: self-directed, where investors can take matters into their own hands and build their portfolio, and Questwealth Portfolios, where in-house financial experts build plug-and-play portfolios for you.
Questrade is known for its impeccable customer service and on-boarding experience, but its fees aren’t always as low as they say they are.
TD Direct Investing: Overview
Founded in 1984, TD Direct Investing is the largest discount brokerage in Canada.
One of Canada's Big Five Banks owns and operates TD Direct Investing. Its access to market data and analysis is second to none and provides all the real investment geeks with everything they could want to meticulously pour over.
Their Investment Dashboard feature can be shared easily and comes in a regular or advanced variety.
While TD’s customer service is excellent, it’s also necessary because TD Direct Investing doesn’t interact well with online banking of any kind whether you hold accounts with TD or not.
Plus, its fees are much more expensive than its competition, making them wholly uncompetitive.
Questrade vs. TD Direct Investing: Features
- Self-directed and set-it-and-forget-it investment options (Questrade Portfolio)
- Dashboards for beginner, intermediate and advanced investors
- Free-to-buy Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
- Offers all kinds of registered and non-registered investment accounts, from Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) to Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) to corporate accounts and more
- Comprehensive tools like symbol look-up, advanced watchlists, advanced charting, and alert notifications
- Mobile and desktop interfaces
- Live stream market data packages
- Stocks, ETFs, IPOs, mutual funds, and options are available
TD Direct Investing: Features
- Industry-leading market data, analysis, and research from in-house experts.
- Actionable advice, educational videos, and masterclasses for newer investors
- TD GoalAssist is a new service in the mobile app that makes sure your investments align with your financial goals
- Asset allocation feature
- View historical investment orders
- Investment options including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, GICs, fixed income, and options
- Available accounts include Margin, Cash, TFSA, RSP, RESP, LIRA, RIF, LIF, and RDSP
The Winner: Features
Though TD Direct Investing is great for new investors and its educational resources and in-house market data, research, and analysis are tops, Questrade offers more accounts, more investment options, and interfaces that are more intuitive and modern.
Questrade vs. TD Direct Investing: FeesOne of the most important factors when it comes to banking and investing is the subject of fees. Questrade and TD Direct Investing both offer unique pricing features. Learn more about their fees and pricing modules below.
- No monthly or annual fees except for Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RESPs) with balances under $15,000*, a $50* annual fee
- $24.95* quarterly inactivity fee if your balance is less than $5,000*
- No commission on bond trades, Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), and Initial Potential Offerings (IPOs) but there is a minimum purchase of $5,000*
- International stocks are 1%* of the trade value ($195* minimum) along with exchange or stamp fees charged in the currency the trade is in
- Stocks cost $0.01* per share, $4.95* min., $9.95* max, on the democratic plan and $0.01* with a $0.01* minimum and a $6.95* maximum on the Advantage Variable Plan
- ETFs are free to buy and regular commission to sell
- Mutual funds are $9.95*
TD Direct Investing: Fees
- U.S. and Canadian stocks are $9.95* per trade, and a frequent-trade discount offering
- No commission to buy, sell or switch mutual funds unless one is held for less than a month
- $43.00* minimum for any telephone brokerage trade
- $35.00* for options
- $125* charged if you empty your account except those designed to be emptied
- $75* for switching brokerages
- $25* per gold and silver trade
- $40* per bond purchase
- $30* for outgoing wire transfers and $17.50* for incoming
The Winner: Fees
Though TD Direct Investing’s fees are competitive with the Big Five Banks, they are considerably more expensive than Questrade.
$9.95* per stock trade across North America simply can’t compare to $0.01* per share with Questrade.
Plus, there are no monthly fees or account opening fees with Questrade, but Exchange Communication Network (ECN) fees still apply under some circumstances.*Rates current as of September 2021
Questrade vs. TD Direct Investing: Requirements
Like any online brokerage, Questrade and TD Direct Investing have their own set of sign-up requirements. Learn more about what you'll need before signing up for either below.
- You must have a minimum of $1,000* in your account to start trading
- You must keep your account information up to date, including address, marital status, employment status, and other general identifiers
- There are certain unacceptable deposits like cash, e-transfers to Questrade e-mails, payments from payment processors, cheques from foreign banks, etc.
- Must be 18 years of age to open an account, but a parent/guardian can grant permission
TD Direct Investing: Requirements
- Must be the age of majority in your province or territory
- Must be a Canadian resident
- Must share identifying and financial information with TD Bank Group
- Must use your own name
- Must have a social insurance number
- Must have a valid government ID
- Must keep a minimum household or individual balance of $15,000* to not incur a maintenance fee of $25* per quarter
The Winner: Requirements
Honestly, this was going to be a tie, as both companies have essentially the same requirements. However, Questrade does not charge maintenance fees and its minimum balance to start trading ($1,000*) is a lot lower than TD’s ($15,000*) to have the maintenance fee ($25* per quarter) waived. It’s also possible to not be Canadian and have an account.*Rates current as of September 2021
Questrade vs. TD Direct Investing: Accessibility
In the age of instant information, accessibility is crucial when it comes to investing online. Learn more about how Questrade and TD Direct Investing stack up when it comes to direct investing.
Available in both mobile and desktop varieties with top-notch customer service if you ever do have issues, Questrade’s trading process and support tools are highly intuitive and natural.
They do have interfaces that cater to the beginner, intermediate, and expert level trader and their Questrade Portfolio service provides a nice robo-advisor option if you don’t want to take as active a role in trading yourself.
It’s easy to withdraw money and there are many ways to fund your account.
TD Direct Investing: Accessibility
TD Direct Investing is also available in mobile and desktop versions, so you can trade on the go. They also have a great and responsive customer service team. However, they are ahead of Questrade in terms of the educational videos and resources they are able to provide the new investor, even though Questrade does have some of these options available.
The Winner: AccessibilityThat said, I still can’t give the crown to TD Direct Investing here because it can be difficult to accomplish basic tasks like linking your bank account, funding your account, executing trades (certain mutual funds can trigger a hold on your account), and transferring money between registered and non-registered accounts without calling customer service every time. Questrade wins this round again.
Questrade: Pros & Cons
Pros: The Good Stuff
Unlimited free-to-buy ETFs
Strong web app
Strong mobile app
Easy to use
Scalable features for traders from beginner to expert
A robo-advisor investing option
Cons: The Not So Good Stuff
$1,000* minimum balance to start trading
Lack of market data and analysis
$24.95* quarterly inactivity fee
Not as cheap as it says it is (ECN and SEC fees can still factor in)
High wire transfer and international stock fees
Slow account opening for international clients
TD Direct Investing: Pros and Cons
Pros: The Good Stuff
Backed by a reputable bank with powerful resources and business structures
Essentially launched self-directed investing in Canada
Tons of market data and analysis
Available in both web and mobile formats
Great educational resources for new investors, including video
Features for all levels of investor
Canada’s largest self-directed investment service
Transfer fee reimbursement for transfers up to $25,000*
Cons: The Not So Good Stuff
High and uncompetitive fees
High balance threshold of $15,000* to waive a $25* maintenance fee per quarter
Basic tasks can require frequent calls to customer service
Not as integrated with TD Direct Investing as you would think or might require
The platform is not intuitive or easy to use
Limited funding options
Limited account options
Our Final Thoughts
While TD Direct Investing is a great option for those who prioritize reputable bank integration and a solid history or new investors who are looking to learn about the market and how to trade, its high fees, lack of professional portfolio management options, and the need to contact customer service to execute transfers and other basic tasks, means it’s a clean sweep for Questrade in every category.
Frequently Asked Questions
Both TD Direct Investing and Questrade are legitimate and reputable Canadian companies that have won numerous awards in the investment space. They use SSL browser encryption, identity verification practices, and password-protected accounts to keep a client’s money in their accounts.
They are both members of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and are constantly improving best practices to make sure everything stays above board. All client funds are insured by both companies through the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
TD Direct Investing is better for beginners because it has a market-leading level of market data and analysis as well as advice from in-house, nationally recognized experts.It also has several educational resources at no charge, including videos, blogs, and weekly newsletters. The amount of stuff available to help you learn not only about the markets but how to trade and meet your own financial goals is unmatched by Questrade. Questrade does have educational resources, but nowhere near the amount available from TD Direct Investing.
Questrade is better for day traders because it has interfaces and features available for the beginner, the intermediate, and the advanced trader.
Both its mobile and web apps have stronger features than those available from TD, so you can literally trade from anywhere.
Questrade’s platform and tools also allow you to react to the market instantly, while with TD Direct Investing, basic tasks sometimes require you to call customer service.
Since the Questrade platform is more responsive and there are more account and funding options, it's easier to be a day trader of any kind on the Questrade system.