Questrade vs Virtual Brokers 2022
With so many brokerage options, Canadians are moving away from traditional financial institutions and looking for online platforms with appealing features for reasonable fees. Both Questrade and Virtual Brokers (now known as CI Direct Trading) fit the bill for the new world of digital wealth management. Building your financial freedom can be done on a dime, and we will learn more about these two popular discount brokers to help you choose where you can start making money without spending all of it.
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Questrade vs Virtual Brokers:Overview
Questrade and Virtual Brokers (now CI Direct Trading) are two of Canada’s best online brokerages; here’s an overview of each.
Questrade is an independent, self-directed online investment platform and Canada’s largest discount investment broker. The company prides itself on low overheads to help investors keep more of their money as they become financially successful and secure. With over 20 years in the industry and $30 billion assets under administration as of January 13, 2022, they’ve made a significant name for themselves in the marketplace.
Virtual Brokers/ CI Direct Trading: Overview
Virtual Brokers is becoming a popular choice for Canadians looking for a digital investment platform. Breaking into the marketplace in 2009, they were acquired by CI Financial in 2017. Ever since, Virtual Brokers is gaining momentum with over $144.8 billion assets under management as of January 13, 2022. Virtual Brokers is proud to offer every level of self-directed investor the tools and features needed to make the most of their money.
Questrade vs Virtual Brokers:Features
- Access to pre-built portfolios
- Dual currency accounts
- Automatic deposits to instantly fund your account
Virtual Brokers/ CI Direct Trading: Features
- Free trial of trading platform
- Multiple trading platform options
- Offers a Dividend Purchase Plan (DPP)
Questrade comes loaded with additional features Virtual Brokers just can’t beat, like a live chat for quick customer service, market research tools powered by Morningstar, and robo-advisor options to help build and diversify portfolios.
Questrade vs Virtual Brokers:Fees
There are no fees associated with opening an account with Questrade, but it is required to have $1,000 before clients can start trading on the platform.
ETFs: Always free to purchase. EFTs are $0.01 per share to sell with a trade minimum of $4.95 and trade maximum of $9.95.
Stocks: $0.01 per share, with a $4.95 trade minimum and a trade maximum of $9.95.
Options: $9.95 and $1.00 per contract.
FX & CFDs: Spreads as low as $0.08 percentage in points.
Mutual Funds: $9.95 per trade.
Precious Metals: $19.95USD per trade.
Active traders receive lower fees, having the option to choose fixed or variable fees:
Stocks: Fixed rate is $4.95 per trade or at a variable rate of $0.01 per share with a minimum of $0.01 to a maximum of $6.95.
Options: Fixed rate of $4.95 + $0.75 per contract or at the variable rate of $6.95 +$0.75 per contract.
ETFs: No fees to purchase. Sell at the fixed rate of $4.95 per trade or the variable rate of $0.01 per share with a minimum of $0.01 to a maximum of $6.95.
FX & CFDs: Percentage in points as low as $0.8 for both fixed and variable fees.
Virtual Brokers/CI Direct Trading: Fees
There are no fees associated with opening an account with Virtual Brokers. USD registered accounts are charged a $15 fee per quarter.
ETFs: Always free to purchase. EFTs are $0.01 per share to sell with a trade minimum of $1.99 and trade maximum of $7.99.
Equities: $0.01 per share, with a $1.99 trade minimum and a trade maximum of $7.99.
Options: $7.99 and $1.23 per contract.
Mutual Funds: Free.
Clients who placed over 150 trades in the previous quarter qualify as active traders, which also comes with active trader fees.
Equities: Flat fee is $3.99 per trade.
Options: Fixed rate of $3.99 + $1.25 per contract.
In terms of fees, Virtual Brokers is the winner here. While both offer some of the lowest fees, Virtual Brokers provides clients with lower trade minimums and maximums that can save the customer money in the long run.
Questrade vs Virtual Brokers: Account Requirements
Choosing a trading platform sometimes depends on what the platform requires from its customers. Let’s take a look at what Questrade and Virtual Brokers need from their clients to get started.
It’s pretty simple to check all the boxes required to open a Questrade account. Clients must provide proof of identity and have a minimum of $1,000 CAD to start trading on the platform.
Virtual Brokers/ CI Direct Trading: Requirements
Canadian customers have no account minimum to start trading; however, clients outside of Canada must have $25,000 CAD in their account to trade.
Requirements between both Questrade and Virtual Brokers are pretty similar, but Virtual Brokers doesn’t have a minimum requirement to get started, so they are the winners in this category.
Questrade vs Virtual Brokers: Accessibility
Choosing a trading platform also requires looking into how accessible the services will be for you.
Questrade can be accessed on your mobile device and on the desktop application from anywhere that you have an internet connection. However, you must be a Canadian resident to trade on the platform.
Questrade’s customer service has an excellent reputation; clients can message the live chat anytime and receive a response shortly after.
Virtual Brokers/ CI Direct Trading: Accessibility
Accessing Virtual Brokers can be done via mobile device or computer. Non-resident investors are welcome to use the platform; however, there is a minimum account balance of $25,000 CAD for these investors, which is a large amount of money and not always accessible for entry-level investors.
Customer service is not exceptional with Virtual Brokers; customers have complained about not receiving answers to issues for days.
Questrade takes the crown here. Even though they are not accessible to individuals outside of Canada, there is more value for Canadians with the live chat feature and a more robust mobile app.
Questrade vs Virtual Brokers: Pros & Cons
Questrade Pros & Cons
Pros: The Good Stuff
Buy ETFs commission free
Quick customer service and live chat
No annual fee for RRSP and TSFA accounts
Cons: The Not So Good Stuff
Requires $1,000 minimum balance to begin trading
Canadian clients only
Virtual Brokers/ CI Direct Trading Pros & Cons
Pros: The Good Stuff
Free to purchase ETFs
Can hold Canadian and US dollars
Free mutual fund trades>
Cons: The Not So Good Stuff
More expensive for accounts outside of Canada
No live chat for customer support
The Bottom Line
While Questrade and Virtual Brokers are both solid choices for online brokers, there is not much that sets to two apart. We recommend Questrade for traders using USD accounts and those who value a live chat function for quick customer service. Virtual Brokers is a great option for those looking to day trade or purchase and trade mutual funds. Whichever option you choose, your money in good hands.
Frequently Asked Questions
Questrade and Virtual Brokers (now known as CI Direct Trading) provide safe and secure trading. Both are members of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), protecting client accounts in the event that the company files for insolvency or bankruptcy.
The Questrade online web applications use a 256-bit SSL digital certificate, which encrypts both request and response transactions through a secure connection. Questrade also offers 2-step verification as an added layer of security on user accounts.
For Canadian traders, Questrade is the better option for beginners. Free ETF purchases, low trading fees, and a reasonable cost to get started make Questrade more accessible. Beginners can feel confident with a mobile app that’s easy to use and direct access to customer service, plus users can test drive a demo account before investing their hard-earned cash. The Questrade website also contains an immense amount of educational material to assist and educate those new to investing.
Day traders are active traders who do a large number of trades per month. Both Questrade and Virtual Brokers (now CI Direct Trading) offer day trader fees that are lower than the regular fees clients pay. Virtual Brokers has lower active trader fees, and their website provides a broader range of research tools to assist traders, which is why we would suggest that day traders choose Virtual Brokers over Questrade.