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Questrade vs. Virtual Brokers 2023

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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.

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: Overview

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

Questrade: 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)

The Winner

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

Both Questrade and Virtual Brokers believe in keeping fees low, which means you get to keep more money in your pocket. Let’s take a closer look into what you’ll be paying.

Questrade: 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.

The Winner

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.

Questrade: Requirements

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.

The Winner

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: Accessibility

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.

The Winner

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 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.

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