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Updated: January 17, 2024

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Qtrade vs. Questrade | A battle of discount brokerages

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware this post may contain links to products from our partners. We may receive a commission for products or services you sign up for through partner links.

🗓️

Updated: January 17, 2024

We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Please be aware that some (or all) products and services linked in this article are from our sponsors.

As two of the best discount brokerages in Canada, the Qtrade vs. Questrade debate has had DIY investors arguing for years.

To help you choose, we’re breaking down each brokerage, so you can find the best fit for you. Before diving in, I should point out that both platforms are excellent options and share many common traits, such as being CIPF-insured, as well as offering substantial virtual help libraries, slick practice accounts to get your feet wet, USD-registered accounts, and a very user-friendly trading platform.

Qtrade vs. Questrade: Quick overview

Feature Qtrade Questrade
ETF buying and selling Free buying and selling of over 100 ETFs. Free buying of ETFs, trading fees applied to when you sell ETF
Web user experience Consistently ranked highly for availability and customer-friendliness. Significant improvements in recent years, often rated just behind Qtrade.
Mobile app rating Highly rated for user-friendliness and functionality.
Apple app store: 4
Google play store: 1.8
Good ratings, particularly favourable among active traders.
Apple app store: 3.5
Google play store:3.0
Customer Service Known for excellent customer service, a primary reason for its popularity. Improvements noted over the past year, though some aspects still lag behind.
Trading Fees Competitive fees: $6.95/trade for Investor Plus Program members, $7.75 for investors aged 18-30, $8.75 for others. Low fees: $4.95 for up to 500 shares, with a maximum of $9.95 per trade.
Electronic communication network (ECN) fees for matching buyers and sellers None Small amounts often charged, varying per transaction.
Account fees $25 per quarter, waived under specific conditions such as deposits, account balance, or trade frequency. No inactivity fees.
Transfer fees Free Electronic Funds Transfer, with fees for outgoing transfers. Free Electronic Fund Transfers up to certain limits, with fees for wire transfers and outgoing transfers.
Minimum initial investment None required $250 for self-directed accounts, and $1,000 for Questwealth Portfolios.
DRIP Offering Dividend Reinvestment Plans available. Dividend Reinvestment Plans available.
Inactivity fees $25/quarter, waived under certain conditions. None.
Research tools and education materials Highly ranked in Canadian brokerage for over a decade. Notable improvements in recent years.
Safety Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
Mutual fund trades Qtrade investor: $8.75
Qtrade Investor Plus: $6.95
$9.95 - buy & sell
Options trading Qtrade Investor: $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
Qtrade Investor plus: $6.95 + $1.25 per contract
$9.95 + $1.00/contract - buy & sell
International market access Limited access. Access to U.S. and international markets
Forex trading Not a primary focus Offers Forex and CFD Trading
Retirement account options Offers various registered accounts including RRSPs and TFSAs. Offers various registered accounts including RRSPs and TFSAs.
Additional features for beginners Extensive educational resources and beginner-friendly tools. Practice accounts for beginners and extensive educational resources.
Current promotions Tiered cash back bonus from $150 to $2,000 cash back ($5,000 to $1,000,000 new deposits) Offers $50 in free trades.
Get started Open an account with Qtrade Open an account with Questrade

Qtrade pros and cons

Pros

Pros

  • Commission-Free ETFs: Qtrade offers over 100 Canadian and US ETFs for trading without any commission.

  • Customer Service: It's known for its excellent customer service, a factor that sets it apart from many other online brokerages in Canada.

  • Diversification Options: The platform allows for building a diversified portfolio across North America, Europe, and Latin America markets.

  • Versatile Account Options: Supports multiple investment and trading accounts, such as TFSA, RESP, RSP/RRSP, RIF, LIRA, cash, and margin accounts, as well as dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs).

  • Robust Tools and Research: Offers a solid collection of research and analysis tools, including real-time quotes, watchlist alerts, and research from sources like Morningstar and Desjardins.

  • Educational Resources: Provides extensive educational materials suitable for beginners and those looking to expand their market knowledge.

  • No Minimum Balance Required: This makes it accessible for investors to start without pressure.

  • Trial Account: A 30-day trial account is available, giving access to basic features of the platform.

  • Special Offers and Promotions: Includes offers like up to $2,000 cashback for new or existing clients and reduced trading fees for young investors.

  • User-Friendly for Beginners: Good for beginner and moderately experienced investors with a user-friendly interface.

Cons

Cons

  • Quarterly Admin Fee: A $25 admin fee is applicable, though it can be avoided under certain conditions, such as maintaining a specific account balance or trade frequency.

  • Trading Commissions: Despite competitive fees, Qtrade does not offer full commission-free trading.

  • Minimum Purchase for Mutual Funds: There's a requirement for a minimum purchase amount outlined in the mutual fund’s prospectus or $1,000, whichever is greater.

  • No Live Chat Support: Customer support is available through phone and email but lacks a live chat option.

  • Mobile App Performance: Some users report issues with the speed and performance of the mobile app.

  • Fees for USD Accounts: There's a $15 quarterly fee for registered USD accounts.

  • Less Competitive Fees: Compared to other online discount brokerages, Qtrade's fees are less competitive in certain aspects.

Questrade pros and cons

Pros

Pros

  • Low Stock and ETF Fees: Questrade offers competitive fees for stocks and ETFs. Buying ETFs is free, although selling them incurs a fee.

  • Variety of Investment Products: The platform provides access to a range of products, including stocks, ETFs, bonds, options, and more.

  • Robust Research Tools: Questrade is equipped with solid research tools, including access to market data, analysis from sources like Morningstar, and tools like the Mutual Funds Centre and Intraday Trader.

  • User-Friendly Platforms: Both the web and mobile platforms are strong, offering real-time data and customizable charts.

  • Diverse Account Options: Offers a wide variety of account types, including margin accounts and the newly introduced FHSA accounts in Canada.

  • Low Administrative Fees: Known for having some of the lowest trading and administration fees among Canadian online brokers.

  • Instant Deposit Options: Provides instant deposit options for quick and easy funding of accounts.

Cons

Cons

  • High Margin Rates: The margin rates at Questrade are relatively high, which can be a significant factor for those trading on margin.

  • Account Opening Can Be Slow for Non-Canadians: The account opening process might take longer for non-Canadian residents.

  • Limited Account Base Currencies: The platform mainly operates with USD and CAD, which might be limiting for some international traders.

  • Performance Issues with Mobile App: Some users have reported speed and performance problems with the mobile app.

  • Paid Market Data Packages: While basic market data is available for free, more comprehensive data requires a paid subscription.

  • Minimum Deposit Requirement: There is a minimum deposit requirement of $250 to start trading.

Verdict: While Qtrade is a worthy competitor and a great option for mutual fund investors, Questrade takes our #1 spot based on their no-fee ETF purchases and low trading fees.

Overview of Questrade vs. Qtrade

Questrade

Questrade is a self-directed investment platform that allows you to build your own portfolio at a low cost. According to their website, Questrade is “the digital, low-cost alternative that gives Canadian investors a better choice in an industry that’s historically been stacked against you.”

They’ve earned the title of Canada’s fastest-growing online brokerage, partly thanks to their bare-bones fee structure and excellent trading platform. Questrade has more than 50,000 new accounts opened every year, $9 billion in assets under management, and they’ve won an award for one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies seven times.

Questrade focuses on financial empowerment – meaning they’ll give you the tools and resources to be successful in making your own independent financial decisions. With their rock-bottom low fees and easy-to-use DIY trading platform, Questrade is consistently our top pick for the best online brokerage in Canada.

Qtrade

Qtrade is an online brokerage that strives to give you control over your financial goals. They do this by focusing on features that most investors need, such as easy-to-navigate online and mobile platforms, powerful research tools, and fast and knowledgeable customer support.

They combine this with some of the lowest fees in the industry to give you one of the best online brokerages available. In fact, according to their website: “Value and commitment to continuous improvement are the reasons why Qtrade has been ranked among Canada’s very best online brokers for the past decade.” After-hours trading, Analyst Ratings from distinguished experts to give you more information about potential investments, and ESG scores to assess the impact of stocks and bonds are just a few examples of recent improvements Qtrade has made to go above and beyond for its investors.

How do Questrade and Qtrade work?

Questrade

Questrade really wants to help you to do research and make your own financial decisions. That’s why they provide you with some of the best tools and resources to act on your financial goals. They focus on three fast, customizable platforms:

  • Questrade Trading: Their standard web application, where you can trade stocks, manage your portfolio, and conduct research.
  • Questrade app: Questrade has an intuitive mobile app that allows you to make trades and manage your portfolio on the go. That way, you never miss an opportunity to take advantage of a moving market.
  • IQ Edge: This is software designed specifically for active traders who know what they’re doing. You have to download the software, but it’s incredibly powerful in allowing you to analyze, pick, buy, and sell stocks.

In terms of their online trading platform, some of Questrade’s best features include:

  • Questrade annual fees: Some online brokerages charge a fee between $50-100 per year, especially for smaller accounts. For example, Qtrade charges $25.00 per quarter for accounts of less than $25,000. In contrast, Questrade charges no annual fees.
  • Lowest trading fees in the market: You can purchase ETFs for free! That means that you can transfer money into your Questrade account and build an ETF portfolio for $0. It does cost $0.01/share to sell your ETFs, with a minimum fee of $4.95 per trade to a maximum of $9.95, which you may need to do to rebalance your portfolio.
  • IPO Centre: Questrade has an IPO Centre where you can review the most recent IPOs, sign up for the IPO Bulletin, and buy IPOs by filling out an online form. BTW, Questrade allows you to purchase Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) for FREE (no commissions) with a minimum purchase of $5,000.

As you can see, Questrade focuses on empowering you as the investor and gives you a bevy of tools do to that. If you’re even remotely serious about investing, you’ll know how valuable this is. I’ll share more about Questrade’s awesome features later.

Qtrade

Qtrade also focuses on you being empowered to make your own independent financial decisions. They give you the research and support you need to be successful, but you’re still in the driver’s seat when it comes to making decisions. Their platform is where you’ll make your trades, and it has features such as:

  • Multiple portfolio views
  • Powerful portfolio analytics tools
  • Best-in-class research and analyst reports
  • Stock/ETF/mutual fund screening tools
  • $8.75 and $6.95 stock trades and 100 free ETFs (free to buy and sell, no minimums)
  • Fast access to the markets
  • Use stop-loss, stop-limit, trailing-stop orders

Qtrade focuses on six “phases” of investing to help accelerate your success:

  • Plan: They’ll help you set achievable goals by using planning tools and a variety of calculators.
  • Discover: If you’re wondering how to invest, you’ll quickly find investing ideas using their screening tools and independent stock research.
  • Evaluate: After picking your investments, you can evaluate your strategy using both fundamental data and reports from industry-leading analyst reports.
  • Trade: Once you know what you want, you can quickly execute buy/sell trade orders on the platform.
  • Monitor: You can check the progress of your portfolio using real-time alerts, watchlists, and up-to-the-second data.
  • Review: Using intelligent portfolio views, you can benchmark your own performance against that of industry standards.

Key features

Questrade

Aside from the platforms listed above, Questrade gives you six reasons you should switch to their platform:

  • Ultra-low fees: Questrade prides itself on having some of the lowest fees in the business.
  • You can invest on your own time: Their accounts are super easy to set up, and you get a free mobile app to invest whenever you want.
  • It’s great for new investors: You can start small and test out the different features, or even get a pre-built portfolio through their robo advisor, Questwealth Portfolios.
  • Tight security: They’re regulated like a bank and provide $10 million in additional private insurance.
  • Easy to move investments: If you have an account somewhere else, Questrade can easily move it for you (and they’ll even reimburse transfer fees).
  • Service agents on call: You can contact them if you need assistance, but Questrade also has a ton of resources already available in simple, plain language.

In addition to those core features, I want to call out the market data packages specifically. Questrade puts a massive focus on giving you tools to help you be a successful investor, rather than hiding them and making you pay a higher fee for “expertise.”

With four different market data packages, you can dive into research as deep as you’d like, which will allow you to become a more intelligent investor, making more informed decisions. For example, the Advanced package does cost $89.95 CAD per month, but you can get that fee completely waived if you spend over $399.95 on commissions that month.

Plus, the way it’s designed, it’s hard not to do that – you’ll get access to live streaming data so you can make active trades and cash in on market fluctuations like a pro. I seriously love this feature from Questrade. You will too if you’re a frequent investor.

Qtrade

Qtrade has some nice features, including:

  • Low prices: Qtrade charges $8.75 for stock trades for most investors. If you’re a more active trader or have a large portfolio (+$500,000), this drops to $6.95. And for investors between the ages of 18 and 30, special pricing (discounted commissions and waived fees) is available if you add at least $50 to your account each month.
  • Stellar customer service: Qtrade says that “prompt, knowledgeable service is part of the Qtrade experience,” and that “calls [are] answered in seconds, not minutes.” They also have a feature where you can leave them a note to call you back later if you don’t have time to talk then. You can also use the platform’s Support function to search from a long list of frequently asked questions at any time so you don’t always need to contact support.
  • After-hours trading: Qtrade investors have the ability to place an order at any time, even after the market closes. All you have to do to do is call an Investment Representative and your order will be accepted the next business day.
  • Easy to use and access: Qtrade has a very simple, yet intuitive platform for investing. When navigating it, it’s easy to get to where you need to go, and there’s quick-responding support if you require help.
  • Research tools: Qtrade delivers some pretty awesome research, both through their platform but also through their analyst reports that you’ll have access to. You’ll also be able to access Analyst Ratings and ESG scores for investments to stay in the know about your trades. Since Qtrade empowers you to make financial decisions, they want you to have as much information as possible so your decisions are sound.
  • Investment accounts designed for you: Qtrade features all the accounts you need to suit your situation including but not limited to: Cash, Margin, RRSP, RRIF, TFSA, and RESP.
  • Multiple investment choices: You’ll have multiple options to choose from with your investments, including stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, IPOs, ETFs, and GICs.

Qtrade vs. Questrade: Fees and pricing

One of the biggest questions you might have is: how do Qtrade and Questrade compare in terms of costs? Let’s take a closer look.

Questrade fees

When it comes to costs, Questrade offers very competitive pricing and beats out the competition with their rock bottom fee structure.

  • Stocks: 1¢ / share (min. $4.95 to max. $9.95)
  • ETFs: Free to buy (Sell 1¢/share; min. $4.95 to max. $9.95)
  • Options: $9.95 (+ $1 / contract)
  • Mutual funds: $9.95 / trade
  • Bonds: Free with $5,000 purchase
  • GICs: Free with min. $5,000 purchase
  • International equities: 1% of the trade value (Min. $195.00 plus applicable exchange or stamp fees, charged in the currency of the account in which the trade is placed)
  • IPOs and new issues: Free to buy (Min. $5,000 purchase)
  • Product Precious metals: $19.95 USD / trade

Compared to other discount brokerages in Canada, Questrade wins out as the lowest cost option for DIY investors.

Qtrade fees

Qtrade has two different pricing tiers: Investor and Investor Plus.

Investor:

  • Equities: $8.75
  • Options: $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
  • ETFs: Free on both the buy and sell side (from their select list; otherwise $8.75)
  • Mutual funds: $8.75
  • Fixed-income and Exchange-traded debentures: $1 per $1,000 face value ($24.99 min / $250 max)

Investor Plus (if you make 150+ trades per quarter or have $500,000 in assets):

  • Equities: $6.95
  • Options: $6.95 + $1.25 per contract
  • ETFs: Free on both the buy and sell side (from their select list; otherwise $8.75)
  • Mutual Funds: $6.95
  • Fixed-income and Exchange-traded debentures: $1 per $1,000 face value ($24.99 min / $250 max)

Advantages of Questrade over Qtrade

  • No annual fees! Zero. Zilch.
  • No fees on ETF purchases. This simple feature has saved me hundreds of dollars in commissions over the years.
  • A quick and easy paperless account setup.
  • $4.95 Baseline trading fees (vs. Qtrade up to $8.75)
  • Award-winning customer service: Questrade received the 2019 DALBAR Seal for Service Excellence — a prestigious award that recognizes service leaders within the financial services industry.

Advantages of Qtrade over Questrade

  • Excellent customer service that is raved about consistently in online forums.
  • Slick initial updates when you log in to your account.
  • No fees or commissions when trading 100+ ETFs (buy and sell, no minimums)
  • Powerful portfolio analytics tools
  • In-depth research and analysts’ reports
  • Get up to $2,000 cash back and a $50 sign-up bonus

Questrade vs. Qtrade: Which to choose?

Who should choose Questrade

  • You are a basic couch potato investor (aka index investor) who will be purchasing a lot of ETFs. (Qtrade does have a limited menu of ETFs you can trade for free (buy and sell, no minimums), including popular iShares all-in-one ETFs like XBAL and XGRO, but all of my favourite options are not on the list.)
  • You want to cut costs to the absolute bone.
  • You don’t need a lot of hand-holding when it comes to maintaining your portfolio, and you aren’t trying to make a lot of exotic trades every month.

Who should choose Qtrade

  • You are interested in mutual funds, ESG investing, and/or basic ETF trading.
  • You’re looking for excellent customer service with perks like after-hours ordering.
  • You actively trade more than 200 times per month.
  • You appreciate having research, analyst recommendations, and news to refer to when choosing investments.

Which is better Questrade or Qtrade?

The answer to this ultimately depends on what type of investor you are. Qtrade is a very good discount brokerage option for people who value resources and service. Questrade is going to be the best fit for Canadians who want to trade less actively for as little as possible.

The no-fee ETF purchases can help you set up and maintain a couch potato portfolio for years before ever owing any fees. Questrade gives you full control over your investments, but it’s like having someone sitting next to you handing you gobs of data and resources to make the best decisions. For Canadian investors who just want to keep their money working for them, a basic index ETF portfolio is your best bet, and Questrade is likely your best choice.

If you’re an extremely active investor who needs customer service to help with exotic trades of various kinds or just to ask questions, I might look harder at Qtrade. This broker stands out for its research offerings and for evolving to give investors more tools and resources, more flexibility, and more savings.

  • Who is Qtrade owned by?

    +

    Qtrade is owned by Aviso Wealth, a prominent Canadian wealth management firm. Aviso Wealth was formed through the amalgamation of several companies, including Qtrade, Credential Financial, and NEI Investment. This merger created one of Canada's largest independent wealth management entities, managing a significant amount of assets and serving a large number of clients across the country. Aviso Wealth is known for providing comprehensive services and solutions aimed at empowering Canadians towards financial freedom and enabling partners to offer exceptional wealth management experiences​

  • Is Qtrade good for beginners?

    +

    Yes, Qtrade is suitable for beginners. It offers a user-friendly platform, a wealth of educational resources, and a variety of investment options. Additionally, its low fees and no minimum deposit requirement make it accessible for novice investors​

  • Is my money safe with Qtrade?

    +

    Yes, your money is safe with Qtrade. It is regulated by the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization and offers protection for client funds through the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). Additionally, Qtrade's GICs are insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation up to certain limits

  • How trustworthy is Questrade?

    +

    Questrade is considered a trustworthy online brokerage. It is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), providing an added layer of security for client investments​

  • Is Questrade good for beginners?

    +

    Yes, Questrade is good for beginners. It offers user-friendly platforms, a variety of investment options, low trading fees, and robust educational resources, making it a suitable choice for those new to investing​​​​.

  • Is Questrade good for day trading?

    +

    Questrade can be suitable for day trading due to its low per-share trading costs, access to U.S. and Canadian markets, and advanced platform options. However, its platform may lack some of the features preferred by more active day traders compared to specialized day trading platforms​

About our author

Chris Muller
Chris Muller, Author

Chris has an MBA with a focus in advanced investments and has been writing about all things personal finance since 2015. He’s also built and run a digital marketing agency, focusing on content marketing, copywriting, and SEO, since 2016. You can connect with Chris on Twitter @moneymozartblog.

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