Questrade Review Summary
Questrade’s commissions combined with their low account minimums make them an optimal discount brokerage for beginner investors.
Overall, Questrade provides everything that one could ask for such as low account minimums, an easy to use platform, low commissions, in-depth research, secure accounts, and many other ancillary features.
Its mobile app and browser based platform needs some work, and I found myself not really using any of the extra features it offers.
If you're looking for the cheapest commissions and a platform that caters more to traders, Questrade is best in class. However, if you want what I feel is the best brokerage in the country, you should be checking out Qtrade.
Whether you're looking to learn how to buy stocks or you are a seasoned investor, you'll need a brokerage account to execute trades and manage your portfolio.
Choosing an online brokerage is no easy task, and getting tunnel vision when it comes to a particular feature (in most cases commissions), is a huge error many beginners and even advanced investors make.
In this article, I plan to take a deep dive into one of the best discount brokerages in the country, Questrade.
If you've read any of our other discount brokerage reviews, you'll know that we structure them based on the 6 key elements we believe are critical to an online brokerage.
In this Questrade review, we're going to cover 6 core elements:
- Customer Service
But before we get into our in-depth Questrade review, lets look at some overall pros and cons.
- 2nd lowest commissions in the country next to Interactive Brokers
- One of the best trading platforms in the country (IQ Edge)
- Commission free ETFs
- Trading packages for active traders
- Mobile app makes it easy to trade on the go
- Accounts can hold both CAD and USD
- Level 2 data, which is provided by some brokerages free of cost, is just under $90 a month with Questrade
- Its browser based app is falling behind other major brokerages like Qtrade
- Mobile platform is still clunky at some points
- The brokerage passed ECN fees on to its customers
Questrade account types
Unlike a brokerage such as Wealthsimple Trade which is limited in the accounts you can open, Questrade contains practically all of the account types available in Canada.
You'll be able to open the following personal accounts with Questrade:
- Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA)
- Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
- Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA)
- Spousal Retirement Savings Plan (RSP)
- Locked-in Retirement Savings Plan (RSP)
- Retirement Income Fund (RIF)
- Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP)
- Individual and Joint Margin (cash) Accounts
- A Variety of Forex and CFD Accounts
Along with that, if you're a business owner, you'll be able to open up the following accounts:
- Corporate Margin
- Investment Club
- Sole Proprietorship
- Informal Trusts
- Formal Trusts
Overall, it's highly likely the account you'll need, whether you are an individual or a company, will be available at Questrade.
A critical note on Questrade's accounts? It's one of the only brokerages that allows you hold both CAD and USD inside of the same account.
For example, many brokerages will force you to open up CAD and USD accounts if you want to trade in different currencies. Questrade however, allows for the use of both inside of one account, making things like Norbert's Gambit much easier.
Questrade commissions and fee review
One of the most important aspects of a discount brokerage, especially for those who are aspiring to be active traders, is the amount of commission you'll pay to buy and sell stocks, as well as the amount of interest you'll pay on margin.
Fortunately, Questrade offers the best of both worlds, in which it offers excellent rates along with rock bottom commissions.
Considering Questrade offers multiple commission levels, I'm going to split this section up into its different offerings, as well as basic account fees. I'll also go over how their Questwealth Portfolios are charged.
Questrades most basic commission package
|wdt_ID||Type Of Security||Cost||New column||New column|
|1||Stocks||Penny a share. $4.95/$9.95 minimum and maximum|
|2||Options||$9.95 per trade + $1 a contract|
|3||ETFs||Free to purchase, selling $4.95/$9.95 minimum and maximums|
|4||Forex||Calculated based off pips|
|5||Mutual Funds||$9.95 or $45 dollars via phone|
|7||International Stocks||Minimum $195, or 1% of trade|
|8||Bonds||Free if order is over $5000|
|9||IPOs||$9.95 on orders over $5000|
In terms of its most basic commission package, Interactive Brokers does offer lower commissions than Questrade, with true penny per share trading compared to Questrades $4.95 minimum. However, it's critical to understand that Interactive Brokers in some situations has a 5 figure account minimum, something many beginners don't have.
The deal gets even better with Questrade if you're an active trader.
Questrade's Active Trader commission package
|wdt_ID||Security||Fixed Plan (Most Popular)||Variable Plan|
|1||Stocks||$4.95 flat per trade||Minimum $0.01, Max $6.95|
|2||Options||$4.95 + $0.75 per contract||$6.95 + $0.75 per contract|
|3||ETFs||Free to purchase, $4.95 to sell||Free to purchase, sell for $0.01 a share|
As you can see, the active trader commissions offer either a $4.95 flat fee, regardless of the amount of stocks traded, or a true penny per share commission system. The same goes with ETFs.
So how do you qualify for their active trader program? You have to purchase one of their data packages, which do get quite pricey. So lets have a look at those first.
|wdt_ID||Monthly Commissions Paid --->||More than $48.95||More than $399.95|
|3||Final Price After Rebate||$70||FREE|
Lets break this table down in the simplest terms possible.
- An advanced data package is going to run you $89.95 a month for either the US or Canadian data packages
- This is going to get you level 2 data and active trader pricing on your commissions
- If you spend more than $48.95 a month in commission, they'll refund $19.95
- If you spend more than $399.95, they'll waive the whole fee
So in order to qualify for Questrade's true rock bottom commissions and not dish out a hefty monthly fee, you'll need to trade, a lot.
Questrade account fees and margin rates
In terms of fees, Questrade is fully transparent about everything that they do charge. If I were to list the complete set of fees on this review, it would run on forever. I'm going to go over the most critical ones.
For one, Questrade got rid of its inactivity fee. This used to be charged on accounts that didn't trade frequently or kept a balance that was lower than their minimum threshold. But, it's no longer the case and we feel this is a huge step in the right direction.
Secondly, the company does charge ECN fees. This is different than a brokerage like Qtrade, which does not transfer ECN fees on to its clients. In most situations, this will be a relatively miniscule charge on your end, amounting to around $0.004 a share.
However, I did recently get charged nearly $50 for trading large volume of a TSX Venture stock. So, these types of fees are something you need to consider if you're a high volume trader.
The brokerage, much like any other, charges for wire transfers ($20 for CAD and $30 for USD) and also charges $150 to transfer your accounts to another institution. So, these are other fees to be aware of.
And finally, lets have a look at margin interest rates to see what you'll be paying if you decide to trade on margin.
Questrade Margin and FX Rates
|$100,000 debit balance||$100,000 debit balance|
|All CAD non-registered accounts||CAD prime+3.50%||CAD prime+2.50%|
|RRSP, TFSA and other registered accounts||CAD prime+8.10%||CAD prime+8.10%|
|All USD non-registered accounts||USD prime+3.75%||USD prime+2.75%|
|RRSP, TFSA and other registered accounts||USD prime+8.35%||USD prime+8.35%|
Overall, Questrade offers some of the lowest commissions in the industry next to Interactive Brokers, and if you're trading enough, you can get commissions costs down to a true penny per share.
Questrade customer service
The pandemic has brought on a surge of new retail investors, many of whom are jumping in head first without full understanding of how a brokerage or even the stock market works.
As a result, customer service queues have been absolutely swamped. This is not unique to Questrade. Every major brokerage is struggling with customer service right now.
If you were to compare all of the brokerages in Canada, whether they be discount brokerages or big banks, customer service is lagging. To knock Questrade alone on this would be unfair.
So in order to accurately review Questrade's customer service, I'll instead refer to the experiences I had with them before the pandemic hit, which is no doubt where I think they'll return to in due time.
As a decade long user of the platform, I can assure you that prior to the pandemic hitting and new investors rushing into the markets, Questrade's customer service was second to none.
Its live chat option is a breath of fresh air, and normally it would take me no longer than 2-3 minutes to connect to an agent to perform things like Norbert's Gambit to get USD.
I typically got a reply via e-mail within 24 hours, and the brokerage also has an in-depth FAQ section that more often than not makes it so you don't have to contact customer service at all.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed how easy it was to get a hold of a Questrade representative, whether it be through the live chat option or via e-mail.
Honestly, I can’t think of a single negative to say about Questrade’s security. It is truly where the brokerage shines.
Questrade goes a step further and uses a two strikes and you’re out system. If you enter a password incorrectly twice, you’ll be forced to call customer service to recover your account.
Now, this may seem like an annoyance at first, I definitely had that impression when I first started out.
But as my investment account continued to grow, I realized with the amount of money in my account it was a huge positive. I’d rather be forced to call customer service after having fat thumbs a couple of times than someone gaining full access to my accounts.
Questrade takes it another level further by keeping track of what devices you typically log into your account from.
If you decide to use a friends phone or a desktop that is not yours, you will be prompted to answer a security question to verify that it is truly you who is trying to access the account.
Questrade covers your losses up to 100% in the case that Questrade is at fault.
No, they won’t cover you if you log into Questrade at your local library and leave your account open when you leave.
And no, they won’t cover you if you are downloading some shady documents or files that happen to infect your computer with malware and it gains access to your account.
But rest assured, if it is a situation that Questrade is to blame, your money will be covered.
Questrade is part of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. What this means is that in the event that Questrade is insolvent or declares bankruptcy, your funds are protected up to $1,000,000.
The belief that only a well-established bank can provide adequate levels of online-security is more of a myth than reality. Most established brokerages use the same level of security as any bank, Questrade is no different.
I have to admit, Questrade's platforms used to be pretty sub-par.
Their mobile platform used to be brutally clunky, and to be honest sometimes downright unresponsive. This was when it first came out, and I was willing to give them a little bit of leeway as they pushed updates and bug fixes through.
Questrade has three main trading platforms:
- Questrade Trading.
- Questrade IQ Edge.
- Questrade IQ Mobile.
Keep in mind, these three platforms all provide unique experiences and are suited for different types of investors. Lets take a look at their browser based platform first.
If you are looking for a simple platform for "set and forget" style investing, Questrade’s browser based platform is the one you'll want. I found their browser platform inferior to a brokerage like Qtrade, however it is still extremely simple to use.
If you’re an active trader, you may have some issues with the platform though. In terms of charting, you’ll want to download Questrade’s IQ Edge platform, which we will go over next.
Questrade IQ Edge
What I like to call a traders paradise, Questrade’s IQ Edge platform has absolutely everything you need to trade the markets.
There is a ton of functionality within Questrade’s downloadable platform. For me to explain it all would be impossible. But I will do my best to highlight the main features, and let you do the experimenting beyond that.
The key advantage of the Questrade IQ Edge platform vs the browser based Questrade Trading platform is the fact you can have multiple displays, or “workspaces” as they call them, available at your disposal.
Installation is extremely easy, simply head to your Questrade account and select the accounts dropdown menu and click “other platforms”. From there, simply download IQ Edge.
Questrade uses Morningstar research reports in its IQ Edge interface. This will give an average investor instant access to thousands of companies in the US and Canada.
In order to truly see all the features the platform offers, you really just have to download it and play around with it yourself. I’m sure even after 10 years, I missed out on some features I haven’t uncovered.
Questrade's mobile platform
It’s 2021, most of us are constantly on the go. Questrade figured this out pretty quickly, and was one of the earliest discount brokers to release a mobile app.
And I’ll tell you one thing for certain, when it came out at first, it was absolutely horrendous.
Fast-forward years later, I think they have the best mobile platform in the industry. Installation is seamless, the app is available on both the Apple Store and Google Play.
There is still lots of room for improvement - if you’re trying to do any sort of advanced or even basic trading, the mobile app probably isn’t for you.
However, they still try to appeal to traders by making technical indicators and charts available on the app.
If you’re looking to execute a single trade or look at basic charting, options, or news, the app is amazing. The layout is easy on the eyes and easy to navigate.
There is only so much real estate you have to work with on a mobile screen, and Questrade makes the most of it. Things like transferring funds, exercising an option or viewing an account statement are only a few clicks away.
Questrade FX Global
I haven’t dabbled in too much Forex or commodity trading, and I’m not going to pretend I have for this review. FX Global is Questrade’s web-based platform that allows you to do so. Trade currency or energy futures at the click of a button.
Questrade’s FX Platform is one a speculator would thrive in. Not much here for a run of the mill investor, but if you’re into trading the Yen or bundles of wheat, this is the platform you'll need.
Push notifications can be set up to go directly to your mobile device and there is more than enough technical analysis and research tools within the platform to keep even the most advanced trader happy.
Questrade FX Global is somewhat like a Las Vegas casino. It’s open 24 hours a day.
The only difference? It’s closed Saturdays. And well, you can’t play blackjack on here. But you get my point.
Overall, the brokerage has some of the best platforms on the market. It's browser based platform could use some work, most being minor details and fixes.
However, Questrade's IQ Edge Platform is best in class in terms of desktop programs.
Questrade has a ton of extras, however not many that I have ever really used.
Becoming a client at Questrade includes, but is not limited to:
- A forum
- Free online webinars
- An IPO centre
- Technical analysis alerts
- A Market Intelligence hub
- Mutual fund center
Out of all of these extras, its Market Intelligence hub is where I found myself the most. In fact, I didn't use the other options at all.
Questrade’s Market Intelligence is essentially a central hub that contains access to a TON of information from around the world. Morningstar provides the data as I mentioned earlier in this review. Looking up earnings reports on specific companies or even complete sectors is now a breeze with Questrade.
Even though with the evolution of Google it is quite easy to access this information outside of Questrade, using their Market Intelligence area is definitely easier.
Set up alerts with ease and get instant notifications when a stock you’re interested in has released earnings, or maybe hit that purchase price point.
Overall, Questrade has some excellent features that will appeal to different types of investors. Some will use all of them, and some might not use any at all. The choice is ultimately up to you.