If you’re looking for one of the best brokerages in the country, Questrade is probably your best choice. Questrade came to fruition in 1999, at a time when almost every broker worldwide was charging a fortune relative to today’s prices for their services. Fast forward 20 years later, and they are one of the best managed companies in Canada.
Not being part of the big banks was favorable for Questrade. It allowed investors to access a market which was previously a playground for the rich and famous. Quick reactions and excellent customer service by the discount brokerage allowed it to change the markets forever, and even provide certain investment opportunities like ETF’s before the major banks could.Keep in mind before we start this review:
I am reviewing Questrade as a decade long client.
This isn’t a review to churn out affiliate sales like most pages you’ll see. Are we partnered with Questrade? Yes. Do both parties mutually benefit (as in Stocktrades.ca and you) for using our affiliate link for $50 in free trades? Absolutely.But, you won’t find any other reviews here at Stocktrades.ca. In fact, Questrade is the only brokerage we review, and is the only affiliate program we have right now. It just so happened that a brokerage I have been using since 2009 offered a deal for readers to gain access to $50 in free trades when they sign up. If Questrade was crap, I’d personally let you know they were.
But I truly do believe as a self-directed investor who’s had accounts at Interactive Brokers, RBC Direct Investing and Qtrade thinking the grass was greener on the other side, that Questrade is without a question the best.With that being said, lets hit the review!
Questrade’s commissions and account minimums
Before we get into Questrade’s commissions, lets do a quick overview of their account minimums for 2019:
- $1000 CAD to purchase stocks and options.
- $5000 CAD to trade options spreads.
- $25000 CAD to get involved with uncovered options.
If you’ve got less than $1000 right now, it may be wise to save up a bit prior to opening an account. After your account is open at Questrade, you’ve got 60 days to fund the account.
SO – if you’re sitting with just shy of $1000, go ahead an open an account now.
If you’ve got a ways to go yet, start saving and bookmark this page to come back at a later date. Commissions are the most important component when it comes to opening a brokerage account. Sure, customer service comes into play, but most self directed investors will barely have to interact with their brokerage’s customer service department. In the 10 years I’ve been with Questrade, I’d say having to contact customer service four times may be a stretch.
So what do Questrade’s commissions look like in 2019? Well, it depends on what type of investor you are. For the every day self directed investor, one who isn’t looking to day or swing trade, these are the commissions you’re typically going to pay:
|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|
If you’re a little more active, Questrade has what they call the Active Trader Program. Commissions can be significantly reduced by buying one of their advanced data packages.
If you do end up purchasing one, you’ll have access to live streaming data as well. Also, as you’ll see below, these fees can be completely refundable based on how much you trade.
|wdt_ID||Monthly Commissions Paid --->||More than $48.95||More than $399.95|
|3||Final Price After Rebate||$70||FREE|
If you’ve purchased one of these advanced data packages, you will have two commissions plans to choose from that can save you a ton of money on trades:
|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|
Questrade does have an inactivity fee, much like any other brokerage around. However, it’s fairly easy to avoid this fee:
- Make a single trade in a quarter.
- Hold more than $5000 in your account.
- Deposit more than $150 in a quarter.
- Be younger than 25 years of age.
As self directed investors, we should be positioned to be regularly contributing to our investment accounts, so $50 a month to hit $150 for the quarter should be more than achievable. If for some reason you run into some troubles and can’t fund the account or make a trade, you will be charged $24.95. The best part about their inactivity fee? If you’re forced to pay it one quarter, simply request a rebate and the commissions you pay in the next quarter will be refunded up to $24.95.
Pros and Cons
- 2nd lowest commissions in the country (next to Interactive Brokers, which requires a $10 000 account minimum)
- 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
- Inactivity fee (which is reimbursed in some cases)
- Mobile platform is clunky on some devices (rare)
- Trading OTC stocks is expensive (much like most brokerages)
I have to admit, as a decade long client of Questrade’s, their platforms weren’t always as good as they are now.
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.
Their desktop platform has always been good, but now I would say it has far surpassed the definition of great, which is what you need to survive in the discount brokerage industry today.
Questrade has three main trading platforms:
- Questrade Trading.
- Questrade IQ Edge.
- Questrade IQ Mobile.
Keep in mind, these three platforms all provide very unique experiences and are suited for different types of investors. Lets take a look at their browser based platform first.
If you’re a simple investor looking to set and forget, Questrade’s browser based platform is perfect for you. The interface is clean, and extremely easy 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’s Browser Platform
Simple, yet lacks features for advanced traders
- No installation required
- Quick loading
- Everything a basic investor could ask for
- Easy to execute orders and view basic stock charts
- Extremely basic
- Charting software is clunky and simplistic
- Multiple viewing panels not possible
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.
As you can see from the picture above, there is a TON of functionality with 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 after.
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’m still missing out on some features I haven’t uncovered.
Questrade’s IQ Edge Platform
The ultimate tool for advanced investors and traders
- Install in minutes
- Multiple workspaces allows for a plethora of viewable information
- Easily used by set and forget investors.
- Level 2 subscription service provides live data
- Windows and Mac compatible
- Cumbersome for new investors
- The average investor won’t use the majority of features
Questrade’s mobile platform
It’s 2019, 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.
But, fast forwards years later, I think they’ve got the best mobile platform in the industry. Keep in mind however, there is still lots of room for improvement.
Installation is seamless, the app is available on both the Apple Store and Google Play.
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. But, you’ll more than likely drive yourself mad trying to actively trade on the app.
However, 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’s Mobile Platform
Perfect for basic functions on the go.
- Clean interface
- Easy on the eyes
- Convenience of executing trades on the go
- View your portfolio results and stock activity anywhere
- Withdrawals, deposits and transfer compatibility
- Advanced trading becomes difficult
- Platform sometimes gets clunky and slow
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 will 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.
There are quite a few Questrade reviews out there that bash the brokerage’s customer service. However, most of these complaints are old.
There was indeed a time when Questrade struggled mightily on the customer service side. But Questrade did what they do best and listened to their customers.
In the time since most of the negative reviews, the discount brokerage has evolved and improved its customer service by leaps and bounds.
Also, with a great FAQ section and an intuitive interface, Questrade customers hardly need to call their service reps, unless of course you are dealing with a locked account because of mistyping the login credentials more than once.
Another great source to look for more information is the Questrade forums, this is where other confused users post their questions and share knowledge.
How can I get a hold of Questrade?
Looking to get a hold of Questrade? (make sure to tell them about our offer code if you’re opening an account!)
Canadian Number: 1.888.298.4515
United States Number: 1.416.227.6615
International Number: (001) 416.227.9876
General Support E-mail: [email protected]
You can choose two options to communicate with Questrade customer service, either live chat or phone. With live chat, wait times are almost non-existent.
And the best part about it? It’s right in front of you, all the time. No looking for the customer service section or scrambling to find an e-mail. It just sits in the bottom corner of your browser. Moreover, the option provides the benefit of not having to dial numbers. Just click to open the chat window and type your question.
Phone call waiting times with Questrade will definitely be longer, but not by a large margin.
Questrade customer service reps are also very well-trained, which translates to a polite and friendly user experience, along with ability to answer complicated questions. In fact, the customer service is so good that most users will believe that they are getting privileged treatment with Questrade.
I’ve seen Questrade transfer over six figure investment accounts from banks absolutely seamlessly.
Questrade’s Customer Service
Some of the best in the business
- Live chat wait times almost non existent
- E-mail replies are typically within 2-3 hours on business days
- Representatives are trained in answering tough questions
- Will go out of their way to make sure you know what you’re doing.
- Phone wait times often long
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Honestly, I can’t think of a single negative to say about Questrade’s security.
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 access to my life savings.
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 they are 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 your money, up to $1,000,000, is covered.
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 other bank.
Best in class, and it’s not even close.
- Two strike and your out password system
- Fingerprint authentification on mobile devices
- Suspicious country and device applications
- Fraud protection
- Member of the CIPF
- Not much to say here
Account history, documents and more
MyQuestrade is essentially your “hub”, one where you can access all the dirty details of your account from your current holdings to tax slips to referring a friend.
It truly has everything. For privacy reasons I have blurred out the dollar figures, but as you can see above, Questrade keeps track of all my holdings and returns.
The record keeping mechanism of a Questrade trading account obviates the need to track your activities. It’s your very own comprehensive and meticulous record keeper of all trading activity, including but not limited to investment return, account activity, investment summary, current cash balances and positions, as well as total equity and buying power.
I feel that Questrade really excels in this department. In fact, I’ve been with a few other brokers, and one of the main reasons I decided to dig my roots in with Questrade was it’s ease of use and it’s ability to access data like this within seconds on their dashboard.
Statements, records and tax slips
Questrade maintains and keep records of your account for up to 7 years.
Questrade simply uploads tax receipts to your account history and are available for download. No mail, no waiting forever. I’m sure we’ve all been with that employee that takes forever and a day to issue you your T4, so this is a blessing in disguise.
Some people like to store individual records of their investment portfolios on their computers. Questrade makes this process easy. Personally for me, I just leave them on the site. I trust Questrade enough that the records will stay there. But for those who want to keep a record yourself, Questrade makes the statements available for download on the 15th of each month.
Questrade’s statements are a 5 page(or more) document that details your account activity throughout the month. The statements are very easy to understand, and within a couple minutes I know the bulk of what I have done, earned, or lost in my portfolio that month.
Now, if you’re really hardcore on record keeping and want physical copies of these documents, you can get a hold of Questrade. There is a charge, and I highly suggest just simply either storing them on your computer or printing the PDFs out.
One of the most daunting tasks for a new trader is to decode all the nuances associated with trading and investing, especially if you are pursuing on your own. Even the most accomplished investors in the world such as Warren Buffett and David Abrams work with trusted teams and advisors.
You can create such a personal team, or tap into the collective wisdom and experience of numerous investors by using Questrade’s Forum, also called “The Exchange.” You don’t need to be a member to view the forum, so check it out!
If you are someone who wants a more “formal” medium of education, Questrade provides an incredible option for that as well.
At first sight, one might think that the number of courses (10 to be precise) offered by Questrade isn’t something to write home about. However, what the learning platform lacks in quantity it very much makes up for in quality.
Additionally, the Questrade webinars cover a broad range of topics, listed below:
- Fundamentals of options
- High growth strategies behind CFDs
- All about dividend investing
- Mining and metal investing roundtable
- ETF investing: why all ETFs are not created equal
- Searching for undervalued opportunities in equities
- Investing in fixed income securities with ETFs
- Introduction to technical analysis
You can probably tell from the name, but Questrade’s research tool is more directed at traders. Intraday Trader is a technical analyzer that watches all of your favorite indexes and provides updates and alerts on certain triggers.
You can use Questrade’s preset lists, or you can insert your own stocks or indexes to follow. What it will do is alert you when a potential profitable trading opportunity has arisen. It is obviously up to you to decide if you want to take advantage of it or not.
Make your triggers as simple or as complicated as you wish, and Questrade’s program is extremely fun to tinker with. With me being a strict buy and hold investor, I don’t have much use for it, but I can see where it has massive advantages to an active trader.
Questrade’s Market Intelligence is essentially a central hub that contains access to a TON of information all 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.
Mutual Fund Centre
A tool made specifically for mutual fund aficionados, it allows them to compare funds against a benchmark and is loaded with reports, earnings, news, customizable and pre-set watch lists, filters and screeners.
Following that, when an investor has to make a trade, they can do so directly from the Questrade mutual fund center. As of now, the data pertains to Canadian mutual funds only.
Most individuals treat IPOs as a marginalization until they miss out an important one, such as that of Facebook, and then kick themselves. Therefore, we feel that a Questrade’s IPO center is a noteworthy feature and deserves its own section.
The first important feature is that access to Questrade’s IPO center is free and includes information on companies raising capital from initial or secondary offerings.
These offerings are listed in the form of a list, the items on which when clicked on lead to further information on that particular company offering. Second, there is more than just companies coming to market. Despite the name, IPOs of company stocks aren’t the only types of offers featured.
Third, Questrade’s IPO center also includes fixed income deals, new structured products and secondaries for equities.
Summing this review up
I’ve been using Questrade for nearly a decade now. They definitely aren’t perfect, but feel free to e-mail me with a brokerage that is.
They are by far the best brokerage I’ve ever worked with, and I don’t plan on switching any time soon.
Questrade’s commissions combined with their low account minimums make them the optimal discount brokerage for beginner investors.
Their list of commission free ETF’s is bountiful, and their platforms are second to none.
I will be the first one to admit, my experience with Questrade wasn’t always the best. But they have listened to their customers and improved tenfold. Questrade, since its humble beginnings in the year 1999 has made significant bounds into the hearts and minds of consumers and is likely to continue to do so in the future.
If one were to dig deep, they would come across some reviews that are generally negative, most probably arising from bad customer experience, as we definitely all have them. A company these days, especially with the evolution of social media, is exploited a lot more than they used to be. No one can be perfect, and Questrade does everything in its power to be close to it.
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. If you are grappling with the issue of which brokerage to choose then you can’t possibly go wrong with Questrade. For Questrade, customers reign and that is what really matters.