In this Questrade review, I will pull back the curtain and take a close up look at Canada’s leading discount brokerage provider. The company has gained a reputation as Canada’s best online broker, but the question is, does it still make the grade or is the crown slipping?
For almost two decades now, the company has been making a name for itself as the best online broker in Canada, with millions of satisfied customers. As long as you have a Canadian address, you can open an account and trade stocks, options, bonds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds, and a lot more besides.
Read my review to see if Questrade is the right choice of broker for you.
Who is Questrade?
Questrade first opened its doors in Toronto, Canada, back in 1999. The company was founded by Canadian business-man and humanitarian, Edward Kholodenko. He saw that the Canadian market was lacking a low-cost, digital provider of financial services, and launched Questrade to fill the gap.
However, in recent years, Questrade has suffered from a few missteps, in particular, the reboot of the trading portal did not go down well with account holders, and the Questrade name lost some of its lustre with new rivals keen to take the crown from the king. That said, read my review to see if Questrade has fixed its course and is back on the rise, and more importantly, if it’s the right choice of broker for you.
Since launching in the late 90s, the company has become a true home-grown success. Winning multiple awards along the way, including the title of #1 ranked, self-directed brokerage firm in Investor Satisfaction by J.D. Power. Awards are all well and good, but as I discovered during my Questrade review, there is a reason that every year some 250,000 new accounts are created with the company.
Who owns Questrade?
Questrade is a privately held company, owned by Questrade Financial Group Inc. There are no plans to take the company public, at least for now.
- Low fees and no inactivity fees
- Good choice of USD trading options
- No-fee TFSA and RRSP accounts
- Sub-par customer service experience
- A buggy trading platform
- Not recommended for non-Canadian residents
Who is Questrade suitable for?
The short answer to this question is, everyone. In my opinion, Canadian citizens — you have to be a Canadian national to open an account—are well served by Questrade. As one of Canada’s leading discount brokers, they have shaken up the genteel monopoly of high-street banks, and helped countless Canadian investors build a better financial future.
Questrade is well suited to beginner investors and the platform is fairly intuitive and easy to get to grips with. More experienced investors, who like their research tools, may be better served elsewhere. That said, the appeal of low fees is universal.
Questrade Accounts and Products
Questrade offers a wide mix of different accounts. Regardless of what your financial goals may be, you will be sure to find a Questrade account and product that will meet your needs.
My Questrade review will now run through all the various accounts offered by the company.
Questrade offers the whole range of retirement accounts, including;
- Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
- Spousal RRSP
- Locked-In Retirement Account (LIRA)
- Registered Retirement Income Fund
- Life Income Fund
All of these accounts have their own unique characteristics, which I will now go through in brief for you. That said, regardless of the one you decide is right for you, all of them will help your pension pot grow.
An RRSP is registered with the Federal government, and is the default pension plan of countless Canadians. These are a great way to save and also reduce your tax burden since they offer tax deductible annual contributions. Your savings are then tax-deferred until such time as you retire and start to make withdrawals. The Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) also allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSP, tax-free, to pay for a home.
The Spousal RRSP, is basically identical to the RRSP but with the added benefit of being a spousal account. This means that not only can your partner make contributions to the funds, but by doing so, they will also reduce their own income-tax burden. Of course, your spouse will also have access to the funds once they hit retirement age.
A Locked-In Retirement Account is where your employment pension can be transferred should you end your employment with that company. A LIRA is similar to the RRSP, in that both offer a tax-haven for you to invest your registered retirement savings and help them grow. However, with a LIRA account, you cannot make contributions.
The Registered Retirement Income Fund is designed for those who want to continue saving even after hitting retirement age. Once you retire, you simply rollover funds from your RRSP into an RRIF in order to continue investing in your retirement and growing your funds.
A Life Income Fund (LIF) is another way of growing your savings in your retirement years. The LIF lets you rollover your Federal or provincial pension, and continue to maximize your tax deferral bonuses. Best of all, you can set withdrawals from the LIF to provide a steady income without having to close your account.
Registered Education Savings Plans
Parents planning to send their children on to higher education can open one of the registered education savings plans offered by Questrade. You have a choice of either a family registered education savings plan, or a traditional registered education savings plan.
The registered education savings plan is a government-approved, tax-sheltered account designed to help cover the costs of a child’s post-secondary education. Contributions to this type of account are not tax deductible, but earnings grow tax-free, as long as the funds stay in the plan.
The family RESP is identical to the standard RESP account, but can have more than one beneficiary added to it, with the caveat that any such beneficiaries are blood relatives. The benefit of the family RESP is that it lets account holders buy larger share lots, as opposed to multiple lots in different accounts.
Entity accounts are accounts that let you invest on behalf of your business or someone else. Accounts are available for equities, Forex, and CFDs, and the assets and funds in an entity account are taxed at corporate tax rates.
Questrade offers a range of entity accounts, comprising:
- Investment Club
- Sole Proprietorship
- Individual Informal Trust
- Joint Informal Trust
- Formal Trust
With a Corporate account, you can open an account in your business name and any funds in your account are taxed at corporate tax rate. With a Questrade corporate account, you can trade and invest in a wide range of assets, and leverage your excess capital to your advantage.
An Investment Club is an account that lets you and up to ten other partners pool your resources and thereby increase the scope and range of your pooled investment account.
With a Partnership account, you can open an account for your partnership business. In this account, all funds and equity are split equally between partners and, as with a corporate account, it is a great way of growing your excess capital.
If, however, you are the sole owner of your business then you can open a Sole Proprietorship account. As the account is entirely in your name, you have complete control over investments, and also all the profits that the account generates.
Individual Informal Trust accounts let you set up a trust account for your child without needing to provide any formal documentation. And with no legal costs or trading restrictions, they are a great way to start investing on behalf of a minor.
A Joint Informal Trust account is similar to the individual informal trust account. Just as the name implies, multiple investors, such as your spouse and grandparents, can make investments on behalf of the child.
Lastly, the Formal Trust account is a legally binding trust account, which requires a ‘deed of trust’ to be opened on behalf of a minor. These accounts are popular as their clear, legally-defined nature helps avoid potential issues or ambiguity.
These accounts are available as self-directed accounts, that is to say, they are managed in entirety by you, and all investment decisions are made by you. Should you wish, however, Questrade does offer managed investment portfolios with Questwealth Portfolios. The Questwealth Portfolios are diversified, low-fee portfolios that are actively managed by a team of experts. These are a good choice for hands off investors, who would like to take advantage of the services of financial professionals to reach their goals.
Questrade Review: Fees and charges
As I mentioned at the start of this review, Questrade is one of the cheaper brokers available on the Canadian market with low trading fees.
Right from the get-go, Questrade stood out with its user friendly and wallet friendly attitude.
There are no annual fees on Questrade and the broker has also done away with inactivity fees so, if you step away from your Questrade account for a while, you will not be punished. Before I deep-dive into the fees and charges on the Questrade trading platform, I will give you a quick summary of some of the key points:
- Free ETF Purchases
- Low Commission on Trades @$4.95 / trade
- ECN Fees Capped at $5.00 / trade
- No Account Fees on RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs, and Non-Registered Accounts
- $25 Quarterly Account Fees on other accounts (in some instances these are waived)
Questrade Trading fees
You can trade stocks on the Questrade platform for as little 1¢ a share—min. $4.95 to max. $9.95. When it comes to the ETF fees, you will find that, as a Questrade account holder, you will be able to buy ETFs for free, and the selling fees are a rather modest $0.01 per share. Stock options are billed at $9.95 1 and + $1 / contract.
FX & CFD fees
CFD and FX trading fees on Questrade are also competitively priced. Forex traders have access to more than 110 currency pairs available, and foreign exchange fees are billed at target low spreads of 0.8 pips under normal market conditions. That said, the total transaction cost of an FX trade is determined by trading spread you pay, which may vary from the target spread.
The price for trading CFDs depends on the reference price of the underlying asset. The final transaction cost in a CFD trade is determined by the trading spread you pay, which may vary from the target spread. Stock CFDs are priced with a commission and minimum payment; these vary, depending on the country, but for Canadian and US CFDs it is priced at 1¢/share (min. CAD 9.95).
Other assets, such as mutual funds, are charged at $9.95 per trade, though you will be subject to a deferred sales charge fee should you withdraw early. Precious metals are billed at $19.95 USD per trade. IPOs and news issues are free to buy, but require a minimum purchase of at least $5,000. GICs and Bonds are also subject to a minimum-in of, at least, $5,000.
Active Trader Pricing
I have to mention in my Questrade review, that the company offers different fees for active traders, with Active Trader Pricing available at fixed and also variable rates. In order to unlock active trader pricing, you will need to purchase an Advanced Data Package with Questrade (Level II quotes on Canadian or U.S. exchanges).
The price of the Advanced Data Package is $89.95 CAD for the Canadian package and $89.95 USD for the U.S. package. That said, for accounts that generate over $48.95 in monthly commissions, you will receive a $19.95 rebate on the package fee.
Active traders are well advised to look into the Advanced Data Package, which I will get into later in this review, as the price difference can add up. The fixed pricing rate is well suited to high volume traders with option trading also available at a low price. The variable is more suited to those traders who want in on blue-chip and high value shares and are not so concerned with their volumes.
The fees for the Questwealth Portfolios are lower than the industry standard. For accounts with a balance of between $1,000-$99,999 the monthly rate is 0.25%, for accounts with more than $99,999 the rate is just 0.20%.
In conclusion, the fees on Questrade are extremely competitive, especially if you are looking to focus on stock trading. As an added bonus, the Active Trader fees are great for active traders. The neat thing is though, should you decide later that you want to start trading more seriously, you can buy in at any time and take advantage of these rates.
Trading Platforms available at Questrade
Questrade offers a range of trading platforms which my review will examine in detail for you now.
These platforms are designed to meet the differing needs of traders, and Questrade trading platforms are available in both desktop and mobile versions. Regardless of the trading platform you chose, you will have a fairly decent tool that will help you build and grow your portfolio.
This is the default trading platform on Questrade and is the first port of call for many users. The platform was redesigned and relaunched in 2021 to a rather mixed response; many users were upset that the clean interface had been sacrificed in order to provide more functionality. The problem is that the new platform was also reported to be buggy.
During my review, I did not find any bugs, but instead a relatively decent, if basic, trading platform that let me do everything I wanted in just a few clicks. Account management was easy as all the information I needed was readily available, and I could easily conduct basic market research and monitor my investments.
Questrade’s mobile app is called Quest mobile and the mobile app is available on both Apple and Android OS devices. As well as providing access to trading functions, the mobile app provides users with some advanced features, such as drawing tools and real time quotes.
I found the mobile app to be a decent replica of the Questrade Trading platform and it delivered most of the same functionality. That said, there is no denying that it is rather bareboned, and the mobile app experience could be improved. However, for those who want to trade on the go, or who want to complement, the mobile app is perfectly functional and able to deal with most tasks.
That said, I should issue a slight warning here, I was only able to test the app on my Android device. During my review, I checked out the Apple store front, where I saw that the app of the Canadian discount broker was very poorly rated. I am not able to verify the accuracy of these reviews, but I felt I should warn any potential Apple device users.
The IQ Web platform is a browser-based trading platform that offers more functionality. During my Questrade review, I found the platform to be solid and easy to use. The customizable sidebar has room for up to eight widgets and makes personalizing your experience a breeze. With the platform, setting up custom watch-lists or stock charts is a breeze. Crucially, using the platform to buy and sell is hassle free and so, too, is managing your account.
IQ Edge is an advanced desktop trading platform that provides a wide range of features, making it the go-to choice of active traders and investors with more experience. Tools, such as Market View, provide an interface that offers various views and filters for quick access to important data, such as heat maps.
Other useful functions, including support for hotkeys and the ability to group options together using different parameters, such as order type or duration, are invaluable for seasoned traders.
Questrade Services & Tools
To supplement the trading experience Questrade offers its customers a range of additional services and tools.
These are designed to help investors identify market opportunities and to make the overall trading experience better by empowering customers with knowledge. I will now take a closer look at just some of these services, as to look at all of them would need a review all of its own.
IQ Web charts
The IQ Web charts tool runs in browsers and provides customers with advanced charting functionality modules. These include 30 optional indicators and 10 different drawing tools, and are extremely intuitive, and I found them to be very useful in identifying trends.
Questrade offers advanced traders the Intraday Trader tool, powered by Recognia, is an investment tool that scans markets for trading opportunities defined by you. This is a really useful tool as you set the parameters and the Intraday Trader will automatically notify you and send an alert.
I am a big fan of brokers that provide their customers with demo or practice accounts. These are invaluable for learning how a platform works, but are also an asset for experienced investors as they are a safe space for you to test out trading theories, without putting your finances at risk.
The IPO Centre provides customers with an automated bulletin whenever an IPO or new issue is live. This is a great way to ensure you do not miss out on any lucrative IPOs.
How to open an account at Questrade
If my review has helped you decide that Questrade is the investment platform for you, then you may be wondering how to open an account.
Luckily the process is as easy as can be, and should take no more than a few minutes.
You must have a Canadian address to open an account but that doesn’t mean it is limited to Canadian Citizens only. Questrade cannot hold regular trading accounts without the provision of a Canadian address, regardless of nationality.
Also, you must have a valid form of ID—only those issued by a federal or provincial/territorial government agency in Canada, or a foreign passport, can be used.
Go to the Questrade homepage, select the Questrade account you want to open. The different accounts available are covered earlier in my review.
After confirming the account type, you will be asked to create a User ID and a secure password for your account.
After setting up your User ID, you will provide your personal information and details. As part of this, you will be asked about your employment, about your finances, and to provide a Canadian address.
You will be asked to set-up and personalize your account, for example how Questrade can contact you. You will need to read and accept the terms and conditions, and provide a valid form of government-issued ID, in order to confirm your identity.
Once these steps are completed, and your identity has been verified, you can deposit funds into your account and start trading.
Deposit and Withdrawal process
Depositing funds into your account is easy, but be warned, the minimum deposit amount is $1,000. You can make a deposit either by Bank transfer, Credit/debit cards, or Electronic Wallet.
Once you have decided on how you will be funding your account, simply log in to the Questrade client area, and select the ‘Deposit’ or ‘Funding menu’, you will then choose your funding method, provide the information required, and then be asked to check if this information is correct. Assuming all is good, you click the confirm icon and the payment process should proceed.
To withdraw funds, Questrade clients just need to select the ‘Withdraw funds’ icon from the Account home page under the ‘REQUESTS’ menu. Once there, you will be asked to enter the amount you wish to withdraw, and also confirm the currency. After doing this, you will have to select your withdrawal method, and choose the destination account for your withdrawal.
Questrade Customer Support
The Questrade customer service team can be contacted by phone, email, or using the online chat.
The phone line is available from 08:00-16:00 Eastern time, and, during my review, I found them to be pleasant and helpful. Email support will take between one and three days to respond to your query. The online chat feature was quite swift to respond and, once again, I found them to be more than willing to help. That said, phone and online chat support is only available during weekdays and the phone number is a Canadian number with no international number to dial, should you happen to be abroad.
Also, in closing, I feel I should mention that though my experiences when testing the customer support for this Questrade review were good, many others have been dissatisfied. The company has a score of just 1.4 on Trustpilot, with the majority of negative reviews stemming from a poor customer service experience.
All of Questrades platforms provide customers with additional information and research tools. Regardless of the exact platform you are using, the Questrade platform will let you review additional market data, information on asset class, positions, and even real-time snapshot balances. Also, the data displayed can be customized based on the criteria you set.
Other research tools, such as Market Intelligence, provided by research provider Morningstar, really stand out. This is a tool that provides traders with almost all the information you could ever want, including company and sector analyses, financial statements, and filings, as well as thorough analysis for equities and ETFs traded in the US and Canadian markets.
Questrade clients can take advantage of partnerships with other third party suppliers of analysis and trading platforms, including VectorVest, YCharts, OptionsPlay, Quantcha and Trading Diary Pro. These partners help consolidate the Questrade offering, and will be sure to satisfy the most demanding of traders wanting to conduct in-depth technical analysis. That said, I should warn you that these are not free and you may have to pay, depending on the product you choose.
As a trading platform, Questrade is ahead of other online brokers, but the education resources it provides are distinctly middle-of-the-road. Not to say that they are bad, just a bit lacking.
For example, unlike most other online brokers, Questrade only recently started hosting webinars and the selection of video tutorials, and similar such assets, is rather slim. This is not a huge issue admittedly, but it’s not a good look and, in my opinion, there is no reason, beyond penny pinching, for doing so.
The Questrade website does have a learning section where you can quickly access the majority of educational materials, including a useful FAQ section for quick answers to some common questions. As well as providing an FAQ, the learning section has in-depth guides on various topics, ranging from mutual funds, Forex and CFD trading, to general guides.
Questrade clients can rest easy knowing that they are using a fully accredited and safe broker. Questrade is a registered investment dealer; a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), and a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
This means that, as a fully regulated and supervised broker, any funds you deposit are fully insured and, in the unlikely event of the company becoming insolvent, your account is insured to the value of $1 million. However, Questrade has gone above and beyond what is required of online brokerages, and has taken out an insurance policy with Lloyds of London so, if the company does go bankrupt, your account will be insured to the value of $10 million. That is a degree of commitment other Canadian brokers simply cannot match.
As well as being fully compliant with all legal requirements the company offers, account holders can rest easy knowing that the company takes the question of their personal security very seriously also. Your Questrade account is encrypted and information is held on secure servers.
If you want to, you can set up two-factor authentication on your account, for an added layer of security. Or, if you prefer, you can set up touch/face ID authentication to help ensure that no one else can login to your account. Whilst the last login feature will automatically notify you, should there be any suspicious logins, or suspicious activity in general on your account.
In any event, Questrade will reimburse you fully for any losses that occur on your account as a result of an unauthorised transaction in your account occurring as a result of a breach in the company’s security systems.
FAQs about Questrade
Is Questrade safe?
Yes, you are safe with Questrade. Questrade is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada, and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.
Is Questrade good for beginners?
Yes, Questrade is a good broker for beginners. Low-fees and a decent mix of platforms and resources make Questrade a top pick discount broker.