Questrade online brokerage added 50,000 new accounts in the first quarter of 2020. Should you join them?
Questrade offers investment services for self-directed investors from beginners to professionals. The brokerage also offers managed accounts.
Learn more in this Questrade review. You'll be able to decide if a Questrade account is the right fit for your investment strategy.
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Edward Kholodenko and three partners founded Questrade in 1999. They wanted to offer Canadian DIY investors a better choice than large banks and brokerages. The focus on low-fee investments made Questrade one of Canada's fastest-growing online brokerages.
Questrade is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). It is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), a top-tier regulator. These affiliations give investors confidence in Questrade's stability.
Who Can Invest with Questrade?
Questrade was designed for residents of Canada. International clients can open Questrade accounts, but the process is slower and more complicated.
Questrade has advantages for self-directed investors as well as investors who are more hands-off. Self-directed investors are people who are confident in choosing and buying their own stocks, bonds, or other assets. Other investors prefer to leave the buying and selling decisions to a team of experts.
Types of Accounts and Investments
You can open almost any kind of investment account online with Questrade. The options for self-directed investors include:
- Individual, joint, or organization margin account
- Tax-free savings account (TFSA)
- Registered retirement savings plan (RRSP)
- Registered education savings plan (RESP)
- Locked-in retirement account (LIRA)
- Registered retirement income fund (RIF)
- Life income fund (LIF)
- Foreign exchange and contracts for difference (FX and CFDs)
Registered accounts like RRSPs and LIRAs and tax-sheltered. Accounts like margin accounts and foreign exchange market accounts are taxable.
Questrade offers fully managed accounts for investors who prefer to have a more hands-off approach. These Questwealth Portfolios contain exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
You have a wide choice in the types of securities you can trade with Questrade. You can buy, sell, and trade investments like:
- Mutual Funds
- International equities
- Guaranteed investment certificates (GICs)
- Initial public offerings (IPOs)
- Precious metals
You have access to Canadian stock markets as well as US-based securities on the NASDAQ, NYSE, and other exchanges. Trading FX and CFDs requires a separate Questrade account.
Questrade Fees and Commissions for DIY Investors
Government rules for stock trading in Canada restrict the growth of truly zero-commission trading platforms. Finding a Canadian online brokerage with the lowest costs gives you a bigger return on your investments.
One major advantage of using Questrade is the low cost of fees and commissions. You have no fee to open or close an account. Questrade doesn't charge an annual account fee, and they recently eliminated inactivity fees.
Questrade has two pricing plans for trading stocks, options, and ETFs. Democratic pricing is the default and is the best deal for most investors. Questrade Advantage is a program for active traders.
The commissions with Democratic pricing are low. Regular stock trades are $0.01 per share with a minimum charge of $4.95 and a maximum charge of $9.95. Options trades are $9.95 plus $1 per contract.
Buying ETFs is commission-free. Selling them has a $0.01 per share commission with a minimum of $4.95 and a maximum of $9.95 per trade.
To be eligible for Questrade Advantage pricing, you have to subscribe to the advanced data package. It costs $89.95 per month and includes Canadian level 1 and level 2 live streaming data and some US level 1 live streaming data.
However, if you spend more than $48.95 in commissions, Questrade will refund you $19.95. If you spend more than $399.95 in trading commissions, you'll get your full monthly fee back as a rebate.
Questrade Advantage has a fixed option and a variable option. The fixed option is a good choice for investors who make high-volume share and options trades. Stocks have a fixed $4.95 commission per trade. Options are $4.95 plus $0.75 per contract.
You can buy ETFs free of charge, and you'll pay $4.95 per trade to sell them.
The variable option is a good choice if you're buying a few shares of an expensive company. Stocks have a $0.01 commission per share with a maximum charge of $6.95. Options are $6.95 plus $0.75 per contract.
You can buy ETFs with no fee. To sell them, the commission is $0.01 per share to a maximum of $6.95.
In general, the Questrade Advantage program makes sense if you spend $100 or more in commissions each month. It also depends on your average order size and your trading style.
The trading fee for mutual funds is $9.95. International equities have a commission of 1% of the trade value with a minimum of $195. You'll pay $19.95 per trade for precious metals.
FX and CFDs have spreads as low as 0.08 pips. The spread is the difference between the price to buy and sell. Pips are the smallest unit of the price movement. For most currency pairs, one pip equals 0.0001.
All of these fees and commissions are among the lowest in Canada.
Questwealth Portfolio Fees
The fees and commissions for managed portfolios with Questrade are very competitive. The management fees are a percentage of the total amount of money you've invested. If you have less than $100,000 in your account, you pay 0.25% annually. If you have $100,000 or more in your account, you pay 0.20% per year.
Each ETF in a Questwealth Portfolio has its own embedded management expense ratio. Questrade doesn't add any other commissions or fees to these expense ratios.
Questrade Minimum Balance Requirements
Questrade doesn't have a minimum deposit to open an account. However, you need a minimum of $1,000 in your account to start trading with Questrade. The $1,000 initial trading requirement applies to both self-directed investors and managed accounts.
Some asset classes have a higher purchase threshold. Bonds, GICs, and IPOs have a minimum order size of $5,000.
After you meet the initial deposit requirement, you need to maintain a certain balance to keep your account in good standing. Stocks and options require a minimum equity balance of $250. You need to keep an account value of at least $750 for managed accounts.
Questrade platforms are available for mobile, browser, and desktop, which makes it a versatile choice. Questrade Trading is browser-based, and Questrade IQ Edge is a desktop app. Both platforms have similar functionality. Questrade IQ Edge has more trading tools and customization, though, so active traders will likely prefer using it.
Questrade FX Global is the FX and CFD platform for desktop and mobile.
All the Questrade platforms are free. You can even set up practice accounts with virtual money before you activate a real trading account.
One especially nice feature of the Questrade platforms is that if you start a trading task on one device with Questrade Trading, you can complete it from another device. No matter what happens in your schedule, you can take your trades with you.
Questrade Mobile App
The Questrade app is available for iOS and Android. It works well on smartphones or tablets.
Past reviews of the app have often been negative. However, Questrade has updated the app significantly. The user experience is now one of the best for online trading apps.
The app is intuitive to navigate and use. It has an interactive help tool although you probably won't need it.
The features in the app are basically the same as the Questrade Trading platform but optimized for mobile. You can do a variety of account activities like check your investments, make trades, and withdraw or transfer between accounts.
The Questrade Trading platform is easy to use. It's the primary entryway for most users' investing experience. It's integrated into your Questrade Account portal.
The platform gives you the essential trading information you need, like quotes, charts, trading, watch lists, and account management. You can use gadgets to create customized views into your trading and market details. Some examples of gadgets include balances, current global activity of a stock, level 1 quotes, orders, charts, and watch lists.
Any changes you make to your layout are saved for the next time you log in.
Questrade Trading has many of the same features as IQ Edge. Differences include the lack of multiple workspaces or heat maps. You also can't change the default colour theme, which is admittedly a small detail, but it can affect your experience with the platform.
Questrade IQ Edge
IQ Edge is a native PC or Mac desktop application. The platform uses optimized C++ code specifically for Intel processors. This gives you faster processing.
Questrade designed this platform for active and professional traders, but more casual investors may also prefer its broader range of features.
You can create an unlimited number of workspaces, which is valuable for active traders. A workspace is a screen area that lets you open and customize a set of gadgets for a particular purpose.
Questrade IQ Edge gives you more customization options for charting, including quick trade buttons and alerts. You can also see a profit and loss calculator. A market movers' list is available for Canadian and US markets.
Some of the active trading features include the option to skip the order confirmation window. You have full support for hot keys to further streamline your trading.
You can set default order values with order parameters for stocks and options. You can also set conditional orders that trigger the order at a specific time, price, or volume.
You can choose from two colour themes in addition to the default black.
Questrade FX Global
Questrade FX Global is a web-based and mobile platform for FX and CFD trading. You can speculate on the price movement of currencies, energy, agriculture, metals, and equity indexes. Hundreds of global currency pairs and CFDs are available for trading.
The platform tracks your trading activity in real time. You can easily watch open positions and see profits and losses. You can also view account balances and analyze your historical activity.
Other useful features include watch lists, technical analysis indicators, and news. You can get push notification alerts to your phone.
The FX Global platform is easy to use even for investors with little FX and CFD experience. You can make trades within the platform 24 hours a day from Sunday evening through Friday afternoon. You can also place orders for free over the phone.
Market research is an important part of successful investing. Questrade offers two useful research tools: Market Intelligence and Intraday Trader. Both tools are available in your account portal.
Morningstar, the leading research data provider in the US, powers the Market Intelligence tool. You get thorough analysis of equities and ETFs traded on Canadian and US markets. You have access to the latest market news in North America, Europe, and Asia.
You can set email alerts for stock information like price changes, volume fluctuations, and bid sizes.
Intraday Trader is a comprehensive technical analyzer that monitors markets like the NYSE, NASDAQ, AMEX, and TSX. It uses automated algorithms to scan the markets and notify you of potential trading opportunities.
When you provide a pre-set or custom event watch list, Intraday Trader will find patterns of interest throughout the trading day. You'll get a notification if something triggers any of your watch list targets.
The basic version of this tool is free. The live-streaming version is available with a subscription to a market data plan.
Another area where Questrade stands out is customer service. Questrade won the DALBAR Canada Seal for Service Excellence in 2019. DALBAR recognizes companies that excel in providing exceptional service in areas including security, expertise, attitude, and call flow.
Questrade customer support is available through email, real-time chat, and phone. Unfortunately, chat and phone support are only available Monday through Friday.
The email response time is generally quick. You'll usually have a reply within a few hours.
You can use the live chat feature Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm ET, excluding holidays. If you have questions outside of service hours, you can leave a message and a representative will reply when they return. Online representatives are professional, well-informed, and generally quick to reply.
Phone support is available Monday through Friday from 7:30 am to 8:00 pm ET. Phone service is open extended hours for FX and CFD support. Hold times are generally short, and the representatives will take the time to address your situation.
Questrade Review Summary
As this Questrade review has shown, Questrade is an all-around strong choice for a Canadian online trading platform. You have a wide selection of account and investment types. Fees and commissions are low. The trading platforms are easy to use and have the tools you need.
Whatever your investment goals, Questrade has the features and support to help you reach them.
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