Is Questrade the best discount broker in Canada?

By   |   Verified by Nikita Sheth   |   Updated 15th April 2021

Finty review Questrade
  • Questrade is a highly regarded broker with a discount pricing model.
  • Trade a range of assets including stocks, options, ETFs, etc. in Canada and US markets.
  • Offers margin accounts for traders interested in funding trades with debt.
  • How does Questrade compare to other online brokers available in Canada?

If you're a Canadian citizen or resident looking to trade the markets, you need a broker. Questrade is arguably the best discount broker available for Canadians, providing access to both Canadian and US stock markets.

With Questrade, you get two excellent trading platforms and no annual account fees. Questrade offers commission-free ETF trading and transparent pricing, with discounts available for active day traders.

The innovative web-based IQ Edge and IQ Web trading platforms and tools empower you to build and execute your trading strategy. Questrade has a solid reputation in the market, with insured accounts, a variable fee structure, and excellent customer support.

And for those who want someone else to watch and grow their portfolio, Questrade offers Questwealth Portfolios, which is their version of a robo advisory service to manage your money for you.

This review of Questrade unpacks everything you need to know about Canada's best discount broker.

Who is Questrade suitable for?

Questrade is a comprehensive discount broker, offering cash and margin trading accounts for newcomers to the market and seasoned day traders or investors.

The firm offers trading accounts for self-directed traders that want to manage their portfolio themselves, investors who want someone else to manage their portfolios, and active traders who invest frequently.

For the DIY investor, Questrade Trading offers everything you need to manage your investments, including researching, tracking, investing, and managing your portfolio. For more active or high volume traders, tools such as IQ Edge software gives you a more detailed view on stocks and more complex trading ability.

The Questwealth Portfolios product manages portfolios for users by identifying their investment goals and time horizon to make trades for them. Robo advisors identify appropriate ETF securities and initiate buys and sells using a quantitative investment strategy to ensure the portfolio aligns with your goals.

What can you trade with Questrade?

Questrade offers you access to US and Canadian stock markets, enabling trading on NASDAQ, NYSE, ARCA, and other popular and established exchanges. You can trade stocks, options, bonds, commodities, currencies, ETFs, and mutual funds. Questrade also offers CFDs (Contracts for Difference) for investment in international stocks, indices, or commodities.

Questrade supports account holders with a user-friendly trading platform, research tools, and charts. Their customizable platform allows you to trade, research, manage, and check your account. They also offer IQ Web charts, an advanced charting tool with 31 indicators and five drawing tools to plot your charts.

For professional traders, Questrade offers IQ Edge, a free trading software and downloadable desktop platform, which allows users to get real-time market data, chart and screen specific stocks, and set up alerts. You also get support for hotkeys, along with default order values, including order type, route, and duration.

In terms of market data, you get free snap-quotes displaying real-time prices and level 1 data. For an additional fee of $19.99 or $89.95, you get access to level 1 & 2 data, as well as live streaming of market data to your trading platform (vital for trading small-cap stocks).

Fractional share trading

Unfortunately, unlike many of the new investing apps such as Webull or Robinhood, Questrade doesn't offer fractional share purchases.

Margin trading

Questrade allows for margin on your trades as permitted by regulators, letting you benefit from using leverage on your money. Margin can help you grow your account at an exponential rate compared to using a cash account, but it can also increase the size of losses when a leveraged trade goes bad.

As an example, if you want to purchase a stock with a 50% margin requirement, you are only required to pay 50% of the stock value and can borrow the balance 50% from Questrade. This would allow you to buy $2000 of stock with only $1000 of cash in your account. If the value of the stock goes down though, you may be subject to paying additional maintenance margin.

Margin is available on all assets traded through Questrade platform. Questrade sets its margin requirements according to guidelines and rules set by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. Questrade internal risk management procedures and protocols may have different margin requirements for long and short positions, depending on the asset.

Trading fees

Questrade offers day traders two pricing options for trading stocks, ETFs, and options: standard pricing, which is the default pricing model ,and Questrade Advantage, a subscription service for active traders.

Standard fee structure

With the standard pricing model, all users are subject to the same fee structure regardless of volume or number of shares traded. Overall, you get a competitive pricing model that makes trading affordable for newcomers to the markets.

  • Stocks: Fees of $.01 per share for regular stock trades, with a minimum fee of $4.95 and a maximum of $9.95.
  • Options: $9.95 + $1 per contract.
  • ETFs: No fees for buy transactions. Sales of ETFs cost $.01 per share, with a minimum fee of $4.95 and a maximum of $9.95.
  • Mutual funds: $9.95 per trade.
  • International stocks: Fee totalling 1% of the trade value, with a $195 minimum, as well as stamp duty and/or exchange fees.
  • Precious metals: US$19.95 per trade.

Questrade Advantage fee structure

With the Questrade Advantage active trader program, you'll have to subscribe to one of the advanced market data options. After finalizing your subscription to either level 1 or level 2 real-time data feeds, which cost $19.95/mo or $89.95/mo respectively, you can select the fixed-rate or variable-pricing active trader commission plans. The monthly subscription fees are rebated against monthly commissions, so depending on how much you trade, a subscription may cost you next to nothing monthly.

  • Stocks: For stocks, the variable plan charges $.01 per share, including a $.01 min and a $6.95 maximum. For the fixed plan, Questrade charges a flat rate of $4.95 per trade.
  • Options: For options, the variable plan fees are $6.95 + $0.75 per contract while the fixed plan charges $4.95 + $0.75 per contract.
  • ETFs: Similar to the standard pricing model, there are no fees for purchasing ETFs while sales cost minimum of $0.01 up to $6.95 under the variable rate plan and $4.95 under the fixed rate plan.

Most traders will opt for the Questrade standard pricing model. You get transparent, fair pricing with a cap on fees for your regular stock trades. Given the subscription fees, the Questrade Advantage Active Trading Program isn't worth it unless you're spending more than $100 on your monthly trading commissions. However, it's worthwhile to opt for Advantage if you trade with a larger share size and you're a scalp trader taking several trades throughout the day.

Questwealth Portfolios fee structure

The managed portfolio fee structure is 0.26% for portfolios valued between $1,000 and $99,999 and 0.20% for portfolios greater than that. There are no additional account opening, trading, or fund transfer fees for Questwealth Portfolios.

Pros and cons

Pros

  • Free ETF purchases.
  • User-friendly, flexible trading platform.
  • Regulated and reputable.
  • Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
  • A wide variety of account options for traders.
  • Research tools and education resources provided.
  • Excellent customer support.
  • A wide variety of deposit options.
  • Questwealth Portfolios provides automated investing for new or inexperienced investors.

Cons

  • Only accepts Canadian clients.
  • Deposits only available in USD or CAD.
  • Applies a penalty to inactive accounts.
  • High minimum deposit (CAD $1,000).
  • Restrictions on margin trading.
  • Hard to find availability of stocks for shorting.

Alternatives

  • Wealthsimple Trade: This Canadian online investment management firm focuses on serving millennials. Found by Michael Katchen in 2014, with headquarters in Toronto.
  • TD Direct: As a division of TD Waterhouse Canada Inc., a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank, TD Direct is a Canadian financial services firm with headquarters in Toronto. The company has several divisions, including TD Wealth Financial Planning, TD Wealth Private Investment Advice, and TD Direct Investing.
  • Qtrade Investor: Credential Qtrade Securities is a full-service broker based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It offers client portfolio management for accredited investors and an online trading platform.
  • Interactive Brokers Canada: A leading discount broker and part of the Interactive Brokers group offering trading options for more seasoned traders.
  • Scotia iTRADE: A top-rated discount broker offering low-cost commission trading and innovative trading platforms and tools.

FAQs

Who owns Questrade?

Founded in 1999, Edward Kholodenko owns the Toronto-based trading firm. The company has over 500 employees and is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), insuring its customer deposits.

How old do you need to be to sign up for a Questrade account?

Questrade requires traders to be 18 years or older to open a trading account with the company.

Does Questrade run a credit check when signing up?

Questrade does not run a credit check when you submit an account opening request. However, the terms and conditions state that they may run a credit check to verify your identity.

Why does Questrade ask for my SIN?

Questrade requires your Social Insurance Number (SIN) to verify your identity with a credit reporting agency. This procedure applies to cash and margin accounts but not to registered accounts (RSP, RESP).

What is the minimum deposit required?

To fund your Questrade account, you'll need a minimum of $1,000.

Does Questrade have real-time quotes?

Yes, Questrade provides traders with free snap quotes. You get access to real-time price action on the ask and bid. Questrade provides real-time snap quotes for all American exchanges, including NYSE and NASDAQ.

How do I deposit funds into my Questrade account?

Interac Online lets Canadians fund their Questrade account directly from their bank account. Log in to your Questrade account and hover the cursor over FUNDING. Click "Interac Online".

Choose the nominated bank account you want to use to make the deposit, specify the amount, and complete the transaction.

Does Questrade have Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)?

Yes, Questrade offers both TFSA and RRSP accounts. There are no annual fees on these accounts, and your funds are insured up to a value of $10MM.

Do I have to have $25,000 in my account to day trade?

The Pattern Day Trader (PDT) rule only applies to those traders funding their accounts with US-based brokers. Questrade does not require Canadians to meet the $25,000 minimum to accommodate the PDT rule.

How long does it take to withdraw funds from Questrade?

When you deposit to Questrade, the funds reflect in your account after 24 hours. However, it may take between three to four business days for your money to reflect in your bank account on your first withdrawal. Subsequent withdrawals may take up to three business days.