Questrade Review

A cost-effective trading platform that takes the complexities out of trading.

WRITTEN BY
Lisa Rennie
Updated August 27, 2020


RATING

Questrade is a discount online brokerage that’s been around for over two decades. It was created to provide average Canadian investors with a cost-effective trading platform that takes the complexities out of trading without the sky-high fees that are typical of traditional brokerages and big banks. 

The platform offers both hands-on brokerage services as well as digitized robo-advisor services for those looking for a simplified approach to trading stocks while everything is handled for them automatically. Questrade is perhaps the most popular online trading platform in Canada, and with its low fees and successful track records spanning over 20 years, it’s easy to see why. 

Let’s take a closer look at Questrade to help you decide if this is the right platform for you to develop a passive investment portfolio. 

How Does Questrade Work?

Investors have choices when investing with Questrade. There is the DIY self-directed investing option whereby you build your own investment portfolio with a self-directed account, or have a portfolio built for you by experts.

With self-directed investing, you manage your investments yourself, which can save you a ton of money in fees. In this scenario, you can buy and sell stocks, bonds, precious metals, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), options, mutual funds, and GICs. There are no account opening or closing fees, commissions are super low, and ETFs can be bought commission-free.

With expert-backed Quest Wealth Portfolios, your investments will be managed by Questrade’s experts. Rather than choosing your own investments, you will be asked a few questions regarding your financial goals and risk tolerance to have your assets accurately chosen for you. 

Your investment goals are matched with smart technology, and you’ll receive a portfolio of ETFs, which invest in the market much like mutual funds but with lower fees. Average mutual fund fees cost around 2.16%, whereas you can pay a total fee of just 0.38% (which includes management fees and the MER of the ETF). 

While Quest Wealth is considered a robo-advisor, it does not rely entirely on algorithms or automation to keep tabs on and rebalance your portfolio. Instead, there are real humans behind the scenes who manage your portfolio for you.

Once you create an account and fund it with $1,000, you can begin trading. Questrade can be used to trade and invest on the web or via the Questrade app so you can buy, sell, and make changes on the fly.

Important Features to Consider When Choosing To Work With Questrade

Investment options. Investors can tap into any of the following investment options with Questrade:

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
  • Options
  • Mutual Funds
  • GICs
  • Equities
  • IPOs
  • Precious Metals
  • New Issues

Account options. Investors can also invest in:

  • RRSPs
  • RESPs
  • TFSAs
  • RIFs
  • LIFs
  • LIRAs

Real-time data access. You’ll be trading with real-time, live-streaming data.

Questwealth Portfolios. This is Questrade’s robo-advisor that will handle all your investments for you and build your investment portfolio based on answers to questions you’ll be asked.  

Socially responsible investing (SRI). Invest in companies that match your values and make a positive impact on the world. 

IPO Centre. This research tool allows you to find out important information about the latest IPOs, then lets you buy the ones that have caught your eye. 

Intraday Trader. This tool will help you identify opportunities in the equities market in Canada and the US. Powered by Recognia, this tool makes use of pattern recognition to pinpoint opportunities, then cross-references them with your investment goals. When a target trade is triggered, Intraday Trader will alert you with charts and a description of what’s taking place.

Market data. Get free snap quotes that provide real-time bids and ask prices for securities on North American stock exchanges.

Refer a Friend program. Receive a $25 bonus for referring a friend who opens a Questrade account, and $50 for every third referral.

Trading app. Use your smartphones or tablet to make trading decisions and moves on the go through the Questrade mobile app. 

Automatic deposits. Easily set up automatic deposits without having to do so manually. 

How Much Does Questrade Cost?

Stocks start at $0.01 per share for self-directed investing, with a minimum of $4.95 and maximum of $9.95 per trade. More details are as follows: 

Stocks$0.01/shareMinimum $4.95 to maximum $9.95
ETFsBuy for free$0.01/share to sellMinimum $4.95 to maximum $9.95
Options$9.95 + $1/contract
Mutual Funds$9.95/trade
BondsMinimum $5,000 purchase
GICsMinimum $5,000 purchase
International equities1% of trade value
IPOsBuy for free
Precious metals$19.95 USD/trade

Active traders get special deals, as outlined below:

FixedVariable
Stocks$4.95/trade$0.01/shareMinimum $0.01 to maximum $6.95
Options$4.95 + $0.75/contract$6.95 + $0.75/contract
ETFsFree to buy$4.95/trade to sellFree to buy $0.01/share to sellMinimum $0.01 to maximum $6.95

For Questwealth portfolios that are built for you by an expert, management fees start at 0.20% and drop down to 0.20% after $100,000. 

How Personalized Are the Investment Portfolios?

If you opt for Questwealth Portfolios, you can expect to have a fully customized investment portfolio created for you based on your needs, goals, and investing style. Designed by experts, your investment portfolio will include assets that are perfectly diversified to match your financial goals and appetite for risk. 

Based on the answers you provide, Questwealth’s algorithm will select a portfolio on your behalf from one of the following:

  • Aggressive – This portfolio invests entirely in equity and therefore offers the highest possible returns. The MER ranges from 0.15% to 0.23%.
  • Growth – This portfolio invests in 80% equity and 20% fixed income, making it a bit less risky than the Aggressive Portfolio. The MER ranges from 0.14% to 0.22%.
  • Balanced – Ideal for medium-risk investors, this portfolio invests in 60% equity and 40% fixed income and comes with a MER of anywhere from 0.13% to 0.20%.
  • Income – Those who are looking for a medium to low-risk investment will find the Income portfolio best, which invests in 60% in fixed income and 40% in equity. The MER ranges from 0.12% to 0.17%.
  • Conservative – Those with a lower risk tolerance will be better suited with the Conservative Portfolio, which invests in 80% fixed income and 20% in equity. The MER ranges from 0.11% to 0.14%.

What Are The Perks of Questrade?

  • Paid transfer fees. If you are planning to switch to Questrade from another financial institution, Questrade will reimburse up to $150 in transfer fees per account. 
  • Low commissions on stocks. Questrade is known for its low commissions. You’ll pay $0.01 per share, with a minimum of $4.95 and up to a maximum of $9.95 per trade to purchase stocks.  
  • No commissions on bonds and GICs. At Questrade, trading GICs is commission-free, with a minimum order of $5,000.
  • No commission on ETF purchases. Buy ETFs with zero commissions.  
  • Zero annual fees. Questrade doesn’t charge any annual fees, compared to other brokerages that may charge anywhere from $50 to $100 per year to maintain your accounts. 
  • Great customer service. If you need to get a hold of someone at Questrade, you’ll have a few channels to do that. Customer support is available through telephone, email, or online chat. There is also a section that lets you search information on a wide array of topics. 
  • Accessibility. Buy and sell stocks using Questrade’s browser-based, desktop, and mobile platforms.
  • Hold both US and Canadian dollars in registered accounts. Investors can hold both US and Canadian dollars in registered accounts without having to pay currency conversion fees with each trade. 

Overview of Questrade

Minimum investment$1,000
Types of accountsTFSARRSPRESPLIRALIFRIFTrustsCorporateMargin
Socially responsible investing (SRI)Yes
Automatic re-balancingYes
Reimbursement for transfersYes (up to $150 per account)
Automatic depositsYes
Professional portfolio managementYes
Fractional investingNo
AccessibilityBrowser based, desktop-based, and mobile app

Should You Use Questrade Or Work With a Human Advisor?

It’s tough to argue against the use of a human advisor when it comes to investing your hard-earned money. After all, you want to make sure that whatever you invest in will not only maximize your chances of profiting but also minimize risk. 

The great thing about Questrade is that although this can be considered a robo-advisor, there are also real extracts working behind the scenes to help you optimize your investment portfolio. With Questrade, you get the best of both worlds: low fees and convenience of robo-advisors, and expert assistance from actual human advisors. 

Who is Questrade Best Suited For?

Both novice and experienced investors will find Questrade a fantastic trading platform. Newbies can take advantage of a clean interface, low fees, and expert-managed portfolios to make investing easy, while seasoned investors who are interested in buying their own ETFs, stocks, bonds, or other assets can take a DIY approach while enjoying some of the lowest trading fees out there. 

The portfolio options are also vast and are designed for all types of investors, from the more conservative to the more aggressive with an appetite for risk. Questrade is an excellent option for investors considering taking the robo-advisor route.