Questrade VS Qtrade: Two Titans Meet

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    Qtrade and Questrade are two well-known online brokers. In fact, many people confuse them, as if two boxers in the same ring were wearing same color tracksuits. We examine these two online brokers in more detail today in order to determine a potential winner.

    Is any online broker for you?

    Direct investing is for self-directed investors. This means that you need a minimum of knowledge to open the accounts you need by yourself, respect your contribution limits and pick the stocks or other financial products you want to buy. To be able to do all of this successfully, you need to have some free time. Busy life? Direct brokerage may not be your best option. In any case, compare online brokers before making your choice.

    Online brokers sometimes also offer investment portfolios. That could be a great solution for people who want to reduce the costs without spending too much time managing their investiments. These are usually more expensive than direct brokerage (but less expensive than mutual funds purchased from a physical broker). In short, don’t confuse direct brokerage with pre-established portfolios, such as Questwealth Portfolios.

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    How much do Qtrade and Questrade cost?

    Let’s talk about costs! Their names start with the same letter, and neither belongs to the bigwigs of the Canadian banking industry. Qtrade and Questrade allow you to build a portfolio at a low cost. However, other brokers like National Bank Direct Brokerage, Wealthsimple Trade and Disnat (Desjardins) offer free transactions.

    From the outset, Questrade is banking on a more advantageous pricing structure than Qtrade. Questrade charges only a penny ($0.01) per share for stocks, for a minimum commission of $4.95, and a maximum of $9.95 per transaction. The purchase of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) is free. However, beware: they charge the traditional ETF commission at the time of sale, which is the same as for stocks.

    Qtrade charges a fixed commission of $8.75 per transaction for equities, but there is over 100 Canadian and US-listed ETFs you can trade free of charge, including the iShares Core Equity ETF Portfolio (XEQT) and the Vanguard ESG U.S. Corporate Bond ETF (VCEB), for example. If you belong to the Investor Plus category, making 150 trades or more per quarter or having at least $500,000 in assets, you get a rebate. Most trades will cost $6.95 instead of $8.75.

    The Qtrade $25 account maintenance fee can be waived if your balance is at least $25,000 or if you schedule monthly contributions of $100 or more, for instance. There are also fees for certain withdrawals and for registered accounts that cannot be waived. For example, you’ll have to pay to use the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) for your down payment or to withdraw money from your TFSA.

    Both brokers offer real-time market data on their platforms for free. Here’s a table summarizing the fees.

    Qtrade Direct InvestingQuestrade
    Administrative Fees$25 per quarter;
    $15 per quarter per account for U.S. dollar registered accounts (RRSP, RIF and TFSA)
    No annual fee for RRSP, TFSA, FHSA, RESP, RIF accounts
    Account Minimum$1,000 for mutual funds only$250 for people between 18 and 25 years old or opening a FHSA account;
    $1,000 for all others
    CommissionSelected ETFs are commission-free;
    $8.75 for stocks and mutual funds ;
    1% transaction fee (minimum of $45) for the sale or exchange of mutual funds held for less than 90 days;
    $1 for every $1,000 of exchange-listed fixed-income funds and debentures;
    $8.75 + $1.25 per contract for options;
    $0 on GICs
    Commission-free ETFs (purchase only);
    1¢/share for stocks (min. $4.95 – max. $9.95);
    $9.95 + $1 per contract for options;
    $9.95 per trade for mutual funds;
    More pricing here.
    Unsubscribing/Closing account$100 (the first year only) but $150 for transferring out an account at all time;
    $50-$125 for deregistering some accounts (such as TFSA)
    $50-$100 for deregistering some accounts (such as RRSPs)

    Questrade VS Qtrade: Which has the greatest strikeforce?

    Qtrade has a very good reputation. It is constantly in “continuous improvement” mode. It’s considered to be at the top of its class. The quality of its customer service is particularly noteworthy, while Questrade’s industry track record shows that a little patience is sometimes required in this area.

    Account types

    Both brokers offer a good variety of account types for the average investor. Whether you want to open a non registered account, an RRSP or an RESP, you’ll have no trouble doing so.

    More precisely, Questrade offers tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) to use how you wish, registered retirement saving plans (RRSPs), FHSAs to buy your first home, margin accounts and registered education savings plans (RESPs) for your child’s future. You can fund your account instantly with Visa Debit. More retirement accounts are also available, including registered retirement income funds (RRIFs), as well as accounts for trading CFDs (contract for difference) and Forex.

    Qtrade allows users to open non registered and margin accounts, along with TFSAs, RESPs and RRSPs. You can also open a locked-in retirement account (LIRA) to transfer money from previous employers, a RRIF if you are too old (71, to be precise) for a RRSP as well as a life income fund, which converts your assets to give you a steady income for the rest of your life.

    Products

    What are you able to trade in those accounts? Questrade offers an impressive variety of products, including foreign exchange, CFDs, international equities, IPOs and new issues as well as precious metals, along the more well-know bonds, options, stocks, mutual funds, GICs and ETFs.

    Qtrade is a little bit more limited in terms of product variety, but it will satisfy the needs of most Canadians. You can buy stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, IPOs (new issues), GICs and options.

    Tools

    Qtrade offers a portfolio analysis. This helps you deepen your understanding of risk exposure by comparing portfolio performance to national and global benchmarks. It rates your portfolio on six key dimensions: downside protection, performance, diversification, income, fees and ESG rating. They can help you create your portfolio of ETFs and plan your financial goals.

    On the other hand, if you prefer to automate your portfolio rebalancing, you’ll be more interested in Questrade. Its alliance with Passiv transforms your brokerage account into a modern portfolio management tool. Questrade also sends a newletter called Morning Brief everyday. It contains news about the US and Canadian stock market. You can even receive 2 trading ideas for U.S. and Canadian companies, based on technical analysis indicators. Their tools also include alerts and watchlists, as well as the customization of your workspace.

    Trading Platforms

    Questrade offers several platforms, depending on your comfort level and trading activity. There’s Questrade Trading and Questmobile, the basic version for your computer and mobile phone. It also offers a learning mode for beginners. Active and advanced investors will probably prefer the Edge platform, for computer or mobile, where you’ll be able to place advanced order types. With the Global platform, you can trade Forex and other advanced trading products.

    Qtrade‘s platform is much simpler to understand. You won’t need to spend hours on it before you know how it works. It offers all the basic features you need such as the monitoring of stocks, analysts’ recommendations, as well as screening and planning tools. There’s also an app for Android and iOS.

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    Questrade VS Qtrade: Their Achilles heel

    Unfortunately, these online brokers are not perfect. Here are a few weaknesses we’ve identified.

    With Qtrade, the less active investors need to pay close attention to the current fee structure in the aim of avoiding the quarterly fixed fee, which is easy enough to avoid. With Questrade, the novice investor risks getting lost in a range of trading platforms (and information) that are not necessarily user-friendly.

    In both cases, their fee structure is not competitive with those of National Bank Direct Brokerage, Disnat and Wealthsimple Trade. Their fees are also subdivided into different categories, which isn’t ideal for users’ ease of understanding. No investor wants to end up with a bill they didn’t see coming!

    Questrade VS Qtrade: Final thoughts

    With Qtrade, you can buy or sell up to 100 exchange-traded funds (ETFs) at no cost. That’s a considerable advantage over Questrade (which charges fees when you sell ETFs). If you want to invest globally at no cost, without paying commissions, Qtrade stands out. For its free ETF trading and easy-to-use platform, I prefer Qtrade.

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    With a decade of experience in journalism, Dominique Lamy has made his mark in the field of personal finance. He has contributed to many renowned publications in Quebec, including Affaires Plus, Le Bel Âge, Les Affaires and Conseiller.ca. As the former head of the "Techno-economy" section at Branchez-Vous and contributor to Avenues.ca, he was a finalist for the "Prix d'excellence en journalisme économique et financier", an economic journalism prize, in 2016.