Qtrade Review 2022 – Canada’s Best Broker
- Critics Review and Ranking
- Account Opening
- Qtrade Free ETFs
- Annual Fees
- For High Volume Traders
- App Rating
- Customer Service
Qtrade Review Summary:
Qtrade is our choice for the best online brokerage in Canada and it continues to impress financial writers from across the country.
With low fees, excellent customer service, and plenty of investment options to choose from (plus the best intro offer in the business) it’s easy to understand why so many Canadian investors trust Qtrade. It even garnered the only A+ rating from the Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick, with the long-time financial columnist reporting:
“No other broker is good in so many different areas and no other broker makes such consistent year-by-year improvements.”
Most recently, Surviscor 2022 Canadian self-directed brokerage rankings again revealed that Qtrade has nabbed the top spot, with CEO Glenn Lacoste stating,
“We congratulate Qtrade Direct Investing for its top ranking and its well-rounded online-based platform that performs well in all of the categories.”
Qtrade’s free ETF trading, elite customer service, a suite of investing research tools and the best promo in Canada (worth $500), simply make it the best overall Canadian brokerage option for 2022.
- FREE buying and selling of 100+ commission-free ETFs
- Consistently rated #1 over the past decade
- Excellent Customer Service
- One of the best apps on the market
- Elite investor research tools
- Ultra-easy account opening
- Globe and Mail’s #1-Rated Online Broker for 2021
- Very unique Portfolio Simulator and Score Tools
- Great promo offer worth nearly $500
- Pesky inactivity fees (can be easily avoided)
- Not the absolute cheapest trading fees in Canada for all instruments
What Is Qtrade Direct Investing? Is it Legit?
Qtrade Direct Investing is part of Aviso Wealth, a national financial services company owned by the Credit Union Centrals, CUMIS and Desjardins. Aviso manages close to $90 billion in assets, and has major operations in Vancouver and Toronto, with regional offices across Canada.
Qtrade has been voted the best Canadian online brokerage 24 times over the past few years, by authorities such as The Globe and Mail, Moneysense Magazine, and Surviscor.
Additionally, our editorial team of writers here a MDJ looks through dozens of comments and emails each month concerning our online broker reviews and how they stack up vs lived experiences – so we like to think we have a pretty good overview of the trading platform landscape!
With 20+ years of innovation and consistent excellence, Qtrade is simply a time-tested Canadian brokerage leader. Qtrade offers low trading fees, minimal overall costs, a refined trading platform, excellent investor research tools, and customer service that promises:
“Prompt, knowledgeable service is part of the Qtrade experience. Calls answered in seconds, not minutes. The right answers and solutions, right away.”
You can see why so many Canadians continue to place their trust in Qtrade’s Trading Platform.
Media Ranks Qtrade #1 Canadian Broker
The media has been embracing Qtrade Direct as the one of the best Canadian brokers, and has received particularly glowing reviews in the Globe and the Mail, MoneySense magazine, as well as many of our fellow Canadian personal finance blogs. This Qtrade review is far from being the only highly positive one in the Canadian cyberspace.
Qtrade Commission Free ETFs
As an avid ETF investor, this is a major aspect of the Qtrade Canada review.
Qtrade’s commitment to the free purchasing and selling of ETFs is a deal-breaking-win for me. Other Canadian brokerages offer free ETF purchases, but charge a trading fee when ETFs are sold to withdraw money, or just to rebalance a portfolio.
It’s important to note that not all ETFs are created equal when it comes to the Qtrade commission-free ETF trading policy. That said, you can get exposure to whatever market you want using these ETFs.
You can get super complicated and look into niche ETFs such as the iShares Jantzi Social Index ETF (XEN) if you’re looking for socially responsible investing, or you can use the ultra-cheap broad ETFs that I prefer.
In August of 2021 Qtrade upgraded their commission free ETF offer. Their previous minimum of $1,000 was removed, and their Qtrade free ETF list was updated.
The most prominent new addition was the increased number of responsible investing and multi-asset “all-in-one” ETFs that are now available.
This commitment to increasing the number of options available to buy and sell for free continues to separate Qtrade from the pack when it comes to low maintenance index investors.
Ultra-cheap broad ETFs to buy for free on Qtrade:
- Horizons S&P/TSX 60 Index ETF (HXT)
- Horizons S&P 500 Index ETF (HXS)
- iShares MSCI Emerging Markets Index ETF (XEM)
- iShares Global Real Estate Index ETF (CGR)
- iShares Canadian Government Bond Index ETF (XGB)
- iShares Core Growth ETF Portfolio (XGRO)
- If you want the coolest ticker symbol in Canada… “COW” (the iShares Global Agriculture Index ETF) that is also available – although it’s not in my portfolio!
All other ETFs can be purchased at Qtrade’s standard low-commission rate of $6.95 per trade (for Investors Plus members).
Qtrade Fees & Commission
Qtrade’s non-ETF trading fees and commissions are decisively cheaper than the fees charged by Canada’s major bank brokerages, but are a slight premium on Questrade and Virtual Brokers’ trading fee schedule.
Qtrade Trading Fees, Commissions and Quarterly fees:
- Everyday investors (those who do not meet the 150+ trades per quarter or $500,000+ in assets thresholds) are charged $8.75 per trade.
- Investor Plus members will see a lower rate of $6.95 per stock trade.
- Options are $6.95 + $1.25 per contract.
- Stock traders between the ages of 18-30 can also take advantage of a reduced commission rate of $7.75 with no minimum balance and no quarterly fees, as long as they set up a recurring deposit of $50+ each month.
- Electronic statements have no fee, while paper trade confirmations cost $2.50.
- To transfer your account out the fee is $150.
- There is a quarterly fee of $25, but that could be easily avoided, as per below.
How to Avoid the Qtrade Quarterly Account Fee
- Qtrade has a $25 per quarter account fee, but there are numerous ways to escape this pesky fee. My recommendation to new investors is to set up an automated contribution to their brokerage account. This simply means that you send $100 (or more) from your bank account to your brokerage account each month. Qtrade refers to this as a “recurring electronic funds contribution” and it has no fees attached. If you set up this solid investment practice, then you can avoid Qtrade’s quarterly account fees no matter what your balance or trading levels.
- Have at least $25,000 in assets on the last business day of each 3-month period (called “quarters” in the investing world).
- Complete two commission-generating trades in the preceding quarter or either trades in the preceding year.
Qtrade Review: Transfer Fees
In order to make it as attractive as possible to make Qtrade your go-to trading platform, Qtrade offers to pay your transfer fees that you will be charged from your old broker when you move over.
This transfer fee offer applies to folks that move over $15,000+ worth of assets, or who move over less than $15,000 and then deposit up to that amount in the first 30 days.
In order to take advantage of this transfer fee reimbursement offer, you need to mail/fax a statement from your old trading platform that details the costs you incurred. Then, within 60 days, you’ll see the account credit pop into your account.
If you choose to move on from Qtrade at some point, their transfer fee is $150. Of course the whole point of reading our Canadian online broker reviews is that you are able to make an informed decision with a long-term choice in mind – and prevent the time-consuming paperwork and transfer fees incurred with a switchover.
Qtrade Review: Account Options
Qtrade has a variety of account types that you can choose from depending on your investing goals and needs.
Cash Accounts: Cash accounts are pretty straightforward. You can buy and sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments. Cash accounts are available as individual, joint, corporate, and group. They are obviously the most flexible account type.
TFSA: TFSAs are a valuable account type for Canadian investors. You’ll be able to invest in stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds, but your earnings and withdrawals are sheltered from tax.
RRSP: Using the Qtrade RRSP account you can invest in stocks, bonds, ETFs, and mutual funds, but the tax will be deferred until you make a withdrawal, ideally upon your retirement. RRSP accounts are available for individuals, as a spousal plan. RRIFs (the natural conclusion to RRSPs) are also available. There are also both Canadian Dollar and US Dollar Account options.
Margin: Margin accounts allow you to borrow money against your securities to trade at competitive rates. Keep in mind, this is the only account type that you will need to pay interest on.
There is no Qtrade minimum balance required to open an account, but there is minimum balance required to avoid the account fee as discussed above.
Qtrade Review: Customer Service
One of the biggest draws of Qtrade is the customer service. This company has created a reputation for itself in terms of its prompt customer support and knowledgeable staff.
You can reach Qtrade customer service in three ways: by phone, by email, or by live chat. They even have a ‘let us call you’ feature where you can leave your phone number and they will get in touch as soon as the next customer service representative is available, meaning you don’t have to stay on hold.
If you have ever been placed on a frustrating hold for 2+ hours, then had the end of the business day cut you off, when you’re “nearly next in line” – then you know how valuable this commitment to customer service is!
This is a decisive advantage over the rest of Canada’s discount brokers.
Qtrade Review 2022: Features, Tools, and Ease of Use
Qtrade definitely gets bonus points for having a clear and easy-to-use website and the Qtrade mobile app is a really refined way to trade as well. In a piece for the Globe and Mail, Rob Carrick stated that “it’s mobile app lets you do a wide range of functions and doesn’t cut corners, which many other brokers have.”
Below is a video demonstrating how their trading system works:
On both the website and the Qtrade mobile trading platform (rated #1 on our best stock trading apps article), Qtrade allows you to easily navigate your investments, watchlists, stock screeners, and market research tools.
The stock screeners are customizable and real-time quotes will show you the current stock price as well as additional information including dividend yield, earnings per share, 52-week highs and lows, and market cap.
Qtrade’s trading platform makes stock trading a breeze as well. A click on the ‘trade’ button will allow you to choose what type of security you would like to invest. You can trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options bonds, and GICs on US and Canadian exchanges. If you want, you can also set limit orders and stop orders.
Investors and columnists are also loving one of Qtrade Direct newest tools; Portfolio Score. This tool essentially gives you a second opinion on your portfolio. You can use the information provided to compare your portfolio against domestic and global benchmarks.
It will also evaluate your securities and grade your portfolio against five dimensions:
- Downside protections
It’s a handy tool to have to help you invest with more confidence and manage your risk exposure.
The other unique aspect of Qtrade’s trading platform is their Portfolio Simulator and Portfolio Creator tools. Simulator allows investors to test how adding specific ETFs, stocks, or bonds would change the makeup of their portfolio (and note the corresponding change to variables such as inflation, interest rates, and US exchange rates).
Creator generates an all-ETF portfolio designed especially for you (based on your answers to a series of questions). Additionally, for the detail-oriented DIYers out there, it will show you your hypothetical ETF-portfolio’s risk-adjusted return based on the Sharpe ratio, SF Ratio, and the Sortino ratio.
Below you can find additional screenshots from Qtrade’s online trading platform and the Qtrade mobile app below:
The Investor Plus Program: Lower Fees
Qtrade has an elite-tier program called the Investor Plus Program which comes with a few perks and benefits (including lower trading fees).
To qualify for the Investor Plus program you must have:
- A minimum of $500,000 in assets across all accounts and under the same client ID
- A minimum of 150 online commission-generation equity or option trades during the immediately preceding calendar quarter.
Perks and benefits include discounted trading commission fees, which will be discussed below, as well as a dedicated phone number to ensure faster service plus no fee for USD registered accounts.
Qtrade vs Questrade
Look, the bottom line in the Qtrade vs Questrade battle is that you can’t really go wrong. It comes down to the tradeoff between rock-bottom fees and the best user experience on the market. That said, if you are mainly looking for ETF trading – it’s gotta be Qtrade hands-down.
Here’s a closer look at the Qtrade vs Questrade comparison (click on the link to view a full fledged comparison, this is just a quick summary):
Yes! free buying AND selling of 100+ ETFs.
Free buying of ETFs, BUT does charge the normal trading fee to sell ETFs.
Consistently ranking #1, high availability and friendly to customers
Has made big gains over the last three years, rated just behind Qtrade by most publications
Truly elite customer service, basically, the #1 reason to go with Qtrade
Problematic. During the recent pandemic they saw wait times of 4+ hours to answer basic queries.
Very competitive, $6.95/trade for Investor Plus Program members, $7.75 for investors aged 18-30, $8.75 for everyone else
A rock bottom $4.95 for up to 500 shares, to a maximum of $9.95.
ECN Fees (additional trading fees)
Charged - often small amounts for most investors
$25 per quarter - WAIVED IF you hold $25,000 in the account OR you make 2 trades per quarter or 8 in the last 12 months OR you add $100+ automatic recurring monthly contribution (our preferred option)
$25 per quarter - WAIVED IF you hold more than $5,000 in the account, make one trade per quarter, or are younger than 25
Free Electronic Funds Transfer. Additional fee for transferring out.
Free Electronic Fund Transfers up to $50,000 CAD and $25,000 USD. Additional fees for wire transfers and transferring out.
Research Tools and Education Materials
Has been at the top of Canadian brokerage ranking in this category for over a decade
Made excellent gains in the last few years
Mutual Fund Purchases
Free of Charge
50 Free Trades (Worth $500)
$50 in Free Trades
Qtrade Young Investor Program
Qtrade has recently made a strong push to get young people started on their platform. By offering specially priced $7.75 stock trades – and access to the same Qtrade commission free ETFs menu – Qtrade has made the stock market more accessible to young investors than ever before.
Qtrade has also committed to eliminating the $25 account fees automatically for young investors.
In order to qualify for the Qtrade Young Investor Program you simply need to fall in the 18-30 age group, and set up a $50 per month pre-authorized contribution from your regular bank/chequing account.
Investors who are just starting to manage their own money can take full advantage of Qtrade’s top-tier investor education materials and access to third-party investing reports. This special perk for our most visited age group is one of the driving powers behind this positive Qtrade review.
Qtrade Review FAQ
Rob Carrick Qtrade Review 2022
Each year we eagerly await Rob Carrick’s broker ratings at the Globe and Mail to see if he’s uncovered any angles that we missed or if we’re on the same page.
We’re pleased to say that we’re reading from the same book when it comes to Qtrade in 2022. Carrick once again sings Qtrade’s praises saying:
After reading that glowing recommendation it will come as no surprise that he continues to give Qtrade his top ranking and an “A” rating.
Ultimately, he continues to agree with our thinking that while there might be other brokerages out there that do it slightly cheaper, none do it near as well as Qtrade when it comes to platform user experience and customer service.
Surviscor Qtrade Review 2022
At the end of 2021 Survisor released their new Canadian online broker ratings, and confirmed what we at MDJ had been hearing throughout the year: Qtrade users are the happiest in Canada.
The annual Surviscor rankings take into account user experience on both laptop and desktop, as well as mobile app. It includes data from 3,600 experience questions that generated 394 criteria points. Glenn Lacoste, President and CEO of Surviscor stated,
“This year’s rankings saw some movement in the top 5 due to some key changes to individual sub-category weightings. We congratulate Qtrade Direct Investing for its top ranking and its well-rounded online-based platform that performs well in all of the categories under review.”
This data backs up our own anecdotal reporting on Qtrade throughout 2022. As more and more Canadians decide to handle their own investments, Qtrade’s award-winning customer service and user-friendly platform simply make a huge difference in the overall experience.
Christine Zalzal, SVP and Head of Online Brokerage commented on behalf of Qtrade, “We are thrilled to be recognized by Surviscor and I thank them for taking the time to really do a deep dive on our website and platform. Throughout 2021 we continued to focus on enhancing our tools, upgrading charting capabilities and providing the educational materials to build investor confidence for them to write their own future.”
It’s also notable that ultra-low cost brokers NBDB and Wealthsimple Trade finished in last place by fairly wide margins!
Recent Improvements to the Qtrade Trading Platform and Research Tools:
- New Portfolio Score, which gives a client’s portfolio a health-check by analyzing and grading its performance across five financial dimensions
- News service powered by Dow Jones
- Sector-specific newsletters with pricing predictions from Trading Central
- Expanded offering of USD DRIP-eligible securities
- Spousal USD RRSP and RRIF products
- Updated options trading to enhance real-time information
- Redesigned and expanded ETF and Stock Screeners
Qtrade Review 2022 Final Thoughts
For my money (and it is my Qtrade review after all) – Qtrade is simply the best all-around trading platform in Canada.
The combination of the best customer service (by a large margin), free buying and selling of ETFs, the user-friendly mobile app, top investor research tools, and the 15+ year track record of elite innovation, are what put Qtrade in a class of its own.
When you combine that with an excellent Qtrade offer that allows new accounts to earn $500 worth of free trades – it’s a no brainer. It’s the most attractive Qtrade offer that we have seen anywhere online.