Qtrade Review 2023 – 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:
Our Qtrade review details why Qtrade has consistently held down our top spot as the best online broker in Canada. This is a consistently updated review that includes an excellent November 2023 promo offer.
Qtrade’s elite customer services, low fees, rewarding sign up bonuses, and user-friendly platform have placed them atop not only DIY investing rankings, but those of other Canadian publications. The Globe and Mail’s Rob Carrick praised the broker saying in his Qtrade review:
“No other broker is good in so many different areas and no other broker makes such consistent year-by-year improvements.”
Surviscor CEO Glenn Lacoste was also unequivocal in stating why his company gave Qtrade the top ranking in their Canadian self-direct brokerage rankings:
“We congratulate Qtrade Direct Investing for its top ranking and its well-rounded online-based platform that performs well in all of the categories.”
Check out our $2,000 November promo offer below to maximise your cashback from Qtrade.
- 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 2023
- Very unique Portfolio Simulator and Score Tools
- Great Promo Offer – $2,000 cashback for new accounts
- 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 $105 billion in assets, and has major operations in Vancouver and Toronto, with regional offices across Canada.
By again grabbing the top spots in 2023, Qtrade has been voted the best Canadian online brokerage 24 times over the past few years – far more than any other Canadian brokerage. These titles have been bestowed by noted third-party authorities such as The Globe and Mail, Moneysense Magazine, and Surviscor.
While we like to present some 3rd-party evidence so that we’re not accused of favoritism, we’d like to point out that MillionDollarJourney and Frugal Trader have been reviewing Canadian online brokerages since back in 2006. We’ve actually been doing this longer than almost anyone out there!
So when we say we know what we’re talking about, it’s not a surface level recommendation. We’ve been watching Canada’s brokers grow and evolve for more than fifteen years now. These days, when we put together our online broker review, we include insights from around our editorial table, and factor in dozens of emails and comments that we get each week.
One of the understated reasons that we love Qtrade is simply their consistency. We don’t want to be bothered with hopping around and changing brokers every few years due to our main choice falling behind others in the field.
Qtrade has been elite in every one of our broker comparison categories for more than a decade, and their customer service excellence is unparalleled.
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)
- iShares Core Equity ETF Portfolio (XEQT)
- iShares International Fundamental Index ETF (CIE)
- CI Canadian REIT ETF (RIT)
- 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 also facilitates ultra-fast, super convenient EFT transfers to get money from your bank account to Qtrade – and back again.
You can set up Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs) without worry about uploading a void cheque or anything like that, you simply login to your bank account through Qtrade’s EFT platform and you’re set to go.
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 2023: 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:
Qtrade New Goal Planning Tool
In May 2023 Qtrade added a very cool new goal planning tool in order to help investors visualize their next steps and future growth. Users can access the tool from their account dashboard.
The goal planning tool was created with the intent to:
- Identify investment goals.
- Understand risk-appropriate investment options.
- Track progress towards identified goals over time.
- Help visual learners by showing visual projections of potential timelines.
- Allow investors to “pivot” or change goals as circumstances change over the years.
Qtrade’s platform innovation information described the new tool as, “A quick and simple way to begin to write your own future. Whether you’re saving for a down payment on a house, planning for retirement, or trying to hit another financial milestone, a user-friendly questionnaire helps you easily set your goals. Track your goals, check in to monitor your progress, and receive personalized recommendations on how much you need to invest each month to give you the confidence you need to achieve them.”
November 2022 Update:
Qtrade’s most recent user experience upgrade includes a very DIY investor-friendly onboarding process that guides investors to the right account depending on what their goal is. Of course, if you already understand what you need, you can opt to choose your own account option right away (as you always could).
For investors just familiarising themselves with online brokers however, this is a nice little upgrade that will help more Canadians make the right investment choices for their specific situation.
For example if you select “saving for retirement” as your goal, then Qtrade will ask if you’d like to open a TFSA, RRSP, Spousal RRSP, or LIRA/LRSP. If saving for your child’s education is the goal they’ll not only offer you an individual RESP option, but also a family one.
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
Have made some improvement over the last year, but still lacking
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)
No inactivity fees
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 rankings in this category for over a decade
Made excellent gains in the last few years
Mutual Fund Purchases
$50 in Free Trades
Qtrade Adds TipRanks Ratings for 2023
Qtrade recently announced that they have sealed a partnership with the investing information service TipRanks. Going forward, every Qtrade client will be able to access the research provided by TipRanks Analyst Rating.
Personally, I’m not big on determining my investment decisions via analyst ratings, but it never hurts to have more data points (especially when you get them for free).
The basic idea behind the TipRanks service is that they collect all of the information and predictions that analysts are making in regards to specific stocks, and then presents them in a nice tidy aggregated summary. Metrics such as price targets and estimates will be prominently displayed alongside analyst quotes and recommendations.
Qtrade users will be able to access this new investor information through the “Overview” and “Analyst Ratings” tabs within their accounts.
While DIY investors may wish to use analyst opinions to search for broad trendlines, I would caution them from reading too deeply into any single analyst opinion as analysts have a notoriously difficult time navigating the two-way relationship with the stocks that they cover over the long term.
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 2023
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 2023. Carrick once again gives Qtrade an A rating (4th year in a row!) and sings Qtrade’s praises saying:
For commissions at a flat $8.75, this consistently top-ranked broker gives you one of the better websites and apps for looking after your investments. More than many others, Qtrade has created a mini-me app that reflects the high level of utility in the website, including a quickie chart that shows portfolio results over the past year. Online, there’s a Portfolio Score tool that slices and dices your holdings to provide insights on returns, fees, downside risk, income and environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. Unlike some brokers, Qtrade never coasts.“
To show just how consistent Qtrade has been, here’s what Carrick wrote in 2022:
As has often been the case in this ranking over the years, Qtrade Direct Investing is the broker that does it best. Other brokers beat Qtrade in specific areas like commission costs, but Qtrade’s overall goodness becomes apparent as soon as you log in and find a neat little dashboard to get you up to speed on your investments.
Qtrade’s consistently strong showing in this ranking speaks to another of its virtues, constant improvement. Other brokers get better in fits and starts, while Qtrade moves ever forward.”
“There are huge amounts of embedded value, starting the moment you log into your account and see a dashboard that is second to none in showing what you need to know about your portfolio.“
The consistency of Qtrade’s high scores are what sets them apart (along with their user experience and customer service). Other top-rated brokers come and go from the top 5 each year, but the Qtrade Globe and Mail review always remains stellar and comments on the new innovation of the company.
Surviscor Qtrade Review 2023
At the end of 2023 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.
Glenn LaCoste, the Preside of Surviscor Group stated, “Congratulations to Qtrade Direct Investing for its continued service response excellence and its breadth of service interaction choices for all types of digital investors.”
Christine Zalzal, the Head of Online Brokerage and Digital Wealth over at Qtrade was happy to accept the award stating, “What makes a great online brokerage firm for investors is not only a great online trading experience but also being supported by a great service team. At Qtrade, we’re always listening to our customers. A strong customer-focused culture is embedded into our DNA. As more Canadians explore the world of self-directed investing, we’re continuing to invest in our people and our platform to help build their confidence to build their wealth.”
Given the expertise that Surviscor has 18 years of experience in reviewing Canada’s online brokers, they have substantial credibility with the space. The data is the culmination of approximately 2,200 individual service interactions throughout the previous year.
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 Guided Portfolios
In addition to being an excellent discount brokerage platform, Qtrade has also recently released a more “hands-off” way to manage your money, that they’re calling Qtrade Guided Portfolios.
Qtrade Guided Portfolios are a massive leap forward on the company’s old “semi-robo-advisor” known as VirtualWealth.
Here’s the deal on Virtual Portfolios:
- It’s a super fast and convenient way to invest your money using a passive investing strategy that is also known as index investing.
- When you open a Guided Portfolio account, Qtrade will ask you a series of questions to determine what the best overall mix of assets is for someone with your goals and risk tolerance. They want to make sure that you’re getting right balance of stocks and bonds (also known as equities and fixed income).
- Once you have the right fit the money that you put in each month will be split up into ETFs that track pretty much every big publicly traded company in the world – as well as many different government bonds.
- It’s an excellent math-backed investing option.
- Fees are quite low (MER of .60% or lower) and very competitive.
- Can include RRSPs/RRIFs, TFSAs, and other Canadian accounts.
- There are 6 different risk levels – each have their own portfolio: Income, Income + Growth, Balanced, Growth + Income, Growth, Max Growth.
- Each different portfolio will allocate your money slightly differently to these ETFs:
Overall, Qtrade Guided Portfolios are an excellent option for folks that want that ultimate in hands-off investing. The closest comparable product in Canada would be Wealthsimple Invest. If you’re willing to pay a little bit more in fees than if you constructed your own index portfolio, you will get the perfect one-stop solution for building a nest egg.
You can sign up to Qtrade Portfolios by clicking the button below and visiting their website, or read our detailed Qtrade Guided Portfolios review to see how they compare to Canada’s best robo advisors.
Qtrade Pre-Market and After Hours Trading
Qtrade recently announced that they will be offering pre-market trading from 8:30-9:30am ET and after hours trading from 4:00-5:00pm ET. Trading is currently only for US markets (including stocks like Enbridge that are traded on both the Toronto Stock Exchange and the New York Stock Exchange).
Details of the announcement included, “Currently, these trades can only be placed via telephone with an Investment Representative. We plan to add extended market orders to our online platform in due course. We continue to invest in and relentlessly improve our client and partner experience.”
Personally, after-hours trading isn’t my thing as it’s more geared towards day traders. Liquidity can often be very low in the pre-market and after hours markets, leading to fairly large price moves in a rapid fashion. That said, I’m always happy to see Qtrade push the envelope and continue to offer new options for Canadian investors.
Qtrade Review Final Thoughts
Ever since we posted our original Qtrade online brokerage review sixteen years ago, we’ve committed to keeping our Canadian broker reviews updated. Given how important having the best investing platform (at the best price) is to our DIY investing readers, we know that we need to stay on top of things!
I (Frugal Trader) remain the lead author of this Qtrade review – along with the rest of our brokerage comparisons. However, as the years have went by, I’ve included input and data from more and more sources, so as to get as complete and comprehensive a review as possible.
I continue to use the platform for my personal needs, but as you’ve read, the experiences of Canadian financial experts, as well as our MDJ writing team, are also factored into our Qtrade review. When there is a change in the price or user experience, I can comment firsthand, but as one of the leading authorities on Canadian DIY investing brokerages, we also garner a lot of instant personal feedback from Victoria to St. John’s!
As of November 2023, our consensus choice for the best all around online broker in Canada is Qtrade.
Unlike other brokerages, Qtrade doesn’t just toss out a solid promotion at RRSP time. Even in the “investing off season” Qtrade continues to give investors a great deal by offering an instant cashback $2,000 sign up bonus. All you have to do is invest at least $5,000 with Qtrade to get this cold hard cash. You can be a brand new investor, or move your account over to Qtrade in order to take advantage.
New investors will love the simplicity of the easy-to-use Qtrade platform, as well as the broker’s commitment to investor education. More experienced Canadian DIY investors stick around for the free-ETFs, elite research tools, unique portfolio analysis capability, and the best mobile app in the business.