Qtrade vs Wealthsimple: Battle for Canadian Investment Accounts

When we’re discussing Qtrade vs Wealthsimple, the question quickly becomes: Are we talking Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade or Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Invest?

The two offer very different value propositions!

If we’re talking a strict battle of discount brokerages, we believe that it’s a no contest.  Qtrade is simply a much better all around brokerage than Wealthsimple Trade.  I would actually hesitate to call Wealthsimple Trade a brokerage at this point considering the severe limitations of its buggy app platform.

This article is going to stick to a comparison of discount brokerages, but if you want to learn more about our #1 rated robo advisor, see our full-length Wealthsimple Review.

Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade Quick Comparison

Qtrade

Wealthsimple Trade

Free ETFs

Yes

Yes

User Experience

Excellent - consistently ranking #1 in the country.
Worst in the country.  Only began rolling out a desktop platform in late 2020.  Many bugs on both desktop and app platforms.

Customer Service

Truly elite customer service. The #1 reason to go with Qtrade.
You get what you pay for… and it’s a free app.  Enough said.

Trading Fees

Very competitive, $6.95/ Trade for Investor Plus Program members / $7.75 for investors aged 18-30/ $8.75 for everyone else.
None.  All you will pay is a 1.5% currency conversion fee.

Account Fees

$25 per quarter - WAIVED IF you hold more than $25,000 in the account.
$0 - but very limited account options.

Research Tools

Very solid variety and depth.

None.

Safety

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Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade: Fees

Let’s get the trading fees discussion out of the way right off the top. 

Wealthsimple Trade is built on one value proposition: They have the lowest fees in Canada, and it’s impossible to get lower than that because it is free to trade Canadian stocks on their app.

As we all know, free does not always mean better. In this case, we believe Wealthsimple Trade has some pretty major limitations probably due to the fact that it’s free.

It might be a good place for less experienced investors to get their feet wet in active investing because there are no fees attached, but it’s likely that its limitations won’t be tolerated by more experienced investors. That’s not to say there won’t be improvements made in the future. Wealthsimple Invest shows the company’s potential to innovate, so it’s likely that Wealthsimple Trade’s capabilities will improve in the future.

In terms of fees, although there aren’t any for Canadian stocks and ETFs, Wealthsimple Trade charges fees in other areas, for example, if clients would like access to broker assisted trading, it will set them back $45 CAD.

Additionally, Wealthsimple Trade has been criticized for advertising itself as a free online broker, only to prompt investors to trade crypto and US stocks, where they make quite a lot of money by charging currency exchange fees.

Qtrade on the other hand is amongst the lowest fee brokers in Canada, and its no-fee ETFs are an excellent feature.  However, that elite customer service that will help you out when mistakes are made and/or questions need to be answered, doesn’t come free. 

Consequently, you’ll pay $8.75 per trade in most cases. While Wealthsimple Trade has an advantage when it comes to trading fees, Qtrade’s fees are much more transparent and you’ll get peace of mind knowing that it has a longer track record of over 20 years.

Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade: Account Options

Our top contenders for Canada’s best discount brokerage all offer a wide array of account options.  If you want access to a joint account for your spouse and yourself to share – they have that.  If you want a corporate account – no sweat.

Investing with Qtrade means that you will have access accounts addressing:

  • RRSP
  • TFSA
  • Spousal RRSP
  • USD RRSPs
  • USD TFSAs
  • Joint Accounts
  • Investment Clubs
  • Estates
  • Trusts
  • Options Trading
  • LIRA
  • RESP
  • RRIF
  • LIF
  • Cash

Investing with Wealthsimple Trade means that you will only have access to:

  • Individual Accounts
  • TFSA
  • RRSP

That’s it.  No USD accounts, no spousal account, no joint accounts – Not even any RESPs!!

For me, this area of comparison alone makes Qtrade vs Wealthsimple a non-contest.

Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade: Crypto Trading

In 2020 Wealthsimple launched Wealthsimple Crypto, making it the first and only regulated crypto exchange in Canada. That’s pretty impressive (if you’re into trading crypto). It’s also convenient because you can purchase it straight from the Wealthsimple Trade app.

After passing a review for prospective assets, a number of cryptocurrencies have made the cut and can now be traded on the platform. These include the almighty Bitcoin and the more humble Sushi Swap. 

One point of criticism they’ve received on the crypto front is that like Paypal’s crypto trading service, the crypto you buy cannot be transferred to another wallet or platform, so essentially it is still owned by Wealthsimple. For some, this will be a dealbreaker because they want the freedom to move their crypto around.

At this time Qtrade does not offer cryptocurrency trading, so if that’s what you are looking for, Wealthsimple may be the better choice.

Qtrade vs Wealthsimple vs Questrade

While the Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade comparison isn’t much of a fight, the more relevant comparison for DIY investors looking to compare Canada’s best brokerage options would be Qtrade vs Questrade.

The main reason that we made Qtrade our #1 pick in 2022 is the strength of the customer service they showed during the last two years.  Rob Carrick of the Globe and Mail picked up on this theme as well, as more and more Canadians want to switch to low-cost investing, but are finding the lack of customer service to be a real negative in the space.  This is where Qtrade really shines.

FAQ

Final Verdict

When deciding between Qtrade or Wealthsimple your decision tree should look like this:

1) In return for $0 trading fees, am I willing to put up with only being able to buy and sell stocks on a buggy app that has limited accounts available?  If yes, then choose Wealthsimple Trade.

2) If you are willing to pay trading fees that are still lower than almost all brokerages in Canada – in return for award-winning platforms and customer service, then choose Qtrade.

3) If you want the absolute easiest way to get money from your paycheque, and into an index investment portfolio, then I would actually recommend checking out Wealthsimple Invest (not Wealthsimple Trade) and seeing if their product is worth the higher MER fees that you will pay versus a Canadian discount brokerage option.

You can also first read our detailed Qtrade review, or this brand new Wealthsimple Trade review if you want to dive into the small details that make each unique.

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