If you’ve been searching for the best rated discount brokerages in Canada, it’s likely that the Wealthsimple vs. Qtrade debate has popped up on your radar quite a few times. They are both good options for DIY investors looking for an easy to use and low-cost way to invest, but they definitely have some major differences you’ll want to know about before deciding which one is best for you.
We’ll be breaking it down for you in this article by looking at Qtrade and Wealthsimple’s fees, account options, customer service ratings, and software and mobile apps.
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. Just to make it clear – the Wealthsimple robo advisor (called “Wealthsimple Invest”) was the company’s original flagship product and is much superior to their brokerage option.
Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade Quick Comparison
|Trading Fees|| || |
|Account Fees||$25 per quarter - WAIVED IF you hold more than $25,000 in the account.||$0 - but very limited account options.|
|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.|
|User Experience||Excellent - consistently ranking #1 in the country.||Worst in Canada. Only began rolling out a desktop platform in late 2020. Many bugs on both desktop and app platforms.|
|Research Tools||Very solid variety and depth.||None.|
|Full Review||Qtrade Review||Wealthsimple Trade Review|
|promotion||Up to $2,000 Cashback||$50 Bonus|
|Sign Up||Visit Qtrade||Visit Wealthsimple|
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:
- Spousal RRSP
- USD RRSPs
- USD TFSAs
- Joint Accounts
- Investment Clubs
- Options Trading
Investing with Wealthsimple Trade means that you will only have access to:
- Individual Accounts
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: Software and Mobile App
Both Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade have mobile and desktop versions (although Wealthsimple Trade’s desktop version is still very new and working out the kinks), making it easy to access your trading account conveniently and easily no matter where you are.
Let’s take a closer look at how the features of each compare.
|User Experience||Top of Class||Still working out the kinks, well below the high standard set by the Wealthsimple robo advisor platform|
|Trading Tools and Customization||Market data, order entry types, and customizable charts and workspace available.||Limited customization available, and includes a simple watchlist option|
|Access to Real-Time Data||Available||Only available to Plus account customers|
|Research Tools||Many resources available||Limited|
If you are looking for the most basic of platforms to get the job done, Wealthsimple Trade should do the trick, but Qtrade gives you access to a better-designed experience and in-depth trading tools.
Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade: Customer Service
When it comes to your hard earned money, you would like to have some assurance that if you have questions or issues, there will be someone who can help you work it out and put your mind at ease.
One of the downsides among many online discount brokerages is that there isn’t anyone you can go see in person in case of a problem. Even so, there are some brokerages that still offer stellar customer service. How do Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade compare in this area? Let’s find out!
Qtrade has won a number of awards for its consistent innovation and improvement, including the top spot in the 2022 Globe and Mail annual survey of online brokerages, and has also earned the Best Customer Service Experience rating from Surviscor in the past.
Customers report excellent phone support and customer service support via email, but they currently do not have a live chat function that operates 24/7.
Like Qtrade, Wealthsimple trade customers can only reach service representatives by phone and email; there is no live chat function. Customers have reported that Wealthsimple Trade is fairly easy to get in touch, but sometimes it takes a while to fix major issues, such as money taking longer than expected to be transferred into customers’ trading accounts.
We’ll keep monitoring user reviews, and might be convinced to alter our opinion in the future, but for the meantime we’re going to stick with Qtrade as the far better option for folks who prioritize having customer service at a world class level. If you have had a different experience to ours with Qtrade, feel free to post a comment below and let everybody know!
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.
Ofcourse, as we enter 2023 it’s not as if crypto trading is exactly lighting the world on fire. The complete capitulation of the entire crypto world (FTX anyone?) means that this slight Wealthsimple Trade inflation is significantly reduced in value. Unless you want to get really speculative with this pixie dust asset class I suppose.
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. If you are interested in how Questrade compares to Wealthsimple though, we recently updated our comparison of the two as well.
The main reason that we made Qtrade our #1 pick in 2023 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.
Choosing Wealthsimple Trade or Qtrade
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.
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