Questrade Review 2022 [$50 Promo Offer Code]
Our Opinion & Rating
- Industry Reputation
- Account Opening
- For ETF Trading
- Annual Fees ($0)
- For High Volume Traders
- App Rating
- Customer Service
Questrade Review Summary
Frugal Trader wrote our original Questrade review back in 2008, and at the time it was his choice amongst all of Canada’s online discount brokerages. While Questrade has worked hard to stay near the top of our leaderboard, a rash of customer service complaints (likely due to onboarding so many people) the last couple of years has taken a bit of the shine off relative to some of the other online brokers.
That said, the Globe and Mail, Surviscor, and MDJ still believe that the battle for Canada’s best online broker boils down to the Questrade vs Qtrade comparison. After reading our in-depth Questrade review below, you can compare against our Qtrade review in order to determine the best fit for your investing needs.
While we still love the free ETF purchases, and low $4.95 trade fees, our fly in the ointment for 2022 has been the “upgraded desktop platform” that Questrade has released. It’s just not our cup of tea, and we have yet to talk to a reader that says they like it more than the old layout. The good thing about Questrade is that they’ve proven that they will continue to innovate and respond to investor demands.
- No Fees To Build an ETF Portfolio!
- No Inactivity Fees
- Very Low Trade Costs (ideal for building a dividend-heavy portfolio)
- $0 Annual Account Fees (if you meet the balance requirement)
- 24-Hour Paperless Account Opening
- Moneysense #1 Ranked Online Discount Brokerage
- Globe and Mail “A” Rating
- Good Promo Offer (see below)
- Solid USD Trading Options
- Better options online for those interested in doing in-depth analysis research on stocks prior to purchase
- Only 3.4/5 app rating on Google Play – reviews mentioned delay in pricing on app vs desktop
- No free stock or mutual fund purchases
Is Questrade Safe & Secure?
One of the most common questions that I have gotten in the comments below is:
The answer: Yes!
Here’s the deal. Off the top Questrade is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).
This fact holds a lot of weight because these organizations hold its members to a pretty high standard as far as investor safety goes. Since the CIPF was founded in 1969, no eligible customers have suffered a loss of property. The CIPF has paid claims/expenses of roughly $43 million, net of recoveries, on the odd occasion where there has been a member insolvency.
Questrade has been around since 1999, and controls over $20 billion in assets as of 2022. On top of MoneySense and Rob Carrick giving them their stamp of approval, Questrade has won eight annual awards as one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies.
Finally, Questrade has created an online security guarantee. The company will 100% reimburse you for any unauthorized transactions in any of your Questrade accounts that result in a loss to you AND your account is insured for up to $10 Million in the incredibly unlikely event that Questrade goes broke (“insolvent”). This is of course on top of the latest in online security features. My guess is that if you’re promising 100% reimbursement on losses, you’re going to take security pretty seriously.
“When I first wrote this Questrade review back in 2008, there were very few Canadian online discount brokerage accounts available to Canadians who wanted to open a DIY RRSP account, TFSA, or non-registered account, and trade their own stocks and ETFs.
Over the last 14 years, many Canadian online brokers have drastically improved their offerings, but Questrade remains one of the top low-cost brokers due to their focus on low fees and outstanding account options.
Last edited June 2022, by FT & the MDJ editorial team. Several writers on our staff either currently use the Questrade online brokerage, or have in the past. All of them have it ranked either number one or two (next to Qtrade) in their personal best Canadian broker list.
Questrade Fees – Focused on Dividend Investing and ETFs
While Questrade has introduced some shiny new features (and excellent marketing) the last few years, the key reason that they are one of our top choices for best low cost discount online broker in Canada is their low overall fees, and especially their low or no cost trading fees with things like commission-free ETF purchases.
It’s worth noting that Questrade has zero fees on popular accounts such as RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs, and non-registered accounts.
Questrade Fees Summary
- Free ETF Purchases (there are fees on ETF sales)
- Low Commission on Trades @$4.95/ trade
- ECN Fees Capped at $5.00 / trade
- No Account Fees on RRSPs, TFSAs, RESPs, and Non-Registered Accounts
- $25 Quarterly Account Fees on other account types (if certain conditions are met, the fee will be waived)
If you’re new to MDJ, you might want to have a look around for more information on why we recommend dividend investing and index-investing approaches for 99%+ of investors. Basically, if you’re trying to jump into day trading, time the market, or get rich on crypto, you had better be willing to risk it all, and committed to becoming educated on what it takes to be a professional trader.
We wouldn’t recommend this course, as far too many have lost far too much with these tactics.
If, on the other hand, you plan to make relatively safe and consistent investments with a high likelihood to earn a decent return over the years, then Questrade Canada is a place to DIY your nest egg and cut your costs to the bone.
Throughout the years, experts have echoed the idea that the average investor can’t control their returns, they can (and should) control their investment costs. By controlling your costs, you are adding more to the future of your money, and that’s never a bad thing.
Questrade ETF Fees
While this is technically true, what they fail to mention is that the vast majority of our transactions will be purchases if we are building a basic “couch potato” passive index investing portfolio.
With the excellent Canadian all in one ETFs available to investors today, many Canadians would do very well to just log into their Questrade RRSP or TFSA each month and purchase that same ETF over and over again for their entire working lives.
Alternatively, if you want to really cut costs to their absolute minimum, you can buy your bond ETF, domestic market ETF, and international ETF separately, and then rebalance each month simply by adding a little more to the asset class that has the worst over the preceding month, in order to keep your overall asset allocation where you want it.
The only selling you should really have to worry about is when your portfolio gets close to the $1 Million level and can’t be re-balanced by monthly additions, or when you are ready to start selling pieces of your portfolio to fund your retirement living.
Paying $5 to take your spending money out for the year is a small price to pay when you’ve had the benefit of investing for free over the last 30+ years!
Comparing Questrade’s Fees with Competitors in 2022
Here’s how the Questrade free ETF purchasing stacks up against some of the big names in Canada.
$4.95 + ECN fees
$9.95/m + $1 per contract
$4.95 - $9.99
$9.99 + $1.25 per contract
$25 per quarter unless certain requirements are met
$0 for 40 selected ETFs; $9.99 for others
$9.99 + $1.25 per contract
$100 per year unless certain requirements are met
$9.95 + $1.25
$25 per quarter unless certain requirements are met
… How Does Questrade Compare with its #1 Competitor: Qtrade?
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
What Can I Invest in With Questrade?
Questrade makes it easy to hold all of your baskets in one place, from your tax-advantaged accounts to your dividend earning investments. When it comes to choosing an online broker, this is an important feature to look for if you value simplicity and convenience.
When you open a Questrade account, you’ll be able to invest in:
- International and Canadian Stocks
- International and Canadian ETFs (purchases are free!)
- Mutual Funds
- Initial Public Offerings (IPOs)
- Guaranteed Investment Certificates
- Precious Metals
We’ll get into more detail about the trading fees and other information you will want to consider when planning your investment strategy below in this Questrade review.
Dividend Investing with Questrade
If you’re like many investors, and looking to build a healthy portfolio of money-generators that will spin off cash for the 50ish years of your retirement, then you probably purchase shares of your targeted dividend paying companies most months. This strategy makes a ton of sense if you’re using the Smith Maneuver or investing in a non-registered account (not an RRSP, TFSA, or RESP).
When it comes to the basic standard of buying basic shares, Questrade’s fees are quite low – although not quite as cheap as the free ETF purchases (nothing beats free).
Here’s how Questrade’s fee structure works when buying a share of a company : $4.95 (standard charge on every trade) + ECN Fees (up to a maximum of $5.00) = Overall Cost
If you’re not familiar with ECN fees, the acronym stands for Electronic Communication Networks. All you really need to know is that companies charge Questrade about $0.0035 per share when you buy a share with them.
There are ways to shrink this miniscule number even further using limit order and whole board lots – but that starts to be way too much to worry about for the average Canadian investor. Here’s a common example one might see if they are a monthly dividend investor.
Ex: I decide to target three Canadian Dividend kings with my contribution this month, so I split my $1,200 contribution equally between Bell Canada, IGM Financial, and Fortis. All traditionally loved by dividend-savvy investors. This is what my investment would likely look like for the month.
- BCE at $52 per share: 7 shares = $364
- IGM at $36 per share: 11 shares = $396
- FTS at $42 per share: 9 shares = $378
If I wanted to maximize my contribution, I could buy another share of BCE with the leftover money, but let’s just go with this for now.
Each of these trades would cost $4.95 + ECN fees of roughly (.0035 x 10 shares) $0.035, for a grand total of less than $4.96. So the total for all three trades for the month would be ($4.96 x 3 = $14.88).
Now, I realize that some people are buying more than 10 shares at a time. If you purchased $10,000 worth of Bell (BCE) stock, then you’d be buying 192 shares, and your ECN fees would be a grand total of 67 cents. Personally, it’s not really a factor I care to pay attention to.
Plus, don’t forget that with our Questrade promotional offer coupon of $50 in free trades, you can start your dividend investing journey for free!
Questrade Enhanced and Questrade Advanced
The vast majority of investors in Canada will not get much value from Questrade’s “professional trader” platforms: Questrade Enhanced and Questrade Advanced
However, If you’re an active trader, you can also gain access to one of several market data plans that Questrade offers. For a monthly fee, you can get active trader pricing, live streaming data, and other data add-ons. This is perfect for active traders. Here are your options:
- Basic (Free with all accounts): This is great for novice traders, and you’ll get free Canadian level 1 snap quotes, free U.S. level 1 snap quotes, and one-click real-time data.
- Enhanced ($19.95/month CAD): you’ll get everything that comes with Basic, plus enhanced level 1 live streaming data, live streaming for Intraday Trader, and additional data add-ons. In addition, if you spend more than $48.95 in trading commissions you’ll get an automatic $19.95 rebate.
- Advanced ($89.95/month CAD): This package is for the most active traders. You get active trader pricing unlocked, advanced Canadian level 1 and level 2 live streaming data, select U.S. level 1 live streaming data, and individual data add-ons are available. You can earn a partial rebate if you spend more than $48.95 in commissions — for this, you’ll get an automatic rebate of $19.95. If you spend more than $399.95 in trading commissions, your monthly fee is automatically rebated.
Opening a Questrade TFSA, RRSP, RESP Account
Opening your Questrade RRSP, TFSA, or RESP accounts is easier than ever before. Given how complicated this process was in the past, the Questrade team has really upped their game.
Opening your Questrade Canada account can now be done completely online, and in as little as 24 hours.
Basically you click here and our $50 questrade promotional offer code will be automatically applied. Then you simply select which accounts you would like to open. The main options available are TFSA, RRSP, Margin (non-registered), and Forex. There are also options for “more” and then a Questrade Portfolios option which is similar to a robo advisor, and which I’ll talk about a little later.
The Questrade sign up process will guide you through the following three steps:
- Create a user ID
- Build Profile
- Setup Account
You’ll need a few documents and/or snippets of info including:
- Your preferred email address (used to create your User ID)
- Your name and home address as they appear on your Government ID
- After creating your User ID, you’ll need your new Questrade login and password
- Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Employment information including your income, plus your income from other sources
- A Government-issued photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport (which can be uploaded via scanned document or picture)
Once you’ve completed the sign up with these documents, the final step to opening your Questrade RRSP or TFSA is to go to your normal “all-in-one” bank account or chequing account that your pay gets deposited into, and then to send your investing dollars over to your shiny new DIY Questrade account.
Once you have funded your Questrade account from your regular bank account, and you are ready to invest! You can set up seperate Questrade RRSP and TFSA accounts as recurring payees, significantly helping you save time in the future.
Technically – you can open a Questrade brokerage account without any actual money in it!
In order to actually purchase your first share of a stock or unit of an ETF though, you’ll need to have at least $1,000 in the account.
While most of our readers know that we recommend sticking to dividend-stock investing and basic index investing, Questrade offers a ton of choice when it comes to what you purchase within a TFSA or RRSP.
Questrade RRSP Account Details
Once you have set up your Questrade RRSP and have entered your deposit information into your online banking platform, it’s time to choose how to invest that money. It’s also worth noting that Questrade will transfer your current RRSP or TFSA over to their platform for FREE!
In case you haven’t brushed up on some of the specifics of RRSPs lately, the point of the Registered Retirement Savings Plan is to help you save for retirement but sheltering your investments from the tax man’s icy grasp, and allowing you postpone paying taxes when you are working (and hopefully in a high tax bracket) to when you are retired (and likely in a lower tax bracket).
You can check your last tax return to find out how much you can invest within your Questrade RRSP account. A lot of people don’t realize that RRSP room is like a fine wine – it just gets better with age! Each year the Canadian government allows you to put up to 18% of your income into your RRSP up to a maximum amount (in 2021 the RRSP contribution maximum is $27,830 for the past year).
This amount is adjusted if you contribute to a workplace pension plan. For example, if you are a teacher and make pre-tax contributions to a pension plan, you’ll get less RRSP room than other Canadians might.
If you just opened a Questrade RRSP account, and have never had other RRSP investments over the years, it’s quite possible that you have a significant amount of room that you can make use of over the next few years.
Questrade TFSA Account Details
Your new Questrade TFSA account will be the flip of the RRSP. You’ll get taxed when you put money into it, but there is no “postponement” of taxes to worry about paying on the back end when you take the money out. Just like the RRSP (and RESP for that matter), the TFSA is what’s known as a registered account, and consequently, the TFSA umbrella will prevent taxes from eroding away your investment returns over the years.
The other similarity the Questrade TFSA has with your Questrade RRSP is that it is extremely easy to open, as you simply select which accounts you want to open when you register at Questrade for the first time.
One point worth noting when it comes to your Questrade TFSA Account: It should be called a Tax-Free Investing Account. I’ve long believed that adding the “S” to the TFSA has misled about 90% of Canadians into believing a TFSA is basically just a premium version of a high-interest savings account. Of course it is so much more than that, and can be used to shelter the same wide variety of investments as the Questrade RRSP account does.
You can contribute $6,000 per year to your TFSA and the federal government has stated that the plan is to increase that amount along with inflation over the coming years. Just like it’s RRSP cousin, TFSA contribution room does not disappear if it is not used in a given year.
In fact, if you were 18-years-old in 2009, you will have accumulated $75,500 in contribution room (increasing to $81,500 in 2022), and can immediately deposit this amount into your new Questrade TFSA account if it is your first time using a TFSA.
Holding USD In My Questrade RRSP and TFSA
Investing in USD can save you a ton of money in currency conversion fees when you think about how much it costs to convert dividend income and new stock purchases back and forth over your investing lifetime. Questrade RRSPs and TFSAs to allow you hold both USD and CAD in your portfolio – and they do this for no added fees. (Each account is still $0).
Questrade was the first online discount brokerage to allow investors to hold USD in a registered account.
Questrade RESP and Family RESP Accounts
If you have children and you think they might one day attend post-secondary schooling of ANY KIND (it does NOT have to be university) then you are throwing away free money by not opening a Questrade RESP account. Given how quickly post-secondary education costs are rising (2.5x-3x the rate of general inflation) can you afford to throw away free money?
Here’s how to get $10,000 in free money from our government.
- Setup a FREE Questrade RESP account and deposit $208.34 into it every month.
- Collect the free $500 Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) each year, up to a lifetime limit of $7,200.
- Invest the money in a conservative all-in-one ETF or even just a basic Canadian bond ETF.
- The interest/investment return you will make on your own money that you put it is nice – but you know what’s nicer? The $2,500-$3,000 return that you make on someone else’s money! (Especially when that someone else is the government!)
If your income is below $42,000 then there are some extra incentives for you.
The CESG cash, plus your investment returns within the Questrade RESP account will be taxed as income in the hands of the student. This means that it’s almost always tax-free because of the large amount of tax credits and deductions that students enjoy. Your original cash can be withdrawn tax-free as you already paid tax on it before investing it.
If you have more than one child, you can combine their contribution room into one big easy-to-manage Questrade Family RESP account (which is also free to open with no annual fees). The advantage to these accounts is that you can handle the withdrawals amongst your children in whatever way is convenient for you.
What If My Child Doesn’t Go to University? Do I Lose My Questrade RESP Money?
Here are the main points to think about if you’re worried about “wasting” RESP contributions:
1) The Questrade RESP account can be active for up to 35 years and you can use the RESP money for a HUGE variety of post-secondary studies. Everything from massage therapy to airplane mechanic courses can be covered. This combination means that it’s VERY likely your child will be able to use the RESP help at some point.
2) If you haven’t maxed out the CESG or contribution room for Child 2, you can simply take Child 1’s RESP money and use it for Child 2 within your Questrade Family RESP account.
3) If you have no children that ever attend any sort of post-secondary education, you can roll $50,000 into your RRSP (assuming you have the contribution room) and all you would lose is the free CESG money, and the investment earnings on the government’s cash.
4) You can withdraw the money you originally contributed tax-free without any penalties.
5) If you withdraw the investment returns that you made on your money, you will be taxed as if you earned the money as income, plus an additional 20% penalty. (This is a very unlikely scenario.)
Questrade Margin and Non-Registered Account
First of all – kudos to you for maxing out your Questrade RRSP and TFSA accounts! If you haven’t done that yet, you can probably keep life simple and skip this part of our Questrade review.
Once you have contributed the maximum amount to your RRSP and TFSA accounts, and (if you’ve got children) the Questrade Family RESP is on autopilot, your next step becomes a good news – bad news situation.
The good news is that you are in great financial shape, and there are options available for continued investing.
The bad news is that there is no more space under your tax-sheltered registered account umbrella. From here on out, you will be investing in the rain, and the tax man will get his chunk.
So, while there are semi-exotic accounts one could open if they want to exchange foreign currency or invest within a corporation, the option most people will opt for is a Questrade Margin Account.
The Questrade Margin Account is a fancy name for a basic non-registered account, with the added feature of being able to borrow money from Questrade and invest that money alongside your own. When you borrow money to invest it, this is called “investing on the margin”.
Now, I don’t recommend investing on the margin unless you really really know what you’re doing, and even then it often isn’t a good idea. The main takeaway from this though, should be that YOU DO NOT HAVE TO BORROW MONEY to invest within a Questrade Margin Account. Most everyday investors in Canada will be best served by using this account to invest in Canadian-dividend payers (my Smith Maneuver account for example) or other Canada-based ETFs.
You can however, put almost any kind of investment in a Questrade Margin account. Here’s a few more quick Questrade review facts about the non-registered option:
- You can invest in short-selling (watch the Big Short to have Margot Robbie in a bathtub telling you what this means)
- There are no contribution limits to worry about like there are with the Questrade RRSP, TFSA, and RESP accounts.
- Investment returns inside an unregistered account are still treated much nicer than income you make from a job. Capital gains and dividends are eligible for special tax treatment in Canada.
- There are no taxes to worry about upon withdrawal like there are in a RRSP.
- You can engage in complex options trading (not everyone’s thing).
- Questrade Margin accounts are governed by margin falls. This part is important: If you borrow money from Questrade, and the investment drops below the margin requirement, Questrade will essentially demand that you pay them their money back. If you don’t immediately pay them back, Questrade can sell your investments and take the money in lieu of your payment.
Overall, using the Questrade Margin Account as a basic non-registered account is a great option. Getting into the more exotic options like leveraged options trading is best left to the more experienced.
Questrade’s Trading Platforms – A Peek Inside
Questrade, like many other online brokers that have been around for a while, has done its best in trying to stay fresh and relevant in terms of providing a range of trading platforms to appeal to a wide range of investors.
This is the platform most everyday investors will use. It’s simple interface allows users to view their holdings and earnings all in one spot, and trade with the click of a button.
It’s a secure, web-based platform, so you’ll be able to access it easily from anywhere without worrying about safety.
If you want access to more advanced tools, you can set up alerts, as well as access reports and data to help you make informed purchases.
We’ve got to hand it to Questrade for their effort in trying to create a user friendly app that actually works, but it looks like they are still on their quest to achieve this goal.
With a 2.8 star rating on the Google Play store, and a ton of negative reviews, it’s clear that while they are working on it, it’s not quite there yet. While they have tried to make it simple to use, they have taken away some of the key features liked by users. Others complain that the user experience isn’t great.
It does offer some interesting features like real-time info, an overview chart and customizable alerts. It also has a learning mode for those looking to learn the ropes before putting up the cash.
While that might not be enough for some investors, the app can be used for your basic trading needs, but likely not more than that can be done well.
For active traders, Questrade Edge offers a range of tools to help users maximize their results.
Some of the tools included are charting to help users analyze and map data, customizable alerts and workspace, advanced trading orders and a downloadable desktop version. One thing that Edge users will get that others won’t is access to research powered by TipRanks.
If FOREX and CDFs are in your investment wheelhouse, Questrade Global makes it easy to trade currencies and commodities on international markets.
Not only will you be able to trade directly on the platform, but you will also have access to live charting, economic releases and alerts. It’s got both desktop and app versions, so you can access the platform from home and on the go.
Questrade Customer Service in 2020 and 2021
While Questrade continued to lead the pack when it comes to per-trade fees in Canada the rush to DIY investing – combined with Covid-related logistics issues – led to customer frustration with Questrade throughout the last year. With many commenters reporting wait times of 3-5 hours whether they used the call-in feature or online messaging, there was a premium to be put on customer service.
Now that’s not to say that Questrade won’t adapt and adjust to these new market realities in 2021 (we think it’s likely they will), but for now, Canadians’ consistent expectation of solid customer service means that Qtrade has climbed to our #1 position when it comes to crowning the King of the Discount Brokerage mountain.
All of that said, if you’re an experienced investor that rarely requires help when using your discount brokerage platform, then the consistent commitment to low fees might mean that Questrade is still the best fit for you.
Questrade Review: FAQ
Questrade Review Conclusion: An Award-Winning Canadian Leader
Our Questrade review will be updated throughout 2022 and any new rollouts or details will be added immediately.
Overall, you can see why we think Questrade is an excellent value for Canadian investors, especially ones who want to look at options trading or appreciate their $4.95 per trade fees.
The obvious areas that Questrade needs to improve in is their customer service, desktop user experience, and introduction offer. There is just no denying the advantage that Qtrade has in those areas.
After reading both our Questrade review and Qtrade review you’ll probably come to the conclusion that you can’t really go with either online broker, it’s simply a matter of personal priorities.