If you’re a Canadian options trader or a data-hungry professional day trader, your online broker selection probably comes down to the Questrade vs Interactive Brokers Canada (IBKR) battle, with some outside contenders worth considering as well.

When it comes to cutting costs to the bone Questrade and International Brokers really come through.  (Although, the IBKR fees and commissions take some work to understand.) 

That said, when rating online brokers, we recommend considering platform usability, customer service, and consistency of innovation, in addition to price, before making your final choice.  Check out our comparison of the best online brokers in Canada for more information.

Questrade vs Interactive Brokers Comparison Chart

Interactive Brokers

Questrade

Qtrade

Canadian ETFs

$1 CAD minimum, maximum of .5% of total purchase or sell value

Free to buy only

Free to buy and sell

User Experience

Mediocre at best. Aimed at professional stock traders. Good value if you need day trading platforms, and rarely need questions answered.

Very good. Much improved over the last three years. Still some work to do on the customer service wait times.

Excellent - consistently ranked #1 in Canada

Foreign Exchange Capability

#1 in World

None (other than CAD to USD)

None (other than CAD to USD)

RESP Accounts

N/A

Available

Available

Safety

CIPF Member

CIPF Member

CIPF Member

Research Tools

Consistently ranked as the

best research tools for international day traders.

Made excellent gains in the last few years

Has been at the

top of Canadian brokerage ranking

in this category for over a decade

Mutual Fund Purchases

Some are free, some are $5.

Free
Free

Promotion

None in Canada
$50 in Free Trades
50 Free Trades (Worth $500)

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Questrade vs Interactive Brokers Trading Fees

Interactive brokers has earned a reputation worldwide as one of the cheapest international brokerages to trade with. It also has low margin rates if you want to buy and sell with money that you borrow from IBKR (just watch out for margin calls that can force you to sell your investments at the worst times).

The lack of free ETF trades and having no RESP or RRIF options kills any trading fee advantage in the Interactive Brokers Canada vs Questrade battle for your investing dollars.

Questrade reviewInteractive Brokers review
ETF FeesFree to Purchase, $5.00 to Sell.$1 CAD minimum, maximum of .5% of total purchase or sell value
Per Share Trading Fees$5-$10 (usually close to $5)$1 CAD minimum, maximum of .5% of total purchase or sell value
Margin Rates5-6%1.037%-1.537%
Options Trading Fees$4.95 + $0.75  contract$2 + $0.80/contract 

The Better Choice for You

In looking at the Interactive Brokers vs Questrade discount brokerage comparison, the key takeaway should be to apply the differences to your specific situation and trading needs.

Here are the key differentiation points as I see them:

1) Check out our Interactive Brokers Canada review and make sure that you’re ok with possible American inheritance tax laws being applied. For me, this along with the RESP + RRIF advantage, makes it pretty easy to choose Questrade over IBKR Canada.

2) Options trading is definitely a highlight for IBKR. Their lower options trading fees and access to niche markets give them an advantage in this area.

3) Do you want to open an RESP or RRIF account – now or in the future?  These are two of the most popular investing accounts for Canadians, and pretty much every Canada-based broker offers them. The thing is, IBKR isn’t Canada-based, and consequently, doesn’t offer these brokerage accounts.

4) Do you like to borrow money in order to invest? Most Canadians don’t “trade on the margin” with money that they are lent by their brokerage. If you do, you might want to consider the lower interest rates on loaned money that IBKR brings to the table. If you’re not sure about using “leverage” though, I wouldn’t factor this in.

5) Are currency conversion rates important to you? Norbert’s Gambit is the preferred way to exchange CAD for USD (for almost no money), but if you’re trying to trade on the London or Hong Kong stock exchanges then you’re going to need to first turn your Canadian Dollars into other currencies. Interactive Brokers has built their whole company around having the best foreign exchange services in the business.

Questrade has come a long way over the years, and their streamlined desktop/mobile upgrades have really given the company a much more user-friendly platform than Interactive Brokers. This is especially important for new investors, or folks who just want to keep life simple.

I actually think the Questrade vs Qtrade battle is a much more interesting debate for Canadian residents.  If cheap options trading is the be-all and end-all of your trading “must have” list, the IBKR is the right choice, but for the vast majority of Canadian investors, I’d check out our updated Questrade vs Qtrade comparison before making my online broker selection

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Wasa
7 months ago

Is edge platform of questrade is not the best for actives day trading because there is many limitations, their scanner is delayed and there is many negatives in the platform tools….it’s so basic.

Dreg
10 months ago

What about comparison of commission for higher level trader? i.e. With Questrade data plan of $80plus and IBKR per share trade for pro user.

sam
1 year ago

i just transferred from Questrade to Interactive Brokers because Questrade’s high margin loan. If you are margin option investor, Questrade is charging a very high rate comparing to IB. I am currently borrowing 100K on my margin account, and Questrade used to charge me $600-$700 per month. With IB, i am paying $150 per month. Also, writing cover call or selling put cost me only $1 something per 1 contract comparing to $10.99 at Questrade.

Greg
7 months ago
Reply to  sam

yea, Questrade really sucks on the options trade costs. Most traders evolve to using options so might as well start with IB instead.

Sam
1 year ago

Where do you see a monthly charge for questrade??