Many Canadian DIY investors want a simple platform that makes the trading process as uncomplicated as possible. Today there are a number of great online brokerages in Canada that provide a simple interface so any investor can trade easily.
If you really want to be as hands off as possible, you can use one of Canada’s robo advisors with automatic account transfers, so you never even have to log onto your account.
If, on the other hand, you are an investor that prefers a more involved approach, getting into options trading or day trading, your basic DIY trading platform isn’t going to cut it. So, when getting into the Questrade vs Interactive Brokers Canada (IBKR) battle, it’s important to look at it with your particular investment strategy in mind.
Read on to find out how Questrade and IBKR compare in terms of fees, user experience account types offered and more.
Questrade vs Interactive Brokers Comparison Chart
$1 CAD minimum, maximum of .5% of total purchase or sell value
Free to buy only
Free to buy and sell
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)
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.
None in Canada
$50 in Free Trades
$150 Sign-up Bonus
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 review||Interactive Brokers review|
|ETF Fees||Free 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|
|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.
The Bottom Line
For the average Canadian investor who wants to keep things simple with an online brokerage that offers the account types you are looking for at a low cost, Questrade is more likely to give you exactly what you want.
With Questrade you’ll have access to all Canadian account types such as RESP and RRIF, and that alone can save you from paying a high tax on your earnings later down the line. Plus, you’ll save money in the short run too, especially if you plan to purchase mainly ETFs, which won’t cost you a thing.
If you do happen to need more complex trading tools and options, and you want to save money on currency conversions, IBKR could be the right choice. For most Canadian investors, IBKR just won’t give you what you need at the price you want. To see how Questrade compares to another top Canadian Brokerage, Qtrade, check out our full Questrade vs Qtrade Comparison.
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