Questrade vs Virtual Brokers: 2021 Broker Showdown

   (Editor Rating)

Questrade Vs Qtrade

This Questrade vs Virtual Brokers 2021 comparison is a battle between Canada’s two lowest cost full-service discount brokerages, and a look at two of my top recommendations for Canadian expats (the other one being Ci Direct, which is a robo advisor). 

If you want to check the full range of DIY investing options, I recommend our complete guide to the best Canadian discount brokerages in 2021, as well as our full-length Questrade Review, and Virtual Brokers review for an in-depth look at the options presented below.

Questrade vs Virtual Brokers Quick Comparison

Questrade

Virtual Brokers

Free ETFs

free buying of ETFs, BUT does charge the normal trading fee to sell ETFs.

free buying of ETFs, BUT does charge the normal trading fee to sell ETFs.

User Experience

Has made big gains over the last three years.

Many complaints.  Especially for the mobile app.

Customer Service

Problematic. During the recent pandemic they saw wait times of 4+ hours to answer basic queries.

Many complaints.  Definitely an area that we’re hoping CI Financial can help fix with the recent buyout.

Trading Fees

A rock bottom $4.95 for up to 500 shares, to a maximum of $9.95. Questrade clearly shines here

$.01-per-share, with a minimum of $1.99, and a maximum of $7.99.

Account Fees

$25 per quarter - WAIVED IF you hold more than $5,000 in the account, make one trade per quarter, or are younger than 25

$25 per quarter - WAIVED IF you hold more than $5,000 in the account, make one trade per quarter, or are younger than 25

Allows Expat Investors

On a case-by-case basis.

Yes!

Research Tools

Equally solid variety and depth.

Only available for elite users.

Safety

CIPF Member

CIPF Member

Promo

$50 in Free trades

None

Sign Up

Questrade vs Virtual Brokers: Fees

When it comes to trading fees and account fees, Questrade and Virtual Brokers represent the most competitively-priced trades that you’re going to find in Canada.  They are clearly looking at the same target market when you consider they both offer:

  • Free ETF purchases
  • Similar account fee structures
  • Allow Canadian expats to use their platform
  • Offer rock bottom trading prices

Both Questrade and Virtual Brokers offer two-tier pricing (like most of the Canadian discount brokerages).  The vast majority of Canadians only have to worry about lower tier, as you need well over 100 trades per year to access the slightly-discounted trading fees of the “professional trader” tier.

When it comes to directly comparing trading fees, Virtual Brokers has a slight edge on trades below 500 shares.  Since this is the vast majority of trades for most Canadians, VB get the edge here.  That said, once we go over 500 shares, Questrade can be cheaper – but even then, it depends on the ECN fees that Questrade charges if you removed liquidity from the market.

Questrade vs Virtual Brokers: Account Option

Whether you choose Virtual Brokers or Questrade, pretty much all of the potential account options will be open to you.  These brokerages don’t cut corners when it comes to the types of accounts they support.

Most Canadians will of course only make use of the TFSA, RRSP, and maybe the RESP + Non-registered options, but if you want access to corporate accounts, USD accounts, or spousal accounts, both Virtual Brokers and Questrade can meet your needs.

Qtrade vs Virtual Brokers or Questrade

Even though this article focuses on Questrade vs Virtual Brokers showdown, we’d be remiss if we didn’t include some information on the MDJ #1 rated overall Canadian online broker. Read our full Qtrade review and our Qtrade vs Questrade review for more information on our favourite Canadian brokerage.

While Qtrade’s trading fees are slightly higher than those of Questrade and VB, they are still below those charged by the big bank brokers at BMO, RBC, TD, Scotiabank, and CIBC.  Not only that, but in addition to the very competitive fee structure, you get access to completely free ETF trading, and award-winning platforms.

The main reason that we made Qtrade our #1 pick in 2021 is the strength the customer service strength that they showed during 2020.  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 to go with Questrade or Virtual Brokers, your decision tree should look like this:

1) Do I often trade less than 200 shares, and rarely have any need for help with the platform?  If yes, then compare Virtual Brokers to Qtrade (our #1 rated brokerage) based on customer service and free ETF trading.

2) Do I want all the bells and whistles that a larger online broker like Questrade brings to the table?  Or want to make the most of that free $50 signup bonus they offer? Then click on the button below.

Jordan

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