Qtrade Review 2022: The Best Self-Directed Brokerage in Canada?

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This Qtrade Direct InvestingTM review covers everything you need to know about the self-directed investing platform for Canadians.

Self-directed investing is one of the cost-effective forms of investment in Canada. It helps you customize your portfolio based on your needs and risk profile without worrying about management fees. Online discount brokerages like Qtrade and investment apps like Wealthsimple Trade have proven to be a reliable and convenient way for Canadians to build their own investment portfolios.

Qtrade is currently one of the top Canadian online discount brokerages that is known for its wide range of accounts, excellent customer service, and robust tools among others.

In this Qtrade review, we’ll take a closer look at what Qtrade has to offer, and see how they compare to the competition.

Let’s start.


What is Qtrade?

Qtrade Direct Investing, often shortened as Qtrade, is an online discount brokerage operating as a division of Credential Qtrade Securities Inc. 

The brokerage is owned by Aviso Wealth and is headquartered in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Qtrade has been around since 2000 and it’s popular for its excellent customer service, solid trading tools, and robust investment accounts. 

Besides 100+ commission-free ETFs, Qtrade also offers access to Canadian and US-listed stocks, bonds, mutual funds, GICs, options, IPOs, and secondary/treasury offerings.

Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or expert investor, you may find Qtrade ideal based on its unique offerings that have attracted several awards from reputable organizations.


How Does Qtrade Work?

Qtrade operates as a platform for buying and selling Canadian and US-listed stocks and ETFs that are traded on the following exchanges:

  • Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)
  • TSX Venture Exchange (TSXV)
  • NEO Exchange
  • Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE)
  • National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ)
  • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) 

After you sign up on Qtrade and fund your account, Qtrade gives you all the tools and resources you need to excel and invest successfully.

Below are the six steps and actions you can take on the Qtrade platform.

  • Step 1 – Plan: First you can set your investing goals using the investment calculators and planning tools of Qtrade.
  • Step 2 – Discover: After you set your investment goals, you can now identify which security suits your investment goals and risk level using Qtrade’s independent research and screening tools. 
  • Step 3 – Evaluate: To make an informed decision about your desired investment account, you can analyze and validate the account using well-researched data and reports on Qtrade.
  • Step 4: – Trade: Once you find the investment account perfect for your needs, you can start trading it immediately.
  • Step 5 – Monitor: Qtrade offers real-time quotes and watchlist alerts to help you track companies and market trends, helping you rebalance your portfolio effectively. 
  • Step 6 – Review: Finally, you can review your holdings regularly to know their performance valuation. This will give you in-depth insight on how to rebalance your portfolio and maximize gains. 


Qtrade Accounts

Qtrade has some of the most robust collections of investment and trading accounts in the self-directed industry of Canada. 

The following are the current investment products/securities available on the brokerage.

  • Canadian and US-listed stocks and ETFs
  • Mutual funds
  • Canadian and US bonds (government and corporate bonds)
  • IPOs 
  • Secondary/treasury offerings
  • Options

Qtrade also supports a broad range of investment accounts including registered and non-registered accounts. The supported account types on Qtrade include:

  • Cash
  • Margin
  • Registered accounts (TFSA, RSP, LIRA, RESP, RRIF and LIF)

The registered accounts can facilitate trading in both Canadian and US stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, GICs and options. But note that a $15 quarterly fee applies on a USD denominated registered account (fee waived for Investor Plus).


Qtrade Plans

As of the time of writing this Qtrade review, the online discount brokerage has three pricing plans available to its clients:

1. Investor Plan

This is the basic and default plan that is available to every Qtrade investor. It is tailored to the average or everyday investor with minimal trades and those with less than $500,000 in assets on Qtrade.

The Qtrade Investor plan has the following fees:

SecurityFee
ETFsNo commission on 100+ listed ETFs.
$8.75 fee for trading other ETFs
Equities$8.75
Exchange-traded debentures and fixed income$1 per $1,000 face value
Options$8.75 plus $1.25/contract
Mutual funds$0

If you trade more often or have a large investment portfolio, the Qtrade Investor Plus could be your best plan.

2. Investor Plus Plan

This plan is tailored to investors that execute a minimum of 150 trades quarterly or have a minimum balance of $500,000. In other words, the Qtrade Investor Plus plan is for active investors or HNIs.

Below are the current fees of the Qtrade Plus plan:

SecurityFee
ETFsNo commission on 100+ listed ETFs.
$6.95 fee for trading other ETFs
Equities$6.95
Options$6.95 plus $1.25/contract
USD registered accounts$0

In addition to the lower trade commissions compared to the Investor plan, you also get access to a dedicated phone number to contact Qtrade and the US$15 quarterly fee for USD registered accounts is waived.

3. Young Investor Plan

The Young Investor Plan is dedicated to investors between the age of 18 to 30. 

If you’re within this age bracket, all you need is to set up an automatic pre-authorized contribution and deposit a minimum of $50 per month to your Qtrade account to qualify.

The advantage of the Young Investor Plan is that it has $7.75 commissions on ETFs and stocks trading without quarterly administration fees.


Qtrade Fees and Commissions

Next in this Qtrade review, let’s take a closer look at the current fees and commissions of Qtrade Direct Investing. 

ServiceFee
Administration fee per quarter$25*
U.S dollar registered accounts fee per quarter$15 (USD)
Cheque requests$10 per request
Foreign depository (excluding the US)$100 (USD) per transaction
Electronic statements/confirmations$0
Statement replacement or confirmation$10
Paper account statements fee per quarter$6 (free for Investor Plus)
Paper trade confirmations fee$2.50 per trade
Dishonoured items$40
Account transfer out$150
Account closure within the first year$100

*Note on the $25 Quarterly admin fee: It is waived if less than one quarter since account opening, you have $25,000 or more in assets, completed 2 commissioned trades in the last quarter, completed 8 commissioned trades in the last 12 months, set up a $100/mo recurring deposit, qualify for the Young Investor offer.)

That said, the following are the current commissions charged on Qtrade Direct Investing.

SecurityCommission
Stocks$6.95 – $8.75
ETFs100+ commission-free ETFs. $6.96 or $8.75 commission for other ETFs
Options$6.95 or  $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
Bonds$1 per $1,000 face value

Commission-free ETFs on Qtrade

Qtrade offers commission-free ETF trades (buy and sell) on a select list of ETFs from some of the largest ETF issuers.

buy etfs commission-free on Qtrade

To qualify, simply hold the ETF for at least one business day and be enrolled for eDocuments. There is no minimum trade amount.

Popular Canadian listed and U.S. listed ETFs like Horizons S&P 500 Index ETF (HXS) and Horizons S&P/TSX 60 Index ETF (HXT) are included, with 4 of the asset allocation ETFs from iShares (XBAL, XGRO, XEQT and XINC).

Unfortunately, other all-in-one ETFs from Vanguard and BMO are not available to trade commission-free. VOO and VFV, 2 popular S&P 500 ETFs are also not available to trade commission-free.

You can check here for a full list of the supported ETFs.


Qtrade Pros and Cons

The following are the pros and cons of Qtrade Direct Investing based on the above review. 

Pros 

  • Excellent customer service: Qtrade has received numerous awards for its excellent customer service that’s lacking among other online brokerages in Canada.  
  • Commission-free ETFs: You can trade more than 100 ETFs on Qtrade without commission. This can save you hundreds of dollars depending on your how much trades you do. 
  • Diversification: Qtrade helps you build a low-cost ETF portfolio that’s diversified across North America, Europe, and Latin America markets.
  • Multiple accounts: If you’re looking for an online brokerage that provides great resources to help to help its clients make informed investment decisions in Canada, you can’t make the wrong choice with Qtrade as it supports multiple investments and trading accounts.
  • Solid Tools: Qtrade has a robust collection of research, analysis and trading tools that make it accessible to beginner, intermediate and seasoned investors. From charts, and real-time quotes to watchlist alerts, Qtrade has the tools you need to make the most of your investment. 
  • Educational resources: If you’re just starting or looking to expand your knowledge about the stock market, Qtrade has expert-educational resources for you.
  • Free trial account: The brokerage has a 30-day trial account that gives you free access to the basic features of the platform including research and analysis tools. This serves as a great opportunity to determine if the brokerage is perfect for you or not.
  • No minimum balance: Unlike some other online brokerages in Canada, Qtrade doesn’t require a minimum balance, allowing you to invest without pressure.
  • Robo-advisory service: Qtrade offers a robo-advisory service through Virtualwealth Portfolios, a simple, fully automated online service that offers professionally designed portfolio that matches your financial goals. However, the service is available on a separate platform.

Cons

  • Quarterly Admin fee: There’s an admin fee of $25 and extra fees to hold US$ registered account. But the admin fees can be avoided if meet certain conditions such as completing 2 commission-generating equity or option trades in the prior quarter or 8 trades in the preceding 12 months, having at least $25,000 in assets, adding $100 or more to your account each month by recurring electronic funds contribution and so on. With these, you can avoid the fees altogether.
  • Trading commissions: While Qtrade’s trading commissions are very competitive with most firms in Canada and it waives the commissions on 100+ ETFs, it does not offer full commission-free trading. Its competitive services and top-notch customer service, however, more than makes up for this.

How to Open a Qtrade Account

You can open a Qtrade account online between in 10 minutes using your mobile phone or desktop.

Below are the step-by-step processes on how to open a Qtrade account.

  • Visit the Qtrade application page here
  • Create an account login ID by entering your full name, email & address
  • Confirm your email address
  • Select an account type(s)
  • Complete the investor profile and upload all the relevant documents
  • E-sign and submit your application

Once you provide all the necessary information and upload the required documents, your account should be approved within one to three business days and may be approved instantly. Should Qtrade require more information or clarification, you will be contacted through email.

Once your account is approved, you can fund it through electronic fund transfers, bank transfers or other methods to start investing.

open a new account on Qtrade

Is Qtrade Safe?

Qtrade is one of the safest online discount brokerages in Canada because it is regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

In addition, assets on Qtrade are covered up to $1 million per insured category by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF).

Moreover, Qtrade’s parent company, Aviso Wealth is one of the leading independent wealth management institutions in Canada with $100 billion in assets under administration and management.

Qtrade Promotions

Like other online brokerages in Canada, Qtrade have regular promotions and offers for both new and existing clients.

One of the standard offers with no expiry date is the Young Investors pricing that lets eligible investors trade with lower fees and no quarterly admin fees.

However, you can also take advantage of the limited offers like the current Qtrade cash back offer that rewards clients with up to $5,000 in cash back depending on the amount they deposit (expires by April 30, 2022).

Learn more about Qtrade promotions here.


Qtrade Direct Investing Alternatives

Qtrade is just one out of many self-directed brokerages in Canada. Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade are some of the top competitors to consider.

Below is a highlight of how the 3 top investing platforms compare.

Key FeatureQtrade Wealthsimple TradeQuestrade
Monthly fee$0 (charges a $25 quarterly administrative fee if conditions not met)$0 to $10 None
SecuritiesETFs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, GICs, options, IPOs, and secondary/treasury offeringsETFs, stocks, and cryptocurrencies
ETFs, stocks, mutual funds, bonds, GICs, CFDs, FX, IPOs, precious metals, and international equities.
Trading accountsCash, margin, TFSA, RSP, LIRA, RESP, RRIF and LIFPersonal accounts, RRSP and TFSAMargin, RRSP, RIF, LIRA, LIF, TFSA and RESP
Stocks and ETFs Commissions Commission-free trading on 100+ listed ETFs. $6.95 or $8.75 on trading other ETFs and stocksCommission-free trading on stocks and ETFsCommission-free on buying ETFs. Min:$4.95, Max:$9.95 per trade for selling ETFs & stocks
Account minimum $0$0$1,000
Trial accountYesN/AYes
Trading platformWeb browser and mobile appWeb browser and mobile appWeb browser and mobile app
Learn moreVisit QtradeVisit WealthsimpleVisit Questrade

Let’s now take a closer look at how Qtrade compares with Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade.

Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade

Compared to Qtrade, Wealthsimple Trade is a relatively newer player in the Canadian investment space because it was launched in 2019. The brokerage is also regulated by the IIROC and assets on the platform are covered by the CIPF.

Wealthsimple Trade offers competitive solutions that make it one of the best investment apps in Canada. Unlike Qtrade that waives commissions on only 100+ selected ETFs, Wealthsimple Trade waives commissions on all ETFs and stocks available on its platform. 

One of the drawbacks of Wealthsimple Trade is that it has limited investment accounts as you can only invest in RRSP, TFSA and cash/non-registered accounts. The asset support is also limited with only stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies available at the moment.

In addition, research, analysis and trading tools are lacking on Wealthsimple Trade which is not the case on Qtrade. 

Nevertheless, you can’t go wrong with Wealthsimple Trade especially if you’re an investor that is just looking to buy and sell stocks and ETFs with no need for advanced trading tools and resources. The ability to trade fractional shares is another plus for Wealthsimple Trade.

New Wealthsimple Trade users get a bonus of $50 when they sign up using a referral link and trade at least $150.

Learn more about the commission-free investing app through this Wealthsimple Trade Review.

Qtrade vs Questrade

Questrade is relatively older than Qtrade because it has been in existence since 1999. 

Like Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade, Questrade is also regulated by the IIROC and assets on the brokerage are covered by the CIPF up to $1 million per insured category.

Needless to say, Questrade is a household name among Canadian self-directed investors due to its low-cost trading platform and robust products and tools.

You can buy Canadian and US-listed ETFs for free on Questrade without limit. But when selling an ETF or trading stocks on the platform, a 1 cent fee applies per share (minimum of $4.95; maximum of $9.95).

In addition, Questrade offers a robo-advisory service through its Questwealth Portfolios that currently has the lowest management fees among the robo-advisors in Canada.

Like Qtrade, Questrade also has research, analysis, and trading tools in addition to a free practice account. The major drawback of Questrade is that it requires a $1,000 minimum investment which may be a concern for investors looking to start with smaller amounts.

Nonetheless, you can’t also make the wrong choice with Questrade as long as it meets your needs and you’re able to start with at least $1,000. This is because your investment cost will likely be lower at Questrade than Qtrade.

For example, Questrade does not charge a quarterly maintenance fee and it is free to invest in USD registered accounts.

Get a $50 trade rebate using this link or Questrade promo code “WALLETBLISS” to start investing on the self-directed platform. Or get $10,000 managed free for the first year if you go with the robo-advisory service.

Related:


Some FAQs on Qtrade Review

Is Qtrade a good company?

Qtrade is a good brokerage because it has robust investment accounts, solid tools and excellent customer service you need to succeed as a self-directed investor. 
Interestingly, the brokerage has been in existence for over two decades and has attracted numerous awards from different reputable organizations. 

Who owns Qtrade?

Qtrade is owned by Aviso Wealth, one of the leading independent wealth management institutions in Canada with $100 billion dollars assets under administration and management

Does Qtrade have a minimum deposit?

No, Qtrade doesn’t have a minimum deposit requirement. This means you can start investing with as little as $1 on the brokerage.

Are Qtrade and Questrade the same?

No. While Qtrade and Questrade are both among the leading online discount brokerages in Canada, they differ in terms of investment accounts, commissions, minimum balance and more.

How can I close my Qtrade account? 

Kindly request a Qtrade representative to close your account by emailing them at [email protected]

How much does it cost to close a Qtrade account?

Qtrade charges $100 plus tax for closing an account within the first year of registration. 


Verdict on Qtrade Review

My Qtrade review is positive. If you’re looking for a comprehensive Canadian self-directed investing platform and online brokerage, Qtrade is definitely worth checking out.

They offer an impressive range of features and services, making them a great choice for both novice and experienced investors alike. Regardless of your investing level, you may find the brokerage ideal because it suits beginners, intermediate and seasoned self-directed investors.

The above Qtrade review has covered everything you need to know about the brokerage in order to make an informed decision. But if you need more clarification or have any concerns, kindly let me know in the comment below. 

Before you leave, ensure you check out our other relevant posts for Canadian investors, such as:

Qtrade Review
4.7

Summary

Qtrade is an online discount brokerage offering access to Canadian and US-listed stocks, bonds, mutual funds, GICs, IPOs, and secondary/treasury offerings.

Simon is a CPA by day and a Personal Finance Blogger by night. With over a decade experience in financial services, he's passionate about personal finance, investing and helping people take control of their financial life.

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