Are you looking for the best robo advisor or self-directed brokerage in Canada? This Questrade review is for you.
While your risk tolerance and the investments you choose are important determinants of your investment returns, the investment or trading platform also plays a significant impact. Over the years, Questrade has proven to be one of the best platforms for self-directed and robo advisory investing in Canada.
But is Questrade right for you? And how does it compare to other online brokerages in Canada?
At the end of this Questrade review, you’ll be able to determine whether the platform is perfect for you based on its products, fees, pros and cons.
What is Questrade?
Questrade is a full-service wealth management and discount brokerage operating online with Headquarters in Toronto. It has been in existence since 1999 and it’s popular for its low-cost investment and trading solutions.
With more than 250,000 accounts registered annually and $30 billion in assets under management, Questrade is one of the largest financial institutions in Canada.
The financial institution offers unique investment and trading solutions ranging from a self-directed trading platform, robo advisor and mortgage service.
Whether you’re looking to invest or trade ETFs, stocks, GICs, bonds, mutual funds, FX, CFDs or other securities, the Questrade platform has everything you need to succeed with your investments.
Questrade Products and Services
As a full-service investment platform for Canadians, Questrade offers the following products and services.
1. Questwealth Portfolios
This is a pre-built portfolio managed by Questrade Wealth Management Inc. that takes away all the stress of selecting, investing, and rebalancing your portfolio.
Formerly known as Portfolio IQ, Questwealth Portfolios is currently one of the Canadian best robo advisors due to its low fees.
The robo advisor invests funds in diversified ETF portfolios based on investors’ risk tolerance and investment objective. You can choose from:
- Aggressive growth portfolio
- Growth portfolio
- Balanced portfolio
- Income portfolio
- Conservative portfolio
In addition, Questwealth also supports Socially Responsible Investing (SRI) portfolios that come with different risk levels and asset allocations.
With Questwealth Portfolios, your funds can be invested in registered and unregistered accounts ranging from Cash, Corporate cash, RRSP, RRIF, LIF, LIRA, RESP and TFSA.
That said, Questwealth Portfolios doesn’t have account opening fees, trading fees or electronic fund transfers funds. However, it charges the following fees:
- Management fee = 0.25% (for less than $100,000 balance) and 0.20% for $100,000 and above balance
- MER = 0.17% – 0.22% (for ETF portfolios) and 0.21% – 0.35% (for SRI portfolios)
2. Questrade Self-directed Investing
Are you a DIY investor? The Questrade Self-directed Investing platform was designed primarily for people like you.
You can trade a wide range of securities through Questrade Self-directed Investing platform ranging from:
- Mutual funds
- Precious metals
- Foreign equities
Also, you can invest your funds in registered and unregistered accounts on the Questrade Self-directed Investing platform including cash, RRSP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF, RESP and TFSA.
Unlike other brokerages, you can buy ETFs without commission on Questrade. The commission on selling ETFs and trading stocks on the brokerage is 1cent per share, with a minimum fee of $4.95 but capped at $9.95. This is low compared to the commissions of other brokerages.
What also makes the Questrade Self-directed Investing platform more accessible and suitable for investors of all skills level is that it has a comprehensive suite of tools and resources to ease your trading. This includes:
- Practice accounts
- Real-time snap quotes
- Automated rebalancing tool
The major downside of the Questrade Self-directed Investing brokerage is that it requires a $1,000 minimum balance to start trading. If this is within your reach, then you can’t make the wrong choice with the brokerage.
3. Questrade Mortgage
Are you looking to buy your first home or switch your existing mortgage to another financial institution? Questrade got you covered with its mortgage known as QuestMortgage which is offered by its subsidiary, Community Trust.
With QuestMortgage, you can access 1 to 5-year fixed/variable mortgages with up to 25-year amortization.
Compared to the big banks and other financial institution rates, the Questrade mortgage rates are relatively competitive as you can see below.
|1-year fixed-rate mortgage||4.44%|
|2-year fixed-rate mortgage||4.49%|
|3-year fixed-rate mortgage||4.49%|
|4-year fixed-rate mortgage||4.59%|
|3-year variable-rate mortgage||3.95%|
|5-year variable-rate mortgage||3.80%|
The interesting part is that you can get a QuestMortgage pre-approval and lock in the rate for up to 120 days.
In addition, Questrade has flexible mortgage payment schedules as you can pay weekly, biweekly, semi-monthly, or make accelerated weekly and bi-weekly payments.
To help you boost your mortgage payment and pay off your loan faster, Questrade allows you to make up 100% payment of the mortgage original balance at any time.
You can compare the Questrade Mortgage rates to other mortgage lenders in Canada using the Mortgage comparison tool from Nesto.
4. Creditor Insurance
Whether you already have a mortgage or are planning to get one, the one thing you want to avoid is late payments or missed payment penalties.
Besides hurting your credit score, defaulting on your mortgage payment can cost you your home.
But with Creditor Insurance, you and your family are protected against certain unforeseen situations that can affect your mortgage payment. Questrade Credit Insurance covers you in terms of the following situations:
- Critical illness
- Disability coverage
To be eligible for the Questrade Creditor Insurance, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a Canadian resident
- Aged between 18 to 64 years old
- Be a borrower or mortgage guarantor.
Questrade Pros and Cons
The following are the pros and cons of Questrade that should inform your evaluation.
- Low fees and commissions: Questrade is one of Canada’s low-cost brokerages and robo advisors because of its low management fees, low MER, commission-free ETF buying, and low commission on trading stocks and other securities.
- Comprehensive suites of accounts: From stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, to GICs, Questrade is a one-stop-shop for everything investing and trading in Canada.
- Hybrid institution: Whether you’re looking for a self-directed brokerage or a robo-advisor in Canada, you can count on Questrade and have a seamless experience.
- Sign-up bonus: When you sign-up on Questrade and make the minimum investment of $1,000, you will get a $50 trade commission rebate on its self-directed platform or enjoy a one-year management fee waiver on up to $10,000 investment with the robo-advisory service.
- High minimum balance: You need a minimum balance of $1,000 to trade on the Questrade Self-directed Investing platform or invest on Questwealth Portfolios. While this may not be a barrier for some, it is a drawback for those looking to start with smaller amounts.
Questrade makes investment and trading affordable by waiving some of the fees you typically find at other online brokerages in Canada.
It doesn’t charge monthly or quarterly admin fees, inactivity fees, or electronic fund transfer fees among others.
That said, the following are some of the fees available on Questrade.
|Wire transfer fee||$20 for CAD transfers, $30 for USD transfers and $40 for international transfers|
|Payment stoppage fee||$25|
|NSF cheque fee||$30|
|Account statement copy||$20|
|Special courier||$35 (Canada) and $70 (US)|
|Account transfer to another institution||$150|
Learn more: Questrade Fees & Commissions
How to Open a Questrade Account
Next in this Questrade review, we’ll go over how to become a Questrade client.
As an online brokerage, Questrade makes it simple and straightforward to sign-up as a new client. The whole process can be completed with a few minutes using your mobile phone or desktop.
Below are the steps to open a new Questrade account:
- Go to the Questrade web portal and click the “Get Started” button.
- Choose your preferred platform (Questwealth or Questrade Self-directed Investing)
- Follow the prompts (you will be required to provide your personal details and proof of your identity)
- Deposit a minimum of $1,000 to your Questrade account to start investing or trading.
All your documents will be reviewed and if they’re in order, your account will be approved and you can start investing on Questrade.
As a welcome offer, you will get a $50 trade commission rebate or have the Questrade management fee waived on your $10,000 investment for up to 1-year.
Is Questrade Safe?
Short answer, Questrade is safe! As an awarding-winning financial institution that’s regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), Questrade is safe and secure.
The Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) covers your assets up to $1 million per category on Questrade. This is in addition to the extra $10 million private insurance coverage that Questrade offers for each user.
Besides safe trade period notifications and security alerts, Questrade also offers a 100% reimbursement on unauthorized transactions on your account.
The bottom line is that Questrade is safe and you can’t make the wrong choice with it in this regard.
Let’s take a closer look at how Questrade compares with these leading financial institutions.
Questrade vs Wealthsimple
Wealthsimple is a popular financial and wealth management institution in Canada that has been around since 2014.
Wealthsimple offers more comprehensive financial products and services than Questrade ranging from investment, trading, cash transactions, and tax filing.
What sets Wealthsimple apart is that its self-directed brokerage, Wealthsimple Trade, offers access to commission-free stock and ETF trading with no minimum balance. In addition, you can also trade crypto and fractional shares on Wealthsimple Trade in addition to Canadian and US stocks and ETFs.
Like Questrade, Wealthsimple Trade also supports registered and non-registered accounts such as TFSA, RRSP and personal accounts.
The major downside of the Wealthsimple Trade is that it supports limited securities and trading accounts compared to Questrade.
The Wealthsimple robo-advisor (Wealthsimple Invest) also supports diversified ETF portfolios across Canada and the US. The following are current portfolios of Wealthsimple Invest:
- Conservative portfolio
- Balanced portfolio
- Growth portfolio
- SRI portfolios
- Halal portfolios
However, while Wealthsimple Invest has relatively higher management fee (0.4% – 0.5%), it has low ETF MER (0.13% – 0.16%) compared to Questwealth ETF MER (0.17% – 0.22%).
Also, there’s no minimum balance requirement on Wealthsimple Invest which is not the case on Questwealth Portfolios.
Notwithstanding, you can’t make the wrong choice with either Questrade or Wealthsimple because they are both among the best financial and wealth management institutions in Canada.
That said, as a new investor with minimal needs, Wealthsimple is an excellent investing choice. But for intermediate to advanced investors that want access to more asset types, investing tools and account types, Questrade has an edge over Wealthsimple.
- Wealthsimple Trade vs Questrade
- Questwealth Portfolios vs Wealthsimple Invest
- Wealthsimple Invest vs Wealthsimple Trade
Questrade vs Qtrade
Qtrade Direct Investing which is popularly known as Qtrade is one of the leading online brokerages in Canada.
Qtrade is a self-directed brokerage but its parent company, Aviso Wealth, also offers a robo advisor called VirtualWealth.
VirtualWealth also supports Canadian and US stocks and ETFs but has a relatively higher management fee (0.35% – 0.60%) than Questwealth Portfolios.
While there’s no minimum amount required for opening a VirtualWealth account, you need a minimum of $2,000 balance to start investing with the robo advisor.
Like Questrade, Qtrade also offers a commission waiver on ETFs. But with Qtrade, you’re enjoying a full commission waiver on buying and selling 100+ Canadian and US ETFs.
The interesting aspect of Qtrade is that it has award-winning customer service, comprehensive suites of tools, robust securities and trading accounts.
However, Qtrade is costly compared to Questrade because it charges a $25 quarterly administrative fee (waived if conditions met) while Questrade doesn’t charge any.
On the other hand, Qtrade has no minimum balance requirement, unlike Questrade’s $1,000 minimum balance requirement.
Questrade vs Justwealth
Justwealth Financial Inc., aka Justwealth, is a Toronto-based robo advisor founded in 2015.
Justwealth takes robo advising to the next level by attaching a dedicated Personal Portfolio Manager to each user. This way, you will enjoy automated investing with a human touch.
What I like about Justwealth is its comprehensive suite of portfolios which is more than the collection of other robo advisors in Canada.
Like Questwealth Portfolios, Justwealth also invests in diversified portfolios of Canadian and US ETFs. Funds on Justwealth portfolios are also investable in taxable and registered accounts, such as TFSA, RRSP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF and RESP.
However, Justwealth has a relatively higher minimum balance of $5,000 on all accounts except RESP. Also, Justwealth charges a 0.40% – 0.50% management fee – minimum of $2.50 on RESP accounts and minimum of $4.99 fee for all non-RESP accounts.
The Justwealth RESP is also unique with its target date funds that automatically derisk over time. With this, it’s obvious why Justwealth is regarded by many as one of the best robo-advisors for RESP in Canada.
Questrade vs Wealthsimple vs Qtrade vs Justwealth: Which to Choose?
From the above comparison, you may already have all the information you need to choose between Questrade and one of its alternatives. But it may be tough if you’re a beginner trader/investor.
When it comes to choosing the best trading and investment platform, you need to look at the bigger picture, not just an aspect of the financial institution.
First, you need to consider your investment or trading experience and determine whether to go with a robo advisor or self-directed brokerage.
If you’re going with a robo advisor, you need to consider the following factors when making a choice:
- Minimum balance requirement
- Supported securities and investment accounts
- Available portfolios and assets allocations
- Past portfolio returns
- Management fee
- Management expense ratio (MER)
On the other hand, you need to consider the following factors before selecting a self-directed brokerage.
- Minimum balance requirements
- Supported securities and trading accounts
- Trading fees
- Monthly/annual fees
- Research and trading tools
- Customer support
- Accessibility (web portal, desktop, mobile)
When you use these factors as a checklist, you can easily determine which of the above financial institutions is perfect for you.
Some FAQs on Questrade Review
Questrade is legitimate in every sense of the term because it has been providing legit financial and investment products since 1999.
As a 10x winner of Canada Best Managed Companies, Questrade doubles as one of the best online brokerages and robo advisors in Canada.
With 250,000+ new accounts registered each year, $30 billion in assets under management, IIROC regulation and CIPF coverage, you can be sure that you’re dealing with a legitimate financial institution.
Questrade is good for beginners because it has what beginners need to succeed. This includes practice accounts, research tools, educational resources, an intuitive trading platform and an automated investing platform.
You need a minimum balance of $1,000 to start investing with Questrate.
No! Currently, Wealthsimple Trade is the only online brokerage that allows fractional shares trading in Canada.
Questrade is better than the big banks if you factor in its low management fees, commission waiver on buying ETFs, low commissions on trading stocks, sign-up bonus and other factors.
Verdict on Questrade Review
My Questrade review is very positive. I highly recommend it to Canadians looking for a full-service self-directed investing platform with support to several investment types and accounts, but without the high fees.
With the side-by-side comparison of Questrade and other leading financial institutions in Canada, hopefully, you can now make your choice. The bottom line is that you can’t make the wrong choice with Questrade because it’s one of the pacesetters in the Canadian online robo advisory and self-directed investing industry.
If you still have any questions or clarifications about Questrade and its services, please leave them in the comment section below.
Questrade is a multi-service wealth management and discount brokerage operating online, popular for its low-cost investment and trading solutions.