Self-directed trading platforms have skyrocketed in popularity. Discount brokerage startups such as Robinhood and WeBull now support millions of active monthly users, and the global e-trading market continues to increase at a 5% compounded rate per year. In Canada, Questrade established itself as the premier online DIY investing option. 

Questrade boasts over 250,000 accounts and almost 30 billion in held assets. With such a track record of steady growth, the online wealth management firm is a viable way for Canadians to invest. 

Let's examine the features and benefits offered by Questrade, that way you can make an informed decision about the platform as you start your self-directed investment journey. 

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What is Questrade?

Questrade is a brokerage trading and investing platform that was founded in 1999 and now operates as one of the biggest independent brokerages in Canada. It gives Canadians access to a range of financial instruments and international markets with no need for an intermediary broker. 

Canadian investors can take advantage of popular Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA), Registered Retirement Savings plans (RRSP), Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP), and even mortgages. It offers a simple web/mobile app interface, and the account setup process is simple with a low $1000 startup limit and coverage for transfer penalties. 

Questrade Home Page
Questrade Home Page.

Questrade Features

The platform offers a myriad of investment features, research tools, funding options, and account types. You can refer to the below data for a breakdown of the supported features. 

Investment Options 

Access the most common asset classes in Canadian and U.S. markets, including: Access the most common asset classes in Canadian and U.S. stock markets, including stocks, ETFs, Options, FX and CFDs, Mutual Funds, Bonds, GICs, IPOs, and Precious Metals. Cryptocurrencies are not offered, though you can gain exposure via crypto ETFs.

Platform Tools 

Questrade provides several different interfaces to help facilitate your research and trading. Questrade Web is intuitive, and it includes all the standard market placements needed for simple trading (limit, stop limit, trailing stop, and bracket order). Mobile trading is available, as well as robo-advisory. For more intrepid investors,  separate digital centres are available for Forex and IPO trading. You can also download Questrade Edge to access advanced data tools and live charts. 

Account Types 

Questrade offers specialised accounts like Locked-In Retirement Accounts (LIRA) or Family RRSPs, but the TFSA, RESP, and Individual Margin Trading are the most popular. In particular, the TFSA and Margin accounts are favoured by users as both involve no annual or opening fees. 

  • The Questrade Margin Account: For Margin accounts, you can hold both CAD and USD, and the purchase of U.S. stocks borrows USD against held Canadian equivalents by default. Interest rates fluctuate between 3 - 8% in addition to the prime rate, depending on your credit or debit balance. Compared to fees and margin interest rates of large banks, Questrade is far more affordable. Plus, Questrade only requires 30 - 50% held market value to purchase most securities on margin, though precious metals and options follow individual capital percentages. 
  • The TFSA Account: A Questrade TFSA can also hold both CAD and USD, and you can enjoy zero annual fees for setup. Accounts open in minutes, and there are several funding options: 
  1. Broker and bank transfers
  2. Instant credit deposit (up to $3500) 
  3. Cheque
  4. Wire transfer
  5. Pre-authorized deposits
  6. Stock certificates

For a comprehensive breakdown of the account types available on Questrade, we recommend visiting its Account Types article.

Investment Options on Questrade
Investment Options on Questrade.

Questrade Fee Structure

A key selling point for Questrade is the minimal fees and low commissions. Standard pricing for trades begin at 1 cent/share, with a minimum of $4.95 and a maximum of $9.95 per transaction. ETFs are free to buy and options open and close for $9.95 and include a $1 opening fee. Electronic Communication Network (ECN) and SEC fees may also apply for each stock transaction based on the value of the trade. 

Other investment vehicles and Questrade features involve additional fees: 

Mutual Funds $9.95 per transaction
Forex Spread Starting at 0.8 pips
Bonds Minimum $5000 purchase
GICs Minimum $5000 purchase, feels for early withdrawal
International Equities Min $195 and 1% of trade value
IPOs Minimum of $5000
Precious Metals $19.95 per trade
International Wire Transfers $40
Certified Cheque $75

Is Questrade Safe To Use in Canada?

Yes, Questrade is an authentic, regulated and licensed brokerage that is highly secure for personal investing. The Investment Industry Regulatory Organisation of Canada (IIROC) oversees all trading activity in Questrade, and up to 10 million of capital is insured by Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). 

Questrade itself has $30 Billion in held assets, adheres to strict cybersecurity protocols, and will reimburse all losses associated with unauthorised transactions. 

Does Questrade offer 24/7 Customer Support?

Questrade provides 24/7 live support via Live Chat, phone, Facebook and Twitter. You can make contact via email, but response time varies between 2 - 48 hours. Questrade does have some educational resources and access to live brokers, but compared to other institutions, Questrade is not as robust in its levels of customer support. 

On Trust Pilot, Questrade has a below-average rating of 1.4 stars and most of the reviews are in relation to the poor customer service provided by the support team. 

Questrade Support Options
Questrade Support Options.

Mobile App

The mobile app version of Questrade is available to both Android and iOS users, it offers the same functionality and UI as its web counterpart. On the app store it is rated a low 1.7 stars from 2K reviews and on the Google Play store it has a rating of 2.1 stars from 2.6K reviews. Most reviews comment on the app frequently freezing if you refresh it too often. 

Questrade Mobile App iPhone Screenshot
Questrade Mobile App iPhone Screenshot.

Final Thoughts

Questrade is a comprehensive online trading platform, giving Canadians access to a multitude of self-directed investment opportunities. The trading site is simple to use, and those who want advanced features can download additional interfaces. Its minimal fees and low commission prices are an obvious benefit for DIY traders. 

With low stock purchase fees and tax-free withdrawals, it is a popular investment vehicle for Canadian investors. If you want to ditch the costs of trading and take control of your portfolio, Questrade is one of Canada’s finest independent brokerages.