Interactive Brokers offers full access to major markets around the world, which makes it a serious competitor to Questrade in Canada. Questrade is the largest online Canadian brokerage that is unaffiliated with a bank. The company offers traditional brokerage services along with robo-advisors and wealth management. A domestic broker, such as Questrade, may be able to do more to help Canadians manage currency conversions and comply with tax laws.
While most well-known for its U.S. business, Canadian investors may find the active trader focused Interactive Brokers an appealing alternative to Questrade. Account services are similar to those offered to U.S. customers, and Interactive Brokers' breadth of market access is difficult to match. The decision between the two brokers will likely depend on the tradeoff between ease of use and costs.
In our 2019 Best Online Brokers Awards, Interactive Brokers received awards for Best Overall Online Brokers, Best for Low Costs, Best for Options Trading, Best for Penny Stocks, Best for Day Trading, and Best for International Trading.
- Account Minimum: $0
- Fees: $0.005 per share for the standard platform, $0 for IBKR Lite
- Account Minimum: $1,000 CAD
- Fees: Commissions as low as $4.95 CAD
- Best for: Active traders who want to reduce their commission costs
Interactive Brokers' products and low fees are great, but the brokerage falls short on user experience. The firm’s flagship Trader Workstation platform is feature-filled, and it performs well for serious traders. However, typical investors may find it challenging to use. Once mastered, navigation between market venues and instruments on the platform is natural. Trade execution is quick, but investors should proceed with caution because the speedy trades are irreversible. The Client Portal represents a significant step forward in bringing Interactive Brokers to the masses. However, it is not as well-developed as Trader Workstation.
Questrade's desktop platform is easier to navigate and more intuitive than any of Interactive Brokers' offerings. The web-based platform is slow and light on features. There is a faster downloadable version called IQ Edge, but it tends to be prone to glitches. The browser-based and desktop platform both support Forex and CFD trading. Neither trading platform stands out, but Questrade is easier for new investors than Interactive Brokers.
- Easy to navigate for advanced users
- Lightning-fast trade execution
- The web-based trading platform is intuitive but slow
- Downloadable desktop app IQ Edge is a faster option
Mobile and Emerging Tech
Interactive Brokers' cumbersome desktop experience is thrown aside in the mobile version. The slimmed-down mobile version of the software supports both Android and iOS. It offers watchlists, orders, trades, scanners, alerts, portfolio news, market briefs, and simplified options trading. The mobile app also features IBot, Interactive Brokers' AI-powered digital assistant.
Questrade switched its iOS and Android applications away from the old IQ platform, which included all the basics. The Questrade app supports real-time stock and options trades, but users have reportedly been somewhat upset by a perceived downgrade in functionality. Questrade also offers the Questrade FX Global app for trading forex and CFDs. On the whole, Interactive Brokers’ mobile app was more customizable and offered more features.
- Trade anywhere across PCs, webpages, and mobile apps
- IB Key technology for more security
- The app supports quick access to margin information
- Mobile app available on iOS and Android
Education and Research
Educational resources on Questrade are lacking compared to larger brokerages. However, the brokerage does have an excellent paper trading program and a few other resources for investors, such as a collection of on-demand webinars. Traders on Questrade have access to research from Morningstar, which goes a long way in filling in the gaps in stock and fund analysis. Questrade also offers current news on companies from Business Wire and Canada Newswire.
There is content addressing some market topics in detail at Interactive Brokers, but most of it is not for average investors. Interactive Brokers does provide "TWS for Beginners" and an "Introduction to Options" for new traders. As you can imagine based on the trading platform, Interactive Brokers focuses on the active trader with previous market experience. The lack of introductory education materials is not likely to influence these customers.
- Limited education section
- Trader's University with free webinars and courses
- Video tutorials and occasional webinars
- Access to Canadian news sources
Questrade features a multilevel fee structure. There is standard pricing, as well as active trader pricing, for stock and options commissions. Investors must purchase the advanced data package for $89.95 (Canadian dollars) to access active trader pricing. The Active Trader program brings Questrade's costs closer to Interactive Brokers, but the fixed cost of a subscription is an additional complication.
Interactive Brokers has a straightforward pricing system with lower fees than Questrade. Interactive Brokers also offers tight spreads on stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds, CFDs, ETFs, mutual funds, and metals. For example, stocks and ETFs can be traded for $0.005 (U.S. dollars) per share and options are $0.15 - $0.70 (U.S. dollars) per contract with no per-leg fee. IBKR Lite clients pay no commission on U.S.-based equities, but they are restricted to the web-based Client Portal and IB's mobile apps. The usual commission schedule applies to all other trades.
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