Questrade is a Canadian broker providing Canadians with an alternative to trading and investing with the big banks. Questrade cannot hold regular trading accounts (non-registered accounts) for U.S. residents, even if they are Canadian citizens. If you already have a registered account with any Canadian broker/financial institution, you can transfer it to Questrade; if not, you cannot open a Questrade account. Established in 1999, Questrade provides trading in stocks, forex, options, bonds, ETFs, CFDs, and mutual funds. In addition, they offer GICs, international equities, access to IPOs, and precious metal purchases.
Commissions as low as $4.95 CAD
No annual fees and rebates are available on subscription fees for active traders
Many ETFs are free to buy
Managed portfolios with fees of 0.17% to 0.25% are lower than many mutual funds charge
$24.95 CAD per quarter inactivity fee if no trades are made in an account with $5,000 or less
Active traders will find the platform lacking in order types, features, and screeners
Real-time quotes are free, but streaming quotes require a subscription
Questrade clients can trade via three trading platforms, plus a forex and CFD platform, each offering a different experience. Questrade Trading is the web-based platform. It offers basic charting, quotes, watchlists, and research tools, but the customization is limited.
IQ Edge is a downloadable platform that provides all the same features as the web-based version. IQ Edge has more features, such as advanced order types, and is more customizable with hotkey functions, charts with more tools, as well as savable advanced layouts.
Forex and CFD trading requires a different platform. For those who trade multiple markets, trading from two platforms might be cumbersome. For forex traders, the platform is intuitive, customizable, and offers advanced charting and access to more than 55 currency pairs as well as eight CFDs that cover the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), West Texas Intermediate Crude, Natural Gas, Gold, Silver, Copper, and Corn.
Overall the platforms are intuitive and easy to navigate. Placing trades is straightforward with multiple ways in each platform to initiate a trade window. The user experience is good, with moderate levels of customization.
Advanced traders may find that the screeners lack criteria to adequately narrow their search, and common functions such as basket orders and market on open/close orders are missing.
The Questrade app allows for trading from mobile devices. It syncs with the other platforms, so traders can access their watchlists and settings. Traders can input a stock, ETF, or option symbol to bring up a basic summary of that asset. Click the Buy/Sell button to open a trade window, then input the desired trade criteria into the form.
Trading forex and CFDs requires the Questrade FX Global app. While the two apps operate in similar ways and have similar functions, clients trading forex or CFDs will need to use the FX app. For active traders trading multiple markets, using two apps is cumbersome.
Clicking on the account tab in the platforms brings up options for seeing current balances, positions, orders, executions, and activity.
In the balances section clients will see their open profit and losses, how much cash they have, the market value of their trades, and their buying power. They will also see margin levels if using a margin account.
IQ Edge provides more tools for analysis that show clients how much exposure they have to various sectors, asset types, industries, and currencies.
News and Research
All of Questrade's platforms offer a news feed. Users can see news related to specific companies and the world economy from sources like Business Wire and Canada Newswire. Clients are also able to access research reports and analysis on companies from Market Intelligence, a data and research service powered by Morningstar, a global investment research and investment management firm.
Day traders have access to Intraday Trader, which is pattern recognition software that finds historical patterns with a profitable edge and then notifies the trader when those patterns occur again.
Questrade screeners are limited. There is a stock and options screener, but they lack sophistication. They include only simple criteria such as price, volume, volatility, and fundamentals. Technical or statistical criteria are not offered.
Range of Offerings
Questrade offers an array of products to invest in or trade: both Canadian and international stocks and ETFs, options, Forex pairs, CFDs, mutual funds, and IPOs.
The Questrade platforms are straightforward and intuitive. For newer traders with lots of questions, Questrade provides basic answers to questions such as how to place orders, what order types to use, and how to install the trading platforms.
Questions are answered in the "How To" section of the Questrade website. Click on the Resources dropdown menu, and then select "Help & How-To." Not all articles are listed, so use the search to find articles on a specific query. The how-to articles are free to access.
Webinars and live events are rare, although the Questrade YouTube page does have some videos. These are available to everyone for free.
If you're looking for an actual trading education, such as how to become a better trader or investor, Questrade has little to offer here. They only provide basic trading information.
Questrade customer service is helpful and polite. Clients and potential clients may contact a customer service representative via phone, email, or online chat. For phone and online chat, expect to wait about one to five minutes to speak with someone.
Email support takes longer, with wait times for a response ranging from one to three business days.
Customer service representatives won't typically be able to answer in-depth trading questions, although they are helpful for working out problems with accounts and the platforms as well as providing information on what services and products Questrade offers.
Live brokers are available during market hours to place trades, and live brokers are required for placing bond trades.
Questrade has two cost structures. There is standard pricing, as well as active trader pricing, for stock and options commissions. Active trader pricing is activated when a client purchases an Advanced Data Package (Level II quotes on a Canadian or U.S. exchanges).
Advanced Data Packages are $89.95 CAD for the Canadian package and $89.95 USD for the U.S. package. They generate more than $48.95 in monthly commissions and receive a $19.95 rebate on the package fees. Clients receive a full rebate on package fees if they generate $399.95 in monthly commissions.
What You Need to Know
Questrade is a great broker for active traders who want to reduce their commission costs. Commissions are lower than most of the big banks in Canada, and a rebate structure on subscription costs means active traders can erase, or partially offset, market data fees.
Long-term investors, with more than $5,000 CAD in their account, also benefit from low commissions as well as access to no-cost-to-buy ETFs and managed portfolios with low yearly fees.
The one group of traders who could be hurt by the fee structure of Questrade is the investor with an account of less than $5,000 CAD who doesn't place trades every year, for example, the long-term buy and hold investor. Traders with small account balances are subject to a quarterly $24.95 inactivity fee. That equates to 2% per year on a $5,000 balance and a higher percentage if holding less than $5,000 in the inactive account. Having a balance of more than $5,000 remedies this problem, as does even making one trade each quarter.
Investors looking to actively trade with low commissions can consider Questrade as an option. See how they compare against other online brokers we reviewed.
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