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Qtrade Review: Everything You Need to Know About QTrade Direct Investing

Qtrade Review: Everything You Need to Know About QTrade Direct Investing

If you are shopping for an online discount brokerage, there is no shortage of options to choose from. One of the most popular is QTrade Direct Investing.

There are several reasons to place QTrade Direct Investing on your online brokerage shortlist. It’s well-known for its customer service and has been recognized many times over as a top Canadian broker. Not only that, but Qtrade’s fees are competitive and lower than the big bank brokerages.

But how does QTrade compare to the lowest fee brokers, like Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade? In this QTrade review, I’ll cover everything you need to know about QTrade, from key features to pricing to pros and cons, and more.

About QTrade Direct Investing

QTrade is the operating name of Credential QTrade Securities Inc., a Vancouver-based brokerage firm. The company is part of Aviso Wealth, one of Canada’s largest wealth management firms. More than 300 Canadian Credit Unions use QTrade to provide investment services to their clients.

Types of QTrade Accounts

You can open the following account types with QTrade Direct Investing: Cash (non-registered) and margin; TFSA, RSP (RRSP), LIRA/LRSP, RESP, RIF(RRIF), and LIF.

QTrade Cash/Margin Accounts

QTrade’s Cash account is a non-registered (taxable) investment account where you can trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), GICs, and more. Cash accounts can be opened in the following registrations: Individual, joint, Trust, Estates, Society, Religious Organization, Investment Club, and Company (Business).

A QTrade Margin account is also taxable, but it allows you to borrow money from QTrade to invest, using your existing investments as security. However, margin accounts are not suitable for beginners due to the increased risk of borrowing money to invest.

QTrade Registered Accounts

No matter what kind of tax-sheltered investment account you need, QTrade has it. You can open a TFSA, RRSP, RIF, RESP, LIF, etc. For the QTrade RRSP account, you won’t pay a registration fee if you maintain a balance of $25,000 or greater or invest regularly. If you wish to transfer your pension from a previous employer, you can do so with a QTrade LIRA/LRSP account.

How to Open a QTrade Account


Key Features

  • No account minimum required
  • Offers stock, option, ETF, bond, and GIC trading
  • Buy and sell 105 exchange-traded funds commission-free
  • Customer service team available via live chat, secure site messaging, email, or phone
  • Mobile trading is available via iOS and Android apps.
  • Link your bank account and transfer money back and forth
  • Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) protection is available within specified limits
  • Available to Canadian residents only

Qtrade Pricing

QTrade pricing is very competitive compared to other discount brokerages, especially the big bank brokers. In addition to offering more than 100 free ETFs, QTrade doesn’t charge account fees for Canadian Dollar registered accounts (RSP, RIF, TFSA).

Trading Fees

  • Equities: $8.75
  • Options: $8.75 + $1.25 per contract
  • Select ETFs: Free
  • Other ETFs: $8.75
  • Mutual Funds: $8.75
  • Fixed Income/Exchange Traded Debentures: $1 per $1000 Face Value

Active Trader Pricing

If you qualify as an active trader with QTrade (150+ trades per quarter or $500,000 in assets per Client ID), you benefit from the following Investor Plus pricing:

  • Equities: $6.95
  • Options: $6.95 + $1.25 per contract
  • Select ETFs: Free
  • Other ETFs: $6.95
  • Mutual Funds: $6.95
  • Fixed Income/Exchange Traded Debentures: $1 per $1000 Face Value

Free ETFs

As mentioned, QTrade offers more than 100 free Canadian and US Listed ETFs from leading investment firms, including Blackrock (iShares), Vanguard, and Horizons. Here is a sample:

  • iShares S&P/TSX Capped Information Technology Index ETF (XIT)
  • iShares Core Balanced ETF Portfolio (XBAL)
  • iShares Core Growth ETF Portfolio (XGRO)
  • iShares Core Equity ETF Portfolio (XEQT)
  • Horizons S&P 500 Index ETF (HXS)
  • Horizons S&P/TSX 60 Index ETF (HXT)
  • Horizons Active Global Dividend ETF (HAZ)
  • Vanguard Global ex-U.S. Aggregate Bond Index ETF (CAD-hedged)
  • Vanguard Energy ETF (VDE) – US listed
  • Vanguard Industrials ETF (VIS) – US listed
  • Vanguard Energy ETF (VDE) – US Listed

Here is a full list of commission-free ETFs.

Other Fees

QTrade provides the following services to customers at no charge: eStatements and eConfirmations, Electronic Funds Transfer, Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs), LIF, RIF, and LRIF scheduled payments, and customer support.

Beyond that, here are some other fees you can expect with QTrade. For a full list of fees, check out their fee schedule:

  • Account Administration Fee: $25/quarter, free if you maintain a balance of $25,000, make a minimum number of commissionable trades, establish an EFT contribution of at least $100 per month, or qualify for the Young Investor offer.
  • US Dollar Registered Accounts (RSPs, RIFs, TFSAs): $15 USD per quarter/account.
  • LIF/RIF/LRIF Additional Payments: $50 for every unscheduled payment.
  • Partial De-registration: $50
  • Full De-registration: $125

QTrade Trading Platform

QTrade Direct Investing offers a fully-functioning trading platform with advanced market and research tools. QTrade lets you start trading sooner with digital account opening and e-signatures. Their self-serve online portal lets you manage your account details, including accessing your statements and enrolling in a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP). And you can manage all of your investments from one account dashboard.

Here are some other features you can expect to see when you open an account with QTrade:

  • Free Planning Tools help you project your net worth and plan for your retirement or your children’s education.
  • QTrade’s screening tools allow you to sort through thousands of stocks, mutual funds, and ETFs to help create a portfolio that matches your investment objectives.
  • QTrade provides you with technical research so you can search and filter potential investments using bullish and bearish technical indicators.
  • Evaluate stocks by viewing analysts’ recommendations based on reviews of Canadian and US investments.
  • QTrade’s fundamental analysis provides you with companies key performance metrics. You can also obtain real-time quotes and track market activity throughout the day.
  • QTrade lets you create watchlists and alerts so you can be notified when market events or stock price changes occur.

QTrade Mobile Trading

QTrade offers a slick mobile app for investors who prefer to trade on the go. The app is available on iOS and Android devices and has many essential features. In addition to placing trades, you can get real-time quotes on your mobile device, manage your watchlist, and transfer money between QTrade and your bank accounts.

QTrade Advantages

There’s a lot to like about QTrade, over and above the free ETFs. Here’s my list of QTrade advantages:

Over 100 Free ETFs

You can purchase more than 100 commission-free ETFs through Questrade, which is more than enough to craft a well-diversified portfolio. The list includes some of the biggest ETFs traded on the TSX and a healthy selection of US-listed ETFs from names like Blackrock iShares, and Vanguard. You won’t find free ETFs from the big bank brokerages – most of them will charge you close to $10 per trade. Only Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade offer unlimited commission-free ETFs, but more on them later.

Competitive Pricing for Young Investors

If you are between 18 and 30, you can qualify for the QTrade Young Investor Program. All you need to do is set up a recurring deposit of $50 or more monthly from your bank account into your QTrade account, and you’ll receive $1 off stock trades ($7.75), no minimum balance requirement, and no quarterly fee ($25).

Excellent Customer Service

Qtrade has been ranked Canada’s #1 online brokerage 25 times over the last 17 years by the Globe & Mail, Surviscor, The Motley Fool, and MoneySense. A big part of that rating is due to QTrades responsive customer service. If you need help from QTrade, there are no fewer than four ways to get it:

Questrade is well-known for its responsive customer service. There are no fewer ways you can get it: live chat, secure site messaging, email, and phone. You can reach QTrade via email at [email protected] or by telephone at 1.877.787.2330.

Trading Platform

As mentioned, QTrade’s trading platform is feature-rich, with intuitive market research tools to help you succeed as an investor. You can leverage free planning and screening tools, QTrade’s technical research, analyst recommendations, fundamental analysis, and more.

QTrade Drawbacks

As with any discount brokerage, no single platform is perfect. While I think QTrade is an excellent choice for most investors, here are a couple of drawbacks to consider:

Some Competitors Have Lower Fees

Let me start by saying that not ALL competitors have lower fees than QTrade. QTrades free ETFs and $8.75 standard pricing for stock trades place it ahead of all of the big bank brokerages, like TD Direct Investing or RBC Direct Investing. However, competitors like Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade have a pricing advantage by offering more free trades.

Annoying Quarterly Fees

QTrade isn’t the only brokerage charging these annoying quarterly administration fees on low-balance accounts, and it’s easy to see why. It’s so easy to get around the quarterly fee that it would be nice to see QTrade ditch it altogether.

QTrade vs. Questrade

You may wonder how QTrade compares to other top Canadian discount brokers like Questrade. Like QTrade, Questrade offers commission-free ETFs, but you’re limited to around 100. With Questrade, all ETF purchases are free. This is an advantage if you are a dedicated ETF investor, but QTrade certainly has enough selection to build a passive index portfolio with ETFs. Questrade’s standard stock trading fee is lower than QTrades, at $4.95 versus $8.75.

QTrade has the edge over Questrade in customer service and its trading platform. QTrade’s desktop and mobile user experience are superior to Questrade, and they have a reputation for more responsive service. Both of which are important measures.

Questrade may be the way to go if you are highly fee-conscious, but if you prefer a balance between competitive fees, great customer service, and an excellent trading platform (which includes top-notch markets and research tools, then QTrade is your best bet. For more information on Questrade, check out our full review.

QTrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade

Wealthsimple Trade is another popular, low-cost brokerage. You won’t pay any trading fees when you buy or sell stocks and ETFs with Wealthsimple Trade. The mobile-only trading platform is well-suited to beginners, but with no desktop platform, and limited research tools, it lags QTrade in overall performance. Unless you’re an active trader looking to avoid trading fees at all costs, I recommend QTrade over Wealthsimple for most investors.

QTrade Pros and Cons


  • 100+ commission-free ETFs
  • Simple account opening process
  • Responsive customer service
  • Slick mobile apps
  • Excellent investment research tools.


  • $25 quarterly account fee
  • The standard trading fee is higher than some competitors

QTrade FAQs

Is QTrade Safe?

Yes, QTrade is perfectly safe. The company is IIROC-regulated (Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada) and a member of (CIPF) the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. QTrade uses the highest levels of encryption for its desktop and mobile applications, similar technology your bank uses to secure your online accounts.

How do I qualify for the Young Investor Program?

If you are under 30 years of age, you will receive a $7.75 flat rate commission, no minimum account balance, and no quarterly fee, providing you set up a recurring deposit of $50 or more into your QTrade account each month.

Where Is QTrade available?

QTrade is available in all Canadian provinces, and its services are available in English and French.

Can I trade outside of regular market hours?

QTrade allows investors to trade outside regular market hours, but only for US markets. Canadian markets don’t support after-hours trading. After-hours trades cannot be placed online; instead, you must contact a QTrade Investment Representative at 1(877)787 2330.

QTrade Review: Final Thoughts

There you have it, my review of QTrade. I view QTrade as one of the best online brokers in Canada. QTrade manages to provide excellent customer service, a robust desktop and mobile trading platform which includes top-notch market research tools while remaining competitive when it comes to fees.

So, who is QTrade best suited for? If fees are your only consideration or you happen to be an active ETF investor, then Questrade might be your best bet. But if you are a young investor, value good customer experience, or prefer to strike a balance between low fees and an excellent trading platform, then QTrade just might be the way to go.


  1. omi

    These fees are horrible, what is this, 2004?

  2. Cooper Gyles

    I have recently joined an online marketing business based in Toronto called Banner Broker. It is offering very high margins of 100% on the trading on online banner advertising function under an Affialiate Marketing methodology.
    I cannot find any references to their business address on Toronto or Oshawa.
    I do not know if the are registered as a compnay in the Canadaian business registry.
    Im reading a wide ranging amount of online commentary that suggests on the one had they are legit and on the other that its all a PONZI have on.
    Can you provide a definitive answer to my concerns

  3. Dean Junkin

    Q-TRADE literally sucks the past year. During heavy volumes or a busier time of day you cannot lg in or the site freezes. Naturally it’s during these times that you want to trade as well so a double whammy. Forced to call in the trade and on hold for 5 minutes so naturally you have lost your price by this time. I complained one time and was told I should expect a call back or email indicating I would get a price adjustment. No call/email received and no price adjustment provided.
    I have a mid 6 figure account with them and thoroughly p’d off!

  4. Daniel

    I would avoiding QTrade at all costs. I really don’t get any of the positive reviews (which was why I went with them initially). They have a ton of fees that are not super clear up front, and then when you take your money out they hit you with extra fees. I put a modest amount of money in a TFSA before realizing that I was being hit with almost $200 of fees per year, and deciding to remove my money. They then charged me almost $300 to take my money out. In total I ended up paying almost 10 PERCENT of my investment in Fees in under a year. Whether or not this was “clearly” spelled out in the fine print it was an awful experience. Coming from the US I am not used to the plethora of banking fees Canadian institutions charge but this was totally insane.

    On top of this there website looks like it is from 1998 and their customer service is poor.

  5. Alex

    Had a very similar bad experience with Qtrade. Invested $800 in an ETF 8 months ago as a trial run for larger investment and so far Qtrade has charged me $75. + HST in Admin Fees (10% of my account value) I tried to close my account to avoid any further admin fees and was threatened with another $100 admin fee if I didn’t leave the account open for another 3 months. If I wait another 3 months they will charge me another $25 admin fee so I’ll only have lost $100 on my $800 investment instead of $200. they will charge me for leaving before the end of a year. Charging 25% on an accounts total value in admin fees is just ridiculous and a fine print money grab. Avoid Qtrade due to hidden admin fees and penalties. I was considering to moving my 7 figure investment portfolio over to Q trade but not after being burned on a small initial test investment. Qtrade may have taken me for $200 on an $800 investment account but their admin fees scam just lost them a much bigger customer. Fool me once shame on you…

  6. Lise

    I have also had a terrible experience with Qtrade and I wrote to IIROC to complain. It went something like this:

    I have an RESP account for my niece with Qtrade. It has about $285 in it, which is not a large sum but it is over a years’ savings of birthday and Christmas money from a 9-year old girl. I am unhappy with the Qtrade platform and ongoing quarterly fees so I want to transfer the money and close my account. My new institution only supports parent/grandparent relationships with RESPs, so it looks like my best option is to cash out the RESP. Qtrade wants to charge me $125 for this transaction–nearly half of a child’s diligently saved education money!

    I also have a Qtrade TFSA account that I want to close. This transaction would also bear a $125 fee.

    A total fee of $250 to reclaim my own money is unjustly high and predatory, especially for a firm that markets itself as having “smaller prices”.

    I would encourage other dissatisfied customers to also write to IIROC: [email protected].

  7. Randy

    Terrible, no service, wait on hold for ever, service sucks, trying to get my account set up was suppose to be about 3 business days and it took over two week, dont use them. Also hearing about alot of hidden fees.

  8. Simon

    Update – Hold & read this before you open any account with Qtrade, or you will be robbed blind when you move, transfer or close your account. The fee published on its website is misleading to say the least. The real cost is much higher as we just found out in late 2020. The total fee to transfer my RRSP account was more than $500! It included $150 for CAD RRSP, plus CA$350 for USD RRSP account, even though I asked Qtrade and was told specifically “It will be $150 and it will only be charged once and not per account.” in their own online message! The USD RRSP fee includes US$150 for transferring, US$100 for closing the account, which is obviously a greedy double dip (or actually triple dip considering they said they would only charge once for all accounts), and all plus GST. This is highway robbery. Unless you want to be robbed like this, stay as far away from as possible!

  9. Pascal Jean

    My horrible experience opening a joint account to purchase dome investments.
    It all started with their horribly defective app that cause both of our cellphones to freeze during the photo ID process. I had a “ticket” open for the past several weeks with their technical department but so far no responses. I called several times to their customer service line – they have very poorly skilled help – and have been playing tag with them ever since. I was actually expecting a call from a cs manager last week but he didn’t bother to call me back.

    All this for a simple process of uploading passport and DL IDs. Can’t do it on a Sam S20 nor on a Iphone 11 pro. Go figure that both devices would get a black screen when trying to take the picture or if it does let us won’t focus properly.

    Given all the other comments of the high fees regarding having an account with them, I will verify with my bank Coast Capital and Qtrade that since we have a lined service, if they will actually charge me to move money in-and-out. To me, I will simply not bother with Qtrade if they confirm they will penalize us to move $100k.

    Thank you for the honest posters and their beefs on Qtrade. What other platform is there that would be really good? Scotia Discount has a decent platform and the fees are not the best for trading but if you have an Ultimate package, they do wave certain monthly fees.

    I also believe there was way too much hype given all the fintechs wanting to get in the trading account model. Robinhood, etc… are using their customer’s trading info in helping other brokers front-run them. Sure most pundits defending these practices say that it only adds small costs like 5cents or so. But think about the volume of trades and how easily profits are made on absolutely no risk to them? Not right.

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