Questrade has long reigned supreme as the best online brokerage in Canada for investors who want to save on commissions and fees. But as the only commission-free trading platform in Canada, Wealthsimple threatens to usurp Questrade’s crown. This article will go under the hood to compare Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade to determine once and for all who wins the title as Canada’s discount brokerage king.
Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade: Summary
Need a quick summary? Here’s what investors need to know about these two trading platforms:
- Wealthsimple Trade offers zero-commission trading (buy/sell) for both ETFs, stocks, and cryptocurrency (under Wealthsimple Crypto). Questrade offers free ETF purchases, plus stock trades for as low as $4.95.
- Questrade supports a wide array of accounts such as RESPs, LIRAs, Margin, and Corporate. Wealthsimple Trade only supports RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered accounts.
- Investors can open a Wealthsimple Trade account for $0, or a Questrade account with a $1,000 minimum.
- Get $50 in free trades when you open a Questrade account. For Wealthsimple Trade: Promo: Get a $50 cash bonus + $0 commission trades when you open a new Wealthsimple Trade account and deposit and trade at least $150!
The verdict: Questrade narrowly tops Wealthsimple Trade as the best trading platform in Canada for self-directed investors.
What is Wealthsimple Trade?
Wealthsimple Trade is the first and only commission-free trading platform in Canada. Clients can open an RRSP, TFSA, or non-registered (taxable) account to buy and sell stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrency (with Wealthsimple Crypto) without paying any commission fees. This trading platform offers a seamless sign-up process with no account fees, minimums, or paperwork. It’s best suited for fee-conscious investors with basic trading needs.
Standout Features for Wealthsimple Trade
- Wealthsimple Trade clients can trade 20 cryptocurrency tokens and coins (including Bitcoin and Ethereum) through the connected Wealthsimple Crypto platform.
- Opening an account is simple – just download the Wealthsimple Trade app and tap “Get Started.” Or sign up using your desktop computer.
- There’s no cost or account minimum to open a Wealthsimple Trade account, so you can start trading with $1 once you’ve linked a bank account.
- The only platform in Canada to offer the ability to purchase fractional shares on select Canadian and US stocks
- Clients can pay $3/month + tax to access real-time quotes, plus the ability to deposit and trade up to $1,000 immediately every three business days
- No other brokerage allows investors to buy and sell both stocks and ETFs for free. Most brokerages charge $9.99 per trade, with a select few (like Questrade) offering free ETF purchases.
- Reimburses transfer fees on transfers larger than $5,000.
Where Wealthsimple Trade falls short:
- Only supports RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered account types at this time.
- Clients can only access stocks and ETFs that are traded on Canadian and U.S. stock exchanges. You cannot trade mutual funds, options, preferred shares, over-the-counter securities (OTC), or stocks that trade on non-North American exchanges.
- Stock and ETF quotes are not available in real-time (15-minute delay) under the (free) basic plan.
- Basic customers can only get up to $250 in instant deposits.
What is Questrade?
Headquartered in Toronto, Questrade has been the undisputed king of low-cost, self-directed investing for Canadians since 1999, managing more than $8 billion in assets. For over two decades, it has been known for offering low-cost trading commissions on stocks, and, more recently, offering free ETF purchases for investors.
Standout Features for Questrade
- Questrade offers a wealth of different account types, including RRSPs, TFSAs, non-registered, RESP, LIRA, RIF, Margin, and Corporate accounts.
- Multiple trading platforms (beginner and pro, for web and mobile), and powerful research tools including real-time quotes.
- Clients can purchase stocks, ETFs, options, IPOs, and international equities.
- ETF purchases are free.
- Clients can hold both U.S. and Canadian dollars inside registered accounts, including RRSPs and TFSAs. This means you can trade in markets on both sides of the border without paying currency conversion each time you trade.
- Questrade clients can instantly deposit and trade up to $3,500 per day with their Visa Debit card.
- Questrade will reimburse transfer fees up to $150 per account.
- $0 inactivity fee: Questrade no longer charges a quarterly inactivity fee for clients with account balances under $5,000.
Where Questrade Falls Short
- ETF purchases are free but selling them will cost clients between $4.95 and $9.95 per trade. Stocks can be purchased and sold starting at $4.95.
- Questrade’s account minimum is $1,000.
- No ability to trade crypto coins and tokens (although you can purchase bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs)
Comparing Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade
This comparison table highlights key features for the Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade platforms:
Questrade Wealthsimple Trade Winner Account types RRSP, TFSA, non-registered, RESP, Margin, LIRA, RIF, LIF, Corporate, Joint RRSP, TFSA, non-registered Questrade Investment products Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, precious metals, foreign exchange CAD/US stocks and ETFs, 20 cryptocurrency coins and tokens (Wealthsimple Crypto via Wealthsimple Trade App) Questrade Fees $0 ETF purchases
$4.95 - $9.95 per stock trade and ETF sell
$0 stock and ETF trades
1.5-2% operations fee per crypto transaction
Wealthsimple Trade Foreign conversion fees 175 basis point currency conversion fee for CAD to USD foreign exchange
Can hold USD
Corporate rate + 1.50% for CAD to USD foreign exchange
Can’t hold USD
Questrade Transfer fees Reimburse $150 in fees
$150 transfer out fee
Reimburse $150 in fees for accounts of $5,000 or more
$0 transfer out fees
Wealthsimple Trade Minimum deposit $1,000 $0 Wealthsimple Trade User experience Easy to navigate platform and find account information, trading, performance reporting, and market research. Excellent customer service Slick platform with basic account features for trading, activity, and performance reporting. Little to no customer service support available Questrade Mobile app Yes Yes Wealthsimple Trade Market Data $3/month for premium clients Free real-time data Questrade Cryptocurrency No Yes Wealthsimple Trade
While both platforms offer RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered accounts, Questrade also offers a wider selection of accounts, including RESPs, LIRAs, Spousal RRSPs, RIFs, LIFs, and Corporate accounts.
With Questrade, investors can trade nearly any security, hold USD, and access a broader suite of tools to track their performance, analyze and research stocks and ETFs, create account alerts, and instantly deposit and trade up to $3,500 per day.
Wealthsimple Trade is a close second, simply for the ability to trade stocks and ETFs for free. For investors with basic trading needs in an RRSP, TFSA, or non-registered account, Wealthsimple Trade is a terrific option. Props to the development team at Wealthsimple Trade for introducing new features like fractional shares, adding new cryptocurrency tokens to trade, and adding a premium service to get real-time quotes and larger instant deposits. We’d love to see more account types and the ability to hold USD in the near future.
Winner: Questrade — it’s a more comprehensive investing platform.
Below is a breakdown of the fees for each self-directed trading platform:
|Platform||Account Fees||Trading Fees||Other Fees|
|Wealthsimple Trade||None||None||Corporate rate + 1.50% for CAD to USD foreign exchange|
|Questrade||None||$0 ETF purchases|
$4.95 - $9.95 to sell ETFs and to buy and sell stocks
|175 basis point currency conversion fee for CAD to USD foreign exchange|
Wealthsimple Trade offers commission-free buying and selling of ETFs and stocks. Questrade only allows for commission-free ETF purchases, but charges between $4.95 and $9.95 to sell ETFs and to trade stocks.
Winner: Wealthsimple Trade – you can’t beat zero-commission trading
Foreign Conversion Fees
Investors pay foreign exchange when buying US-listed securities with Canadian dollars (and vice-versa). Investment platforms typically charge a mark-up over and above the spot rate or daily rate of exchange.
Questrade charges a 175 basis point currency conversion fee on Canadian to US dollar conversions (and vice versa). However, clients can hold USD inside their registered accounts and transfer USD to Questrade from a USD bank account – avoiding the foreign conversion fees. Questrade investors can then purchase US-listed stocks and ETFs directly with USD.
Wealthsimple Trade does not allow its clients to hold USD. That means every time an investor buys a US-listed stock or ETF their CAD dollars will be converted into USD. Wealthsimple Trade charges a 1.5% currency conversion fee on Canadian to US dollar conversions (and vice versa).
Winner: Questrade – Investors can hold and transact in USD
Wealthsimple Trade will reimburse fees on transfers of more than $5,000. Questrade will reimburse fees (up to $150/account).
However, if you decide to move your investments to another institution, Questrade will ding you $150 in transfer fees. Wealthsimple Trade won’t charge you anything.
Winner: Wealthsimple Trade — by a hair! The $0 in transfer out fees makes it a winner.
There’s no minimum deposit to open an account and invest at Wealthsimple Trade, but Questrade requires a $1,000 minimum deposit.
Winner: Wealthsimple Trade
Questrade offers a great user experience for both novice and experienced investors. Clients can open any account type and trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and more from their desktop or mobile device. Questrade has easily accessible market research, and clients can find their transaction history, activity, and performance data with a couple of clicks.
More importantly, Questrade has a long history of stellar customer service where you can connect with an agent by phone or via secure online chat. We highly recommend starting with the online chat support, as it’s typically the fastest way to connect with an agent.
Wealthsimple Trade has a seamless sign-up process and the platform looks sexy. The mobile app and new desktop platform are incredibly well designed. Trading is an absolute breeze. However, the rest of the user experience falls short, when you consider there is no customer service support (not even a social media account), poor performance reporting, no way to transfer funds from the desktop version, and no way to set up automatic recurring deposits at all.
Winner: Questrade – For a more comprehensive investor experience
Wealthsimple Trade does not support real-time quotes (delayed 15 minutes) for basic (free) customers, while Questrade offers free one-click real-time data. Note Wealthsimple Trade premium clients can pay $3/month + tax to access real-time quotes.
Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade: Pros and Cons
Pros Cons Wealthsimple Trade Zero-commission trades Doesn’t support all account types $0 account minimum Beautifully designed and easy to use Promo: Get a $50 cash bonus + $0 commission trades when you open a new Wealthsimple Trade account and deposit and trade at least $150! Questrade Free ETF purchases $4.95-$9.95 to sell ETFs and buy/sell stocks Multiple account options $1,000 account minimum
$50 in free trades
Who Are They Best For?
Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade are geared to most self-directed investors, but each is best suited for certain types of investors:
- Wealthsimple Trade is best suited for beginner investors with basic trading needs. This type of investor likely has an RRSP and/or TFSA account and likes to invest in a couch potato-style passive indexing portfolio using ETFs. A fee-conscious investor will love the idea of building a low-cost portfolio of ETFs with regular, commission-free contributions.
- Questrade is best suited for more sophisticated investors. It is tailored to investors who, in addition to an RRSP or TFSA, might also have a LIRA from a previous employer, or a corporate account for their small business. A more seasoned, active trader, this type of investor is looking for an edge with real-time quotes, robust market research and data, and the ability to trade more than just the traditional stocks and ETFs on the North American stock exchanges.
Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade: What is the Best Trading Platform in Canada?
Has the new challenger dethroned the reigning king? After thoroughly researching both platforms, I can confidently say that Questrade is still the top discount brokerage in Canada.
Questrade simply offers more and better access to accounts, products, research, and tools than Wealthsimple Trade offers at this point. Questrade clients can access their trading platform on desktop or mobile, they can hold USD inside their registered accounts, and they can access real-time market quotes and data. Plus, Young & Thrifty readers get $50 in free trades when they open a Questrade account.
Wealthsimple Trade simply cannot compete with these features, with one exception: if you’re just starting out and want to build an investment portfolio inside your RRSP or TFSA with small, frequent contributions, Wealthsimple Trade is an excellent choice that will likely save you money. Wealthsimple Trade clients won’t have to worry about inactivity fees when they’re first starting out, and they won’t incur fees when selling ETFs to rebalance their portfolios. Here’s an excellent reason to sign-up: those who open a Wealthsimple Trade account will get a $50 cash bonus + $0 commission trades. All you have to do is deposit and trade at least $150.
Questrade helped drive down the costs of trading for Canadian investors when it launched in 1999. Now Wealthsimple Trade has brought commissions down to zero. Hopefully, other brokerages follow suit. In the meantime, check out our ultimate guide to Canada’s discount brokerages for more information.