Questrade Review – Updated January 2013


Get $50 in free trades.

Click here to see the updated portion of our review(June), January 2013 Update

I have been a Questrade client for a few years now, so I thought I would write up a Questrade review of my own.  Here’s a Questrade promo code to give you $50 in free trades: a1b9d1d9 If you make 10 trades, they’ll refund your $50 in free trades (from what I recall a few years back).   I was very very attracted to their $4.95 low commissions. They are a good basic online brokerage. They are ranked #1 in online discount brokerages by Globe and Mail. I just signed up for another account with Questrade- a TFSA account (or tax free trading account). So what do I really think of Questrade? Well, let’s break it down:

Pros

  • It won’t cost you an arm and a leg to trade.  They don’t charge the typical $29 commission that other online brokerages charge (or GASP: $100 commission fees for full service brokerages).
  • It only costs $4.95 up to a max of $9.95 per trade.
  • Funding your account is straight forward (if you put in Canadian currency).  You just need to set up a “bill payment” from your online banking account- it’ll take 1-3 days.
  • They have extended help hours (until 10pm eastern time!) via their Live Chat medium (I personally found live chat faster than waiting to speak to someone on the phone); it’s like “MSN messenger style”
  • No annual fees of any sort for RRSP’s… I get charged $105 for “maintaining” my BMO investorline RRSP self-directed trading account.  Not really sure what they need to maintain, but that’s another story.
  • You just need a minimum of $250 in equity to keep your account in good standing.
  • They are the ONLY brokerage in Canada to accept USD in registered accounts.  They only charge you $5 per transaction of USD stocks.
  • I like how they have “$50 in free trades” offers! (trading for free? that’s even better than $5!)  If you enter: a1b9d1d9 as the promo code, you’ll get $50 in free trades too.

Cons:

  • Questrade’s free webtrading platform is a little hard to navigate.  I think this is because Questrade is targeted towards real day traders (not just wannabes)
  • The layout is really basic and.. frankly, hard on the eyes…. I find the BMO investorline one much more clear, concise, and easy to look at.
  • The webtrading platform is a bit wonky sometimes, for example it showed that I had a $23,431 profit when it was actually only $249.  I find that it’s wonkier after hours. 
  • They charge you $3 for paper statements (I know, you save the environment, but I think you have to print it out at home for tax purposes anyways, no?)
  • Difficult to fund with US dollars.  I just sent my request for a pre-authorized deposit the other day.  I heard it takes up to 20 days (?!) They made it sound easy, I just needed to send my signature.  I’ll keep you posted on how long it takes.
  • Questrade’s quotes and charts are pretty basic.  Budget-basic.
  • There’s different websites for your trading platform and your account (e.g. fund your account) which can get kind of confusing.

Get $50 in free trades.

My suggestion?

Questrade is so great in that it only costs $5 a trade.  Really, you can’t beat that! It’ll help you to make smaller more frequent trades and not “waiting to cover the cost” of your commission, waiting so long that the stock ends up dropping back down and you end up losing money.  Sound familiar?

However, what I don’t like about them is the inconsistency…their customer service in inconsistent (I waited 20 minute by phone and 20 minutes online to speak to someone), their webtrader platform is sometimes “off” on off-trading hours etc.  I’ll post about my experience next time.  That said, I just signed onto a TFSA account. Lol, what can I say? I’m cheap and thrifty- I like the idea of $4.95 trades.

So, what I do personally is keep two accounts.  Questrade and BMO investorline.  I like BMO investorline because it’s the easiest to use and their chart analysis is great.  I like Questrade because it’s just so cheap.   I get the best of both worlds. I hope you enjoyed my Questrade review!

Do you use Questrade? What has been your experience so far?

Update – June 2012

Back in May Questrade announced that they were going to charge an inactivity fee of $9.95 per month if you did not make one trade per month. You are exempt if you have assets over $5000 or if you are a new user (under 6 months), or if you are younger than 25 years old.

Due to the customer feedback Questrade amended their changes and came up with this: View full article here

Here’s a top-level summary of the inactivity fees:

  • To remain active, you must make one (1) commissionable trade per quarter.
  • Each quarter (3 months) your account is inactive, you will be charged a $19.95 inactivity fee.
  • If you trade in the quarter following incurring an inactivity fee, the trades will be commission-free up to $19.95.
  • All clients 25 years and younger are exempt no matter their activity levels.
  • And finally, clients (and households with the same physical address) with combined assets of $5,000 or greater are exempt

Update – January 2013

As of February 1st, Questrade will be offering free buys on ETF’s! To see more about this visit their community forum for their announcement 

So all in all, I would say questrade responded quite well and I think this is a fair pricing model to use. They are still working with their customers to provide the best support for us. They have a speedy turnaround and I like how they made changes based on customer feedback. Some companies would have just stuck with their original game plan.  I still personally use Questrade and full recommend it going forward.

About

Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

34 Responses to Questrade Review – Updated January 2013

  1. Great list of pros and cons.

    I agree with the harder to use platform

    The fees are among the lowest I have seen but the platform is one of the worst. This depends on how many trades you make per year.

  2. Thanks Steve. You’re a Questrader too? =)

    That’s true, if you don’t plan to make that many trades, then there isn’t really a point to go with Questrade- might as well go with something that is easy on the eyes.

    If you DO make many trades, then I think Questrade is worth it, despite the budget-looking platform. To avoid the confusion, I used the Bloomberg app for my itouch and it tracks how much I’m up or down, thereby avoiding the need to rely on the unreliable platform.

    That said, Questrade DOES have a few platforms where you can pay money for. I guess you get what you pay for. =)

  3. Hey Steve,
    you know, the QuestraderWEB platform is free/ included, and it’s better than the webtrader platform. At least the + and – are in COLOUR! Not sure if you have checked it out yet. I guess I always just default to “webtrader” because it’s the top tab.

  4. Have you tried moving any money out of questrade since they “upgraded” their websites? It’s been a horrible experience for me. Try contacting customer support and you’ll be on hold for a lot longer than before. Perhaps you should update your review on them and warn people to stay away until all their bugs clear up.

    • @mike- I have checked out their new website and have tried contacting customer support (I was on hold for a ridiculous amount of time- used the online chat thing and then was on hold for 50 minutes, then called in and got through much quicker). I anticipate these are temporary issues because everyone is probably calling in and asking what their new account number is… I have a post coming up on Friday detailing the new changes. Thanks mike for sharing your opinion :)

  5. I have not found one person to say that they are satisfied with Questrade & their customer service. This company is THE WORST NIGHTMARE you could imagine – to deal with.

    Try calling them – they do not answer for hours
    - If you email -they do not answer for days or do not answer at all
    - try live chat – most of the time does not work
    - eventually if you get someone on the phone – person is plain lying to you or can not help or do not know anything
    - THE ARE RUDE AND OBNOXIOUS

    BEWARE – STAY AWAY !!!!

    • @chris- Sounds like you have had a bad experience. I would not recommend emailing them, but I do find that livechat and calling them quite effective. I think with the recent changes to the interface, there have been MANY calls, and higher call volume. Before, I didn’t have to wait too long (maybe 10 minutes max) to speak to someone, but I’m sure it’ll resolve once everyone settles with the new changes. Again, I am okay paying $5 per trade and dealing with a smaller company than paying $29 per trade and dealing with a big bank.

    • I’ve been using their services over a 3 years and called them for several questions as I learned the investment process. Always great service. The pros up there are awesome, compared to other brokers. The cons are bearable and actually all just fine with me. It takes a while and they need lots of info to set up accounts.. Well that makes me feel good about security. The platforms are not that great.. I use other several platforms to figure out trades, I use questrade as a broker to fill my orders… The US dollar thing? I can get Canadian/US money in my account in 2-3 days with my direct deposit setup.

  6. Questrade has mishandled their change over. They refuse to admit that and they say that 2 weeks to wait for a request is acceptable considering the changes being in place. I have reached the threashold for 10$ trades at big banks, I think it is time to move there. Do not go for Questrade if customer service is a priority to you.

  7. DO NOT SIGN UP WITH QUESTRADE. Here’s why: I currently have a tax free savings account with Questrade and am trying to create an RRSP account by transferring my balance from another broker to Questrade. Well, that was a few months ago and they still haven’t been able to make the switch. I contacted the other broker (TD) and they haven’t even received the required forms yet, after SEVERAL MONTHS. Not only that, they LOST MY ACCOUNT INFORMATION several times in the past 8 weeks. Do yourself a favor, AVOID QUESTRADE

    • @Dan- Transferring from another brokerage can be a big hassle- I remember it was when I was transferring over myBMOinvestorline stuff. Once it’s done though and things are within Questrade, it’s much easier to transfer between Questrade accounts.

    • Avoid them for this and a ton of other reasons – they are unreliable, their platforms are full of bugs, which they expect their clients to vet via poor customer service and long waits for online or phone help. Bugs that are reported are not fixed for months, losing trades and cash for clients. Cheap? Hardly. Since when is bad service and losing money cheap? Avoid like the plague, or sign up at your peril

  8. hey young have you noticed the recent changes to questrade??? they changed thier hours and they now have an inactivity fee!!! but at least that’s for under $5000 account balance

    do you think thier going out of bussiness?

    • Definitely not going out of business. I recommend using their online help function, always had much better luck with that. The inactivity fee is very minor as far as I am concerned (especially relative to fees you could pay elsewhere).

  9. WARNING : I want to share with all people that are thinking to open a Questrade account and also to the already clients to be very carefull.

    I will relate one issue that it’s happening to me right now with them.
    I open an account on March 2012. I fill all the papers as canadian citizen as I am.
    after I bougth some dividends US stocks. I check the amount received and I notice that they take 30% for tax proposes and sometimes 35%. (as Canadians we have to pay 15% witholding tax on any US share and dividend payement).
    I call them to verify why it’s happening that. and the support desk (Laura), tell me that she will check that for me.
    After that she sent me an e-mail telling me that she recalculate all the taxes and she doesn’t see any 30, 35% taken.
    I sent to her all my stock list , with all the dividend payement and also I sent to her how I was calculating them.

    In front of evidence she accept that was an error ???. they consider me as non canadian ???. and they will correct that for me.
    I have to escalate to a supervisor ( Lulu, they refuse to give as the last name for all the staff), and she tell me this will be corrected very soon ( My demand was made at the begining of july one month and nothing happens).
    The relationship with a broker is based on confidence and transparency.
    I ask to them WHY ?, why laura have to see my calculation to assume the error
    the answer was : I don’t know
    I ask why they consider me as non canadian if all my papers are from a canadian?
    the answer was: We don’t know, the problem is the clearning broker with we work ?????.
    very evasive answer.
    She tell me something that is very suspicious : You are the administrator of your account ( that’s right) and you are responsable of ALL. WE COULD TELL YOU BAD ANSWER BUT IT’S YOUR RESPONSABILITY TO VERIFY WHAT WE TELL YOU !!!. THAT HAPPENS VERY OFTEN !!!.

    then I want to be aware if you are tradding with questrade to verify on all US dividends stock that you have to TRIPLE CHECK the amount they take for US taxes proposes.
    If Questrade make with hundreds of client that they trying to do with me. You could be stoled by 15.% and 20% without you realize that .

    BE VERY CAREFULL WITH THEM !!!

  10. Their accounting/reporting is inadequate, and there are constantly missing funds from my account, at least 5 times already I have caught them in miscalculations and so on. Be very, very careful with them, it is very hard to recover your missing funds, they mire you in endless red tape even when you prove that they are incorrect.

    Their favourite trick is to continue to charge you interest on money that you have paid back (on margin and after selling shares and settling balance), very hard to calculate as they do not include any specifics in their reporting, no specific trades for which the ‘interest’ applies to. Calculate all your trades and fees/commissions etc. manually in a spreadsheet, and you will likely find missing funds from your account.

    I can’t move my account until all my missing funds are back, and only have gotten back about half, still missing about $1700 so far. You cannot trust them, period.

    • Hmm… well good to know Japhro, this is very different from our collective experience dealing with them. I guess I also keep things fairly simple and don’t use margin accounts. I know that my US RRSP holdings have been calculated just fine.

  11. Hello Astor,

    My name is Jaanu and I work at Questrade. What you are referring to is the U.S./Canada tax treaty, which allows Canadians with non-American tax status to claim certain tax exemptions including withholding tax on dividends paid by some U.S. corporations.

    We are in contact with our clearing house to correct the dividend tax withheld for your eligible securities. For an update on this issue, please contact client services directly at 1.866.783.7866.

    Here’s some additional information on the U.S./Canada tax treaty according to the IRS:
    “Foreigners (to the United States) are subject to U.S. tax at a 30% rate on income they receive from U.S. sources including dividends.
    If you receive certain types of income, you must provide Form W-8BEN to claim a reduced rate of, or exemption from, withholding as a resident of a foreign country with which the United States has an income tax treaty. ”

    In most cases, non-U.S. status can be determined during the account opening process with appropriate documentation. However, if non-U.S. tax status is unclear, Canadian residents can submit a W8-BEN form to qualify for tax treaty benefits. Read more about filling out a W8BEN form here: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/iw8ben.pdf

    Please note:
    Certain securities traded on the U.S. markets may not benefit from the U.S./Canadian tax treaty. These securities include ADRs (American Depositary Receipt) and LLPs (Limited Liability Partnership) for which normal withholding tax rules apply. The U.S./Canada tax treaty also will not apply towards U.S. LPUs (Limited Partnership Units) and are subject to a 35% withholding tax. To determine if a corporation can be classified as a LLP, LPU, or ADR, please contact the investor relations department of the company. The dividend tax for these types of securities is withheld at the source company not by Questrade.

    TeacherMan – Tax is withheld for ADRs, LLPs, and LPUs regardless if the account is registered or margin.

    Everyone – We are close to applying major enhancements to our tax coding processes and systems that will enable more efficient accounting in these matters. We strive to enhance your experiences with Questrade. If you have any concerns or ideas, please let us know. We take all feedback to heart and will work with you to investigate and resolve any and all issues.

    Regards,
    Jaanu Teene
    Questrade Inc.

    • Questrade’s accounting/financial reporting is very rudimentary. I had to have my accountant create a new spreadsheet which inputs all the trades and comms (because QT supplies data separately) and calculate running profit/loss. This has shown dozens of errors on QT’s part (all in their favour btw). Now I am in the process of sorting all of that out. The problem is, that they want me to prove every single item, and make a claim for every single item separately. this is tremendously time consuming.

      They do not have a single accountant on staff either. Just csm phone staff that know little to nothing.

      They might be ok for a small amount, buy and hold account, but to day trade they are a nightmare.

      • Well as a person that believes the idea of day trading is ridiculous I am definitely fine with the great service I’ve gotten from the boys and girls in green at Questrade!

  12. I do have questrade account.

    The commission is cheapest among the other discount brokerage but the service is horrible.

    I transferred some money, it didn’t show up in the account (bc I transferred from a joint account)

    Transferring money take time.

    Also check the currency tranfer fee (it is about 1.5%) BOTH way from Canadian to US and US to Canada.

  13. I have been with Questrade for over 5 years and overall I have had an OK experience. Their pricing is fair (but not the best), their customer service is OK, for the few things I have had to contact them. They do have some fees that you should be aware of, for example if you exchange funds from CAD to USD (to be able to use their RRSP USD features, they will charge a markup fee of 2% in top of the forex spread. So in my case it was over $2000 that Questrade took away for this. I find that kind of fee outrageous!! I wish I knew this before hand, I would of have never made the transaction. But this was not advertised in any of their documents or website. Of course, God forbid consumers should need to know this kind of stuff! I have moved all my non-registered accounts somewhere else with more transparent fee structure. What a disappointment!

    • This is true Herald, but at the same time Questrade is one of the only brokerages that allows you to keep USD in your RRSP. Many of the major banks don’t even allow this.

  14. Quest Trade customer service really bad. I have never seen such a poor response towards customers request.

    I went in their office to open an account I requested the representative to let me know about any offers or promotions. She only informed me about the offer for which i was not eligible. For the one i clearly qualify she didn’t mention that.
    After opening the account i got to learn about the offer which should have been given to me by quest trade i.e “1 month free unlimited trading” for new accounts.
    So i reached out to the customer service and requested them to provide me that offer. The representative assured me that he will back date the offer as its not my fault. But after 2 days on following up on my request the same agent told me that my request was denied and i cannot get the offer.
    I will only get 5 trades free i should take it or leave it.
    It’s the worst attitude i have ever seen for any customer service. I would ask you guys to stay away form them. Its better to pay few cents extra than to get poor customer service.

    • This is vastly different than anything we’ve heard from Questrade clients before QTS. Can you provide the name of the person you dealt with and we’ll check up on it?

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