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Can Wealthsimple Trade dethrone Questrade as Canada's king of low-cost, self-directed trading accounts? Find out in this Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade comparison.

Questrade has long reigned supreme as the best discount brokerage in Canada for investors who want to save on commissions and fees. But the emergence of Wealthsimple Trade threatens to usurp Questrade’s crown. When Wealthsimple Trade launched in March 2019, it only offered non-registered or taxable investment accounts. So, while it was a game-changer in terms of offering unlimited commission-free trades, its limited account availability didn’t hold a candle to Questrade’s much more robust trading platform. But that all changed recently when Wealthsimple Trade made TFSA and RRSP accounts available on its platform. So now which self-direct platform is best: Wealthsimple Trade or Questrade? 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 and stocks. Questrade offers free ETF purchases, and 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.
  • The Questrade platform can be accessed via desktop or through its mobile app. Wealthsimple Trade is only accessible from a mobile device or tablet.
  • Get $50 in free trades when you open a Questrade account.
  • Promotional Offer: Get a $10 cash bonus + $0 commission trades when you open a new Wealthsimple Trade account

The verdict: Questrade narrowly tops Wealthsimple Trade as the top-rated trading platform for self-directed investors.

 Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade: Pros and Cons

 ProsCons
Wealthsimple TradeZero-commission tradesDoesn’t support all account types
 
$0 account minimumNo desktop access
Beautifully designed and easy to use
Promotional Offer: Get a $10 cash bonus + $0 commission trades when you open a new Wealthsimple Trade account
QuestradeFree ETF purchases$4.95+ to sell ETFs and buy/sell stocks 
Multiple account options
$1,000 account minimum
$50 in free trades

About Wealthsimple Trade

Wealthsimple is best known as Canada’s top robo advisor and one of the leading robo advisors in the world. By introducing Wealthsimple Trade, the company decided to expand beyond providing low-cost portfolio management and pursue an ambitious goal: introduce $0 commission stock trading for Canadians. That means that, by using Wealthsimple Trade, investors can buy and sell thousands of stocks and ETFs on major Canadian and U.S. exchanges at no cost. After launching in March 2019, it became the first zero-commission stock trading app in Canada. Read our in-depth Wealthsimple Trade review.

Standout Features for Wealthsimple Trade

  • Weathsimple Trade supports RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered accounts – with a promise of more account types available in the future
  • Opening an account is simple – just download the Wealthsimple Trade app and tap “Get Started.”
  • 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.
  • Wealthsimple Trade’s stand-out feature is the ability to buy and sell stocks and ETFs for free. Most brokerages charge $9.99 per trade, with a select few (like Questrade) offering free ETF purchases. No other brokerage allows investors to buy AND sell stocks AND ETFs for free.
  • Wealthsimple Trade will reimburse transfer fees on transfers larger than $5,000.

Start investing with Wealthsimple Trade

Where Wealthsimple Trade falls short:

  • Wealthsimple Trade is only available as a mobile application (iOS and Android devices). You cannot access it from a desktop.
  • Existing Wealthsimple clients cannot use Wealthsimple Trade with their robo-advisor account.
  • Clients can 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).

About 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. Read our in-depth Questrade review.

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 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.
Start investing with Questrade

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.

Comparing Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade

This comparison table highlights key features for the Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade platforms:

Discount brokerageWealthsimple TradeQuestrade
Best forUnlimited commission-free tradingA robust trading platform (web/mobile) with greater access to accounts and securities
Min. investment$0$1,000
Available accountsRRSP, TFSA, non-registeredRRSP, TFSA, non-registered, RESP, Margin, LIRA, RIF, LIF, Corporate, Joint
PromotionsPromotional Offer: Get a $10 cash bonus + $0 commission trades when you open a new Wealthsimple Trade accountGet $50 in free trades
Rating4.4 / 54.6 / 5
More Info
VIsit Site
VIsit Site

How Are Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade the Same?

Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade do have a lot in common. Here are some similarities to consider:

  • No transfer fees: Wealthsimple Trade will reimburse fees on transfers of more than $5,000. Questrade will reimburse fees (up to $150/account).
  • Commission-free ETF purchases: Both Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade allow investors to purchase ETFs with zero commission.
  • RRSP, TFSA, and Non-registered accounts: Both Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade support opening RRSP, TFSA, and non-registered accounts.

How Are Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade Different?

Let’s look at how Wealthsimple Trade and Questrade differ:

  • Minimum deposit: There’s no minimum deposit to open an account and invest at Wealthsimple Trade, but Questrade requires a $1,000 minimum deposit.
  • Commission-free stock trading: 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.
  • Account types: 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.
  • Market data: Wealthsimple Trade does not support real-time quotes (delayed 15 minutes), but Questrade offers free one-click real-time data.
  • Access: Wealthsimple Trade is only available as a mobile app on phones and tablets, while Questrade has both a web-based and mobile trading platform.

Wealthsimple Trade vs. Questrade: Fees Comparison

Below is a breakdown of the fees for each self-directed trading platform:

PlatformAccount FeesTrading FeesOther Fees
Wealthsimple TradeNoneNoneCorporate rate + 1.50% for CAD to USD foreign exchange
QuestradeNone$0 ETF purchases

$4.95 - $9.95 to sell ETFs and to buy and sell stocks
Spot rate + 1.99% for CAD to USD foreign exchange

Winner: Wealthsimple Trade – you can’t beat zero-commission trading

Start investing with Wealthsimple Trade

Unique Features

 Features Unique to Wealthsimple Trade

  • Offers a seamless and simple process for opening an account through the Wealthsimple Trade app with no account fees, minimums, or paperwork.
  • Canada’s first and only zero-commission trading platform for stocks and ETFs.
  • Truly a no-fee platform, Wealthsimple Trade primarily makes money from the 1.5% currency conversion fee charged on Canadian to US dollar conversions (and vice versa) that are required to trade US-listed securities.

Features Unique to Questrade

  • A full-featured online brokerage that allows investors to open a wide array of accounts and trade stocks, ETFs, options, over-the-counter securities, and even IPOs.
  • It has an outstanding reputation for customer service, and offers support over the phone, through chat, or by email.
  • Clients can hold both Canadian and US dollars in their registered accounts (RRSP and TFSA), meaning they invest in US-listed stocks and ETFs with their US dollars instead of having to pay a fee to convert their Canadian currency.

Winner: Questrade – a more robust trading platform with better tools for investors

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.

Which Self-Directed Trading Platform is Best?

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 portfolio. Here’s an excellent reason to sign-up: those who open a Wealthsimple Trade account will get a $10 cash bonus + $0 commission trades. All you have to do is deposit $100 and buy $100 worth of stock within the first 45 days. 

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.

Disclaimer: Young & Thrifty has entered into a referral and advertising arrangement with Wealthsimple US, LTD and receives compensation when you open an account or for certain qualifying activity which may include clicking links. You will not be charged a fee for this referral and Wealthsimple and Young and Thrifty are not related entities. It is a requirement to disclose that we earn these fees and also provide you with the latest Wealthsimple ADV brochure so you can learn more about them before opening an account.

Article comments

40 comments
JM says:

Hi Robb,
Perhaps you should touch on WS’s management fees of .5% & .4% I’m not quite sure how these fees come into play. Are these in/out fees? I copied the following from another article I’d come across:

“ Wealthsimple Invest’s portfolio management fee is 0.5%, for the basic accounts of under $100,000, and it’s slightly cheaper at 0.4% for Wealthsimple Black, a premium service for clients with a total of $100,000 or more in their Wealthsimple accounts. With Wealthsimple Invest, you will also pay a low the management expense ratio (MER) starts as low as 0.2% annually on most ETFs. The fees are calculated on a daily basis for the annual amount; you will be charged monthly, though. If you’re managing your own investments using Wealthsimple Trade, there are no fees to purchase or trade using the online brokerage.”
Thanks.

Robb Engen says:

Hi JM, you’re confusing Wealthsimple Invest (the robo advisor platform) with Wealthsimple Trade (the commission trading platform). There are no management fees at all for Wealthsimple Trade. I use this platform for my RRSP and TFSA accounts. No management fees, no commissions for my trades.

kathy says:

How much is the Corporate rate x1.5% of foreign fee in wealth simple? I am a beginner here.

Robb Engen says:

Hi Kathy, I believe Wealthsimple’s corporate rate is equivalent to the spot rate, or the rate of exchange for foreign currency. So for CAD to USD you’d pay whatever Wealthsimple’s FX rate is, plus a 1.5% fee.

Eric says:

Is WS Trade good for swing trading? Can I set a stop loss?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Eric, I wouldn’t say the platform is good for swing trading. One of the bigger issues is that market quotes are not in real time, there’s a 15 minute delay.

You can set a limit sell, which means choosing the lowest price you’re willing to sell for – your order will only complete if and when the market price is at or above your limit.

You can also set a stop limit sell, where you choose a price for the stock (the stop price) and after the price reaches the stop price your order is converted to a limit order.

Bill Hildreth says:

Great article thank you so much for sharing this information.

Cg says:

Do you think WS will eventually add the ability to execute pre-market orders?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Cg, tough to speculate what they will add to the platform and when. I know they plan to add USD accounts, and plan to add auto-deposits. Instead we got a Crypto platform :/

Hopefully the platform will become more robust and useable for all types of trading.

Jason says:

Rob can you touch base on US conversion fees? Wealthsimple converts back to CDN dollars with every stock you sell even if you are going to buy more US stock. Other banks let you open a US account and trade in and out of that so you don’t have conversion fees. How does Questrade handle conversion when stocks are sold? Can you have a US account with Questrade?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Jason, yes that’s the challenge right now with WS Trade because you can’t hold USD cash. They are planning on it in the future though: https://tradehelp.wealthsimple.com/hc/en-ca/articles/360013247493-How-do-Wealthsimple-Trade-s-currency-conversion-fees-compare-to-other-brokerages-

As for Questrade, you can hold dual currency in your account, which means you can have CAD and USD cash at the same time. Stocks are sold in the same currency they were held in. Yes, you can have a USD account with Questrade.

Monq says:

Wealthsimple does not let you trade even if you have $100 in your account as I have experienced.

Robb Engen says:

Hi Monq, that’s not true. I have $18 of cash in my TFSA and can buy shares of a company trading for less than $18. You just can’t buy a fraction of a share.

Vikram says:

Hi Robb, very informative article. So we cannot hold USD in wealthsimple, but we can buy US stocks? So that means all my funds will show in CAD, correct? I have few grands worth of stocks in questrade. I added funds in CAD, but since I bought some US stocks my funds in questrade are split between USD and CAD. So my question is, if we are not adding USD funds initially then welathsimple is a better choice because of its lower exchange fee (1.5% compared to 1.99%)?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Vikram, I don’t think WS has an advantage over Questrade here. It doesn’t allow you to hold USD cash so you’ll have to do the conversion every single time you want to buy U.S. listed stocks or ETFs. Questrade allows you to fund your account in USD and hold dual currencies in cash, making it much easier and more cost effective to trade.

I suppose a one-time US stock purchase from a CAD account would be cheaper with WS Trade, but 0.49% on one trade is not exactly a lot of savings. You have to look at the big picture and your long term expected trading activity.

Jay says:

Great Read! by the way i open an account for Wealthsimple Trade last week and i bought some shares from companies. I want to know on how soon i can buy other stocks after selling it? and after selling stocks i want to know on how to compute the amount i need to declare for my income tax? thanks and looking forward for your response!

Robb Engen says:

Hi Jay, if you are trading in a taxable account you’ll need to keep meticulous records of your trades to track your ACB (adjusted cost base) for tax purposes. Best to track it on your own – try adjustedcostbase.ca – because WS Trade does not have very robust reporting.

You should be able to trade immediately after the sale settles and the cash lands in your account. Keep in mind WS Trade is on a 15-minute delay with the market, so it’s not ideal for day trading.

Jonathan Ramos says:

Hi did you switch to Questrade already? How is it? I have account in Wealthsimple Trade and its pretty nice for me. The only thing I will switch to Questrade is they have platform both in laptop and mobile phone ios.

Robb Engen says:

Hi Jonathan, I have an RRSP and TFSA with WS Trade, and I opened a Corporate Investing Account at Questrade earlier this year. I also still have my kids’ RESPs and my LIRA at TD Direct, since WS Trade does not support those account types. I agree, it’s nice to have the desktop version to see your accounts and reports. I miss that with WS Trade. But, both platforms have their advantages and I’m enjoying each one so far.

Anonymous says:

When it comes to that 15 minute delay. When one is buying stocks or etfs whose prices have changed within those 15 mins. How would that affect how much you pay?

Robb Engen says:

Hi Anonymous, it’s probably best practice to use a limit order rather than a market order to make sure you have enough in your account to cover the trade in case the price goes up during that delay. In fact, WS Trade won’t allow you to do a market order if, for example, you place an order to buy $999.50 worth of stock and you have $1000 in your account. An alert will pop-up telling you to basically buy one less share so you have some wiggle room in case the price goes up.

That said, if the price goes up and you have enough cash to cover it then you’ll pay that higher market price. Again, that’s why it’s best to place limit orders.

AJ says:

I am thinking about when I actually retire and start drawing money from the account. Let’s say I want to draw a monthly income, so that will incur 5×12=$60 in commissions for every year I am with Questrade. Am I on the right track here? If that’s the case, I’d rather go with WS Trade.

Robb Engen says:

Hi AJ, the product and fee landscape has changed so much (for the better) in the last 10 years and I would expect it to continue to evolve in the future. I can certainly see a time in the not-too-distant future where commission-free trading is the new normal. Even still, you can easily move your money to another brokerage next year, next decade, three decades from now.

Your main concern should be what brokerage is best suited for your current investing strategy. If you buy regularly like I do and don’t want to pay commissions then either Questrade or WS Trade will work for you. If you have a need for more account types, like an RESP, LIRA, Corporate Account, then Questrade is likely your best bet.

Besides, in retirement, you can still control your withdrawals and take out money less frequently (quarterly, for example).

Frank says:

Thanks a lot for sharing. I found this very useful.

Anthony says:

Hello Robb, came across your article on comparing Wealthsimple, after I opened an account here because of Questrade’s minimum requirement which I was not prepared to endeavour in. So I transferred my initial dollars, doing so online, for the first time with a disregard to concerns which would have prevented me from divulging such personal and banking info with other merchant accounts, and subsequent to it stated promises that I could start trading within minutes. I am now hesitant on its openness and transparent business conduct because I do not have access to my monies, now in its possession for 3 to 5 days, and then only after I respond to further email from them, which I have not received and am wondering what about!! Therefore, a bit wait and see before I shout foul!

Robb Engen says:

Hi Anthony, I’m not sure I fully understand your concerns. Yes, your deposits do take 2-3 business days to become available for trading with WS Trade. I have my own RRSP and TFSA accounts there and have felt that frustration. My reason for choosing WS Trade is to avoid paying any commission on my monthly ETF purchases. I accept some limitations in the service because it’s a no-frills, no-fee platform. If you expect immediate access to your deposits then you should probably stick with a big bank brokerage.

KIM says:

Hi! Just opened TFSA account with Wealthsimple Trade. I need to know if Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) is safe and link bank details.

Robb Engen says:

Hi Kim, it is safe to link your bank account to WS Trade. It’s necessary to do so in order to fund your account.

jachin boaz says:

Thoughts on the Wealthsimple Cash account esp vs the PSA that can be held in RRSP/TFSA accounts

Lisa Jackson says:

Hi Jachin,

Check out our review of Wealthsimple Cash: https://youngandthrifty.ca/wealthsimple-cash-review/

It has all the details which will help you decide.

Fred says:

I am currently a Weathsimple Trade and Invest Customer, not happy at all. Firstly looking to make trades, told can’t do it that due to high volume accounts are on hold WHAT????? this is the time to be buying. ALso wanted to transfer money from my Inves account to trade account they say its not possible. I would have to withdraw my money, send it to another institution then transfer it again to the trade account ABSURD. I am looking now at switching to Questrade.

Robb Engen says:

Hi Fred, I know WS Trade experienced outages or service interruptions in the past several weeks due to incredibly high volume caused by the COVID-19 crisis. The same can be said for brokers like, Questrade, who also had challenges dealing with service interruptions and delays.

While I know it’s frustrating not being able to trade or access your account when you want, know that this has been an unprecedented time for everyone and try to be patient.

Also, know that if you have more robust investing needs, multiple accounts, and want real-time market info & quotes, then Questrade is likely a better option for you anyway.

For the record I have my RRSP and TFSA with WS Trade and have not had any issues with the platform in terms of transferring existing investments, setting up monthly contributions, or making ETF trades.

John says:

Excellent and timely article!
I am in the process of deciding on Questrade or WealthSimple Trade… I was leaning towards WealthSimple Trade
however, I just read the article on MoneySense well that shocked me… WealthSimple doesn’t support RRSP transfers from other financial institutions?!?! I haven’t been able to corroborate this yet… but it is a deal breaker right off the bat! Are we expected to start with an initial investment?

Robb Engen says:

Hi John, that is not true at all. I transferred my RRSP and TFSA from TD to WS Trade in January and it went smoothly. There was a time (back when WS Trade first launched) that it only supported non-registered accounts, so perhaps that MoneySense article was written before WS Trade added TFSAs and RRSPs to their lineup.

Aaron says:

Hello folks,

New to investing here, and am super grateful for these articles! Thank you!

Had a thought about currency exchange.
I noticed there wasn’t any mention of Norbit’s gambit through Questrade. If I understand it correctly, this may be a consideration for those looking to lower currency exchange costs and maximize tax efficiency from dividends.

Am I understanding this correctly?

Thanks again!
Aaron

Robb Engen says:

Hi Aaron, you’re right that it is possible to perform Norbert’s Gambit via Questrade because their platform allows you to hold U.S. dollars. Unfortunately, WS Trade does not allow its clients to hold U.S. dollars and so they charge a conversion fee when you want to buy U.S. listed stocks and ETFs.

Yes, Norbert’s Gambit is a way for investors to save on currency conversion fees – which is ideal when you want to hold U.S. listed ETFs (which are cheaper than Canadian-listed ETFs) and need to exchange currency to fund and rebalance your portfolio.

Eddie says:

Hi Rob. At the moment, I’m investing with tangerine. Every month they take a set amount of money from my checking account (with a different bank) and then automatically invest it in the fund I selected.

Is it possible to do the same with Questrade or Wealthsimple? (Withdraw $X every month and buy selected ETF)

Robb Engen says:

Hi Eddie, unfortunately you can’t set up automatic investments with Questrade or WS Trade. It’s a two-step process that involves funding your investment account from your chequing account, and then, once the funds arrive, purchasing your ETF of choice.

There is a service called Passiv that works with Questrade to automate your investment contributions and rebalancing.

Sel says:

Hello Robb,

In regards to
“Questrade will reimburse transfer fees up to $150 for transfers of $25,000 or more.”

I believe they have changed this recently.

Terms and conditions
Starting October 1, 2019, you can transfer any account to Questrade from another financial institution, regardless of the balance, and get your transfer fees rebated (maximum rebate $150/account). No limit to the number of accounts you bring over.

Thanks
Sel

Lisa Jackson says:

Thanks for letting us know about this change!