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.

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
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.
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.
  • Questrade charges a quarterly inactivity fee of $24.95 for clients with account balances under $5,000. To avoid it, you’ll have to make at least one trade during the quarter.

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
PromotionsN/AGet $50 in free trades
Rating4.4 / 54.6 / 5
More Info
Learn More
Learn More

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.

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

6 comments
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.

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!