Qtrade vs Wealthsimple 2021: Online Brokerage Comparison

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by Enoch Omololu

Updated

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Qtrade or Wealthsimple Trade? Which of these two Canadian brokerage platforms best meets your needs?

Qtrade and Wealthsimple both offer access to an online discount brokerage where you can buy and sell investment securities you are interested in as a self-directed investor.

While their underlying value proposition is similar, the two platforms differ significantly in many ways.

In this Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple comparison, I dig into the products and accounts they offer, their fees, trading platforms, pros, cons, and promotional offers.

What is Qtrade?

Qtrade is an online brokerage platform backed by Aviso Wealth, one of the largest independent wealth management firms in Canada.

This award-winning platform has been voted best online brokerage multiple times over the years by The Globe & Mail and has also received recognition for its customer service.

Qtrade has partnerships with more than 150 credit unions and manages billions of dollars in assets under administration.

You can learn more about what it offers in my detailed Qtrade review.

What is Wealthsimple Trade?

Wealthsimple Trade was established in 2019 as Canada’s first commission-free brokerage trading platform.

It is offered by Canadian ShareOwner Investments Inc., a Wealthsimple-affiliated company and investment dealer that is registered to operate across Canada.

In addition to self-directed trading, Wealthsimple also offers a robo-advisor service and boasts over $15 billion in assets under administration.

The company is backed by some of the largest financial institutions in the world, including Power Financial Group and Allianz X.

Learn more about Wealthsimple here and in this Wealthsimple Trade review.

Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple

Below, I compare the brokerage services offered by both Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade.

Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade: Investment Accounts

Qtrade offers a lot more options for investment accounts. While both platforms support RRSP, TFSA, and personal non-registered accounts, Qtrade also provides the following:

  • Margin account
  • Locked-in Retirement account (LIRA)
  • Locked-in Retirement Savings Plan (LRSP)
  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Retirement Income Fund (RIF)
  • Life Income Fund (LIF)

Cash accounts on Qtrade can be opened on behalf of a company, trust, estate, investment club, religious organization, or society. Joint investment accounts are also available.

Winner: Qtrade.

Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade: Investment Products

You can use both Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade to buy and sell thousands of stocks and ETFs.

In addition, Qtrade also offers several other investment choices including:

  • Options
  • Mutual funds
  • GICs
  • Bonds
  • Initial public offerings (new issues)

Winner: Qtrade.

Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade: Trading Fees

Wealthsimple Trade wins this round with its no-commission offering.

Using the platform, you can trade thousands of Canada and U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs without paying trading commissions ($0/transaction). This makes it easy for beginner investors to get started without needing to worry about fees eroding their capital.

Qtrade also offers 100+ commission-free ETFs, however, the following fees apply to other trades:

Investment ProductsFee
Stocks$8.75
Options$8.75 + $1.25 per contract
ETFs (excluding the free ones)$8.75
Bonds$1 per $1,000 face value

Active investors who place more than 150 trades per quarter on Qtrade (or have $500,000+ in assets) get a $1.80 discount per transaction for equities, ETFs, and options trades.

Winner: Wealthsimple Trade.

Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade: Other Fees

Trading commissions are just one of many fees you may have to pay your brokerage.

For Wealthsimple, many of the standard fees are waived including account inactivity fees, transfer fees, account closure fees, statement fees, and more.

If you buy a U.S. listed asset, a 1.5% currency conversion fee applies when CAD is converted to USD.

Although FX fees are the norm for the industry, some brokerage platforms allow you to hold USD funds so you can avoid paying currency conversion fees.

Also, you can opt for the Wealthsimple Trade Premium service for $3/month and get additional benefits including snap quotes and instant deposits up to $5,000.

Qtrade users may have to pay the following admin fees when applicable:

  • Inactivity fee: $25/quarter if you hold less than $25,000 and don’t place a minimum number of trades within the period.
  • Account transfer out: $150
  • U.S. Dollar reg. accounts: $US15/quarter/account.
  • Paper trade confirmation: $2.50/trade.

Winner: Wealthsimple Trade.

Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade: Trading Platform

Both Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade are accessible using the web and mobile phone apps.

Qtrade has advanced trading tools including stock screeners, charting, advanced market orders, and access to fundamental research.

You can also use its portfolio score, portfolio simulator, and portfolio creator tools to evaluate your trading strategies.

Winner: Qtrade

Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade: Other Products

Aviso Wealth, the parent company of Qtrade, also provides wealth management service via VirtualWealth, a robo-advisor firm.

Wealthsimple Invest is the robo-advisor arm of Wealthsimple Technologies Inc. This company offers several other products including:

Wealthsimple Crypto: This is a platform for buying and selling crypto assets. It is offered via the Wealthsimple Trade app.

Wealthsimple Cash: This is a free peer-to-peer money transfer service that also includes a Visa prepaid card.

Wealthsimple Save: This is its high-interest savings account.

Wealthsimple Tax: Formerly known as Simple Tax, this product is useful for filing your annual tax return.

Winner:  Wealthsimple.

Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade: Security

Both Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade are reputable companies.

They are members of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) and client accounts are protected by the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) against insolvency (up to $1 million).

Both platforms use encryption to protect your account information.

Qtrade vs. Wealthsimple Trade: Promotions

Qtrade has two promotional offers running right now:

1. Get a $50 bonus when you open a new registered Qtrade investment account (RRSP, TFSA, or RESP) by March 1, 2022, and start a pre-authorized contribution of at least $200 per month.

2. Get up to $2,000 cash back when you open a new Qtrade account (both registered and non-registered) by March 1, 2022, and deposit or transfer new funds/assets starting at $15,000.

Visit Qtrade ($50 Bonus) Visit Qtrade ($2,000 offer)

New Wealthsimple Trade clients get a $50 bonus after they trade at least $150 worth of assets within 45 days of opening the account. This offer is ongoing.

Visit Wealthsimple Trade ($50 Bonus)

Pros and Cons of Qtrade

The benefits you enjoy as a Qtrade client include:

  • Access to multiple investment accounts and products
  • Excellent customer service
  • 100+ free ETFs
  • Available on multiple devices
  • No minimum investment
  • Access to advanced trading tools

Cons:

  • $25 quarterly fee for small accounts and inactive traders
  • No commission-free stocks
  • Does not offer fractional shares

Pros and Cons of Wealthsimple Simple Trade

Wealthsimple Trade clients enjoy the following benefits:

  • Commission-free stocks and ETF trading
  • Available on all devices
  • No minimum balance
  • No inactivity fees
  • Offers fractional shares
  • Beginner-friendly platform

Cons

  • Does not offer options
  • Limited to RRSP, TFSA, and individual non-registered investment accounts
  • Limited trading tools and technical analysis
  • Does not support USD deposits or DRIPs

Qtrade vs Wealthsimple vs Questrade

This is how the top-three independent brokerage platforms in Canada compare:

QtradeWealthsimple TradeQuestrade
Stock trading$8.75$0$4.95 – $9.95
ETFs100+ free ETFs; $8.75 for rest$0$4.95 – $9.95; free ETF purchases
Options$8.75 + $1.25/contractN/A$9.95 + $1/contract
Active trader pricing$6.95N/A$4.95
Account typesRRPS, TFSA, RESP, RIF, LIRA, LIF, margin, corporateRRSP, TFSA, individual non-reg.RRSP, TFSA, RESP, LIRA, LRSP, RRIF, corporate, margin
ProductsStocks, ETFs, options, GICs, mutual funds, bondsStocks and ETFsStocks, ETFs, IPOs, GICs, mutual funds, options, FX
Minimum investmentNoneNone$1,000
Inactivity fee$25/quarter if assets < $25k$0$0
PlatformsMobile and WebMobile and WebMobile, web, and desktop app
Promo offerGet $50 when you set up $200 monthly contributions$50 cash bonus$50 free trade credit
ApplyVisit QtradeVisit WealthsimpleVisit Questrade

Conclusion

Both Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade are exceptional trading platforms.

Wealthsimple Trade is my top choice for beginners based on its zero-commission offering and super easy-to-use mobile trading app.

If you want an uncluttered interface that allows you to place trades with only a few clicks, Wealthsimple Trade works well.

Qtrade is designed for more seasoned self-directed investors. It offers a lot more options product and account-wise, and you get access to advanced trading tools and order types.

While the trading fees on Qtrade are not cheap, they are competitive compared to big bank brokerages like TD Direct Investing and RBC Direct Investing.

FAQs

Is Qtrade the same as Questrade?

No, they are two different brokerage platforms.

Can you DRIP with Wealthsimple?

Wealthsimple Trade does not currently support dividend reinvestment plans (DRIPs).

Is Qtrade Investor safe?

Yes, Qtrade is a member of IIROC and CIPF and it is safe.

Is Wealthsimple better than Qtrade?

Wealthsimple Trade is better for beginners as it helps them save on fees. Qtrade offers more trading tools and options for experienced traders.

Is Wealthsimple Trade safe?

Yes, Wealthsimple Trade is safe. It is a member of IIROC and CIPF, and your assets are protected up to $1 million if it becomes bankrupt.

Related:

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Canada's best online investment management platform.

Low management fee of 0.40% to 0.50% compared to mutual funds (up to 2%).

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Author

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Enoch Omololu

Enoch Omololu is a personal finance expert and a veterinarian. He has a master’s degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School (Scotland) and has completed several courses and certificates in finance, including the Canadian Securities Course. He also has an MSc. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Manitoba and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Ibadan. Enoch has a passion for helping others win with their personal finances and has been writing about money matters for over a decade. His writing has been featured or quoted in The Globe and Mail, Winnipeg Free Press, Wealthsimple, Financial Post, Toronto Star, Credit Canada, MSN Money, National Post, CIBC, and many other personal finance publications.

His top investment tools include Wealthsimple and Questrade. He earns cash back on purchases using KOHO, monitors his credit score for free using Borrowell, and earns interest on savings through EQ Bank.

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