Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers Canada 2021: Which is Better?

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by Enoch Omololu

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Advertiser Disclosure

Questrade and Interactive Brokers Canada are great choices if you are looking for a discount broker that offers low trading fees without skimping on the bells and whistles.

Both trading platforms are particularly desirable for experienced investors and day traders who want access to solid trading tools, customizable trading apps and workstations, and multiple securities.

While Questrade is my overall top choice of the two, Interactive Brokers does really well in some areas.

This Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers comparison breaks down their fee schedules, features, product offerings, pros, cons, and which is better.

What is Questrade?

With more than 200,000 accounts opened annually and $25 billion in assets under administration, Questrade calls itself “Canada’s fastest-growing online brokerage”.

The company was established in 1999 and has been named as one of Canada’s best-managed companies for 9 years in a row.

In addition to brokerage services, Questrade also offers robo-advisor services through Questrade Portfolios.

Learn more about the platform in this review.

Readers of Savvy New Canadians get $50 in free trades when they sign up here.

What is Interactive Brokers Canada?

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) Group offers securities trading in 135 markets worldwide. Founded in 1978, it has offices in the US, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Australia, Hungary, Singapore, Russia, India, Luxembourg, Ireland, and Estonia.

Interactive Brokers Canada was launched in 2000 and has its registered office in Montreal.

It has won several awards over the years including the “Best Online Brokers of 2021” award by Barron’s.

IBKR is covered in more detail in this Interactive Brokers review.

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers

I compare both platforms below based on how they fare using ten criteria.

questrade vs interactive brokers canada

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Investment Accounts

While Interactive Brokers offers more accounts overall, Questrade has a wider selection of registered investment accounts, including RESP, LIRA, LIF, and more.

For non-registered accounts, both Questrade and Interactive Brokers support trust, small business, joint, corporate, margin, and investment club accounts.

IBKR also offers family office and advisor investment accounts.

If you are looking to invest in your kid’s college education using an RESP, Interactive Brokers does not offer it while Questrade does.

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Investment Products

Both Questrade and Interactive Brokers allow you to trade:

In addition, Questrade also offers GICs and Contract for Difference (CFDs), while Interactive Brokers supports futures trading and access to hedge funds.

IBKR takes a slight edge on these criteria if you are a sophisticated investor looking to trade the futures markets or qualify as an accredited investor and have the high net worth to support investing in hedge funds.

Also, Interactive Brokers offers fractional share trading for U.S. stocks (not permitted in Canada RRSP/TFSA accounts).

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Commission-Free ETFs

Retail investors can save on investment costs by using a brokerage platform that offers commission-free ETF and/or stock trades.

In Canada, Questrade offers free ETF purchases while Wealthsimple Trade offers free ETF and stock trading (both buy and sell transactions).

Interactive Brokers does not offer $0 commission ETF trades in Canada.

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Trading Fees

Both platforms have competitive fees compared to big bank brokerages like TD Direct Investing and RBC Direct Investing.

Questrade’s pricing system is easier to understand and is as follows:

Investment ProductTrading Commissions
Stocks1 cent per share; $4.95 minimum and $9.95 maximum per trade
ETFsFree to buy; 1 cent per share ($4.95-$9.95 per trade) when selling
Options$9.95 + $1 per contract
FXSpread as low as 0.08 pips
CFDsSpread as low as 0.08 pips
Mutual funds$9.95 per trade
BondsFree with $5,000 minimum purchase
GICsFree with a minimum $5,000 purchase
International equities1% of trade value
Precious metals$19.95 USD per trade

Active traders on Questrade get a rebate on fees and pay as low as $4.95 per trade for stocks and ETFs.

Trading fees on Interactive Brokers vary widely depending on the security type, the volume you are buying, and the commission type (tiered or fixed).

For stocks, ETFs, and warrants, these tiered fees apply:

Monthly VolumeCanada Securities (commission/share CAD)US securities (commission/share USD)
≤300,0000.0080.006
300,001-3,000,0000.0050.004
3,000,001-20,000,0000.0040.003
>20,000,0010.0030.002

For tiered commissions, there is a minimum of $1 CAD per order for CAD- denominated stocks and ETFs (or a maximum of 0.5% of trade value).

For USD-denominated stocks, the minimum fee per order is $0.08 USD, and the maximum fee is 0.50% of your trade value.

In Canada, IBKR’s fixed commissions per share are $0.01 CAD and $0.08 USD for CAD and USD denominated stocks respectively.

For options, IBKR has a tiered fee per contract ranging from $1 to $1.25.

Buy ETFs for FREE with Questrade

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Administrative Fees

In addition to the standard trading fees, both Questrade and IBKR have miscellaneous fees they charge for RRSP deregistration, copies of account statements, document retrieval, bounced cheques, etc.

Interactive Brokers used to charge an “inactivity fee” if your account balance was less than $100,000 USD, however, this fee has now been eliminated.

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Trading Platforms

Questrade and Interactive Brokers both cater to all levels of investors and have mobile apps, downloadable desktop platforms for advanced trading strategies, a web-based interface, and APIs.

In my experience, Questrade’s trading platform is more user-friendly, especially if you are new to self-directed trading.

Advanced traders can choose to go crazy trying the over 100 order types and complex algorithmic trading strategies available via IBKR’s Trader Workstation.

Both Questrade and IBKR offer market data packages, watchlists, screeners, market signals, alerts, and access to third-party research.

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Minimum Investment

There is no minimum investment to open an Interactive Brokers account.

For Questrade, you need to fund your account with at least $1,000. This minimum amount is also required to take advantage of the $50 free trade credit offer.

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Are They Safe?

Both firms are members of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and this protects your investments up to $1 million if they become insolvent.

Questrade protects its client accounts with an additional $10 million in private insurance.

Both Questrade and IBKR are regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Customer Service

Interactive Broker’s phone service desks in Canada are available from 7 am – 7:30 pm CST. You can also reach them via chat 24 hours (Monday to Friday) and 1-7 pm ET (Sunday).

Questrade’s phone and chat support is available from 7:30 am to 8 pm EST (Monday to Friday).

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Promotions

When you open a new Questrade account here, you get $50 in free trades after funding your account with at least $1,000.

As of this writing, I could not find a similar offer for Interactive Brokers.

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers: Conclusion

As already noted, you probably won’t go wrong choosing Questrade or Interactive Brokers for your investment trading needs.

That said, Questrade does better overall in this comparison review for these reasons:

1. It has a better selection of registered accounts to choose from, including RESP, LIRA, LRSP, and RRIF accounts that Interactive Brokers does not support.

2. It is easier to navigate for beginners who will find its mobile app to be quite straightforward for placing stock and ETF trades.

3. It offers free ETF Purchases. If you are holding these assets for the long term, you could save on trading commissions for several years. Also, this means you can place small trades without worrying about fees eating into your capital.

4. If you want professional involvement with your investing, you can invest your portfolio using Questwealth Portfolios. Our readers can invest up to $10,000 for free in the first year.

All that said, if you are a high net worth or an advanced trader looking to make big bets or invest in hedge funds, Interactive Brokers offers more options.

Visit Questrade ($50 FREE Trades)

Related:

Questrade vs. Interactive Brokers Canada 2021: Which is Better?

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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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