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Questrade vs. RBC Direct Investing 2024: Which is Better?

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Online discount brokerage platforms like Questrade and RBC Direct Investing help self-directed investors take ownership of their investment portfolios.

These trading platforms can be used to trade various investment securities from the comfort of your home, whether you have some experience with the stock markets or are a novice.

While brokerages often provide similar services, Questrade beats RBC Direct Investing in some areas, including trading fees – a key factor when you are trying to maximize returns.

This RBC Direct Investing vs. Questrade comparison covers their features, account and product offerings, fees, pros, cons, promotions, and more.

What is Questrade?

Questrade

questrade logo transparent

On Questrade’s Website

  • Fees: $4.95 to $9.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $1,000 to start trading
  • Promotions: Get $50 in free trades
SNC Rating
4.5
  • Choose from thousands of stocks and ETFs with commission-free ETF purchases and low-commission stock trading.
  • Supports multiple investment products, including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, GICs, options, foreign currencies, and precious metals.
  • No minimum balance to open a new account and only $1,000 to start trading.
  • No quarterly inactivity fees for all accounts. Transfer fees are waived up to $150 when you transfer your accounts at other brokerages to Questrade. Annual fees for TFSA or RRSP accounts and no account transfer fees either.
  • Unlimited snap quotes for stocks and ETFs with the option to upgrade to real-time quotes through a monthly subscription starting at $19.95/month.
  • Real-time customer support via talk, email, or live chat.
  • Enjoy extended hours trading on U.S. Markets from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM EST.
  • QuestMobile allows you to manage your investments from any mobile device.
  • You can open a Questwealth portfolio to invest in a pre-built portfolio with 0.20% to 0.25% management fees.
  • Gain access to other Questrade financial tools, including QuestMortgage.
  • Trust in one of Canada’s top brokerages with over $30 billion in assets under administration.

Our Verdict

Questrade is Canada’s largest and oldest discount brokerage. It offers accounts and financial tools for investors of all experience levels. Commission-free ETFs allow you to generate long-term wealth through diversified exposure to global equities while saving on trading fees.

Access to multiple investment assets

Offers real-time market data for day traders

No commissions on ETF purchases

Highly-rated mobile app

Advanced charting and analytical tools are available

Minimum $1,000 balance to trade

Advanced data packages have a monthly fee

Trading fees apply to all stock trades

Questrade is an online brokerage platform founded in 1999.

It is quite popular for disrupting Canada’s DIY investment landscape with its low-cost trading fees and robust selection of investment products.

As of this writing, the company had over $30 billion in assets under administration and attracts over 200,000 new client accounts yearly.

Questrade has been named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies nine times in a row.

In addition to self-directed trading services, Questrade also offers a diversified low-fee portfolio managed by experts via Questwealth portfolios.

When you open a new Questrade account using our exclusive referral link or code (SAVVY50), you get $50 in free trades after depositing $1,000 or more.

What is RBC Direct Investing?

RBC Direct Investing

On RBC’s Website

  • Fees: Fees of $9.95 per trade or $6.95 for active traders
  • Account minimum: $15,000 minimum to avoid fees
  • Promotions: Sometimes available
SNC Rating
4.0
  • Enjoy access to a full range of investment assets for both the U.S. and Canadian markets.
  • Trade all asset types, including stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, GICs, and even precious metals.
  • RBC Direct Investing offers a full list of registered and non-registered accounts, including TFSAs and RRSPs.
  • No minimum deposit amount, but a quarterly maintenance fee is applied for balances below $15,000.
  • Enjoy trading and account management on the go with RBC’s excellent mobile app.
  • No commission fees on mutual funds.
  • RBC will cover up to $200 in transfer fees for transfers exceeding $15,000.
  • Test your trading strategies first with a fully accessible practice account.
  • Active traders pay lower commission fees after making a minimum of 150 trades per quarter.

Our Verdict

RBC Direct Investing is one of the largest brokerages in Canada due to its major consumer banking presence. Users can enjoy full access to many assets and account types. Higher commission fees and a minimum balance of $15,000 before maintenance fees will make discount brokerages more attractive to smaller investors.

Large amount of assets and account types

A highly-rated mobile app

Easy integration for RBC banking customers

Real-time streaming quotes for stocks and ETFs

An excellent practice experience and education options

High commission fees compared to discount brokerages

Quarterly maintenance fees for balances below $15,000

Non-RBC clients have high-withdrawal fees

RBC Direct Investing is a division of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).

RBC is one of the largest banks in the world. It has been around since 1864 and has over 17 million clients in Canada and 28 other countries.

The RBC Direct Investing platform is available through a web interface and iPhone and Android mobile apps.

Questrade vs. RBC Direct Investing

Below, I summarize how both platforms compare in ten different areas.

1. Investment Accounts Offered

Both Questrade and RBC Direct Investing offer registered (tax-advantaged) and non-registered accounts, including:

  • Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)
  • Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
  • Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)
  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
  • Margin account
  • Corporate accounts

Questrade clients can also open LIRA, LRSP, LIF, Investment Club, FOREX, and CFD accounts.

2. Investment Products

When selecting a discount broker, it makes sense to go with one that offers a variety of products so you can diversify your holdings easily in one place.

Questrade offers a wider selection of assets, including stocks, Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs), mutual funds, options, bonds, Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), foreign exchange, precious metals, and contracts for difference (CFDs).

RBC Direct Investing offers stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, bonds, GICs, precious metals, and an investment savings account.

3. Commission-Free ETFs

Commission-free trading is a lot more common in the United States than it is in Canada, where only a few online brokerages offer this perk.

Questrade supports free ETF purchases (US and Canada-listed ETFs) and has a flat-rate trading fee for all ETF transactions (buy and sell orders).

This means that you can save up to $9.95 per transaction when you purchase ETFs via the Questrade platform.

4. Trading fees

What it often comes down to when choosing between trading platforms that offer identical services is the fees.

That is, how much are you paying per transaction, and how does it compare with the best offers available?

Below is a comparison of trading fees between Questrade and RBC Direct Investing:

Trading CommissionsQuestradeRBC Direct Investing
Stocks1 cent per share ($4.95 minimum to $9.95 maximum per transaction)$9.95/trade
ETFsFree to buy; $4.95-$9.95 when you sell$9.95/trade
Options$9.95 + $1 per contract$9.95 + $1.25 per contract
Mutual funds$9.95/tradeNo commissions to buy, sell or switch. Early redemption fees may apply
Precious metals$19.95 USD/trade$28.95 + $1/oz gold certificates; $28.95 + $0.10/oz for sliver certificates (USD)
Active Investor pricing (stocks and ETFs)$4.95/trade$6.95/trade
Active Investor pricing (options)$4.95 + $0.75 per contract$6.95 + $1.25 per contract

Active trader pricing is unlocked when you subscribe to an advanced market data package on Questrade. For RBC Direct Investing, you must place at least 150 trades per quarter to qualify.

5. Administrative Fees

Both Questrade and RBC Direct Investing charge a service fee when you transfer your account to another financial institution. There are also fees for NSF cheques, wire transfers, certificate deposits, and estate account processing.

In addition, RBC Direct Investing charges a quarterly maintenance fee of $25 if your account asset balance is less than $15,000. You can have this fee waived under some circumstances.

6. Trading Platforms and Tools

You can access both Questrade and RBC Direct Investing through their online sites (web interface) and mobile apps.

Active traders can access “Trading Dashboard” on RBC Direct Investing for increased customization, level 2 quotes, advanced charting, and real-time streaming quotes.

Questrade’s IQ Edge, a desktop platform, also offers advanced order types for experienced traders.

For research tools, RBC Direct Investing has screeners, sector analysis, watchlists, RBC affiliate research, and third-party research reports from Morningstar.

Questrade offers investment reports, watchlists, alerts, and access to Intraday Trader, a tool that alerts you to new trading opportunities throughout the day.

Questrade clients also have access to a rebalancing tool (Passiv) and a net worth and investment tracking dashboard (Wealthica)

7. Minimum Investment

RBC Direct Investing does not have a minimum investment amount to begin investing.

For Questrade, you need to fund your account with at least $1,000 to get started.

8. Are they Safe?

Questrade and RBC Direct Investing are both members of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF). This membership means your investment assets are protected up to $1 million should the firms become bankrupt.

Both companies are also regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).

RBC Direct investing clients enjoy the stability of a bank over 150 years old and the largest in Canada.

Questrade clients are protected with an additional $10 million in private insurance.

9. Promotions

New Questrade clients who sign up using our referral link or referral code (SAVVY50) get $50 in free trade credits.

RBC Direct Investing does not appear to offer a comparable promotion as of this writing.

10. Other Features

If you prefer to have professionals manage your portfolio at a low cost, Questwealth Portfolios, a robo-advisor service operated by Questrade Wealth Management Inc, could be for you. You can invest up to $10,000 free for one year here.

RBC’s robo-advisor service is referred to as RBC InvestEase.

Pros and Con of Questrade

Questrade users enjoy these benefits:

  • Low and competitive trading fees
  • No-commission ETF purchases
  • Multiple investment product options and accounts
  • Transfer fees are waived up to $150 when you move your investment to Questrade
  • No quarterly maintenance fees
  • Competitive active trader pricing
  • Versatile mobile and desktop apps
  • Free trade credits when you sign up using a valid promotional link or code

Cons

  • You need a $1,000 minimum deposit to begin investing on the platform.

Pros and Cons of RBC Direct Investing

The platform is owned by Canada’s largest bank, and clients also enjoy:

  • Access to various investment products and accounts
  • Versatile mobile app with access to all your accounts in one place
  • Covers transfer fees when you move assets worth $15,000 or more
  • Offers in-depth educational resources and tools
  • Has a practice (demo) account

Cons

  • You pay a quarterly maintenance fee of $25 if your account balance is below $15,000
  • Trading fees are on the high end of the spectrum
  • Does not offer free ETF trades

Questrade vs. RBC Direct Investing vs. Wealthsimple Trade

 QuestradeRBC Direct InvestingWealthsimple Trade
Stock trading fee$4.95-$9.95$9.95$0
ETF trading feePurchases are free; $4.95-$9.95 to sell$9.95$0
Options trading fee$9.95 + $1/contract$9.95 + $1.25/contractN/A
Active trader fee (stocks/ETF)$4.95$6.95N/A
Minimum investment$1,000NoneNone
Investment productsStocks, ETFs, options, mutual funds, bonds, IPOs, precious metals, FX, GICsStocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, bonds, GICsStocks and ETFs
Account maintenance fee$0$25/quarter if balance <$15,000$0
Transfer-in fees waived?Up to $150Up to $200 if assets $15,000+Up to $150 if assets $5,000+
PromotionsGet $50 in free trade creditsN/AGet a cash bonus

Questrade vs. RBC Directing Investing Conclusion

Overall, Questrade wins this comparison review with RBC Direct Investing.

While both platforms work well for newbies and experienced DIY investors, Questrade has the upper hand when you look at some key benefits: low trading fees, no account maintenance fees, and zero-commission ETF trades.

If you are opening a new Questrade account, get $50 in free trades here.

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Editorial Disclaimer: The investing information provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended as individual investment advice or recommendation to invest in any specific security or investment product. Investors should always conduct their own independent research before making investment decisions or executing investment strategies. Savvy New Canadians does not offer advisory or brokerage services. Note that past investment performance does not guarantee future returns.

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Author

Gravatar for Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)
Enoch Omololu, MSc (Econ)

Enoch Omololu, personal finance expert, author, and founder of Savvy New Canadians, has written about money matters for over 10 years. Enoch has an MSc (Econ) degree in Finance and Investment Management from the University of Aberdeen Business School and has completed the Canadian Securities Course. His expertise has been highlighted in major publications like Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC News, Toronto Star, Financial Post, CTV News, TD Direct Investing, Canadian Securities Exchange, and many others. Enoch is passionate about helping others win with their finances and recently created a practical investing course for beginners. You can read his full author bio.

About Savvy New Canadians

Savvy New Canadians is one of Canada's top personal finance platforms. Millions of Canadians use our site each year to learn how to save for retirement, invest smartly, maximize rewards, and earn extra cash. We have been featured in prominent finance media, including Forbes, Globe and Mail, Business Insider, CBC, MSN, Wealthsimple, and TD Direct Investing. Learn more about Savvy New Canadians.

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