Qtrade is a bit of a mystery despite being ranked the #1 discount broker in the Globe and Mail survey for two years running. I personally don’t have an account with Qtrade, so I asked Evan, who has been a customer for about one year, if he would be willing to share his experience with other readers. Before turning over the floor to Evan here are the highlights from my chat with a Qtrade representative (in keeping with the high marks for customer service, a live person picked up the phone instead of starting off with “For service in English, Press 1”).

Fees and Commissions: Qtrade’s trading commissions are not as cheap as some of its competition. They charge a flat $9.95 per trade for accounts with $100K in assets and $19 for market orders ($23 for limit orders) otherwise. Registered accounts with less than $15K in assets attract a $50 per year administration fee. You can see their entire fee schedule here.

Wash trades: The “wash trade” feature available from Qtrade is limited to setting the same exchange rate if you buy and sell U.S. stocks on the same day. It does not offer the ability to sell a U.S. stock and park the proceeds in a US Money Market fund.

Parking Cash: Qtrade offers money market funds to park cash (both CAD and USD) temporarily. The minimum investment is $1,000 and there are no fees for buying or selling and no minimum holding periods.

Evan mentioned that he would “definitely” recommend Qtrade to his friends and family, primarily for their stellar customer service: “Qtrade’s customer service number is staffed by real humans – no navigating menus and then being placed on hold indefinitely. Email queries are answered within 24 hours”. I also asked him if he has encountered any problems with the broker and Evan feels that their DRIP enrolment is cumbersome because you first have to contact customer service to obtain a form, fill it and mail or fax it back. He also noted that Qtrade’s commissions are not as low as Questrade’s, which has a confusingly similar name.

When asked for his input on The Globe’s special praise for Qtrade’s stock research and their performance reporting, Evan replied that he is mainly an ETF investor and hadn’t made much use of these services. Overall, it seems to me that Qtrade is a solid contender if you are considering a discount broker.

I wish to express my thanks to Evan for sharing his opinion of Qtrade, especially since it was hard to find a customer among our readers. If you’re a Qtrade customer, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. You can also check out the reviews of other discount brokers: BMO InvestorLine, Credential Direct, Questrade, RBC Direct, Scotia Direct and TD Waterhouse.

This article has 24 comments

  1. I’ve also been curious about QTrade also. Seems a little expensive in my books for those with less than $100k in assets.

  2. I’m just signing up with them, I’ve sent off the application forms, and during the course of filling out the initial forms I wound up having a few questions… in total I sent 4 emails. 3 of them answered within 5 minutes, the other took an hour or so. I have less than $100,000, so I’m not going there for the huge savings over the bank brokerages, I’m going there for the service.

  3. Canadian Capitalist

    MDJ: Yes, Qtrade is a little bit on the expensive side but they are competitive with E*Trade and cheaper than the big banks. Hopefully, competition will lower prices at all brokers.

    Steve: I called Qtrade twice and was impressed that they answered the phone right away. Their reputation for good service seems justified.

  4. Does anyone know if they offer real time charts? How is their transaction history paperwork? I know that Questrade is a pain when trying to obtain transaction history.

  5. How about TD Ameritrade? They also charge $9.95 flat a trade. Anyone have any thoughts on them?

  6. Canadian Capitalist

    Marc: Canadians cannot open an account with TD Ameritrade but can with TD Waterhouse. I personally have an account with TDW and I’ve reviewed the broker in an older post.

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  9. Hi, I have been using Qtrade for over a year now and called them sometimes at 5.30 AM and spoke to one of the brokers, very helpful especially when doing bank fund transfer into your account, orders are filled fast@ sometimes lower than your buy price, Average $27 per US trade…

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  11. I’ve been using Qtrade for three years and I highly recommend them. Excellent customer service, fast account updates (unlike the banks,) customizable charts and cheap if you qualify for “Active Trader Discount” (min. 30 trades/ 3 months) so I pay about $11 / trade.

  12. Does any Canadian brokerage offer stop losses on US options ? Qtrade , my broker does not.

  13. Can you trade small cap (penny stocks) with Qtrade?

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  16. I have my TFSA, RRSP and a small CASH account with them. The application process was easy and took about 2 weeks to complete. The information and charts provided on thier website are second to none. Quarterly statements arrive like clockwork. Dividends are automatically posted with absolutely no effort on my part, and you can access just about anything that you need to find out about your accounts very easily. True trades are somewhat expensive at about $20 but considering what you get, it is worth every penny!

  17. I have been using Qtrade for a year or so now. I picked Qtrade mainly due to the good reviews I read, and positive experience when calling for info on setting up a new account. This is my frist dive into trading stocks myself, so I have nothing to compare it to. I have found the site itself very user friendly with a clean simple design – they have added morningstar research reports, which is nice. I have only had to call customer service 2-3 times, and have sent a few e-mails. Top notch! I was surprised the first time I called and someone answered on the first ring – no menu to navigate, and no waiting on hold. I thought I had dialed the wrong number! The was a stark contrast to calling ETRADE and getting a rep in the US (after navigating and waiting on hold), that couldn’t really answer my questions, and didn’t seem to really care.

    I would recommend this site – I pay a bit more for a trade than with other sites, but I am paying for the peace of mind in knowing that I can call and talk to a knowledgeable and friendly rep who will help me quickly if I need assistance. I am also paying for the simple, clean website design, and new features such as morningstar reports (was previously subscribing to morningstar at a cost of $20 per month).

    Two thumbs up for Qtrade.

  18. I’ve been with Qtrade for about 1 year and I’ve had enough!!!!!!!! Do not use Qtrade there are much better brokers out there. I’ve dealt with 5 other brokerages and I must say that QTRADE is the worst one I’ve had.
    Their system is slow and unreliable. I’ve experienced about 10 crashes while trading and it has cost me tons of money. When I submit a request it never gets filled because it takes them so long to process and by the time they do the price has usually run up from my limit order.

    As for the system crashes I decided one day that they should at least refund me for one of my commissions because they even admitted that it was issues with their servers and they flat out refused. They said sorry there is nothing they could do.

    Their customer service staff do answer quite quickly but are quite rude. For the amount of commissions i’ve paid them you would think that they would at lease refund me for one. Instead the staff member proceeded to lecture me that if our systems go down we provide a means for you to call us to place the trade. Total horse shit because as far as true traders know every sec counts.

    The other thing i’d like to point out too is that they do not have a means for you to place stop losses on options. When I requested an enhancement request the staff member told me point blank I’ll take your request but don’t think that we will make changes to our system. The lack of this feature which by the way is available for equity trades caused me to lose almost $8000 in two months.

    I’m done with qtrade and the two contenders that am looking at are questtrade and Disnat.

    DON’T WASTE YOUR TIME AND HARD EARNED MONEY WITH QTRADE.

  19. I don’t know which Qtrade you’re referring to Francis but I’ve been with the Qtrade based in Vancouver for 5 years now after trying 3 other brokerages and the Qtrade you talk about isn’t the same one I deal with. Their trades are so fast my account is updated as soon as I place the trade. They have customizable charts, excellent customer sevice, always polite and very professional.

    You sound like a whiny jerk, Francis and maybe they treat you like one and they’re probably glad to get rid of you.

  20. I had a lot of problems with Qtrade as they made so many errors just in opening my account which took weeks and weeks of e-mails to fix. This brokerage is very expensive even if you qualify for the lower commission tier (which by the way, is not automatic, you have to “apply” for it). Otherwise, it’s almost $25 a trade including ECN fees. There is a charge for everything. Their exchange rates are atrocious.

    For a brokerage that claims to provide US dollar RRSPs, they cannot (would not?) link US dollar bank chequing accounts to US dollar Qtrade accounts. Cash positions are NOT updated in real time. Their website uses endless menu trees. It’s hard to find things. I would prefer more tabs but I guess this is just a personal preference.

    On the positive side, their e-mail responses are very quick. I haven’t tried their phone service yet. They even have an internal messaging system but they reply to the messages via e-mail. They also offer GIC’s but you could go to those very banks listed and get slightly higher rates directly so why would you buy through Qtrade? They pocket the difference, I suppose!

    This brokerage is very small and not suitable for complicated trades. However, they do have CIPF coverage. My verdict: Just an “okay” brokerage. Does not live up to the hype. I will be moving soon. There is an extra charge ($50) in addition to the regular transfer charge ($125) plus GST if you move within a year.

  21. Greetings, I’ve been a Qtrade client for about 10 years and have been delighted with the person to person customer service and the user friendliness of the website. I also had an account with Nesbitt Burns and was being charged an astronomical amount for each trade so I switched my entire account to Qtrade and have been pleased with the service. I’m probably and entry level investor – I make 5-10 trades a month. I have limited knowledge in playing the markets but I’m learning and I’m having way more success with Qtrade than I ever had with Nesbitt Burns. I read once – somewhere – that an Investment Advisor is someone who invests your money for you…..till it’s All Gone!
    It’s really important that we take ownership of our money and also assume the responsibility for learning how to Manage it. I know I’ve got a Long way to go but I’m Reading More, Learning More, Asking More Questions, and using Internet Resources to try and learn the best way to protect our Savings.
    Cheers,
    Shaymc

  22. I am far into the future and reading this as a part of a periodic Brokerage review.

    Are you saying that QTrade DOES have the capability of Stop Losses on Options?

    I asked them for a demo / trial / Papermoney account but they don’t have one.

  23. Moved an account from qtrade to itrade because bond inventories better at the time with itrade…
    Am now in the midst of moving it back to qtrade as 1. their service is so much better, 2. the website is simpler , up to date and much more efficient.
    3. they actually return phone calls, and answer emails promptly.
    Would i go anywhere else.. no.– and this is not a small account as well into 6 figures. ..

  24. Been with Q trade almost 3 1/2 years. They were recommended by my Credit union, Envision, which they are partners with. It was all a learning experience for me, as I was brand new to investing at the time. Like most of their new customers.
    I felt the sign up process was simple enough but felt like it took forever. And applying to trade options was a similar experience. Sometimes when I transfer cash to my Q trade account, it takes a couple of days to go through, which feels like an eternity when you are excited about a new buy.
    Clean, effective site, clearly designed in a simple easy to use way. Now that the rates have FINALLY come down to earth at $9.95 /trade for anyone, it is certainly suitable for most investors and casual traders. The phone service is as good as everyone says.
    But let’s be realistic.
    This is in no way a site a serious trader would use. Far too limited. The exchange fees for trading US stocks are ludicrous, you can’t put a stop loss on options. The commissions on options can get really pricey when buying lots of contracts. You can trade Canadian options, which seems like a great way to beat the exchange rates, but the lack of liquidity in the Canadian option system has left me waiting and watching my $ disappear. No real time chart. Not even a live ticker! You have to refresh the quote page every single time. No good til cancelled orders, no trigger orders, or one cancels the other orders. No option spreads. And no way to set up instant buy and sell buttons for day trading.
    But with all that said. I would recommend Q trade to anyone. And I have no plans on switching. I am practicing my skills on the TD think or swim paper money platform and when I am ready, I will start a separate USD trading only account there.
    I will keep all my CDN rsp and tfsa stuff at qtrade