In the investment industry, the more you take control of your portfolio, the lower your investment costs. This explains the everlasting importance of self-directed brokerages.
Canadians are fortunate to have multiple online discount self-directed brokerages to choose from with Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade being among the popular.
While Qtrade and Wealthsimple share a few similarities, there’s a lot that differentiates them. Understanding their differences will help you make an informed decision on choosing the brokerage that suits your needs.
This Qtrade vs Wealthsimple comparison explores the key similarities and differences between the two brokerages with tips on how to narrow your selection.
Table of Contents
Overview of Qtrade
Qtrade Direct Investing, often shortened as Qtrade, is an online discount brokerage that operates under Credential Qtrade Securities Inc.
The brokerage was launched in 2000 and it’s owned by Aviso Wealth, a leading wealth manager with up to 300 partner institutions, 500,000+ clients and $100 billion in assets under management and administration.
Qtrade provides investors exposure to Canadian and US-listed securities that are traded on the following exchanges:
As an online discount brokerage, Qtrade allows investors to trade 100+ Canadian and US-listed ETFs without paying commissions. Example of the selected ETFs include:
|Desjardins RI Canada – Low CO2 Index ETF (DRMC)
|iShares ESG Aware MSCI EM ETF (ESGE)
|iShares Jantzi Social Index ETF (XEN)
|iShares ESG Aware MSCI EAFE ETF (ESGD)
|Desjardins RI Emerging Markets Low CO2 Index ETF (DRME)
|iShares MSCI Global Impact ETF (SDG)
|Desjardins RI Developed ex-USA ex-Canada – Low CO2 Index ETF (DRMD)
|iShares Global Clean Energy ETF (ICLN)
|Desjardins RI Global Multifactor Fossil Fuel Reserves Free ETF (DRFG)
|iShares MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target ETF (CRBN)
In addition to the commission waiver, the brokerage also distinguished itself with excellent customer service and comprehensive trading tools that make it ideal for investors with different levels of experience.
With multiple securities and trading accounts, there are many reasons why Qtrade is regarded as one of the best investment platforms in Canada.
Pros and Cons of Qtrade
Let us take a brief look at the major pros and cons of Qtrade Direct Investing.
- No minimum investment required: Unlike other Canadian brokerages, Qtrade doesn’t require a minimum investment amount. This eliminates barriers for investors looking to invest with a tight budget.
- Multiple securities and accounts: Qtrade is a one-stop-shop brokerage that offers access to some of the popular investment securities and accounts out there.
- Commission waiver on 100+ ETFs: The brokerage allows you to trade 100+ selected Canadian and US ETFs without commissions.
- Comprehensive tools and resources: With a free trial account, real-time quotes and watchlist alerts, Qtrade has comprehensive tools and resources to ease your trades.
- Award-winning customer support: Qtrade has received numerous awards for its excellent customer support which is lacking among other online brokerages.
- High fees: Qtrade charges its clients a $25 administration fee every quarter. It also charges high commissions on trading securities. All these are absent at other discount brokerages.
Overview of Wealthsimple Trade
Wealthsimple Trade is another popular online discount brokerage in Canada that was launched in 2019 by Wealthsimple.
Even though Wealthsimple Trade is relatively younger than other brokerages including Qtrade, it has positioned itself as an alternative brokerage in Canada due to its competitive offerings.
Available securities on the brokerage include stocks and ETFs that are publicly traded on the following exchanges:
- BATS Exchange
What’s interesting is that stocks and ETFs trading on Wealthsimple Trade are completely commission-free with no minimum investment requirement.
That said, you can also trade fractional shares and cryptocurrencies on the Wealthsimple Trade app. This is also a rare feat in the industry.
With zero monthly fees on a basic plan and a USD account on a premium plan, Wealthsimple Trade is a no-nonsense discount brokerage in Canada.
Pros and Cons of Wealthsimple Trade
Below are the top pros and cons of Wealthsimple Trade deduced from the above overview.
- No minimum investment required: The pressure of investing above your budget is eliminated at Wealthsimple. You are free to start investing with as little as $1.
- All-round commission-free waiver: By eliminating commission on buying and selling stocks and ETFs, Wealthsimple Trade helps you maximize the returns of your investment.
- Fractional shares ownership: With Wealthsimple fractional shares, you can reduce your investment costs and risks by investing with little amount.
- Unique accounts: Unlike other discount brokerages, Wealthsimple Trade offers access to a USD account which eliminates FX fees on trading. If you’re a crypto trader, you can also trade over 50 cryptocurrencies on the brokerage without trading fees.
- No monthly fees: The Wealthsimple Trade basic plan allows you to instantly trade up to $15,000 with unlimited price alerts, zero monthly fees and zero commissions.
- Monthly fees: To trade through a USD account or up to $5,000 at a time on Wealthsimple Trade, you must subscribe to its premium plan which costs $10 per month.
- Limited securities and accounts: At the moment, you can only trade stocks, ETFs and cryptocurrencies on Wealthsimple Trade. And you can only do so through limited trading accounts (personal, TFSA and RRSP accounts).
- Limited tools: The brokerage lacks comprehensive tools for advanced order execution, research and analysis.
Qtrade vs Wealthsimple: The Key Differences
|Stocks, ETFs, bonds, options, mutual funds, IPOs, GICs and secondary/treasury offerings
|Stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies
|Taxable accounts, TFSA, RSP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF, and RESP
|Taxable accounts, TFSA and RRSP
|Minimum investment requirement
|Monthly, quarterly or annual fees
|$25 quarterly fees
|$0 or $10 monthly fees
|Commissions on stocks and ETFs
|$6.95 or $8.75 (no commission on 100+ listed ETFs
|Web browser and mobile app
|Web browser and mobile app
From the above overview of Qtrade and Wealthsimple, we can confirm that the two brokerages share fewer similarities than differences.
Obviously, both brokerages have no minimum investment requirement, allowing you to start trading with as little as $1.
Also, the two brokerages are regulated by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
As per your assets, the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) covers them up to $1 million per insured in both Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade.
So what makes the difference? The two brokerages differ significantly on various grounds ranging from their supported securities, account types, commissions, and tools.
Let’s go over the key differences between Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade.
Qtrade vs Wealthsimple: Securities
You can trade both Canadian and US-listed stocks and ETFs on Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade.
But unlike Wealthsimple Trade, Qtrade also offers you access to bonds, options, mutual funds, IPOs, GICs and secondary/treasury offerings.
On the other hand, Wealthsimple Trade allows you to trade fractional shares and cryptos which is not currently possible on Qtrade.
In terms of securities, Qtrade obviously has a more comprehensive collection than Wealthsimple Trade.
This may not be a problem depending on your investment objective and favourite securities.
Qtrade vs Wealthsimple: Accounts
With Qtrade, you can trade through cash, margin TFSA, RSP, RRIF, LIRA, LIF, and RESP accounts.
On the other hand, you can only trade through personal accounts, TFSA and RRSP accounts on Wealthsimple Trade.
The variation in account types also goes in favour of Qtrade. You will find Qtrade more suitable as a one-stop-shop brokerage if you’re looking to trade through different accounts.
Qtrade vs Wealthsimple: Fees and Commissions
In terms of fees, Wealthsimple appears to be low-cost than Qtrade. This is because Wealthsimple Trade allows you to trade stocks and ETFs commission-free on its basic account without monthly fees.
And if you choose to pay a $10 monthly fee on the Wealthsimple Trade premium plan, you will get a USD account that allows you to trade without FX fees among other advanced benefits.
On the other hand, $25 quarterly administration fees apply per client on all Qtrade plans. Multiply the quarterly fee by four and you will get a total of $100 annual fee. This is enough to invest in a series of fractional shares or low-cost stocks.
Although the Qtrade’s quarterly administration fee is waived if you:
- Hold a $25,000 balance per quarter;
- Make at least 2 commissionable trades per quarter;
- Qualify for the Qtreade’s Young Investor offer;
- Set up at least $100 recurring electronic contributions per month
To get a USD account with Qtrade, you must qualify for its Investor Plus plan. The Investor Plus gives you access to a USD account and discounted fees and commissions if you:
- Execute a minimum of 150 trades per quarter, or
- Have a minimum assets balance of $500,000
In terms of commission, Qtrade has a partial offering. It only waives commission on 100+ selected ETFs. Even at that, you must spend a minimum of $1,000 on any of the eligible ETFs and hold the ETF for one day to qualify for the commission waiver.
What this means is that you will be first charged a commission when buying any of the selected ETFs but you will be reimbursed when you meet the commission waiver criteria.
In plain terms, the Qtrade commission waiver on 100+ ETFs is not accessible to investors that trade less than $1,000.
That being said, Qtrade charges varying commissions on other ETFs and securities. The commission depends on your plan as shown below:
|Options per contract
|$8.75 + $1.25
|$6.95 + $1.25
|Fixed income and Exchange-traded debentures $1,000 face value
The bottom line is that you will save more on fees and commissions on Wealthsimple Trade than you would on Qtrade.
Qtrade vs Wealthsimple: Trading Platform
You can trade online and mobile on either Qtrade or Wealthsimple Trade. But that’s common with other online discount brokers out there.
When assessing the trading platform of an online brokerage, it’s essential to consider the available tools and resources irrespective of whether you’re a beginner or seasoned investor.
Comprehensive tools and resources not only simplify your investment, but also help you avoid costly mistakes on your investment.
In this regard, Qtrade outshines Wealthsimple Trade due to its comprehensive trading tools including a free trial account.
In addition, Qtrade has excellent customer service which is key to the success of both beginner and seasoned traders.
Qtrade vs Wealthsimple: Which to Choose?
One key point to take from the above review is that Qtrade and Wealthsimple are best on different grounds. That explains why they’re both categorized among the best trading platforms in Canada today.
Keeping costs aside, I would say you should go with the two to enjoy the best of both. But you’ve come so far because you’re looking to make a choice.
Frankly speaking, you can’t go wrong with either Qtrade or Wealthsimple depending on your situation.
But some situations make one of the brokerages more suitable than the other.
For example, if you don’t mind the commissions and quarterly administrative fees, you may find Qtrade ideal if you’re looking for an online discount brokerage with:
- No minimum investment
- Comprehensive securities, accounts and tools including a free trial account
- Excellent customer service
On the other hand, Wealthsimple Trade could be your best option if you’re looking for an online discount brokerage with:
- No monthly fees
- No commissions on stocks and ETFs
- Fractional shares and cryptocurrencies
It could be possible that neither Qtrade nor Wealthsimple Trade suits your needs. This requires further research on other online discount brokerages in Canada such as:
- BMO InvestorLine
- RBC Direct Investing
- TD Direct Investing
- Interactive Brokers Canada
Choosing a Self-Directed Brokerage in Canada
Whether you’re going with Qtrade, Wealthsimple Trade or their alternative, it’s essential to understand how to choose the perfect brokerage that suits your situation.
Below are the key factors to consider when narrowing your selection.
- Supported securities: What do you want to invest in? Stocks? ETFs? Bonds? Mutual funds? You decide! But regardless of your needs, there’s the perfect brokerage that supports your favourite securities.
- Account types: Whether you’re looking to trade through taxable or registered accounts, the account varies. This simply requires you to narrow your selection of a brokerage according to the accounts you want to trade in. In the case of Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Trade, you can see how their account types differ.
- Investment minimum amount: Whether you’re a low or high-net-worth investor, you need to choose a brokerage that suits your investment budget as that will determine your trade volume.
- Fees and commissions: Looking at the fee and commission of a brokerage will tell you the cost of investing in it. As always, the lower the fees and commissions, the lower your investment costs. But you must be careful not to sacrifice your investment needs in pursuit of low fees and commissions.
- Trading platform: The trading tools, resources and customer service of a brokerage are invaluable assets to your investment success.
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Verdict on Qtrade vs Wealthsimple Comparison
An investment platform can make or mar your investment success depending irrespective of your experience.
As such, taking your time to compare and choose from different options will help you save a lot in the long run.
Qtrade and Wealthsimple Trade are some of the top options you will find when looking for the best self-directed brokerages in Canada.
But as the above comparison shows, the two brokerages have more differences than similarities.
The bottom line is, you can’t go wrong with either of them so long as you tailor your selection based on your needs.
But if you’re still not sure which to choose or need more clarification, don’t hesitate to draw my attention in the comment or privately contact our team at [email protected].
That brings us to the end of this comparison. If you’re impacted in one way or the other, kindly share it and visit our Investing Archive for more related information.