Wealthsimple Trade vs Questrade

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When it comes to choosing Wealthsimple Trade vs Questrade for your self-directed investing, there’s a lot to consider. From account type to investor preferences, the best fit is up to you… but it’s probably Questrade.

Questrade has been the clear leader in Canada for online discount brokerages for years. Wealthsimple recently launched a no-commission, no minimum balance brokerage called Wealthsimple Trade. Is it enough to really compete? The short answer is unfortunately no.

Wealthsimple Trade vs Questrade Summary

In a rush? Here’s everything you need to know about Wealthsimple trade vs Questrade in point form:

  • Questrade is superior to Wealthsimple Trade in terms of utility and functionality on both web and mobile platforms.
  • Get up to $50 in free trades with Questrade by signing up here
  • Get unlimited free trades with Wealthsimple Trade by signing up here
  • You need $0 to open a Wealthsimple Trade account, and $1,000 to open a Questrade account
  • Wealthsimple Trade offers $0 commission on all trading compared to Questrade’s low-fee offerings of $5 to $6 per trade, and free ETF purchases. 
  • Questrade offers registered accounts like the TFSA, RRSP, and RESP. Wealthsimple only offers TFSAs.
  • Questrade gives you access to all securities, as well as options trading and margin accounts. Wealthsimple offers none of these.
  • Questrade provides watchlists, news, and security analysis tools whereas Wealthsimple Trade only lets you add some stocks to a watchlist.

Verdict: Questrade is the clear winner above Wealthsimple Trade when it comes to self-directed investing.

Questrade

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An honest Questrade vs Wealthsimple Trade comparison

Before we jump into it, I want to mention that I am personally a customer of both Questrade and Wealthsimple. And I love each of them! I’ve been managing my own portfolios on Questrade for 10 years, and with them keep my TFSA, RRSP, and my daughter’s RESP. Last year I opened an account with Wealthsimple Invest, the robo-advisor, and fell in love with their beautiful, easy-to-use platform. I keep a small unregistered account there. When Wealthsimple Trade was released earlier this year, I was excited at the prospect of a commission-free brokerage with the same beautiful user interface I was used to. I was immediately disappointed.

To be clear, I still love Wealthsimple and think their robo-advising platform is the best out there. However, Wealthsimple Trade leaves a lot to be desired. It doesn’t even come close to Questrade in terms of functionality. In fact, I actually think the current Wealthsimple Trade platform is so poor it’s virtually unusable. While I’m sure Wealthsimple will continue to improve Wealthsimple Trade, as of right now there is absolutely no reason to choose them over Questrade.

It’s hard for me to write such a scathing review of such a favorite fintech brand, but I want this to be an honest Questrade vs Wealthsimple comparison.

An overview of each discount broker

Both Questrade and Wealthsimple offer what the big banks can’t: low account minimums and no or very low-fee trading. However, that’s where their similarities end. Here’s a brief overview of each online broker.

What is Wealthsimple Trade?

Wealthsimple Trade is the brokerage arm of Wealthsimple. They are currently offering brokerage accounts with no minimum account balance, and no fees or commissions. In the world of stock trading, this a competitive offering. Most big banks have brokerages that charge $10 to $30 per trade, and account minimums range from $1,000 to $10,000. 

What is Questrade?

Questrade is one of Canada’s best online discount brokerages. Questrade entered the investing market with an attractive commissions structure and low account minimums. You only need $1,000 to open an account with Questrade. Want an in-depth review? Check out my detailed Questrade Review: Low-Cost DIY Investing

Questrade provides a full suite of account types, Wealthsimple Trade offers only one

While this is likely to change in the future, at present Questrade trumps Wealthsimple Trade just on account offerings alone. While Wealthsimple Trade recently added TFSAs to their account offerings, other registered accounts are still not available. 

Questrade

RRSP and RESP accounts only available with Questrade

Wealthsimple Trade currently only offers two types of brokerage accounts: a simple unregistered account and a Tax-Free Savings Account. You cannot invest in an RRSP or RESP. However, Wealthsimple Trade is expected to add registered accounts soon.

For now, only Questrade provides both unregistered and registered accounts. You can open a Questrade TFSA, Questrade RRSP, or Questrade RESP and really unlock the power of these tax-shelters by investing in the stock market.

Margin accounts and options trading only available with Questrade

Likewise, Questrade also provides margin accounts and lets you trade options. These are advanced investing strategies that won’t appeal to everyone, but that doesn’t diminish their importance. Wealthsimple Trade provides no margin capabilities and you can’t even access the whole stock market, let alone trade options! This will matter more to experienced traders, but it is a big let-down for those of us who like to play the market.

Not all stocks are available on Wealthsimple Trade, but you can trade them on Questrade!

This was a surprising problem of Wealthsimple Trade, but it’s actually a brokerage that doesn’t let you access the whole stock market. You cannot buy and sell all publicly traded securities on Wealthsimple Trade, but you can do so on Questrade.

This is hands down the biggest problem I have with Wealthsimple Trade. I don’t know the point of a brokerage account if I can’t buy and sell the securities I want to. The weird thing is I’m not even looking for penny stocks from unheard of companies, I was trying to buy shares of well-known companies like Disney!

The limitations come from the brokerage supporting Wealthsimple Trade. New stocks are being added every week, but right now the selection is not as large as you might need it to be to build the portfolio you want. 

Investor tools are vastly superior on Questrade vs Wealthsimple Trade

When I buy and sell securities on the stock market, I don’t make my decisions lightly. In fact, a fair bit of research goes into my stock picks, which I’m sure is what most traders will say. When it comes to choosing a stock for my portfolio, I will do a fair amount of research that includes reviewing the historical price chart, reading current news articles, checking key statistics, and performing some visual chart analysis. Unfortunately, right now I can only do these things on Questrade.

Wealthsimple Trade provides minimal functionality in security analysis beyond simply being able to add a stock to a watchlist. They do display the historical stock price chart, but it provides little information. I can’t see trading volume, and I can’t add even the simplest lines like simple moving averages or Bollinger Bands. The stats listed below the chart will tell me the opening and closing prices for that day, as well as the 52-week highs and lows, but virtually nothing else. I want to know important facts like the dividend amount and analyst ratings, but all this is missing.

Compare the above to Questrade, which offers a robust suite of investor tools that is far beyond a simple watchlist. Questrade provides powerful charting tools. You can easily add the most common lines to your charts, or draw your own. Questrade collects news stories and press releases so you can see what current events are impacting the markets or a specific security price. You can also customize your stock positions dashboard to show the stats you care most about. 

Questrade

Wealthsimple Trade doesn’t connect to Wealthsimple Invest

If you were already a customer of Wealthsimple like I was, the expectation would be that all my Wealthsimple accounts show up in one place when I log in. This turned out not to be true. Wealthsimple Invest (the robo-advisor) and Wealthsimple Trade are completely separate apps and they do not connect.

Wealthsimple had my details, including the chequing account I used to fund my accounts, to set up my Wealthsimple Trade account, but that’s where it ended. When I log into Wealthsimple, it doesn’t show anywhere my total aggregated balance invested across the robo-advisor arm and the trading platform. I really feel like this should be all in one place. I’m assuming it also means that your Wealthsimple Trade balance does not count towards your eligibility for Wealthsimple Black. Wealthsimple Black is their premium tier robo-advising service that you need to have $100,000 invested to be eligible for. I was hoping Wealthsimple Trade would count towards it but doesn’t look like it. 

For the self-directed investor, Questrade is the clear winner over Wealthsimple Trade

I had high expectations for Wealthsimple Trade and it fell flat. I was sure they’d deliver something as incredible as their robo-advisor platform, but it looks like they have a long way to go before they can really compete with Questrade.

If you’re looking for a robo-advisor, Wealthsimple is still the best out there. However, if you’re a self-directed investor looking for the best platform to trade securities in your own portfolio, Questrade is the best fit, even if it does charge commissions!

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About Author

Student debt killer, super saver, and stock market addict. BSc. in Chemistry from the University of Alberta, MBA in Finance from the University of Calgary. CEO x 2 and MOM x 1. Currently residing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, but hooked on travelling.

4 Comments

    • The inactivity fee can be inconvenient — but it’s charged quarterly and is refunded if you make a trade! Even if you set up DRIPs (which I would consider still “set and forget it”) you can skip it. There just has to be *some* activity on your account.

  1. I was interested in this synopsis until I read “Questrade offers registered accounts like the TFSA, RRSP, and RESP. Wealthsimple does not”

    This is completely false as my wife and I have TFSA, RRSP and RESP with Wealthsimple.