One of the most important things about DIY investing is to keep your investing fees low. Fees will eat away at your returns over time. A 1% fee might not seem like very much but it adds up over time. This is why I DIY invest (it’s really not that scary) so to avoid the high MERs sold by the mutual fund salespeople disguised as financial advisors. This post will go over Questrade fees, the discount brokerage that I use to invest.
Updated February 2023
So you’ve made the leap and ditched your mutual funds to DIY invest. Perhaps you are getting started on your personal finance resolutions to invest your hard earned money into the stock market.
Canadian investor, good for you!
That’s a huge step. Now you joined Questrade and are wondering what the fees are and how much Questrade fees you will have to pay.
I’ve been a Questrade brokerage user for over 13 years so I know a thing or two about the Questrade fees that I have had to pay.
Related: Index Funds vs Mutual Funds
What are the costs associated with the discount brokerage?
Yes, in my experience there are costs even when you don’t think there are costs (when you are buying exchange traded funds, for example)… but they are very minimal.
I have been a happy Questrade customer for over a decade.
Sure the frequent interface updates are a little annoying, and there is some down time that is annoying, but in general, I’ve been happy with the low cost investing.
Instead of paying 1% annually on a $500,000 portfolio (which is $5000 by the way), you can pay less than $300 to buy stocks and ETFs.
There are huge benefits to having lower fees, and huge benefits to not having to pay each time you make a trade (especially when you are trying to index and have a Couch Potato Portfolio).
I have been a Questrade customer for 13 years (yes, that’s a very long time!) and have tried other platforms (like BMO Investorline, TD Direct Investing, and Scotia iTrade) but I’m happy with my no frills Questrade discount brokerage.
Especially if it means not having to pay trading commissions on exchange traded fund purchases.
Related: Scotia iTrade vs Questrade
Because I can happily invest in moderation and dollar cost average.
And therefore try to ignore investment noise in my goal towards financial freedom and generating an investment portfolio that gives me passive income for years to come. It allows me not to time the market.
Dollar cost averaging has been a huge benefit for me because I don’t have to compete with Mr. Market and deal with his highs and lows, and I just keep plugging in $X amount of dollars regularly and keep on investing.
Keep calm and invest on!
Okay, back to Questrade fees.
Table of Contents
Does Questrade have Fees
Yes, Questrade charges fees too, and some of the Questrade costs that people have been unhappy about are ECN fees, though they pass these onto the consumer in order to keep the trading commission at a low rate of $4.95/trade.
However, in general, I am very happy with the cost of Questrade for me.
This post will go over some of the Questrade fees, including Questrade ECN fees, Questrade ETF fees, mutual fund fees, commissions, inactivity charges, and Questrade account fees.
Questrade Account Fees
How much does Questrade cost? It costs nothing to open up an account.
There are no Questrade inactivity fees anymore.
As of October 1 2020, Questrade stopped charging inactivity fees on any account. They used to charge a quarterly fee of $24.95 if you had less than $1000 in your account and there was no account activity.
Questrade RESP/TFSA/RRSP/RRIF Registered Account Charges
What about the RESP or TFSA or RRSP or RRIF account fee?
These accounts are known as registered accounts.
There are no annual administration fees with Questrade for registered accounts like the RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, and RESP.
For Questrade registered accounts, there are also no fees.
- Zero Questrade RESP fees
- Zero Questrade RRSP fees
- Zero Questrade TFSA fees
- Zero Questrade RRIF fees
Are all $0 to maintain (there are no administration fees).
Some other big bank brokerages charge an annual registered account fee but Questrade does now.
One thing to note, is that for the RESP, If you have USD securities in your RESP, you will be charged $5.00 USD added on top of the USD commission fee charge that you would get charged (on the first trade of the day)
Otherwise, there are no costs to open a RESP, TFSA, RRSP, and RRIF account with Questrade.
If you fully deregister an RRSP, RESP, Spousal RRSP, LIRA, LRSP, it is a $100 fee. For partial de-registration it is $50.
Questrade Mutual Fund Fees
Questrade does have mutual fund fees though. It is $9.95/trade and there may also be deferred sales charges if the mutual fund is redeemed early.
I think that one of the downsides to Questrade is that they charge $9.95 per trade of mutual funds.
If you used TD Direct Investing, for example, you would not be charged for buying and selling mutual funds.
Buying and selling money market funds would be annoying in Questrade because you would be charged $9.95/trade. This would erode the small amount of interest you would be receiving from the aforementioned money market funds.
Questrade Commission (Questrade Pricing)
Questrade shines with stock commissions compared to their mutual fund fees.
Questrade charges you a commission when you buy and sell a stock, and sell an ETF (exchange traded fund).
To buy a stock, it is $4.95 a trade but it can be a maximum of $9.95 a trade, if you are purchasing over 995 shares for example, you will be charged $9.95 instead of $4.95 a trade. Usually I pay $4.95 a trade because I don’t usually buy more than 150 shares of anything at one time. To sell a stock it is the same for fees that you pay to buy the stock, $4.95 minimum to $9.95 maximum.
- Questrade Stock Trade BUY $4.95 to $9.95 max ($0.01/share)
- Questrade Stock Trade SELL $4.95 to $9.95 max ($0.01/share)
- Questrade BUY ETF Fees: FREE (plus ECN fees, see below)
- Questrade SELL ETF fees: $4.95 to $9.95 max ($0.01/share)
Other brokerages offer zero commission investing. Wealthsimple followed suit (and perhaps upped the ante) by offering free buy and sell trades of stocks with their Wealthsimple Trade.
Now National Bank Direct Brokerage also offers zero commission trading.
Questrade ETF Fees
What are Questrade ETF fees?
There are no fees or commissions charged to purchase ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) which is why this makes building a DIY ETF portfolio so palatable with Questrade (except for the minor ECN fees).
However, there is still a Questrade ETF fee or commission charged from Questrade when you sell an ETF.
To sell ETFs, the fees are:
- $0.01/share with a minimum of $4.95 and a maximum of $9.95
In the portfolio accumulation phase this should be irrelevant because you will likely not be selling off your ETFs.
If you want to rebalance your portfolio (for example if you were following Passiv’s instructions to rebalance), you can consider a self rebalancing ETF such as the Vanguard All in One ETFs (e.g. VGRO ETF) so you don’t have to deal with selling ETFs to rebalance your portfolio.
Alternately, you can practice the method of buying more ETFs (and not selling them) in order to rebalance your portfolio. For more information, here is a step by step guide on how to invest your TFSA with Questrade.
In addition, you could sign up for Passiv (it’s free for Questrade users) and have your ETFs automatically rebalanced for you.
Here’s my Passiv review.
You could also set up a Questrade Drip for your ETFs so you can automatically buy more shares as your dividends and distributions get paid out. It is free to set up and you can save money on commissions if you are wanting to buy more of a certain stock or ETF.
If you don’t have a Questrade account, they’ll give you $50 in free trades (that’s about 5 stocks that you can buy and sell for $4.95 commission each trade) if you sign up for a Questrade account here.
For promotions available from other online brokerages, click here.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see genymoney.ca’s disclaimer for more information.
Questrade ECN Fees
There are Questrade ECN fees for certain trades.
What are ECN fees?
An ECN Fee stands for Electronic Communication Network Fee.
An ATS Fee stands for Alternate Trading System fee.
These costs are charged on top of the standard Questrade commissions. ECN and ATS fees are a result of intermediaries that connect brokers to the market.
I’ve been paying the ECN fees regularly even though the ETFs that I purchase monthly are without charge (for example, the ex-Canada VXC ETF). The ECN fee is usually a very small amount (like pennies and definitely under $1.00) and I find that they are minuscule and am not bothered by them.
Here is when ECN fees are charged and when ECN fees are not charged.
When are Questrade ECN fees charged?
According to Questrade, ECN fees are charged when you are taking away liquidity in the market (for example, if your order is filled immediately, e.g. a market order).
Also, ECN fees may be charged when you place a non-marketable order, anything that is not in a multiple of 100 shares. If you put an order for 100 shares or 200 shares, you will not be charged an ECN fee.
When are Questrade ECN fees NOT charged?
If you add liquidity to the market, you will not be charged an ECN Fee, for example if you put a Questrade limit order that isn’t filled right away.
For more information on ECN fees, check out this handy chart of transaction fees from Questrade.
Also, here’s another great resource called the ECN Fee Guide by Questrade.
Another great explanation fo ECN fees is written by Moneysense.
Basically if you want to avoid ECN fees, use Questrade limit orders that won’t be filled immediately and make sure it is ordered by the 100’s (obviously the latter is more difficult to do).
Finally, what about fees for the Questrade RESP?
This is not related to the fees that Questrade charges per se, but Questrade does not partake in the BC Training and Education Savings Grant Program, so using Questrade for your child’s RESP may be an opportunity cost of $1200 (unless you open up another RESP with a different financial institution of course).
Questrade Foreign Exchange Spread
If you exchange your CAD to USD in your Questrade account, they charge a foreign exchange spread.
The target spread for USD/CAD is 2.5.
That means that Questrade charges you 2.5% to exchange your US dollars to Canadian dollars in your brokerage (and vice versa).
If you want to avoid that and lower the cost of exchanging your currency, you can use the method called Norbert’s Gabmit in Questrade.
Cost to Invest with Questrade Recap
So in summary, there are no Questrade account fees for registered accounts like the Questrade RRSP or the Questrade RESP, there are Questrade mutual fund fees, their commissions are reasonable and more economical than the big bank brokerages, and most importantly, Questrade ETFs are free to purchase.
That’s it, those are the fees associated with having an account with Questrade, the discount brokerage.
Although it’s not zero dollars like some of Questrade’s competitors, it is not very much and the amounts charged reasonable, which is why Questrade continues to be the self-directed investing online brokerage that I use.
This means I get to keep more of my money and make more of my money work harder for me.
If you’re interested in signing up for a Questrade account and getting $50 in free trades, click here!
What do you think of Questrade fees?
How do these account and transaction fees compare to other discount brokerages or brokerages if you don’t use Questrade?
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GYM is a 30 something millennial interested in achieving financial freedom through disciplined saving, dividend and ETF investing, and living a minimalist lifestyle. Before you go, check out my recommendations page of financial tools I use to save and invest money. Don’t forget to subscribe for blog updates, a free dividend yield spreadsheet, and the free Young Money Bootcamp eCourse.