If you’re looking for a new brokerage, or you’re starting to DIY invest, you may have heard of a number of online brokerages available. I thought I would share a comparison of Questrade and Scotia iTrade. We use Scotia iTrade as a joint investment account and I have Questrade for my brokerage since we have both joint and separate finances. Here is a head-to-head comparison of Scotia iTrade vs Questrade, so you can decide which one is better if you’re in the ‘market’ for a new brokerage (pun intended).
This post may contain affiliate links, please see genymoney.ca’s disclaimer for more information.
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I have been using Questrade for over 13 years (yeah, that’s a long time, and they have been out on the online brokerage market for over 20 years, since 1999). Questrade is Canada’s fastest growing online broker and has the lowest commissions in Canada. They provide self-directed investing as a brokerage and are independent from the big banks.
Questrade is known as the leading discount online brokerage in Canada. They are known for their cheap commissions and free Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) purchases. With Questrade, you can trade stocks for typically $4.95 per trade (if higher volume trades it caps off at a max of $9.95 per trade), trade options from $4.95 + 75¢/contract, and purchase ETFs commission-free.
Not only does Questrade act as a self directed online broker, they also have other services such as managed investing with Questwealth robo advisor services (where you basically just deposit money, and the money is invested and allocated for you according to your risk profile, AND re-balanced for you).
Scotia iTrade Review
Scotia iTrade is Bank of Nova Scotia’s self-directed online brokerage platform. It is a division of Scotia Capital Inc. and is considered Scotiabank’s online discount brokerage.
Scotia iTrade is one of the only big bank brokerages that lets you buy ETFs for free (unless you count National Bank Direct Brokerage as a big bank, since they are now commission free for all stock and ETF purchases).
TD Easy Trade also recently came on the market and offers commission free TD ETFs as well but you can only access TD Easy Trade via the app. They also offer 50 free stock trades per year.
Here’s a review of Scotia iTrade.
Questrade vs Scotia iTrade Accounts
Here are some of the accounts that are available Questrade and Scotia iTrade:
|Cash, Margin, or Cash Optimizer
|US Dollar Registered Accounts
|Trust/ Estate Account
|Investment Club Account
|Joint Accounts Available
robo advisor in Canada)
iTrade vs Questrade Fees
Scotia iTrade Fees
Here are the Scotia iTrade fees if you decide to choose this online brokerage.
If you trade more than 150 trades per quarter (I can’t imagine that many trades, unless you’re a day trader!) then the commission is $4.99/ trade.
If you trade less than 150 trades per quarter, the commissions to buy and sell stocks is $9.99/trade on Scotia iTrade.
These fees charged by Scotia iTrade are in line with many other big bank online investment brokerages.
If you call to make a trade instead of placing an order online, it will set you back at least $65.
Account fees include a transfer out fee of $150. There is a $0 transfer in fee.
If you have an RRSP Scotia iTrade account, you will be charged $100 per year unless you make more than 12 commissionable trades per year and have an account balance of over $25,000 (includes registered and non-registered accounts).
If you have a TFSA Scotia iTrade account there is no fee.
If you have an RESP with Scotia iTrade and have more than $15,000 in non-registered and registered assets, the fee of $25 per year is waived for you otherwise there is a $25 annual fee for a lower balance.
There is a way to save money on trades with Scotia iTrade. If you have a Scotiabank Ultimate Account (there is a minimum amount you have to keep in the account and then this monthly banking package will be free), they give you 10 free equity trades for your first year, and then 5 free equity trades each year after that.
The commissions are reimbursed to your account.
Here’s a summary of some of the fees that Scotia iTRADE and Questrade charge.
|$9.99/trade if less than 150 trades per quarter
$4.99/trade if more than 150 trades per quarter
|Trades $4.95 minimum $9.95 max
|Free for a list of 49 ETFs
|Free to buy, standard trading commissions to sell ETFs
|Transfer out fee
|RRSP account fee
|$100/year unless account balance more than $25,000 or you make 12 commissionable trades per year
|$25/year unless you have more than $15,000 in non-registered and registered assets
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There are no annual administration fees with Questrade for registered accounts like the RRSP, TFSA, RRIF, and RESP.
There was a minimum balance but they removed this is recent years.
Here are the fees that Questrade charges
- 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)
- ETF Trade BUY= Free (plus ECN fees, which are usually pennies)
- ETF Trade SELL $4.95 to $9.95 max ($0.01/share)
Click here for a further detailed breakdown of Questrade fees.
So who has lower fees? The verdict is in, Questrade has lower fees. However, if you plan to trade very little (AND have the Ultimate package account), Scotia iTrade can work for your situation. That being said, BOTH of these brokerages are not the ‘best’ in terms of fees as there are some no fee brokerages available in Canada now, like Wealthsimple Trade and National Bank’s investing platform.
iTrade vs Questrade security
How safe are Scotia iTrade and Questrade?
Well, Scotia iTrade state that they maintains physical, electronic, and procedural safeguards designed to at least meet or exceed industry standards to guard your personal information.
Questrade also uses market leading technology to safeguard your personal information. In addition, Questrade uses 2 Step Verification if you verify your email and phone number with Questrade. This means, every time I log into Questrade with my user ID and password, I get sent a one time code to enter.
In addition, Questrade has an Online Security Guarantee where they will reimburse you 100% of your direct monetary losses if an unauthorized transaction occurs due to a breach of Questrade’s systems.
I think the winner for this would be Questrade because of the Online Security Guarantee. That extra peace of mind is invaluable.
Questrade vs Scotia iTrade Interface
How about the interface between the two brokerages?
Unless Scotia iTrade has a major overhaul soon, their investment platform is not very pleasing to the eye. It looks a bit outdated to be honest.
Here’s what the dashboard looks like on Scotia iTrade. You can see your positions quite easily and the consolidated total in Canadian dollars.
One of the cool things about Scotia iTrade is that when you log into your online banking, you’ll be able to see the balance of your Scotia iTrade accounts easily. To access Scotia iTrade and get more detail about recent transactions in your brokerage account, you’ll just have to click on the account balances.
On the flip side, Questrade has had many interface changes over the years. They recently changed their interface to try and reflect a more modern design, like similar to Wealthsimple Trade or something, but I didn’t like it.
Just when I get used to their new interface, it seems to change again. However, I think it has actually been at least a few years since the last update. Thankfully you are able to go back to the old interface with a click of a few buttons.
Also, Questrade often has maintenance in the late night (or Friday nights I found) so you will not be able to access your accounts (this is when Wealthica is useful for me, as data would have synced from a few hours before the downtime, I find).
This is what the Questrade platform looks like (the older version, Questrade Edge Web) anyway.
The new Questrade look is more modern and sleek but I find it more difficult to use personally.
The main downside to Questrade’s platform is that the graphing capability are really not that great and it’s difficult to see how your portfolio is doing ‘across the board’ (e.g. your non-registered, your TFSA, and your RRSP) with Questrade.
Who is the winner in this case? Who has the better interface?
Well, Scotia iTrade’s interface looks very old but they actually have some great graphic capabilities and data. Questrade looks newer, it’s less clunky or ‘busy’ , but the downside is that the interface often seems to change.
Questrade vs Scotia iTRADE Features
Scotia iTrade in my opinion, has some tools that are useful for a dividend investor. For example, they have an earnings calendar and equities screener. Scotia iTrade also has an income estimator where you can see your projected annual dividend income.
This is what their income estimator looks like.
As mentioned, there is a list of 49 free ETFs that you can purchase with Scotia iTrade, two notable ETFs are XGRO and XBAL (similar to Vanguard’s one fund ETF VGRO and VBAL).
Here are some other commission free ETFs on Scotia iTrade:
Another neat thing is that you can see your Scotia iTrade investment account balances right on the Scotiabank online banking portal.
For Questrade, they don’t have as many research tools and features as Scotia iTrade and some of the features are more geared toward frequent traders. You can pay more for a monthly data package if you would like more market data. Enhanced streaming is $19.95 a month and advanced US streaming is $89.95 a month. These fees can be waived if you have a minimum amount of trading commissions.
Personally I keep it simple on Questrade and don’t use many of these features. Most of my portfolio is an index and chill/ ETF and chill mentality.
Here’s what the newer Questrade platform looks like before you place a trade:
So who is the winner in this Questrade vs Scotia iTrade head-to-head comparison?
Personally I prefer using Questrade, but they do have some downtime (like Friday nights I find) usually occurs late at night. You’ll know when you see the ‘wheel of death’ for a while, haha.
To be honest, though, you get what you pay for…
Questrade’s graphs and reports are also not that great. For example, here is a bar graph on Questrade of returns in TFSA, registered, and non-registered accounts over the past year and over the past 3 years.
Here’s what the performance report for Scotia iTrade looks like, you can add benchmark indices like the S&P500 to compare your portfolio performance.
Nonetheless, I like using Questrade because it has an easy interface and the selection of free ETFs you can purchase is unlimited (so I can buy my preferred ETFs like VXC and VTI and not worry about incurring a commission).
I do like that Scotia iTrade has a list of 49 commission free ETFs that you can buy and sell and that it includes XGRO and XBAL (similar to Vanguard’s VGRO but offered by Blackrock).
In summary I’d say that if you are planning to trade a lot or use the Scotia iTrade platform a lot, it would be a good idea to look for something else that has more functionality and more usability and better customer service.
If you are looking for a registered account, just be cognizant that Scotia iTrade charges some fees unless you have a specified minimum balance.
Scotia iTrade often has a promotional offer, for example, you can get up to $2000 in cash if you transfer a certain amount into their brokerage. Here are details of this online brokerage promotion.
If you’re interested in signing up for Questrade, you can use this link to get $50 in free trades for the first 30 days if you have a minimum balance of $1000.
What is your experience with Scotia iTrade and Questrade?
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GYM is a 40 something millennial writing about personal finance since 2009 and 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 a free dividend yield spreadsheet and the free Young Money Bootcamp PDF.