Recently I transferred our investment accounts to Questrade to take advantage of commissions as low as $4.95 per trade. However, I found that funding Questrade (Read my review) with US dollars was very frustrating. First, there is no free way to fund the account other than sending a personal cheque. But if you do send a personal cheque, Questrade puts a hold on the funds for 20 business days, irrespective of when the funds actually clear. For example, I mailed a USD cheque drawn on our RBC USD account on August 9th and the money was taken out of my account on August 15th but won’t be available in my account until September 9th at the earliest.
Emil Vojkollari, Client Acquisitions Supervisor at Questrade, explained that the broker had to institute a long holding period after getting burned by bounced cheques in the past. Still, if the funds were cleared out of the bank account, clients would want it to appear in their trading account fairly soon after.
Mr. Vojkollari then suggested a workaround until Questrade implements a way to pull USD funds from the client’s account: Fax a letter with your name, Questrade account number and a copy of the online bank statement (with bank account number, name and cheque number) that shows the cheque cleared to 416-227-0078 (Attn: Accounting). To be doubly sure, I also faxed a copy of the canceled cheque and the funds were deposited in my trading account within 24 hours. Note that this process will work for personal cheques in US and Canadian dollars and only if the steps are exactly followed.
As I fund my investment account with US dollars roughly twice annually with the proceeds of the sale of shares from the ESPP program, the temporary solution is an acceptable alternative. I should also add that I was pleasantly surprised at how proactive Questrade was in finding a solution even though from their point of view, the manual process outlined above is probably quite expensive.