Qtrade is a bit of a mystery despite being ranked the #1 discount broker in the Globe and Mail survey for two years running. I personally don’t have an account with Qtrade, so I asked Evan, who has been a customer for about one year, if he would be willing to share his experience with other readers. Before turning over the floor to Evan here are the highlights from my chat with a Qtrade representative (in keeping with the high marks for customer service, a live person picked up the phone instead of starting off with “For service in English, Press 1”).
Fees and Commissions: Qtrade’s trading commissions are not as cheap as some of its competition. They charge a flat $9.95 per trade for accounts with $100K in assets and $19 for market orders ($23 for limit orders) otherwise. Registered accounts with less than $15K in assets attract a $50 per year administration fee. You can see their entire fee schedule here.
Wash trades: The “wash trade” feature available from Qtrade is limited to setting the same exchange rate if you buy and sell U.S. stocks on the same day. It does not offer the ability to sell a U.S. stock and park the proceeds in a US Money Market fund.
Parking Cash: Qtrade offers money market funds to park cash (both CAD and USD) temporarily. The minimum investment is $1,000 and there are no fees for buying or selling and no minimum holding periods.
Evan mentioned that he would “definitely” recommend Qtrade to his friends and family, primarily for their stellar customer service: “Qtrade’s customer service number is staffed by real humans – no navigating menus and then being placed on hold indefinitely. Email queries are answered within 24 hours”. I also asked him if he has encountered any problems with the broker and Evan feels that their DRIP enrolment is cumbersome because you first have to contact customer service to obtain a form, fill it and mail or fax it back. He also noted that Qtrade’s commissions are not as low as Questrade’s, which has a confusingly similar name.
When asked for his input on The Globe’s special praise for Qtrade’s stock research and their performance reporting, Evan replied that he is mainly an ETF investor and hadn’t made much use of these services. Overall, it seems to me that Qtrade is a solid contender if you are considering a discount broker.
I wish to express my thanks to Evan for sharing his opinion of Qtrade, especially since it was hard to find a customer among our readers. If you’re a Qtrade customer, I’d love to hear from you in the comments. You can also check out the reviews of other discount brokers: BMO InvestorLine, Credential Direct, Questrade, RBC Direct, Scotia Direct and TD Waterhouse.