Questrade vs. Wealthsimple: Which online investing service is right for you?
We dug into the differences between these seemingly similar online investing services to help you decide which one is for you.
We dug into the differences between these seemingly similar online investing services to help you decide which one is for you.
If you’ve decided to try out online investing and have narrowed down your choices to Wealthsimple or Questrade—congratulations! Both are solid Canadian options that can help you grow your money and achieve your investment goals.
But choosing between the two can be tricky. While the two financial services providers have very similar options, they aren’t identical. The best choice will depend on your situation and preferences—particularly whether you want to pick your own self-directed investments or let a robo-advisor pick a portfolio of investments for you.
We’ve broken down the differences between Questrade and Wealthsimple to help you choose the best service for you.
Questrade and Wealthsimple offer investing products and services. While Questrade is the both the name of the company and the brokerage service, Wealthsimple Trade is the name of Wealthsimple’s online brokerage service. Furthermore, Wealthsimple Invest is the new name for its robo-advisor service, and Questwealth Portfolios is the name of Questrade’s robo-advisor service. Now that the names are clear, let’s dive in and compare the two companies and their services.
Questrade* started making its name as a low-cost provider of brokerage services in 1999, long before the term “fintech” entered the lexicon. Today, it offers almost every type of investment—including stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, GICs, options, initial public offerings (IPOs) and other equities, such as precious metals—with much lower trading fees than traditional brokerages, banks or other financial institutions. (Read our Questrade review for more information.)
Wealthsimple, on the other hand, entered the brokerage market only in 2019 with a mobile app service called Wealthsimple Trade, making a splash with its $0 commission purchases, sales and trades on ETFs and stocks listed on the NYSE, NASDAQ, TSX or TSX-V exchanges.
The tradeoff, however, was that these were the only investments available. A 1.5% currency conversion fee is applied to Canadian-to-U.S. dollar conversions (and vice-versa), which is important; because all Wealthsimple Trade holdings must be in Canadian dollars, fees can really add up for investors interested in U.S. assets. Furthermore, if an asset is listed on both a U.S. exchange and a Canadian exchange (i.e., it is a dual-listed security), only the Canadian-listed asset is available. (You can find additional details in our Wealthsimple review).
Wealthsimple Trade has since added an online platform, and expanded its offerings to include ETFs and stocks on additional exchanges (NEO, CSE, and limited securities on BATS); about 20 cryptocurrencies (bitcoin, ethereum, dogecoin and others), through Wealthsimple Crypto; and recently became the only Canadian trading platform to offer fractional shares of a limited number of U.S. and Canadian companies (Shopify, Google, Amazon, Tesla and more). This lets clients invest in those companies with any amount—even as little as $1—rather than needing to buy a certain number of shares at a given price. But Wealthsimple Trade still doesn’t offer international equities or other investment assets one would expect from a brokerage.
In terms of account types, Wealthsimple Trade offers personal (non-registered) accounts, TFSAs and RRSPs—that’s it. (Cryptocurrency can be held in non-registered accounts only.) In comparison, Questrade’s clients can hold investments in many different tax-sheltered registered accounts (RRSP, TFSA, RESP, LIRA, RIF, LIF) and taxable non-registered accounts (margin and foreign exchange market accounts).
Another big difference between the two services is access to market data and research tools. Questrade offers free real-time market data, while Wealthsimple Trade has up to a 15-minute delay on quotes which means the price you’re quoted on an investment may not be what you pay/get when you execute your trade. Questrade’s new TipRanks tool also allows investors to see U.S. and Canadian stock ratings, recommendations, and the measured performance of anyone who provides financial analysis and guidance, which can help them make informed investment decisions.
Questrade also has a couple of time-saving features, such as a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP) that automatically reinvests the dividend payments you receive; and it offers a free annual membership to the Passiv app, which lets you automate deposits and stock/ETF purchases.
Both Questrade and Wealthsimple Trade have “instant deposit” features that allow investors to make trades immediately after depositing funds, up to certain limits. Questrade offers instant deposits of up to $3,5000. (Our in-depth review of Wealthsimple Trade here.)
Here’s a detailed breakdown of how the two brokerage services compare:
|Online broker||Questrade*||Wealthsimple Trade*|
|Account types||TFSA, RRSP, RESP, LIRA, RIF, LIF, personal (non-registered), margin||TFSA, RRSP, personal (non-registered)|
|Minimum balance to invest||$1,000||$0|
|Platform(s)||Website, iOS, Android||Website (limited functionality), iOS, Android|
|ETFs||Purchases: $0/trades: $4.95 to $9.95||Purchases/trades: $0|
|Stocks||Purchases/trades: $4.95 to $9.95||Purchases/trades: $0|
|Fractional shares||Not offered||Purchases/trades: $0|
|Bonds/GICs||Minimum purchase $5,000; fees may apply if withdrawn early||Not offered|
|International equities||1% of the trade value; $195 minimum||Not offered|
|Precious metals||US$19.95 per trade||Not offered|
|Mutual funds||Purchases/trades: $9.95||Not offered|
|Options||$9.95 +$1/contract||Not offered|
|IPOs||Free with min. $5,000 purchase||Not offered|
|Cryptocurrency||Not offered||1.5% to 2% per transaction (operations fee)|
|Currency (US/CDN) conversion||1.5% to 2% (currency conversion is not required in registered accounts)||1.5%|
|Instant deposit||Up to $3,500||Up to $1,500 with a free account and $5,000 with trade plus account for $10/month|
|Dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP)||Yes||No|
|Automated deposits/transactions||Yes (using the Passiv app)||No|
|Transfer fee reimbursement||Up to $150||For transfers of at least $5,000|
For some, the draw of commission-free purchases and trades may be reason enough to choose Wealthsimple Trade, particularly those who want to trade small amounts frequently—and especially with the introduction of fractional share purchases. Questrade, however, will be the better option for many other self-directed investors, including those who:
Compare the Best Online Brokerages in Canada>
Wealthsimple launched its a robo-advisor service, now called Wealthsimple Invest in 2014, the same year that Questrade added its own offering of “pre-fab” portfolios for investors, called Questwealth Portfolios. The two robo-advisor services work in much the same way.
Clients spend a few minutes answering questions online about their age, investment goals and comfort level with risk. Based on the answers provided, an algorithm recommends a diversified portfolio of low-fee ETFs.
The difference between each portfolio is the ratio between higher-risk investments, such as Canadian, U.S. and international equity ETFs, and lower-risk fixed-income ETFs, such as bonds and GICs. An aggressive portfolio would be weighted toward riskier investments (which also offer the possibility of greater returns), while a conservative one will include more low-risk investments. To help you maintain that preferred asset allocation, both services periodically rebalance the portfolios for you.
Both services also offer socially responsible investment (SRI) versions of each portfolio, which support companies that prioritize environmental and social concerns, and have a positive record on human rights and corruption. In addition, Wealthsimple offers Halal portfolios, for those who adhere to Islamic law. (Read our article on Halal investing in Canada.)
Both offer the gamut of account types for their robo-advisor services.
So far, it’s same-same, right? There are, however, a few major differences between Wealthsimple and Questwealth Portfolios:
Here’s how the fees break down, along with a few other similarities/differences:
|Robo-advisor||Wealthsimple Invest*||Questwealth Portfolios*|
|Minimum balance to invest||$0||$1,000|
|Portfolio options||Growth, balanced, conservative, SRI, Halal||Aggressive, growth, balanced income, conservative, SRI|
|Account types||TFSA, RRSP, RESP, LIRA, RIF, LIF, personal, joint, corporate||TFSA, RRSP, RESP, LIRA, RIF, LIF, personal, joint, corporate|
|Platform(s)||Website, iOS, Android||Website, iOS, Android|
|Management fee||0.5% for balances < $100,000
0.4% for balances $100,000+
|0.25% for balances < $100,000
0.2% for balances $100,000+
|MERs||0.1% to 0.2% (weighted average); 0.23% for socially responsible investments||0.2% (average); 0.21% to 0.35% for socially responsible investments|
annual fee for a
|$300 to $350 (or $365 for an SRI portfolio)||$225 (or $230 to $300 for an SRI portfolio)|
|Approx. total annual fee for a $100K portfolio||$500 to $600 ($630 for an SRI portfolio)||$400 ($410 to $550 for an SRI portfolio)|
Both robo-advisors are good options for Canadians who want a hands-off, low-fee investing option that minimizes risks and maximizes returns.
If you have at least $1,000 to invest, and you don’t mind that the process is not entirely automated, Questwealth Portfolios wins out as the more cost-effective robo-advisor of the two.
For those who want to get started with their investments right away and don’t have $1,000 on hand, or who feel more secure with the full automation of a true robo-advisor service, Wealthsimple Invest has you covered. Same goes for investors who want a Halal portfolio provided by a robo-advisor, or who want some additional free savings tools.
Compare the Best Robo-Advisors in Canada >
Wealthsimple Cash launched in January 2020, offering clients the convenience of an unlimited-transaction, no-fee chequing account, combined with the benefits of a high-interest savings account.
However, with today’s rock-bottom interest rates, the account pays only 0.5% annual interest, which is better than the banks, but still not much of an incentive. Perhaps more attractive is the no-fee aspect: There’s no minimum deposit required, no monthly account fee, and you can send and receive money for free without the need for any security questions. Wealthsimple Cash is also the first Canadian product Twitter has integrated with its Tip Jar, a feature that lets users of the social media app send money to each other. (Check out our article on how to make money on social media, even if you’re not a “creator.”)
Other features that are planned for Wealthsimple Cash have not yet come to market due to the pandemic. These include:
Deposits in a Wealthsimple Cash account are protected by the Canadian Insurance Deposit Corporation (CDIC).
Questrade does not currently have a comparable service.
In early 2021, Wealthsimple launched a free tax prep and filing service called Wealthsimple Tax after acquiring software maker Simple Tax. You don’t need to be an existing Wealthsimple client to use the service, which can handle most returns without issue.
If you wish, you can pay $30 to “upgrade” your return, which entitles you to priority email responses from Wealthsimple’s support team and additional support if the CRA elects to audit your return. (For more information, see our full Wealthsimple Tax review.)
Questrade does not currently have a comparable service.
Questrade now offers existing clients mortgage services provided by Community Trust Company. Launched in March 2021, QuestMortgage boasts low rates (1.99% five-year fixed and 1.35% variable, as of August 2021) and generous prepayment privileges (lump sum payments of up to 20% of the original balance annually; and doubling up on mortgage payments at any time).
The application process for a new or refinanced mortgage is done entirely online, with a team of mortgage advisors available to help.
Wealthsimple does not currently have a comparable service.
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– “doesn’t support RRSP transfers from other financial institutions”
Really? only new deposits/contributions?!?!
– doesn’t support “RRSP withdrawals”
so you can contribute but never get your money back out?
Can you only convert it to a RIF upon retirement???
Fantastic article. Thank you for explaining the differences.
Also wealthsimple does not offer margin accounts which is a big turn off for new investors.
Wealthsimple does offer an RESP….
Thanks for letting us know. We will update this as soon as we can. Our goal is to have the most up-to-date information. We do our best to fact check all our content before it gets published and make updates regularly, but some things may get missed. We would like to remind our readers to do their own fact checking before making any personal finance decisions.
Questrade also has an app hub that gives clients access to useful 3rd party tools like Passiv and Wealthica.
This comment is about trading equities with Wealthsimple. Wealthsimple Canada does not have the option to keep funds in US dollars, so you have to keep converting your money back and forth when trading US equities. Also they don’t give you margin. Plus they have no platform for desktop computers! Therefore, for my purposes it’s useless. But, if you only trade Canadian equities, and don’t ever want to use margin, then the fact that there are no commissions makes Wealthsimple a very good choice in my opinion.
I find that if you want to go full diy investing, QT is the way. But if you want lower fees than a bank, but don’t mind paying a little bit more for a robo, WS is best. The average investor prob shouldn’t be picking etfs and rebalancing, so a robo would be good where they are fully hand off
Thank you for the article. Could you please verify the information on the Currency conversion CAD/USD? You have that QT doesn’t charge anything but as far as I understand, they charge 1.9%…
“Want to trade U.S. stocks and ETFs. Wealthsimple Trade’s 1.5% currency conversion fee makes investing in U.S. stocks and ETFs very costly. While, technically, Questrade also charges a currency conversion fee, it doesn’t apply so long as you keep those investments in U.S.-dollar assets indefinitely. Wealthsimple Trade, on the other hand, requires all assets to be held in Canadian dollars, which means you incur the currency conversion fee with every applicable trade.” I am not sure I understand what it means. Is it a one-time fee when you are buying on the US market with Wealthsimpe? How is it different from Questrade? For example if I buy 1000$ of US ETF with Wealthsimple I will get a 15$ fee but if I buy them with Questrade I also get a conversion fee so how is it different? Thank you!
Wealthsimple does allow RRSP transfer from a multitude of sources. There is a scroll down menu of providers to choose from and there is also a simple Q&A to read for instructions.
Im trying wealth simple since 2 week
-5 open days for crypto deposit
-transfert between different in-app account has a 5 day money cool down period
-2% buy and sell charge on crypto
-cant use crypto for transaction
-slipage and 15 min delay so market open a 9h30 can’t do anything before 9h50
-very limited choice of stocks
-worst graph or info all around
Have to be in front of laptop for infi and then place position
-due to delay market buy is just straigh loss
-closing that account is gonna take at least
A week if everything goes well
I was scared of transaction fee at a regular broker but now i know why they exist
Wealthsimple could be usefull for someone who really put money aside for the real long term really no use to me who want to play with the money once a day.
I’ve been using the wealthsimple trade through their webportal just fine for awhile now… article is out of date
They also have transfers between investing accounts now, like from crypto to TFSA to RRSP within the trade platform, but not inbetween the invest/trade platforms I believe, correct me if I’m wrong.
Could you critic the RBC Investease roboadvisor and compare it to Wealthsimple. Returns on the RBC option are consistently better than our Wealthsimple returns. Unfortunately RBC does not yet offer RRIF and Spousal RRSP options.
At the moment Wealth Simple has desk top ability as they are expanding options quickly since taking over my beloved ShareOwners. For the time being I will be staying with Wealth Simple. However I will need to convert my RRSP to a RIF in 5 years so we will see how much further they go.
Wealthsimple does not exclusively use algorithms. They have a Research Team that makes changes as they deem appropriate that apply to all portfolios. While changes are expected over time my portfolio has changed drastically over 5 years into something that I did not originally invest in. The portfolio has added hedged funds, emerging markets have be converted to minimal volatility emerging markets, and a gold ETF has been added. Each of these components can be argued as a wise move, they can be equally argued as poor choices. Good and bad choices are very dependent on the personal circumstances of the inestor. These type of characteristics changes rarely happy to an ETF. I found this article helpful as I am looking to take my money out.
The portion on Wealthsimple Trade needs a fair bit of updating. Much of the info here is now incorrect. For example, you can transfer in accounts (I have done it).
I prefer Questrade as they offer joint Margin Accounts which Wealthsimple Trade doesn’t. Also instant deposit amount is higher at Questrade than Wealthsimple Trade. $4.95/trade is reasonable compared to the big banks trading platforms which charge on average $9.95. Questrade provides real-time quotes.
I recently opened a joint margin account with Questrade and the only issue we had with their customer support team is help with setup of an authorized trader on the joint margin account. I have been calling and emailing for the past one and a half months and no one was able to help until I spoke to a customer service agent last week who finally resolved this issue for us.
the tipranks app that questrade offers is nothing special at all from what i’ve experienced with it: it’s the free basic version that is also available to anyone offline (I have it as well)
WealthSimple Cash made a change in the past 2 month. Now they offered prepaid VISA credit card that gives 5% cashback on restaurant purchases on Fri/Sat/Sun. It also includes features like no FX fees, Google pay, and ATM withdraws. But the dollars in the prepaid VISA credit card no longer earns the 0.5% interest.
This so-called “updated review”, needs UPDATING!!! Wealthsimple offers full transfers for all products, it also offers RESPs.
Questrade does not have live free. I thought it was but watching a training video I seen it is 15 minutes behind and its $20 a month for live
Thank you for explaining in details. Just to add Wealthsimple has started offering monthly subscription of 10/Month which gives you real-time data and a USD account. You can convert CAD to USD and then trade. Only one time conversions from CAD to USD and second if you want to get your CAD back from USD.
How do I know the correct and legit questrade? I saw many logos of questrade with different style and different ads?