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Qtrade – Review of Pricing
(updated Sept. 24/13)
Qtrade offers Canadians two main categories of trading accounts – “Investment Accounts” and “Self-Directed Registered Plans”. The “Investment Accounts” consist of cash accounts and margin accounts, both which can be in either Canadian or US dollars. The “Self-Directed Registered Plans” include tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered education savings plans (RESPs). In both categories of account, individuals are able to trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds and options. Like other Canadian online discount brokerages, there are some restrictions: short selling and complex options trading are only allowed in margin accounts, there are limitations on options trading in registered accounts.
Compared to other Canadian online discount brokerages, Qtrade’s tiered pricing structure is somewhat complex for non-active traders and those individuals with less than $50 000 in assets. For active traders, Qtrade offers its best commissions to very active traders (150+ trades per quarter), at a price of $7 per trade. For those traders who are less active and execute between 30-149 trades per quarter, they can expect to pay $9.95 commission per trade. Similarly, if a client has $50 000 or more in assets with Qtrade, they qualify for the $9.95 commission rate per trade.
If you have less than $50 000 in assets and you don’t trade actively, commission pricing for Qtrade gets complicated because what you pay per stock trade depends three factors:
At a minimum, if you do not have $50 000 in assets with Qtrade and you trade less than 30 times in a quarter, you can expect to pay at least $19 per trade.
One silver lining in the pricing offering is that you can trade certain ETFs commission free (so long as you buy and hold them for at least one day).
In terms of registered accounts, be aware that extra charges exist for having US dollar accounts and if your RRSP or RESP has less than $15000 in assets in it.
Overall, Qtrade makes its best prices available to active traders and those with at least $50 000 in assets at Qtrade. While they have ranked well in surveys of Canadian online discount brokerages, especially for customer service, Qtrade’s pricing structure is certainly not as easy to follow as the rest of its products/services. If you do not have at least $50 000 in assets you will want to assess how likely you are to make more or less than 30 trades per quarter, as that will have a significant impact on your cost per trade.
Qtrade Website Links:
Here are some useful links to important information on Qtrade’s website.
Discount Broker Customer Survey Ratings by J.D. Power:
Link to ratings by the Globe and Mail:
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