Getting Started – Discount Brokers

In a previous article of the Getting Started series, How to invest, we saw that there are different ways that you can invest in companies. Self directed investing on the stock market provides one of the most flexible options to grow your money and is the reason why it is so popular with the general public. A quick search for discount brokerage comparisons will show you the different options available for Canadians. Since this topic is extensively covered already, I have decided to skip a detailed comparison report here. For your reference, DripPrimer and CBC have a couple of good comparison summaries.

My Pick = Questrade

I picked Questrade as my online broker. I opened an account with Questrade in 2008 and have been quite satisfied as a customer. Why Questrade?

  • Questrade has one of the lowest trading fees in the market at $4.95/trade.
  • There is no inactivity or annual fee.
  • Free real time charts for US securities. Canadian securities have a 15-min delay.
  • Commission-free ETF purchases introduced earlier this year. I only pay when I sell ETFs. I can take advantage of dollar cost averaging in my portfolio without incurring added fees.
  • I can grow my savings tax free (TFSA) and/or tax deferred (RRSP).
  • I can hold USD in the account.
  • Customer support is very agreeable and I can either chat online or communicate and resolve issues via email – which is what I prefer as I do not like calling and being on the phone for hours.
  • Free to transfer account from your current broker. In some cases, if there is a closing fee associated with your other broker, Questrade will cover that fee when you transfer the funds.
  • Ongoing promotions: there are normally running promotions from 100 free trades to three-month unlimited trades to a iPad mini – depending on your funding amount. Click here to see the current promotions at Questrade.

To keep it fair, I want to point out a couple of short comings

  • Questrade is not the best option for investing via mutual funds. While the option is available to buy/sell any mutual fund in the market, each mutual fund transaction costs $9.95. Questrade also does not support an ongoing Pre-authorized contribution plan for mutual funds.
  • Likewise, options trading costs can add up. Options trading is priced at $9.95 + $1 per contract.
  • A trade can be invoked directly from your CAD account, but you will be charged approximately 2.5% extra for currency conversion.

But overall, I felt that Questrade served my needs and started/stayed with Questrade.

Who do you trade with?
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only. All opinions here are my personal opinions and should not be taken as financial advice. I am not qualified to be a financial advisor. Always consult with your financial advisor before investing in any of the companies mentioned on this blog.

2 thoughts on “Getting Started – Discount Brokers

  1. Anonymous says:

    HSBC InvestDirect as majority of my accounts are held with them, mortgage, USD, CAD, line of credit, etc. I used to be with TD which I enjoyed their graphing capability. HSBC graphing and website functionality is ok but there is much better out there.

    My trades are $6 each and find the customer service fair.

    Disclosure, first time I have viewed your site, outstanding work, keep it going, I like that it is Canadian. I am from NL, living in Perth last 2.5 yrs heading back to Canada next month and a recent DGI convert after trading for decades with marginal success. Please keep up the good work, I look forward to it!

    • Thanks for the words of encouragement, Anonymous.
      HSBC is a good bank if you are a world traveler and move from place to place. Does HSBC let you trade on markets around the world? Its something that I was interested in a while ago and wanted to buy directly on international stock markets like Australia or UK (without having to go through the USD conversion step) but didnt really act on back then.
      $6 per trade is very agreeable indeed.


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