Getting started with do-it-yourself investing can seem like a daunting task. Part of the reason ETFs are as cheap as they are is because you, as the investor, need to do some of the work by registering for investment accounts, and buying the correct funds. In a previous guide, I wrote about how Questrade is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to invest in ETFs. To make getting started even easier, I’ve put together a step-by-step guide on how to sign up to Questrade, and by using an offer code (5c7adaa406cd9), getting $50 in free commission fee’s as well! Read on to see every step of the process.
Step 1: Getting started with Questrade and choosing accounts
The first step to sign up to Questrade is to follow this referral link or use the offer code 5c7adaa406cd9 to start this process. This will allow you to redeem $50 in free trade credits. Once you’ve started, select the account type(s) that you would like to open, and double check to make sure you receive your $50 in free trades. You will need to agree to the terms and conditions and then select OPEN NOW.
This guide will focus on opening a TFSA, but the process works the same for the other accounts available.
Step 2: Create User ID
Now that you’ve selected the account type that you are opening, you’ll need to create a User ID. Press “continue” to move along in the process.
Provide your basic contact information. This information is required to sign up to Questrade.
Create a User ID and password. Your User ID can be anything. Since this is an account that will likely contain a lot of value, I would highly suggest using a long, secure password, that isn’t the same as any other password that you use. Definitely DO NOT use the same password as the email address that is connected to this account. If someone were to gain access to your email, they would then have access to your investment account.
Step 3: Filling out personal information
Now that you have successfully created your User ID, you now have to move on to building your Questrade profile. Click on the “Continue” button under Personal.
Fill in your personal information and double check that it is accurate. Any mistakes made here may be harder to fix in the future. If you set your Martial status to married or common law, you’ll need to also include your spouses information. This is because Questrade need this information to comply with securities regulations. It helps Questrade determine if you or your spouse are insiders or controlling persons of a publicly traded company.
Update July 2021: Questrade now uses two factor authentication for improved security. You will be prompted to set it up with your email or mobile phone.
If you’ve completed your Personal section correctly, you’ll now see a green check mark in the box. You can now move on to the Employment section by clicking the “Start” button.
Fill out your employment information to the best of your knowledge, and select the appropriate responses to the questions that it asks.
Again, you should now see a green check mark, if you’ve completed it correctly. You can now move on to the “Financial” section by pressing the “Start” button.
Provide an estimate of your annual income, liquid assets, fixed asses and liabilities to get an estimate of your total net worth. Questrade only collects information that they need and use, so this section (like all others) is required.
With another green check mark, you can now move onto the “Citizenship” section by clicking “Start”.
Questrade collects Citizenship information due to different tax reporting and filing obligations for different countries. A SIN number is required to confirm your identity, and confirm that you are eligible for a registered TFSA or RRSP account.
Step 4: Setup your new Questrade account
Now that you’ve completed your Questrade Profile, it’s time to setup your new accounts. Click the “Set up your accounts” button to get started.
You’ll now need to complete 3 steps to finish opening your account.
Answer your account questions
Click the “Start” button to move to the Account details section.
If you are investing as a DIY investor, specifically looking at passive investing for ETFs, then you likely do not want to trade options. I won’t get into what trading options is here, but likely if you don’t know what they are, you don’t want to trade them.
Enter the amount you plan to deposit initially. Keep in mind, to begin trading Questrade requires a minimum balance of $1000 in your account.
A green check mark will again indicate that you’ve correctly filled out the “Account details” section. You can now move on to the “Consent and communication” section by clicking the “Start” button.
This section asks you questions related to when and how you receive informational materials related to the investments you make. This section also details how Questrade will use your email address.
Now that you’ve completed the “Consent and communication” section, you can move on to the “Persons with financial interest” section.
This section asks you to provide information about other people that should have access to your account, or be a beneficiary of your account. You may not think you need to add a beneficiary (especially if you are young) but you never know what might happen, and in the worst-case scenario, it can make things much easier for your partners and loved ones if you properly fill out your beneficiaries.
You’ll now need to move on to agreeing to Questrade agreements by clicking the next “Start” button.
Clicking each box will display an agreement that you should read or at least skim over. It’s easy to always bypass the small print, but it can be a good idea of at least getting a sense of what you are agreeing to.
Sign and submit your documents
You now have to sign and submit your documentation agreement with Questrade. Luckily, this can all be done digitally, even the signing! You don’t have to print, physically sign, and mail in your documentation anymore. Click the “E-SIGN” box to get started.
Questrade will now provide you a form. You will need to click the “agreement” box, and digitally sign the document in a few different places. Once you’ve read it and signed, click the green “Continue” button at the top right of the document.
You’ll now see two green check marks to indicate that you’ve successfully digitally signed and submitted your forms to Questrade. You’ll now need to provide government issued identification to confirm your identity with Questrade. Click the “Upload” button to get started.
You can use your driver’s license or other government issued photo ID (passport, a permanent residence card, citizenship card, etc.). Make sure that it has your photo, your signature, and that the document has not expired. Select Canadian driver’s license if you are using your Canadian driver’s license, otherwise, click the “Upload a different document instead” button when you have your document ready.
If uploading your driver’s license you can use your mobile phone by scanning the QR code, otherwise you can upload any document manually.
If uploading manually, the upload can be a PDF, PNG, JPG, JPEG, TIF, or TIFF file. This can be as simple as a picture of your drivers license with your cell phone. That’s what I did. Make sure that the file is under 4MB, select the correct document type, and give the document a name. Then click the “Browse” button, and select the correct file to upload.
If this has been done correctly, you should get a pop-up displaying “Upload complete”. You can now close this window. It takes some time for Questrade to review files, so you won’t get an automatic green check mark in this section yet. So don’t worry if it doesn’t look complete in the list yet.
Fund your Questrade account
The final step to creating your account is actually funding it. Funding your account is required for opening an account with Questrade, and a minimum of $1,000 is required to begin trading. Click the “Fund” button to get started.
There are a variety of ways to fund your Questrade account. The easiest way I’ve found is through Bill Payment where you use your online banking, and fund your account through a bill payment. To start this process, select “Bill payment”.
Update July 2021: Questrade recently added Instant deposit, this method allows you to instantly deposit money up to your cards daily limit. This method only works with Visa Debit cards and the name on your debit card account must match the name on your Questrade account.
In the following section we will go through setting up a Bill payment to fund your Questrade account. The instructions from Questrade are shown below.
Compatible Financial Institutions
Questrade works with a huge number of financial instutions, and the following are included in the drop down list for you to select from:
- Bank of Montreal
- Royal Bank of Canada
- Toronto Dominion Bank
- National Bank of Canada
- CIBC or Simplii Financial
- HSBC Bank Canada
- Canadian Western Bank
- ATB Financial
- Korean Exchange Bank
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Canada)
- Bank of China (Canada)
- Canadian Tire Bank
- Shinhan Bank Canada
- China Construction Bank Toronto Branch
- Canada Trustco Mortgage Company
- Manulife Bank of Canada
- Alterna Bank
- People’s Trust
- Equitable Bank (EQBank)
- Communication Tech. Credit Union Ltd
- Central 1 (formerly Credit Union of BC)
- Caisse Financial Group
- Central 1 (formerly Credit Union of Ontario)
- Caisse Populaire Ontario
- Meridian Credit Union
- Alterna Savings & Credit Union
- Caisse Populaire Acadiennes
- Central 1 Credit Union
For this example, I use Tangerine as my day-to-day banking account, so I logged in, and added “Questrade Inc” as a bill payee, and added my new Questrade account number (which you can get in the previous image, but I’ve whited it out). I then made a bill payment of $5,000 to this new payee.
Success! You’ll now have to play a bit of a waiting game. I created my account on a Saturday – Questrade reviewed and confirmed my documentation on the Monday, and my bill payment came through on the Wednesday at which point I was fully setup and ready to purchase ETFs.
Sign up to Questrade complete
You’ve now successfully signed up to buy and sell ETFs, stocks and other investment products with Questrade. After your initial funding amount has shown up, your account will be fully active. Remember to use the redemption code 5c7adaa406cd9 or this link to get $50 of free trades when you start with Questrade.
Questrade sign up FAQs
How long does it take to open a Questrade account?
Typically 1-2 business days so that Questrade has enough time to confirm your identity documents. However, it can also be processed as fast as 1 business day
During the Questrade sign up process, you are asked to send documents to confirm your identity. You can upload, email or send it by mail. If you upload your document (like a driver’s license) it will typically take 1 – 2 business days for Questrade to review and open your account.
Funding your account may take longer.
How long does it take to fund a Questrade account?
It depends on the method you use to fund your account. Questrade offers many different funding methods and below are the processing times.
Instant Deposit – Instant
Online banking bill payment – 1-2 business days
Interact Online – Instant for existing accounts and new accounts require an additional business day
Pre-authorized deposit – Up to 2 business days if the daily deposit amount is under $10,000. Up to 7 business days if the daily deposit amount is $10,000 or more.
Wire transfer – 1-2 business days
Certified cheque or bank draft – 1-2 business days
Non-certified cheque – 10 calendar days for Canadian funds and 15 calendar days for US funds.
Money Order – 1-2 business days
For more information take a look at the Questrade support page
How long does it take to transfer an account – like a TFSA – from another broker to Questrade?
It typically takes 2-3 business days to process and then 15-25 days for the funding to arrive in your Questrade account, depending on the financial institution the funds are coming from.
Additional information can be found here.
How much money do you need to open a Questrade account?
To start trading, Questrade requires a minimum deposit of $1000. Once you fund your account with the minimum amount of $1000 you can start buying and selling stocks, ETFs and other investment products.
What type of Questrade account should I open?
Questrade offers a variety of self-directed investing accounts that you can choose when signing up. DIY investors will likely want to stick with one of the Canadian registered accounts that are offered.
Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA)
The TFSA account isn’t just a savings account, it can be an investment account where you can invest your money and avoid paying taxes on dividends and gains. This is a great investment option for Canadians. There is a cap on how much money you can put into your TFSA called your contribution room.
Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)
Invest and save long term with an RRSP account, and get tax deductions on your yearly investment contributions.
Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)
An investment account to build savings for your kids education. While contributions to an RESP are not tax-deductible, the main benefit is to have all earnings on the investment inside the RESP and accumulate tax-free until withdrawn.
For those looking to invest outside of a registered account, individual Margin accounts are available. A margin account allows a trader to trade other financial products, such as futures and options, as well as stocks. A margin account allows someone to borrow funds from the broker, and not need to put up the entire value of a trade. Margin accounts tend to be for more advanced investors.
What is Questrade’s inactivity fee?
Questrade used to charge a quarterly inactivity of $24.95 to users if the account equity was below $1000 and if the account was not really being used.
As of October 1st 2020, the inactivity fee has been discontinued. You will not be charged an inactivity fee but to start trading you will need a minimum account balance of $1000.
Next Steps: Buying and Rebalancing
Now that you’ve opened a Questrade account, the next steps for your investment portfolio is learning how to buy ETF’s through questrade, as well as learning how to rebalance your portfolio, using tools such as Passiv.
This post was updated July 2021, the original was posted March 2019.