Top 5 money management apps for Canadians

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Money management apps have developed rapidly in the past 5 years. Whilst they were once a place to store your base currency and, at best, divvy it up into different savings pots, today we expect them to perform a lot more magic.

The pandemic has caused a normalization in retail trading. Most people are aware that if they have most of their savings sat in cash, it could be a damaging opportunity cost. For this reason, we will be looking at more than just savings and budgeting apps when we consider money management and view the top 5 that covers the most ground.

Unfortunately, the phenomenon of the Robinhood app is yet to make it to Canada. The pandemic saw exponential growth in their sign-ups to get a taste of free, social stock trading. Fortunately, there are competent alternatives, such as Questrade.

Best Money Management Apps in Canada

Questrade

Questrade is a fully-fledged online brokerage firm that is based in Canada. It has commission-free ETF purchases and low stock trading fees. This can be a great place to build a portfolio for Canadians or have one managed for them for a 0.25% management fee up to $100,000 (0.20% thereafter). 

It doesn’t get much more accessible than Questrade. Building a portfolio (or having them build one for you) is as easy as depositing money in a current account. There’s also an incredible dashboard interface that is a dream to use and extremely modern and responsive.

Qtrade

Questrade vs Qtrade (by Frugal Trader) points out that Qtrade actually performs better than Questrade on many fronts, such as being free to sell (not only buy) ETFs unlike Questrade, and it has much better customer service. Qtrade also doesn’t have ENC fees unlike Questrade, and Investor Plus members have maximum trading fees of $7.75 unlike Questrade’s maximum of $9.95.

It’s difficult, to sum up, Qtrade’s user interface and charting capabilities. On the one hand, it’s uglier and more outdated than Questrade’s. However, it performs better in terms of substance – there’s a lot of research capabilities and portfolio analysis tools.

Overall, Qtrade is the better option for more experienced traders (or those with an appetite to learn and put effort into trading), whilst Questrade is superior for more casual users who are just looking for their savings to grow without much thought.

canadian dollar

Wealthsimple

Wealthsimple, like the previous two, aims to serve the same needs: accessible investing. However, it goes about it in a very different way. Instead of being a fully-fledged broker that allows users to make specific trades, it’s what is known as a Roboadvisor – a slightly controversial form of portfolio management.

A Roboadvisor is essentially a company that will invest your money for you automatically. That is, there’s little personal judgment, conversations, and human interpretation going on. This shouldn’t be too scary though, considering the most successful fund in the world performs Algo trading.

For a 0.5% management fee (decreases to 0.4% for deposits over $100k), Wealthsimple will automatically invest your money into a diversified portfolio that suits your needs. You will state basic information, such as your risk tolerance, and you can then forget about your money. It will auto-rebalance, auto-deposit, auto reinvest dividends, and even perform tax-loss harvesting. 

The downside is it’s quite expensive for what may essentially be achieved with your own cheap Vanguard fund. Plus, you get no control over specific investments, companies, and so on. But, the convenience factor is important for some. Their growth portfolio returned 36.42% in the 12 months leading up to 31/03/21.

Mint

Mint is a very different kind of app and isn’t necessarily in direct competition with the apps above. Mint is a veteran with over 15 million users, with rapid and free sign-ups. Some features that you can expect from Mint is:

  • Budgeting
  • Investment tracking
  • Credit score monitoring
  • Bill management
  • Tax reporting
  • Two-factor authentication

Its most powerful feature is its budgeting. Users can easily track expenses after syncing bank transactions, where you can then create sub-categories for spending types (it will remember these and auto allocate them thereafter).

You can create goals and monitor credit scores to stay on top of your finances. However, you cannot directly invest your money from the app, so it’s limited to managing your spending. However, the more you understand your expenses, the more you can save; the more you save, the more you can invest.

Newton

We can’t cover the best money management apps and not touch on cryptocurrency – it is 2021 after all. Whilst there’s a lot of competition, a compelling case can be put forward for Newton. First and foremost, Newton is considered the cheapest app to purchase crypto on as a Canadian. That in and of itself is half the argument. There are no withdrawal fees on their own, compared to the global average BTC-withdrawal fee of 0.000812 BTC. However, they have been introducing some network fees.

Besides being a relatively cheap exchange, there are 5-30 minute deposits via e-transfer – which are free, and account setup and verification are relatively fast, too.

Whilst the landscape of fees is quickly changing (so it is worth checking out competitors such as Shakepay), Newton has a gorgeous GUI for users to easily see their portfolio, current prices, and recent activity.

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