Considering the fierce competition in the broker sector, Webull, which came to the market in 2017, has done exceptionally well to have already stacked up over 11 million registered customers. It ticks a lot of boxes and has used its relatively late entrance to the industry to its advantage by developing a heap of innovative tools that make the most of recent technological advantages.
The in-depth review of Webull found here points out the progress the platform has made and details the broker’s pros and cons. Putting strengths and weaknesses into context requires comparing Webull to other operators such as Robinhood, TD Ameritrade, Schwab and Interactive Brokers.
Selecting the right broker can help your trading bottom-line and is more about finding a personal fit rather than finding one that scores highly in all categories – some of which might not be important to you.
Webull’s decision to do away with minimum balance requirements offers a glimpse into how some of the firm’s policies are set out to change the way the broker sector operates. Setting the bar as low as zero was always bound to cause concern for some of the traditional competitors. Interactive brokers, for example, has recently reduced its minimum account opening balance from $10,000 to 0. Tracking clients for compliance reporting purposes is costly, even if the client doesn’t have any funds in their account.
Webull generates a large part of its revenue using behind-the-scenes techniques such as Payment for Order Flow. As a result, Webull can be more relaxed about traders signing up and funding their accounts.
In terms of minimum deposit requirements, a lot of the front-runners in the pack have adopted similar terms to Webull.
This review will make the following comparisons:
- Webull vs TD Ameritrade
- Webull vs Fidelity
- Webull vs Robinhood
- Webull vs etrade
- Webull vs Binance
- Webull vs Interactive Brokers
- Webull vs Schwab
- Webull vs Thinkorswim
- Webull vs Coinbase
|Broker||Minimum Account Balance||Additional Notes|
|Webull||0||Some markets require minimum balance of $2k|
|TD Ameritrade||0||Some markets require minimum balance of $2k|
|Fidelity||0||Some markets do require a minimum|
|Robinhood||0||Some markets require minimum balance of $2k|
|etrade||0||Some markets require minimum balance of $2k|
|Binance||0||Minimum $10 order size to trade|
|Interactive Brokers||0||Some markets require minimum balance of $2k|
|Schwab||0||Some markets require minimum balance of $2k|
|Thinkorswim||0||Some markets require minimum balance of $2k|
|Coinbase||2.00 of digital currency denominated in your local currency|
Being so client focused, it’s not necessarily surprising to learn that Webull has done what it can to do away with the admin charges associated with transferring cash to and from your brokerage account. The T&Cs are laid out in a highly transparent manner, which is also nice to have.
Webull’s Deposit & Withdrawal Fees
- ACH deposit – US bank account: $0.00
- ACH withdrawal – US bank account: $0.00
- Deposit via wire transfer – US bank account: $8 per deposit – Apex (clearing firm)
- Withdraw via wire transfer – US bank account: $25 per withdrawal – Apex (clearing firm)
- Deposit via wire transfer (international) – Non-US Bank Account: $12.5 per deposit – Apex (clearing firm)
- Withdraw via wire transfer (international) – Non-US bank account: $45 per withdrawal – Apex (clearing firm)
- ACH withdrawals usually take 1-2 business days to complete
Two factors influence the pricing packages all brokers can offer their clients – these both revolve around the fact that third parties and retail banks are responsible for the transaction. As a result, transfer times are fairly standardised, with most payments taking 2–3 days to clear. The other is that third parties may apply fees. It’s worth checking the details, but one point to note is that most of the multi-asset brokers featured in this article waive charges.
The crypto exchanges are off the pace in terms of keeping cash transfer fees to a minimum. For example, if you are US-based and purchase $100 of bitcoin using Coinbase, the flat fee would be $2.99. If you buy larger amounts, the fee will be calculated using a percentage fee, which is 1.49% of the total transaction.
If you purchase bitcoin with a debit card, the Coinbase fee would be 3.99%. At Binance, the rates on transactions such as these range from 3%–4.5%. The minimum balance for Swift transfers at Coinbase is $1,000. ACH payments at both Binance and Coinbase do not incur charges.
One of the areas where Webull really steps up is in terms of fees. Not only are they low, as low as zero in some cases, but the price tariffs are laid out in a super-easy-to-access way. This level of transparency is always a good sign. A lot of the big-name brokers have driven stock commissions down to zero, but Webull still has an edge over most of the competition on option commissions.
Webull Commissions and Fees
- Stock trading costs $0
- ETF trading costs $0
- ADR trading costs $0
- Option trading contract fees $0
- Option trading commissions $0
- Option trading assignment or exercise fees $0
- Webull does not charge for trading cryptocurrencies. There is a 100-basis point spread on either side of a crypto trade.
Webull Headline Commissions & Fees Compared to Peer Group
|Broker||Stock Commissions||Options Comm|
|TD Ameritrade||0||$0.65 per contract|
|Fidelity||0||$0.65 per contract|
|etrade||0||$0.65 per contract|
|Interactive Brokers||0||$0.65 per contract|
|Schwab||0||$0.65 per contract|
|Thinkorswim||0||$0.65 per contract|
Webull and Robinhood stand toe-to-toe on commissions, and both have a cost advantage over the rest of the sector.
Platforms & Markets
All of the brokers on the comparison list below offer state-of-the-art platforms. Their functionality essentially boils down to the same thing, but the subtle differences in layout or the number of indicators on offer can swing it for clients.
It’s a case of finding the best fit, and sometimes opening a demo account and paper trading is the best way to really test a platform. As a result, brokers that offer more than one platform have an obvious edge. If you like the rest of the package but can’t quite get comfortable with the trading dashboard, then an alternative is at hand.
|Broker||Number of Platforms on Offer||1||2||3|
|Webull||1||Web-based or Downloadable|
|TD Ameritrade||2||TD Ameritrade Web||Thinkorswim|
|Fidelity||2||Fidelity.com||Active Trader Pro|
|etrade||2||Etrade Web||Power Etrade|
|Interactive Brokers||3||IBKR Pro||IBKR Lite||Trader Workstation|
|Schwab||3||StreetSmart Edge||StreetSmart Central||Schwab.com|
|Thinkorswim||2||TD Ameritrade Web||Thinkorswim|
Webull’s platform is more than adequate and scores highly in terms of its level of customisation. It also makes the most of the latest technological advances and is packed full of neat trading features. Available in Web Trader or downloadable desktop format, it’s an ideal trading tool. However, the broker is marked down in this category as it only offers one choice.
Webull Markets & Instruments
In terms of instruments and markets available to trade, Webull comes in ahead of the rest of the pack. Thinkorswim pretty much matches Webull’s offering but only permits trading in crypto futures rather than directly in coins. TD Ameritrade offers no crypto markets at all and the lack of fractional shares trading on that platform will put off many looking to trade in smaller size.
Webull Markets Available to Trade Compared to Peer Group
|Broker||Stocks||Fractional Shares||Crypto||Bonds||Mutual Funds||ETFs||Options||Futures||Forex||ADRs||IPO Grey Mkt|
|Interactive Brokers||Y||Y||Q3 2021||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||Y||N|
The brokers operating at the top end of the industry are serious operations. The time and money invested in building such comprehensive services could become undone by them not having an appropriately robust compliance framework in place. Client protection is a real selling point, and as a result, most, but not all, of Webull’s competitors tick all the boxes.
Webull has signed up as a broker-dealer with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which from a regulatory perspective, is an impressive start. Webull Financial LLC is also a member of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), NASDAQ and Cboe EDGX Exchange, Inc (CBOE EDGX).
Taking TD Ameritrade as an example, it’s clear to see in terms of regulations that there are only minor differences between the big multi-asset brokers. These come down to technicalities such as which markets they operate in. TD Ameritrade Futures and Forex LLC is a CFTC-regulated entity and offers investors stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures, and forex trading. The firm is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under ticker AMTD and remains one of the few regulated brokerages to offer retail forex trading in the United States.
There is one big gap in terms of regulatory approval and that is between Webull, the other multi-asset brokers and the crypto exchange platforms.
For many, part of the appeal of crypto is that it’s unregulated – the logic being that the blockchain technology behind the different coins provides protection via the safety of crowds and transparency of reporting. This works to some extent, but there are scam brokers operating in the crypto space and the fact that Coinbase and Binance have, at best, ‘light-touch’ regulatory set-ups works against them. Regulatory protection from organisations such as the CFTC is designed to protect the ‘little guy’ and trading as safely as possible is the fundamental rule of investing.
Something that is particularly appealing about the Webull service is that the Customer Support team is contactable 24//7. This can be done via phone or email, and app users also have the option of using live chat. This is a premium-grade service and one to be welcomed, but that level of service is similar to that provided by other brokers. Certainly, 24/7 coverage is hard to beat and great news for clients.
The traditional brokers come out on top in terms of customer service. This is partly because disruptor firms such as Robinhood and Webull appear to have taken the decision to scale back on customer support in exchange for lower operating costs for the broker, and by association, lower fees for clients.
Webull Customer Support Compared to Peer Group
|Broker||Coverage||Phone||Live Chat||Physical Offices||Social Media|
A glance at the customer support on offer at TD Ameritrade highlights the high level of service that can be found at some brokers:
- Phone support 24/7
- Technical phone support Monday–Friday, 7am to 6pm. Eastern time
- Support in-person at one of 250+ local branches
- Support is also available via SMS text and social media channels – including Facebook Messenger, Twitter, Apple Business Chat and Amazon Alexa.
Bonuses & Special Features
Introductory offers between brokers are sometimes available. The exact terms and conditions vary over time, but some of the newer firms, such as Webull and Robinhood, have a solid reputation for offering some form of welcome gift to new clients.
Webull Customer Bonuses Compared to Peer Group
|Webull||Two free stocks, first one with no minimum outlay|
|Robinhood||One free stock with no minimum outlay|
|etrade||Up to $600 when you open an account|
|Thinkorswim||Get up to $600 when you open and fund an account|