New kid on the block Webull was built on the idea that technology is an investor’s best friend. It’s already making a name for itself as a robust online trading platform with zero-commission trades on stock, options, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), and cryptocurrency.
Webull’s free trading platform has a lot to offer active investors, and this review will explain Webull’s best features, drawbacks, fees, and more.
Webull Review 2021 – A Robust Free Trading App
What is Webull?
Webull launched in 2017 as a mobile-first stock trading platform.
Even though it’s a newcomer, Webull has already made a name for itself by offering more robust features than one of its closest competitors, Robinhood.
Like other online brokerages, Webull appeals to investors by offering zero-commission trades, no deposit minimums, and low fees.
Webull specializes in four different kinds of investment products: stocks, options, ETFs, and cryptocurrency. They offer individual brokerage accounts and individual retirement accounts (IRAs) – traditional, Roth, and rollover IRAs.
Webull stands out by offering in-depth charting and analysis, advanced orders, Level II market data, customization, and more. You can check out the platform before you even sign up, which is something I really appreciate.
And Webull has continued to expand its offerings: it added individual retirement accounts in 2019 and debuted cryptocurrency in 2020. I’m excited to see what else they roll out in the coming years.
It’s completely free to sign up for Webull, and Webull does not charge fees or commissions for trades on stocks, ETFs, options, or cryptocurrency. There are no account minimums, except on cryptocurrency, which has a $1 minimum. Like all other online brokers, you’ll still pay regulatory fees for specific kinds of transactions.
It’s important to understand that free isn’t always free, so it’s worth going over all the fees you might run into. Webull makes all of its fees easy to find, and I appreciate the transparency.
Below is a list of the regulatory trading fees you can expect from Webull:
Fee charged by
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
$0.0000221 total $ trade amount ($0.01 min)
Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
$0.000119 trade volume min ($0.01 min - $5.95 max)
$0.002 per contract ($0.01 min)
Buys and sells
$0.0388 per contract
Options Clearing Corp
Buys and sells
$0.045 per contract ($55 max per trade)
There are several other miscellaneous Webull fees you may encounter:
- Short selling fees: This is a rate that changes daily based on the market condition, which you will only encounter if you short stocks on Webull
- Deposit via wire transfer: $8 per deposit
- Withdrawal via wire transfer: $25 per withdrawal
- Stock transfer fee from Webull to another brokerage: $75 per outgoing stock transfer
- Paper confirmations: $2 perconfirmation
- Paper statements: $5 per statement
- Paper prospectus: $2.50 per mail
Like the regulatory fee schedule above, these miscellaneous fees are fairly standard across online brokerages.
Webull also offers even more advanced trading data for an optional monthly subscription fee of $4.99.
What you’ll like about Webull
Webull’s extensive trading platform can be a little overwhelming for new investors, but it’s incredibly appealing for active investors who want in-depth reporting and analysis.
Webull’s online interface gives inventors access to the overall market structure – a macro view of the market. You’ll see what sectors are leading and lagging and what stock trends are emerging. Webull also gives you technical tools, specifically different kinds of charts: candlesticks, bar, line, and Heiken Ash.
You also get capital flow analysis, information on how big money is positioned in the short term. This isn’t something you’ll get from most free online stock trading platforms. And even better, you can easily compare securities.
I mentioned this earlier in my Webull review, but you can look at Webull’s trading platform before you even sign up. Below is the kind of preview you’ll get, and you can click on the icons on the left-hand side of the screen to be brought to a new screen for your watchlists, stocks, markets, stock screener, trading, accounts, and paper trades.
You get the same kind of streamlined analysis with both Webull’s desktop trading platform and mobile app. It may be a little overwhelming for brand new investors, but because the analysis is so clear, I think many newer investors will be able to figure out what they’re seeing.
Margin trading is the practice of borrowing money to purchase investments. It’s incredibly risky, and it’s not for new investors. It involves leveraging the securities and funds you already have to purchase additional securities. While it can give you more buying power, margin trading amplifies your losses.
For experienced investors, Webull offers margin trading at rates that are slightly lower than other online stock trading platforms. You’ll need an account balance of at least $2,000 to start margin trading and Webull charges tiered annual rates based on your balance. For account balances under $25,000, the annual rate is 6.99%. The rate goes down by 0.50% each tier moving up, capping at 3.99% annually for account balances of $3,000,000 or greater.
Before Webull introduced cryptocurrency, Robinhood was the only discount online broker offering crypto trade. Webull started offering crypto trades in late 2020, and now you can trade Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), and Litecoin (LTC). Webull says they expect to introduce more cryptocurrencies in the future.
Tax-advantaged retirement accounts
Webull offers individual retirement accounts (IRAs) in addition to individual brokerage accounts. You can open a traditional or Roth IRA, and Webull allows for rollover IRAs. There are no opening, closing, or annual fees on Webull IRAs.
They currently don’t offer self-employed retirement accounts, like SEP IRAs or Solo 401Ks, but Webull says they have more retirement plan options in the works.
Extended trading hours
Webull has extended trading hours for all investors. You can trade during the pre-market hours of 4:00 am to 9:30 am ET and after-hours from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm ET.
Where Webull falls short
Lack of tradable securities
Despite its robust trading platform, Webull is missing several securities, including mutual funds and bonds. These are really common and beneficial securities for retirement investors, and not having them may make it difficult to build a truly diversified retirement portfolio.
No cash management account
Many of the best online stock brokers now offer cash management accounts so your uninvested cash earns some kind of interest instead of sitting idly. Webull does not currently offer cash management accounts.
Webull has underwhelming educational support on its platform, which doesn’t make it a great option for new investors who are looking to learn how to start investing. The most you get is an online help center with short articles answering questions about how to use Webull. Fortunately, the help articles that explain how to use Webull’s extensive trading platform have photo tutorials.
This isn’t a major bummer for me, but not offering fractional shares is something that may be a turnoff for some new investors. Buying fractional shares (or micro-investing) allows you to purchase a portion of a stock instead of needing to have enough money to buy the full share. It’s an ideal way for investors who don’t have a lot to invest to get started because you don’t need as much money, and you can diversify your portfolio faster too.
M$M tip: No matter which online brokerage you use, keep track of all of your investments in one place with Personal Capital. It’s a free app that tracks your net worth, analyzes brokerage fees, and helps you plan for retirement.
How does Webull make money?
This is an important question to ask right now, especially as Webull’s major competitor, Robinhood, has gotten in trouble for not being as transparent as they should have been about how they make money.
Webull makes money in ways that are similar to other free online stock trading apps. That includes:
- Payment for order flow (PFOF): Webull uses PFOF to sell your trades to a high-frequency trading firm to execute the orders
- Paid subscriptions: $4.99 optional monthly subscription fee for advanced level data
- Margin fees: The annual percentage fee you pay to trade on margin
- Interest on cash: Webull may invest your uninvested cash in short-term funds or money market accounts to capitalize on it while it’s not being put to use
- Short-seller fees: Short selling is when investors sell stocks they don’t own, and Webull earns interest by loaning you stocks. They earn daily interest, which changes daily based on overall market conditions.
- Miscellaneous fees: These are small fees for transfers, withdrawal fees, and paper statements or confirms
These fees are not unique to Webull or other brokerages, but they must be clearly disclosed. Brokerages can get in trouble if they don’t disclose information on PFOF, and you should be able to find it in their SEC Rule 606 disclosure.
Who is Webull best for?
With its sleek and robust trading app, Webull is ideal for active investors who aren’t too concerned about building a long-term portfolio. Webull has one of the best online stock trading platforms for hands-on investors and those willing to learn.
Webull will not be a good fit if you want any kind of management services – I’d recommend a robo-advisor like Betterment if you want help building and managing your portfolio. Betterment also has a couple of the features Webull is missing, like fractional shares and a cash management account. The trade-off is that you’ll have to pay for management services, and Betterment charges 0.25% of assets under management.
Webull pros & cons
Webull review final word – Is Webull legitimate?
Webull’s is a strong, free online trading app. And it’s important to remember that free doesn’t always mean there needs to be a catch.
Webull is 100% legit. They are transparent about how they make money and what kind of fees you might encounter.
Webull isn’t trying to be something it’s not. They’re not claiming to be the best app for brand new investors. They are a financial company built for people who love technology. You can see that in Webull’s well-designed mobile and desktop trading platforms, and that’s where this company shines.
As far as Webull vs. Robinhood goes, Webull offers a couple of features you won’t find on Robinhood. The most significant differences are that Webull offers tax-advantaged retirement accounts and more advanced reporting.
Robinhood stands out with a cash management account, fractional shares, and a less expensive margin rate.
Which app is best for you will come down to what you’re looking for in a brokerage.
Yes and no. Webull does not charge commissions, trading fees, or maintenance fees on your account. But you will encounter the same regulatory and miscellaneous fees you’d find with other brokerages.