WellsTrade review

Convenient for Wells Fargo customers. But you can find lower fees and stronger features elsewhere.

finder.com’s rating: 3.2 / 5.0

★★★★★

Despite the backing of one of the largest financial institutions in the US, WellsTrade simply fails to offer low trading fees against competitors. Wells Fargo customers may find the platform handy for managing multiple accounts from a single sign-on, but experienced traders will find more flexibility elsewhere.

  • Consider WellsTrade if you’re a Wells Fargo customer looking to open your own brokerage account.
  • Look elsewhere if you’re an experienced day trader.

$30 per year

Fee

What investments does WellsTrade offer?

WellsTrade investors gain access to the securities that include:

  • Stocks and ETFs. Trade commission-free stocks and ETFs alongside penny stocks for 3.5% or $35.95.
  • Mutual funds. Swap no-load funds for $35 or no-load, no-transaction-fee (NTF) funds for $0.
  • Options. Buy and sell options for $5.95 plus $0.75 per contract.
  • Fixed income. Purchase bonds, notes and treasury bills through a Wells Fargo agent for $50 per transaction.
  • However, you won’t be able to make futures, cryptocurrency or forex trades.

Who is WellsTrade best for?

A WellsTrade brokerage account is well suited to two types of investors:

  • Wells Fargo customers. Existing customers may appreciate next-day account transfers and the ability to manage your accounts from a single dashboard.
  • Buy-and-hold investors. No commissions on stocks and ETFs might appeal to those executing a long-term buy-and-hold investment strategy.

WellsTrade’s high fees for options trading and lack of futures make it a poor fit for derivatives traders. It also lacks cryptocurrency and forex trading, ultimately narrowing its ideal investor to those executing a buy-and-hold strategy.

A variety of accounts are available, including educational savings accounts and IRAs. The platform also offers a cash sweep program that allows investors to earn interest on uninvested cash.

Fees and costs

Pricing is where the WellsTrade platform falls short. While it doesn’t charge commissions on select stocks, ETFs and mutual funds, you’ll pay fees for every other security WellsTrade offers — and many of the fees are steep.

Options traders will find more competitive prices on almost any other platform, including free options trading on platforms like Firstrade and Robinhood. Even platforms that do charge for options typically only charge fees per contract, usually in the neighborhood of $0.25 to $0.65 each.

WellsTrade also charges an annual account fee — something we haven’t seen with other trading platforms. Granted, there are ways to waive the fee, including enrollment in electronic account statement delivery or by holding a Wells Fargo private bank account. But account maintenance fees on a self-directed brokerage account are rare.

Minimum deposit to open$0
Stocks and ETFs$0
Penny stocks (less than $1 per share)$34.95 or 3.5%, whichever is greater
No-load, NTF funds$0
No-load, transaction fee funds$35
Options$5.95 + $0.75 per contract
Options exercises and assignmentsAgent assistance only
Bonds, notes and treasury bills$50
Annual fee$30
Account transfer fee$95

How do I sign up?

You can open a WellsTrade brokerage account by heading to Wells Fargo’s website:

  1. From the homepage, click Investing and Retirement and select Self-Directed Online Trading from the drop-down menu.
  2. Click Apply online.
  3. Select the type of account you’d like to apply for.
  4. Create a username and password and click Continue.
  5. Enter your full name, Social Security number, date of birth, email address, phone number and employment information. Click Continue.
  6. Sign and return your account documents by uploading them to the secure online portal.
  7. Verify your account by transferring funds from an external account.

Eligibility

Whichever account you choose to open, you’ll need to meet a few eligibility requirements:

  • At least 18 years old
  • Valid residential address
  • Valid government-issued ID

Required Information

  • Valid Social Security number or tax identification number
  • Foreign tax ID, passport or visa number if you are not a US citizen or permanent resident
  • Valid address
  • Employer’s name, address and phone number

      Research tools

      The WellsTrade platform comes with a basic lineup of research and reporting tools but lacks the robust charting technology of platforms like TD Ameritrade and Interactive Brokers:

      • Screeners. Narrow your investment options by a variety of metrics to pinpoint stocks, ETFs, bonds and mutual funds for your portfolio.
      • Watchlists. Assemble a personalized list of assets to track.
      • Asset allocation. Compare your portfolio to any of Wells Fargo’s nine asset allocation models to track your performance.
      • Charting. Access real-time quotes and charting tools to analyze your assets.
      • Industry news. Review economic outlooks, sector-performance ratings, market commentary, news and more.

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      *Signup bonus information updated weekly.

      Pros and cons

      Pros

      • No minimum deposit. Start your account with just $1.
      • Mobile access. Tap into your investments on the go with the Wells Fargo mobile app.
      • Account options. Open an individual brokerage account, IRA or educational savings account.

      Cons

      • Trading fees. Fees on penny stocks, options, mutual funds and bonds are among the highest we’ve seen.
      • Account fees. While it’s possible to waive the $30 annual account fee, there’s no way to avoid the steep $95 account transfer fee when transferring funds.
      • Limited securities. You can’t access cryptocurrencies, forex or futures from a WellsTrade account.
      • Poor reputation. Wells Fargo, the platform’s parent company, earns an overwhelmingly negative track record among customers.

      How does WellsTrade keep my money safe?

      WellsTrade brokerage accounts are offered through Wells Fargo Clearing Services and protected by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) for up to $500,000, including up to $250,000 in cash balances.

      Wells Fargo encrypts all online and mobile banking sessions and uses 24/7 fraud monitoring to stay on top of suspicious activity. Users are automatically signed out after periods of inactivity, and you’re encouraged to protect your account with two-factor authentication and biometrics sign-on options.

      Wells Fargo reviews and complaints

      Reviews specific to the WellsTrade platform are tough to source amid the overwhelmingly negative feedback on Wells Fargo generally.

      Despite its many years in business, Wells Fargo isn’t an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau. As of April 2021, the BBB hasn’t given it a rating, as the company is in the process of responding to customer complaints. In the past three years, the company has amassed 3,364 BBB complaints and it receives a 1.08 out of 5 star rating based on the feedback of 337 reviews.

      It earns a TrustScore of 1.3 out of 5 based on 461 reviews and more than 23,000 complaints with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Among the most common complaints are high account fees and the bank’s subpar customer support.

      That said, the bank appears to be doing something right with its mobile app, which you can use to access your investments and bank accounts. The app scores 4.8 out of 5 on Google Play and 4.8 out of 5 in the Apple App Store. Users report that the app is useful for managing multiple accounts but report login difficulties and crashes.

      How do I contact WellsTrade support?

      There’s only one way to contact Wells Fargo about opening a WellsTrade account:

      • Phone. Call 877-573-7997 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET and Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET.

      Bottom line

      WellsTrade offers a respectable lineup of securities, and you can open an account with any amount. But platform fees are far from competitive, and the reputation of its parent company might give you pause.

      Unsure about WellsTrade? Explore your trading options with other platforms to find a brokerage account that best fits your budget and investment goals.

      How we rate trading platforms

      ★★★★★ 5/5 — Excellent

      ★★★★★ 4/5 — Good

      ★★★★★ 3/5 — Average

      ★★★★★ 2/5 — Subpar

      ★★★★★ 1/5 — Poor

      We analyze top online trading platforms and rate them one to five stars based on factors that are most important to you. These factors include fees, securities available for trade, customer support, customer feedback, platform resources and overall reliability.

      For a complete breakdown of how we score each category, read the full methodology of how we rate trading platforms.

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