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WellsTrade review

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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.

$0

Stock trade fee

$0

Minimum deposit to open

$30 per year

Fee

Details

Available asset typesStocks,Bonds,Options,Mutual funds,ETFs
Option trade fee$5.95 + $0.75/contract
Account transfer fee$95

What investments does WellsTrade offer?

While you won’t be able to make futures, cryptocurrency or forex trades, 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.

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 makes 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.

How easy is it to use?

Investors on Reddit report the WellsTrade platform isn’t challenging to navigate, but that its user interface feels outdated. Redditors also complain that stock prices aren’t offered in real time — they must be updated manually.

As far as the application process, you can open an account online in about 10 minutes. Be ready to enter your income information, Social Security number and the name and address of your employer. Most applications are processed within one business day.

What research tools does the platform provide?

The WellsTrade platform comes with a standard lineup of research and reporting tools. Investor resources include sector-performance ratings, market commentary, economic outlooks, industry news and an investment blog. Reporting tools include stock, ETF, bond and mutual fund screeners and a portfolio tracking tool that streams quotes, news and charts.

Pricing and fees

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

Compare other stock trading platforms

Name Product Available asset types Stock trade fee Option trade fee Annual fee
Vanguard
Stocks,Mutual funds,ETFs,Forex
$0
$1
$20 per year
Get a personal advisor when you open an account with at least $50,000.
Robinhood
Stocks,Options,ETFs,Cryptocurrency
$0
$0
0%
Make unlimited commission-free trades in stocks, funds, and options with Robinhood Financial.
Interactive Brokers
Stocks,Bonds,Options,Mutual funds,Index funds,ETFs,Forex,Futures,Cash
$0
$0 + $0.65/contract, $1 minimum
0%
IBKR Lite offers $0 commissions, and IBKR Pro offers advanced tools for professional traders.
TD Ameritrade
Stocks,Bonds,Options,Mutual funds,ETFs,Forex,Futures
$0
or $25 If it is broker-assisted
$0 + $0.65/contract,
or $25 Broker-assisted
TD Ameritrade features $0 commission for online stock, but watch out for high short-term ETF and broker-assisted trading fees.
Tastyworks
Stocks,Options,ETFs,Futures
$0
Stocks & ETFs: $1/contract to open, $0 to close, $10 max/leg
Futures: $2.50/contract to open, $0 to close
0%
Trade stocks, options, ETFs and futures on mobile or desktop with this advanced platform.
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Compare up to 4 providers

How safe is WellsTrade?

WellsTrade is the self-directed trading arm of Wells Fargo, one of the oldest and best-established financial institutions in the US. Founded in 1852 and headquartered in San Francisco, it’s the largest mortgage and auto lender in the US and the eighth-biggest public company in the world.

But despite its financial clout, Wells Fargo doesn’t have the tidiest reputation. The bank has been involved in a number of scandals and lawsuits — most notably in 2016, when it came to light that employees had opened millions of bank accounts and credit cards in customers’ names.

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.

Customer 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 May 2020, the BBB gives it an F rating for failing to respond to 209 of its 3,165 complaints.

It earns a TrustScore of 1.3 out of 5 based on 280 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 4.7 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.

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 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.

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 room to pause.

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

Frequently asked questions

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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