When discussing tools for investing, one of the natural places to start is your online broker. Investing in itself is stressful enough as it is, so we understand that the added stress of choosing between Webull, Robinhood, and Ameritrade is something you’d like to minimize.
In this post, I’ll take you deep into the above three brokerages, which are all immensely popular. Millions around the world have had to choose between these three, so you’re not alone.
While the best way to get a sense of them is to try them for yourself, doing proper research can save you a bunch of time and effort.
Without further ado, let’s get into it.
Webull vs. Robinhood vs. TD Ameritrade: What to Look For
When looking at brokerages, be sure to take note of the following features:
- Commission costs. Extremely important.
- User interface. While a lot of this is a preference, there are some aspects that are clearly better than the alternatives.
- Available trading assets. Make sure they have what you’re interested in.
- Fractional shares. Good for those planning to trade with smaller amounts.
- Paper trading. An underrated feature that often goes unnoticed. We’ll explain why.
- Customer service. It’s always helpful to have someone by your side during trading hours if needed.
Even if you’re new to day trading or investing, you probably have already heard of Robinhood.
It pioneered the commission-free trading model that is ubiquitous within the brokerage industry today, and that in itself is praiseworthy.
Trades are easy to execute
This platform is great for the casual swing trader, as the app is mostly known for its easy execution on mobile wherever you are.
But don’t conflate easy execution with quick execution. Robinhood is much more intuitive when making trades. But when compared to Webull in terms of execution speed, Webull wins hands down.
Some of you who’ve had experiences with both may not agree with me, but in my personal experience, once you get the hang of both platforms, and you’ve had quite a few trades under your belt, Webull’s trade execution becomes much faster in comparison.
Try it out for a week each at least and let me know what you think.
In my opinion, though, ease of execution can be a double-edged sword. In conjunction with penny stocks on Robinhood, you could easily blow up an account if you’re not careful with what you’re doing.
Another cool feature of Robinhood is that it gives you IPO access, and that’s really cool.
Whenever there is a new and upcoming IPO, you’ll be notified on your app, as well as via email. This allows you to hop on early for the ride.
Free market newsletter straight to your inbox
Beyond simple buying and selling, Robinhood offers Snacks, which is a quick newsletter that arrives straight to your inbox that summarizes much of the day’s financial news.
This is a nice resource that helps to sharpen your day or swing trading analysis.
2021 GameStop Robinhood Controversy
Robinhood has gained a bad reputation since 2021 due to the controversy decision the company made to halt the buying of a number of meme stocks such as GameStop.
Robinhood lost nearly a quarter of users to Webull and other brokerages due to the users realizing that Robinhood would stop the buying of a highly popular stock to possibly “help” its parent company make money.
Webull is an online broker that lets you trade stocks, options, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and more.
It is actually a Chinese-owned company, and that worries a lot of people. But despite the fact that they’re Chinese-owned, they still have to operate under U.S. financial legal rules.
You can rest assured that your money is safe with Webull because they are legally registered with FINRA and the SEC.
You can trade through Webull’s website, mobile app, or desktop app, but ultimately, Webull is best known for its stellar mobile interface. Simply, it looks polished and quite stunning.
Extended trading hours
A great and unique feature that you can find on Webull is its extended before- and after-hours trading.
This includes full pre-market trading (4:00 am to 9:30 am Eastern) and after-hours trading (4:00 pm to 8:00 pm Eastern).
This is probably my favorite differentiating feature of Webull, but some of you may not like to wake up that early.
For those looking to execute a trade outside of traditional market hours, Webull’s got you.
Finally, there is TD Ameritrade. This one is the oldest online brokerage on this list, but it still provides plenty of value for day traders and swing traders alike.
TD Ameritrade’s trading platform goes by the name ThinkOrSwim, or TOS for short. Their desktop version of this app is generally regarded much higher than their web version, which can be buggy at times.
Ultimately, TOS is considered to be one of the best platforms available for the advanced trader, and it does have quite the steep learning curve. However, there is no shortage of tutorial videos available on YouTube for this particular platform.
Active trader feature
A favorite feature of TD Ameritrade is its Active Trader feature. This feature allows you to see prices in a visual format and in real-time, so that when you place an order, it makes it easy to get the price you want.
Part of the reason why this is possible is that TOS really encourages desktop trading due to how well it performs.
On the other hand, Robinhood and Webull are mobile-first, so looking at a chart and executing a trade while knowing the exact price up to the very second has its challenges.
Comparing Webull vs. Robinhood vs. TD Ameritrade
In the process of choosing between Webull, Robinhood, and TD Ameritrade, make no mistake. All three are great trading platforms.
That being said, these three platforms aren’t alike.
Thanks to Robinhood’s pioneering of the commission-free model, both Webull and Robinhood are completely commission-free for stocks, ETFs, options, and crypto.
TD Ameritrade is not too far behind, boasting $0 trading commissions on stocks and qualifying ETFs. However, the cost to trade options is $0.65 per contract. This can quickly add up for day traders with a preference for options trading.
This is largely a matter of preference. However, the general consensus is that Robinhood wins hands-down with its ridiculously aesthetically pleasing user interface.
They’ve successfully gamified the trading industry for young users, whether you think that’s a good thing or not.
TD Ameritrade’s ThinkOrSwim has more of a retro feel, which some users like. It’s been developed among baby boomer traders and sort of reflects that time period. For those that are older and grew up with ThinkOrSwim, it does have its nostalgic value.
Webull is somewhere in-between, definitely bordering closer to the modern, sleek look of Robinhood’s interface.
There are some differences in the types of assets that you can trade within these apps. You will discover that Ameritrade offers the largest group of tradable assets compared to Webull or Robinhood.
On the other hand, with Webull and Robinhood, you can trade crypto. This is a huge deal for those who have a 9-5 job and can’t focus on trading all day, since you can trade crypto 24/7.
However, there are plenty of platforms that specialize in trading crypto specifically, so it may be worthwhile to look into those before committing to Webull and Robinhood for crypto.
If you have limited funds and have been eyeing a pricey stock, but want to invest with sound principles of diversification, you should not want to invest nearly all of your savings in a sole company. That’s where fractional shares can help you.
What’s a fractional share? Great question!
A fractional share is when you purchase a portion of one whole share of a company. Fractional shares allow investors to purchase stock based on a selected dollar amount rather than the price of an entire share. This option is good because it enables investors to buy into a company when one full share of the stock is too expensive.
At this time, only Robinhood and Webull offer fractional shares. TD Ameritrade does not.
This is an awesome feature to have if you prefer buying whole dollar amounts or just simply want to put less capital into a trade.
However, keep in mind that most brokers will not allow you to transfer fractional shares to a new broker. If you have whole shares, these are easily transferred, but fractional shares are not. You will have to keep them with the old broke
Paper trading is an amazing feature that’s been created to help people start trading without having to spend any real money to do so. It has become incredibly popular recently, especially among newcomers to the trading world. It’s often available on both web apps and phone apps, depending on your brokerage.
Basically, it’s a simulation using fake money but based on real-time charts and stock prices. It allows one to practice trading on all fronts. If you aren’t familiar with your broker’s interface and want to learn without risking losing money on a dumb technical mistake, this is perfect.
Additionally, your trades are recorded and profit-loss calculated so that you can see how you’re actually doing, or would do in a real-life trade. Once you’ve got the hang of it and are making consistent profits, you can always switch over to the real trading account.
TD Ameritrade and Webull both offer paper trading. Robinhood does not.
Let’s talk about signup bonuses. You will find that Webull and Robinhood offer you free stock for signing up for their brokerages. TD Ameritrade, on the other hand, does not.
I received my stocks from Webull, worth about a total of $10, so that was quite nice.
But I don’t specifically remember getting any free stock from Robinhood upon signing up. Perhaps I didn’t sign on when there was a bonus going on, but it’s personally not a dealbreaker for me. However, it’s a great incentive to try out a new platform.
You’ll certainly want to read the fine print to see the quantity and specific stock that you will be given if these bonuses are the reason for your sign-up.
Finally, there are differences in customer service. You will notice that Ameritrade has significantly more customer service resources than Webull or Robinhood. You also have the option to chat with them live through ThinkOrSwim during trading hours, which is extremely useful when you have questions about your account.
While Webull and Robinhood provide some limited customer support, Ameritrade tends to be more responsive. In fact, Ameritrade also offers physical branches across the country. That’s how you know they’re a serious contender.
If customer service is an important variable for you, you may want to more seriously consider TD Ameritrade over these two alternatives.
Personally, I have all three. And if I had to rank them from best to worst, it would be the following:
- TD Ameritrade ranks #1 due to its Active Trader which prevents me from price slippage, as well as its plethora of features developed over the years.
- Webull ranks #2 due to its ease of execution on mobile and relatively great features considering that it is a mobile app.
- Robinhood ranks #3 due to its simple graphic interface, but it seems to have the worst slippage out of the three.
TD Ameritrade is my go-to at the moment due to the fact that I like to day trade and I always want the best prices. I try not to trade options because of the commissions involved, but I still do so every once in a while. And when I do, I always make sure that I factor in the commissions when making a trade.
That makes ThinkOrSwim perfect for me, and if you’re in the same situation I am in, I highly recommend this one above the others. It also forces you to trade on desktop more often, which gives you better prices indirectly through the Active Trader feature within TOS.
As far as the gap between Webull vs. Robinhood, Webull Ieads by leaps and bounds. The interface may seem more complex at first, but once you get the hang of it, the execution of trades is a lot faster than Robinhood. You’ll rarely ever see me recommending Robinhood as a first-time app. I’d rather you start with a slightly more complex mobile app if need be, and do things right the first time around.
What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with the ranking? Let me know, I’d love to hear from you!