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Written by Kevin Mercadante on January 14, 2021
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Top 6 Brokerages For Pre-Market/After Hours Trading In 2021

Before online banking became a thing, people often complain about “banker’s hours." That term refers to the fact that banks typically don’t open until 9:00 AM, and then close their doors by 5:00 PM.

Since those are the hours most people are at work, access to a bank branch was extremely limited – you usually had to take time off work to get your banking done. But that changed with online banking.

The same is true of the stock exchanges. They open at 9:30 AM, and closed by 4:00 PM, which is even more restrictive than banker’s hours. For that reason, many brokerage firms now offer both pre-market trading and after-hours trading.

The combination of the two extends the trading day to accommodate the work schedules of the majority of people.

And in the process, it may even give you an edge in trading more profitably. That is, if you know how to take full advantage, and you’re working with a broker that provides extended hours trading.

What Is Pre-Market Trading?

Pre-market trading – and it’s end-of-day cousin, after-hours trading – are collectively referred to as extended trading hours.

Since the stock exchange is open, Monday through Friday, from 9:30 AM through 4:00 PM, Eastern time, pre-market trading gives you the ability to place trades before the market opens. And at the end of the day, after-hours trading allows you to place trades after the market is closed.

Many brokers offer extended trading hours, but there are wide differences in starting and ending times. For example, some brokers are open for trading as early as 4:00 AM, while others offer only a narrow window before opening, with pre-market trading, beginning at 9:00 AM.

The situation is similar with after-hours trading. Some brokers allow you to trade as late as 6:00 PM, and others going all the way to 8:00 PM.

Both pre-market and after-hours trading are important for two significant reasons:

  1. They provide extra time, either before the market opens or after it closes, to better accommodate those who are unable to trade during the regular trading day, and may not have access to online trading during on the job.
  2. Major news stories are often released before the stock exchanges open or after they close.

Two examples are earnings releases and economic news, like GDP, employment, and retail sales. The Federal Reserve often makes major announcements between the market close on Fridays and market opening on Monday mornings.

All can have a major impact on the direction of the market or on individual securities. Extended hours trading will give you the ability to react to those announcements, either before the market opens or after it closes.

With that information in mind, below is a list of what we believe to be the six best brokerages offering pre-market and after-hours trading.

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1. Robinhood

Robinhood as an on-the-go trading app, enabling you to trade securities commission-free and on-the-fly.

Its major specializations include short term trading and investing in cryptocurrencies. The app has proven itself to be especially popular among investors in their 20s and 30s, who are most comfortable with the mobile emphasis. However, it’s an investment app for experienced, self-directed investors, since it offers little in the way of investment tools and resources, and very limited customer service.

Pre-market trading begins at 9:00 AM, and after-hours trading continues until 6:00 PM, Monday through Friday, Eastern time.

Robinhood Basic Features

  • Minimum Initial Investment: None.
  • Available accounts: Individual taxable investment accounts only.
  • Investments offered: Individual stocks, ETFs, options, and American Depositary Receipts (ADRs) for investment in foreign stocks. Also offers investing in cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin.
  • Fees: No commissions.
  • Customer support: By email only, no phone support.

Robinhood Pros

  • No trading fees, though fees to apply to trading foreign stocks through ADRs.
  • You can open an account with no money at all.
  • Specifically accommodates short term trading.
  • You can also trade cryptocurrencies.

Robinhood Cons

  • Customer support is very limited.
  • Robinhood is not a full-service investment platform, and is lean on investor tools and research resources
  • The platform offers limited securities, for example, excluding mutual funds or bonds.
  • No IRA accounts are offered.

2. Webull

Webull is a trading app designed specifically for younger users. But it’s also directed primarily at self-directed investors, who don’t need broker assistance or a large amount of educational resources.

It’s primarily for trading of stocks, ETFs and options, though foreign stocks are available through American depositary receipts (ADRs). The app also allows margin trading.

Webull offers pre-market trading from 4:00 AM to 9:30 AM, and after-hours trading from 4:00 PM 8:00 PM (all times Eastern).

Webull Basic Features

  • Minimum Initial Investment: None.
  • Available accounts: Individual taxable brokerage accounts, and traditional, Roth and rollover IRAs.
  • Investments offered: Stocks, ETFs, options, ADRs and cryptocurrencies.
  • Fees: None.
  • Customer support: Live chat through the app, email, and limited phone support.

Webull Pros

  • Fast, commission-free trades of stocks, ETFs and options.
  • One of the few brokerage platforms that offers trading in cryptocurrencies.
  • Designed for active traders.
  • Easy to use investment app.

Webull Cons

  • Limited investment selection – does not offer bonds or mutual funds.
  • Individual accounts only, joint accounts are not permitted.
  • Education and investor tools are limited.

3. Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab logo

Given that Charles Schwab is pretty much good in everything, it’s not possible to identify specifically what they do best.

If it’s possible to say, it may be in the area of customer support. They offer 24/7 live support, as well as a network of branches in and around major cities across the country. Schwab offers virtually unlimited investment options, and is suitable for both self-directed investors, as well as anyone interested in a managed portfolio option.

Pre-market trading is available from 7:00 AM to 9:25 AM, and after-hours trading runs from 4:05 PM until 8:00 PM, all times Eastern.

Charles Schwab Basic Features

  • Minimum Initial Investment: None.
  • Available accounts: Joint and individual taxable investment accounts; traditional, Roth, rollover, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs; Solo 401(k)’s, trusts and custodial accounts.
  • Investments offered: Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures and CDs.
  • Fees: Commission-free trades of stocks, options, and ETFs; more than 4,000 commission-free mutual funds.
  • Customer support: 24/7 by phone, email and live chat.

Charles Schwab Pros

  • Schwab is the largest investment broker in the world, which validates its status as one of the top trading platforms in the industry.
  • No minimum initial investment required.
  • Trade among more than 4,000 commission-free mutual funds.
  • Offers both self-directed investing and a managed investment option.
  • 24-hour customer service as well as branches located throughout the country.

Charles Schwab Cons

  • High fees for broker-assisted trades, at $25.

4. Fidelity

fidelity logo

As the second-largest investment brokerage firm in the world, and Schwab’s primary competitor, the two platforms are just about equal in almost every regard.

Fidelity can accommodate investors at all levels, but is also well suited to both self-directed investors and those looking for managed investment options. And again, like Schwab, they offer top-notch customer service, 24 hours a day, seven days per week. They have a network of several hundred branches around the country, in case you like good old-fashioned face-to-face contact with your investing activities.

Pre-market trading is available from 7:00 AM to 9:28 AM, and after-hours trading runs from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM, all times Eastern.

Fidelity Basic Features

  • Minimum Initial Investment: None.
  • Available accounts: Joint and individual taxable investment accounts; traditional, Roth, rollover, SEP and SIMPLE IRAs; Solo 401(k)’s,
  • Investments offered: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, and other securities.
  • Fees: Commission-free trades of stocks, options, and ETFs; more than 3,000 commission-free mutual funds.
  • Customer support: 24/7 by phone, email and live chat.

Fidelity Pros

  • No minimum initial investment required.
  • Highly diversified brokerage firm that can easily accommodate everyone from new investors to the most advanced.
  • Commission-free trades on most investments.
  • 24-hour customer service with branches across the country.
  • Top notch research and investment tools.

Fidelity Cons

  • High commission on non-Fidelity funds, at $49.95 on purchases.

5. Firstrade

Firstrade is another highly rated investment platform.

It provides comprehensive research from some of the top providers in the financial industry, including Morningstar, Zacks, and Benzinga. But what might be the most outstanding feature of this platform is that they offer trading in over 11,000 mutual funds, commission-free. Most other brokers charge fees on mutual funds.

It’s also an excellent platform if you want to trade options, since it’s one of the few brokerages that charge no contract fee, in addition to being commission-free.

Firstrade offers pre-market trading from 8:00 AM to 9:25 AM, and after-hours trading from 4:05 PM to 8:00 PM, Monday through Friday, Eastern time.

Firstrade Basic Features

  • Minimum Initial Investment: None.
  • Available accounts: Individual and joint taxable brokerage accounts; traditional, Roth, rollover, SIMPLE and SEP IRAs; trust, custodial and business accounts.
  • Investments offered: Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, OTC penny stocks and options.
  • Fees: Commission-free trades on stocks, ETFs and options and mutual funds.
  • Customer support: By phone, email and live chat, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern time.

Firstrade Pros

  • Commission-free mutual funds, in addition to stocks, ETFs and options.
  • No contract fee on options trades.

Firstrade Cons

  • Cannot trade foreign stocks.
  • Lacks 24/7 customer service capability.

6. TradeStation

tradestation logo

TradeStation is widely acknowledged to be one of the top investment platforms for both advanced and active traders.

Part of that reputation owes to the fact that TradeStation was designed specifically for professional and institutional traders. They offer all types of investment options, including cryptocurrencies. And if you like trading mutual funds, their commissions are among the lowest in the industry.

TradeStation offers pre-market trading, from 8:00 AM to 9:30 AM, and after-hours, from 4:00 PM until 8:00 PM, all times Eastern.

TradeStation Basic Features

  • Minimum Initial Investment: None, but $2,000 for a Select account.
  • Available accounts: Individual and joint taxable brokerage accounts; traditional, Roth, SIMPLE and SEP IRAs.
  • Investments offered: Stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, options, futures and cryptocurrencies.
  • Fees: Commission free trades on stocks, ETFs and options; $14.95 per mutual funds.
  • Customer support: By phone and live chat, Monday through Thursday, 7:30 AM to 6:30 PM, and Fridays, 7:30 AM to 5:00 PM, all times Eastern.

TradeStation Pros

  • Top-rated trading platform.
  • Superior tools and research capabilities.
  • You can participate in a trader community where you can swap strategies and information.
  • Offers trading in cryptocurrencies.

TradeStation Cons

  • No commission-free mutual funds offered.
  • Not the best choice for new or lightly experienced investors.
  • Charges an annual IRA fee of $35.

Bottom Line

Given that so much information that could have a material effect on the markets and on individual securities takes place before the stock exchanges open, or after they close, it’s practically a necessity to hold your investments with a broker that offers extended hours trading.

Whether it’s to better accommodate a tight work schedule, or to give you time to react to off-hours news, extended hours trading can have a direct impact on your investing profits.

best pre and post market trading brokerages
Article written by Kevin Mercadante
Kevin Mercadante is a freelance professional web content writer for hire, and the owner of his own personal finance blog, OutOfYourRut.com. He has extensive backgrounds in both accounting and the mortgage industry. In fact, it was his career crash-and-burn from the mortgage business in 2008 that led him into blogging and freelance professional web content writing. Kevin and his family live in New Hampshire, after long stints in New Jersey and Georgia.

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