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Written by Ryan Scribner on November 5, 2020
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Webull vs Firstrade 2020: Best Free Investing Platform?

Over the last decade, the commissions for trading stocks have tremendously decreased, and in many cases, it is now completely free to trade stocks.

In the past, it was not uncommon to pay $10 or more to place trades. Now, trading commissions are largely a thing of the past. There are countless services now offering commission-free trading. For the average retail investor, there has never been a better time to invest with these free cutting-edge platforms.

Fierce competition for investors has driven significant innovation and new features from all platforms.

These advances in technology and systems have allowed platforms like Webull to thrive. In this article, we will be comparing this new trading platform, Webull, to an older platform known as Firstrade that recently decided to follow suit and go commission-free. Webull is the new kid on the block, offering an advanced - research-oriented - trading platform.

Here we compare Webull vs Firstrade to see how they stack up against one another.

Firstrade vs Webull: Summary

  • The Firstrade platform has been around since 1985, and it shows! Webull has a much better app design.
  • If you are looking for accounts besides the individual taxable/retirement accounts, Firstrade offers a variety of accounts including international.
  •  Webull offers research tools above and beyond Firstrade, making it a better platform for intermediate to advanced traders. 
  • Firstrade is more of a beginner-friendly trading platform.
  •  Dividend investors will lean towards Firstrade, as they offer a DRIP. 
  • Webull accepts US investors only while Firstrade allows investors from 20 different countries to invest in US markets.
  •  Firstrade does not have any sign up incentive. 
  • Webull offers a free stock if you use our link!
  • Both Webull and Firstrade have $0 minimums and $0 commissions.
  • Both offer commission-free options trading.
  • You will find mutual funds on Firstrade, which you will not find on Webull.
FeatureWebullFirstrade
Minimum Investment$0$0
Trading Commissions$0$0
AssetsStocks, ETFs, Options, Short SellingStocks, Bonds, Mutual Funds, ETFs, Options
Research ToolsAdvancedAdvanced
Sign Up Incentive1 Free StockNone
International AccountsNoYes
Dividend ReinvestmentNoYes
Best ForIntermediate TradersBeginner Traders

What Is Webull?

Webull is a free stock trading app that can allow you to earn compound interest by investing in the stock market.

Webull is a commission-free stock and ETF trading platform.

Webull is designed for the active trader who is looking for a more dynamic user interface. This platform has a variety of features that benefit traders such as technical indicators, research agency ratings, financial calendars, and free margin trading as well as short selling.

With easy access to margin, research tools, and live data, Webull has built an ideal platform for active traders. Check out our detailed review of Webull here.

Webull is a platform that is designed for the intermediate trader who already has some experience with the stock market. If you are a complete beginner, you might experience information overload. If you are a somewhat experienced trader, Webull will give you all of the data you will likely need. Beginners may find that Robinhood is easier to get started with.

Webull Summary

  • Trading Fees: $0 trading of stocks, ETFs, ADRs and options
  • Account Types: Individual, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA
  • Account Minimums: $0
  • Top Features: Free trading, commission-free short selling, real-time market data, excellent mobile app

Webull Free Stock Promotion!

If you sign up via our link below, you will get a FREE stock! After signing up, you'll just need to fund the account with at least $100 and you'll receive a stock worth up to $1,650!

We mentioned the fierce competition between these apps for customers and this is one of the ways that competition benefits us as investors.

Webull Features

Commission-Free Trading

Webull offers commission-free trading for stocks, ETFs, and options. In addition to a $0 account minimum, Webull is an extremely accessible platform for investors with a focus on fees.

Investors on Webull are also able to purchase ADRs or "American Depositary Receipts" commission-free that allow US investors to purchase shares in foreign companies.

Real-Time Market Data

Webull offers real-time market data for all US markets. This ensures you are viewing consistent real prices in real-time, making sure you are making the right investment decisions based on accurate data. This feature is essential for active traders who need price accuracy down to the penny.

Most platforms charge for this level of market data. However, Webull offers this completely free. You can pay for a subscription to view real-time global market data.

webull real time market data. The webull app shows real time pricing of securities.

Technical Indicators

Webull has a variety of technical indicators available on the platform. You can choose from up to 22 technical indicators such as moving averages, relative strength indexes, and more.

These will provide active traders with the ability to quickly made decisions about their positions all within the Webull platform.

Webull Desktop 4.0

In addition to their mobile app, Webull also offers a desktop platform for investors to take advantage of. This platform is called Webull Desktop 4.0 and is one of the most comprehensive free trading stations out there.

On this platform, you will have a stock screener that will allow you to sift through thousands of stocks in seconds. By screening through dozens of criteria, you can quickly find potential investments that align with your goals.

Additionally, the advanced charting tools will allow you to pursue in-depth trading strategies. Active traders will feel right at home with the features they find on the desktop platform.

Virtual Trading Simulator

Webull has a useful feature called the virtual trading simulator. This feature lets you create a virtual portfolio with fake money to test out strategies before risking real money. This is an ideal feature for someone just starting out, who may need to gain more investing knowledge and know how, before investing real money.

Each Webull users gets a practice portfolio with $1,000,000 of fake money. This allows you to familiarize yourself with the app risk-free!

webull trading simulator

Stock Lending Income Program

This program allows Webull users to generate income from stocks held in their portfolio by allowing Webull to lend them out to short sellers. While your stocks are loaned out, you'll be able to earn daily interest based on current interest rates.

Lending your stocks to Webull can be an effective way to create more cash flow from your portfolio without adding much more risk.

Agency Ratings

Another feature offered by Webull is the ability to track and see expert analyst ratings on individual stocks. Rated stocks will have several ratings by professional rating agencies and firms. They will rank the company as a buy, sell, or hold and sometimes ratings in between.

The screenshot below shows a company with 40 analyst ratings as well as the trend over time. Institutional analyst ratings can give you an idea of what Wall Street is saying about a particular company or fund.

The Webull app gives you access to agency ratings. Check what the institutional investors think of a company on the webull agency rating feature.

After Hours Trading

Webull offers after-hours and pre-market trading. You can trade securities from 4 am to 8 pm EST Monday to Friday on the Webull platform offering more flexibility in placing trades. Most platforms out there only allow you to place trades while the market is open.

Keep in mind that stock can be particularly volatile before and after the markets are open. There is typically less trading going on during these periods.

Webull Pros

  • Modern mobile app with better functionality
  • Advanced desktop platform provides comprehensive trading station
  • Commission-free trading for stocks, ETFs, and options
  • Free short selling on the platform
  • Access to tax-advantaged retirement accounts
  • Free access to real-time market data
  • Virtual trading simulator allows paper trading with $1,000,000 in fake money
  • After-hours trading provides a wider trading window for all investors
  • Free stock when you sign up

Webull Cons

  • Interface can be intimidating for newer traders
  • No access to fractional shares
  • Newer platform doesn't have as long of a track record
  • Only available to US investors

What Is Firstrade?

Firstrade is another commission-free trading platform that is growing in popularity. Through this brokerage, you can trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options with zero commissions. Similar to Webull, Firstrade has a $0 minimum account balance meaning you can open an account with any amount of money.

Firstrade is a time-tested brokerage, dating back to 1985. They recently made the decision to follow others by going the commission-free route. They provide investors and traders with a platform to place trades as well as helpful tools and resources.

Firstrade Summary

  • Trading Fees: $0 for stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and options
  • Account Types: taxable, joint, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, SEP IRA, Simple IRA, Trusts, Custodial, Partnerships, and checking accounts
  • Account Minimums: $0 for brokerage account, $2,000 for margin accounts, $25,000 for day trading accounts
  • Top Features: Free trading, available to international investors in over 20 countries, beginner-friendly platform

Firstrade Features

Investments Offered

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Bonds
  • Mutual Funds
  • Options

DRIP

Through this platform, you can set up a DRIP or dividend reinvestment plan. This will automatically reinvest your dividends back into the issuing stock. Right now, this is limited to stocks that trade over $4 per share. You can enable or disable this DRIP feature at any time.

The advantage of a dividend reinvestment plan is that it ensures that as much of your cash as possible is working for you. Instead of just sitting in your account, it is automatically put back into the markets to continue to grow.

This allows investors to take advantage of the power of compound interest to grow their portfolios. You also have the option to take your dividends as cash if you want to generate income from your portfolio.

Retirement Accounts

Both Webull and Firstrade offer 100% free retirement accounts. Firstrade offers traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Simple IRA.

These accounts provide investors with significant tax savings provided you keep the money in your account until retirement. If you withdraw your cash early, you'll likely be hit with penalties that may significantly eat away at your gains.

However, if you leave your investments to grow until retirement, you may end up with no taxes whatsoever on your earnings.

Cash Management Accounts

Firstrade offers a cash management account for users that have a minimum of $25,000 invested. You can write checks and use a debit card within your cash account, all for no annual fee. These funds will sit within your regular brokerage account. Cash management gives you the flexibility to access and spend your money within your Firstrade account.

This can be particularly useful for investors looking to streamline their finances and keep everything in one place.

Firstrade investing platform.

Firstrade Screener

They give investors a variety of different screening tools. This includes criteria like market capitalization, dividend yield, PE ratio, and many more.

This allows you to quickly filter through thousands of potential investments and arrive at a shortlist that exactly match your criteria for investment, saving you time and helping you get ahead of upcoming trends.

Options Wizard

For traders interested in buying and selling options, Firstrade's Options Wizard will likely be a useful tool.

Using advanced analytics, you're able to turn market data into actionable information and evaluate options trades. Within the Options Wizard, you can view support and resistance levels, run profit and loss simulations, and apply dozens of other tools.

Investors should recognize that options trading involves a significant amount of risk which should be fully understood before getting involved.

Account Protection

Firstrade is a member of FINRA and SIPC, which will insure up to $500,000 in securities if there is any unauthorized activity within your account. This does not protect you from losses that result from any investments that you make.

Research and Data

Firstrade offers a variety of market and company-specific research available for free to its users. Investors can access data from Morningstar, Zacks, and Benzinga. Firstrade also holds bi-weekly webinars to help beginner investors educate themselves about investing.

International Accounts

Firstrade is one of the only platforms that offer international accounts. This allows investors from all over the world to invest in the US market. Right now, this is limited to around 20 foreign countries.

This is a rare feature for a free investing app, most of which only serve investors in the US. For foreign investors, Firstrade will likely be one of your only options when it comes to investing apps.

Firstrade Pros

  • Wider investment selection including mutual funds and bonds
  • Access for international investors to buy US stocks
  • Dividend reinvestment plan allows investors to take advantage of compound interest
  • Commission-free trades for stocks, bonds, ETFs, and options

Firstrade Cons

  • Older and outdated user interface and app
  • Limited customer support options

Webull vs Firstrade: The Verdict

Both of these platforms offer a high-quality stock trading experience for free.

One area where both are lacking in customer service, but that is what you expect when using a free trading platform. If you want someone you can call on the phone, you are better off going with an online discount broker that charges commissions for trades.

Firstrade is an excellent platform for those looking for different account types, particularly international accounts. However, the trading platform itself is a bit outdated. Traders looking for the best overall platform will likely find that Webull has better offerings. Webull also has better data and technical indicators for traders.

What it really comes down to is whether you will be investing for the long haul or trading stocks. If you are looking to trade stocks, for example, day trading, Webull is a better option. If you are looking to invest for the long term and follow a more passive strategy, Firstrade is a great option for this.

At the end of the day, both are completely free, so you could always try them both and see what one you like better!

Webull Free Stock Promotion!

If you sign up via our link, you will get a free stock! After signing up, you'll just need to fund the account with at least $100 and you'll receive a stock worth up to $1,650!

Keep Reading

webull vs firstrade
Article written by Ryan Scribner
Ryan Scribner is a personal finance YouTuber that is approaching 500,000 subscribers on his channel. He has created a thriving business around his passion, which is helping others navigate the complicated world of investing.

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