Written by Logan Robison on September 24, 2020
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Webull vs TD Thinkorswim vs M1 Finance 2020: Best Platform?

When it comes to investing in the stock market, one of the first steps is deciding which brokerage to go with. This is the platform you will be using to facilitate your stock trades.

Webull, thinkorswim, and M1 Finance are each popular brokerage accounts. But which is the best for you?

In this comparison, we will be looking at how these three stack up against each other. This will help you to make an informed decision about what one to use. While these are all vastly different investing platforms, each one can play a primary role in giving an investor a leg up.

In some cases, you may find that a combination of multiple of these platforms makes sense for your investment needs.

FeatureWebullthinkorswimM1 Finance
Trading Commissions$0$0$0
Minimum Deposit$0$0$100 ($500 for retirement)
Fractional SharesNoNoYes
Account TypesTaxable, RetirementTaxableTaxable, Retirement, SEP, Checking
DataAdvancedAdvancedBasic
Best ForBeginnersExpert investorsLong-term investors

Summary: Webull vs thinkorswim vs M1 Finance

  • Both Webull and thinkorswim have no account minimums
  • M1 Finance requires $100 for brokerage accounts and $500 for retirement accounts
  • All three platforms are available with zero commission fees
  • Webull is great for new investors with its user-friendly mobile app and desktop platform
  • thinkorswim is focused on more experienced investors with FED data and several visuals and tools for analysis
  • M1 Finance favors longer-term investors since it has only one trading window per day, two with M1 Plus
  • Webull and thinkorswim are designed for active trading
  • M1 Finance is designed for passive, long term investing
  • Webull offers new users 1 free stock 

What Is Webull?

This popular brokerage was on the forefront of commission-free stock and ETFs.

Webull founders were on a mission to break down barriers that prevented beginners from entering the market. Founded in 2017, Webull has risen head and shoulders above competitors with its stellar, user-driven trading platform.

Key Features

Although similar to other mobile-only trading platforms like Robinhood, Webull offers outstanding features other leading brokerages lack. Mainly, they offer data and research tools above and beyond what other free investing apps offer.

Commission-Free Trades

There are no commissions for trading stocks, ETFs or options with Webull. They also offer taxable and retirement accounts with a $0 minimum.

There is a $2,000 minimum account balance for margin trading.

Retirement Account Options

Webull retirement options include Traditional, Roth, or Rollover IRAs. These options are a great way to get a jump start on saving for your golden years while saving on taxes and sets Webull apart as a brokerage account with appeal to a wider swath of investors.

One of the common gripes about the commission free trading app Robinhood is that they do not offer retirement accounts.

webull trading simulator

Paper Trading With Play Money

Go ahead and try your hand at investing without the risk.

Webull offers all users a trading simulator where you have $1,000,000 of fake money to trade with. This allows you to take this app for a test drive before committing. It also allows you to familiarize yourself with the app without risking your money.

Data & Research Tools

The main thing that sets Webull apart from other brokerages is that they are a research and data oriented platform. You will find a wide variety of advanced tools and data all in a very user-friendly app. In many cases, you won't need to go anywhere else to get the indicators and information you need to make trades.

That being said, all of this data available at your fingertips might make this a bit overwhelming for a beginner.

Extended Hours Trading

Typically when buying and selling stocks, you're limited to only trading during market hours of 9:30am EST to 4:00pm EST.

With Webull, you're able to extend that trading window to 4:00am - 8:00pm EST. Keep in mind that stock prices tend to be more volatile outside of normal trading hours because there are typically less trades happening.

Webull Pros

  • Advanced research helps traders make quick decisions
  • Stock screener allows traders to hone in on potential investments in seconds
  • Access to commission-free stock, ETF, and options trading
  • Ability to take advantage of tax-deferred retirement accounts
  • Paper trading helps beginners learn the basics in a low-stakes setting

Webull Cons

  • No fractional shares on the platform
  • No rebalancing offered on the platform

What Is thinkorswim?

thinkorswim is another outstanding product produced by the investing powerhouse, TD Ameritrade.

However, right off the bat, the user interface is not as clean as the other highlighted brokerage accounts in this review. That is because TD Ameritrade primarily focuses on more experienced investors, though thinkorswim is a valiant attempt to forge ahead into new customer segments.

With thinkorswim you will pay zero commissions for online stocks, ETFs, and Options.

One of the benefits of choosing TD Ameritrade is that you can find local branches that you can call or visit to ask questions. There are 250+ branches to choose from.

With thinkorswim, you have the freedom to trade equities, options, ETFs, futures, forex, options on futures, and more.

thinkorswim

Key Features

Thinkorswim offers a number of unique features to traders on the platform.

Paper Money

One of the best features of the thinkorswim desktop version is the paper trading. When you sign up for paper trading, you will get $100,000 in virtual money to wheel and deal.

This allows you to practice trading with no risk of losing real money.

Making A Connection

Chat rooms are also open for you to talk with other traders, share notes on what has worked for them (and what hasn't!) and keep up to date on recent news.

You can also find social media sentiment reports so you can see where your stocks line up according to social media buzz.

For The Experts Among Us

Thinkorswim gives traders access to 400+ technical tools ranging from support and resistance to candlestick and profile. Traders can add visuals to charts using a range of 20 drawings, including eight Fibonacci tools.

You can even build your own algorithms with thinkScript.

Thinkorswim Pros

  • Access to local branches and real people to talk to
  • Chat rooms allow you to connect with other traders and learn from their experiences
  • Wide array of advanced tools and indicators to take advantage of

Thinkorswim Cons

  • Advanced interface will be intimidating for complete beginners
  • Not well-suited for buy-and-hold investors

What Is M1 Finance?

This platform sets itself apart by offering a platform based on three key financial management tools: Investing, Borrowing, and Cash Management.

However, while there is a $100 minimum for initial investments with brokerage accounts and $500 for retirement accounts. There are no commission fees on any of the 6,000 stocks and ETFs that trade.

That being said, there is just one trading window per day, two if you pay for M1 Plus.

M1 Finance’s striking value is letting you create your own custom portfolio and automate it. If you want a portfolio strictly built on eCommerce companies, you can build a portfolio of Amazon, Shopify, eBay and the like. You can determine the percentage allocation and adjust over time.

If creating your own portfolio isn’t your style, use one of M1 Finance’s 30+ expert-built portfolios.

M1 Finance has the best features for passive, long term investing. However, it is not ideal for active trading.

Fractional Shares

Instead of purchasing whole shares of companies, you can purchase fractional shares. This significantly lowers the barrier to entry for new investors that don't have tens of thousands to invest with.

By taking advantage of fractional shares, you can easily create a diversified portfolio for under $1,000!

M1 Finance Free Training

We put together a free 30 minute video training that walks you through the entire process, step by step.
This training will help you get up and running in no time at all.
Get The Guide

Rebalancing Tools

Put your worries to rest about your allocations getting out of balance. There's automatic or one-click rebalancing in place to make sure when you allocate 10% of your portfolio to one stock, it stays at 10% with automatic rebalancing.

Keep in mind, using the one-click rebalancing could lead to a taxable event within your portfolio.

Dividends can also be automatically reinvested, and when this occurs your portfolio is rebalanced too.

M1 Investing Options

Dividend Reinvestment Program

M1 offers all users the ability to take advantage of a portfolio-level DRIP. A DRIP takes the dividends that your stocks pay and automatically invests them back into your portfolio to buy more shares of stock.

This ensures that you don't have extra cash sitting on the sidelines and allows you to take full advantage of compound interest.

M1 Borrow

If you are looking to borrow money from your portfolio, check out M1 Borrow.

Once you have $10K invested with M1 Finance, you qualify for line of credit with up to 35% of the portfolio’s value. Other debt options are as follows below:

  • Credit card
  • Student Loan
  • HELOC
  • Auto Loan
  • Mortgage

M1 Spend

As an M1 FInance user, you'll have access to a checking account and debit card that you can take advantage of to make M1 Finance the central hub of all of your financial activities.

By setting up direct deposit into your M1 Spend account and allocating funds directly into your investments, you can follow the age-old wisdom of paying yourself first. This removes much of the discipline required to be a consistent investor over time and will ensure that you're dollar-cost averaging over time.

Additionally, M1 Plus users ($125 per year upgrade) will receive an above-average interest rate on the cash held in their account and 1% cash back on all purchases made on their debit card.

M1 Finance Pros

  • Automatic rebalancing ensures you are buying low and selling high
  • Tax-minimization features keep your portfolio efficient
  • Free access to a wide array or retirement and trust accounts
  • Ability to buy fractional shares
  • Access to borrowing against your portfolio at a low interest rate
  • Free checking account and debit card to keep all your finances in one place

M1 Finance Cons

  • One trading window per day makes active trading not feasible
  • $100 minimum balance to start ($500 for retirement accounts)

The Verdict: thinkorswim vs M1 Finance vs Webull

At the end of the day, these platforms are all very unique.

M1 Finance is designed for passive, long-term investing. The automatic rebalancing tools and dividend reinvestment options are very popular. That being said, there is only one trading window per day (two with M1 Plus). If you are looking to trade stocks with precision, this is not the brokerage for you.

M1 also provides the infrastructure to serve as the central hub for your personal finances through offering a checking account, debit card, and access to credit. For an individual looking to simplify and streamline their finances, these features could be very attractive.

Webull and thinkorswim are both designed for active traders. You will find more advanced tools and features with thinkorswim, but Webull has a more user friendly experience.

If you are looking to do some long-term investing and some active trading, it might make sense to use both M1 Finance and one of the other two for your trading.

Keep Reading:

Webull vs thinkorswim vs M1 finance
Article written by Logan Robison
Logan graduated with a degree in finance from Brigham Young University and currently works as a financial analyst for a large retailer. His love for personal finance inspired him to start a YouTube channel, Finance for Normals, where he hopes to give everyday people the basic finance knowledge they need to succeed.

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