WellsTrade® review 2021

Bankrate senior reporter James F. Royal, Ph.D., covers investing and wealth management. His work has been cited by CNBC, the Washington Post, The New York Times and more.

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WellsTrade Logo

Best For

  • Wells Fargo customers
  • Buy-and-hold investing
  • Low commissions on stocks and ETFs

WellsTrade is one of the handful of brokers that is attached to a parent bank — in this case one of the world’s largest banks, Wells Fargo. You’ll feel that influence in numerous ways, but overall it seems like the brokerage is a somewhat-overlooked part of the larger bank’s product portfolio. For example, active traders needing a robust trading platform or a more dynamic brokerage will do well to look elsewhere, despite WellsTrade’s $0 commissions on stocks and ETFs. Yet it will work fine for many clients, especially less demanding investors, those focused on long-term buy-and-hold investing and those Wells Fargo customers looking to expand their relationship.

WellsTrade at a glance

Star Rating

  • Cost: 3 of 5
  • Accounts and trading: 3 of 5
  • Research and Education: 3 of 5
  • Mobile: 3 of 5
  • Customer Experience: 4 of 5
  • Minimum Balance:
  • Cost per stock trade:
  • Cost per options trade:
    $5.95 + $0.75 per contract
  • Promotion:
  • Commission-free mutual funds or ETFs:
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds:
    2,100+ NTF mutual funds
  • Securities tradable:
    Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs
  • Customer service:
    Phone 24/7, email
  • Account fees:
    $30 annual fee but can be avoided by enrolling in e-delivery et al, $95 IRA distribution fee, $95 outgoing transfer fee
  • Mobile app:
    WellsTrade offers the “WellsTrade Mobile” app on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.

Top feature you'll love

Integration with Wells Fargo

One of the biggest reasons to select WellsTrade is its integration with Wells Fargo's banking operations, so you’ll be able to see your whole financial life at one company. There’s a real benefit to this kind of consolidation, and companies such as Wells do a good job offering small perks that encourage this kind of consolidation. 

Another advantage of aggregating your accounts is quick money delivery from a bank account to a brokerage account, or vice versa. That works substantially faster than a typical transfer from a bank to a separate broker, and you’ll have ready access to your cash for trading. On top of that, it’s just easier to have multiple accounts with one financial institution. 

Pros: Where WellsTrade stands out

Low commissions

Like most of the industry, WellsTrade has moved to $0 commissions for stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trades. That’s a substantial savings over the broker's former commission of $5.95 per trade and even the former discounted commission of $2.95 for customers who linked their Wells Fargo bank accounts. But now that discount only brings Wells in line with virtually every other online broker, so it’s not a differentiator as it would have been before.

Clients should note that WellsTrade's lower commissions are only available for stock and ETF trades, and do not apply to options trades (more below).  

Account minimum

WellsTrade requires no account minimum, a very investor-friendly move from a brokerage that doesn’t always have the most investor-friendly policies (more below). But no account minimum is the standard for the industry now. So while it’s nice to have, it doesn’t do much to differentiate the broker from its rivals.

No-transaction-fee mutual funds

WellsTrade offers a solid selection of mutual funds without a transaction fee — at about 2,100 in total. That gives you plenty of choice when you’re searching for the fund you need. 

However, many funds from top companies such as Vanguard are not offered without a sales commission ($35). But you will find a large selection of no-transaction-fee funds from brokerage rival Fidelity Investments, though not its ZERO funds, which don’t charge a management fee.

The fund screener looks and feels pretty basic, with some key search criteria (fund family, Morningstar rating, expenses and asset class, among others) but it works well enough.   

Quick comparison of Brokerage options:
Brokerage Overall Rating Avg. Cost Per Trade Accounts and Trading
WellsTrade logo
$0 3 of 5
Ally Invest® review 2022 logo Read Our Review
$0 4 of 5
TD Ameritrade® review 2022 logo Read Our Review
$0 5 of 5
Vanguard® review 2022 logo Read Our Review
$0 3.5 of 5

Cons: Where WellsTrade could improve

Other trading commissions

While WellsTrade has dropped its commissions for stock and ETF trades, its prices for other types of trades have remained the same. For example, its commission on options trades remains stuck at a $5.95 base commission plus $0.75 per contract. And not only is the base commission higher than those of online rivals, so is the per-contract fee, by $0.10 to $0.25 over typical pricing. Now WellsTrade sits at the high end of the industry, lower than only Vanguard among major brokers, depending on exactly how you measure it.

And those looking to trade penny stocks priced less than $1 will face a stiff fee of the greater of $34.95 or 3.5 percent of their principal for each trade. So WellsTrade is not the place to trade these stocks.

If you’re looking at mutual funds, you’ll have to pony up $35 per trade. With a narrower selection of fee-free funds and higher commissions, Wells Trade won’t be the cheapest place to invest in mutual funds.

Account fees

When it comes to account fees, WellsTrade is not especially investor-friendly. The broker charges a $30 annual fee for all accounts, though customers have a few ways to dodge it. Two of the easiest methods being to sign up for electronic delivery of documents or linking your account to Portfolio by Wells Fargo.

WellsTrade also charges a pricey $95 fee for terminating an IRA, meaning the complete distribution of the account, though it waives the fee for clients over age 70 ½ or accounts that are closed due to death or disability. An outgoing account transfer will cost a higher-than-typical $95.

Overall experience

The overall experience at WellsTrade just doesn’t feel like that of other brokerages, meaning the design is stripped-down and more basic. It has no trading platform for advanced traders, for example, and the trade interface is simple, albeit effective. So to be fair, though it lacks the razzle-dazzle of rivals, WellsTrade will get what you need done, especially if you’re a new investor or are buying infrequently.

Those who need more from a broker won’t find WellsTrade offering the same kind of perks – detailed third-party research and advanced stock screeners – offered by other brokers such as Fidelity or E-Trade at a $0 commission. However, you will get the broker’s own in-house research reports and market commentary.

And other things just feel clunky. When you click the “Contact Us” menu, you’re presented with no fewer than 10 phone numbers to call depending on what seems like arbitrary or unclear account distinctions. While some customer support options run 24 hours a day, others run 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. or 8:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. So it can be a bit of a maze.

Bottom line

WellsTrade will likely be a much better fit for those who want to keep their accounts all together at Wells Fargo or buy-and-hold investors who aren’t too demanding on their brokerage. 

  • The low commissions for stocks and ETFs will suit long-term investors fine, but options commissions are too high for anyone who trades them regularly. 
  • The broker’s integration with its parent bank will be an added plus, making it an especially attractive perk for current bank customers.
  • The broker’s account fees and maze-like structure for finding information and assistance may dissuade investors who are on the fence. 

Investors looking to consolidate their financial accounts with a bank should also have a look at Merrill Edge, whose parent is Bank of America. Those looking for a high-quality trading platform should check out E-Trade and Interactive Brokers. Meanwhile, Fidelity Investments makes a good place to turn for its banking and brokerage operations while avoiding fees. 

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