WellsTrade® Review 2019

James Royal is a reporter covering investing and wealth management. Before joining Bankrate, he worked as a writer for NerdWallet and a stock analyst for The Motley Fool. He holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Florida.

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WellsTrade Logo

Best For

  • Wells Fargo customers
  • Buy-and-hold investing
  • Discounted commissions

 

WellsTrade is the brokerage arm of mega-bank Wells Fargo, and while the broker does some things well, unfortunately, WellsTrade feels like an afterthought in the bank’s product portfolio. That’s not to say that it won’t fit some types of customers – newer investors and those already with Wells Fargo, especially – but active traders or clients needing a robust trading platform will likely find themselves better off somewhere else. But a substantial discount awaits those who already have a relationship with the mega-bank.

WellsTrade at a glance

Star Rating

2.5
  • Affordability: 4 of 5
  • Usability: 3 of 5
  • Tools & Research: 2 of 5
  • Mobile: 2 of 5
  • Scalability: 3 of 5
  • Minimum Balance:
    $0
  • Cost per stock trade:
    $5.95*
  • Cost per options trade:
    $5.95+$0.75 per contract
  • Promotion:
    None
  • Commission-free mutual funds or ETFs:
    None
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds:
    2000+ 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

*or $2.95 if linked to a Wells Fargo account

 

Features you'll love

Wells Fargo One Stop: Wells Fargo One Stop is a tool that aggregates your accounts at the bank and broker as well as at hundreds of other financial institutions. The goal is to give you the most complete picture of your financial life. You’ll also be able to break down the holdings in your portfolio by asset type, with useful charts and tables, and assess where you might have gaps in your holdings.

Where WellsTrade rocks

Discounted commission: WellsTrade discounts its headline $5.95 commission for stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trades to just $2.95 for customers who have linked their Portfolio by Wells Fargo account. That’s a substantial savings for customers who are trading frequently, and it compares well to the standard commissions ($4.95) at Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab, and even Ally Invest’s discounted commission for frequent traders ($3.95).

But clients should note that this discount is only available for stock and ETF trades, and does not apply to options trades.  

Integration with Wells Fargo: One of the biggest reasons to select WellsTrade is its integration with Wells Fargo, 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. And Wells tries to make this obvious and natural with Wells Fargo One Stop, an account aggregation tool.

Another advantage of aggregating your accounts is quick money delivery from a bank account to a brokerage account, or vice versa. The process is usually completed by the next day.

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, it doesn’t do much to differentiate the broker from its rivals.  

 

Quick comparison of Brokerage options:
Brokerage Overall Rating Avg. Cost Per Trade Usability Rating
WellsTrade logo
$5.95* 3 of 5
Vanguard® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$7* 3 of 5
Charles Schwab® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$4.95 5 of 5
Fidelity® Review 2019 logo Read Our Review
$4.95 4 of 5

Where WellsTrade could improve

Headline trading commission: WellsTrade offers a headline trading commission of $5.95 for stock and ETF trades, a dollar above big rivals Fidelity and Schwab. Still, WellsTrade asks a dollar less than many other name-brand brokers such as TD Ameritrade. So pricing is not far out of line, and WellsTrade is in the mix.

But while many brokers offer hundreds of commission-free ETFs, WellsTrade offers none. So the broker doesn’t offer any freebies here to investors, whereas clients at other brokers may be able to build a whole portfolio of ETFs without any commissions at all.  

Clients should note that the reduced commissions don’t apply to options trades, which cost a base commission of $5.95 plus a $0.75 fee per contract. That per-contract amount sits near the highest level in the industry, along with a few others. Meanwhile, other brokers offering discounted commissions for frequent traders – Ally Invest and E*Trade – also slash their options commissions.

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

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 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 want to pay WellsTrade’s elevated commission without receiving the same kind of perks – detailed fundamental research, commission-free ETFs and advanced stock screeners – offered by other brokers such as Fidelity at a cheaper price or even at a slightly elevated price such as E*Trade.

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

Bottom line

WellsTrade is a brokerage best-suited for buy-and-hold investors and current Wells Fargo customers:

  • The discounted commission structure encourages clients to broaden their relationship with the company.
  • A basic trade interface will not prove attractive to frequent traders, but will be acceptable to long-term investors.
  • However, account fees and the lack of commission-free ETFs may dissuade newer investors.

Investors looking to expand their relationship with a bank should consider Bank of America’s Merrill Edge, which offers a better experience all-around and the possibility of free ongoing trades, too. Those who need a pro-level trading interface should look at Merrill as well as E*Trade and Interactive Brokers. Investors looking to avoid fees will find a friend in Fidelity Investments.

 

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