WellsTrade Review

Review of WellsTrade brokerage account. Wells Fargo investment fees and commissions, cons and pros, minimum requirements and promotion offers for opening a new online broker account or IRA.


WellsTrade Review

Although not the most popular brokerage firm, WellsTrade does have some decent investment services that are worth taking a look at. Here are the bare facts:

Rating:  WellsTrade brokerage firm rating

  • Stocks & ETFs: $0
  • Options: $5.95 + $0.75 per contract
  • Mutual Funds: $35
  • Minimum to open: $0 for a cash account or an IRA.

Wells Fargo Investment Choices

Wells Fargo Investment Choices Rating

WellsTrade customers can open one of two basic account services: robo or self-directed. The company’s automated account service trades ETFs. There are no other assets available. There is, however, a financial-planning service with human advisors that can be accessed with a robo account.

Self-directed accounts come with a much larger list of ETFs plus more investment vehicles. These include:

  • Option contracts
  • Stocks (including OTC stocks)
  • Mutual funds
  • Closed-end funds
  • Bonds and other fixed-income securities

Financial vehicles that are missing at WellsTrade include cryptocurrencies, precious metals, warrants, foreign stocks, forex, and futures.


WellsTrade Pricing

Wells Fargo Brokerage Cost Rating

Now we come to the $64 million question: what does all of this cost? A digitally-managed account is 0.35% per annum. Certain Wells Fargo Bank customers will qualify for a discount of 5 basis points. Surprisingly, there is no additional cost for phone calls with the company’s human investment advisors.

Self-directed accounts have no management fees. There are also no commissions on trades of stocks and ETFs (priced above $1) that are submitted online. Trades placed over the phone with a live rep are $25 each.

Here’s where it gets bad: stocks under $1 cost either $34.95 or 3.5% of trade value, whichever is greater.

Option trades do have a base commission. It is $5.95. And then there’s a per-contract fee of 75¢.

Purchases at auction of U.S. Treasury debt cost $50 per transaction, which is really expensive.

Mutual funds that have a transaction fee are $34.95, although there is no surcharge for using a live associate over the phone.

Both robo and self-directed accounts at WellsTrade are subject to a flat annual account fee. It is $30, although it can be avoided in a number of ways. The easiest is to sign up for e-delivery of account documents.


Margin

Wells Fargo Margin Rating

WellsTrade clients can open their accounts as either cash or margin accounts. We were disappointed to discover during our research that a cash account cannot be upgraded to margin status online. We had to call in to make the upgrade.


Wells Fargo investing Review


Currently, WellsTrade charges 10.5% to 6.5% for margin loans. Accounts that have more than $250,000 in household assets get discounts up to 2.5%.

WellsTrade’s software does not display margin requirements for specific assets, which is another disappointment in this category.


Website

Wells Fargo Investing Rating

Speaking of WellsTrade’s software, the company’s website is pretty easy to use thanks to an intuitive top menu. The primary downside is that the site doesn’t have much on it.


Wells Fargo Trading Review


The order ticket has just 4 order types (stop, stop limit, market, and limit). There are only 2 time-in-force choices (day and GTC). On the upside, the action drop-down menu has choices for buy to cover and sell short. And there’s an interesting drop-down menu that permits switching between cash and margin for a trade (assuming the account is margin enabled).

At the top of the order ticket, there are tabs for options and mutual funds.

Charts on the WellsTrade site have several tools. These include:

  • Technical indicators
  • Event overlays
  • Multiple plot styles, including OHLC bars and dot
  • Drawing tools

But a graph cannot be displayed the width or height of the monitor, which is a major flaw.


Mobile App

Wells Fargo Brokerage App Rating

Because WellsTrade uses the Wells Fargo app, a lot of cash management tools are available. These include things like mobile check deposit, a free FICO score, information on home loans and credits cards, and more.


Wells Fargo Investing App Review


For actual trading, the app uses the same order ticket mentioned above. However, sell short and buy to cover selections are missing.

A security can be added to a watchlist from its profile on the app. Multiple watchlists can be created, and these sync with the watchlists on the website.

Alerts can be established for a security, too. There are many available triggers, including % volume change, price below, and symbol news search. Alerts can only be sent to an email address.

The major weakness of the WellsTrade app is that graphs are very simple. There is no horizontal mode, and just forget about any tools.


Additional Software

Wells Fargo Trading Rating

WellsTrade isn’t a great broker for advanced traders. It doesn’t have any desktop software. Its website doesn’t have a browser platform, and just forget about a smartwatch app.


Wells Fargo Brokerage App


Customer Support

Wells Fargo Advisors Customer Rating

WellsTrade falters again in the realm of customer service. There is no chat feature on the WellsTrade site. There is no e-mail system, either. There is a document upload tool, one of the few highlights in this category. This can be used to upload scanned images of paper documents that need to be sent in to the broker.

Although Wells Fargo Bank and Wells Fargo Advisors do have branch locations, these places unfortunately do not provide service on WellsTrade accounts.

Service can be had over the phone. The broker is open only during the week from 8:00 am, EST, until midnight. There are no weekend hours.

The WellsTrade site has a Customer Service tab at the top. Under this section we found tools to perform a variety of functions, such as setting email preferences and changing a username.


Options Trading

Wells Fargo Trading Rating

Options trading can be added to a WellsTrade account, although the process is rather cumbersome. There is no online form. The required pdf form can be downloaded on the Account Forms page on the website (located underneath the Customer Service tab in the top menu). We had to submit it several times before WellsTrade would accept it.


Wells Fargo Options Trading


From an asset’s profile, option chains (for puts and calls only) can be accessed on either the mobile app or website. There are no integrated spreads, and it’s not possible to create custom multi-leg trades.


Research and Education

Wellstrade Research Rating

WellsTrade does better in the realm of education. Underneath the Research tab on the website, we found information on global indexes, commodity prices (these can’t be traded), and market commentary. There are lots of reports from Morningstar and Wells Fargo Securities. There are no videos on the site, which is one failure.


wellstrade investments research


Discovering something to invest in is fairly straightforward using WellsTrade’s screeners. These widgets are available for stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds, but not options. The stock screener has basic and advanced modes. The advanced engine only has 9 search criteria. Examples include:

  • Industry
  • Consensus rating
  • P/E ratio
  • Dividend yield

Asset profiles have analyst ratings from Morningstar, Wells Fargo Securities, and Refinitiv. Some of these have price targets. The WellsTrade site displays numbers from financial statements in graphical format for easy viewing.


Miscellaneous Services

Wells Fargo Investments Rating

DRIP Availability: Cash dividends from stocks and ETFs can be automatically converted into additional shares that paid them.

Initial Public Offerings: WellsTrade does not offer early access to impending stock sales. But WeBull does.

Extended Hours Trading: WellsTrade only offers trading during the regular market session.

Fractional Shares: WellsTrade doesn’t yet offer the ability to buy stocks and ETFs with whole dollars. You can buy partial shares with M1 Finance.

Periodic Mutual Fund Investing: It’s possible to establish systematic purchases of mutual funds at WellsTrade.

Cash Management Features: Given its relationship with Wells Fargo, it’s a little surprising that WellsTrade doesn’t offer any banking features, like a debit card. Nevertheless, it is possible to link a Wells Fargo checking or savings account to a WellsTrade account.

Individual Retirement Accounts: Both personal and small business IRAs are available at WellsTrade. However, the broker-dealer charges $95 to close one, which is a major drawback.


Our Recommendations

Small Accounts: WellsTrade’s robo service has a $500 minimum deposit requirement. Self-directed taxable accounts, which have no minimum at all, would be a better idea for small investors. We don’t recommend the company’s IRAs for small accounts due to the termination fee.

Mutual Funds: We can endorse WellsTrade for mutual funds, and in fact, this is where WellsTrade excels. Using WellsTrade’s mutual fund screener, we found 8,157 mutual funds that are open to new investors. Of this amount, almost 3,000 have no load and no transaction fee. Its mutual fund screener has lots of search variables, and it’s easy to use.

Long-Term Investors and Retirement Savers: Self-directed traders can invest in target-date mutual funds inside retirement accounts. WellsTrade also has custodial accounts, but it lacks a lot of other features, like annuities and traditional wealth management. TD Ameritrade would be a better pick.

Beginning Investors: WellsTrade’s robo account with free consultations over the phone with licensed financial advisors would be a good choice.

Active ETF and Stock Trading: WellsTrade simply doesn’t have the software for active equity trading. WeBull does and it has fractional-share trading, too.


Wells Fargo Brokerage Review Verdict

WellsTrade has so much potential, given its relationship with a multi-billion dollar corporation. But it stumbles in many areas and has not made much improvement over the years. Its software needs a major overhaul, customer service needs improving, and the list goes on.

Updated on 5/26/2022.



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