Compare Firstrade versus Wellstrade: IRA, commissions, investing fees, trading tools, account differences, pros and cons. Which online broker is better?

Overview of Firstrade and Wells Fargo

If you’re interested in opening a brokerage account, you should evaluate the services of WellsTrade and Firstrade. They do differ quite a bit in some areas. Here’s the rundown on these two firms:

Broker Cost

Broker Fees Stock/ETF
Mutual Fund
Annual IRA
Firstrade $0 $0 $0 per contract $0 $0
Wellstrade $0 $35 $5.95 + $0.75 per contract $0* $0*


Broker Review Cost Investment Products Trading Tools Customer Service Research Overall Rating

Tradable Assets

WellsTrade customers can buy and sell mutual funds, ETF’s, closed-end funds, option contracts, bonds, and stocks (including penny stocks but not over-the-counter stocks). At Firstrade, we find the same securities plus OTC stocks.

Firstrade succeeds in the opening category.

Trading Software

The WellsTrade site has no trade bar or browser platform. Simple web pages are the only trading experience (there is no desktop platform). We found the broker’s site easy to navigate. Charting delivers several tools, but a graph cannot be displayed the width of the monitor. There are no trailing orders at WellsTrade.

Wells Fargo vs Firstrade

Moving to Firstrade, we do get a trade bar, but no browser platform or desktop system. The trade bar includes trailing orders, and charting is on the same level as WellsTrade’s. One tool we liked at Firstrade was real-time streaming quotes on a watchlist.

Firstrade vs Wells Fargo

Another victory for Firstrade.

Mobile Trading

WellsTrade’s mobile app has the ability to trade stocks, options, and mutual funds. A chart can be rotated horizontally, but there are no tools. Alerts and a watchlist can be created. Once again, there are no trailing order types.

Wellstrade mobile app

At Firstrade, we found very good charting with several graph styles, a horizontal mode, and technical studies. The software offers a great deal of customization, too. Trailing orders make an appearance on the order ticket. A watchlist is available, but not alerts. Options can be traded on the app, but not mutual funds.

Firstrade mobile app

Overall, it’s a tie here.

Security Research & Education

At Firstrade, we found a section on the broker’s website called Education Center. This informational place provides articles, webinars, and videos on a range of trading topics. For example, we found resources on how to trade options and the effect of inflation on bonds.

Equity profiles at Firstrade use data provided by Morningstar. Using this method generates lots of information, including commentary from the famous analyst. Other highlights include very good screeners for options, bonds, stocks, and funds.

Moving over to WellsTrade, we also find securities screeners. But they don’t have as many search criteria as Firstrade’s screeners. Stock profile pages have a decent amount of information. One strength over Firstrade is analyst reports from multiple third parties (Thomson Reuters, Morningstar, and Wells Fargo). A market hub displays lots of articles, reports, and index data on many areas of the financial markets.

WellsTrade is our pick here.

Fund Investing

Using WellsTrade’s fund screener, we found 9,102 mutual funds open to new investors. Of these, 2,129 have zero load and zero transaction fee. Profiles have brief information.

The Firstrade screener returned 8,340 mutual funds that were available for new purchases. More than 3,200 are no-load funds. All of Firstrade’s mutual funds have no transaction fee. Profiles are pulled from Morningstar, which means they have more data than WellsTrade’s profiles.

A victory here for Firstrade.

Option Trading

Firstrade customers can use OptionsPlay, a really nice piece of software that provides profit-loss diagrams, probability figures, an options calculator, and trade recommendations. WellsTrade offers call and put chains, but there is no advanced software.

Firstrade takes another win.

Other Services

Retirement accounts are available at both broker-dealers in this review. These include not only Rollover, but also SEP and SIMPLE IRA’s.

Automatic purchases of mutual fund shares can be setup at either brokerage firm free of charge. As for dividends from stocks and ETF’s, both companies offer a free DRIP service.

WellsTrade has recently launched a robo-advisory program. Called Intuitive Investor, it costs 0.50% per year (some Wells Fargo Bank customers get a 0.20% discount). The service trades ETF’s with low expense ratios. There is a $10,000 minimum commitment. Firstrade does not offer any portfolio management services.

Overall, we’ll take WellsTrade in this category.

Our Recommendations

For beginning traders, we think either brokerage firm would be a good bet. WellsTrade has 24/7 customer service, while Firstrade has good learning resources on its website.

For ETF trading, we recommend Firstrade because all funds are commission-free. WellsTrade offers none.

For stock trading, once again Firstrade is our pick. Its trade bar results in a better experience.

Long-term investors and retirement savers can go with either firm.

For foreign stocks, we recommend Firstrade due to its over-the-counter service, which is unavailable at WellsTrade.

Wellstrade vs Firstrade Summary

Firstrade is the winner of this survey. With commission discounts from Wells Fargo, WellsTrade is still more expensive than its rival here. The primary area where Wells triumphs over Firstrade is in robo management.


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