Broker Review Article
There’s no shortage of online brokers offering low fees, zero commissions and the like. As with any type of marketing, it’s important to read the fine print. What sounds like a good deal is often just a scheme to get traders to sign on. With some brokers, “free” often just means the extra fees are buried deep where you can’t find them, at least not until they show up as a surprise addition to your account statement. At SureTrader, we don’t engage in these marketing gimmicks. Our fees and commissions are transparent and clearly available on our website – you won’t need a magnifying glass to find them. Compare SureTrader to three popular brokers: Robinhood and TradeZero. You’ll see why SureTrader is the best choice no matter what type of trading you do. That’s the SureTrader advantage.
Let’s start with SureTrader. We’ve been around since 2011, so we have a history as a sustainable business model. More than 20,000 traders trust their accounts to us. We offer 10,000+ stocks for shorting, the largest number on the internet. We pride ourselves on lightning-fast trade execution, an absolute must for day traders. Our state-of-the-art software is intuitive, easy to learn and contains top technical tools and charting. SureTrader offers a free mobile app for trading on the go, including day and intraday charts.
Our trade rates are just one penny per share, with a $4.95 minimum. Options trading commissions are just $4.95, plus $0.50 per contract. Our commission routing fees are zero. Clients never pay more than $50 maximum for a trade. For example, under the $0.01 per share rate ($4.95 minimum), a ticket to purchase 10,000 shares will not be charged $0.01 x 10,000, or $100 in commissions, but is charged only $50 because it is the cap.
Our clients receive excellent customer service available 24/7 via email, phone or chat. We are based in The Bahamas, with a support staff of 50 based in our downtown Nassau, 7,000 square feet office.
U.S. Based Firms vs. SureTrader
U.S. –based firms are at a distinct disadvantage compared to SureTrader. They all require a minimum of $25k to day trade, while SureTrader’s day trading minimum is just $500. Unlike U.S.-based brokerages, SureTrader accounts are not subject to pattern day trading regulations. The U.S. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) defines pattern day trader as someone who “trades four or more times in five business days and your day-trading activities are greater than six percent of your total trading activity for that same five-day period.” As SureTrader is Bahamas-based, FINRA rules do not apply. We are regulated by the Securities Commission of the Bahamas.
Then there’s leverage, the lifeblood of day trading. SureTrader offers 6:1 leverage on intraday trading for all accounts, while U.S. firms are limited to 4:1 leverage on intraday trades.
Robinhood Financial touts its zero commission structure, but its entire concept is geared to the beginner with a smartphone. Robinhood is a strictly mobile trading operation, which severely limits its use. It’s aimed at millennials new to investing, and it looks it. Since there’s no desktop or web version, users don’t have access to the diverse instruments necessary to make sophisticated, studied trading decisions. Robinhood doesn’t even provide access to a trading basic: real-time data. Even worse, stock prices are often delayed or just plain wrong. If you run into issues, there’s no one you can immediately speak with – customer service is email only.
Robinhood is definitely not designed for day traders. If this brokerage suspects you are day trading, your trade is flagged. After the fourth flag, it stops you from trading. There’s no short selling, period.
You’ll need $2k to open a margin account, versus $500 with SureTrader. Forget about trading options – that’s not an option with Robinhood. Trading is available only for stocks and ETFs. With RobinHood, it’s only possible to buy full shares – no fractional share purchases permitted. All of its accounts are taxable, as it does not offer retirement vehicles. That’s an odd omission, especially this is the best time of life for Robinhood’s millennial users to start saving in tax-deferred or tax-free retirement accounts.
This brokerage is practically a “self-service” firm. If you decide it’s not for you after opening an account, you’ll pay an outgoing account transfer fee (ACAT) of $75.
The big question – how does a brokerage that doesn’t charge fees make money? Well, free trading goes only so far – as far as U.S. listed securities. If you want to place a listed foreign security, that’s $50 per trade. For Canadian securities, the trade fee is $35. Any broker-assisted phone trade is $10. Read the fine print on the website, and you’ll learn that “Processing and service fees assessed by third parties may be passed through to the customer’s account. Some products and services may require additional fees or transaction minimums not specifically listed here. Prior to placing a trade or requesting any services, it is the customer’s responsibility to ask Robinhood Financial if any additional fees will apply.” That’s a loophole that could severely ding a “free trade.”
Bahamas-based TradeZero boasts about its free limit orders, but there’s a catch. The order is not free if it creates an immediate match, is less than 200 shares or the stock trades at less than $1.00. Your trade must also “add liquidity to the market,” and that is complicated. In a nutshell, you must buy or cover at the bidding price or short or sell at the asking price, you are “adding liquidity” and don’t have to pay the commission. Every trade is assessed on its own merits to qualify as “free,” and you can end up losing time and money waiting for this fill. Until that fill occurs, you aren’t adding liquidity. It sounds like a ploy, and it is.
When trading with TradeZero, only clients with at least $5k in their accounts are eligible for leverage, while those with accounts below that minimum are unable to borrow.
The trading platform itself is mediocre, as is TradeZero’s customer service. Here’s a customer review from TradeZero’s site regarding order fills: “I wish I would have seen it BEFORE I funded a TradeZero account. [It] let me make a buy, but then while the stock was up about 25 percent and I put in a Buy order, denied me the sell with a message that I was not authorized to trade. When I contacted customer service they said I needed to pay $15 month for the ability to sell same day?! I authorized the fee and sold, but by that time I was losing about 10 percent. I closed that account shortly afterwards.”
Trading with SureTrader
Find out for yourself why SureTrader is your top choice for day trading and investing. Opening an account is simple, and you can start trading right away. If you currently trade with one of our competitors, consider making the switch to SureTrader. You’ll soon find out you made the right decision. Whether you’re just getting started in trading or make a living conducting day trades, you’ll enjoy the SureTrader advantage.
Disclaimer: This web site is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer or solicitation for brokerage services, investment advisory services, or other products or services in any jurisdiction where we are not authorized to conduct investment business or where such offer or solicitation would be contrary to the securities or local laws and regulations of that jurisdiction. System response, trade executions and account access may be affected by market conditions, system performance, quote delays and other factors. The risk of loss in electronic trading can be substantial. You should therefore consider whether such trading is suitable for you in light of your financial resources and circumstances. All trades are executed in a principal capacity, our clients do not have direct market access. All transactions are executed against Swiss America Securities, Ltd. in a principal capacity. Swiss America Securities, Ltd. may profit as your counter-party. You should consider this conflict of interest before placing any trades.