E*Trade, Robinhood and Webull are similar online trading platforms with specific strengths and weaknesses. E*Trade is a good fit for experienced active traders who appreciate robust support. Robinhood allows investors to avoid all commissions and fees on an easy-to-use app. Finally, Webull also offers fee- and commission-free app-based investing but is limited to a handful of asset types. We compare each of these options below. If you’re looking for a more hands-on approach, a financial advisor can help you develop investment strategies to meet your long-term needs and manage all of your asset allocations.
Overview of E*Trade vs. Robinhood vs. Webull
E*Trade pioneered online investing and trading in 1983 and in 1992 became the first all-electronic brokerage, launching its website in 1996. By 2020, when investment bank Morgan Stanley purchased E*Trade for $13 billion, more than five million customer accounts were using its web-based trading tool. As a low-cost trading platform, E*Trade helped pressure the brokerage industry to reduce the fees and commissions it charged to investors. However, E*Trade still charges investors for some investing activities.
Robinhood was the first trading platform to enable trades free of any fees or commissions, and today its users can trade any U.S.-listed stock, option or exchange-traded fund (ETF), in addition to cryptocurrencies, completely commission-free. Robinhood was criticized for appearing to take the side of Wall Street hedge funds against its individual investor clients in the infamous GameStop episode of 2021.
Like Robinhood, Webull has an app-oriented trading platform that is free of fees and commissions. Its app is designed to accommodate high-volume trading and incorporates good tools for technical analysis. One limitation of Webull is that investors are limited to trading only a few liquid assets.
E*Trade vs. Robinhood vs. Webull: Fees
Fees for trading and other investing activities can significantly reduce returns so one way to evaluate trading platforms is by looking at fees. E*Trade, Robinhood and Webull all offer commission-free trades of domestic stocks and ETFs. Here’s how E*Trade, Robinhood and Webull compare on fees.
E*Trade charges $0.65 per contract to trade options contracts, and $1 per bond to trade. However, for investors who make at least 30 trades per quarter, E*TRADE reduces its options contract price to $0.50 per contract. E*TRADE charges nothing to trade a series of pre-defined mutual funds on a fee-free list and $20 to trade all others. The firm also offers extensive fee-free lists, meaning that you will likely be able to find a $0 mutual fund to meet your investment strategy on either platform. It also costs $1.50 to enter a futures contract. Margin rates start at 8.95%. Broker-assisted trades cost $25 per trade.
Robinhood does not charge fees or commissions to trade, and there are no inactivity fees, no fees for moving money in or out of your account and very few non-trading fees. Instead, Robinhood makes money by pocketing the small difference between the buying and selling price of an asset. This generates very little money, typically only pennies or less per share traded, but over millions of transactions those pennies add up. Robinhood Gold also offers margin trading to subscribers who pay a $5 monthly fee, which allows margin trading at 7.5% interest rate and – as of April 2023 – 4.4% APY on idle cash.
Webull charges no trading fees at all, nor does it charge for inactivity, deposits, withdrawals or any other standard interactions. Certain non-standard transactions will come with fees on the Webull platform. For example users can pay extra to get additional data, or can engage in margin trading with interest rates that start at 9.49% for balances under $25,000, and drops to 5.49% for balances over $3 million. Webull offers commission-free options trading. Mutual funds and fixed-income securities can’t be traded on Webull. Rates charged for margin trading loans are 6.99%.
E*Trade vs. Robinhood vs. Webull: Services and Features
As the most full-featured of these three electronic trading platforms, E*Trade permits investors to buy and sell nearly any publicly traded U.S. security, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, futures, options and cryptocurrencies. Its web and app supply a robust collection of data sets and tools for technical analysis adequate to the needs of most individual investors. Its upgraded Power E*Trade phone and desktop offerings supply more sophisticated tools.
Robinhood has less data on assets, fewer analytical tools and less customization. This simplicity makes it easier to learn and use than E*Trade. Robinhood offers fewer securities, only allowing traders to buy and sell U.S. stocks, ETFs, options, cryptocurrency and American Depositary Receipts.
Webull has more powerful tools for technical analysis than Robinhood although still less powerful than E*Trade’s. Webull’s investment options are also quite limited, comprising only stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrencies.
When it comes to customer support, E*Trade has customer service representatives available by toll-free telephone, email and live chat. There are even a limited number of physical E*Trade branches where customers can talk face-to-face with a human. Robinhood and Webull both support users by telephone, email and in-app messaging but lack live chat support or physical locations.
E*Trade and Webull both allow brokerage, savings, traditional IRA and Roth IRA accounts. Robinhood doesn’t have IRA accounts.
E*Trade vs. Robinhood vs. Webull: Online and Mobile
E*Trade, Robinhood and Webull all have well-regarded mobile trading apps, with Webull holding a slight edge according to user star rankings. Android users award Webull’s app 4.4 stars on Google Play, while E*Trade’s app gets 4 stars and Robinhood receives 3.9 stars. Among apps for Apple, Webull receives 4.7 stars, E*Trade gets 4.6 stars and Robinhood has 4.2 stars.
Generally speaking, the online user experience tracks the apps. E*Trade’s is the most complex, customizable and difficult to learn, while Robinhood’s is the simplest, least flexible and easiest to master. Webull is in the middle.
Who Should Use E*Trade, Robinhood and Webull
With its full set of tools for research, E*Trade is well-suited to active investors willing to devote time and energy to studying their trades and learning to use its more complex interface. The platform also has robust customer service, making it an appropriate choice for investors who appreciate handholding.
Novice investors, especially those inclined toward trading on mobile apps, will probably be more comfortable at Robinhood, thanks to a limited feature set that makes it easy to learn to use. Robinhood’s no-fee model also makes it more appealing to those who put a premium on minimizing trading costs. However, the platform offers only limited support and no options for getting financial advice, so only the more-sufficient sort of investor is likely to enjoy it.
Webull is not as feature-rich and complex as E*Trade nor as streamlined as Robinhood. It allows trading of the least number of asset types but does beat out Robinhood when it comes to IRA account offerings.
All three options might be right, depending on your individual situation and financial needs. Those looking for a more automated approach to investing may find it more beneficial to hire a financial advisor who can manage their portfolio and automate asset allocation.
Online trading innovator E*Trade lets investors buy and sell nearly any asset type at low cost while enjoying a full suite of data sets and analytical tools and robust customer support. Robinhood cuts your costs even lower with commission-free trades and has an easy-to-use interface. But it only allows trading of stocks, options, ETFs and cryptocurrencies and has easy-to-use limited data, tools and support. Webull similarly supports no-fee trading and has better tools than Robinhood but also skimps on support and accommodates an even more limited set of asset types.
Tips for Investing
- No matter which brokerage you use to handle your trades, a financial advisor can help you with your investment decisions. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors who serve your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor, get started now.
- SmartAsset’s free online asset allocator calculator can help you with strategic investing decisions no matter what platform you use for trading.
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