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Wells Fargo Brokerage (WellsTrade) Review

WellsTrade Commissions, Fees, and Minimum Deposit

Stocks and ETFs $5.95
Stocks and ETFs (broker assisted) $30.95
Options $5.95 + $0.75 per contract
Mutual funds $35
Auction of Treasury Bills, Notes and Bonds $50 per transaction

Investments stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, ETFs
Wellstrade minimum deposit to open account $0
FeesWellstrade fees

As usual, we begin Wells Fargo brokerage account review with broker commissions. WellsTrade is charging about average rate on stock and ETF trades - $5.95. There is a way to get $3 discount on that price with Wells Fargo Portfolio package which we will discuss below. Mutual funds are priced at about average in the industry, $35 per transaction rate. Options are at $5.95 plus $0.75 per contract.

Wells Fargo brokerage minimum deposit required to open an account is $0 - this applies to both WellsTrade retirement and taxable accounts.

Wells Fargo Brokerage Account Setup

To get lower pricing we decided to open a WellsTrade (member of SIPC) account linked to a PMA package (basically it's a checking account). First, we went to a local Wells Fargo branch and were able to open the PMA package very fast. They gave us account and PIN numbers which we used to set up access to checking account online and setup ACH link to our external bank account (requires a deposit verification process). In two business days we saw the deposits in our external bank account and were able to finish ACH setup. Unfortunately, it turned out that Wells Fargo limits daily online transfers to and from external account to $2,000 and monthly to just $6,000. But to avoid the PMA package's $30 monthly fee, a client needs $25,000 in PMA checking account. Only half of WellsTrade brokerage balance counts toward that requirement, meaning that a client needs $50,000 in WellsTrade account to avoid the monthly PMA fee.

We had no choice but to go to a branch and make a deposit by check. Because the amount deposited was large, Wells Fargo made only $4,800 of the amount available three business days later, and for the rest we had to wait 10 days! Once we finally had money in our PMA checking, we signed in into our account online, clicked the "Brokerage" tab, and filled out a few required forms. We were then told our WellsTrade account will be approved two business days later. It actually took two weeks.

Wells Fargo is required to withhold 28% of all sales proceeds, dividends, and interest payments until the signed Account Services Agreement Signature Page is received. We filled this form out and emailed it to them. None of the other brokers we have used had this procedure. This was easily one of the worst new account set ups we have encountered.

Mutual Funds and ETF's

There are over 10,000 mutual funds on the WellsTrade website that are open to new investors. Of these, more than 2,600 come with no load and no transaction fee. This is a good selection of funds by industry standards. The popular Scottrade, for example, offers around 11,400 mutual funds with 2,100 that have no load and no transaction fee. Firstrade customers have access to roughly 8,300 funds with just 329 having neither load nor transaction fee.

Wells Fargo has 291 of its own mutual funds. Of course, these products are available on the WellsTrade site. Despite carrying the Wells Fargo brand, some of them do have loads or transaction fees when purchased from WellsTrade. Most brokers, including E*Trade and Capital One Investing, don't manage their own line of mutual funds.

The WellsTrade site has a useful screener that is able to search through all of the available funds. Users can search by a variety of criteria, including load status, asset class, and risk profile. Results can be sorted by various categories, such as Morningstar rating, standard deviation, or 5-year return.

Although all US-listed ETF's are available at WellsTrade, the broker regrettably doesn't offer any commission-free. A useful screener is able to scan through exchange-traded products. A purchase or sale of an ETF is charged the broker's regular trading fee of $8.95, or $6.95 for certain Wells Fargo Bank customers. Other brokerage houses offer some ETF's without commissions. Vanguard, for example, has 55 ETF's that can be traded free of charge; while TD Ameritrade customers have access to more than 100.

WellsTrade IRA

WellsTrade offers Roth, Traditional, SIMPLE, and SEP IRA's. A retirement account with the broker has a $25 yearly low-balance fee. Having $5,000 or more in your account will avoid the charge. Establishing a premier relationship with Wells Fargo will also eliminate the annual fee, although the package requires a steep $50,000 in assets. Other brokers don't have any annual or low-balances fees for their IRA's. Fidelity and Merrill Edge, for example, charge nothing to keep an IRA open.

A WellsTrade retirement account has no setup fee, nor is any level of activity required. The broker does assess a $95 fee for closing an IRA, although the charge is waived for clients over the age of 70½. WellsTrade will also not charge the fee in the case of disability or death of the account owner. Transferring an IRA to another firm costs $95. This fee is rather steep compared to industry standards. Firstrade, by comparison, charges just $50.

There is one IRA calculator on WellsTrade's site. Based on various inputs, such as life expectancy and current income, the tool will recommend a minimum amount each month to set aside for retirement. The calculator also estimates the total amount that needs to be saved for retirement.

WellsTrade clients who don't trust themselves to do their own retirement planning have access to the company's financial planners. Called Wells Fargo Advisors, these investment professionals can help retirement savers create a roadmap for life after work. There is an extra fee for this service.

WellsTrade Website/Trading Platform/Tools


The WellsTrade site has scant information on it. This actually makes navigation fairly simple, although pages can sometimes take a while to load. Useful charting tools are available, including several graph styles and drawing tools. Unfortunately, a chart cannot be displayed full screen. Other brokers, including OptionsHouse and TD Ameritrade, have graphing software with this important functionality.

One section of the broker's website shows vital market information on global financial markets. This page includes data on equities, interest rates, commodities, and more. Watchlists, market news, and economic commentary can all be found on the firm's website.

Wells Fargo Bank accounts and other brokerage accounts can be accessed with just one login, a convenient function. Unfortunately, there is no trade bar on the firm's website. Trades are placed on browser-based order forms.

Learn more in Wellstrade trading tools review.

Advanced Trading Platform

The company has no desktop trading platform. Many brokers nowadays do have a desktop system, including Scottrade, Fidelity, and Charles Schwab.

Mobile Trading

A mobile app is available free of charge. It has the ability to perform technical analysis on a stock. However, the platform doesn't offer video business news, which E*Trade and TD Ameritrade do provide. There isn't a platform yet for Apple TV or Apple Watch from WellsTrade, either. Fidelity, by comparison, offers both.

WellsTrade Review: Pros

  • Good banking services
  • Good independent investment research amenities

WellsTrade Review: Cons

  • $30 monthly service fee if linked PMA Package has less than $25,000 in bank accounts (or $50,000 in brokerage accounts)
  • For stocks below $1 per share commission is greater of $34.95 and 3.5% of principal
  • Poor trading tools
  • High margin rates (10% for debit balance under $25,000)
  • $25 minimum balance fee, if account balance is less than $5,000
  • Shortened after-hours trading: 4:05 pm - 5:00 pm EST, instead of 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm EST

Wells Fargo Brokerage Summary

WellsTrade is a brokerage service of the U.S. banking giant Wells Fargo Bank. The company just cut its commissions to a competitive $5.95 per stock or ETF trade. Mutual funds are not cheap at $35 per transaction. The company has shortened extended hours trading, and charges huge commissions on penny stock trades.

WellsTrade is offering its account holders a full range of banking services through its parent company Wells Fargo bank. The firm provides very good selection of independent, third party investment research from a few sources.

Unlike most other brokerage firms, WellsTrade charges $25 annual minimum account balance fee if account value is less than $5,000. The company has very high margin rates and suffers from slow-to-respond customer service. Its trading tools are archaic and slow compared to the competition.

For investors with large portfolios ($100,000+), Wells Fargo has a private advisory group. This enables them to gain the benefits and attention given to clients at large brokerage houses, while retaining the benefits found in the banking environment. The clients are offered additional perks and special pricing on services beyond their investments.

There are better brokerage companies for beginner investors than WellsTrade, that offer vibrant online communities, where users can ask questions, learn from more experienced traders and even get investment ideas. Some of them offer virtual trading that allows customers to practice trading without risking real money, others offer no additional charge on broker-assisted trading. If you are new to investing, check out our Best Brokers for Beginner Investor recommendations.

To stay competitive with other large banks, Wells Fargo is trying to offer full range of financial services to its clients. Online investing is, obviously, one of these additional services for customers who want to do all of their money operations with one company. It is definitely not getting all the attention it requires and therefore its quality is not as high as at leading online brokers. We can't recommend opening a Wells Fargo brokerage account unless someone is already a Wells Fargo bank customer who invests infrequently. For everybody else there are a lot of other low-cost, highly-rated Online Brokerages to choose from, that offer better investing tools, pricing, and services.

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WellsTrade reviewed by Brokerage-Review.com on . Rating: 3

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