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Wells Fargo Brokerage Account Review: Wellstrade Investment Fees, IRA, Pros and Cons, Mutual Fund Offerings

Wells Fargo Review - Pricing

  • Stocks/ETFs: $8.95 per trade
  • Stocks and ETFs with PMA package: $6.95
  • Options: $9.95 plus $1/contract
  • Mutual funds: $35
  • Auction of Treasury Bills, Notes and Bonds: $50/transaction

Wellstrade Important Fees and Surcharges

  • Extended hours surcharge: $0
  • Large order surcharge: $0
  • Penny stocks surcharge: $34.95 or 3.5% of principal - whichever is greater
  • Options Exercises and Assignments: $45
  • Account maintenance fee: $25 minimum balance fee, if account is less than $5,000; $30 monthly service fee if PMA Package has less than $50,000 in all accounts
  • IRA setup fee: $0

Wellstrade Account Types

  • Individual
  • Joint
  • Traditional IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Rollover IRA
  • Inherited IRA

Wells Fargo Brokerage Review

Wells Fargo's discount on-line brokerage service is called WellsTrade. This firm comes with good mutual fund choices, but there are disadvantages in other areas. Let's make a detailed analysis of the broker and see how it compares to some of its rivals.

Fees and Commission Schedule

WellsTrade's standard commission for stock and ETF trades is a slightly high $8.95. Customers who have a premier relationship package with Wells Fargo Bank pay only $6.95. But there is a $30 monthly fee for this package. It can be avoided by having at least $25,000 in a Wells Fargo deposit account, or combined balances of $50,000 or more across Wells Fargo and WellsTrade accounts. All customers pay $9.95 plus $1 per contract for option trades.

There is no minimum deposit requirement to open an account at WellsTrade, nor are there any inactivity or low-balance fees. There is an annual fee of $25. However, this can be waived by maintaining an account balance of $5,000 or opening the relationship package mentioned above.

The WellsTrade Site

The broker's website has little information on it. Order history, account documents, activity, and performance can all be found. There is interactive charting, but it's more limited than what TD Ameritrade has. A markets page does display important information on worldwide financial markets. Other Wells Fargo accounts can be accessed with a single login, a nice feature for traders who are also bank customers.

Wells Fargo Brokerage review

WellsTrade Advantages

- WellsTrade has a good selection of mutual funds. Investors can buy and sell more than 10,000 funds. There are over 2,600 that have no transaction fee and no load. By comparison, Capital One Investing has a total of just over 1,000 mutual funds for its customers, while Merrill Edge offers just 800 no-load, no-transaction-fee products.

- Wells Fargo manages its own selection of 291 mutual funds, all of which are available on the WellsTrade site. More than 100 come with no load and no transaction fee. Most other brokers, including TD Ameritrade and E*Trade, don't manage their own funds.

- An effective screener at WellsTrade helps users to sort through all of the broker's funds. Search criteria include asset class, load status, risk profile, and turnover ratio.

- The brokerage firm is affiliated with one of the largest banks in the world.

- WellsTrade clients can take advantage of financial advice from a Wells Fargo Advisor. There is a fee for the service, but it would be useful for investors who need the extra help. Other brokers, such as OptionsHouse, don't provide such investment advice.

- The broker offers customer support over the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Other firms, such as Vanguard and Firstrade, don't have 24/7 service.

WellsTrade Disadvantages

- WellsTrade doesn't have a list of commission-free ETF's. Several other brokers do offer some exchange-traded funds that are free to trade. Firstrade has 12, while Schwab offers more than 200.

- Both the website and mobile app are a little slow to load pages.

- Research and educational materials are on the low side. The WellsTrade site has some good articles courtesy of Wells Fargo Advisors, but there is little else for security research. By comparison, Fidelity and Merrill Edge have more resources devoted to financial education.

- The broker's mobile app can't be used for technical analysis of securities. There is no live streaming of investment news either, and the app can't be used on Kindle Fire.

- The website is also deficient. There are only around 25 technical studies in the broker's charting software, and a chart cannot be displayed full screen. There isn't an advanced platform, even for active traders. Many brokers today do offer one, including Scottrade, Merrill Edge, Schwab, and TD Ameritrade.

- WellsTrade has yet to release an app for Apple TV or Apple Watch. Fidelity has both.

- The broker doesn't offer on-line chat as part of its customer service offerings. Other companies, including OptionsHouse and Schwab, can be contacted through a chat service.

Wells Fargo Investing review

Cash Management Features

WellsTrade customers can have a debit card and checks with a Wells Fargo command account, which double as a brokerage account's core cash position. This command account has a very steep annual fee of $100. By comparison, Fidelity and Merrill Edge offer checks and a debit card free of charge.

Other Thoughts

Judged against other brokers, WellsTrade seems to be strongest in the mutual fund arena. Its commission schedule for stocks and ETF's is a little cumbersome compared to Scottrade's simple, flat $6.95 charge for all trades. WellsTrade's pricing for option trades is straightforward, but is nevertheless higher than both Fidelity and OptionsHouse. Bizarrely, the WellsTrade website does not have a stock screener. Most other brokers, including the low-cost Ally Invest, have a screener for equities.

Wells Fargo Brokerage review

Wells Fargo Brokerage Review Summary

Wells Fargo has tried to provide a low-cost brokerage arm aimed especially at its bank customers. Although it does have a good selection of mutual funds, it fails in most other areas.

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Wellstrade reviewed by on . Rating: 3
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