What Are Webull and Robinhood, Exactly?
|Company type||Self-directed investment platform||Self-directed investment platform
|Best For||Intermediate investors, swing traders||Beginning investors
|Stands Out For||Charts and data||Simplicity and speed
|Missing product||Fractional shares||Short selling
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Webull and Robinhood are both free, mobile, self-directed brokerage firms.
Robinhood came first. Vladimir Tenev and Baiju Bhatt founded it in April 2013 after building high-frequency trading platforms for giant companies in New York City. They realized that hedge funds and brokerages were able to execute high-volume trades for pennies, while retail investors had to pay per-trade fees and maintain account minimums.
Robinhood eventually forced discount brokers to become fee-free brokers in order to compete with the company’s no-fee trades and no-minimum accounts.
Webull came online as a brokerage platform in 2017. It’s headquartered in the United States, just like Robinhood. But it’s a subsidiary of Fumi Technology, a multinational Chinese company. It began as a research firm, which explains why it offers charts and data that are superior to what you get from Robinhood.
Webull and Robinhood are both regulated by the SEC and FINRA and SIPC-insured, standard for U.S. brokerage houses.
Webull and Robinhood fit into the same category as more traditional brokerages like Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab (what some Webull and Robinhood users call "Boomer brokerages"). Those brokerages are much more robust in terms of their research capabilities and product offerings but weren't designed mobile-first.
Webull vs. Robinhood: Which Is Better for Beginners?
Robinhood has been criticized for offering access to beginner investors. The company aggressively markets toward young people. And it's easy to find industry critics online who think Robinhood needs to make a similar effort toward educating its customers.
Some of the points that critics make about Robinhood are fair. It’s not great that people who have never invested can make risky options trades on margin on their first-ever day of investing without more stop signs and education from the platform.
Webull also offers paper trading, which can be a tremendous learning tool for new investors.
Paper-trading offers a no-risk, real-world scoreboard. Paper trading platforms give you a certain amount of fake money, which can you invest in real stocks at real price points. This lets you track your performance with zero financial consequence. Some platforms even offer small monetary prizes for the best performers during a certain time period.
Robinhood’s simplicity and speed are designed for the beginning investor. That person may get overwhelmed or discouraged by all the bells and whistles that Webull offers.
In my opinion, Robinhood is designed more for beginners and is a better fit for new investors (as long as they know their limits). Webull’s main advantages are related to charts and data, which new investors probably don’t know how to use without learning from third-party sources. Therefore, for most beginners, those items may add needless complication.
Webull vs. Robinhood: Which Trading Platform Is Better?
Webull offers a better trading platform, and it’s not a particularly close call.
Investment industry website Benzinga described Webull’s platform as “Robinhood on steroids.” Stock and options trading site Warrior Trading said Webull has “built a platform that blows away Robinhood’s current offering.” That’s despite the fact that Robinhood has consistently improved its trading platform in the last two years.
Webull features high-quality charts with technical indicators, a stock screener with a surprising number of features, macro insights, stock and industry strength rankings, daily level of net cash inflows into indexes and more.
Money expert Clark Howard does not recommend day trading, as it's a risky, complex undertaking. A conservative, long-term, buy-and-hold strategy is best for most people. But for those who do trade frequently, there are better platforms than Robinhood and even Webull. However, Webull is great for swing traders who don't need precise entry and exit points.
Webull vs. Robinhood: Key Product Differences
|Trading on margin||✓||Paid members only
Charges interest on margin above $1,000
|Pre-market trading||4-9:30 a.m. ET||9-9:30 a.m. ET
Paid members only
|After-hours trading||4 p.m.-8 p.m. ET||4-6 p.m. ET
Paid members only
|Paper trading||Daily/weekly competitions|
|Cash management||X||0.3% APR account with debit/ATM card
|Community||Twitter-like platform focused on stocks||X
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Pitting Webull vs. Robinhood from a product standpoint can give a person whiplash. For every offering that Webull has and Robinhood doesn’t, there’s an opposite.
Why Choose Webull?
Webull’s niche is younger traders who are dissatisfied with Robinhood’s lack of features.
If you’re an undercapitalized active trader (less than $100,000) or a swing trader, Webull is a pretty good platform. If you’re an intermediate investor with some understanding of technical analysis, it’s also better than Robinhood.
Webull started as a research firm and therefore it’s way ahead of Robinhood in terms of research and analytics, which is Robinhood’s weakest link.
If you want to short stocks, you can do that on Webull but not on Robinhood. Webull also allows free pre-market and after-market trading.
Why Choose Robinhood?
Robinhood is much faster in terms of cash movement. Webull involves more waiting time for transactions to settle.
“More data” means more complexity within the Webull platform. If you’re a beginner, more data may be meaningless to you. It might serve only to give you a headache.
There’s something to be said for Robinhood’s beautiful simplicity in terms of efficiency. Robinhood is better for quick glances and for facilitating long-term buy/sell trades because of those elements.
The benefits of Robinhood’s commitment to streamlining extends to things like signing up, where it’s faster and simpler, and to compatibility: For example, Robinhood works with Apple Watch and Webull doesn’t. Robinhood also offers a better mobile app.
Neither Platform May Work for You
If you’re a serious investor, Webull vs. Robinhood may be the wrong comparison. You may be better off weighing Webull and Robinhood against Fidelity and Schwab.
If you plan to make big, time-sensitive trades, or if you want to research a company’s fundamentals fully before investing long-term, Fidelity and Schwab are better. They weren’t designed as mobile-first platforms and aren’t as user-friendly. But Fidelity and Schwab offer better platforms to execute serious trades. They also offer more tools and data.
It’s also important to know yourself. If the easy access and gamification of the stock market is going to tempt you into trading more often or taking on more risk, you may want to avoid Webull and Robinhood.
Maybe you believe that Robinhood intentionally removed pain points for inexperienced users, ethics and consequences be damned. Maybe you think they just didn’t anticipate the subculture that has formed around the platform. Either way, Robinhood has started playing catch-up, attempting to put up better guardrails. But they’re still a ways off.
If you’re someone who needs those guardrails, Fidelity and Schwab are good alternatives.
It’s great that the comparison between Webull and Robinhood exists.
Robinhood forced discount brokers to become what Clark calls “free brokers,” because they had to stop charging a fee for each trade. On a smaller scale, Webull and Robinhood have the same dynamic. Each side seems intent on shoring up its relative weaknesses. The presence of a direct competitor will continue to improve the customer experience on each platform.
If you’re experienced enough to incorporate research and data into your trades, Webull is better. The same holds true if you’re a swing trader. (Again, that’s not day trading, but be cautious.)
If you’re a beginner or you’re undercapitalized, Robinhood is a great introduction to investing.
In both cases, it’s important to understand tried and true investing principles, such as taking a long-term approach and avoiding unnecessary risks.
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