Webull provides investors with a free, mobile-first trading app. In this article, I’ll review Webull to help you understand what type of investor it was built to serve. I’ll also point toward some alternatives in case Webull isn’t a perfect match for you.
Table of Contents
- Webull Review: Quick Look
- What Is Webull?
- Who Should Use Webull?
- Where Webull Shines
- Where Webull Falls Short
- Webull’s Place in the Brokerage Market
- Frequently Asked Questions About Webull
Webull Review: Quick Look
|Company Type||Self-directed investment platform|
|Key Features||Charts and data|
|Downsides||Not a fit for advanced traders, no access to certain investment classes|
|Best For||Intermediate investors, swing traders|
What Is Webull?
Webull is a subsidiary of Fumi Technology, a multinational Chinese company. It began as a market research firm and launched an online brokerage platform in 2017. Webull is headquartered in the United States.
Webull is Robinhood’s closest competitor. It appeals to those who aren’t satisfied with Robinhood’s lack of some features. Webull’s data, charts and tools aren’t as robust as those you’ll find at Fidelity or Schwab. But in terms of research and screening, Webull is better than many of the other fintech platforms.
The company offers free trades and free access to:
- Domestic stocks
- Options trading
- Short selling
- Trading on margin
- Pre-market and after-hours trading
Who Should Use Webull?
In order to review Webull, I downloaded the app and made a small deposit in 2020. I still have the app downloaded on my phone and a small amount of money on the platform as of April 2023. I found that Webull fills a void in the marketplace between the extremes of traditional firms operating online and newer brokerages designed for digital use.
If you fit into any of the following categories, you’ll probably be intrigued by Webull’s platform:
- Intermediate investors with some understanding of technical analysis. Webull offers strong, easily manipulated charts and plenty of stock screeners. It also provides a lot of short-term macro data to illustrate which industries are taking a higher proportion of investment money at the moment. If you know how to use those tools to your advantage, or if you’d like to learn, Webull is a good platform.
- Active but undercapitalized investors. If your investment portfolio is smaller than $100,000, Webull is a great platform. You can learn how to trade actively with low-risk, small trades. If you’re more of a long-term investor, you can take advantage of Webull’s many free features to avoid fees that eat into your returns.
- Swing traders. Money expert Clark Howard recommends long-term, buy-and-hold investing. But if you’re not going to follow that philosophy, swing trading is better than day trading. Swing trading involves holding a stock for anywhere from a few days to a few months in order to capture some short-term value. It usually involves some technical analysis, which is where Webull thrives, but the platform’s tools aren’t sophisticated enough for day trading. Also, its research isn’t as robust as more mature brokerages, which may suit you better if you want to do a deep dive on a company’s fundamentals.
Where Webull Shines
My Webull review revealed the following benefits:
- Offers an impressive free product menu. Free stock trades have become the norm. But Webull allows you to short stocks, contribute to an IRA, trade on margin and access pre-market and after-hours trading (4 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET) for free. Those are just some of the free features Webull offers which makes it superior to Robinhood in this area.
- Seems to care about customer education. Webull offers paper trading and its own in-house version of StockTwits, a popular Twitter clone that focuses on the stock market. It also sends out a wide range of emails to underscore market trends and explain how to use certain tools.
- Gives its customers access to well-executed charts and data. If you like the idea of a free, mobile-first trading platform that democratizes investing, but you still want some smart tools to help you filter and execute your trades, you’ll probably be happy with Webull.
Where Webull Falls Short
Here are some of Webull’s biggest downsides:
- Missing features. You can’t use Webull to invest in international stocks, buy mutual funds, automatically reinvest dividends, invest in bonds or U.S. Treasuries or create a joint account.
- Not the best platform to go deep on fundamentals. If you’re a Warren Buffet disciple who likes to research a company’s fundamentals fully before making a long-term investment, there are companies better suited to your needs.
- Not great for large, time-sensitive trades. If every penny and every tenth of a second matters to you, you’ll want direct market access, which Webull doesn’t offer.
- Slower and more annoying than Robinhood. If you want your brokerage platform to be as simple, fast and pain-free as possible, Robinhood is probably better. Trades settle faster, money you transfer is available sooner and the app is lighter since it contains far fewer tools. I got annoyed at the frequency of Webull’s notifications and emails, although you can turn those off.
Webull’s Place in the Brokerage Market
It’s hard not to mention Robinhood in a Webull review, because it sure seems like Webull emerged as a direct response to those who were not satisfied with Robinhood.
Both companies appeal to bargain-seeking, mobile-first, do-it-yourself customers, especially millennials. But if Robinhood is defined by fun and flash, Webull has a reputation for substance. It’s a nice platform for those who are not advanced investors but who have a genuine interest in — and at least a basic understanding of — technical analysis.
If data and tools serve only to confuse, overwhelm or slow you down, Webull isn’t the best platform. It offers that sweet spot for people who know more than beginning investors but still have a lot to learn — or are not well-capitalized enough to need more sophisticated platforms.
A skeptic would say that in many ways, Webull has been lucky to avoid much of the criticism that Robinhood has attracted. It, too, paused trades on Gamestop stock in a complex and extraordinary event in 2021.
Robinhood also has gotten a reputation for “casino-like” features that lure people who have no business doing so to become active traders or take risks on investments they don’t understand. But Webull’s additional charts, trends and data, which most cite as a positive, are eerily similar to the types of marketing emails that sportsbooks send to customers.
Trend lines and past performance often doesn’t predict future results. But if you can convince a sports bettor — or an individual retail investor — that any parcel of data should lead to action, you encourage more trading. Which in turn lines your pockets with more profits.
Frequently Asked Questions About Webull
Can I Really Get a Free Stock From Webull?
Yes. Webull’s promotions vary, but you can always get at least two free stocks. As of April 2023, you’ll receive two free stocks for opening a Webull brokerage account (valued up to $300, but seemingly much less for a typical person) and three more free stocks for funding your Webull account (valued up to $3,000, but seemingly much less for a typical person). You have to claim your free stock from inside the Webull app.
What Tools and Data Does Webull Provide?
Here’s a partial list of Webull’s features:
- High-quality charts with technical indicators
- Stock screener with a surprising amount of features
- Leading and lagging sectors
- Stock and industry strength rankings
- Net cash inflows into various indexes
Is My Money Safe With Webull?
Yes. As is customary for all legitimate investment firms operating in the United States, Webull is regulated by the SEC and FINRA. Your brokerage account will be insured by SIPC.
Do Any of Webull’s Competitors Offer $0 Trades?
Yes. Like Webull, Robinhood, Charles Schwab, Fidelity Investments, TD Ameritrade, TradeStation and E*TRADE are among the brokers that now offer free trades.
What Is Paper Trading, and How Does It Work?
Paper trading platforms give you fake money, which you “invest” into real stocks at real price points. The trading platform tracks your performance over time. Because you aren’t investing with real money, there are no consequences. So it’s a great way to learn how to invest or to try new theories. Webull offers small monetary prizes for the best performers during certain time periods.
How Does Webull Make Money?
Like Robinhood, Webull reportedly makes a large portion of its revenue through payment for order flow, which I explain here. Webull also makes money by earning interest on uninvested cash, via subscriptions for global market data and through fees for certain activities.
Should I Be Worried That Webull Is a Chinese Company?
Webull’s ownership has become a talking point in online forums. But Webull is headquartered in the United States. It stores its data here and is regulated in the same way as every other U.S. brokerage. Founder Wang Anquan is an Alibaba alumnus. According to multiple reports, Webull volunteered for a review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which investigates foreign investments and transactions to see if they threaten U.S. national security. CFIUS decided it did not need to review Webull.
Given that I made a $100 deposit and received $24.37 in free stock, at least to me, it’s worth joining Webull just for that purpose. There are some restrictions on cashing out that bonus stock, but that’s a nice return right off the bat.
I personally don’t plan on using Webull any further. I find Robinhood superior in almost every way. To me, the extra data on Webull makes it too busy and slow vs. Robhinood, not as deep as the original discount brokers such as Fidelity and just convincing enough to convince amateur traders to make more moves.
I’m not looking to make frequent swing trades based on technical analysis. But if you fit those criteria, it could be a good platform for you.
If you’re serious about growing as an investor or trader, Webull offers you more than the other new, popular self-directed investment platforms. If your personality, goals and experience fit somewhere in between Robinhood and Fidelity, Webull can be a great choice.