SpeedTrader Review - Professional Broker for Day Traders Like You
If you are a frequent trader, there are two important factors that you take into consideration when choosing a trading platform, speed and cost. The higher either variable is, the smaller your bottom line can potentially be as you will find out in this SpeedTrader review.
With SpeedTrader, you have the option to execute a trade as quickly as 0.0001 seconds with a streamlined platform designed to make it as simple as possible to initiate a trade with as few mouse clicks possible.
To get the most out of the SpeedTrader platform, you will need to be an experienced active trader with a relatively high account balance.
Brief Overview of SpeedTrader
SpeedTrader is a division of Stock USA Execution Services, Inc. (Stock USA) founded in 1999. It is one of the oldest online brokerages and specifically designed for active traders that trade stocks, options, futures, and forex.
As the name indicates, SpeedTrader is big on offering high-speed trading functionality. It isn’t necessarily the cheapest platform, but, it is one of the fastest.
Who Should Consider SpeedTrader?
SpeedTrader’s primary customer base is active experienced day traders for several reasons.
These reasons include the fact that you can:
- get charged an inactivity fee if you do not execute enough trades each quarter,
- high initial account minimums,
- and a lack of research and educational support resources.
If you are a typical “buy and hold” investor, the fees will make it more expensive to trade here than elsewhere, even if you only need a barebones investing platform with minimal research and charting tools.
Likes & Dislikes
Unlike some other brokerages, SpeedTrader is intended directly for a specific type of trader. Meaning you will either love it or hate it.
- Clients accepted internationally
- Powerful professional platforms
- Streaming real-time data
- Very fast order execution (0.0001 seconds)
- Wide routing options
- 14-day free demo account
- Quarterly inactivity fee
- Very high account minimum ($30,000)
- No free platform
- Not the best charting
- Routing fees
Active U.S. stock and options traders that primarily trade online will benefit like SpeedTrader the most. This is because you can only trade U.S. stocks and options with their online platform. If you also want to trade bonds or mutual funds, you will need to execute those trades via telephone.
To further encourage experienced day traders to begin their stock and option trading with SpeedTrader, they only accept margin and option accounts and do not support cash accounts. And, there’s a minimum initial account balance of $30,000 to get started.
If you only trade U.S. stocks and options, the lack of additional online offerings will not matter much.
SpeedTrader is built for day traders and stocks and options are the main equities they trade.
For investors who'd also like the opportunity to trade other investments will be better off doing so elsewhere as there is an additional fee for phone trades if the high initial account minimum and exclusion of cash accounts doesn’t ward you off initially.
Even though you need $30,000 to open an account, your account value can go below that amount afterward. However, your trade commissions will be higher if that balance drops below $25,000.
Also, you can be assessed a $30 inactivity fee if you do not make at least 15 trades each calendar quarter.
Finally, you might also have to pay software fees depending on your monthly commissions amount.
- Online Stocks: $4.49/trade or $0.0044 per share if account balance is greater than $25,000, $6.95/ trade if account balance is less than $25,000
- Online Options: Start at $0.40 per contract
- Phone-Assisted Trades: $30 per trade
- Inactivity Fee: $30 per quarter if less than 15 trades made
- IRA Annual Account Fee: $35 plus $25 initial setup fee
Depending on the platform capabilities you desire, SpeedTrader offers three distinct monthly subscriptions. The fees can be waived if you generate enough commissions during the month.
- Active Web (Equity Level 1 Streaming and basic charting data): $25/month
Waived after $199+ in monthly commissions
- Pro Level 1 (Equity Level 1 Streaming with advanced features): $49/month
Waived after $199+ in monthly commissions
- Pro Level 2 (Equity Level 2 Streaming): $104/month
Waived after $499+ in monthly commissions
Routing fees can vary depending on the venue. They can be as little as $0.0015 to $0.005 for online trades.
There are no additional routing fees for options trades.
For SpeedTrader to be affordable, you need to make at least 15 trades each quarter to avoid the inactivity fee.
To make their services as cost-effective as possible, you will need to make at least 44 monthly trades to avoid paying the monthly software fees.
Their trade and software fees can be more expensive than some of the competition, but, for professional day traders, they will probably be able to justify the monthly fees if they still do not meet the minimum commission requirements.
SpeedTrader has two different platforms, depending on if you want to use software or a web-based platform, and a mobile app.
This is SpeedTrader’s main platform. It is desktop based and was created by DAS Inc. SpeedTrader PRO is also their most powerful platform as it provides Level 2 information, multiple screen capability, and real-time streaming.
Like other professional platforms, you can also drag the various windows to different locations on your screen. And to help make trading as quick and easy as possible, the platform also has “point and click trading” and 100+ hot key options.
You can also try PRO for free for 14 days with a demo account.
ActiveWeb is the web-based platform and is also very good. It doesn’t provide Level 2 data or some of the more advanced charting features as the desktop version of SpeedTrader PRO, however, it still has the trading capabilities you need like order routing, real-time data, and watchlists.
Both platforms are very functional for active trading.
As with any desktop version of a platform, it is designed for the most serious traders and that is the same for SpeedTrader.
Unless, you need Level 2 data and some of the advanced features, the ActiveWeb platform will be more than sufficient.
The desktop platform has the look and feel of a professional trader platform with the ability to customize the modular windows to fit your needs and also choose the different themes: dark, default (light), and blue.
Unlike some other platforms, this one has more of a classic feel to it that you might appreciate for its simplicity.
ActiveWeb is also very easy on the eyes as you can choose from three different color schemes: Eggplant, Vader, and Mint Chocolate to better suit your preferences.
The platform has one primary box in the center and is flanked by additional information such as stock quotes or watchlists on either side.
The design for both platforms is pretty good. If you do not care for the dark backgrounds, you may not care so much for the design, but, it is easy to find the information you are looking for.
An advantage of having the SpeedTrader PRO platform is the ability to customize almost everything from the toolbars to rearranging the windows within the platform.
You can also save different layouts for future use, employ over 100 hot keys, create custom scanners, and have over 25 routing options.
As the PRO platform was built by DAS Inc., it is regarded as being one of the fastest trading platforms and these customizations help make trading even quicker in addition to being easier to navigate and look at.
If you like to customize, installing the PRO version will be your best bet. The web-based ActiveWeb has some basic customization functions beyond changing the color scheme, although, it pales in comparison to SpeedTrader PRO.
The third and final platform is the SpeedTrader mobile trading app. To the potential surprise of many, this app is very powerful as you can access Level 2 data and it has many of the same capabilities as the ActiveWeb web platform like streaming real-time data, advanced charts, and option chains, etc.
Despite all these advanced features, it is still easy to use.
SpeedTrader probably has one of the best apps for an online brokerage. Not many offer the same data and charting capabilities. As mobile trading is becoming more popular, this is one area SpeedTrader seems to be ahead of the curve.
Fast trading is the lifeblood of SpeedTrader. Their platforms have been optimized to allow you to make the most advanced trades in the least amount of time. Online, you can trade U.S. stocks and options.
You have 25+ routing options for stocks, OTC/BB, and Options. When it comes to trade can be execution, they can be completed in as little as 0.0001 seconds!
SpeedTrader’s claims for rapid & flexible order filling live up to the hype. Plus using the hot keys, can help make scheduling your trades even quicker and easier.
If you like using advanced charts for trading, you might find SpeedTrader’s charting capabilities lacking. This is probably their largest weakness.
You still have access to charts that a beginner investor would not comprehend as they offer various chart types, indicators, and a wide variety of time frames.
Also, navigating the chart menu isn’t as easy as it could be. You can customize certain options to make your experience easier.
If you already have an idea of what you want to trade, their charting tools will probably be okay. But, it’s still a few notches below TD Ameritrade, probably the highest touted brokerage for the advanced charts.
SpeedTrader’s primary purpose is to execute advanced trades quickly and cheaply. To remain on mission, they have very few research resources as adding more would drive up costs and potentially make their platforms more complex.
Their research platform basically consists of a barebones news feed. It’s better than nothing, but, you will need to do any amount of substantive research elsewhere.
The lack of a research platform is one reason novice investors are discouraged from using SpeedTrader as most rely heavily on the various reports and expert opinions to make each trade.
For those that trade professionally, they could benefit from research, but, they might have most of the information they need through the Level 1 or Level 2 quote data & SpeedTrader’s charting tools.
Since SpeedTrader’s ideal customer is a professional active trader with extensive investing experience, they do not offer an educational center that other brokerages offer to discuss topics like Stock Options 101 or the difference between a stock equity and a mutual fund.
They do have video tutorials on how to use their SpeedTrader PRO desktop platform and ActiveWeb browser platform that allows you to maximize the value and functionality of the trading platform for the multiple trades you might execute in a month.
SpeedTrader doesn’t have many educational materials to speak of because there isn’t much demand beyond knowing how to navigate the platform.
If you use SpeedTrader, you most likely have invested on a regular basis for several years & know the ins & outs of advanced trading. You are simply looking for a platform that allows you to trade quickly and cheaply.
If you need to contact SpeedTrader for any reason, they have a live customer support team Monday-Friday. 8AM-5PM EST. You can contact them by phone or live chat during these hours for technical help , or, initiate a trade. They are also available by e-mail 24/7.
Compared to other discount brokerages, their support services are comparable.
You will most likely have technical issues when the markets are open and that is also when SpeedTrader offers live chat or phone support to help you.
SpeedTrader Review Final Verdict
SpeedTrader clearly isn’t for every trader because they specialize in active day trading and require a high initial account balance of $30,000 to help deter those that might only do active trading as a part-time hobby.
If you simply need a cost-effective day trader platform and have the ability to research potential trades elsewhere, beyond charting data, SpeedTrader is worth considering.