SpeedTrader is a day trading broker designed to meet the needs of active traders. The firm was founded in 1999 and is well-known within the trading community. SpeedTrader offers competitive commissions, direct market access, and third party locates. Is this the right broker for you? Read our review to find out.
SpeedTrader is part of Mint Global Markets, Inc., who is a member of SIPC and FINRA. The company specializes in day trading and institutional clients, and offers competitive pricing with a suite of trading platforms. SpeedTrader has been in business since 1999, making them one of the older direct access brokers. We were intrigued by SpeedTrader because they are marketed as a broker designed specifically for day traders. Let’s start the review.
There are two commission schedules at SpeedTrader. The first is a per-trade plan that charges $4.49 per stock trade for accounts above $25,000 and $6.95 for accounts below that level. A per-share plan charges $0.0044 per trade for customers who choose COR Clearing. COR imposes a $1.99 minimum. ETC Clearing has a tiered plan that varies between $0.004 and $0.001 depending on monthly volume. ETC has a $2 minimum commission per trade.
Clients who place more than 400 trades in a month can contact SpeedTrader for lower rates. SpeedTrader works with active traders to provide competitive commissions that aren’t advertised on the site.
SpeedTrader offers derivative trading, and contracts are 40¢ each. We found this to be surprisingly competitive when compared to other brokers.
Cash accounts aren’t available at SpeedTrader. Every account is a margin account, and the broker-dealer has a $30,000 minimum to open an account. There is a $30 quarterly inactivity fee. COR clients can avoid it by placing at least 5 trades per month. ETC customers need to trade at least 50,000 shares every three months.
SpeedTrader charges for all of its platforms, including the use of its browser-based software. Fees range from $25 (for the website) to $140 per month. Additional fees are charged for data.
The fees are waived for accounts that generate a minimum level of commissions. This type of commission and software structure is quite common for brokers marketing to day traders, like Lightspeed.
The first program we’re going to look at is SpeedTrader’s browser-based trading system. Called ActiveWeb, it comes with option chains, watch lists, real-time charting, streaming news, and Level I data.
The platform functions in any browser. What I was really impressed by was the fact that ActiveWeb can be used in a multi-screen layout. This would be really convenient for day traders who use multiple tools simultaneously.
I also liked the ability to route orders to a particular exchange. Since this is the simplest platform SpeedTrader offers, I didn’t expect this feature here.
In the middle of the platform is a series of tabs. Clicking on ‘Option Chain’ shows bid, ask, last, and volume for calls and puts. Unfortunately, I did not see any multi-leg strategies on this platform. ActiveWeb also comes with a Twitter feed if you want to know what other traders are doing at the moment. Another tab shows news articles. I was impressed by the ability to search for news by ticker symbol.
Overall, ActiveWeb is an impressive web platform. Most serious traders will prefer SpeedTrader’s other options.
Up next is SpeedTrader Pro, which is powered by DAS software. The platform comes with Level II data, hot keys, point-and-click trading, and advanced charting with technical indicators. SpeedTrader promises “fast trade executions” on this platform, so presumably it is faster than ActiveWeb.
One feature I thought would be very useful for day traders was hot-key support, which has more than 100 pre-loaded functions. Also available on SpeedTrader Pro is custom-built layouts, which can be saved and used at a later time.
Another nice feature that professional traders would benefit from is multi-account management. It’s possible to manage all your accounts using a single login on the platform.
Another service that SpeedTrader Pro offers that ActiveWeb doesn’t is Level II quotes. These stream in real time along with time and sales data. Orders can be placed directly from the Level II screen, another nice feature.
Sterling Trader Pro
The most advanced software the brokerage firm offers (and the most expensive) is Sterling Trader Pro. In addition to direct-access routing and sophisticated charting, the platform provides stock scanners that use real-time data.
What I found very useful on the platform was basket trading. It’s possible to create, manage, and trade multiple securities at the same time. Day traders may find this to be quite valuable.
Hot keys on Sterling Trader Pro are customizable, which is another benefit for active traders. Many data packages are available to use on this platform. Some of the available sources include OTC markets, EDGX Book, BATS Books, OPRA, and PR Newswire.
A mobile platform for SpeedTrader clients is available at mobile.speedtrader.com. There is charting with technical studies and multiple graph types. Time and sales data are shown with Level II information.
What I thought was really nice was the inclusion of option chains. There is also market news and of course order entry.
The UI of the app is quite outdated, especially when put side-by-side with apps by top brokerages like TradeStation.
A SpeedTrader associate can be reached during the week from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm, EST. Unfortunately, there are no weekend hours. The broker’s website does have an on-line chat feature. Previous clients of a more customer service friendly brokerage like Ally Invest will be disappointed with the availability at Speedtrader.
Executions and Routes
SpeedTrader’s desktop platform offers direct access to the markets. There are nearly thirty ECN’s and market makers. These include CUTS, HELIX, and MDPT. Some of these venues will have fees or rebates for adding or taking liquidity.
Easy-to-borrow stocks are shown on the desktop platform. It is updated at 8:00 am, EST. If you don’t find the stock you’re interested in, you can check the website, which has a hard-to-borrow list. The Corelli Locate System shows the cost of borrowing these stocks. If the price is acceptable to you, you can send a request to the broker to load the shares into your desktop account.
Is SpeedTrader Right For You?
SpeedTrader’s commission schedule makes it an ideal choice for active day traders who have some experience with trading. If you are highly active, SpeedTrader will save you a lot of money over other brokers (while providing access to better tools). If you are more of a casual trader, you may get better value out of a discount broker.
SpeedTrader also provides additional value for short sellers due to their extensive short lists and third party locate system.
- A SpeedTrader account can be opened with a foreign address. Some countries are ineligible, however, while others have restrictions.
- Competitive commission fees for active traders
- Top of the line trading software
- Great short lists
- Multiple routing options
- SpeedTrader offers its customers a 15% discount on trading software from Trade Ideas.
- More than 4,500 stocks are on its short list.
- SpeedTrader does not offer checks or a debit card with any of its accounts.
- Additional fees can add up for inactive traders
Looking at SpeedTrader’s commission schedule, its shorting services, and its suite of trading platforms, we can only conclude that this broker is hard to beat for active traders.