Interactive Brokers vs. Webull 2022 – Investopedia
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Interactive Brokers (IBKR) and Webull are both trading platforms, but that’s where the similarities end. Founded by Thomas Peterffy in 1978, IBKR has grown into a massive global investment company serving intermediate to professional investors. Webull was founded in 2017 by Wang Anquan, a former Alibaba Group employee, as a low cost trading website and mobile app. Both IBKR and Webull are self-directed platforms for trading stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency, but IBKR also offers bonds, mutual funds, futures, forex, cryptocurrency, and scores of managed portfolios. Moreover, U.S. and international traders can access a wide range of global investment markets at IBKR. While beginners and intermediate investors may be satisfied with Webull, all levels of traders, investors, and professionals will be served by IBKR’s deep offerings. IBKR’s Lite and Pro tiers ensure there is a plan for beginners through professionals. We dissect these two trading platforms to help you decide which one is a better fit for your portfolio needs.
Comparing the usability of Webull and Interactive Brokers is similar to the contest between a Honda Civic and a Mercedes. While both platforms offer good usability, their clients are of distinct camps. Newer investors and those seeking a streamlined desktop workstation and a well-designed mobile app for stock, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency will find what they need at Webull. The mobile and desktop versions are similar with easy access to main features from the home screen. The home page user experience gives you a direct path to stock research, screening, trading, accounts, transfers, and more.
Interactive Brokers is a high-end investment platform, where you can access all asset classes, global markets, multiple trading platforms, and resources for beginners through professional investors. Given the breadth of the platform, the user experience at IBKR is not as seamless as at Webull. Yet, despite its girth, IBKR has made excellent progress in facilitating easier platform navigation. Users of the downloadable desktop, web, and mobile versions will find similar functionality. At IBKR you can trade any asset class on any platform, with access to data, charting, research, trading, news, and more. In a direct comparison, the smaller Webull platform is easier to navigate. If you want the breadth of IBKR products and markets, however, the usability is good even though there is a bit of a learning curve.
IBKR has two comprehensive trading platforms, the desktop Client Portal and the downloadable Trader Workstation (TWS). The client portal is suitable for all but the most sophisticated investors. You can check your account, place trades, view quotes, news, and research, and also access advanced charting. The powerhouse downloadable Trader Workstation (TWS) is for active through professional traders and investors. The customizable TWS provides more than 100 order types and gives you all that you need in terms of fundamental and technical charting and portfolio management tools. You can rapidly place orders using hotkeys, trade directly from the chart, stage orders for later execution, manage risk, and access a staggering range of tradable assets across the globe.
Webull, for its part, offers a customizable trading platform for stocks, ETFs, and options, and is suitable for casual through intermediate traders. The Webull workstation has customizable templates for stocks, ETFs, options, cryptocurrency, and day trading. The widget structure enables easy customization.The widgets contain different information, such as news, fundamentals, options, and so on. The advanced order screen includes contingency trading and trades directly from a chart. Webull certainly works for beginners and even intermediate traders, but IBKR, winner of our Best Charting Platform for Day Traders and Best Online Broker for Advanced Traders, offers an unmatched array of tools for sophisticated investors.
Interactive Brokers offers several mobile apps: IBKR Mobile, GlobalTrader, and Impact. The IBKR Mobile app is nearly identical to the computer-based platforms, although advanced users will find the broadest functionality on the Trader Workstation. The Impact app enables ESG investors to screen for companies that meet specific criteria. Global traders, in the U.S. and abroad, can access 90+ stock exchanges to trade in local currency using the GlobalTrader app.
Webull recently launched the 8.0 version of the app with additional educational content and customizable charting, alerts, options trading, and financial reporting. The revamp offers similar features to the desktop but is designed to work better on the small mobile screen. Users can access the smart trading tools including 50+ technical indicators and 12 charting tools.
We found the Webull app easier to use than the IBKR mobile app, but the difference in the size of the platforms contributes to the complexities that affect IBKR’s app functionality. That being said, Webull takes this category for having a streamlined app even if the assets and markets tradable through it are more limited.
Hands down, IBKR is the offerings winner with access to all the important asset classes and more markets than most investors can reasonably trade. Beyond the basic stocks, ETFs, and options, you’ll find bonds, futures, forex, cryptocurrency, mutual funds, and scores of managed portfolios at IBKR. With the exception of backtesting and IBKR APIs, which aren’t available to Lite users, all other offerings are accessible to all clients. Webull users can trade US listed stocks including over-the-counter issues, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrency. This is not a bad selection by any means, but it simply cannot match Interactive Brokers’ industry leading reach when it comes to range of offerings.
In keeping with Webull’s scope, users can trade the typical order types including market, limit, stop, stop limit, and trailing stops. Conditional orders like one-cancel-the-other, and one-triggers-the other are also available. Here again, Webull is not weak, but it is simply outmatched. IBKR users can access more than 100 order types and algos on the Trader Workstation. Traders can set up order cascades that set the parameters to enter and exit trades without having to actively monitor positions if they so choose. The vast order types make IBKR the best pick for intermediate through professional investors and active traders.
Pro traders will appreciate IBKR’s SmartRouting which automatically transmits the best available prices. TWS users can select their preferred stock and options smart routing strategies for non-marketable orders.Traders benefit from advanced technologies to further reduce trading costs and improve efficiency. IBKR reported a net price improvement per share of $0.0108 and accepts around $0.0020 per share in payment on order flow (PFOF). In our analysis, we found the PFOF to be lower that in most periods analyzed. This just confirms that price improvement and speed are the key priorities of the routing process.
Webull's trading technology is basic, although it suffices and includes a net price improvement of 0.0063 a share on a 100-499 order size. Unlike IBKR, there’s no smart order routing, trading automation, or ways to route your own orders at Webull. Webull also sees significantly more payment for order flow, although the company is quite open about the fact that it is how the platform is offered for free. PFOF at Webull was $0.0109 per share in the period analyzed. That is roughly five times what IBKR collects.
There is no comparison between the trading technology at IBKR and Webull. IBKR is designed for sophisticated traders and offers substantially more order and trading technology breadth.
The cost comparison between Interactive Brokers and Webull is again complicated by the difference in the size of each trading platform’s offering. IBKR’s pricing is complex, especially for Pro account holders. There are three types of equity commissions for Pro traders, fixed per-share of $0.005 with a $1.00 minimum and 1% of trade maximum. Tiered per-share pricing depends upon your monthly order activity. Compounding this, Interactive Brokers serves many countries outside the U.S. and all of them have some manner of regionalized pricing. IBKR Lite users receive commission free equity and ETF trades, similar to most brokers today, including Webull. Lite users at IBKR receive lower interest on cash balances and pay higher interest rates on margin borrowing. IBKR is also our Best Broker for Low Margin Rates, charging 5.58% for up to $100,000 (4.58% for IBKR Pro users). Webull charges 6.99% up to $25,000 and 6.49% up to $100,000.
Webull’s fee-free trading for stocks, ETFs, listed options, and crypto currency is a boon for fee-conscious investors. If trading cost is a priority, then Webull wins the category. But the limited number of products at Webull versus IBKR, means that advanced traders in various assets will find a better overall deal at IBKR.
In the research category again we’re confronted with the distinction between Interactive Brokers and Webull’s scope. IBKR’s research offerings are vast and include robust screeners and trading idea generators for stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, options, and fixed income products. The tools include options, margin, order quantity, interest, and financing calculators. There is extensive third-party research available for free and subscriptions. The research amenities border on overwhelming, but they are also extremely valuable in guiding your trading.
Webull’s research includes a stock screener. That’s pretty much it. The stock screener is not as robust as those of larger brokers, but it does allow you to filter by financial information and some preset indicators. The Webull charting capabilities should work for the majority of average traders. When it comes to research, however, IBKR is the clear winner. Without tools, calculators, or third-party research, Webull falls substantially behind IBKR.
The high level IBKR portfolio analysis tool serves beginners to institutional investors.The free portfolio analysis tool, which is available to the public, is basic. IBKR account holders can access advanced features and real time updates. After linking your financial accounts, you’ll receive in-depth analysis of your entire financial picture including investment portfolio checkup, total returns, risk measures, and allocations by geography, asset class, and sector.
Webull falls short on the portfolio analysis, offering just the basics. Users have account performance details including realized and unrealized gains or losses as well as capital gains or losses. You’ll also have access to internal rate of return or IRR data. IBKR is better suited for those with more substantial investment portfolios who need comprehensive portfolio analysis tools.
Those seeking both a basic and in depth investment education will be fulfilled at IBKR. Their vast education resources are available to customers and the public. These range from short videos, to multi-language tutorials, daily webinars, and events. The IBKR TradersAcademy affiliated website provides beginner, intermediate, and advanced online courses. The breadth includes rudimentary introductions to stocks, indexes, and trading to advanced option strategies and margin.
Webull’s investor education is suitable for the typical Webull customer. The short courses include the basics about stocks, ETFs, trading, options, and cryptocurrency. The learn portal includes several explainer videos and information about how to navigate the platform. The Webull educational offerings are a good start, but lack the depth and breadth of those available at IBKR. Regardless of where you open an account, The IBKR education tools are comprehensive and worth a look.
IBKR is improving its customer service. For ready assistance, the artificial intelligence IBot is available from most screens. IBKR also provides phone support 24 hours a day, six days a week, and a callback service. Live agent online chat is also accessible from within the trading platform or website. Additionally, the FAQ section is well-organized.
Webull offers phone customer service during trading hours and an extensive FAQ section. Wait times are known to be long at Webull. In general, IBKR, is easier to access via customer service and offers more expansive phone hours and chat features.
IBKR security protocols and asset protection go above and beyond the basic industry standards. Beyond the standard $500,000 Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) coverage, the excess SIPC coverage at IBKR provides up to an additional $30 million, with a cash sublimit of $900,000, subject to an aggregate limit of $150 million. Webull also offers industry-beating security protocols including a discrete six digit passcode for trading access. The Webull additional SIPC insurance covers account holders up to $37.5 million including $900,000 in cash.
The security features at both Webull and IBKR are both excellent. Investors can be comfortable that their data will be protected at either firm. The insurance does not protect investors from losses due to normal market fluctuations but from corporate malfeasance and bankruptcy.
Both IBKR and Webull are good investment platforms. In prior years, the larger and older IBKR ran the table for many of our top rated categories like Best Broker for Advanced Options Traders, Day Trading, and International Trading. More recently, Webull has received acknowledgement for costs, including Best Low-Cost Options Broker and Best Low-Cost Day Trading Platform.
The winner of the contest between Interactive Brokers and Webull comes down to your investment needs. Active investors seeking the widest range of investment assets all under one roof will choose IBKR. The access to bonds, mutual funds, futures, forex, and international trading is rarely found within one company. The range of managed portfolios and international trading further distinguish IBKR. Finally, the TWS platform competes head-to-head with any professional trading software. It is hard to beat Interactive Brokers in its totality. IBKR responds to the breadth of features with many platform related guides, tutorials, videos, and customer service help to make their usability more accessible.
If you don’t need all the bells and whistles of IBKR, however, and are seeking a streamlined trading platform with low fees, then Webull is a solid choice. The IBKR Lite plan is appropriate for most investors with affordable fixed pricing for options, futures, and mutual funds, along with commission-free stock and ETF trading. Our main caution with Webull is that beginners might need to visit other sources to get a well rounded investment education. We do, of course, note the PFOF dependence, but Webull has been transparent on this count and gamification is currently kept to a minimum.
Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. This year, we revamped the review process by conducting an extensive survey of customers that are actively looking to start trading and investing with an online broker. We then combined this invaluable information with our subject matter expertise to develop the framework for a quantitative ratings model that is at the core of how we compiled our list of the best online broker and trading platform companies.
This model weighs key factors like trading technology, range of offerings, mobile app usability, research amenities, educational content, portfolio analysis features, customer support, costs, account amenities, and overall trading experience according to their importance. Our team of researchers gathered 2425 data points and weighted 66 criteria based on data collected during extensive research for each of the 25 companies we reviewed.
Many of the brokers we reviewed also gave us live demonstrations of their platforms and services, either at their New York City offices or via video conferencing methods. Live brokerage accounts were also obtained for most of the platforms we reviewed, which our team of expert writers and editors used to perform hands-on testing in order to lend their qualitative point of view.
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