Lightspeed Trading Review
- Trading Platforms
- Short Lists
- Executions and Routes
- Customer Service
- Additional Fees
Lightspeed is a stock broker that caters to day traders and high volume investors. Founded in 1994, it has a long history of scaling and adding new services and software packages. Is Lightspeed the right broker for you? Read the review to find out more.
About LightSpeed Trading
Lightspeed Trading caters to day traders and other high-volume investors. Founded in 1994, it has slowly added more services and software packages over time. Today, it has an active trading blog and offers futures contracts that can be bought and sold on a variety of platforms. Let’s check it out and see how it compares to some of its day-trading rivals.
Lightspeed offers two commission schedules. A per-share plan charges $0.001 to $0.0045 per share, depending on monthly volume. There is a $1 minimum per order on this plan.
Under per-trade pricing, equity transactions cost anywhere from $2.50 to $4.50; and again, it depends on monthly trading volume. It takes 10,000 trades to get to $2.50.
Options and Futures
Option contracts cost anywhere from $0.20 to $0.60, and this too depends on monthly volume. The broker-dealer requires 100,000 contracts in a month to get to $0.20.
Futures are also on a tiered schedule. The high end is $0.60 per contract, and the low end is $0.25.
Lightspeed has a $25 monthly low-balance fee. It is assessed against any account that falls below $15,000. Commissions paid in the previous month can be used to offset the charge.
Platform fees range from free to $325 per month.
Lightspeed Trading offers a nice selection of different trading platforms. Let’s review the options.
LS Trader is the broker’s desktop platform for traders who need a multi-screen program with custom layouts. The software can function on up to 40 screens at time. Multiple accounts can be used on the platform at one time as well.
Additional features include direct-access routing, GTC orders, advanced charting, after-hours trading, and basket orders. Lightspeed Trading recommends the software for active, professional, and institutional clients. Hedge funds should also find the platform useful.
LS Trader has incorporated research and scanning technology to make finding trade possibilities quicker and easier. What I especially liked about this program is its API functionality.
Sterling Trader Pro
A more expensive platform is Sterling Trader Pro. This software comes with Level II quotes and hot keys for fast order placement. What I found really useful on this platform was the ability to access foreign markets.
It’s easy to establish alerts, which can be modified. There are tools for portfolio management as well. Derivative traders will like Sterling Trader’s inclusion of option strategies. Bid and ask data for contracts are displayed along with the exchanges the contracts are trading on.
For non-professional traders, Lightspeed recommends Livevol X. It is the only desktop program that is free of charge at the broker-dealer. What impressed me the most about the software is that it offers access to exchanges 24/7, which Sterling and LS don’t provide. However, Livevol X doesn’t offer API functionality, which will disappoint some advanced traders.
One feature I found on Livevol X that should be mentioned is the software’s inclusion of historical options data and options scanners. These tools would be great for derivative traders.
Up next is RealTick Pro. Due to the software’s level of sophistication, it is best used by experienced traders. The platform offers both Level I and II streaming data. Watchlists can be created, and advanced charting comes with technical studies. Unlike Livevol X, RealTick Pro has direct-access routing. One feature on RealTick Pro that impressed me the most was the ability to set up a futures ladder view.
Website and Mobile Trading
If you’re an infrequent trader and would prefer to just use a browser-based platform or mobile app, Lightspeed has you covered. The broker offers both, but does not recommend them for day traders. There are no Level II quotes available, for example.
LightSpeed Customer Service
Some low-cost brokers, like Robinhood, only offer customer support in English. But Lightspeed Trading has associates who speak Chinese and Spanish in addition to English. The brokerage house is open from 7 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock in the evening, EST. There are no weekend hours. Despite these limited hours, they are lengthier than other broker’s service hours. Interactive Brokers does offer Sunday hours, which may be advantageous for futures traders.
Executions and Routes
Lightspeed provides more than 100 routing destinations. This is more than Questrade and CenterPoint combined. The default option at Lightspeed is SMRT, which is free. Picking a particular venue comes with fees and rebates, depending on whether you’re adding or removing liquidity.
At some day-trading brokers, like Just2Trade, you have to call in to make a request for hard-to-borrow stocks. What I really liked about Lightspeed is that it has incorporated a short locate feature in LS Trader that allows you to simply type in a ticker symbol, click on Locate, and the software will tell you how many shares are available at what price. You can then accept or cancel.
Type of Trader Lightspeed Trading Is Best For
With its futures offerings, Lightspeed Trading would be great for investors who are interested in commodities and other products on the futures exchanges. SogoTrade, for example, does not provide futures trading. As for equities, Lightspeed’s per-share and per-trade plans are much cheaper than TradeStation’s versions. Lightspeed is definitely designed for more active traders, similar to brokers like Speedtrader. Casual traders will benefit from the lower account/software fees of discount brokers like ETRADE and TD Ameritrade.
Lightspeed Trading is highly competitive when compared to other day-trading brokers. Professional traders with multiple accounts will also benefit from the firm’s risk management software.
- Lightspeed has better pricing on options than TradeZero.
- Unlike a lot of other day-trading firms, Lightspeed has a large educational section where clients can find articles and videos on many topics. These include using stop-loss orders and common mistakes of short sellers.
- Lightspeed has more platforms than ChoiceTrade.
- Compared to Lightspeed, it takes fewer shares per month (2 million v. 3 million) to get to $0.002 per share on Cobra Trading’s commission schedule.
- Futures can only be traded on RealTick Pro, which costs $325 per month. By comparison, TD Ameritrade has reasonable commissions on futures ($2.25) on a free platform.
- Lightspeed’s software fees are pricier than SpeedTrader’s.