Executions and Routes
SpeedTrader is a direct access broker that has been serving clients for over two decades. The service provides access to extensive short lists, multiple routing options, flexible commission structures and more. Read the full review to see if this is the right broker for you.
SpeedTrader is a direct-access online broker offering multiple platform access through web, standalone and mobile using Das Trader software. It is a division of Stock USA Execution Services, Inc. based out of New York. SpeedTrader is designed specifically for day traders who require advanced tools, flexible commission structures, routing options, and more extensive short lists. SpeedTrader offers clearing through Cor clearing. They also provide clearing through ETC via the SpeedTrader PRO service.
Commissions and Fees
SpeedTrader offers both a per-trade and per-share commission structure for stocks. The per-trade pricing starts at $2.95 and goes up to $4.49 (depending on your trading volume).
The per-share pricing starts at $0.0025 per-share (plus ECN routing/pass-thru fees) and goes up to $0.0044 per-share.
Traders have to choose between per-share and per-trade pricing when setting up the account – you cannot switch between the two. While both the per-share and per-trade commissions are competitive, I prefer the per-share structure because it allows you to scale in and out of positions without worrying about burning commissions. That said, traders who either trade bigger size or trade cheaper stocks (with larger positions) may prefer the per-trade pricing.
ECN pass-thru rebates are credited the following month.
SpeedTrader charges between $0.30 and $0.40 per contract for options trades (based on volume). There is no per-ticket fee, but there is a $1.99 minimum on all equities and options trades.
SpeedTrader offers a desktop, web, and mobile platform. These platforms come at a monthly fee unless traders generate a certain amount of commissions each month.
The ActiveWeb browser-based platform costs $25 per month, but waived for clients generating over $199 per month in commissions. Options data is $15 and Pink Sheets are $20 per month. Mobile access costs $30 per month and isn’t waved.
The SpeedTrader Pro is the standalone platform suited to active intra-day traders. There are two pricing plans:
The SpeedTrader Pro Level 1 costs $49 per month. Optional level 1 data feeds are $15 for options and $20 for Pink Sheets with $15 for mobile access.
The SpeedTrader Pro Level 2 costs $104 per month with optional level 1 data feeds including $15 for options and $20 for Pink Sheets. Optional Level 2 data feeds include $20 NASDAQ Total View, $15 NYSE ARCA Book, $35 News Body, $50 OPRA Options and $30 Pink Sheet. Level 2 data feeds are waived for clients generating $499 in monthly commissions.
SpeedTrader charges a $30 inactivity fee, if account makes less than 15 traders per quarter. Broker-assisted trades incur a $30 fee. Forced margin liquidation incurs a $20 fee in addition to commissions. Wire transfers are $25 domestically and $75 internationally.
IRA accounts incur a $75 annual fee. IRA account asset reviews are $300 and terminations incur a $75 fee. Transfers including Roth to Traditional IRA cost $55.
Make sure you select to receive confirmations and statements electronically; otherwise you can get dinged at $4 per mailed trade confirmation and $10 per mailed statement.
SpeedTrader offers the basic 4 to 1 margin on intra-day trades and 2 to 1 on overnight positions for accounts that meet the $25,000 PDT rule. It is always prudent to check the margin requirements on volatile stock gappers like biotechs. If the margin requirements drop, it can cause forced liquidations with incur a $20 fee in addition to commissions. However, the worst part is getting stopped out while fanning the flames of a violent short-squeeze, which could blow out your account. Traders are advised to use margin cautiously.
Platform Features and Tools
SpeedTrader has three trading platforms:
The SpeedTrader ActiveWeb is the browser-based platform used primarily on desktop/laptops for basic trading functionality with minimal bells and whistles. This platform has level 1 quote data, basic charting, watch lists, scanner, options chains and live streaming news.
This platform is great for trading “on the go” but most active traders will prefer the SpeedTrader Pro platform.
The SpeedTrader Pro is the standalone trading platform with news headlines, high-low ticket, advanced chart studies, web and mobile access, multi-account access, hot keys, direct access order routing to a wide assortment of ECNs. Level 1 data and level 2 data options are available. This platform is provided by Das Trader and offers a nice range of tools. The platform offers beautiful charting and runs smoothly.
The SpeedTrader Mobile trading app including advanced charting, news, level 2, options chains and order management. It has a $30 a month access fee for ActiveWeb users and $15 per month for SpeedTrader Pro users. The mobile platform is one of the nicer mobile solutions available – offering great charts, level 2 screens, and advanced order routing options. That said, you may not want to incur the additional monthly cost if you don’t trade from your phone.
SpeedTrader is most commonly used by day traders. Therefore, you won’t find as many of the online research tools that you will from brokers like ETRADE and ScottTrade. Don’t expect to login to your account and find a research section where you can find analyst estimates, price targets, etc.
There are a few scanning tools built into the platforms. The High/Low Hit List and Top Ten List embedded scans are personally the best research tool for intra-day traders. This is a platform for technical analysis based trading with little fundamental research with the exception of the news feed.
Customer service can be reached through website, phone, e-mail and live chat during market hours. Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:00 am EST. to 5 pm EST. The website has 17 tutorial videos to get new users properly acclimated to the platforms.
SpeedTrader has a great customer service team. They are a smaller broker so there is more personalization. The support desk specializes in working with day traders, so you can get well-educated responses when you call in.
Execution and Routes
SpeedTrader has an impressive selection of ECN/exchange routes amongst all online brokers ranging from ARCA, INET, BATS and EDGX to more obscure routes like CUTC (Citadel), XALL, LQPT and ONXX.
This is one of the main benefits of using a broker like SpeedTrader – you have control of your order routing. When utilized properly, this can help you get better executions and fills.
Borrows and Locates
SpeedTrader updates the short-sell borrow list by 8 am EST. pre-market. SpeedTrader provides clients with access to four different third-party locates services (as well as easy to borrow lists). Locate services are integrated into the platform so clients can search for locate pricing and availability without navigating away from the SpeedTrader Pro platform.
This is one of the areas where SpeedTrader truly shines. If you’ve ever tried shorting a small cap momentum runner at a discount broker like ETRADE or Ameritrade, you know it’s nearly impossible to find shares to short. Basically, you’re only option is to miss out on the trade.
Brokers like SpeedTrader specialize in providing short sellers with access to the borrows and locates they need and I was very impressed with the firm’s short availability.
Who is SpeedTrader Best For?
SpeedTrader is a solid platform for traders of all levels. However, the quarterly inactivity fee and software platform fees are more tailored to active intra-day traders, who likely won’t incur the fees. Seasoned day traders who are well versed in order routing to exotic ECNs will enjoy the flexibility of the SpeedTrader Pro platform. Ultimately, SpeedTrader will be best for intermediate to advanced day traders who know how to make the most of all of the features. The short lists are great for traders who are short-biased and the routing options can help improve your executions. My favorite part of the service is the per-share pricing as it can save you a lot of money in the long run.
How Does SpeedTrader Compare to “Free Trading” Brokers?
In October 2019, many brokers announced that they would no longer charge commissions for day trading. The commission fees that ranged from $5-$10 per trade completely disappeared. SpeedTrader did NOT eliminate their commission fees for good reason.
It helps to understand how stock brokers make money. Traditional discount brokers like ETRADE, TD Ameritrade, and Schwab do not make the bulk of their revenues from trading commissions. Instead, they collect interest on your funds and get paid to route your orders to certain parties.
SpeedTrader is a direct access broker, meaning they route your orders directly to the market. There is no middle man, which means you get faster executions and (hopefully) better fill prices. Since SpeedTrader makes the bulk of their revenue from commissions, they cannot simply eliminate the commission fee. The question is, is it worth the price?
The answer – yes, but there’s a caveat. If you’re a serious trader, it’s absolutely worth paying $2.95/trade for the following reasons:
- You get better fill prices and executions
- You get faster platforms built specifically for traders
- You get access to better short lists
Each of these three features is more valuable than the commission fee. A good fill is worth more than $3, a great platform is worth more than $3, and not missing out on a short opportunity is definitely worth more than $3.
That said, not every trader will appreciate these features. If you’re a long-biased trader who only trades a few times per week, you’ll do fine with a discount broker. If you’re an active trader who takes both long and short positions, SpeedTrader has a very compelling offering.
- Das Trader platform software is seamless, fast and not a resource hog.
- Per-share pricing is great for scaling in and out of positions
- One of the largest selection of ECN order routes
- Great high/low hit list scan and Top Lists
- Fast execution with true direct access order routing
- Flexible hot key customizability
- $30 monthly access fee for the mobile app is excessive
- Fees can get expensive if not monitored