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Updated on Monday, March 25, 2019
Lightspeed Trading, a division of Lime Brokerage, is an online broker designed for active traders. Commissions are low for those who trade regularly, and there’s a choice of trading platforms, so you can select the features and functionalities that are most important to you. In fact, you can get some of the lowest commissions of any broker — provided you trade frequently — and you’ll have your choice of trading Stocks, ETFs, Options and Futures / commodities.
The average investor, however, likely will find that the high initial minimum deposit requirements, monthly fees for most platforms and other costs make Lightspeed an impractical choice. There are brokers out there (including Zacks Trade and TradeStation) that also offer advanced trading platforms without such high monthly costs. Many other platforms also have lower minimum deposit requirements, more accessible customer service and more Options for assets to invest in.
Who should consider Lightspeed Trading
Lightspeed is an option for those who can make a $10,000 minimum deposit — or a $25,000 minimum deposit to access some of the more advanced trading platforms. You’ll also need to be a frequent trader, as you’re required to pay a minimum of $25 in monthly commissions if your account balance sits below $15,000.
Active traders will find a lot to like with Lightspeed, including streaming quotes and customizable watchlists, as many as 40 screens with custom layouts for certain trading platforms, customizable charts and studies, market and Options scanners, historical data, and more. However, not every platform offers all those services, and all but two platforms carry monthly software fees starting at $130 and going up to $325.
Beginning investors could have a hard time using Lightspeed, not just because of the costs but also because these platforms can be complicated to navigate. And Lightspeed doesn’t offer any commission-free ETFs or any Mutual funds at all, so hands-off investors will need to look elsewhere, such as Ally Invest or E-Trade, each of which offers hundreds of ETFs and Mutual funds to be traded without paying commission.
Lightspeed fees and features
|Stock trading fees|
|Option trading fees|
|Amount minimum to open account|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, inactivity)|
|Customer support||Phone, Email|
Strengths of Lightspeed Trading
- Low commissions for frequent traders: Stock trades start at $0.0045 for traders who trade under 250,000 shares per month and go all the way down to $0.0010 for traders who have a monthly trading volume of over 15,000,000 shares. Zacks Trade, by comparison, charges $0.01 per share (with a $3 minimum per trade), while TradeStation charges $.01 per share or $0.006 per share after the first 500 trades.
- Choice of trading platforms: Lightspeed customers can use RealTick Pro, web or mobile trading, LS Trader, Sterling, or Livevol. The platforms are customized to specific types of investors, giving them the data and tools they need at their fingertips. Most platforms offer advanced features, such as basket order entry, which allows groups of securities to be bought or sold simultaneously, as well as after-hours trading and advanced charting tools.
- Convenience: All trades can be done from one account, including equities and Options. You can even trade from one account if you’re trading for multiple funds or multiple destinations.
Drawbacks of Lightspeed
- Substantial minimum deposit requirements: There is a $10,000 minimum balance requirement for Lightspeed’s basic web and mobile platform and a $25,000 minimum balance requirement for its other platforms.
- High fees: While Lightspeed’s web and mobile platform and Livevol are free, other platforms charge monthly fees. LS Trader charges $130, Sterling charges between $230 and $260, and RealTick Pro charges $325. Both Zacks Trade and TradeStation also have advanced trading platforms but don’t charge these monthly fees to use them.
- No commission-free ETFs, no Mutual funds and no Bonds: Many other online brokers offer greater access to hands-off or low-risk trading Options, with several offering a plethora of commission-free ETFs and no-load funds.
- Limited customer service: Lightspeed customer service is available via phone only during regular and extended market hours. While you can email Lightspeed, it doesn’t offer 24/7 online chat, unlike some competitors, including Ally Invest, and it has no branches for in-person customer service. E-Trade has about 30 of them.
Is Lightspeed Trading safe?
Lightspeed Trading is a safe option. It’s a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, which means cash deposited in your account is insured and secure in case the broker has financial problems. Excess insurance coverage is also provided by Wedbush on behalf of Lime Brokerage, protecting amounts up to $25,500,000 at no charge.
Lightspeed also offers two-step verification to protect your account from identity theft. And its FINRA BrokerCheck page reveals it’s in full compliance with broker regulations.
However, any time you invest, there are risks from investments that perform poorly. Using Lightspeed’s research tools to help build a diversified portfolio as an informed investor can help you reduce — but not eliminate — these investment risks.
If you want your choice of advanced trading platforms, have a lot of money to invest and plan to trade frequently enough to benefit from Lightspeed’s low commissions, this broker could be a good choice.
But if you don’t have at least $10,000 to invest and don’t want to pay monthly fees, you may want to consider TradeStation or Zacks Trade instead. They offer per-share pricing and advanced trading tools but have lower minimum deposits and more Options for fee-free platforms.