Attempting to find an online broker that meets your needs can be a daunting task, not least because there are so many trading platforms operating in the online space.
If you’re looking for a broker that facilitates stocks – both large and small, options and ETFs, then it might be worth taking a look at SureTrader. Most notably, the platform appeals to those based in the U.S. that want to avoid the all-important ‘Pattern Day Trader’ rules.
In our SureTrader review, we’ll cover everything that you need to know about the broker. This will include the types of assets that you can trade, fees, regulatory status, customer support and more.
By the end of reading our SureTrader review from start to finish, you’ll be equipped with all of the necessary tools to ascertain whether or not they’re the right broker for you.
Let’s start by finding out who SureTrader actually is.
Who is SureTrader and What do They do?
In a nutshell, SureTrader is an online broker that allows people to trade financial assets from the comfort of their own home. The platform are based in the Bahamas and thus, are not restrained by the same level of regulatory burdens as brokers based in the U.S. In terms of what you can trade at SureTrader, this mainly centres on three main asset classes.
Notably, this covers stocks and shares (including companies operating on the Pink Sheets), Options and ETFs. In terms of regulation, SureTrader are fully licensed by the Securities Commission of the Bahamas, and are authorized by the Exchange Control, which is Regulated by The Central Bank of Bahamas.
It should be noted that overall, the SureTrader platform is best suited to those with advanced knowledge of online trading. This is because the platform offers a full range of advanced trading tools that in reality, might intimidate novice traders. However, to get the full suite of technical tools, you’ll need to pay a monthly fee of $49.
Moreover, the SureTrader platform also places a strong emphasis on the availability of leverage. Once again, this is something that is best avoided by those who are at the very beginning of their trading journey.
Apart from offering highly competitive trading fees, one of the main selling points of Suretrader is that they effectively allow U.S. citizens to bypass the Pattern Day Trader rules set by the Securities and Exchange Commission. In fact, they are quite open about this and thus, appeal to a very specific niche of the online trading space.
Although we will cover the this in the next section, the Pattern Day Trader rule restricts day trading activities for U.S. citizens if individuals do not hold a minimum equity balance of at least $25,000.
As this is a major benefit for a lot of traders based in the U.S., our SureTrader review will explore the Pattern Day Trader phenomena in more detail below.
What is Pattern Day Trading?
The term ‘Pattern Day Trader’ is a regulatory term that was created to describe a specific type of trader. In its most basic form, if an individual executes four or more day trades within a five day period, then in the eyes of U.S. regulators they are a Pattern Day Trader. So why does this matter?
Well, it’s all surrounding the risks associated with margin accounts.
As the Pattern Day Trader rule is of utmost importance for U.S. citizens, alongside the fact that this is one of SureTrader’s strongest selling points, it is crucial that we briefly explain what this means.
What is a Margin Account? How Does Margin Trading Work?
Margin trading, or trading on margin, are terms used to describe the act of investing more than you actually have in your brokerage account. In other words, you’re essentially borrowing money from the broker in question, to trade larger amounts.
Margin accounts are completely separate from standard cash accounts, as you’re effectively trading funds that have been loaned to you from the broker. In the vast majority of cases, broker’s require an initial deposit to facilitate margin trading.
The amounts that you are able to trade on margin will usually depend on the amount of funds you deposit in to your margin account. Take note, if the markets do not move in your favor, the broker is likely to ask you to deposit additional funds in to your margin account. Otherwise, you face the risk of having some of your invested assets sold on your behalf, in order to cover the shortfall.
It is this specific form of trading that links directly to the Pattern Day Trader rule.
Pattern Day Trader Rule: Consider SureTrader
If you’re based in the U.S., then you’ll know full-well how stringent regulation is with respect to financial securities. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), for a trade to fall within the remit of Pattern Day Trading, the security must be bought and sold on the same day, via a margin account.
As such, should you execute four or more of these trades within 5 business days, you’ll need to follow the Pattern Day Trader rule.
Ultimately, this means that you will need to hold a minimum margin balance of at least $25,000.
it is important to note that the minimum balance of $25,000 can be made up of both cash and eligible securities. However, if the realizable value of the assets in your margin account does fall below $25,000, then you will be restricted from making any further trades until the amount is topped up.
These rules are a significant hindrance for those that want to trade on margin, but are unable to meet the requirements set out by both the SEC and FINRA.
As such, the SureTrader platform opens the doors for Pattern Day Traders, not least because they are not bound by the same rules.
So now that you know what Day Pattern Trading is, and why this is a huge selling for point for SureTrader, in the next part of our SureTrader review we are going to explore what assets you can trade.
What Assets can you buy and Sell at SureTrader?
When it comes to the amount of assets available at SureTrader, the broker focuses exclusively on three main instruments. This includes traditional stocks, options and ETFs.
While this might sound somewhat thin, taking into account the fact the broker does not offer mutual funds, futures, bonds or forex, in reality there are more than 10,000 assets available to trade.
Let’s break these down in more detail below.
Stocks and Shares (Equities)
Our SureTrader review found that the platform lists more than 10,000 equities, which is very impressive. This covers the main stock markets, such as the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and NASDAQ, meaning you’ll be able to speculate on the largest companies in the world.
Not only this, but SureTrader is one of the only online trading platforms that allows you to invest in penny stocks. As penny stocks most commonly operate in the OTC (Over-the-Counter) markets, trading is primarily reserved for brokers that have access to the likes of the Pink Sheets. As such, you’ll need to go with a specialist broker to get a look in.
On the contrary, you can speculate on penny stocks directly from your SureTrader account.
However, it is of utmost importance that you understand no matter what type of stock you purchase, you are actually investing in CFDs (Contract-for-Differences). This means that although you can speculate on the value of the underlying asset, you do not actually own it. This also means that you won’t be accustomed to dividend payments.
Nevertheless, one of the great benefits about CFDs is that you can also ‘Go Short’ on stocks. In other words, you can speculate on the value of the stock going down, rather than up.
If you’re a more experienced trader and have a full grasp of how options work, then SureTrader can facilitate this for you. You’ll be able to trade options across more than 10,000 equities, subsequently giving you the opportunity to create a large portfolio of assets.
The third and final asset class that SureTrader facilitate is that of ETFs. Exchange Traded Funds, most commonly referred to as ETFs, track key marketplaces such as the NASDAQ, Gold, Oil or even real estate.
As an investor, you’ll be able to speculate on a group of assets (such as the S&P 500) via a single trade, rather than having to make multiple trades.
So now that we’ve explored what assets you can trade at the broker, in the next part of our SureTrader review we are going to explore trading fees.
SureTrader Fees: What Trading Fees do SureTrader Charge?
When it comes to trading fees at SureTrader, the platform has one of the most competitive pricing structures in the online brokerage space. The broker rewards investors that trade larger volumes.
Standard Trading Fees for Stocks, Options and ETFs
The standing trading fees for stocks and shares at SureTrader are $4.95/per trade. On top of this, you’ll also need to pay $0.10 for each share you hold.
If you are an active investor and manage to trade more than $250,000 in a single month, then you’ll get this down to $3.95/per trade plus $0.008 for each share.
Moving up the activity scale, trades between $500,000-$750,000 and $750,001-$1,000,000 attract reduced trading fees of $2.95 ($0.006 for each share) and $1.99 ($0.004 for each share).
Ultimately, while these trading reductions are highly competitive, you need to be trading some serious amounts to get anywhere close.
Trading fees with respect to options are much less complex, and amount to a flat fee of $4.95, plus $0.50 for each contract.
When it comes to trading ETFs, this follows the same pricing structure as stocks and shares.
Other Fees to Consider
Outside of the standard trading fee structure offered by SureTrader, there are some investment-based fees that you need to be made aware of. In order to make this clearer for you, we’ve listed the most pertinent charges below.
- If you hold margin positions overnight, this is charged at a reasonable APR cost of 7.5%
- If you’re shorting stocks and holding the position overnight, this is charged at 0.5%
- You’ll pay an additional $25 per trade for margin calls
- If you do execute more than 15 trades across a three-month period, an inactivity fee of $50 applies
So now that we’ve covered trading fees, in the next part of our SureTrader review we are going to look at deposits and withdrawals.
Payments, Deposits and Withdrawals at SureTrader
When it comes to funding your account, our SureTrader review found that you have a few options to choose from.
Most people prefer to use a debit card, as it’s super convenient and funds are credited instantly. Interestingly, SureTrader also allow you to fund your account with a credit card.
This is highly unusual, as the vast majority of brokers operating in the online space do not usually allow credit cards to be used. Take note, regardless of whether you are using a debit or credit card, you will have to pay a 3.50% processing fee.
This is actually very high, not least because you will need to make at least 3.50% in trading profits just to cover the deposit. We should also note that SureTrader does not have the ability to process Canadian debit/credit cards.
A somewhat unconventional deposit method that SureTrader also support is that of e-wallets. You have the capacity to deposit up to $5,000 via Skrill or Neteller, and supported currencies includes USD, EUR, GBP, JPY, CHF, CAD, SGD, AUD, & NZD. The official deposit timeframe is between 1-24 hours.
However, much like in the case of debit and credit card deposits, fees are extortionate. You’ll pay a remarkable 3.90% in processing fees, plus a fixed token payment of €0.35. Moreover, we should also note that Skrill payments are not open to U.S. residents.
If you want to cut down on the deposit fees, then your best option is fund your account via the ACH (Automated Clearing House) or a traditional bank wire. These two deposit methods are the only payment mechanisms listed on the SureTrader website that do not display processing fees. As such, it is likely that the only processing fees you will pay are those initiated by your financial institutions.
On the other hand, ACH/bank wire payments are by far the slowest, and may take up to 5 working days before they hit your SureTrader account.
No matter what funding method you opt for, minimum deposits amount to $500.
Now let’s take a look at withdrawals.
When it comes to withdrawing funds out of your SureTrader account, there are a few things to consider. Firstly, if you want to withdraw funds via a wire transfer, e-wallet (both Skrill and Neteller) or ACH, you’ll pay a flat fee of $40.
If you want to withdraw back to either a debit or credit card, this will attract a 3.5% processing fee. As such, by depositing and withdrawing by debit/credit card at the broker, our SureTrader review found that you’ll pay an end-to-end fee of 7%.
Alternatively, and perhaps the best option, is to obtain the SureTrader MasterCard. This is essentially a prepaid debit card that allows you to transfer your SureTrader funds across.
As the card is backed by MasterCard, not only can you withdraw funds via an ATM, but you can also use it anywhere that MasterCard is accepted.
So now that we’ve covered the deposit and withdrawal process, in the next section of our SureTrader review we are going to explore whether your funds are safe at the broker.
Is SureTrader Safe?
This part of our SureTrader review is potentially the most important. When reviewing stock brokers that are based in the U.S., under normal circumstances you can be confident that the broker is heavily regulated, not least because there is a highly stringent regulatory framework that covers investment platforms of all sizes.
However, as SureTrader is in fact located in the Bahamas, we need to take a closer look at this.
Launched in 2008, the SureTrader platform is regulated by the Securities Commission of the Bahamas. It is this organization who are responsible for ensuring that SureTrader keep client funds safe.
It is safe to say that the Securities Commission of the Bahamas are nowhere near as thorough as the SEC, and thus it is difficult to say with any certainty how safe the broker is.
What we can point towards is the fact that SureTrader has an established trading history that dates back to 2008. As per a thorough evaluation of reviews and comments available within the public domain, there appears to be no major indicators that the broker are anything but legitimate.
On top of this, the SureTrader platform also has a regulatory oversight from the Central Bank of the Bahamas, who act as the Controller of Exchange for all trading platforms operating within the nation.
In layman terms, this means that because the Central Bank are members of the International Monetary Fund, they themselves must ensure that they operate in a highly stringent manner.
All in, although you can never be 100% sure with online brokers, no matter where they are based, we see no reason to be overly cautious with SureTrader, not least because the general consensus is that they do everything by the book.
In terms of account security, it appears that SureTrader do not offer users traditional login safeguards such as two-factor authentication (2FA). On the other hand, the platform does utilize Secure Socket Layer (SSL), which is industry standard for the online broker space.
This means that your personal information is encrypted, and thus, keeps your data safe from potential bad actors.
So now that we’ve covered regulation and account security, in the next section of our SureTrader review we are going to see what the platform’s customer support is like.
What is Customer Support Like at SureTrader?
Before contacting customer support, it is worth noting that the SureTrader platform has an excellent knowledge base. When we explored this ourselves, we found that most account queries can be resolved through the extensive FAQ department.
Nevertheless, if you need to speak with a customer support agent, you have a few options available to choose from.
The support team can be contacted via telephone, which offers services numbers from the U.S., Canada, the UK and Australia. Alternatively, you can also contact SureTrader via their live chat facility.
It appears that this is not on a 24/7 basis, as on one occasion the live chat option was not available for us.
You can also contact the support team via a support ticket, email and even Skype.
Although the platform offers a wide variety of support options, public opinion is somewhat split. While some users claim that customer support is nothing short of top-notch at SureTrader, there are also a number of negative reviews too.
So now that we’ve covered customer support, let’s take a look at what educational and research tools are available at the broker.
Educational, Fundamental and Technical Analysis Tools at SureTrader
Although we are under the impression that the SureTrader platform is potentially best suited to more advanced traders, the broker does provide a good range of educational materials for less experienced investors.
This includes a fully-fledged blog that contains educational guides for newbies. This covers topics such as ‘The difference between options and futures‘, ‘Trading strategies for beginners‘ and ‘Day trading vs long-term trading‘.
On top of the educational hub, SureTrader also offer a comprehensive trading simulator. This is where you get to test-out the platform without risking your own funds.
Although this can be useful for those with little experience, demo accounts are often limited in their effectiveness. The key reason for this is that until you risk your own money, you won’t get a grasp of the emotional side of trading.
Regardless of how experienced you are in the trading sphere, all investors require third party sources to analysis the potentialities of the asset they want to speculate in.
If you’re the type of trader that relies heavily on technical analysis, then it is worth considering the SureTrader Desktop platform. Although this costs $49 per month, you’ll have access to a full suite of trading tools. Alternatively, the free section is somewhat limited.
In terms of the fundamentals – which refers to real-world developments that can affect the value of an asset, unfortunately this isn’t something that you can readily access at SureTrader.
Although there is a dedicated news section, this is rarely updated. As such, although a slight hindrance, you’ll need to perform fundamental evaluations from alternative sources.
So now that we’ve covered educational and research tools, in the next section of our guide we are going to show you how to get started at SureTrader.
How to get Started With SureTrader
If you think that SureTrader is the right online broker for your individual needs, then we will show you how you can get started. Follow our simple step-by-step instructions to open an account.
- Head over to the SureTrader platform To get the account opening process under way, head over to the SureTrader platform. To make things easier for you, simply click here.Once there, click on Open an Account.
- Enter some basic information In the first part of the application process, you’ll need to enter some basic information. Enter your full legal name, email address and telephone number.
- Choose what type of investor you are Although not as stringent as other online brokers, you’ll still need to confirm what type of investor you are. If you’re simply trading on an individual basis, then select Individual.In the next section, you’ll then need to enter more information, such as your country of residence and date of birth. Moreover, you also need to specify what sort of trading you’ll be undertaking.
The options are as follows:* Short-term returns * Additional revenue * Saving for investment * Future planning (retirement etc.)
- Insert details about your risk tolerance and source of funds Although SureTrader are regulated outside of the U.S., the platform still has regulatory obligations with respect to risk tolerance. In other words, they have to make sure that you have a full grasp of the underlying risks of trading online.Go through the list of questions and answer them to best of your abilities. SureTrader only need approximations, so don’t worry if your risk tolerance changes at a later date. Within the same page you’ll also need to confirm where your source of trading funds have originated from.
- Confirm your wealth levels As is industry standard in the online brokerage space, you’ll also need to provide SureTrader with your current wealth levels. This covers your annual income, net worth and liquid net worth. Moreover, if you’re currently employed, you’ll need to enter the details of your current employer.
- Tax form W8 submission If you’re based in the U.S., or a U.S. citizen living abroad, then you’ll need to fill out your W8 tax form. This is a legal requirement, no matter which online broker you use. Make sure the details that you enter are correct, otherwise you might have experience issues with the IRS further down the line.
- Upload copies of your ID and proof of address You’ll now need to upload a copy of a government issued ID (such as a passport) and a proof of address document (such as a utility bill).
- Wait for your account to be verified Now that you’ve gone through the end-to-end account opening process, the team at SureTrader will now begin verifying your information.Although SureTrader advise that this is likely to take between 2-5 business days, in most cases it is much sooner. Nevertheless, as soon as you receive an email confirming that your account has been opened, you’ll be able to make a deposit and begin trading.
SureTrader Review: The Verdict?
In summary, we think that the SureTrader platform is best suited to a specific type of trader. If you’ve got some trading experience under your belt, then they might well be the broker for you.
More specifically, if you’re an active trader based in the U.S., or a U.S. citizen living overseas, then you’ll be able to bypass the Pattern Day Trader rules that require you to hold a minimum margin balance of $25,000.
In terms of fees, our SureTrader review found that a flat fee of $4.95 (plus $0.10 per share) is highly reasonable for equity trading. Although the fees continue to decline when you trade larger volumes, you’ll need to turnover at least $250,000 per month to be eligible. However, if you do trade serious amounts, you can get your per trade fee down to just $1.99 ($0.004 for each share).
When it comes to regulation, although the broker is based in the Bahamas, they are still in full receipt of the required licenses to offer their services, including those from the U.S. Moreover, as SureTrader have been in operation since 2008, they have built up a healthy reputation from the online community.
In terms of the negatives, we were slightly disappointed with the lack of availability regarding futures, mutual funds and forex trading, although with more than 10,000 assets hosted, there’s plenty of securities to choose from.
Finally, it is a slight shame that the platform does not put more emphasis in to their research analysis department, although it can only be hoped that this is something SureTrader are working on.
- No pattern day trading rules
- Low Minimum Deposit $500
- Easy to Use Trading Software
- Margin Trading
- Good Charting Tools
- $50 inactivity fee quarterly for accounts with less than 15 trades
- $40 fee for outgoing funds
- Lacking some assets to trade