Robinhood is a California based brokerage that proudly charges no commission fees on stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrency trading. Robinhood have successfully targeted themselves to young and new investors thanks to their commission free trading, low volume trading options and no account minimum deposit. While they are available in Europe, this will primarily be a Robinhood USA review.
As laws have changed, Robinhood are no longer the only commission free brokerage out there, so the purpose of our Robinhood review is to test the brokerage to see if they’re still among the best commission free and new investor orientated brokerages. We’ll also talk you through the Robinhood open account process and find out if they have anything at all to offer more advanced traders.
To start off with our first impressions and Robinhood opinions, this is definitely a limited platform aimed at young and new traders with small investments. If you’re looking for a more serious trading platform, check out our TD Ameritrade review and Tastyworks review.
Robinhood Pro and Con
- Zero commission fees
- No account minimum deposit
- Good for beginners and small volume traders
- Instant access to deposited cash
- Mutual funds and bonds not available
Aside from their zero commission policy, another reason they are popular with enw, young investors is the Robinhood open account, get a free stock offer.
If you sign up with Robinhood via an advertisement or with a promo code, then they will give you 1 free stock share valued between $2.50 and $200 once your account has been approved and the requirements have been met. Once your free stock has been put into your account you can either choose to hold onto it or are free to sell after a 2 day waiting period.
6 Steps to claiming the Robinhood open account, get free stock offer:
- Register a new Robinhood account
- Have your email address verified
- Instal the Robinhood mobile trading app on your phone or tablet
- Claim your free shares
- Fund your account via one of the payment methods – we’ll explain more about deposit payment methods later in this Robinhood review
- Refer friends to claim more free stock shares
What’s interesting about Robinhood is that it was a mobile app before it was a website, we’ll talk about the mobile trading app later on in our Robinhood review but for now, we’ll focus on the website. Robinhood’s website was launched in 2017 to mirror their already successful mobile app. Overall, the website is easy to navigate, easy to use and is easy enough on the eye, though the very bright lime green on the homepage may be a bit much for some.
The Robinhood USA homepage and all of the accessible tabs before you log in are well laid out and have good, fast loading times with no obvious bugs or lags that we could find. The sign in page, however, takes a little longer to load – and some things once inside your account can be a little slow.
One big alarm bell here is that the Robinhood website and app both suffered serious outages in February and March 2020 thanks to market surges, however Robinhood claim to have “beefed up their systems’ since. We’ll have to wait until there’s another market surge to find out how true this is. Robinhood’s website does the job, but perhaps isn’t as robust as those discussed in our Sofi Invest review, Stash review and SogoTrade review.
There are 3 different types of Robinhood open account to choose from; Robinhood Instant, Robinhood Gold and Robinhood Cash. Your Robinhood account is tied to your social security number so you can only have one type of Robinhood open account per person. At the time of writing, Robinhood doesn’t offer retirement accounts, joint accounts or IRA products.
In this section of our Robinhood review, we’ll take a look at the different types of Robinhood open account in a bit more detail:
The instant account is what you’ll automatically start with when you first complete the Robinhood open account process, as the other 2 account types require upgrades. The Robinhood instant account is a margin account, with the ‘instant’ element of the name alluding to the access it gives users to instant deposits and extended hours trading. There are also no waiting times for processing funds when selling stocks or making small deposits of up to $1,000.
A Robinhood Gold account is an upgraded version of the Robinhood Instant account that gives users more buying power and larger instant deposits of over $1,000.
A Robinhood Cash account is actually a downgrade from the Instant and Gold accounts and therefore isn’t an option when you first do the Robinhood open account process, however you can downgrade at any point. With the Cash account, you still get commission free trades, however you don’t get the instant deposits or settlements.
When signing up and registering your first Robinhood open account, don’t forget to claim the Robinhood open account, get a free stock offer!
We mentioned it earlier in our Robinhood review, but this platform is unique in that the mobile trading platform was created before the website trading platform, as Robinhood started out as a mobile only trader aimed at younger users. This put Robinhood in something of an advantageous situation. A common problem that online brokerages have is trading to replicate their web and desktop platforms onto the small screen, but Robinhood had to replicate a small screen platform on the big screen – a far easier task.
Trading crypto, stocks and EFTs on both Robinhood’s mobile and web platform is pretty much as straightforward and easy as can be, trading options, however, is a slow and sluggish process. The Robin Hood USA platform is also almost completely non customisable and catered towards new and small volume traders.
If you’re an intermediate level trader or higher, or even if you’re an ambitious beginner, we’d recommend avoiding Robinhood entirely. If you’re a new or very casual trader who wants to do things on the move then Robinhood isn’t too bad, but if you want to grow as a trader, you’ll definitely reach a point where you have to switch to another brokerage. In essence, Robinhood is a sort of Fisher Price trading app.
In terms of aesthetics the trading app veers from the websites green and white colour scheme and goes for the matrix style black background that we’ve become used to with active trading platforms. This is about the only way in which Robinhood resembles a serious trading platform.
When it comes to depositing money into your Robinhood open account, your sole option is by online bank transfer, however the good news is that you get instant deposits of upto $1,000 with a Robinhood Instant Account and over $1,000 with a Robinhood Gold Account. You can also set up weekly, monthly or quarterly automatic deposits using the mobile app. Deposit amounts that don’t qualify for the instant deposit will take upto 5 business days. The maximum deposit amount is $50,000 per day.
Unfortunately, Robinhood do not accept mail check deposits as everything is online – in keeping with them being marketed towards younger traders. You can, however, set up a direct deposit when you upgrade your account to Cash Management.
Transferring funds from your Robinhood Account to your bank account is fairly straightforward with both the mobile app and web account. You can withdraw upto $50,000 from your RobinHood account per business day, however you can’t make any withdrawals if you still have a pending or unsettled deposit. Once a deposit has been settled, it can be spent or withdrawn straight away. The settlement period before you can withdraw following a sale is the trade date plus 2 days.
You can withdraw funds into a different bank account than the one you made your deposit with, however the process is rather complicated. You’ll be required to give a written explanation of why you want to change account and provide photos of a government issued ID and bank statements proving your the owner of both bank accounts; the one you made the deposit with and the one you want to withdraw into.
This section brings what is perhaps the biggest shortcoming we found when conducting this Robinhood review. In both the app and on the website, the ‘Support’ tab is easy to find, and provides plenty of information to help you with everything you need to know, from getting started to documents & taxes and investing.
However, what quickly becomes apparent is the complete lack of any contact details whatsoever anywhere on the Robinhood USA page. The contact button is hidden way down at the bottom of the page and the only way to contact them is by filling out a form that then sends an email to the Robinhood support team. Finding the email address outside the form is basically impossible on the Robinhood website or in the app.
During our Robinhood review we found there is absolutely no 24/7 live chat to be found anywhere, neither is there a phone line offering any form of personal customer support. Basically, with Robinhood you’re on your own with the support tools and FAQs. Luckily, the website is at least transparent and helpful enough to partly make up for the complete and utter lack of customer service.
Check out our M1 Finance review and our Lightspeed review to see how these alternatives compare.
As is the case with all brokerages that deal with the handling of securities in the US, Robinhood is Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which ensures that companies’ dealing are completely transparent and fair. The SEC isn’t responsible for protecting clients’ deposits or funds.
Clients’ funds with Robinhood are protected through their membership of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). SIPC protects members’ clients’ funds upto $500,000 (inc. $250,000 cash claims) in the event of the brokerage encountering any serious financial difficulty. It is worth keeping in mind, however, that crypto investments with Robinhood aren’t protected in any way. As well as being regulated by SEC and SIPC. Robinhood is backed by some high profile investors, including CapitalG, Andreessen Horowitz and Ribbit Capital.
No Robin Hood review would be complete without a thorough security check. In terms of security, Robinhood use a Transport Layer Security (TLS) and also offer two-factor authentication through an external app or SMS. Access to the app is also protected via touch and faceID. There have, however, been reports that Robinhood do sell your data.
Earlier on in this Robinhood review, we spoke about the Robinhood new customer offer, which gives new account holders the chance to get free stock upto the value of $200 when registering a new Robinhood account either with a promo code or through an advert.
As well as this offer, Robinhood account holders can also benefit from the Robinhood Referral Offer: Free Stock for Both. TO claim this offer, login to your account either on the web or through the Robinhood app and click on the account/menu icon. Once you’ve done this, click on the “Invite friends, get free stock” tab and you’ll get a referral link that you can copy and paste to your friends or share on Twitter. If you get enough friends to sign up, Robinhood will then give you the chance to earn upto $500 in free stocks per year.
To summarize our Robinhood Review as a whole, we feel that this platform suits exactly who they set out to appeal to; young, beginner traders who prefer to do everything possible with a mobile phone. While they do claim to have options for active traders and higher volumes, Robinhood most definitely falls short here.
While their website appears to be extremely transparent, even up to the point they have a photo gallery with pictures of their staff and California office, Robinhood do seem a little reluctant to reveal explicitly how they generate revenue. This leads us to believe that some data selling, or getting paid to divert user traffic to certain market makers may be going on.
The customer service, research and educational tools could also do with some severe improvement and updating Robinhood’s market to a certain audience has been extremely clever for a relatively new broker, and they don’t have over 13 million customers worldwide for a reason. That being said, we feel they might be at risk of losing their trust if some tweaks and updates to their offerings aren’t made.
We hope you found our Robinhood review informative. Looking for an excellent alternative to Robinhood? Have a look at our TD Ameritrade open account review.