Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Thoughts on Suretrader

When I decided to get into day trading I made sure I did my research.  How day trading worked, what tools I would need, what the minimum investment I would need to get started, as well as the tax and legal codes I would run in to.  I am a big fan of the TV show American Greed, and it showcased some of the most prolific violators of the SEC laws so I was more concerned with those laws than most.  Upon reviewing them, I came across the Pattern Day Trader (PDT) rule.  I was crushed.  How am I supposed to be able to make it when I can’t day trade due to the fact that I had less than 25k to put in a brokerage account?  I began searching for answers.  At the time the only conclusion I came to was to open multiple accounts, but with my limited funds, that wasn’t feasible. 

I don’t remember how but I came across Suretrader.  As usual, I did my due diligence and found some conflicting and concerning results.  I knew from experience that you could not trust everything that you read but I was very concerned about using an off shore broker.  There was something about not being in closer contact with my money.  Maybe if they offered debit cards or something like that I would have felt better but, at that point, I did not have any other choice so I decided to open an account with them.  This blog will share my experiences that I have had with Suretrader from the beginning of my time with them.

Let me first start by saying that I would not be here right now without Suretrader.  There is no way I could have started day trading without them.  I am a true “Average Joe” blue collar American who had to work and struggle for every penny I made so this decision was not made lightly.  So thus begins my journey with Suretrader.

I had a pretty easy time opening an account with them.  The application process was a little different but once I had the application completed I received an email a few days later saying that my account was ready to fund.  The only extra form US citizens have to fill out now is a W9 tax form.  They asked for professional references and bank references but they never contacted them.
I opened a bank account specifically for funding and withdrawing from Suretrader, again just being careful because of the off shore deal, and ordered a debit/credit card for that account.  I funded my account using my credit card and the money was available for trading the next business day.  I have read many negative posts about people having issues opening an account with Suretrader but I can honestly say that everyone I personally know that opened an account did not have any issues opening and funding their account.  There have been some changes in funding since I opened my account back in 2014 but everything for the most part is the same.  Funding with a credit/debit card is the fastest, but it costs 3.5% for it.  The only way this fee adds up and becomes a problem is if you constantly blow up your account and you have to keep adding back.  It’s free to fund via bank wire transfer but it takes longer for the money to be credited to your account.

The only issue I had with withdrawing any money was the rule they had that your first withdrawal had to be done by the same method you funded with, and for no more money than what you originally funded with.  After that there were no restrictions.  To get your withdrawal through bank wire, you will pay a $40 fee.  You have to go through a bank verification process that takes about a week to complete.  Then there is another process to go through on the i-boss platform.  However, once you have done it one time it will be a lot easier.  I withdraw from my account every month using bank wire and the process in pretty painless.  The money is in my account within a few days.  Actually now the wires are cleared for US clients through Citibank in New York so that makes the processing quicker for us.

When I started I was budget minded so I opted to stick with the Active Web platform.  For day trading that platform is a handicap.  It’s only as reliable as your internet connection and in the 2 years I have been with them their server has been attacked numerous times.  Not that your information or account are compromised, but your ability to enter and exit trades would be.  Also, if you lose money during these crashes, Suretrader will not refund your money.  They have a risk disclaimer on their website that states that they are not responsible for losses incurred due to trading malfunctions or system disruptions.  I highly recommend getting the Suretrader Pro platform.  I have not experience any major problems with it.  All of my issues with the Pro platform have been due to my firewall.  I have the Suretrader Pro platform, $49, Market Depth Data Access $40, Regional Quotes (Basic Level 2) $15, and NASDAQ Total View (Book Depth) $20 for a total of $124 per month.  It is well worth the subscription costs.

Their customer service is good but it can get bad during crisis times for two reasons.  They do not have a lot of customer service reps and most of their client base are made up of new traders who do not have a clue what they are doing.  You can’t imagine how many people open up trading accounts who do not even know how to enter a buy or sell order.  The chat lines and phone lines are jammed all day with questions that are similar to that with things traders should learn through taking courses and paper trading prior to opening an account.  So I really don't bash them about their slow customer service. When these traders lose money, of course they blame Suretrader.  They never blame the shortcuts they took or the education they didn’t receive prior to trying to trade live.  Is Suretrader completely innocent?  Of course not.  If you are not careful and keep up with your account, you can “accidently” get double charged for commissions or platform fees.  It won’t happen to you often but it does.  They will refund it though.  You just have to stay on top of that.

Here’s the deal; Suretrader is a necessary evil if you have less than 25k to open a trading account with.    90% of their clients are brand new traders so they are a lot more at risk to lose their money in addition to money they don't have so Suretrader treats us like a high risk client the same way a bank would treat a high risk customer that doesn't have a good credit record.  Therefore they have a few more fees and rules than most.    

So what advice do I have to those who want to open accounts with Suretrader?  Well first, invest in your education.  Without it you are a mark and they will take every dime you send them.  The plan I recommend is laid out here: Never open any brokerage account and start trading without the proper education.  Make sure you read all of the rules and understand all of the fee schedules.  They are not outrageous.  You just have to make sure you understand how to not make a mistake and incur these additional fees.  Open up a bank account specifically for funding and withdrawing from Suretrader.  Do not keep any more money than absolutely necessary in there.  This should give you peace of mind as it relates to your protecting your other money.  Do not over trade.  Over trading leads to increased fees and exposed risk in the market.  Get the Pro platform.  This will save you a lot of headaches and greatly reduce your risk of losing money due to execution issues.  Just because you can open an account with $500 and day trade doesn’t mean you need to trade.  I would not recommend trading with less than $2500.  I know I started with $1500 but I believe I was lucky to catch some major short squeezes when my account was very low.  Make sure you understand margin and how to use it correctly.  Margin can destroy an inexperienced trader before he even gets started good. 

SureTrader is actually one of the leading online brokers for day trading. With a multitude of features, advantages, and benefits, you should definitely giving them a shot. Just make sure you know their trading rules and regulations thoroughly.  They have good, but sometimes slow customer service but will answer any of your questions or concerns. If you’re under 25k and looking for a solid broker to day trade with, SureTrader has everything you need, so it’s worth checking them out!