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Broker Reviews

Lightspeed Trading

Published by Blain Reinkensmeyer
On Tuesday, September 6th, 2016


Lightspeed caters to one type of investor, the hyperactive trader, and provides the functionality required to succeed.


No support for mutual funds or bonds; no mobile trading support; $99 monthly platform fee (waived if certain conditions met).

Special Offer: Get $10,000 cash back on trades with a new account! Learn More

Lightspeed Review

February 16th, 2016: This Review has been updated to reflect the latest research and results from the 2016 Review.

Feeling confused is a common experience for first-time visitors to the Lightspeed website, unless they can speak the lingo of Lightspeed's target market, the active trader.

Lightspeed is one of the few online brokers whose goal is to avoid newer investors and those with little experience. The definition of "active trader" has a different meaning at Lightspeed compared to other big names such as TD Ameritrade, ETRADE, Scottrade, and Charles Schwab. At Lightspeed, clients trading thousands of round trips per month is not uncommon.

For investors seeking retirement calculators, third-party reports, or stock education, Lightspeed has little to offer. However, those seeking top-tier executions, low prices, and speed, will find themselves right at home.

Commissions & Fees

With Lightspeed’s clientele being active and hyperactive traders, the broker’s commission structure caters accordingly. Through the main platform, Lightspeed Trader, two tiered commission structures are offered: per share and per trade. The more volume you trade or the more frequently you trade, respectively, each month, the lower your rate will be.

With per share trading, equities trades start at $.0045 per share, plus/minus routing fees ($1 minimum). For traders who place larger orders, flat-rate trades can be made starting at $4.50, plus/minus routing fees. Options trades start at $.60 per contract and scale down in cost according to monthly volume.

One of the important notes about Lightspeed, shared by only a select number of brokers, is that the company does not receive payment for order flow for equity trades. This means far cleaner fills for clients. Also, the broker passes all respective market center rebates (or fees) to the client, allowing seasoned traders to keep costs extremely low.

By adding liquidity through using limit orders, clients receive the full market rebate, which typically averages around $.002 per share, depending on the market center. On the flip side, routing a market order to one of the major exchanges (i.e., taking liquidity) will run an additional charge of around $.003 per share, on average.

Lightspeed TradingInteractive BrokersTradeStationMB TradingOptionsHouse
Stock Trade Fee (flat)$4.50N/A$9.99$4.95$4.95
Options Base Fee$0.00$0.00$0.00$0.00$4.95
Options Per Contract Fee$0.60$0.70$1.00$0.95$0.50
Commissions & Fees

Platforms & Tools

Lightspeed offers customers multiple different platforms to trade on. Under Lightspeed’s parent company, Professional Trading Solutions, three platforms are corporate owned: Lightspeed Trader, Lightspeed Web Trader, and Sterling Trader.

Third-party trading platforms focused on equities trading that were on offer to customers include RealTick Pro and Express. For options trading, there is Livevol X (owned by the CBOE, Lightspeed is the only broker with an enterprise license to offer the platform to customers), Derivix, Obsidian, OptionsCity, Valdi Options Solutions, and Wex. Lastly, for futures trading, customers can select from a slew of options: RealTick, CQG, CunninghamTrading Systems (CTS), NinjaTrader, Patsystems, Quick Screen Trading (QST), RAN, and Trading Technologies (TT).

For our review, we focused solely on Lightspeed's flagship platform, Lightspeed Trader, which is a desktop-based platform designed for speed, stability, and execution. While not the prettiest platform (it certainly would place last in any beauty pageant), the platform serves its purpose.

Lightspeed Trader

Although the learning curve is not too rough, ample trading experience is required to take advantage of all the order routing capabilities. Hotkeys are customizable down to order size, type, and routing instructions. Even the data is fed directly into the platform, showing that truly every millisecond matters to the broker and its clients.

Lightspeed hotkeys

Beyond placing lightning-fast trades, however, the platform has little to offer. I found the charting to be just okay, and the tools were certainly lacking. Users of industry leading TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim platform or TradeStation will feel as if they are back in the Stone Age. See: Best Brokers for Platforms & Tools.

Lightspeed stock chart

Furthermore, there is absolutely no research offered, and the options trading functionality, which has improved over the years, still lacks the quality theoretical analysis tools its competitors offer.

Overall, Lightspeed's platform is designed for professional investors to trade efficiently and do their jobs without any delays. In the world of hyperactive trading, every penny and second matters, and not having perfect fills each time is unacceptable. Lightspeed understands who their clients are and cater accordingly.

Customer Service

Lightspeed offers both phone and email support. The online broker used to offer current and potential clients access to live chat support; however, the service was shut down in mid-2012.

Lightspeed's phone support is commendable – the broker consistently delivers with speedy connection times in under a minute. The same holds true for email support: nearly every test email we sent over came back in less than one hour. Unfortunately though, one of our emails never received a response, despite sending it twice.

Overall, we found that Lightspeed support reps have a tendency to answer questions quickly and to the point, which could be explained by the fact that Lightspeed's clientele is all-business all the time. Having said that, the broker has room for improvement. Standardizing its templates could go a long way to improving the Lightspeed experience. See: Best Brokers for Customer Service.

Other Notes

In 2015 Lightspeed completed its clearing conversion to Wedbush Securities. Other clearing partners include Merrill Lynch Professional and Interactive Brokers.

Lightspeed does not offer any mobile trading support; neither does it offer any research beyond some basic technical analysis insight. Mutual funds are not supported for trading, and the broker's educational offering is very weak, which one might expect from a broker dedicated to professional traders.

Although Lightspeed lacks more mainstream "retail" investor offerings, it thrives in its offering for complex trading. The broker's institutional arm offers algorithmic (algo) trading through its Lightspeed Trader API and black box developer kits, both often used only by hedge funds. The broker also offers grey box trading in partnership with Trade Ideas, allowing clients to create and back-test their strategies, then use Lightspeed’s API to automatically trade them.

Closing Notes

Lightspeed is not an online broker built with new or casual investors in mind. Instead, it caters to the hyperactive, professional, and institutional traders alike, all looking for quality executions, competitive commissions, and a dependable platform built to serve one purpose: trading.

Blain Reinkensmeyer

Blain has been involved in the markets for over 15 years, heading broker research and reviews. His personal blog,, provides education articles as well as to-the-point market recaps to over 17,000 subscribers.

Compare Lightspeed Trading

Lightspeed Trading Ratings

Commissions & Fees
Offering of Investments
Platforms & Tools
Customer Service
Mobile Trading
Ease of Use
Order Execution

Best in Class

Best in Class - Overall
Yes Best in Class - Commissions & Fees
Best in Class - Offering of Investments
Best in Class - Platforms & Tools
Best in Class - Research
Best in Class - Customer Service
Best in Class - Mobile Trading
Best in Class - Ease of Use
Best in Class - Investor Education
Best in Class - Order Execution
Best in Class - Banking
Yes Best in Class - Active Trading
Best in Class - Options Trading
Best in Class - New Investors

Lightspeed Trading Awards


Lightspeed Trading was awarded 5 stars, Best in Class, and #1 for Active Trading; Best in Class for Commissions & Fees. Read the 2016 Online Broker Review.


Lightspeed Trading was awarded Best in Class for Commissions & Fees and Active Trading. Read the 2015 Online Broker Review.


Lightspeed Trading was awarded Best in Class for Commissions & Fees and Active Trading. Read the 2014 Online Broker Review.


Lightspeed finished #1 for Active Trading and was rated 4.5 stars for Commissions & Fees. Read the 2013 Broker Review.


Lightspeed was Best in Class for Commissions & Fees and Active Trading. Read the 2012 Broker Review.

Commission Notes

Lightspeed offers multiple trading platforms for it's clients. The Lightspeed Trader platform requires a $25,000 minimum deposit and is designed for active traders seeking the best possible executions and data speeds. The Web Trader platform, on the other hand, requires only a $10,000 minimum deposit and is designed for low activity customers. Portfolio margin requires a $175,000 deposit.

Additionally, Lightspeed is intergrated with other third party software providers in order to offer custom trading solutions for active traders. These platforms include Sterling Trader, Realtick, Realtick Express, and Livevol X. Minimum deposits for all of these are the same as for Lightspeed Trader with the exception of Livevol X which requires a $35,000 deposit.

Note: the Lightspeed Trader platform charges a $100 software fee each month. Commission spend applies towards this fee, so if a client spends atleast $100 in commissions, the $100 fee is not applicable ($100 - $100 = $0). As another example, if the client only spends $40 in commissions, they would be charged $60 ($100 - $40) for that month.

Lightspeed offers a "Per Share" pricing plan alongside a "Per Trade" plan. Throughout the website we display the Per Share rate. To request a commission plan change, clients must call in to the broker. Full commissions schedule breakdown below.

Stock Trades

  1. Standard Commissions (Per Share) - $.0045 per share ($1 minimum charge) unbundled or $.006 per share using the LSPT route which charges 15 pips (effectively converting the per share rate into a "bundled" structure). Phone orders are $20 + standard commission rate. For OTCBB trades, "Call for OTCBB/Pink sheet rates".
  2. Active Trader Commissions - To qualify for active trader commission rates, the client must contact Lightspeed first. Per Share rate (Monthly Volume): $0.0035 (Over 250,000 shares), $0.0025 (Over 1,000,000 shares), $0.0020 (Over 3,000,000 shares), $0.0015 (Over 6,000,000 shares), $0.0010 (Over 15,000,000 shares). $1 minimum charge. All trades plus/minus applicable market center fees.
  1. Standard Commissions (Per Trade) - $4.50 per trade (up to 50k shares order size) plus/minus applicable market center fees. Phone orders are $20 + standard commission rate. For OTCBB trades, "Call for OTCBB/Pink sheet rates".
  2. Active Trader Commissions - To qualify for active trader commission rates, the client must contact Lightspeed first. Per Trade rate (Monthly Volume): $4.00 (Over 250 trades), $3.50 (Over 750 trades), $3.00 (Over 1500 trades), $2.75 (Over 3000 trades), $2.50 (Over 10,000 trades). All trades plus/minus applicable market center fees.

Options Trades

  1. Standard Commissions - $.60 per contract with a $1 minimum commission charge. All trades plus any applicable market center fees (depends on security being traded).
  2. Active Trader Commissions - To qualify for active trader commission rates, the client must contact Lightspeed first. Per Contract rate (Monthly Volume): $0.50 (Over 500 contracts), $0.45 (Over 2,000 contracts), $0.35 (Over 10,000 contracts), $0.25 (Over 50,000 contracts), $0.20 (Over 100,000 contracts).

All excercise and assignments cost $25.

Mutual Funds - Mutual funds are not currently offered by Lightspeed.

Other Investments - Lightspeed also offers futures trading.

Retirement Accounts - Lightspeed offers retirement accounts but charges a $35 annual fee.

Trade Commissions Breakdown

$4.50 Stock Trade Fee (flat)*
$0.0060 Stock Trade Fee (per share)*
$0.00 Options Base Fee*
$0.60 Options Per Contract Fee*
$15.00 Options Exercise Fee
$15.00 Options Assignment Fee
N/A Mutual Fund Trade Fee
$25.00 Broker Assisted Trades Fee
$5,000.00 Minimum Deposit

Margin Rates

6.00% Under $24,999.99
6.00% $25,000.00 to 49,999.99
5.00% $50,000.00 to $99,999.99
5.00% $100,000.00 to $249,999.99
4.25% $250,000.00 to $499,999.99
3.75% $500,000.00 to $999,999.99
3.50% Above $1,000,000.00

Miscellaneous Fees

$0.00 Bond Trade Fee
$0.00 Treasury Trade Fee
$0.00 CD Trade Fee
$0.00 IVR Trade Fee
$35.00 IRA Annual Fee
$0.00 IRA Closure Fee
$0.00 Forced Margin Sellout Fee
$30.00 Returned ACH Fee
$30.00 Returned Wire Fee
$50.00 Stock Certificate Processing Fee
$50.00 Stock Certificate Delivery Fee
$5.00 Paper Statement Fee
$2.00 Paper Confirmation Fee
$20.00 Domestic Wire Fee
$50.00 International Wire Fee

Offering of Investments

Advisor Services
Bonds (Corporate)
Bonds (Municipal)
Yes Bonds (US Treasury)
Wedbush and ML Pro and Interactive Brokers Clearing Firm
0 Commission Free ETFs
Yes Direct Market Routing - Stocks
Yes Direct Market Routing - Options
5000 # of Easy to Borrow Stocks
Forex Trading
Yes Futures Trading
Yes Member FINRA
Yes Member SIPC
Mutual Funds
0 Mutual Funds (Load)
0 Mutual Funds (No Load)
0 Mutual Funds (NTF)
0 Mutual Funds (Total)
Mutual Funds Phone Trades
Mutual Funds Web Trades
No Fee IRAs
Yes No Inactivity Fees
No Minimum Deposit
Yes Options Exercising (Phone)
Options Exercising (Web)
Yes Options Trading
Yes Options Trading (Mini)
Yes Options Trading (Weekly)
Yes OTCBB / Pink Sheets
Yes Stock Trading

Customer Service

Yes Phone Support
Yes Email Support
Live Chat (Current Clients)
24/7 Support

Platforms & Tools

Yes Desktop Platform (Windows)
Yes Desktop Platform (Mac)
Yes Web Platform
Lightspeed Trader Active Trading Platform
Auto Investing
Charting - Display Corporate Events
5 Charting - Drawing Tools
Charting - Notes
Heat Mapping
Ladder Trading
Yes Level 2 Quotes - Stocks
Yes Level 2 Quotes - Options
Yes Option Chains - Streaming Real-time
Option Analysis - P&L Charts
Stock Alerts Delivery - Email
Yes Stock Alerts Delivery - Sound
Stock Alerts Delivery - Text SMS
Yes Streaming Time & Sales
Streaming TV
Yes Trade Hot Keys
Yes Virtual Trading
Yes Watchlists - Streaming Real-time Quotes


Research - ETFs
Research - Mutual Funds
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB
Research - Fixed Income
0 Equity Research - Research Reports
ETF Research - Top 10 Holdings
ETF Research - Morningstar Style Box
ETF Research - Research Reports
Mutual Fund Research - Research Reports
Mutual Fund Research - Fees Breakdown
Mutual Fund Research - Performance Analysis
Mutual Fund Research - Top 10 Holdings
Screener - Stocks
Screener - ETFs
Screener - Mutual Funds
Screener - Options
Screener - Bonds


Yes Has Education - Stocks
Has Education - ETFs
Has Education - Options
Has Education - Mutual Funds
Has Education - Fixed Income
Has Education - Retirement
Investor Dictionary
Yes Client Webinars
Live Seminars
Yes Videos
Retirement Calculator
Community Forums

Mobile Trading

iPhone App
iPad App
Apple Watch App
Android App
Android Tablet App
Yes Mobile Site
Quotes (Real-time)
Quotes (Streaming Real-time)
Watch List Syncing
Market Movers (Top Gainers)
Stock Alerts Delivery - Push Notifications
Customizable Homescreen
Stream Live TV
Trading - Stocks
Trading - Stocks (After-Hours)
Trading - Simple Options
Trading - Complex Options


Member FDIC
Checking Accounts
Savings Accounts
Debit Cards
Credit Cards
Mortgage Loans
Mobile Check Deposit
ATM Fee Reimbursement
No Fee Banking
0 Retail Locations

Active Trading

Yes Receives Payment for Order Flow (Equities)
Yes Client Liquidity Rebates
Financial Information Forum (FIF) Participant

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 2/16/2016 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. The staff is constantly working with its online broker representatives to obtain the latest pricing data. If you believe any data listed above is inaccurate, please contact us using the link at the bottom of this page. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply. Square Logo