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Lightspeed Trading

Published by
On Sunday, January 11th, 2015 .


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


No support for mutual funds or bonds; trade platform not suitable for the casual investor; very basic website; miscellaneous trade fees.

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Lightspeed Review

For first-time visitors to the Lightspeed website, feeling confused is a common occurrence unless you can speak the lingo of Lightspeed's target market, the active trader. The homepage is littered with lingo first-time investors rarely see, let alone speak: direct market access, high-speed execution and hyperactive, to name a few.

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 like 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. For those wanting top-tier executions, low prices and speed, however, then welcome to your new paradise.

Commissions & Fees

Starting off with the top selling point for Lightspeed, its pricing structure, there is a lot to take in. The first decision clients must make is whether or not they want direct market access (DMA) or not. Opting for DMA is the broker's primary offering, granting clients access to their main platform, Lightspeed Trader. The alternative, flat-fee trading through Lightspeed WebTrader, is designed to be a straight-forward, simple solution for those seeking to place trades with little flexibility and hand-holding.

In this review, the focus is on the direct market access "per share" structure, as it is built to cater to active traders. Equities trades run just $.0045 per share, plus/minus routing fees, which are updated nightly and posted on the website ($1 minimum). For traders who place larger orders, a $4.50 flat-fee option is also available. Option traders pay $.60 per contract.

One of the important notes about Lightspeed, shared by only a select number of brokers, is that Lightspeed does not receive payment for order flow. Instead, they kick back all market rebates (and charges) to the client, giving seasoned traders the ability 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. So, take for example a 2,000 share buy limit order of Facebook (FB) stock routed to the NASDAQ. The upfront commission charged by Lightspeed would be $4.50 for a flat-fee trade, then the trader would receive a $4 rebate from the NASDAQ (2,000 shares x $.002), bringing the total cost of the trade down to just $.50.

While the majority of online brokers keep these rebates for themselves, known as receiving payment for order flow, Lightspeed gives it back. It's because of this focus on pricing first and profits second that Lightspeed placed No. 2 overall in our 2014 Broker Review for Commissions & Fees.

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's flagship platform, Lightspeed Trader, is a desktop-based platform that is designed solely for speed, stability and execution. While not the prettiest of platforms (it certainly would place last in any beauty pageant), the platform serves its purpose.

The learning curve is not too rough, however, 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 directly fed into the platform, showing that truly every millisecond matters to the broker and its clients.

Lightspeed platform 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 TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim platform or TradeStation will feel as if they are back in the Stone Age.

Lightspeed platform charting

Furthermore, there is no absolutely no research offered, and the options trading functionality, while dramatically improved with the most recent 2013 enhancements, still lacks quality theoretical analysis tools offered by competitors.

Lightspeed also offers a web version for basic trading, however, it is designed to simply place trades and nothing else.

Overall, Lightspeed's platform is designed for professional investors to efficiently trade 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.

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.

When it comes to Lightspeed's phone support, the broker consistently delivers with speedy connection times under a minute. In our 2013 Broker Review, the broker received one perfect test score, impressing us by handling our "wealthy client" template to perfection. Another time, a customer service rep answered our initial questions with ease, then transferred us to a sales specialist to answer our platform questions.

In our 2014 Broker Review, Lightspeed's email support was a bit sporadic: Our quickest responses came back in only one hour, while the longest was nearly 24 hours. Furthermore, we found that the broker's emails were often informal and lacked in consistency.

Overall, Lightspeed support reps have a tendency to answer questions quickly and to the point, which could be explained by the fact that Lightspeeds clientele is all-business all the time. With that said, the broker has room for improvement. Standardizing its templates could go a long way to improving the experience on the whole.

Other Notes

Lightspeed does not offer any mobile trading support, nor 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 in 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 a partnership with Trade Ideas, allowing clients to create and back-test their strategies, then use Lightspeeds API to automatically trade them.

Closing Notes

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

Blain Reinkensmeyer

Reviewed by

Blain has been involved in the markets for over 12 years, heading equity broker research and reviews. His personal blog,, provides to-the-point daily market recaps to over 17,000 subscribers.

Commission Notes

Lightspeed offers two primary trade platforms: Lightspeed Trader and Lightspeed Web Trader. 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 $5,000 minimum deposit and is designed for low activity customers. Portfolio margin requires a $250,000 minimum deposit.

Note: As of Q4 2014, the Lightspeed Trader platform now 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 exmaple, 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

Lightspeed Trading Ratings

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

Lightspeed Trading Awards


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.

Offering of Investments

Wedbush Clearing Firm
0 Commission Free ETFs
Corporate Bonds
Yes Direct Market Routing - Stocks
5000 # of Easy to Borrow Stocks
Forex Trading
Yes Futures Trading
No Fee IRAs
Yes Mini Options
Municipal Bonds
Mutual Funds
0 Mutual Funds (Load)
0 Mutual Funds (No Load)
0 Mutual Funds (NTF)
0 Mutual Funds (Total)
Yes No Inactivity Fees
No Minimum Deposit
Yes Options Trading
Yes Order Type - After Hours
Yes Order Type - Algo
Yes Order Type - Broker Assisted
Yes OTCBB / Pink Sheets
0 Retail Locations
Yes Stock Trading
Yes US Treasury Bonds
Yes Weekly Options

Customer Service

Yes Phone Support
Yes Email Support
Live Chat (prospect clients)
Live Chat (current clients)
24/7 Support

Platforms & Tools

Yes Desktop Platform
Yes Mac Platform
Yes Web Platform
Lightspeed Trader Active Trading Platform
Auto Investing
Ladder Trading
Yes Level 2 Quotes - Stocks
Yes Option Chains - Basic View
Option Chains - Strategy View
Option Analysis - P&L Charts
Yes Streaming Time & Sales
Streaming TV
Yes Trade Hot Keys
Yes Virtual Trading


Research - ETFs
Research - Mutual Funds
Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB
Research - Fixed Income
Misc - Global Market Overview
Yes Equity Research - News
Yes Equity Research - Chart
Yes Equity Research - Option Chains
Equity Research - Balance Sheet
Equity Research - Cash Flows
Equity Research - SEC Filings
Equity Research - Insider Analysis
0 Equity Research - Research Reports
ETF Research - Top 10 Holdings
ETF Research - 3rd Party Ratings
ETF Research - Research Reports
Mutual Fund Research - Prospectus
Mutual Fund Research - Research Reports
Mutual Fund Research - Fees Breakdown
Mutual Fund Research - Performance Analysis
Mutual Fund Research - Performance Chart
Mutual Fund Research - Top 10 Holdings
Mutual Fund Research - 3rd Party Ratings
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 - Bonds
Has Education - Retirement
Investor Dictionary
Yes Client Webinars
Live Seminars
Retirement Calculator
Community Forums

Mobile Trading

iPhone App
iPad App
Android App
Mobile Site
Company Data
Company News
Watch List Syncing
Options Chains Viewable
Market Movers (Top Gainers)
Barcode Lookup
Charting - Multiple Time Frames
Charting - Can Turn Horizontally
Charting - Portfolio Perf vs Indices
Charting - Stock Comparisons
Trading - Stocks
Trading - Simple Options
Withdrawal Balance Available


Checking Accounts
Savings Accounts
Debit Cards
Credit Cards
Mortgage Loans
Mobile Check Deposit
ATM Fee Reimbursement
No Fee Banking

Active Trading

Internalizes Trades
Receives Payment for Order Flow
Yes Client Liquidity Rebates

Best in Class

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

Compare Lightspeed Trading:

All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 11/01/2014 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 top 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