Is a Robinhood Instant Account Free?

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Sep. 28 2020, Updated 2:44 p.m. ET

The stock-trading app Robinhood got a big upgrade in 2016 with the introduction of Robinhood Instant — an account type with instant deposits and extended-hours trading. Four years later, some users still have questions about the feature. What is Robinhood Instant? Is a Robinhood Instant account free? Who can benefit from a Robinhood Instant account? 

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What is a Robinhood Instant account?

Robinhood offers three types of accounts. The default is Robinhood Instant. According to Robinhood, “When you sign up for a new account, you’ll automatically start with a Robinhood Instant account, which is a margin account.” The company also said, “This means you’ll have access to instant deposits and extended-hours trading. You also won’t have to wait for your funds to process when you sell stocks or make a deposit (up to $1,000).”

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Robinhood Cash allows you to place trades during standard and extended trading hours, but you won’t have access to instant deposits or instant settlements. Robinhood Gold is like Robinhood Instant, but it allows larger instant deposits and grants access to more buying power.

Is Robinhood Instant free?

Robinhood Instant is free. “We believe Robinhood Instant will be powerful for all kinds of investors, so we made it free,” Robinhood explained upon the feature launch in February 2016. “That’s right: no monthly or recurring fees, no trading commissions, no interest charges, and no account minimums.”

In fact, all of the investing with Robinhood is commission-free. The company said that it doesn’t charge users to open, maintain, or fund accounts. However, Robinhood does pass fees charged by self-regulatory organizations (SROs) like the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) to its users.

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Who can benefit from a Robinhood Instant account?

Robinhood users looking for instant deposits could benefit from a Robinhood Instant account. However, Robinhood users should also know that Instant accounts and Gold accounts are subject to pattern day trading rules.

The company explained that, in general, each user is limited to a maximum of three day trades — defined as the purchase and sale of the same stock or options contract on the same trading day — within a span of five business days, unless the user has $25,000 or more of equity in their Instant or Gold account.

If a user executes four or more day trades within five business days — assuming the number of day trades is more than 6 percent of the total number of trades in that five-day period — Robinhood will consider that user a pattern day trader. Once marked as a pattern day trader, a user can’t place any day trades for 90 days if their account equity is below $25,000. If a user is marked as a pattern day trader and continues to day trade, they won’t be able to buy stocks or options at all for 90 days.

“Pattern day trading rules were put in place to protect individual investors from taking on too much risk,” according to Robinhood.

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