How Does Robinhood Make Money? The Robinhood Business Model

Robinhood, the mobile investing app founded in 2013, has become one of the most popular platforms for buying and selling stocks. With its zero-commission trades and user-friendly interface, it’s no surprise that so many investors have chosen to use this platform.

Despite not charging commissions or fees on stock purchases, however, Robinhood still needs to make money somehow – but how? This article will take an in-depth look at the business model employed by Robinhood, breaking down each component of their revenue stream.

The main source of income comes from interest earned through deposits held with partner banks. Additionally, they offer premium services such as margin trading which carries additional costs; other sources include subscriptions to market data providers and payment for order flow (PFOF).

Each one is discussed in further detail below.

Understanding The Basics Of Robinhood

Robinhood is an investment platform that provides free trading services for stocks, ETFs, options and cryptocurrencies. Launched in 2013, the company has grown to become a leader in commission-free stock brokerage. Robinhood’s mission is to democratize access to financial markets by providing customers with an easy way to invest their money without fees or commissions.

The Robinhood business model allows users to trade stocks, ETFs and options for free. Additionally, it offers cryptocurrency trades on Bitcoin and Ethereum with no additional fees or commissions. As of 2019, the platform had over 10 million accounts open worldwide. Its primary revenue source comes from interest earned on customer deposits as well as margin lending products offered through its partner lender Apex Clearing Corporation.

In addition to its core operations, Robinhood also generates income through two other avenues: Cash Management Accounts and Gold Membership plans which offer advanced features such as extended hours trading and larger instant deposit amounts at competitive rates. Ultimately, these sources of profitability help the company stay competitive while driving value back to its customers.

Interest Earned On Deposits

  1. Interest rates are an important factor to consider when deciding on where to place deposits, as they affect the amount of money that can be earned from the deposits.

  2. The safety of deposits is also a critical concern when deciding where to place them, as there is the potential for loss of principal in the event of failure.

  3. When it comes to Robinhood, the company does not offer any interest on deposits, however it does not charge any fees for accounts.

  4. This lack of fees can be beneficial to those who want to start investing with a minimal upfront cost.

  5. However, this also means that traders are not able to earn any interest on their deposits, which can be a disadvantage when compared to other brokerages who offer interest rates.

  6. While Robinhood does not charge fees for their accounts, they do make money through trades and margin accounts, as well as other services such as Robinhood Gold.

Interest Rates

Interest rates play an important role in Robinhood’s business model.

By offering margin trading and cash management services, the company is able to generate income from interest earned on cash deposits.

The amount of money generated depends on the rate at which customers deposit their funds into Robinhood accounts, as well as the prevailing market conditions for interest rates.

Customers who use margin trading are subject to higher interest rates than those who only make regular deposits.

This helps the company maximize its profits by ensuring that it earns more when there is greater demand for its services.

In addition, changes in market conditions can also affect the amount of revenue generated through this method, allowing Robinhood to adjust accordingly.

As such, understanding how interest rates impact a business model is essential for companies like Robinhood that rely heavily on this form of income generation.

Deposit Safety

Deposit safety is another important factor to consider when looking at interest earned on deposits.

Cash management services such as those offered by Robinhood are subject to the same regulations and laws that govern credit cards, meaning deposits made into these accounts should be secure from any risk of fraud or theft.

Furthermore, most cash management services offer FDIC insurance for customers’ funds, ensuring their money is protected up to a certain amount in case of bank failure.

These measures provide an extra layer of protection for customers who may be concerned about the security of their funds.

In addition, many companies also offer additional consumer protections through third-party providers, allowing users to access further resources if needed.

Ultimately, deposit safety should always be taken into account before investing your hard-earned money with any institution.

Account Fees

In addition to considering the safety of deposits made, potential investors should also be aware of any account fees associated with their chosen cash management services.

Some providers may charge a fee for margin trading or access to research tools and other resources which could reduce returns on investments.

It is important to weigh these additional costs against the interest earned on deposit accounts in order to ensure that you are getting the best value for your money.

Moreover, many companies offer discounts or waive certain fees if customers meet minimum balance requirements, allowing them to save even more money over time.

Consumers must take into account all factors when selecting a financial institution as some may have higher rates but charge extra for features such as margin trading or research tools, while others can provide similar services without added costs.

Ultimately, it pays off to compare different options before making an investment decision so that one can determine which provider best fits their needs and budget.

Premium Services

The Robinhood business model is fueled by premium services and other sources of revenue. While the company earns a small amount in interest from customer deposits, they rely heavily on their commission-free trading app to generate income. In addition to traditional stocks, Robinhood also provides access to margin trading, options contracts, cryptocurrency trading and more – all without any additional fees.

One way in which Robinhood makes money is through higher-tier accounts that offer extra features such as larger margins or extended hours for buying and selling securities. These so-called “premium” accounts come with a monthly subscription fee which can range from $5 to $200 per month depending on the type of account purchased.

The pricing structure allows traders who are willing to pay more for exclusive benefits like advanced order types or real-time streaming quotes. Robinhood also relies on its own proprietary technology developed over several years. This includes algorithms designed to help customers make smarter trades based on market trends and analysis of data points related to individual investments.

Additionally, the platform collects valuable user data which it sells to third parties interested in targeting potential investors with advertising campaigns tailored specifically for them. By leveraging these key elements, Robinhood has been able to build a profitable business while providing users with an accessible option for investing online at no cost.

Subscriptions To Market Data Providers

Data subscriptions from market data providers are necessary for an investor to make informed decisions. They come with a cost that can vary depending on the provider, but can also offer a variety of benefits.

For example, Robinhood offers a subscription for market data that is cost-effective and includes real-time data and analytics. As a result, the Robinhood business model is based largely on revenue generated from subscription fees and other services.


The cost of subscriptions to market data providers is one way in which Robinhood makes money. As a cashless payments platform and margin lender, the company relies on access to real-time stock quotes from various exchanges.

To facilitate this access, Robinhood pays for services from multiple financial data vendors such as Nasdaq TotalView or BATS Global Markets, incurring fees that are then passed along to its customers. This allows users to receive up-to-date price information without having to pay additional costs themselves.

In order to generate revenue, Robinhood also offers certain premium features like Level 2 market data and extended hours trading at an extra cost. These higher levels of service come with more advanced analytics tools and allow traders to take advantage of faster order execution speeds.

By charging a fee for these pricier packages, the company further increases its profits while giving experienced investors a distinct edge over those who opt out of paying extra for enhanced features.

By utilizing both subscription fees and premiums services, Robinhood has developed a sustainable business model that helps it cover operational expenses while still turning a profit for shareholders. Through smart pricing strategies and leveraging its offerings across multiple markets, the firm remains well positioned to capitalize on current trends in online investing.


For investors looking to save money while still having access to market data, subscribing to Robinhood is a viable option. The cost of their services are often lower than competitors and they offer fee comparison tools that allow users to easily compare pricing packages across different providers.

This allows customers to make intelligent decisions regarding which subscription best suits their needs without overspending on features they don’t need. In addition, the company offers various saving strategies such as discounts for annual payments or referral bonuses when introducing new users.

By utilizing these tactics, savvy investors can maximize their savings while also taking advantage of advanced analytics and extended hours trading options available through higher tiers of service. As such, Robinhood provides an attractive alternative for those seeking reliable market information at the most competitive prices possible.

Payment For Order Flow (Pfof)

Robinhood makes money through a controversial practice known as Payment for Order Flow (PFOF). In this system, brokerages such as Robinhood receive payments from market makers in exchange for routing customers’ orders to them. This means that when a customer places an order on the platform, Robinhood receives payment regardless of whether or not the order is filled. PFOF has come under fire because it can lead to conflicts of interest and poorer execution outcomes than if customers had received best execution prices available.

In addition to its PFOF revenue stream, Robinhood also earns income by offering margin trading services and alternative investments including cryptocurrencies and fractional shares. Its margin accounts allow investors to borrow funds against their existing securities holdings at annualized rates ranging between 5-6%. Customers may use these funds to purchase additional securities without needing additional capital up front.

Additionally, users may access alternative investments such as cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum via the platform with no commissions attached. These offerings have been met with great enthusiasm among retail investors due to their potential for high returns.

Finally, Robinhood also offers premium subscription plans which provide access to exclusive features such as larger instant deposits and extended trading hours. Subscribers are charged a flat monthly fee based on their individual needs and preferences, creating another source of profit for the company.

By leveraging multiple sources of income, Robinhood has transformed itself into one of the most popular financial platforms in recent years.

Advertising Revenue

In the world of finance, Robinhood stands out as a beacon of opportunity and innovation. From commission-free trading to an intuitive mobile app, it has given investors from all walks of life an equal chance at achieving financial freedom.

But how does this upstart brokerage make money? What is its business model?

Advertising revenue forms a significant part of Robinhood’s income stream. By leveraging social media platforms and affiliate marketing strategies, the company promotes its services to potential customers. Through these means, it can generate advertising fees which are then passed on to their partners such as exchanges or clearing firms.

Additionally, they could also launch premium products like margin accounts or subscriptions that offer exclusive features for added costs.

Overall, while some may question whether Robinhood’s free service is sustainable in the long run, there’s no denying that its focus on innovative solutions has helped revolutionize traditional investing by providing more people with access to capital markets. With further refinements along the way, Robinhood looks set to remain one of the most popular brokerages in the years ahead.

Brokerage Fees

Robinhood makes money primarily through brokerage fees. The company charges a commission when users buy and sell stocks, as well as for certain other services like IRA accounts. Moreover, Robinhood generates revenue from clearing fees that it collects to cover the cost of executing client orders.

Additionally, Robinhood also profits off margin trading which allows investors to borrow funds against their existing securities portfolio in order to purchase more stocks or options contracts. This service comes with additional costs such as interest on borrowed funds and account maintenance fees.

In addition to its fee-based model, Robinhood also earns income by collecting payments for order flow – routing customer trades to market makers who pay them for generating liquidity and providing price improvement opportunities for customers’ orders. Through these arrangements, Robinhood is able to generate significant non-fee revenues while still offering free stock trades to its clients.

Overall, the company has developed an innovative business model which combines low-cost transaction fees with payment for order flow agreements resulting in robust profitability since its launch in 2014.

Referral Programs

Investors looking to make money through Robinhood have an additional way of earning income besides investments. The company’s referral program offers cashback rewards and affiliate marketing opportunities to users who bring in new customers. By participating, investors can maximize their return on investment while also helping others learn about the financial markets.

When a current user refers someone else to join Robinhood, they are rewarded with free shares of stocks or funds worth up to $500 for each person that signs up. In addition, those referred by existing members will receive one free stock worth up to $200 upon opening their account. This incentive encourages people to sign up as well as refer friends or family members.

Robinhood also has an affiliate program allowing participants to earn commissions when they refer others to Robinhood Gold, its margin trading feature which allows eligible accounts access to more than 5x buying power on certain U.S.-listed securities compared to Cash Accounts. Through this program, affiliates may earn between 30% – 65% commission per sale depending on how much revenue is generated from a referral link. Affiliates must be approved before beginning any promotion activities along with agreeing not use unsolicited emails or other prohibited methods of marketing under applicable laws and regulations.

By leveraging its referral programs, Robinhood creates multiple avenues for investors to benefit financially while also introducing newcomers into the world of finance and investing in stocks and bonds.

With many features designed specifically for beginners, it makes sense why so many inexperienced individuals flock towards the platform — both new and seasoned investors alike stand to gain something from using Robinhood’s services .

Special Services

Robinhood offers various services that allow customers to trade stocks and crypto currencies. In addition to its basic stock trading service, Robinhood also provides users with access to a range of financial instruments such as options, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies.

The company has developed an intuitive trading platform that allows traders of all levels to quickly buy and sell securities in the market.

The company’s Crypto Trading feature enables investors to purchase Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) or Dogecoin (DOGE) using U.S. dollars without fees. This feature is available in 42 states across the US, including Washington DC, California, Massachusetts and New York.

Additionally, Robinhood supports margin trading on select stocks up to 6x leverage for non-professional accounts while providing clients access to real-time news feeds from CNBC, Marketwatch and other sources via its web application.

Robinhood also offers fractional shares which enable customers to invest even smaller amounts than would normally be allowed by traditional brokerage firms. Fractional shares start at one dollar allowing users who have limited capital resources an opportunity for diversification into larger companies whose full share prices may otherwise be too high for them alone.

Other Sources Of Income

In addition to special services, Robinhood makes money from other sources as well. Crypto trading is perhaps the most popular among these. Robinhood allows users to buy and sell Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). It also provides access to several other major cryptocurrencies like Litecoin (LTC), Dogecoin (DOGE), and more. The platform charges a fee for each crypto transaction that it processes.

Another way in which Robinhood earns income is through margin investing. This involves borrowing funds from the broker or lender at an agreed-upon interest rate in order to purchase securities on margin. Such investments carry greater risk than traditional investments, so they can generate higher returns if done successfully. However, when things go wrong, investors may end up losing much more than their initial investment due to the extra fees associated with such trades. Therefore, it is important for traders to be aware of all risks before engaging in any kind of margin investing activity on Robinhood’s platform.

Robinhood has become one of the leading online brokers by offering numerous features designed to make stock trading easier and faster than ever before. By leveraging its innovative business model, the company generates revenue through commission fees, special services, crypto trading, and margin investing.

All this adds up to a reliable source of income for the firm while simultaneously providing customers with a wide range of opportunities to take advantage of market movements and build wealth over time.


In conclusion, the Robinhood business model is one that has proven to be successful and profitable.

Through a combination of earned interest on deposits, subscription fees for market data providers, payment for order flow (PFOF), brokerage fees, referral programs, special services, and other sources of income, the company has been able to generate substantial revenue streams.

The success of this platform proves that providing access to free trading can be monetized in multiple ways while still being beneficial to users.

It also shows how financial technology companies are disrupting traditional models by creating new avenues for making money from digital assets.

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