Recently many people have run from the stock market licking their wounds and panicked by the size of their retirement plan. But at the same time, many others are cashing in on some great opportunities. For those looking to buy and sell stocks, without significant expense, online stock brokers can be the ultimate answer.
Besides significant cost savings, another great advantage to executing your own transactions is that you can avoid the time and energy necessary to deal with "professional" stock brokers. Many of these individuals try to convince you to buy or sell stocks, because they earn a commission every time you make a transaction. With online stock brokers, you never have to talk to any salesmen.
There are many online stock brokers to choose from. However, before buying your piece of Microsoft or IBM you should consider a number of key factors. Some of these include:
Fees. Does the online stock broker charge a flat fee or a percentage of the total amount purchased? What's it going to cost to sell the shares when the time comes?
Information. Getting quick and informative stock information is imperative for those searching for the right pick. What information does the online stock broker provide for free?
Customer Service. How do people feel about the service they are getting? Is the online stock broker timely and helpful when you're in need of their assistance?
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best online stock brokers available today. We hope this information helps you choose your next online stock broker!
Disclosure: We pay our reviewers and we are compensated for our reviews. Click here for details.
TD Ameritrade is one of the leading online stock brokers for several reasons. They make trading securities extremely simple and affordable for even the newest of traders.
TD Ameritrade offers a flat $9.99 fee for their stock trades, regardless of your account balance or how often you trade. This is a very competitive rate with no gimmicks or hidden charges, such as platform or market data fees. They also offer excellent 3rd party analysis to help you make educated investing decisions. When it comes time to execute your trade, navigating the site to buy or sell securities is
easy. TD Ameritrade provides a sophisticated yet simple web-based trading platform.
Opening an account with TD Ameritrade is a very simple process. You just Answer a few questions online and you can be trading in minutes. Not only is the signup process simple, you can also trade free for 60 days. That is a fantastic opportunity for you to try their trading platform and get comfortable with it, without racking up any trading fees, no matter how big or small an investor you are.
If you have any questions about a trade, the TD Ameritrade customer service department is available 24/7. We found their representatives to be both helpful and extremely knowledgeable.
Among other recognitions, TD Ameritrade has received the top rating for Research Amenities and Customer Service from Barron's. It's obvious TD Ameritrade puts a focus on making their stock trading platform safe and easy, and delivering the information that their investors need.
TD Ameritrade is one of the premier online stock brokers in the industry, and it's not hard to see why. With competitive fees, a streamlined, easy-to-use website, and valuable analysis tools, anyone can successfully and affordably trade in today's market. TD Ameritrade delivers the best value for your stock trading dollar and earns our highest rating.
Trade Station is an online stock trading platform that offers a broad range of trading services, including stock trading, futures, options, ETF and foreign exchange. It has some of the best rated software and third party analysis in the business, but due to high minimums it is probably geared more for the professional or active investor, over the smaller more casual one.
Trade Station has been in business for over 30 years and its strength is in its powerful trading and analysis software. Their trading platform has received Barron’s #1 rating for in best trading and technology, as well as their top platform of choice for frequent traders and international traders. There is no shortage of accolades for this broker. Investor's Business Daily has ranked them #1 for equity trading tools, and
they have appeared in the top 5 for their options platform, ETF choices, reliability and overall experience. The Trade Station website lists many other high rankings from other major financial publications. The serious investor looking for the top technology in the business ought to give serious consideration to Trade Station.
Commissions and trade fees are competitive with other online brokers. Stock Trades are $6.99 each if you make 30 or more per month, $7.99 for 10-29 trades per month, and $9.99 for 1-9 trades per month. Commission on equity trades is $.01 per share up to 500 shares and $.006 per share after that. There is an option for new clients to trade free for 60 days after opening an account. However, as mentioned Trade Station charges
hefty fees for not meeting certain minimums. You will pay a platform fee of $99.95 if you don’t make 10 or more trades involving 5000 or more shares each month. This will likely send the less active investor to another broker with no or lower minimum requirements.
The website is well organized and easy to navigate, and customer service options are prominently laid out at the top of the main page with options to call a toll free number or get online assistance. Setting up a new account is a simple process and the research tools and resources we found on the site are impressive. With a huge array of products and services, award winning technology, and competitive pricing, Trade Station
is a great choice for an active investor.
Scottrade has been seen and heard for more than 30 years. With over 290 US branch offices, many of us have actually driven by a Scottrade location and may not have even realized it. To complement their retail locations, Scottrade also provides an excellent online trading platform with a solid foundation and a long list of customers.
Scottrade offers a flat $7 fee for online stock trades, competitive with other brokerages we reviewed. They also require a minimum of $500 to open an account
Scottrade gets high marks for the amount and quality of educational resources offered to their customers. This is a good benefit to beginning investors who are just learning about stock investing. Scottrade is also well known for their customer service and have been historical award winners in this category.
We found a few comments from experienced traders that felt the trading engine was not as perfect as they would have liked. Several felt the investment research tools and charts were not as user friendly as those found at some other online brokerages.
Strangely, you can't make an electronic withdrawal of your funds from Scottrade. Instead, they require you to use a debit card or checks. We found this to be a needless inconvenience for a company specializing in online financial interactions.
Overall, Scottrade is a solid online stock broker with fair priced trade prices and a low minimum opening balance requirement. Their customer service representatives are top-notch and they take great pains to make their trading platform intuitive and simple to use.
Zecco is a very good online stock broker for the cost-conscious investor. While they make it easy and inexpensive to trade stocks, you just need to keep in mind that there are some trade-offs that come along with their low fees.
Stock trades at Zecco are a flat $4.95, which is near the bottom of all the online brokerages we reviewed. For investors who plan to trade frequently, low transaction fees can save you a lot of money over the long run. They also have no minimum deposit requirement when you open a trading account, which is very appealing to the small investor that wants to take a dip in the stock trading water.
As far as getting up and running, you can create your stock trading account in as little as 10 minutes. There are no papers to mail in or lengthy forms to fill out. Once approved, you can start trading and monitoring stock prices with their free streaming quotes.
Our review of Zecco would be remiss if we didn't mention their active and helpful online community. Fellow Zecco users share trading strategies and investment ideas, and you can easily track top performing investors. Zecco prides itself on facilitating communication between their customers, and this is one area that sets Zecco apart form other online stock brokers.
While Zecco provides a very good stock trading platform, their low cost has some effects. The analysis tools they provide aren't as complete as the premier stock brokerages, and you can expect some delays if you need to use their customer service area.
Still, Zecco is a good online stock broker that provides a reliable trading platform. If you are a very small investor, or plan to trade very frequently, Zecco is definitely worth your consideration.
Options Xpress provides expert service for those interested in Options trading. Having said this, they also offer a broad range of broker services, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and even ETF's.
Getting started with Options Xpress is quick and easy. You simply fill out an online application, select how you want to fund your account, and you can be trading within minutes. There is no minimum deposit required unless you are trading options, where a minimum balance is required for the margin and premium payments that are needed with these instruments.
Options Xpress has a number of tools that you'll find useful in analyzing and executing your trades. As a customer you have access to robots that scan the markets for ideas based on your particular investing criteria; customizable charts to help you identify trends, and real-time current and stock quote prices so you can act instantly based on the most up-to-date information.
In addition to giving you the tools necessary to analyze and execute your trades, Options Xpress also provides some features you may not expect. For example, you have a "virtual" trading platform - which lets you execute trades through their system with "play" money. This is an excellent way to practice trading and learn more about areas that you may not be familiar with - while risking nothing. They
also offer a range of webinars and instructional videos to help you learn about different aspects of the market.
>Options Xpress provides each customer $500,000 in account protection. Should something happen to this company, your assets are safe up to $500,000.
Options Xpress offers a good value for those wanting to buy and sell not only options but other securities as well. They provide an impressive array of tools to help you learn about the markets and trading, and give you a chance to practice with their virtual trading platform. Options Xpress receives high marks in our review.
As a result of its large size, customer base and balance sheet, Schwab has resources available to provide technology offering the latest in news and investment information. Schwab offers a full service product for those wanting to trade online any investment vehicle available today but not at the best price.
Schwab offers customers a sort of tiered approach to pricing transactions. Generally speaking, each trade is $8.95 but those prices can run lower if you are transacting 30 or more trades each month. However, the minimum balance is $2,500 to open and thus excludes some investors looking to transact in the lower range.
Schwab also offers a bilingual customer service team that is very helpful to those with English as their second language. The Schwab trading website has a number of resources and analysis information available. The trading platform was generally easy to use and we had very few questions in our first attempt to navigate a trade.
Overall, we were impressed with Schwab's full service approach to handling stock investments. However, we were a little less impressed with the cost per transaction and most definitely the minimum deposit requirement.
Sogo Trade offers a low budget online stock broker service. We found the no frills site to be free of the unneeded extras that some of the massive companies provided and that we had to spend time sorting through. However, sometimes low budget can mean lower quality and we found that in some cases with Sogo Trade.
The trading engine and overall website was more than we expected for their $3.00 flat rate fee. The fee is clearly the cheapest in the industry of any online brokers. However, Sogo Trade does not handle all investment choices. While you can cheaply trade stocks they do not currently offer education plans. They also don't offer mutual fund trading or IRA accounts.
The research tools and analytical security information were lacking as well. Be prepared to do your own research on Google, along with what Sogo Trade can provide, before placing your trade.
Sogo Trade provides a $500,000 in account coverage in the event the online stock broker fails. This is important to know and understand when deciding how much to place with this online stock broker given the current environment.
In the end, we felt that Sogo Trade is probably a good option for some in the market that already have their own investment information sources and that are only trading stocks at this time. For those that are interested in funding their IRA or kids college, we suggest you look at the higher ranked companies for assistance.
Trade Monster offers a relatively low cost trading platform. With a $2000 minimum deposit required, Trade Monster gives most investors the opportunity to own a piece of the pie.
Through our research we found recounts of investors dissatisfied with the level of investment charts available on Trade Monster. Also, the website organization was ranked lower on a list. We had to search much longer on the Trade Monster website to locate the details we were looking for.
The customer service team is generally responsive but overall the company has only been in business a very short time and that brought us much concern with even the largest and most successful brokers shutting their doors in 2008.
Trade Monster is a member of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) and provides a protection on assets up to $100,000 for cash balances. Any cash balances maintained for the purpose of interest accrual are not protected. The SIPC also covers $500,000 in assets.
Overall, we couldn't find any reason over the competition to choose Trade Monster. The per trade cost, minimum balance, website organization and functionality were no better than the higher ranked companies.
Sure Trader is a relatively new online broker based in the Bahamas that offers very low trade fees for a very basic trading service, with some questionable hidden fees and issues with customer service.
The products are limited to equities, options and ETF, so if you’re looking to trade futures, bonds, mutual funds or other types of investments, you won’t have that option Sure Trader. The website is bare bones. There are no research tools, third party analysis or anything other than a basic trading terminology glossary to assist the prospective investor in analyzing the market. We saw a notice that Barron’s had given
then four stars for usability, but when we clicked on the link it just took us back to the made Sure Trader page. There were no other accolades or awards and no testimonials. Really there is not much other than a link to their pricing structure and a link to open an account.
Curious about this we went out to the internet and found many negative comments from clients that had serious problems with everything from setting up accounts, to the technology timing out and not completing trades, to poor customer service. The one advantage customers did note was that since the company is based outside of the United States there is no day trader limit, meaning you can make as many trades as you want
in a given day.
Because there is no trading limit, Sure Trader’s niche seems to be shorting stocks including penny stocks, and at $4.95 per trade they have the lowest fees of any online broker we reviewed. However there are some sizable hidden costs such as a $179 per month platform fee that they will waive if you generate that much in commission. Also since they are offshore you are charged $100 for any money wiring…if you want to withdraw
funds from your account for example, you will pay $100 to do so. Also there is no toll free customer service so you’re even going to have to pay to talk to a representative.
As a niche day trading platform, Sure Trader may offer some value to some investors. However with limited products, hidden fees, questionable customer service and technology we would recommend the average investor look elsewhere for an online broker service.
Options House has also been in business for only a short time. They specialize in options trading and offer a great per contract price and low minimum deposit. However, being the cheapest isn't always something to be proud of.
We found that Options House had both positive and negative recounts of customer service satisfaction reviews. We took it upon ourselves to call Options House several times and after talking to them we had to make some assumptions.
We found that 1) they have some training consistency issues across representatives, and 2) you need to be prepared to wait on hold if you are going to call right before the market closes. We were confused and dissatisfied when different representatives reported varying information that did not correspond.
Like many others, Options House is a member of Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which protects customers up to $500,000 (including $100,000 for cash balances).
In today's time when the biggest and oldest brokers can go out of business in a day we found Options House too new for our comfort level. We also had serious concerns with the varying responses we received from the customer service representatives. We recommend you select a higher ranked online stock broker to best meet your needs.
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