Top 10 brokerage firms: compare and review best discount online investment companies in 2017
Stock market goes up, or goes down - it's not easy to make money investing in or trading stocks.
Even when one manages to get a profit, it is often significantly reduced by the trading costs
(commissions, fees, margin interest and subscription to market data).
For this reason, it is important to find online brokerage firm that offers the lowest fees but is still very
reliable and provides excellent customer service. We compared the best discount stock brokerage companies
on overall customer value. We hope that the ratings of investment brokerage houses below will be instrumental in your selection
of the right company for you.
TD Ameritrade Pricing
- Stocks/ETFs: $6.95 per trade
- Options: $6.95 + $0.75 per contract
- No-load mutual funds: $49.99
- Treasuries at auction: $25
- All other bonds and CMOs, CDs: on a net yield basis
- Futures: $2.25 per contract (plus exchange & regulatory fees)
- Forex: Non-commission currency pairs trade in increments of 10,000 units (and do not contain a "#" symbol suffix). There are no additional fees or charges.
TD Ameritrade Advantages
Investors looking for a discount brokerage firm with good customer service, advanced trading technology, a large selection of funds and accounts, and excellent
research and educational tools should take a look at TD Ameritrade. The firm is known for its high quality services. For example, the company has
a network of branch locations spanning 34 U.S. states. Currently, there are more than 100 locations. The broker also has customer service
representatives on the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. TD Ameritrade clients can also get checks and a Visa debit card at no cost. ATM fees
incurred with the card are reimbursed nationwide.
TD Ameritrade is one of the better fund brokers. There are over 11,000 mutual funds at the firm. Nearly 2,000 come with no load and no transaction
fee. More than 100 exchange-traded funds are also available to trade commission-free. Many of these have low expense ratios, which will appeal to
cost-conscious traders. Buying and selling these products is a breeze using the firm's trading platforms. The website has SnapTicket, an easy-to-use
trading ticket at the bottom of the browser. There is also Trade Architect, a user friendly platform that operates in its own browser window. And
Thinkorswim is an advanced desktop trading system, which is completely free to use. The firm has a total of three mobile apps that can be used on a
variety of devices, including fingerprint-enabled phones. Even better, there is an app for Apple Watch for the most tech savvy of traders.
Investors will benefit from the excellent research and educational tools available on the TD Ameritrade website. There are effective screeners for
all securities the broker offers. An educational section offers many learning materials, including articles and videos. Information on forex,
futures, and retirement accounts can also be found on the TD Ameritrade website as these products are available with the firm. Beginners especially
will benefit from these educational resources.
TD Ameritrade Review
Continue to TD Ameritrade Review
Current TD Ameritrade Promotion Offer
Join TD Ameritrade. Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600.
- Stocks/ETFs: $4.95 per trade
- Options: $4.95 + $0.65 per contract
- No-load mutual funds: $9.95 per transaction for no-load mutual funds
- Bonds: $1 per bond with $10 minimum, $250 maximum
- Treasuries: commission-free
- Certificates of Deposit (CDs): $24.95 per transaction
TradeKing has managed to
offer $4.95 commissions while still offering good trading technology and a selection of educational tools. The broker's advanced platform,
TradeKing LIVE, if free for all customers. It is browser based. Clicking on the LIVE icon after logging in generates a separate window for the
platform. It has funds transfer, charting, real-time quotes, option tools, account data, and more. Limited equity research is also available,
which includes news stories from Benzinga. The broker has another platform called Quotestream, which is available for active traders. It comes
with multiple watch lists, streaming ticker symbols, and detailed stock information.
Besides general securities trading in stocks, options, and mutual funds, the brokerage firm is also one of the few in the industry to also offer forex
trading. In fact, the broker has its own forex platform that is free to use. The minimum deposit amount to trade forex with the broker is
only $500 for some currency pairs. There are also forex specialists at TradeKing who can assist clients who need any help with this product.
Beyond currency trading, the firm also has a good selection of debt offerings for fixed-income traders. The debt screener is effective at
narrowing down a list of thousands of bonds based on criteria such as coupon rate, maturity, bond rating, and call status.
One great feature that TradeKing has that other stock brokerage firms lack nowadays is a customer forum on the website. There are blogs, groups, and a
discussion forum where traders can discuss financial news and investments ideas. In many of these chats, a TradeKing representative can answer
any account-related questions. There are places for option traders, beginners, fundamental analysis, and value investors. There is also a trading
feed that displays how many TradeKing customers hold a particular security. It's a great place to hang out and communicate with other traders.
Continue to TradeKing Review
Current TradeKing Promotion Offer
Get up to $1,000 in free commissions.
- Stocks/ETFs: $4.95 per trade
- Options: $4.95 + $0.50 per contract
- No-load mutual funds: $20 per transaction for no-load mutual funds
- Futures: $1.50 per contract
- Call customer support to buy U.S. treasury bonds and listed corporate bonds
Frequent traders who are looking for good quality service with low commissions should consider opening an account at OptionsHouse. The brokerage firm has one
of the lowest stock and ETF commissions in the industry at just $4.95. Derivative contracts are just 50¢ extra, another very low charge. Despite
the low fees, the broker still has good options research and an advanced platform to trade the securities on. Chains and a strategy tester are good
tools to help option traders find profit potential. The broker's desktop trading system is free for all clients. Besides option contracts, users
can also trade stocks, ETF's, and mutual funds. Bonds are traded over the phone with a representative.
Investors who are new to the world of securities or haven't used the OptionsHouse platform before can try out the software without risking a dime
of real money. The discount brokerage firm has incorporated paper trading into the platform, which allows users to trade $100,000 of fake money. All the great
features of the platform are available on the practice system. This includes an economic calendar, a watch list, market news, and charting.
The brokerage firm's mobile app also has paper trading. The app can be used on Android and Apple devices at no cost. Quotes, option chains, account
information, and of course order entry are all available on the mobile platform. As with the desktop system, the mobile app is free of charge.
One of the nice benefits of OptionsHouse is that it offers futures trading. Most securities brokers do not. Investors can buy and sell futures
contracts for just $2 per contract. Exchange fees are extra, which is the norm in the industry. The broker currently also has a special of just
$1.50 per contract, which lasts until the end of September. Despite these low fees, OptionsHouse has good customer service, which includes an
on-line chat system. And accounts come with no fees. The stock brokerage firm charges nothing for low balances or inactivity. This policy applies
to regular securities accounts and retirement accounts.
Continue to Optionshouse Review
Current OptionsHouse Promotion Offer
Open and fund an OptionsHouse account to get up to $1,000 in free commissions for 60 days.
- Stocks and ETFs flat-rate plan: $5 per trade ($4 per trade for IRA accounts)
- Stocks and ETFs per-share plan: $0.01 per share first 500 shares, $0.006 per share after that; $1.00 minimum per trade
- Options: $5 + $0.50 per contract ($4 + $0.30 per contract for IRA accounts)
- Futures: from $1.20 (1 to 300 monthly contracts) to $0.25 (20,000+ monthly contracts) per side, per contract + exchange, regulatory & overnight fees
- Mutual funds: $14.95
- Bonds: $14.95 + $5 per bond
- T-Bills: $50
TradeStation is probably the most interesting company on the list. Its an U.S. subsidiary of one of the largest financial firms in Japan, Monex Group.
Initially the company targeted as customers only very active equities, options, and futures traders. It had a steep account inactivity fee of $100 per
month and therefore was too expensive for most investors. But this year TradeStation decided to move into broader retail investor market by dropping
the inactivity fee and drastically cutting commissions. Right now the firm is one of the most attractively priced brokerages in the industry
for both regular investors and active traders.
TradeStation is one of the very few brokers (and the best among them) who offers both flat-rate commission plan that most brokers use as well
as per-share commission structure where amount paid for a trade depends in the number of shares in that trade. With TradeStation's per-share plan all trades
of up to 100 shares will cost only $1.00. Similarly, trades with 200 shares will set a client back just $2.00. It is a perfect opportunity for customers to save
a fortune on trading commissions.
Aside from super low commissions, TradeStation's second value proposition is its powerful, professional, feature-rich trading platform. Every year this
software gets a number of awards from many financial publications. Along with TD Ameritrade's Thinkorswim it is the best trading
platform for equities traders. When it comes to futures trading it is second to none.
Continue to TradeStation Review
Current TradeStation Promotion Offer
Get up to $1,500 in commissions rebates.
- Stocks/ETFs: $6.95 per trade
- Options: $6.95 + $0.70 per contract
- No-load mutual funds: $17 per transaction for no-load mutual funds
- Listed corporate bonds: $35 fee + $3 per bond (minimum investment $1,000)
- Unit Investment Trusts: $50 liquidation fee
Investors who want more than just an on-line account with phone service should take a look at Scottrade. The stock brokerage firm operates more than 500 branch
locations across most states. Many of the offices offer in-person seminars. The brokerage company also provides on-line events. These can cover a wide range
of topics, from the U.S. economy to the firm's advanced platform, ScottradeELITE. This platform is for active traders and comes with a host of
nice features, including advanced charting, Recognia technical analysis, and a sector trends tool. Traders who don't meet the requirements to use
ScottradeELITE can trade on the broker's newly redesigned website. It includes a handy trading ticket at the bottom of the browser that can be
used to trade stocks, options, and ETF's.
Scottrade is also a great place to trade mutual funds. The brokerage firm offers its customers more than 11,500 funds plus a very good screener that can
search through all of them. Users can specify several important criteria, including Morningstar rating, expense ratio, investment minimum, and
performance. Over 2,100 funds have no load and no transaction fee. Scottrade also provides pre-defined screens such as real estate, fixed income,
and U.S. equity. A fund's availability, load status, and transaction-fee status are clearly marked with color-coded icons, a nice feature.
In addition to a great selection of mutual funds, the brokerage firm's customers also get stock and ETF trades for just $6.95. Scottrade recently lowered
its commission on options to just 70¢ per contract, placing the broker squarely in the low-cost category. Despite this classification, the firm
continues to offer good trading technology, including a useful mobile app, along with educational materials on its website that will be useful
to many new investors. These resources include information on extended-hours trading, Brexit, long calls, and how to submit an order. There are
also several beneficial calculators on the firm's website, including a college savings calculator and an IRA comparison tool.
Continue to Scottrade Review
Current Scottrade Promotion Offer
Open Account: Start Saving With Scottrade Today
This article was updated on 3/27/2017