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


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Current TD Ameritrade Promotion Offer


Join TD Ameritrade. Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600.







Ally Invest



Ally Invest Pricing


  • Stocks/ETFs: $4.95 per trade ($3.95 per trade if making 30+ trades per quarter or for $100,000 balances)
  • Options: $4.95 + $0.65 per contract ($0.50 per contract if making 30+ trades per quarter or for $100,000 balances)
  • 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


Ally Invest Advantages


Ally Invest has managed to offer $4.95 commissions while still offering good trading technology and a selection of educational tools. The broker's advanced platform, Ally Invest 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 Ally Invest 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 Ally Invest 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 Ally Invest 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 Ally Invest customers hold a particular security. It's a great place to hang out and communicate with other traders.


Ally Invest Review


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Current Ally Invest Promotion Offer


Trade stocks for $4.95. No minimums.












E*Trade Pricing


  • $6.95 per stock/etf trade ($4.95 if making 30 plus trades per quarter)
  • Options: $6.95 plus $0.75/contract ($4.95 plus $0.50 if making 30 plus trades per quarter)
  • No-load mutual funds: $19.99
  • Futures: $1.50 per contract, per side + fees
  • Forex: markup or markdown will be included in the prices quoted
  • Bonds: $1 per bond (minimum $10, maximum $250)


E*Trade Advantages


E*Trade has a nicely-designed website that is easy to navigate. Here, users can place trades for securities, conduct research, and transfer funds. E*Trade 360 is a convenient dashboard with a selection of windows. These display items such as account summary, positions, detailed balances, alerts, and watch lists. Customers can also open a new account, such as an IRA or an FDIC-insured checking account with E*Trade. Active traders have access to the firm's advanced desktop platform, and the broker's mobile app is free for all customers. It can be used on Apple and Android tablets and phones, Amazon Fire phone, Kindle Fire HD, and devices running Windows 10 Mobile.

Fund investors will find good resources on the E*Trade website. There are videos, articles, and self-guided courses that introduce both exchange-traded and mutual fund basics. Topics include measuring mutual fund risk, global investing, commodity funds, and the taxation of funds. Using the broker's sophisticated screener helps to locate any particular type of fund. Users can search according to criteria such as distribution yield, load status, and index correlation. The screener returns a total of 7,400 mutual funds. Over 2,000 come with no load and no transaction fee. Investors who prefer ETF's have access to more than 100 exchange-traded products that are free to buy and sell. Many of these securities have expense ratios lower than 0.50%.

E*Trade clients can also participate in IPO's. The broker's website lists upcoming offerings, and customers can sign up for alerts to be notified of them. E*Trade is also one of the few securities brokers to offer futures trading. A desktop platform devoted to futures trading can be used at no cost. The on-going commission for futures trades is $1.50 per contract, per side plus fees. Throw in a large selection of retirement accounts and an FDIC-insured checking account, and E*Trade is a good choice for investors who want an all-in-one financial package.


E*Trade Review


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Link To Current E*Trade Promotion Offer


At E*TRADE, active traders get $4.95 trades + 50₵ per options contract.











TradeStation Pricing


  • 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 Advantages


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.


TradeStation Review


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Current TradeStation Promotion Offer


Get up to $1,500 in commissions rebates.











Scottrade Pricing


  • 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


Scottrade Advantages


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.


Scottrade Review


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Current Scottrade Promotion Offer


Open Account: Start Saving With Scottrade Today









This article was updated on 6/21/2017






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