Lowest Stock Trading Fees. Cheapest Brokerage Commissions.


Best brokerage firms with lowest commissions on stock trades. Online brokers cheapest trading fees (flat rate) in 2017.



Ally Invest Low Trading Commissions


InvestmentsCommissions
Stocks and ETFs $3.95 (if making 30+ trades per quarter or for $100,000 balances)
Stocks and ETFs $4.95 (if not meeting above criteria)
Mutual funds $9.95
Minimum to open $0


Ally Invest Advantages

  • Very low commissions
  • No minimums, or maintenance or hidden fees
  • Free real-time quotes
  • Top-rated customer service
  • Best online investor community
  • Fee-free IRAs
  • Free DRIPs (dividend reinvestment plans)
  • Low cost professional portfolio management


Ally Invest Account Review

Ally Invest is one of our favorite online brokers - we rated it one of the Top Brokerage Firms in last six years. Ally Invest does not have minimum account balance requirements or hidden fees. Beginners can place broker-assisted trades for the same low price as online trades - $4.95 ($3.95 for active traders), and can learn to trade and pick up investing ideas in the website's friendly trader community.

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Get a $100 cash bonus or $500 in commission-free trades with Ally Invest.


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Firstrade Low Trading Commissions


InvestmentsCommissions
Stocks and ETFs $2.95 for all customers
Mutual funds $9.95
Minimum to open $0


Firstrade Advantages

  • The lowest flat-rate stock, ETF, and mutual fund commissions
  • $0 minimum to open an account
  • No account maintenance or inactivity fees
  • No annual or setup fees for IRA accounts
  • Free dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP)
  • Easy to use, clean website
  • 12 ETFs are available commission free


Firstrade Account Review

With a recent commission schedule change, Firstrade Securities has become an ultra-low-cost brokerage firm. Despite its low fees, it offers trading technology and a host of other investment services that are competitive with other firms in the online industry.

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Overview of Brokerage Features that Stock Traders Need


Investors who plan to buy and sell mainly stocks need certain features from a brokerage firm that other traders may not need. In particular, equity investors need a suite of trading tools, good learning materials and research resources, along with competent customer service to back it all up. In reality, stock traders need much more than this. Let’s analyze some of these necessary brokerage features, and see which firms deliver them, and which ones don’t.


Trading Tools


One of the most important features a broker can offer stock traders, especially frequent stock traders, is advanced technology. A desktop platform is a standard feature at many brokerages, but some don’t offer one. Vanguard and WellsTrade, for instance, don’t have any desktop trading software, even for active traders. If you’re going to trade equities frequently, or if you’re going to day trade, you will definitely want a desktop program.

Brokers that do have a desktop trading system include Merrill Edge, E*Trade, Fidelity, and Interactive Brokers. Some of these firms impose trading requirements or account minimums to gain access to their software. TD Ameritrade is unique in the industry by not requiring any level of trading or account balance to gain access to its very advanced platform, thinkorswim.

Some brokerage houses will also provide a browser-based trading system that usually is free to use. Ally Invest has one called Ally Invest LIVE. While it doesn’t have as many features as some of the more advanced desktop systems, it can place trades and display account information.

In the 21st century, mobile trading is pretty much required, and most brokers offer at least one mobile app where securities can be bought and sold. However, there is a wide variation in terms of capability from one broker to the next. For example, TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim mobile app has a paper trading version where users can practice buying and selling stocks. Schwab’s app, by comparison, does not have this capability.


Charting


Mutual fund and option traders don’t rely very much on graphs, but if you’re going to trade stocks, and especially if you’re going to use technical analysis, they are essential. As with technology in general, the level of charting sophistication varies widely from one brokerage house to another.

Since WellsTrade doesn’t have a desktop platform, a graph is only available on its website. A chart cannot be shown full screen, although there are some technical indicators that can be overlaid. There are also comparisons that can be made to an index or another stock, which can be helpful when trying to analyze a company’s performance.

More advanced charting can be found on the E*Trade website where a graph can be displayed the width of the monitor. The most sophisticated charting can usually be found on desktop platforms. TradeStation provides advance charting tools in its software, and TD Ameritrade customers can use 400 technical studies in thinkorswim.


Customer Service


Stock traders will need customer service on a variety of issues, such as when splits occur, or when a company pays a dividend. Most brokers offer a free DRIP service, but some could charge for it or not offer it at all; so be sure to check with your broker if you plan to have dividends reinvested in a stock. Some brokers will setup DRIP service automatically.

Extended-hours trading in stocks is available at many brokerage houses, but the length of sessions can vary from one firm to another. Some brokers, like E*Trade, charge extra for placing trades during these special sessions, while others do not. Vanguard offers after-hours trading, but not pre-market. Fidelity customers can trade in both periods.

Besides the extended-hours periods, equity traders may need to contact a broker on the weekend. Not all brokers are open on Saturday and Sunday. Firstrade, for example, is not. Merrill Edge, on the other hand, provides 24/7 service.

In today’s global economy, access to foreign equity markets is important to many investors. This service is not widely available, although traders at Interactive Brokers have access to many foreign stock markets.


Lowest Stock Trading Commission


A broker’s pricing schedule will obviously become important if you trade stocks, especially frequently. Prices can vary widely, depending on how often you trade. TradeStation's clients can actually choose from more than one commission schedule, one of which is better for high-volume traders. Other brokers offer a flat fee low cost trading commissions. Ally Invest, for example, is at $4.95 per equity trade with a $1 discount for active traders.


Learning Materials


Equity traders can especially benefit from stock reports—even more so if they are authored by independent analysts rather than the broker. Instead of trying to make a trade by yourself, looking at a professional’s recommendation can be a big help. As with the other categories, wide variation exists in the industry on this issue. Fidelity provides third-party reports from no less than eleven analysts, while Firstrade offers only a Morningstar report.

Besides stock reports, up-to-date financial news is also important to equity traders. Live streaming of CNBC is available on Schwab’s mobile app, while Fidelity provides Bloomberg in HD. The majority of brokers do not provide any streaming financial news.

Access to detailed financial information on a company is also important when trading stocks. Although Robinhood offers zero commissions, the broker also provides nearly zero information on stocks. The Capital One Investing website, by contrast, has detailed financial statements, earnings history, option chains, analyst ratings, and market news related to a stock.


Summary


Stock traders have access to a wide variety of tools and resources from many different on-line brokers. Knowing how you plan to trade and how frequently before looking for a brokerage firm can help you find the best one for your trading style.


Updated on 10/13/2017.




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