Best Online Brokerage Firm, Stock Investing Website Review For 2014
Which online brokerage firm is the best? Review of the #1 stock investing website for do-it-yourself (DIY) investors.
Broker Commissions and Fees
|Stocks and ETFs|| $7|
|Stocks and ETFs broker assisted|| $32|
|Stocks and ETFs interactive voice response (IVR) telephone system|| $32|
|Options|| $7 + $1.25 per contract|
|Mutual funds|| 3,000+ commission-free NTF funds, $17 for others|
|CDs, OTC Secondary Corporates, OTC Secondary Municipals,|
U.S. Treasury Bills, Notes, Bonds and STRIPS, New Corporate Offerings
| subject to a markup or markdown|
|Listed Corporate Bonds|| $35 + $3 per bond (minimum investment $1,000)|
|Unit Investment Trusts (UIT)|| $50 liquidation fee|
|Foreign Stocks Transferring In or Out|| $60 per transaction|
|Investments|| stocks, options, mutual funds, CDs, munis, U.S. Treasury, Canadian and foreign stocks, ETFs|
|Scottrade minimum deposit to open account|| $2,500 ($0 for IRA accounts)|
Best Online Broker Pros
- No inactivity, account maintenance or hidden fees
- No-fee IRAs
- #1 in customer satisfaction according to JD Power and Associates
- 500+ local branches for in-person assistance
- Great support for beginner investors with a massive number of educational resources
- Online user community
- Good banking services: savings, CDs, money market and free checking accounts (free ATM withdrawals, VISA check card, and first order of checks free)
- Free real-time streaming quotes and charts
- Free dividend reinvestment for mutual funds (but not for stocks)
- Largest number of mutual funds - over 14,500
Best Online Broker Cons
- Additional 0.5% of the principal value commission for stocks under $1
- No electronic withdrawals, but you can use a debit card or check. Once you receive checks, you will have the routing number and account number, which you can use to withdraw money via ACH initiated from other financial institutions
When opening an account with Scottrade, a new investor will find the online platform very welcoming. The simplicity of navigating screens coupled with the ability
to customize what you are viewing allows you to focus on your investment plan without having to be overwhelmed by unnecessary information. For example, an investor
can customize their Scottrade account homepage to view only their Account Balance, Current Positions, and Watch List. Or if you so choose, you can add news headlines
and set specific alerts about stocks of your choice.
The research and screening tools that Scottrade provides will quickly become a new investor’s favorite feature. The screening tool allows an investor to easily
go through the entire stock market based on over 40 fundamental and technical criteria. Say an investor would like to compare stocks that are only Large Cap with an S&P STAR Ranking of 4 or 5 that also pay a dividend of at least 3% per year. With a few clicks to input these selections, Scottrade’s stock screener provides all of the stocks that meet those criteria (46 as of this writing). This simple-to-use tool, allows investors to save a ton of time combing the whole market for a few good stocks, and instead lets you focus your time on comparing the ones that already fit your investment strategy.
Another friendly feature for Scottrade investors is the straight forward fee structure for trading with them. As a new investor, you will have a lot to study, learn, and comprehend in the stock market. The last thing you should want on your plate is a complex fee structure always having you wonder what you will be charged when you do invest. At Scottrade, stock investors pay a flat, same rate fee every time they buy or sell a stock. For both Market and Limit Orders, Scottrade will execute a trade for $7 regardless of how many shares you decide to buy or sell at a time. This flat rate is a better deal than many other online retail stock brokers.
In addition to all of the value added articles and easy to use screening tools, Scottrade offers another benefit that new investors will find very useful. Scottrade proudly boasts 500+ local branch offices to offer a personal touch. As a new investor with questions or concerns about your newfound interest in the stock market, Scottrade welcomes you into their branch office where you can speak one on one with a broker. While they may not provide specific financial planning advice, the local branches hold regular seminars on various investment topics and strategies that a new investor will find invaluable. These seminars include topics such as “Diversify Your Portfolio with Mutual Funds”, “Discover Scottrade”, “Getting Your Portfolio on the Right Track”, and “Building Your Portfolio”. These seminars will undoubtedly advance a new investor’s knowledgebase. The best part is they are completely free to attend!
Best Online Broker Review
Scottrade is one of the best-known and largest online stock brokers in the country, and it has been in business for
over 30 years. Unlike many other brokerage firms, Scottrade does not have surcharges on large orders or
extended-hours trading. There are no maintenance or setup charges for all accounts.
Scottrade is #1 in customer satisfaction according to J.D. Power and Associates.
However, we would love to see the company cancel the surcharge on penny stocks and improve its options trading tools and pricing.
Also, the absence of electronic fund withdrawals is puzzling (even though withdrawals can be done using a debit card or check).
Thanks to live webinars and events, tons of learning materials, very helpful customer service, and an online user community, Scottrade is an
excellent choice for beginners.
Customers that invest in mutual funds get over 3,000 commission-free (NTF) mutual funds to choose from. Long-term, "buy and hold" investors will be
happy with no account inactivity charges.
Because Scottrade is a stable, seasoned brokerage firm with a good reputation, it is a very appealing choice for anyone who
would not trust their money with newer company, but also doesn't want to pay $9-$10 for trades (and multiple miscellaneous fees) with other
large brokerage houses. The ability to visit a local branch and talk with someone face-to-face can be very valuable, too.
The firm's IRA accounts don't come with setup or annual fees. This is good news for retirement account holders, and it makes
the firm an excellent option for an IRA.
In summary, we believe that every do-it-yourself (DIY) investor can benefit from the company's great pricing, rich selection of investment products, and easy-to-use
trading and research tools.
This article was updated on 9/22/2014.