Direct Access Brokers List

Direct Access Brokerage Firms List

Below we list top direct access brokerage firms in 2016. Read their reviews, compare stock and options fees, and see ratings and rankings for their direct market access trading platforms.

Thinkorswim rating

Thinkorswim review

ThinkOrSwim Direct Access Broker

Trading stocks and ETF's on TD Ameritrade's ThinkOrSwim platform costs $9.99. Options are an additional $0.75 per contract. Commissions are negotiable if you can show that you are an active trader.

The brokerage firm has over 100 commission-free ETF's and charges nothing extra for penny stocks, large orders, or after-hours trading. There are no account maintenance or inactivity fees, including for IRA accounts. The broker also offers DRIP services at no cost. Investors also have access to more than 13,000 mutual funds, of which 2,500 carry no transaction fee. Research reports are free of charge from 12 independent providers. Traders have access to two major trading platforms, ThinkOrSwim and Trade Architect, both of which come with free streaming quotes, including Level II quotes. Investors can practice trading with Paper Money, a virtual trading account, or discuss ideas in myTRADE, a trader community. There are 126 local branches for investors who want personal service.

On the down side, the broker has high margin rates and above-average commissions.

Broker Review

ThinkOrSwim Review

Tradestation rating

TradeStation review 2016

TradeStation Direct Access Broker

TradeStation offers its clients a flat-rate pricing schedule and a per-share system. The flat-rate trading commission is on a sliding scale and ranges from $9.99 (1 to 9 trades per month) to $4.99 (200 or more trades). There's also a per-share pricing schedule that charges investors $0.01 per share for the first 500 shares, and $0.006 per share after that. This plan carries $1.00 minimum per trade. Options also have two different pricing schemes. Traders can choose a flat-rate $1 per contract with no base charge or a per-share price ranging from $9.99 plus $0.70 per contract (1 to 9 trades per month) to $4.99 plus $0.20 per contract (200 or more trades).

This broker has an active online community and has a large selection of investment products. The charting tools are high quality, and the platform has trading modeling capacity.

On the flip side, this broker charges $35 per year for IRA's and $99.95 per month for accounts not meeting active trader minimums. TradeStation also charges $0.004 per share for direct routing after the first 1,000 shares. The trading platform is difficult to learn, and the broker only offers about 100 mutual funds. The minimum to open an account is rather steep ($30,000 for day traders and $5,000 for non-day traders).

Broker Review

TradeStation Review

3-star brokerage firm rating

Interactive Brokers review 2016

Interactive Brokers Direct Access Broker

IB charges $0.005 per share for stock and ETF trades, with $1 minimum. There is a maximum of 0.5% of trade value for SMART routed orders. Options are $0.70 per contract if the premium is greater than or equal to $0.10. The $0.70 charge is discounted to as low as $0.25 for premiums under $0.10.

IB is great for margin borrowing and global investing. It also has a large selection of investment products. Its flagship trading platform, Trader WorkStation, is very sophisticated.

On the bearish side, there is a rather steep $10,000 minimum opening deposit for most accounts. There is $10 monthly minimum commission requirement to avoid a $10 fee. If an account doesn't generate the required $10 in monthly commissions, market data is also charged at $10. A staggering $100,000 account balance is required to waive such fees. IRA accounts cost $10 per year. Trader WorkStation is difficult to learn. The fee structure is too complicated, and customer service is mediocre. The broker regulates margin too strictly. Orders with a large number of shares are rather expensive. IB only offers no-load mutual funds, and the minimum order amount is $3,000, higher than the industry average.

Broker Review

Interactive Brokers Review

List of direct access brokers

4.5-star brokerage firm rating

MBTrading review 2016

MB Trading Direct Access Broker

For trading stocks and ETF's, investors at this broker have two systems to choose from. The flat-fee schedule charges $4.95 per trade. For investors who want their orders routed through the proprietary MBTX system, a per-share schedule costs $0.0075 per share with a $4.95 minimum per trade. Options are on a sliding scale, from $0.95 to $0.35 per contract, depending on the number of contracts.

MB Trading is known for good customer service and great trading tools. Accounts come with no maintenance or inactivity fees.

Weaknesses include high margin rates and a cumbersome account opening process. There's also a fee of $0.005 per share for each share over 5,000, on extended-hours trades and orders executed using the reserve, discretionary, or pegged order types. The broker also charges $10 per year for IRA's. For stocks under $1, the broker charges $0.01 per share, with a maximum charge of 5% of principal value.

Broker Review

MB Trading Review

2-star brokerage firm rating

SpeedTrader Review

SpeedTrader Direct Access Broker

SpeedTrader charges $6.95 for stock and ETF transactions for accounts under $25,000. For accounts above $25,000, the charge is $4.49. A per-share plan is also available for accounts above $25,000. The trading fee is $0.0044 per share with a $1.99 minimum per trade. Options are $0.40 per contract with a $1.99 minimum per trade. Exchange fees are passed onto the customer.

Bulls say the trading platforms are good quality here. Virtual trading is also available for clients who want to practice. Active traders can do well here because the commission schedule favors them.

Investors criticize the annual $75 fee for IRA's. There are also platform fees. A $10 inactivity fee is charged if an account has less than 15 trades in a quarter. Option exercise and assignment fees are $10 each. Pricing and platforms are changed too frequently here. There are no research tools, and the record keeping is inadequate.

Broker Review

SpeedTrader Review
Updated on 2/2/2016.

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