Direct Access Brokers List

Direct Access Brokerage Firms List

Below we list top direct access brokerage firms in 2015. Read their online reviews, compare stock and options fees, and see ratings and rankings for their direct market access trading platforms.

4-star brokerage firm rating

Thinkorswim review

Direct Access Broker Trading Costs (Negotiable for active traders)

Stocks and ETFs $9.99
Stocks and ETFs broker assisted $49.99
Stocks and ETFs Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Telephone System $34.99
Options $9.99 + $0.75 per contract
No-load mutual funds $49.99
Treasuries at auction $25 flat fee
All other bonds and CMOs, CDs on a net yield basis
Futures $3.50 per contract (inclusive of exchange fees)

Investments stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, ETFs, bonds, CDs, UITs, futures and forex
Thinkorswim\TOS minimum deposit to open account $0 for cash account, $2,000 for margin account
FeesThinkorswim fees

ThinkOrSwim Pros

  • No surcharges on penny stocks, large orders, or after-hours trading
  • Large and well-known company with 126 local branches
  • Two excellent trading platforms: Thinkorswim and Trade Architect
  • Users can practice trading without risking real money using PaperMoney virtual trading
  • Easy access to myTRADE trader community
  • No-fee IRA accounts
  • No account maintenance or inactivity fees
  • Free streaming quotes, including Level II
  • Rich selection of independent, third-party research from 12 firms (Standard & Poor's, Morningstar, Jaywalk, TheStreet, etc.)
  • 100+ ETFs with no commissions
  • Large number of mutual funds - over 13,000 available; 2,500 NTF (no-transaction fee) funds
  • Free DRIP (dividend reinvestment plan)

ThinkOrSwim Cons

  • High commissions on all investment products
  • High margin rates

Direct Access Broker Review

ThinkOrSwim Review

TradeStation review 2015

Direct Access Broker Trading Costs

Stocks and ETFs flat-rate plan $9.99 (1 to 9 trades/month); $7.99 (10 to 29 trades/month); $6.99 (30 to 99 trades/month); $5.99 (100 to 199 trades/month); $4.99 (200 or more)
Stocks and ETFs per-share plan $0.01 per share first 500 shares, $0.006 per share after that
Options per contract plan $1.00, no base or ticket charge, market or limit orders
Options per trade plan $9.99 + $0.70 per contract (1 to 9 trades/month); $7.99 + $0.50 per contract (10 to 29 trades/month); $6.99 + $0.40 per contract (30 to 99 trades/month); $5.99 + $0.30 per contract (100 to 199 trades/month); $4.99 + $0.20 per contract (200 or more)
Futures $0.25 - $1.20 per side, per contract + exchange, regulatory & overnight fees
Mutual funds $14.95
Bonds $14.95 + $5 per bond
Forexcommission-free with tight spreads and fractional pips
OTCBB $9.99 (100,000 share position maximum)
Pink Sheet Stocks $9.99 (100,000 share position maximum)

Investments stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, futures, T-Bills, OTCBB, Pink Sheet Stocks, Forex, ETFs
Tradestation minimum deposit to open account $5,000 for non-daytraders, futures and forex accounts, $5,500 for futures and forex IRA accounts, and $30,000 for daytraders
FeesTradestation fees

TradeStation Pros

  • Low commissions for active traders
  • Great direct-access platform
  • Best charting package
  • Trading modeling functionality
  • Rich selection of investment products
  • Active online trader community
  • Good mutual funds pricing at $15 per transaction

TradeStation Cons

  • $99.95 monthly fee if not traded at least 5,000 shares in previous month (or 50 options contracts a month; or 10 round-turn futures or futures option contracts; or 50 round-turn single stock futures). Fee also doesn't apply for accounts with $100,000+ balance
  • High stock and ETF commissions for those who don't trade a lot
  • Direct routing up to 1,000 shares is no additional charge, $0.004 per share thereafter
  • $35 annual IRA fee
  • Steep learning curve to master the trading platform
  • Only about 100 mutual funds available
  • Minimum amount to open account is high: $5,000 for non-daytraders and $30,000 for daytraders

Direct Access Broker Review

TradeStation Review

3-star brokerage firm rating

Interactive Brokers review 2015

Direct Access Broker Trading Costs

Stocks and ETFs $0.005 per share with $1 minimum, 0.5% of trade value maximum for SMART routed orders
Options $0.70 per contract if Premium => $0.10; $0.50 per contract if $0.05 =< Premium < USD 0.10; $0.25 per contract if Premium < $0.05 + exchange fees. Minimum $1 per order.
Mutual funds $14.95 (minimum size on initial fund order is $3,000, subsequent minimum order size is $100)
Corporate and Municipal Bonds0.1%* Face Value (10 bps) if <= $10,000 Face Value; 0.025%* Face Value (2.5 bps) if > $10,000 Face Value
Treasuries (Bills, Notes, Bonds)0.025%* Face Value (2.5 bps) if <= $10,000 Face Value; 0.005%* Face Value (0.5 bps) if > $10,000 Face Value; $5 minimum
Metals0.15 basis point * Trade Value; minimum $2; storage cost 0.10 % per annum
Forex0.20 basis point * Trade Value if <= $1,000,000,000; minimum $2
US SSFs$0.30 if <= 20,000 contracts
EFPs$0.50 if < 100 contracts; $0.30 if 100 to 499 contracts;

Investments stocks, options, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds, futures, currency transactions, US SSFs, EFPs, metals
Interactive Brokers\IB minimum deposit to open account $10,000 for non-IRA account, $5,000 for IRA account
FeesInteractive Brokers fees

Interactive Brokers Pros

  • Low stock commissions on orders with 1,000 shares or less
  • Professional trading platform (Trader WorkStation)
  • Best margin rates
  • Access to many markets
  • Rich selection of products for trading

Interactive Brokers Cons

  • $10,000 minimum to open most accounts
  • $30 per month minimum commission requirement to avoid $10 monthly fee (rises to $20 monthly if account balance is less than $2,000; waived for $100,000+ accounts)
  • $10 monthly for market data feed (waived if trade commissions are more than $30 per month)
  • $7.50 quarterly fee for IRA accounts ($30 per year)
  • Extremely complicated fee structure: huge number of various fees
  • Fees on modified or canceled orders
  • Trader Workstation is designed for professional traders; it is not intuitive and difficult to learn
  • Expensive to make trades with over 1,600 shares
  • Lots of customer complains about snobby customer service (and yes, we experienced it ourselves)
  • Merciless margin tightening and fast margin calls - IB apparently doesn't care if their customers get completely wiped out
  • Minimum size on initial mutual fund order is $3,000 (subsequent minimum order size is $100). Only no-load funds with no early redemption fee are offered
  • Technical problems with trading platforms

Direct Access Broker Review

Interactive Brokers Review

List of direct access brokers

3-star brokerage firm rating

Lightspeed Trading Review

Direct Access Broker Trading Costs

RealTick PlatformPrice
Stocks and ETFs $4.50 per trade
Stocks and ETFs $0.0045 per share
Options $0.60 per contract
Futures $0.60 per contract
Monthly Software Fee: $100 for Lighspeed Trader; $130 for Sterling; $275 for RealTick Pro; $0 for WebTrader
On Lightspeed Trader and Sterling Trader, a minimum commission charge of $1.00 will be applied to any order
On RealTick, a minimum commission of $3.00 will be applied to any order
On WebTrader, minimum commission of $4.50 will be applied to any options order. Per-share equities pricing not available on WebTrader

Investments stocks, options, futures, ETFs
Lightspeed Trading minimum deposit to open account $5,000, $10,000 and $25,000 for Web Trader, RealTick and Trader plans respectively
FeesLightspeed Trading fees

LightSpeed Pros

  • Low trading commissions
  • Direct access to ECN’s and exchanges
  • Free practice account
  • Online user community
  • Automated trading

LightSpeed Cons

  • Multiple platforms with complicated fee structure that changes often
  • Minimum monthly commission for accounts under $15,000 is $25
  • Mutual funds are not offered
  • $25,000 minimum to use Trader, $10,000 minimum to use RealTick, and $5,000 minimum to use Web Trader are high
  • $30 annual IRA fee
  • Web Trader platform is badly designed, is full of bugs, and it could take a lot of time to enter the order
  • Extended hours trading is not available on the Web Trader platform
  • Customer service is spotty
  • Few investment products
  • Not available on mobile devices

Full LightSpeed Review

LightSpeed Review

2-star brokerage firm rating

SpeedTrader Review

Direct Access Broker Trading Costs

Stocks and ETFs per trade plan $6.95 for accounts under $25,000
Stocks and ETFs per trade plan $4.49 for accounts above $25,000
Stocks and ETFs per share plan $0.0044 per share, $1.99 min per trade (only for accounts above $25,000)
Options$0.50 + routing fees

Investments stocks, options, ETFs
SpeedTrader minimum deposit to open account $0 for cash account, $2,000 for margin account
FeesSpeedTrader fees

SpeedTrader Pros

  • Low commissions for very active traders
  • Professional trading platforms
  • Virtual trading

SpeedTrader Cons

  • $30 Quarterly Inactivity Fee (if under 15 trades in a quarter)
  • Steep trading platform fees
  • $75 annual IRA fee
  • Pricing and platforms are changed often
  • Option exercise and assignment fees are $30 each
  • No research tools and a poor tax record keeping

Direct Access Broker Review

SpeedTrader Review
This article was updated on 7/23/2015.

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