Pay-per-share brokers

Online brokers with lowest pay-per-share rates on stock trading

Discount pay-per-share stock brokers: list of online brokerage companies offering the lowest pay-per-share trading plans/costs in 2015.

Pay-Per-Share Brokers

To distinguish themselves from competitors, pay-per-share brokers use different minimums, different fees per share, and/or different percent-based commission schedules, so it takes some digging to find the right broker to match an investor's trading habits and budget.

Here's a survey of four leading pay-per-share brokers. We will compare and contrast commissions to illustrate the differences in trade costs that cover most investors and typical stock purchases.

TradeStation review 2015

TradeStation Pay-Per-Share Commissions

The pay-per-share commission at TradeStation is $0.01 per share on the first 500 shares, then $0.006 per share after that. They have $1.00 minimum commission.

TradeStation Pros and Cons

Advantages: the low cost of $1.00 for a 100-share trade. In addition, options pricing is very low at $1.00 per contract woth no ticket charge. TradeStation has a highly rated trading platform, offers a wide selection of investment products, and excellent tools and resources for the active investor.

Disadvantages: Not suitable for infrequent traders because they will incur higher fees, especially a $99.95 fee if the trader hasn't traded at least 5,000 shares in the previous month. Minimum account balances are high at $5,000 for non-day traders and $30,000 for day traders. IRA fees are quite high at $35, and TradeStation only offers about 100 mutual funds, another discouragement for IRA investors.

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TradeStation Review

Interactive Brokers review 2015

Interactive Brokers Pay-Per-Share Commissions

A pioneer in low-cost, pay-per-share trading, Interactive Brokers starts with a $1.00 minimum per trade, and their base rate is $0.005 per share. They cap the commission at 0.5% of the trade value, which is usually only a factor when trading large blocks of penny stocks.

Interactive Brokers Pros and Cons

Advantages: Excellent rates for active traders of smaller size orders. Options trades have similarly competitive rates for those who like to trade options as well as stocks. Margin rates are the lowest in the business, which is a plus for those who use margin for leverage. Interactive Brokers also offers a wide variety of products for trading and gives traders access to more than 100 different markets.

Disadvantages: Not suitable for infrequent traders since a $10/month fee is charged if a trader generates less than $30 in commissions. Large blocks of shares incur high commissions unless the shares are penny stocks. An additional $10/month is charged for a market data feed if the $30 commission threshold isn't met. The minimum account balance is high at $10,000. IRA custodian fees are $7.50/quarter, which is high. The trading platform is complicated, and margin calls are strict and fast. Mutual fund trading is discouraged by the $3,000 initial fund order minimum, and the fact that only no-load and short-term redemption fee funds are offered.

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Interactive Brokers Review

MBTrading review 2015

Broker Pay-Per-Share Commissions

MB Trading has a decent per-share commission of $0.075, but its minimum commission is the highest in this group at $4.95. Also, pay-per-share trades must be routed through their proprietary MBTX system. This may limit liquidity or widen bid-ask spreads in some situations.

MB Trading Pros and Cons

Advantages: Suitable for traders who trade relatively small share lots. MB Trading doesn't charge maintenance or inactivity fees, so they're a good choice for less active traders. Their trading tools are top-notch and customer service is rated high.

Disadvantages: Trades of more than 5,000 shares incur a surcharge of $0.005/share. Penny stocks (those under $1.00) have a commission rate of $4.95 plus $0.01/share, with a maximum charge of 5% of the principal value. IRAs are charged a $30 annual fee. Margin rates are high, which can be costly for those with margin accounts. Finally, the new account application is long and asks more than the usual number of personal questions related to privacy.

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MB Trading Review

Placetrade review

PlaceTrade Pay-Per-Share Commissions

PlaceTrade's $1.50 minimum commission is reasonable, but their $0.01/share rate is the highest in the group. This means costs will be less competitive for trading large blocks of shares.

PlaceTrade Pros and Cons

Advantages: Good rates for smaller size trades. Margin rates are lower than most. Options commissions are competitive. The trading platform is licensed from Interactive Brokers, one of the best platforms available to individual investors. PlaceTrade also offers investment advice, access to global markets, and an automatic investment program unique among online brokers.

Disadvantages: A monthly minimum of $30 in commissions must be generated to avoid a $10/month fee as well as a $10/month fee for the market data feed, the same restrictions as those found with Interactive Brokers. They also use IB's Trader Workstation trading platform, which is designed for professional traders and hard to learn. Minimum account balances are on the high side - $5,000 for traders older than age 26 (a strange limitation) and $3,000 for traders between the ages of 21-25 as well as for IRA accounts.

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PlaceTrade Review


Pay-per-share brokers are not for everyone, but they can save very active investors quite a lot in brokerage commissions. Nevertheless, once an investor selects a pay-per-share broker, he should compare costs per trade with the most competitive flat-rate commission brokers to make sure the pay-per-share broker will be cheaper in the long run.

Updated on 11/24/2015.

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