Direct access trading brokers

Direct Market Access Brokers List


List of best direct access brokerage companies in 2018. Read their reviews, compare stock and options fees, and see ratings and rankings for their direct market access trading platforms.



ZacksTrade rating

Zackstrade logo

ZacksTrade Direct Access Broker


Led by Len Zacks, the same founder of the famous Zacks Investment Research, ZacksTrade is a direct market access broker that provides some of the lowest commissions on the industry - just $0.01 per share with $3 minimum per trade. Margin rates are also hard to beat, the highest being only 5.69%.

Probably the best direct access broker on the list, ZacksTrade offers professional, powerful trading platform to all customers free of charge and with no access requirements. This is the software day traders use to make their living.

ZacksTrade clients in more than 200 countries can trade on 19 international exchanges, all from a single account. Their pricing on world markets trading is one of the lowest in the industry. There are no account maintenance or inactivity fees. Minimum amount to open an account is $2,500.


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ZacksTrade rating

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Thinkorswim rating

thinkorswim



TD Ameritrade ThinkOrSwim Direct Access Broker


Trading stocks and ETF's on TD Ameritrade's ThinkOrSwim platform costs $6.95. Options are an additional $0.75 per contract. Commissions are negotiable if you can show that you are an active trader. One of our traders right now has a $4.99 per trade rate.

The brokerage firm has 296 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.

Investment research is provided 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.

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


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Thinkorswim rating

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Tradestation rating

TradeStation



TradeStation Direct Access Broker


TradeStation offers its clients both a flat-rate pricing schedule and a per-share structure. The flat-rate trading commission is $5. 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 are $5 plus $0.50 per contract.

There are two choices for web trading—live and simulated. Both of them have the same tools and features. The simulated version is a paper trading platform that provides $1,000,000 of a fake currency. This is a good place to practice the software and place mock trades to learn how to submit complex orders. These include OCO (order cancels other), OSO (order sends order), and other advanced orders.

Charting is available on the platform with several technical studies, including Bollinger Bands, Money Flow, and RSI. A few drawing tools and chart styles are available. Unfortunately, there is no function to compare a stock’s price action to an index or another security. A chart an be displayed the width of the monitor.

The trading environment can be slightly customized. There are light and dark themes, multiple layouts, and order entry settings.


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Tradestation rating

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Interactive Brokers rating

Interactive Brokers



Interactive Brokers Direct Access Broker


IB charges $0.005 per share for stock and ETF trades, with $1 minimum. 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 $30 per year.

Because Trader WorkStation (read review) was developed with advanced, active trader in mind, it is difficult to learn, especially for beginners. IB's fee structure is very complicated, and customer service is hit and miss. This direct access broker regulates margin too strictly. Per-share pricing structure makes orders with a large number of shares rather expensive. IB only offers no-load mutual funds, and the minimum order amount is $3,000, which is higher than the industry average.


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Interactive Brokers rating

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Speedtrader rating

SpeedTrader



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 but these come with a steep monthly charge. 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 steep monthly 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 at this direct access broker, and the record keeping is inadequate.


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Speedtrader rating

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