Direct access trading brokers

Direct Market Access Stock Brokers (2021)

List of the best direct access discount brokerage firms. Read reviews, compare stock and options fees, and see ratings and rankings for direct market access trading platforms. Are Fidelity, Etrade, Charles Schwab, IB, Thinkorswim, and TD Ameritrade direct access brokers?

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 pay-per-share commissions - $0.01 per share with $1 minimum per trade. Margin rates are hard to beat, the highest being only 3.59%.

One of the best direct access brokers on the list, ZacksTrade offers a 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.

Zacks Trade Direct Access

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


TD Ameritrade Thinkorswim Direct Access Broker

Trading stocks on TD Ameritrade costs $0. Options are an additional $0.65 per contract.

The brokerage firm offers all ETF's commission-free, and charges nothing extra for listed penny stocks, large orders, or after-hours trading. There are no account maintenance or inactivity fees.

Best Direct Access Platform

Investment research is provided free of charge from 12 independent providers. Traders get direct market access trading platform called Thinkorswim, that comes with free streaming quotes, including Level II. 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.

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Thinkorswim rating

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Tradestation rating


TradeStation Direct Access Broker

After the broker price war in the U.S. saw equity commissions drop all the way to $0, TradeStation responded by launching TS Select and TS Go. Both of them come with zero commissions on stock, ETF, option, and futures trades. On the TS Select plan, options cost an extra 60¢ per contract; while futures cost an extra $1.50. With TS Go, stock options are an extra 50¢, while futures cost 85¢.

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.

TradeStation Direct Access

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 can be displayed the width of the monitor.

The TradeStation's direct market routing trading platform 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

Interactive Brokers has two commission plans: one that comes with a direct access platform and the other (called IBKR light) that does not. In the direct access plan 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.

IBKR Direct Access

On the bearish side, there is $10 monthly minimum commission requirement. 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 these 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 very strictly. Per-share pricing structure makes orders with a large number of shares rather expensive.

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Interactive Brokers rating

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Speedtrader rating


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.

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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