Firstrade

2018: Compare discount brokerage firms in U.S. Latest stock trading online brokers comparison chart.

Online Brokers Comparison

Brokerage Firm Rating Stock & ETF Options Cost Per Contract Mutual Funds Min To
Open an Account
Broker Review
Ameritrade 4.5-star brokerage firm rating $6.95 $0.75 $49.49 $0 Review
Ally Invest Ally Invest rating $4.95* $0.65* $9.95 $0 Review
Firstrade Firstrade rating $0 $0 $0 $0 Review
Fidelity Fidelity Investments rating $4.95 $0.65 $49.95 $2,500 Review
Schwab Charles Schwab rating $4.95 $0.65 $76 $1,000 Review
ZacksTrade ZacksTrade rating $3.00+ $0.75 $27.95 $2,500 Review
TastyWorks TastyWorks rating $5 to buy, $0 to sell $1, $10 max, $0 to close n/a $0 Review
Etrade Etrade brokerage firm rating $6.95 $0.75 $19.99 $500 Review
TradeStation TradeStation rating $5 $0.50 $14.95 $5,000 Review
StockPile $0.99 n/a n/a $0 Review
Lightspeed 3-star brokerage firm rating $4.50 $0.60 n/a $5,000 Review
Vanguard Vanguard brokerage company rating $7-$20 $1 $35 $1,000 Review
Motif Motif Investing rating $4.95 n/a n/a $0 Review
Merrill Edge 3.5-star brokerage firm rating $6.95 $0.75 $19.95 $0 Review
Wellstrade WellsTrade brokerage firm rating $5.95 $5.95 + $0.75 per contract $35 $1,000 Review
Capital One $6.95 $0.75 $19.95 $0 Review
Sogotrade 3-star brokerage firm rating $5 $0.50 $15 $0 Review
USAA USAA Investments rating $8.95 $0.75 $45 $0 Review
ChoiceTrade ChoiceTrade Review $5 $0.15** $25 $0 Review
Speedtrader 2-star brokerage firm rating $6.95 $1 n/a $0 Review
Trading Block 3-star brokerage firm rating $7.50 $0.75 $20 $2,000 Review
Investrade Investrade brokerage firm rating $6.95 $0.50 $15 $500 Review

Overview of Discount Brokers Comparison

Some online stock trading companies in list above offer only a limited number of services, typically investing in stocks and ETF’s, without offering additional features. Other brokerage firms supply much more than this, providing managed accounts, robo accounts, their own mutual funds, trading in forex, and much more. This article will survey these special features, and see which firms form list of online brokers offer them and which don’t.

Forex and Futures

Most securities brokers only provide trading in securities—stocks, bonds, funds, and other instruments defined as securities. Forex and futures are not securities, and so they’re usually not offered at most traditional brokerage houses. But a few brokers have broken through this mold and do offer trading in at least one of them. E*Trade, for example, offers access to the futures markets. And Ally Invest customers can trade currencies on the forex market. Fidelity offers neither while TD Ameritrade offers both.

If you do find a securities broker that provides trading in futures or forex, be aware that it may eventually exit the business. TradeStation, E*Trade, and optionsXpress all used to provide trading in forex, but have since abandoned the service.

Global Investing Broker Comparison

In today’s global economy, having access to international markets is necessary to capture all areas of investment opportunity. Some stock brokers in list above provide access to foreign markets, while others do not. Interactive Brokers clients, for example, can trade on European, Asian, Australian, and North American markets. Available stock and option markets include Mexican, Canadian, Italian, Swedish, Austrian, Japanese, Indian, and Australian exchanges.

Other brokers provide little to no global investing. Ally Invest, for instance, offers its clients very little in this area. The broker does not even provide access to the over-the-counter market in the United States, where some foreign stocks can be found.

Day Trading Broker Comparison

Some firms from the list of online stock trading companies provide the advanced technology that day traders need to submit orders quickly to an exchange. Interactive Brokers’s advanced desktop platform Trader Workstation is able to do just this. The firm also provides unbundled pricing, which can bring the cost of trading down to a fraction of a penny per share, which could be of value to day traders. Lightspeed Trading also offers unbundled pricing along with advanced desktop software.

Other stock trading companies, like Capital One Investing, offer neither a desktop trading system nor unbundled pricing. Capital One charges $6.95 for every trade submitted through its website or mobile app.

Options

Many companies from the list of brokerage firms provide access to options. But not all of them offer advanced research and trading tools for the securities. Vanguard clients can trade derivative contracts, but the company does not have any search tools other than very simple option chains. TD Ameritrade provides advanced option research tools.

Pricing on options can vary widely as well. Depending on an account’s total monthly volume, Lightspeed Trading charges anywhere between 20 cents and 60 cents with no base charge. TD Ameritrade clients pay 75 cents per contract plus a base charge of $6.95.

Family of Mutual Funds

While most brokerage firms provide trading in mutual funds, some of them manage their own line of funds. Fidelity and WellsTrade (through Wells Fargo) manage their own mutual funds. While Fidelity’s funds are always transaction free when traded at Fidelity, some of the Wells Fargo funds actually have transaction fees at WellsTrade.

There are 111 Wells Fargo funds currently open to new investors. Fidelity manages 322 of its own mutual funds; it also offers 21 exchange-traded funds. Vanguard provides 70 ETF’s and 300 mutual funds.

Most brokers do not offer their own funds. These companies include TradeStation and Robinhood.

Compare Brokers on Long-term Investing

Buy-and-hold investors will find good resources at some brokers, but not at all. Long-term investors benefit from good customer service rather than low commissions. Brokerage houses that emphasize this model include E*Trade and TD Ameritrade, where 24/7 support is available. Both of these brokers also offer a good selection of mutual and exchange-traded funds, which may be of interest to long-term investors.

Other players from the list of online brokers emphasize the opposite. These firms provide low commissions, but less than stellar customer service. Brokers in this category include Robinhood and SogoTrade. These firms would be better for short-term traders who don’t need a lot of guidance.

Investment Advice and Managed Accounts

During the past few years, more online brokers in the list have been offering managed accounts in addition to their usual line of self-directed accounts. Additional investment advice may be available in some of these cases.

Merrill Edge, for example, offers a managed account package that costs 0.85% per annum. This asset-based fee includes a face-to-face consultation with a financial advisor at a Bank of America location at least twice per year. The portfolio itself is managed by Merrill Lynch investment advisors. There is a $20,000 deposit requirement to begin the service.

Other firms form list of stock brokers do not provide any type of investment advice or portfolio management. Firstrade is one example.

Stock Trading Brokers Comparison Summary

Most brokerage companies today offer more than just stocks and bonds. Do some research before opening an account, and you’ll probably find a service that interests you.