Finding The Best Broker For You

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Choosing the best broker can be a daunting task. It takes hours to sift through website after website deducing what it is that each major broker even offers.  You know that all brokers charge fees in exchange for their services but most are not exactly forthright when it comes to sharing that information. After all, they are trying to sell you a product. To cut out some of the leg work we reviewed the most popular online brokerage account providers out there.

The idiom, “you get what you pay for” often holds true in the investing world and when it comes to choosing a broker, you should expect no different.  When deciding which is the best broker for you, it is important to consider what kind of trading and/or investing it is that you want to do, the fees associated with it, and which broker offers the best selection of services that fits those needs. Below we rank brokers in categories that we feel best benefit you, the individual investor.

The Budgeter

(discount brokers with low flat rate trades & low minimum deposits):

#3
MB Trading

Per Trade: $4.95
Options: $0.95
Minimum Deposit: $1,000.00
Promotion: 100 free trades*

#2
Trade King

Per Trade: $4.95
Options: $0.65
Minimum Deposit: $0.00
Promotion: $150 in free trades*

#1
Options House

Per Trade: $4.95
Options: $0.50
Minimum Deposit: $0.00
Promotion: Trade free for 90 days*

Why OptionsHouse:  This was really a no brainer. OptionsHouse offers the cheapest way to trade a variety of assets for the do-it-yourselfer. In addition to offering some of the lowest prices around for stock trading, OptionsHouse also has the lowest options and mutual fund fees you'll find. With no maintenance fees and no minimum deposit its hard to find a cheaper way to trade.

The Know-It-All

(brokers that offer high quality research for the lowest price):

#3
 Charles Schwab

Per Trade: $8.95
Options: $0.75
Minimum Deposit: $1,000.00
Promotion: 300 free trades*

#2
Scottrade

Per Trade: $7.00
Options: $1.25
Minimum Deposit: $2,500.00
Promotion: $100 transfer credit*

#1
TD Ameritrade

Per Trade: $9.99
Options: $0.75
Minimum Deposit: $0.00
Promotion: Trade free for 90 days*

Why TD Ameritrade:  While its tough to be beat the value that Scottrade offers in terms of research and analytic tools (Scottrade Elite is easily attainable for even a remotely active trader), TD Ameritrade grabs the top spot as the best broker in this category because of its wide range of services and ease of access. With no deposit minimum, its easy for newer investor to become immersed in research with little to no risk to them. TD Ameritrade offers a number of services including their “Premier List” which is comprised of a quarterly list of top stock picks from the analysts at Morningstar. Its tough to beat essentially free, quality research, which is why TD Ameritrade takes home our top spot.

The Jack-of-All-Trades

(best variety of trade services and highest customer satisfaction):

#3
eTrade

   Per Trade: $9.99
Options: $0.75
Minimum Deposit: $500.00
Promotion: Trade free for 60 days*

#2
Options Xpress

   Per Trade: $8.95
Options: $1.50
Minimum Deposit: $0.00
Promotion: $100 free cash*

#1
TD Ameritrade

   Per Trade: $9.99
Options: $0.75
Minimum Deposit: $0.00
Promotion: Trade free for 90 days*

Why TD Ameritrade:   We are not the only ones high on TD Ameritrade. Barron's and StockBrokers.com both have TD Ameritrade at the top of their lists (the later of which has had them at the top 4 years running) as the best broker…and its not hard to see why. Simply put, they're the most flexible broker out there. Low cost trading fees, a plethora of trading opportunities (stocks, options, mutual funds, forex, futures), mobile trading (Apple and Android products), banking options, quality research, and live seminars/virtual trading are but a few of the many pros that investors get when they open an account with TD Ameritrade.

Overall Best Value

(best variety of trade services and highest customer satisfaction):

#3
Scottrade

   Per Trade: $7.00
Options: $1.25
Minimum Deposit: $2,500.00
Promotion: $100 transfer credit*

#2
TD Ameritrade

   Per Trade: $9.99
Options: $0.75
Minimum Deposit: $0.00
Promotion: Trade free for 90 days*

#1
Fidelity Investments

   Per Trade: $7.95
Options: $0.75
Minimum Deposit: $2,500.00
Promotion: 200 free trades*

Why Fidelity:  If you've made it this far, you might have expected TD Ameritrade to take the top spot on our list as the best broker. While they're a close second, we think that there is one broker that tops them all – Fidelity Investments. Fidelity offers research from a whopping 21 different analyst firms, including Ford Equity Research and S&P Capital IQ, which blows most of their competitors out of the water. One would be hard pressed to find a service that a different broker offers that Fidelity doesn't already have. Furthermore, they offer a number of proprietary tools that help users research and track investments and have some of the best managed funds opportunities available to investors. With competitive trade fees, quality research, flexible banking options, and an assortment of platforms from which to conduct trading, its hard to imagine a new account holder being too disappointed.

* see individual brokers for terms and conditions

While these brokers took home top honors in their respective categories, it is by no means a comprehensive list. Of the 60+ brokers that offer online trading platforms, we reviewed the 12 that comprise the vast majority of US account holders. As with any investment, it is important to always read the fine print. Many brokers have stipulations on opening new accounts and/or eligibility for their sign up promotions. We encourage all readers to do their own research before opening an account with any broker.

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Ben Huber
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Ben Huber

Co-Founder at VTX Capital, LLC.
Ben is an avid market enthusiast who serves VTX Capital, LLC. in an advisory and support role. He works behind the scenes managing the technical components that allow us to bring you the latest in investment education via an online platform.

His areas of expertise include CMS Support, Social Media Branding, Marketing and Advertising. In addition, Ben takes an active role in investment research and portfolio management.

He currently holds a BS from Virginia Tech and a BSN from Western Governor's University.
Ben Huber
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