With technology today, there is no need to have a traditional stock broker that you need to contact every time you want to make a trade. Sure, there are some people out there who like the comfort and sound advice that brokers give, but for those who like to handle their money on their own, there are plenty of options online that can help you out.
Once looked at as a fad, online trading platforms are now backed by major trading houses — the very same ones that you traditional broker works for — except you have the power to control of of your trades whenever you want. This way, you can do independent research with sites like MoneyMorning.com and then log into your account and make trades. Here are some of the best online brokers that can help with your investments:
Fidelity is one of the oldest players in stock brokering and their online trading software is a great way to stay in control of your portfolio. You can also use the software to manage any 401(K) accounts you may have with the company, so if you are already in business with Fidelity, this is a great choice for stocks.
Fidelity offers a middle-of-the-road $7.95 commission per trade, which is fair but not outrageous. The only downside is that they do have trade minimums that vary (you must trade more than a certain number of stocks per transaction), but they make up for this by giving you access to tons of free research.
They also require an account minimum of $2,500 for a brokerage account, which may be a little high for first-time investors. But, in all honesty, this is a low number to start with when investing, so it probably shouldn’t be problem for most people. The ease-of-use and trust this software provides more than makes up for any initial sticker shock.
TD Ameritrade is one of the most expensive trading platforms out there, but it also gets rave reviews, so depending on your financial plan, this may be the right software for you.
The total number of investment options on TD Ameritrade in nearly unmatched and allows you to trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs and more all within a single account. They have one of the steepest trade commissions at $9.99 per trade — and a few small fees for certain transactions — but they do not have a minimum balance requirement, which is great for for-time investors who aren’t sure how much capital they want to tie up at the beginning.
TD Ameritrade also offers several customer incentives for joining, depending on how much initial investment you make. This is a nice way to earn free cash to pad your account.
There are also several online brokers that offer lower trade commissions, and you’d be hard-pressed to find one that is better than OptionsHouse. They offer trades at $4.95 commission and still manage to give you great customer service and investment research for free that will keep you ahead of the game. If you have at least $100 in your account, you can get real-time quotes and unlock more in-depth research.
This trading platform doesn’t have a minimum account balance requirement, so you can start with as much or as little capital as you wish. You can trade stocks, bonds, futures and a few other securities so you can keep your portfolio well diversified.
There is also a mobile app available for OptionsHouse, so you can stay constantly connected and make trades on the fly if you need to. There is no minimum trade requirements either, so you can trade as little as you want without penalty.
TradeKing is a solid option for those who want control over their trades, but don’t want to pay large commission fees. As with OptionsHouse, TradeKing only charges $4.95 per trade. This is a great way to keep out-of-pocket costs to a minimum, especially if you make a lot of trades throughout the year.
While not as good as other platforms, TradeKing’s software is easy to use and customizable options that give you control over your trades, which include stocks, bonds, FOREX and mutual funds. This is a perfect option for those who are just starting out and don’t want to pay exorbitant fees while still learning the trade.
Online trading is rising in popularity. There are many options out there, so find one that’s right for you and take control of your portfolio.
Louis Rowley holds his hands up to being a geek. He adores numbers, technology and is a keen investor; both stocks and shares and property. His articles appear on finance, investment and occasionally news related sites.