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Purpose of this thread is to present all the available brokers (discount) online for various set of users (experienced, medium, inexperienced).

Thread will primarily concentrate on stocks and options. I am not including forex, futures, mutual funds which most of the users (inexperienced, somewhat experienced folks) do not use.

As an experienced user, I do have experience with many brokers. But do not with many also. I'd request folks to provide your valuable information so that I can compile and update this thread from the responses I receive.

I updated all the information down below in quick summary




NU NEVER USED. Please share your experience and I'll update

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
Reg NMS forbids this. It's possible you'll get a better price than the national best bid/offer with a different brokerag... (more)

linglingfool (Oct. 28, 2012 @ 5:12p) |

Thanks for the tip... I have PMA and a taxable brokerage with them, but I really should move my Roth over from Schwab an... (more)

dpid (Oct. 28, 2012 @ 7:06p) |

Beware TD Ameritrade. If you ever got a bonus from any brokerage they swallowed up, you will not get one from TD. Also c... (more)

snork615 (Nov. 12, 2012 @ 2:31p) |

SUMMARY:
Ameritrade
Inexperienced user: YES
Min Amt to open:
Stocks: $9.99
Options: $9.99 $.75/Contract
Pros: Free services include streaming quotes/news/research tools, QuoteTracker standalone software, no maintenance fees, no inactivity fees, etc. Mobile trading. Extended hours trading (pre-market, after-market), and trades can be entered for combined "Day + extended hours".
Cons: Commissions higher than competition. Transfer out penalty.
Recommendation: Low to medium trading (<10-15 trades/month) for small trades probably one of the cheapest for large trades see below.
Customer service: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Best execution. They fight for that extra penny which for a large trade can make up for tons of commissions.

Bank of America
Inexperienced user: NU
Min Amt to open:$25000 (not worth it if not for free trades)
Stocks: $5-$14 or $0 with >$25000 balance
Options: $19.95 $1.5/contract
Pros: 30/free trades per month if you have $25000 with them.
Cons: Way too high if you don't have 25000 in savings/checking account. $25 quarterly fee unless a certain minimum balance is met. Transfer out penalty.
Recommendation: I'd not recommend based on the commission.
Customer service: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Need comments from users

ETrade
Inexperienced user: YES
Min Amt to open:
Stocks: $9.99
Options: $9.99 $.75/Contract
Pros: Free services include streaming quotes/research tools.Mobile trading.
Cons: Inactivity fees $40/3 months. Transfer out penalty.
Recommendation: For IRA accounts with minimal transactions in a year.
Customer service: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Access to other international exchanges, but fees and costs are not as good as others

Fidelity
Inexperienced user: YES
Min Amt to open:$2500
Stocks: $7.95 25 ETFs are commission free
Options: $7.95 $.75/Contract
Pros: Free services include streaming quotes/research tools.Mobile trading.
Cons: Commissions higher than competition. Transfer out penalty.
Recommendation: Great for any account
Customer service: Great both on the phone and in person
Other friendly features: They will take care of account transfers for you and reimburse fees. they have a 2% rewards credit card. They probably give out the best and voluminous research still.
Q: Inactivity fees?

Interactive Brokers
Inexperienced user: NO
Min Amt to open: $10,000
Stocks: "Bundled", "Unbundled" 0.005/share (min $1) AND 0.5% of trade value plus exchange, ECN, and specialist fees
Options: 0.7/Contract (min $1)
Pros: Lowest commissions in the market. Great for experienced/volume users. Low margin rates. Trading possible in multiple countries. After hour and before open trading, futures 24 hours trading; no option exercise fee; short naked puts and calls; you can short stocks under $5 even $1; free Eurozone wire transfers (IB is the only US-based broker that offers this)
Cons: Complicated interface; Minimum trades needed/month else $10 data fee; Streaming quotes not free. Very lengthy application process. $10000 needed for opening account (except for IRAs). Limited penny stocks.
Recommendation: Great if you do a lot of trading. Not for the inexperienced users due to high level of complexity
Customer service: Not great, IB has little compassion for newbs.
Other friendly features: Extremely low margin interest rates. Let's not forget margin interest rate arbitrage as being the new way to make some easy risk free dollars these days(by by credit card arbitrage).

Optionshouse
Inexperienced user YES
Min Amt to open: $1000
Stocks $3.95
Options $5 for 5 $1/contract over 5 or $8.50 .15/contract
Pros: Cheap - streaming quotes/news, no maintenance fees, no inactivity fees
Cons: Not the best interface. Transfer out penalty.
Recommendation: Cheap place to open a roth IRA
Customer service: Quick responses, professional
Other friendly features : Virtual trading platform to practice/maintain 'play' account. $100 ACAT refund

Schwab
Inexperienced user: YES
Min Amt to open:
Stocks: $8.95
Options: $8.95 $.75/Contract
Pros: Great free services - streaming quotes/news/research tools, no maintenance fees, no inactivity fees, after hour, pre market available, Decent branch presence if you need some type of certified balance statements,etc.
Cons: Commissions higher than competition. Extended hours trades can only be entered separately from regular market trades. Transfer out penalty.
Recommendation: Low to medium trading (<10-15 trades/month)
Customer service:
Other friendly features: 2% rewards card

Scottrade
Inexperienced user: YES
Min Amt to open:$500
Stocks: $7 15 ETFs are commission free <Scottrade closing the commission free ETFs by Aug 30, 2012>
Options $7 $1.25/Contract
Pros: Great free services - streaming quotes/news, no maintenance fees, no inactivity fees, no transfer out penalty.
Cons: Commissions higher than competition.. Especially for option traders. No outbound ACH/EFT. Smartphone/mobile app avail Sept 2011.
Recommendation: Low to medium trading (<10-15 trades/month)
Customer service: Local branches throught the country. Customer calls are directed to local branch.
Other friendly features : Will pay ACAT fees up to $100 with a minimum transfer balance of $10,000.
User Experience:
- Slow on trade execution (trade occur reported with limits and requirements met but requested trade would not execute)
- trade cost on requested, not on actual cost (requested to execute on $10/share, yahoo reported $9.75/share, get quoted for $10/share)

Scottrade Elite
Inexperienced user: NO
Min Amt to open: $25,000
Stocks: $7 15 ETFs are commission free
Options $7 $1.25/Contract
Pros: Pretty flexible platform, free access to TradeIdeas Scanner ($89/mo)& OddsMaker ($1100) , no maintenance fees, no inactivity fees, etc.
Cons: Lousy data for level 1 -platform lags up and gets unreliable during volume/volatility, Commissions, No outbound ACH/EFT
Recommendation: OK if you don't need highly accurate data
Customer service: Local branches throught the country. Customer calls are directed to local branch.
Other friendly features : Will pay ACAT fees up to $100.

Sogotrade
Inexperienced user: YES
Min Amt to open:
Stocks: $3.00
Options: $5 $.65/Contract
Pros: Free streaming quotes and low commissions
Cons: No extended hours trading; Need to move to SogoElite and pay addl fees. Transfer out penalty.
Recommendation: SogoElite is recommended for active users.
Customer service: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Need comments from users

SogoElite
Inexperienced user: No
Min Amt to open: $2500
Fees: $10/mo data fee
Stocks: $.005/share ($1 min)
Options: coming, but not yet
Pros: Free level 1 streaming quotes, low commissions, good execution
Cons: No ACH must deal with checks/wires, somewhat clunky platform, poor reporting, website and platform don't communicate well
Recommendation: If you are an active trader, but somewhat putoff by IB's complexity give SogoElite a shot
Customer service: Need comments from users.

ThinkOrSwim <Acquired by TD Ameritrade>
Min Amt to open: $3500
Stocks: are 1.5cents/sh $5min or $9.95 upto 5000sh (they will match other brokers' fees)
Options: are $2.95/contract (they will match other brokers' fees)
Pros: One the best desktop trading platforms I have seen. The tools seems unmatched.Commissions can be nego. they will match a bunch of other brokers by a few clicks of a mouse, they also do custom. Has nice smartphone app (iphone/Android/Blackberry); If you ask they might send you a stuffed monkey!
Cons: hard to borrow fees on some shorts
Cust Serv. have gotten email replies at 10pm on a Sat. night within 5min, while nothing could be done until Monday, a person did reply to say it was forwarded to X person in charge of changes. Most other things seem to be replied to within 10min, usually a few min.
Extras: Free gainskeeper, will pay ACAT fees up to $100, $40 "high speed internet rebate" after 40 trades in a month

Tradeking
Inexperienced user: YES
Min Amt to open:
Stocks: $4.95
Options: $4.95 $.65/Contract
Pros: Geared towards Options users; blogs; discussion, etc.
Cons: Not a very friendly user interface.Fees for streaming quotes. Fees for transferring out the account. Mutual funds trades are $14.95 a trade. Transfer out penalty.
Recommendation: Recommended for option traders and high volume traders
Customer service: Fantastic service via live web chat. Only $4.95 for broker assited trades.
Other friendly features: Virtual keyboard for log-in (defeats keyloggers), $150 Transfer Reimbursement, no inactivity fees, free IRA maintenance

Wells Fargo WellsTrade
Inexperienced user: NU
Min Amt to open: $1000 ($50,000 to avoid fees)
Stocks: $0 for first 100 trades (then $8.95) with PMA package, else $19.95
Options: $9.95 $1 per contract
Pros: 100 free trades per year if you have PMA package (to avoid fees, requires $50,000 in brokerage+checking, or $25,000 in checking). When you have multiple tax lots of a stock, you can set it up so that it defaults to HIFO (Highest-in, First-out) order when you sell. You can also manually select a tax lot to sell.
You can link any checking account as a "trade settlement account", where it will pull money from when you buy and push money to when you sell or when you get dividends.
Cons: Their trading interface is very basic, and kinda clunky to use, but probably ok if you don't trade that often. They don't have trailing stop orders or pre-/after-market trading. "Penny stock" trades (stock price < $1) are "Greater of $24.95 or 2.5% of principal" even with PMA. No streaming real-time quotes. $95 full transfer out fee (no fee for partial transfers).
Recommendation: NU
Customer service: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Need comments from users

Zecco
Inexperienced user: YES
Min Amt to open:
Stocks: $4.95
Options: $4.95/Contract
Pros:
Cons: Heard complaints from others about stability of the platform and execution. Transfer out penalty.
Recommendation: BAD .. based on the reviews from users so far. No longer offers free trades if you have 25000 or 25 trades/month.
Customer service: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Need comments from users

ChoiceTrade
Inexperienced user: x?x
Min Amt to open:
Stocks: $5, no penny stock surcharge upto 500,000 shares
Options: $5 0.55/Contract
Mutual Funds: $25
Pros: Need comments.
Cons: Margin rate is Federal discount rate 7.25% currently..
Recommendation: ??Customer service: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Need comments from users

Lightspeed
Inexperienced user: No
Min Amt to open: Web Trader $2000
Stocks: $0.0045/share or $4.50/order
Options: $0.60/Contract
Pros: Margin rate is at 6.00%. Need comments.
Cons: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Need comments from users

TradeStation
Inexperienced user: No
Min Amt to open: depends, but at least $5000
Stocks: First 500 shares at $0.01/share, $0.006/share thereafter ($1 min)
Options: $1.00/Contract
Futures: $1.20-$2.50 (varies on type future)
Pros: Need comments.
Cons: Has alot of fees.Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Need comments from users

OptionsXpress
Inexperienced user: No
Min Amt to open:
Stocks: $12.95
Options: $1.50/contract, $14.95 minimum
Futures:
Pros: Need comments.
Cons: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Need comments from users
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sats75 thanks for starting this thread, we need an all-in-one for online stock brokers.


MBtrading.com

Thinkorswim.com

Any info on these?

lookingdeals said: Thinkorswim.com
These guys are part of Ameritrade now. On the topic of Ameritrade,

- can get $7 trades, instead of $10, by trading a lot and asking nicely
- Apex status, for $100K or active traders, gives lots of perks (free wires, no paper statement fees, no reorg fees)
- has decent but not great order execution tools
- has quite good charts, streaming data, etc
- supposedly the ThinkOrSwim merger will give them more and better tools (haven't tried this yet)

Don't forget Fidelity too:

- recently dropped their fees to $8/trade
- some ETFs free to trade
- very good customer service
- access to many many markets (but those probably not so cheap)
- good individual bond inventory
- access to good order execution tools via ActiveTrader software

Optionshouse
Inexperienced user YES
Stocks $2.95
Options $5 for 5 $1/contract over 5 or $8.50 +.15/contract
Pros: Cheap - streaming quotes/news, no maintenance fees, no inactivity fees
Cons: Not the best interface
Recommendation: Cheap place to open a roth IRA
Customer service: Quick responses, professional
Other friendly features : Virtual trading platform to practice/maintain 'play' account. $100 ACAT refund

Found something interesting with TDAmeritrade --

I tried to short a security that is a shortable security (the SEC does not have it on a banned list) and TDAmeritrade told me they did not have the offsetting position on their books. Told me to call back later. I told them to forget it.

I verified later that TDAmeritrade only looks at their client long positions to determine if another client can short that security.

So if you think about it -- what service is TDAmeritrade providing me that they charge me the margin rates?? It literally costs them nothing to provide me the short. They are not borrowing it from anybody!

hdpq said: Found something interesting with TDAmeritrade --

I tried to short a security that is a shortable security (the SEC does not have it on a banned list) and TDAmeritrade told me they did not have the offsetting position on their books. Told me to call back later. I told them to forget it.

I verified later that TDAmeritrade only looks at their client long positions to determine if another client can short that security.

So if you think about it -- what service is TDAmeritrade providing me that they charge me the margin rates?? It literally costs them nothing to provide me the short. They are not borrowing it from anybody!



There are no margin charges for shorting.

I use optionshouse

$2.95 per trade.

planning to move to wells fargo when I have at least 35K invested.

lookingdeals said: sats75 thanks for starting this thread, we need an all-in-one for online stock brokers.


MBtrading.com

Thinkorswim.com

Any info on these?


Thanks for the comments..
I'll add these brokers as well and update the first post.. including fidelity.

Pls feel free to share any additional info about any of htese brokers so that I can update the first thread for everyone as one place stop

Thanks mistabone.. updated information you provided.

Scottrade, Cons: No outbound ACH/EFT electronic transfers.

Scottrade, Cons: No outbound ACH/EFT electronic transfers.

xerty said: lookingdeals said: Thinkorswim.com
These guys are part of Ameritrade now. On the topic of Ameritrade,

- can get $7 trades, instead of $10, by trading a lot and asking nicely
- Apex status, for $100K or active traders, gives lots of perks (free wires, no paper statement fees, no reorg fees)
- has decent but not great order execution tools
- has quite good charts, streaming data, etc
- supposedly the ThinkOrSwim merger will give them more and better tools (haven't tried this yet)

Don't forget Fidelity too:

- recently dropped their fees to $8/trade
- some ETFs free to trade
- very good customer service
- access to many many markets (but those probably not so cheap)
- good individual bond inventory
- access to good order execution tools via ActiveTrader software



The biggest change I have seen so far is now they offer Gainskeeper to clients for free.


TOS..

Stocks: are 1.5cents/sh $5min or $9.95 upto 5000sh
Options: are $2.95/contract
Futures: $3.50 fees inclusive
Forex: 1% factored into spread i think
Commissions can be nego. they will match a bunch of other brokers by a few clicks of a mouse, they also do custom. I don't trade the volume I would like otherwise I would def be hitting them up.
Pro: One the best desktop trading platforms I have seen. The tools seems unmatched.
Con: hard to borrow fees on some shorts
Cust Serv. have gotten email replies at 10pm on a Sat. night within 5min, while nothing could be done until Monday, a person did reply to say it was forwarded to X person in charge of changes. Most other things seem to be replied to within 10min, usually a few min.

Scottrade...

CON: No dividend reinvestment.

OP: You should also add this.. Minimum Investment to open.. if we are looking for beginers more then likely they aren't going to be dumping the 25k in to start out.
Scottrade is $500
TOS is $3500

"Zecco
Inexperienced user: YES
Stocks: $4.5 or $0 with >$25000 balance
Options: $4.5+$.5/Contract
Pros: Free trades if you have 25000 or 25 trades/month.
Cons: Heard complaints from others about stability of the platform and execution.
Recommendation: Based on the fees, recommended for traders who have more than 25000 in their account.
Customer service: Need comments from users
Other friendly features: Need comments from users"

Charts suck, executions suck, dont even think of placing a market order (they often burn you extra crispy), stability was a major issue during the high volume periods a year(ish) ago and still could be (who knows, volume has been light for ages). If you move volume, margin rates and trades are nego (but I'd recommend finding a diff broker).

Could we put mobile trading as an advantage as well? I'd like that option. I know Etrade and Ameritrade have it.

You have the data wrong for Interactive Brokers - commissions are not the "AND" that you say, they are one or the other. It's 0.005/share ($1 min), up to a max of 0.5% of trade. Also, the $10 min fee is only if you get market data, it is waived if you generate $30 in commissions.

btw - I would not recommend Zecco for anyone, even if you qualify for the "free" trades. I used to be a fan of Zecco until I realized they purposely have execution algorithms that screw you over (e.g. their stop orders get triggered on bid/ask price not on execution price as they should). I have proof in 2 trades that my orders were skewed to my disadvantage. Read their disclosures, they funnel everything through one 3rd party broker. Thus, the $4.50 or even free trades really aren't free because you don't get as good of a price as you get on better brokers (like IB) - you are really paying at Zecco for the way they handle executions (they don't directly charge you, but you pay by getting an inefficient price)

Although IB's charting interface does suck, I have to give credit to the Trade Workstation and the iTWS, which is probably one of the better iPhone trading apps out there. They really did a good job on it, and sometimes I wish they would have the simple charting, alerting, book trading available on the iPhone in a more easily accessible area on desktop TWS. Never had an issue with customer service, although they do charge cancellation fees for breaking options orders - I was burned with $25 of that one trading session until I read more carefully. (And no, those are not creditable towards commission.) Some people get annoyed by the little security card but I think it is a plus. I still keep an account on Optionshouse when I need to do price discovery, but for most trading I've switched to IB.

Interactive Brokers
Stocks: 0.005/share (min $1) AND 0.5% of trade value plus exchange, ECN, and specialist fees
Options: 0.7/Contract (min $1)
Futures: MiniDow $2.35 one way.
ForEx:
Pros: After hour and before open trading, futures 24 hours trading; no option exercise fee; short naked puts and calls; you can short stocks under $5 even $1;
Cons: Limited penny stocks.

jahnke771 said: Could we put mobile trading as an advantage as well? I'd like that option. I know Etrade and Ameritrade have it.
And Ameritrade's mobile one is pretty good too. You can get Level 2 books, intraday charts, etc.

I suggest that you move the info into the Quick Summary instead of the first post, so that everyone can edit/add to the info.

More info for Wells Fargo:

Options are $9.95 + $1 per contract

Some pros that weren't already mentioned:
When you have multiple tax lots of a stock, you can set it up so that it defaults to HIFO (Highest-in, First-out) order when you sell. You can also manually select a tax lot to sell.
You can link any checking account as a "trade settlement account", where it will pull money from when you buy and push money to when you sell or when you get dividends. (But if you sign up for this, they remove the feature of initiating ACH transfers yourself).

Some cons:
Their trading interface is very basic, but probably ok if you don't trade that often. It doesn't have default values for order type, day/GTC order, etc so you have to fill those in each time. They don't have trailing stop orders.

hdpq said: Found something interesting with TDAmeritrade --

I tried to short a security that is a shortable security (the SEC does not have it on a banned list) and TDAmeritrade told me they did not have the offsetting position on their books. Told me to call back later. I told them to forget it.

I verified later that TDAmeritrade only looks at their client long positions to determine if another client can short that security.

So if you think about it -- what service is TDAmeritrade providing me that they charge me the margin rates?? It literally costs them nothing to provide me the short. They are not borrowing it from anybody!


I'm quite inexperienced in this area but just wanted to inform you that according to Wikipedia (I know, not always correct) that this is typical:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_%28finance%29#Shorting_stock_...

"Most brokers will allow retail customers to borrow shares to short a stock only if one of their own customers has purchased the stock on margin. Brokers will go through the "locate" process outside their own firm to obtain borrowed shares from other brokers only for their large institutional customers."

faw169 said: Interactive Brokers
Stocks: 0.005/share (min $1) AND 0.5% of trade value plus exchange, ECN, and specialist fees

No, the $0.005/share is all inclusive (even including the SEC transaction fee on selling). The second part of what you described is the maximum amount they'll charge per trade, which will only ever come up on stocks under $1.

Minimum trades needed/month else $10 fee; Streaming quotes not free.
More specifically: there's a $10/month minimum activity fee. If you had $9 in commissions, the fee is only $1, not $10.

A bundle of the common quotes (real time stock, options, etc.) is $10/month, which is waived if you did $30 in commissions the previous month. The subscription is not mandatory - I don't pay it, as I have a separate real time quoting/charting service.

As to customer service, my experience is that telephone service is excellent, service through opening tickets on their website is good, and online chat is truly awful.

torchedlh said: "Most brokers will allow retail customers to borrow shares to short a stock only if one of their own customers has purchased the stock on margin. Brokers will go through the "locate" process outside their own firm to obtain borrowed shares from other brokers only for their large institutional customers."
This is another advantage of IB. They'll let individuals borrow all of the same stocks that institutional customers can get through the AQS system. There may well be a cost involved to borrow the stock, but IB can tell you that in advance.

I'm another thumbs up for IB for active traders. Or even semi active traders, or really anyone that makes more then 2 trades a month really.

Etrade charges $40 every 3 months for inactivity. they call it "account services fees", which is bs. they also never respond to emails, you have to call and wait a hour just to get someone...

govenar said: I suggest that you move the info into the Quick Summary instead of the first post, so that everyone can edit/add to the info.

More info for Wells Fargo:

Options are $9.95 + $1 per contract

Some pros that weren't already mentioned:
When you have multiple tax lots of a stock, you can set it up so that it defaults to HIFO (Highest-in, First-out) order when you sell. You can also manually select a tax lot to sell.
You can link any checking account as a "trade settlement account", where it will pull money from when you buy and push money to when you sell or when you get dividends. (But if you sign up for this, they remove the feature of initiating ACH transfers yourself).

Some cons:
Their trading interface is very basic, but probably ok if you don't trade that often. It doesn't have default values for order type, day/GTC order, etc so you have to fill those in each time. They don't have trailing stop orders.


Thanks.. thats a good idea.. Just did it.

fidelity has become very attractive broker right now . flat rate of $7.95 and they are also offering " # Trade the most commission-free iShares® ETFs online — 25 in all*(effective February 3)"
here is the list of etf list for free trading

U.S. EQUITY INDEX FUNDS
Russell 1000 Growth (IWF)
Russell 1000 (IWB)
Russell 1000 Value (IWD)
Russell 2000 Growth (IWO)
Russell 2000 (IWM)
Russell 2000 Value (IWN)
Russell 3000 (IWV)
S&P 500 Growth (IVW)
S&P 500 (IVV)
S&P 500 Value (IVE)
S&P Mid Cap 400 Growth (IJK)
S&P Mid Cap 400 (IJH)
S&P Mid Cap 400 Value (IJJ)
S&P Small Cap 600 Growth (IJT)
S&P Small Cap 600 (IJR)
S&P Small Cap 600 Value (IJS)
INTERNATIONAL EQUITY INDEX FUNDS
MSCI ACWI (ACWI)
MSCI EAFE (EFA)
MSCI EAFE Small Cap (SCZ)
MSCI Emerging Markets (EEM)
FIXED INCOME FUNDS
Barclays Aggregate (AGG)
Barclays TIPS (TIP)
iBoxx $ Investment Grade Corporate (LQD)
JP Morgan USD Emerging Markets (EMB)
S&P National AMT-Free Municipal (MUB)

For anyone who has experience with OptionsHouse:

Is the Maxit Tax software useful when completing taxes? I'm was thinking of moving to a discount broker that had tax software for free, and OptionsHouse looks like the best choice for me. However I've never used Maxit before and would like opinions on whether it saves anyone time, and specifically if the "tax form preparation" is as good as advertised.

Ameritrade customer service sucks, most of the reps are dumb. I recently found a bug in their advanced order placements and I was rewarded with just 2 free trades for it

What about OptionsXpress?

Their commissions are a bit high, but they have a great desktop trading client, lots of tools and screeners, and a very useful iPhone app (which I use just about every trading day). The iPhone app alone drew me to OptionsXpress over ThinkOrSwim, even though the commissions are higher.

Optionexpress is decent, I used them for a bit because they had that nice signup bonus. I can't speak for the iphone app, but that does sound very handy if it not retarted.

Being able to trade on my phone incase something crazy happens would be nice. Something like being on vacation and seeing a nice op but not being able to get to a computer might be good.

I can't remember did Option express have stock trading? I'm sure it did but I can't remember the pricing on it.

but the interface was decent, I did like the streaming quotes there.

denbo32 said: I can't remember did Option express have stock trading? I'm sure it did but I can't remember the pricing on it.
It was pretty bad - $15/stock trade IIRC. I don't remember being impressed with their options pricing either, but at least that seemed about average instead of way too high.

torchedlh said: hdpq said: Found something interesting with TDAmeritrade --

I tried to short a security that is a shortable security (the SEC does not have it on a banned list) and TDAmeritrade told me they did not have the offsetting position on their books. Told me to call back later. I told them to forget it.

I verified later that TDAmeritrade only looks at their client long positions to determine if another client can short that security.

So if you think about it -- what service is TDAmeritrade providing me that they charge me the margin rates?? It literally costs them nothing to provide me the short. They are not borrowing it from anybody!


I'm quite inexperienced in this area but just wanted to inform you that according to Wikipedia (I know, not always correct) that this is typical:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_%28finance%29#Shorting_stock_...

"Most brokers will allow retail customers to borrow shares to short a stock only if one of their own customers has purchased the stock on margin. Brokers will go through the "locate" process outside their own firm to obtain borrowed shares from other brokers only for their large institutional customers."


Honestly, I've just started shorting securities, and the one that I have done is traded pretty widely, so when I came across this, I was quite surprised.

I receive fine customer service from E*trade. It may be a function of my balance of over $100k. As a former Brown customer, my commissions are only $5.00, so I have no complaints. I like the free streaming quotes and the website in general.

I also receive fine customer service from Zecco. They are always responsive to my e-mails. By the way, you can open up an account for a spouse with Zecco and get an additional 10 free trades. You do not even have to maintain the $25,000 balance in the spousal account so long as you maintain at least 50k between the two accounts (you have to request this and provide proof of marriage).

Thinkorswim
-I use TOS for my Roth IRA, and they are excellent for an IRA if you mainly want to use funds (3 free no load fund trades a month), with limited stock/option trading.
-They will match other brokers' commissions structures to an extent (I asked them to match Interactive Brokers' fees and they would only give me $1.50/contract on options
-They have some other nice extras, such as a free gainskeeper, ACAT fee refund up to $100, and a $40 "high speed internet rebate" after 40 trades in a month
-Their software is fantastic, and their execution is good, but not great.

I've personally been trading a lot more than expected in my account with TOS and am spending way more than I should on commissions. I plan to move most of my short term activity to Interactive Brokers, which is MUCH cheaper than anyone else any way you look at it. I'll still keep TOS for funds and long term holdings.

Zecco
-Used to have free trades, now you only get 10 free trades a motnh IF you have 25k or make 15 trades at $4.50 first
-Awful interface, virtually unusable, this is the primary reason I've abandoned my account with them, execution is mediocre at best
-Customer service is nothing special

I have been using Ameritrade for a long time and have been happy with the service but it doesn't seem like $9.99 per trade is competitive with the other brokers out there. Since Ameritrde will charge me to transfer my funds out it would be helpful to learn more about my options before I switch.

I am thinking about using Interactive Brokers but I am concerned that there may be unexpected fees and that the interface may not be as good as the one I am used to.

Some data:

I am an APEX customer with Ameritrade and would like to have streaming quotes in the future
I make more than 10 trades per month
I trade options frequently (covered calls)
I am looking to move a ROTH IRA account with more than $50K
I have several ADR positions (sometimes I have been charged ADR fees by Ameritrade)

For those that have used Interactive Brokers:

Aside from the costs to buy and sell stocks and options, what other fees can I expect?
How difficult is it to get used to the interface?
Is there anything I am getting now for free with Ameritrade that I might lose or have to pay for with Interactive Brokers?
Is there another low cost option that you would recommend over Interactive Brokers?

Thanks in advance.

jameshasty said:
For those that have used Interactive Brokers:

Aside from the costs to buy and sell stocks and options, what other fees can I expect?
How difficult is it to get used to the interface?
Is there anything I am getting now for free with Ameritrade that I might lose or have to pay for with Interactive Brokers?
Is there another low cost option that you would recommend over Interactive Brokers?

Thanks in advance.


You can expect fees for market data and fees for canceling or modifying options orders. Those modification fees can sneak up on you if you are not careful.
TWS is one of the better interfaces and if you use Excel spreadsheets, you should have no problem doing basic tasks. Of course, like any application, there are dozens of more complex settings and choices under the hood, so it is recommended that you breeze through one of the TWS webinars which are regularly available on the IB web site.
Based on your trading frequency, you are likely to meet the $30 minimum for free basic data, but you will probably need to pay for data on index options. In addition, Level II data is not free. You could use data from other brokerage accounts, or the free data available from Google or the free Level II books on BATS, but for serious trading you might want to purchase the Level II package.
No, there is no one else that I would recommend over IB. Optionshouse is close enough, and doesn't charge junk fees for cancellation, but their order entry interface is not as smooth as IB, nor due they offer the wealth of trading functions that IB does.

IB does also pass through ADR fees, which is common among many brokers. If the ADR pays regular dividends, they get invisibly subtracted from your dividend payments, but any non-dividend paying ADR is probably going to have those fees.

Also, note that IB passes through exchange fees/rebates for options trades. Most exchanges charge nothing to public customers, however it's worth looking at first, especially if you trade many penny pilot issues. If you're lucky (or demand specific routing), your marketable orders will go to BOX and you'll get a rebate on each contract traded.

calwatch said: jameshasty said:
For those that have used Interactive Brokers:

Aside from the costs to buy and sell stocks and options, what other fees can I expect?
How difficult is it to get used to the interface?
Is there anything I am getting now for free with Ameritrade that I might lose or have to pay for with Interactive Brokers?
Is there another low cost option that you would recommend over Interactive Brokers?

Thanks in advance.


You can expect fees for market data and fees for canceling or modifying options orders. Those modification fees can sneak up on you if you are not careful.
TWS is one of the better interfaces and if you use Excel spreadsheets, you should have no problem doing basic tasks. Of course, like any application, there are dozens of more complex settings and choices under the hood, so it is recommended that you breeze through one of the TWS webinars which are regularly available on the IB web site.
Based on your trading frequency, you are likely to meet the $30 minimum for free basic data, but you will probably need to pay for data on index options. In addition, Level II data is not free. You could use data from other brokerage accounts, or the free data available from Google or the free Level II books on BATS, but for serious trading you might want to purchase the Level II package.
No, there is no one else that I would recommend over IB. Optionshouse is close enough, and doesn't charge junk fees for cancellation, but their order entry interface is not as smooth as IB, nor due they offer the wealth of trading functions that IB does.


Thanks for the detailed information!

How much would they charge if I place a limit order to sell a call and then decide to cancel it?

How much do they charge (if anything) for real time quotes including the bid / ask?

I'd refer you to IB's website, as the cancellation fees vary by exchange. The execution fees are in the section on commissions, the cancellation fees are under "other fees." You can then get a credit of part of the cancellation fee if you actually execute orders on the same day.

"The US Securities and Commodities Bundle Non-professional Level 1 includes market data for stock, options, futures and bond products on: AMEX, CBOT, NYSE, NASDAQ and OPRA." This is $10/month, waived if you did at least $30 in commissions the prior month.

Skipping 238 Messages...
Beware TD Ameritrade. If you ever got a bonus from any brokerage they swallowed up, you will not get one from TD. Also credited my account with one extra share of stock that did not exist, told them it was cancelled and was told back it was a good share. Tried to transfer the true balance plus the one share out and got slapped with $100 fine. Sends me customer identity forms still, I ask how much are my balances, never hear back. Scottrade in contrast has been excellent service.



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