Online stock trading consists of using an online broker to place buy or sell orders for financial securities or currencies. Stocks, bonds, options, futures and currencies can all be traded online, and quickly filed and entered electronically, without the need of a paper trail. Online trading is convenient and offers easy access from virtually anywhere.

When doing the research for a broker, first decide what type of broker you need. Some specialize in trading for beginner investors, others focus on trading a wide number of asset types, and still others emphasize affordability. Some, but not all, brokers have account minimums to start investing, and this should factor into your choice. Make sure to investigate the commission amounts, and prioritize low ones on the investments you’ll use the most.

Watch out for account fees such as inactivity fees, extra charges for broker-assisted trades, trading platform fees, and extra charges for research and data. Research the broker’s customer service and the company’s reputation, to make sure you’re investing with a legitimate business. Since online trading occurs over the internet, it’s also important to prioritize the safety and protection of your financial information.

Finally, once you’ve settled on a broker and decided how and what you’ll trade, it’s essential to  remember to diversify your portfolio and research the recommended investment opportunities. It’s also important to decide if you’re risk-averse, if you’re looking into the short or long-term, and whether you’re willing to trade stability for a riskier investment with more potential rewards.


Top 9 Companies

#1
9.0 / 10
  • No minimums to open an account
  • $9.99 per trade
  • In-depth analysis
  • Free and extensive data research
  • Two trading platforms to choose from
  • 24/7 phone support
#2
8.6 / 10
  • Trade for as low as $4.99
  • Futures markets
  • Forex trading
  • Subscription required for trading software
  • Mobile services
  • Comprehensive educational resources
#3
8.4 / 10
  • $9.99 trades
  • Local branches across the US
  • Retirement planning
  • Asset protection services
  • FINRA/ SIPC
  • Training tools
  • 24 hour support
  • Commodity trading (gold, silver)
#4
8.4 / 10
  • $7.95 trades
  • Financial leader in investment guidance
  • Detailed research reports
  • Retirement planning
  • Real-time information
  • Custom filters
  • Local branches across the country
  • Free 30 day research trial
#5
Our Partner
8.3 / 10
  • Great customer support services
  • Excellent research tools
  • Retirement planning
  • Access to banking services
  • FINRA/ SIPC
  • Mobile trading
  • Asset protection services
  • Large network of local branches (500 plus)
#6
8.3 / 10
  • No trade minimums
  • $8.95 options trades
  • Online trading using your tablet, smartphone or any mobile device
  • Excellent customer service and support
  • Analytic tools and performance reports
#7
8.0 / 10
  • $6.95 per trade
  • Clean, easy to use platform
  • Mobile trading
  • Extended trading hours
  • Up to $500,000 account protection with SIPC
  • No minimum amount to open an online trading account
#8
7.9 / 10
  • All-in-one trade ticket
  • $8.95 options trades
  • Practice virtual trading
  • Trading tools
  • Mobile trading

 

#9
Our Partner
6.9 / 10
  • $4.95 trades
  • Great for frequent traders, low trade costs
  • Free data analysis and excellent research tools
  • No minimum account balance fee
  • Mobile trading
  • Excellent learning tools, online support
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How We Compare Online Stock Trading

Investment Products

25%

This refers to the number and variety of investment options available. More investment options simply translates to more opportunities to grow your portfolio. Standard options include stocks or mutual funds. Also look for access to other investment options, such as Future Markets, Bonds or Foreign Exchange, which could be a good way for those interested in diversifying their investment portfolio or those exploring other investment options.

  • Bonds
  • Easy to Borrow Stocks
  • Future Markets
  • Foreign Exchange
  • Stocks
  • Options
  • Mutual Funds
  • Exchange Traded funds
  • International Stock Exchange

Fees and Costs

15%

What costs are associated with making trades or program enrollment? In this section we look at fees for buying and trading stocks. Also determining fees that are charged according to the type and amount of assets traded. We believe flat-fee trades offers you the option to lock in a single rate, regardless of stock price or order size.  

  • Option trades
  • Market trades
  • Broker assisted trades
  • Futures contract fees
  • Maintenance fees
  • Minimum account balance fee
  • ACH withdrawals
  • Check withdrawals
  • Full account transfers
  • Partial account transfers
  • Telephone orders

Trading Tools

20%

Trading stocks online should be an easy and seamless experience. Your trading platform should be simple enough for novice traders, while also offering advance features for seasoned traders.  Your trading tools should be robust enough to include all the features required to make informed decisions and perform a variety of transactions. Automated trading, alerts, analytics and reporting are just some of the features that make online stock trading easy. Choosing an online stock trading service with strong trading tools is essential for an active trader.

  • Alerts
  • Automated trading
  • Analysis research reports
  • Virtual trading
  • Level II quotes
  • Options tools
  • Quick order entry
  • Real-time charts
  • Real-time quotes
  • Watch lists

Account Information

10%

Get real-time updates on the status of your account balances and reports. Stay informed on how your investments are doing by getting real-time data. This gives you the ability to create reports to study how your investments are performing.

  • Account balances
  • Account history
  • Order status
  • Portfolio planner

Financial Services

10%

Many online stock trading companies give you the option to link your trading account to your bank accounts, credit cards and debit cards, so you won't miss out on that opportunity that is too good to resist while your funds are being transfered. Additionally, some companies offer helpful financial planning tools to help you manage your accounts and plan for you future, for example retirement planning and wealth management tools.

  • Banking services
  • Credit card
  • Debit card
  • Retirement planning
  • Wealth assessment tools
  • Account security service
  • Asset protection

Mobile Tools

10%

Online stock trading platforms with mobile device compatibility allows clients to quickly and easily make transactions on their smartphone or tablets. With mobile devices growing capabilities, it is now possible to view your account and make trades anywhere and anytime.   

  • Mobile alerts
  • Mobile deposits
  • Mobile trading

 


Customer Support

10%
  • Telephone
  • Email
  • Live chat
  • 24/7 support


Customer Questions & Answers

How does Online Stock Trading work?

In order to make a trade on the stock exchange, your trade must be made by a licensed broker. Before the internet, the only way to invest in the stock market was to work directly with a broker, who would manage your account, make trades for you and make suggestions on investments that may interest you. While some investors still choose to work with experienced brokers, other investors prefer to managing their portfolios and accounts themselves. This is where Online Stock Trading comes in.

Online stock trades still go through a licensed broker, but the fee is significantly discounted. The broker, instead of providing guidance and managing clients, is now able to make more trades, and therefore collect more fees, and the investor is able to pay less to make a trade. It’s a win-win for all parties.

Is Online Stock Trading risky?

With almost all investments there is some risk involved, and the same is true for investing in the stock market. However, just because there’s risk, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. When it comes to investing in stocks and bonds, there are different types of investments and trading styles, which have varying levels of risk involved.

If you are looking to slowly build your portfolio over time, there are a number of low-risk options that can help you accomplish this goal. This type of trading is generally considered a great way to invest for the long-term and is a popular and extremely common way to invest. On the other hand, if you are looking to make money fast, the bigger the risk, the better chance for a big payout, or a big loss. This type of trading is not for everyone and has made a lot of people very rich, or very poor. No matter what kind of investment you make, make sure you understand the risk involved and are comfortable with the consequences before you put money down.