What is the best brokerage account for beginners
I have personally been using the program since it launched in With its competitive commission rates for stocks and options trading, investors who have previous market experience will find themselves right at home. However, unless you are already an Ally customer, you will find that there are better offerings available. Having the best stock broker to serve individual needs is very important for any investor.
For example, cheap trades most often come at the expense of less research tools and a more simplified trade platform. Consider these 12 key factors to help compare all stock brokers and ultimately find the best broker to suite your needs. Trade Commissions What does it cost to buy shares of stock? Does the fee change based on the type of order or size of order? To keep it simple, look for brokers that offer flat-fee trades, ie charging a flat rate regardless of the type, price of the stock, or size of the order.
Customer Service When picking up the phone or emailing a broker, is a well trained customer service representative ready to assist? How any investor is treated as a client is more important to some than others. Trading Tools Trading successfully is a lot easier when investors have great tools at their disposal. A top stock broker should offer access to a wide variety of trade tools to help make the most of each and every trade.
From real-time streaming quotes to last sale tickers, quality stock scanners, mobile trading apps, and level II quotes to name a few. Strong tools are essential for active investors. Account Minimums Some brokers allow you to open an account with no minimum deposit while others may require several thousand dollars. Also know that some brokers require higher minimums to gain access to premium platforms, functionality, and personalized support.
Market Research A good online broker will provide a variety of market research tools. The rule of thumb here is simple: Investment Options A online stock broker should offer access to not only trading stocks, but also a strong selection of no load mutual funds, commission free ETFs, and complex options. Other unique investment offerings to look for could include direct market routing, conditional orders, futures trading, and forex trading.
Other Fees Fees beyond trade commissions include inactivity fees common with active trading brokers such as Interactive Brokers, Lightspeed, and TradeStation and IRA fees for having a retirement account. Just like a bank account, stock brokers also make a portion of their profits off miscellaneous fees. There is no reason why you should pay an annual fee to have an retirement account. These days a number of brokers can effectively be placed in either, or both, of the categories as they offer a choice of service to their customers.
What you must decide is whether you want the additional services that are on offer, such as receiving expert advice on potential trades and investments, or whether you prefer to have a broker that simply acts upon your instructions.
It won't surprise you to know that using the additional services is the more expensive option, and you will pay much less in commissions and fees when using discount services. There's an idea floating around that suggests beginners are better off using a full service broker while they are still learning and benefitting from having a professional guide them as necessary. There are certainly benefits in that course of action, however we suggest that even beginner options traders should use a discount service.
If a different form of investment was involved, such as investing in stocks and shares using a buy and hold strategy, then the arguments for using a full service broker would be stronger because there are real benefits in having an expert help you to plan your investments, find suitable investment opportunities, and monitor your portfolio.
However, options trading is a unique form of trading and there is so much more involved than simply selecting stocks that are going to go up in value in the long term. In our opinion, it's much better to be hands on from the very beginning, learning how to identify your own trading opportunities, and decide which options trading strategies to use.
As such, we would advise beginner traders to stick to discount services primarily for the reasons listed above, but also because of the additional costs involved in using a full service broker. The higher commission charges can really eat into any returns that you make, particularly if you are making fairly small trades, which can make it very difficult to be profitable in the long run.
This is also why discount services are better for small traders, whether beginners or not, as the extra costs effectively have a bigger impact when trade values are low. The commissions and fees charged by an online broker are, somewhat obviously, something that any type of options trader needs to take into consideration.
It's particularly important for small traders to use a broker with competitive commission because as we have touched on above; high commissions can be a real problem when making low value trades. Bearing in mind that most beginners will typically start out with fairly low value trades too.
Beginners options traders also should be looking to keep commission charges as low as possible. You should also be looking for commission and fee structures that are nice and straightforward. Some places have structures that are really convoluted, and this is an added complication that you simply don't need.
You need to be aware that a number of options brokers will offer really low headline commission rates, but then have small print stipulating that certain criteria has to be met to get the low rates. Alternatively, they might offer low commissions but then have a load of other fees that get charged to your account.
This is something else that beginner traders and small traders really need to look at before signing up with an online service. Most places will have fixed minimums for how much you need to deposit and how much each trade must be worth. The minimum amounts can vary quite significantly from one broker to another, and you obviously need to make sure that the figures are suitable for you. Clearly, if you are making small trades you won't want to deposit huge amounts at any one time so you should look for a broker with a relatively low minimum deposit.
Equally, you will need a broker that has fairly low minimum trade values to ensure that you can make your trades at a level you are comfortable with. The single most important thing to remember when choosing an online broker is that you should be using a broker that is suitable to you and your requirements.