Best Online Stock Brokers for 2019 : Ranked by Fees, Platforms, Regulation and More

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Best Online Stock Brokers for 2019 : Ranked by Fees, Platforms, Regulation and More
4.9 (97.14%) 7 votes

 

In this guide, we’ll review and compare online stock brokers. Whatever your trading style or budget, whether you prefer to trade on your mobile or on a powerful workstation with many gadgets and data streams , there is an online broker for you.

Here are the online stock brokers ranked by trading level (beginner, advanced), fees, reputation, and region.

How We Rated Stock Brokers

We have user-tested the trading platforms of the stock brokers in this review, surveyed traders and gathered user views online to rate the best online stockbrokers on:

  • Trading fees, commissions, and other fees
  • Spreads and leverage
  • Basic risk management tools (stop losses, guaranteed stop losses)
  • Risk management instruments (futures, options, swaps)
  • Technical indicators
  • Research and news
  • Education and training resources
  • Trading interface usability and customizability
  • Trading platform (MetaTrader, cTrade, proprietary)
  • Range of securities traded (CFDs vs direct trading)

Broker Comparison for 2019

  • Regulated by CySec and FCA
  • Multiple Payment Methods
  • Offers Trading with Cryptocurrencies
  • Offers buying cryptocurrency
  • KYC compliant
  • $25 USD Withdrawal Fees

Accepts:

US Clients UK Clients AU Clients
Buy Stocks
  • Regulated by the FCA
  • Offers Trading with CFD
  • No Stamp Duty for their UK customers
  • KYC Compliant
  • Multiple Payment Methods
  • High Withdrawal Fees

Accepts:

UK Clients AU Clients NO US
Buy Stocks
  • Regulated by CySec
  • Offers Trading with Leverage
  • Offers Trading with CFD
  • KYC Compliant
  • Multiple Payment Methods Accepted
  • HIgh Withdrawal Fees

Accepts:

UK Clients AU Clients NO US
Buy Stocks
  • Regulated by CySec
  • Offers Trading with Leverage
  • Offers Trading with CFD
  • KYC Compliant
  • Multiple Payment Methods Accepted
  • Higher Spreads on MetaTrader 4/5

Accepts:

UK Clients AU Clients NO US
Buy Stocks
  • Low Flat Fee per Trade
  • Advanced Trading Option
  • No Minimum Account Balance
  • Allows Trading Bots
  • Good Research Tools
  • Only Works on Mobile

Accepts:

US Clients UK Clients AU Clients
Buy Stocks

Best Online Stock Brokers for 2019 

We have zoomed in on the best brokers to buy shares from based on the criteria the most important to you: level of trading expertise, fees, reputation, and region and found that the following brokers offer the best features overall, for all stock investing style and goals.

eToro

eToro is a well-known Europen broker regulated by the CySEC and FCA counting with over 7 million users worldwide. eToro is the leading social trading network, and has recently launched in the U.S. eToro has over 1,000 stocks from European, Asian and US markets to choose from with competitive fees of just 0.09% per side.

eToro has a smooth, user friendly platform which makes it really simple to invest in stocks. Their biggest advantage over other stockbrokers is their social trading technology which allows novice traders to mimick the successful strategies of advanced stock traders who make money from their followers. Their trademarked  CopyTrader™ platform allows users to follow stock trades in real time, or copy entire portfolios of high-performing stock traders with one click. This is exceptional for beginners who are looking for a regulated platform to start trading.

Their CopyPortfolios™ feature can even produce a portfolio of traders and investment portfolios following a theme. You may also place your own stock buy and sell orders. If your portfolio does well, who knows, your portfolio could end up on the Editor’s Choice list of traders to copy.

All traders get access to eToro’s social feeds, price charts, technical tools and research. For beginners, eToro is the best place to learn how to buy stocks from more advanced trading peers. Day traders like the platform for its competitive fees and quick, one-click trade execution.

Pros:

  • Social trading on the popular CopyTrader™ platform
  • CopyPortfolios™ across an investment theme
  • Fast, one-click trade execution
  • Competitive fees and low minimum deposit ($200)
  • 1,000 stocks
  • Accepts UK & U.S customers
  • No stamp duty for UK customers

Cons:

  • Withdrawals can be slow
  • Mostly a CFD share broker
eToro’s unique social trading feature makes it the best stock broker for beginners and experienced traders alike. Their AI-powered copycat trading tool will find the best portfolios based on your trading risk profile and style. With one click, you can copy the portfolio of top performing traders and reap the rewards of their experience without having to risk losing your own capital while you’re learning through trial and error.

Most popular eToro stocks

Apple

Amazon

Bank of America

McDonald’s

Google

Netflix

Unilever

Barclays

easyJet

Carnival

Burberry Group

Rolls-Royce

Volkswagen

Commerzbank

Adidas

BMW

Daimler

Bayer

How to Trade Shares on eToro (Tutorial)

With eToro’s exceptional share trading platform, you can set up an account, buy stocks and start trading, all in under five minutes.

Whether you are a beginner or advanced trader, you can gain access to eToro’s professional trading tools by following these easy sign-up steps:

1. Open your eToro share broker account

Open your account by clicking here. Verify your account with proof of identity through their easy online verification process. You are now ready to fund your account. eToro provides more than nine online payment options, including credit card, debit card and even Paypal, Skrill and Neteller.

To determine your investor risk profile, you will be asked to answer a few short questions about your investment experience, knowledge and strategy, as well as your risk-return level. This will allow eToro to determine what kind of stock trader you are, and help you to make the best decisions when you start trading for real money. It is also worth noting that eToro offers educational resources, which are particularly useful for those who are looking to get started with trading shares and have little experience.

2. Verify your identity

You will then be asked to attach and submit proof of identity for verification.

3. Fund your account

The next step is to fund your account. Thankfully, eToro offers a wide variety of payment methods. Check to see if your preferred method is available in your country.

4: Trade

On eToro, you can invest in stocks through traditional securities trading or social investing. eToro assigns the portfolio of every trader a risk score based on the volatility – average daily price movement – of the instruments invested in on a scale of 1–6, 6 representing the highest risk.  Here are three ways to invest in stocks on the leading social trading platform.

4A: Place a stock trade

Start by going to eToro’s market page and select a stock. Research the stock by clicking on: Social Feeds, Stock Statistics,  Chart, or Research.

If you are ready to invest, click Trade. The trade order box will pop up.

  • Select Market (current price) or other price level you want to enter the market at.
  • Enter the amount you want to trade – Start with a small position. You can always add to your position.
  • Indicate the amount of leverage you want to apply (X1, X2, X5).
  • Your Stop Loss and Take Profit levels are preset by you.
  • You can also set up a One Click Trade option and preset the above parameters.

4B: Place a CopyTrader™ trade

 

Choose from the selection of copy traders by reviewing their risk score, trading performance stats and charts, and portfolio. For ideas, check out the traders on the Editor’s Choice list. Click Copy. From the copy trade box, choose the amount you want to trade and the copy trade stop limit. Press Copy.

4C: Place a CopyPortfolios™ trade

Choose a portfolio among dozens of investment themes. CopyPortfolios™ copies multiple portfolios and traders following that theme. We chose the NASDAQ100 theme portfolio, which has a high Risk Score of 6.

Review the portfolio’s risk profile and performance. Click on Invest. From the Invest box, choose the amount you want to invest and the stop investing limit.

Ready to invest? Click here

Want to find out more? Read our eToro review.

  • Exchange
  • Rating
  • Properties
  • to buy
1
 
The Best Choice
  • 4,000 + Stocks
  • $250 Min Deposit
  • Accepts PayPal

Product is subject to fluctuations. An investment puts your capital at risk.

Markets.com

If you are new to the stock market, Markets.com is a great share broker to start with. This broker has won several customer service awards and has a well-stocked education library. You may find their pampering helpful as you learn to buy and sell shares and follow their technical analysis lessons to apply over 100 technical analysis tools available. markets.com is a division of Playtech, a gambling software company listed on the London Stock Exchange. Markets.com, itself, is licensed in Europe by CySEC, and in Africa and Australia.

The trading platform of the official online broker of the Arsenal Football Club is outfitted for the all-round retail trader. The broker offers CFDs on a good range of securities and forex pairs. No fees or commissions are charged and spreads, around 2 pips, are competitive. Signing up for a Markets.com trading account is easy on the markets.com mobile app. The trading interface is no frills.

Pros:

  • Research, spreads and leverage for day traders
  • Demo account
  • Low commissions
  • Good set of technical analysis tools

Cons:

  • Limited order types
  • Spreads higher on MetaTrader 4/5
  • No guaranteed stop losses

Start trading stocks on Markets.com

Step 1: Register your account

You will be prompted to download the markets.com mobile app to register. After filling in basic profile information, a brief questionnaire on investment experience and knowledge, as well as income and assets, will determine your trading level and leverage. 1:30 is the leverage for the average retail investor. So with a $500 deposit, you can trade up to $15,000.

Step 2: Fund your account

If depositing by credit card, you will need to first have it verified. Click on Verify Credit Card on the My Account Page.

Step 3: Verify your identity

Attach and submit proof of identity and a utility bill for verification. Residents of the USA, Canada, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan and some other countries are restricted.

Step 4: Trade Microsoft stock

On Markets.com, you can choose to invest in stocks, as well as a wide range of ETFs and indexes with exposure to major technology stocks. Other securities include forex, cryptocurrencies (a handful of majors), bonds, blends, and grey markets in Uber and Lyft ahead of their IPOs. Trending Now displays a list of top moving stocks.

The  stock profile provides basic stock price charting information and a market sentiment indicator. Place the trade by choosing the Buy or Sell button.

Plus500

Plus500 was designed to provide the advanced trader basic trade execution tools. The fast trading speed, leverage, high order volume and risk management tools (trailing stops and guaranteed stops) the pro trader needs to buy stocks are here. The intuitive interface includes over 100 technical indicators. The trader with their own tools, stock data and news will be happy to execute on Plus500. Traders who qualify for a professional account (with a minimum portfolio value of €500k) can raise their leverage levels, for example, from 1:5 to 1:20 for stock trades. The platform was designed for traders who want to buy stocks and sell them immediately at a low cost. Active traders will like this discount platform. The beginner trader may prefer a platform with more trading support and education. No scalping is allowed on this platform and financing fees are high.

Pros:

  • FCA regulated
  • Listed on the LSE
  • Easy to use platform
  • Great mobile platform
  • High order volume

Cons:

  • Credit card fees are lower at some brokers
  • Experienced traders only (no fundamental data)
  • Only CFD trading
  • High financing rates
  • No scalping allowed

Start trading  stock on Plus500

Step 1: Register your account

You will be prompted to download the Plus500.com mobile app to register.  Select between a Demo and Real Money account. After filling in basic personal information, you will gain access to the unlimited demo account. Before you can buy  stock, you will be prompted to answer a few questions to establish your investor risk profile.

Step 2: Fund your account

When you are ready to trade with real money, fund your account. Three payment options are provided. You may be asked to verify your payment method.

Step 3: Verify your identity

Attach and submit proof of identity for verification.

Step 4: Trade  stock

Plus500 offers a wide variety of investment instruments, including stocks, ETFs, indexes, forex and cryptocurrencies. Options are also available for the advanced investor. Query Microsoft and the price quotes for the stock, as well as put and call options, appear on the screen.

 

DEGIRO

DEGIRO is a low cost discount broker that does not scrimp on its stock trading options. Quite the opposite. While many of its competitors trade mostly CFDs, DEGIRO is a gateway to trade directly on 50 exchanges across 30 countries. If you want value for your money when you buy shares, this is a good place to trade. Shares cost about $2 a trade, the lowest price among discount brokers. When you trade on your domestic stock market the price is discounted further. Plus you get one free ETF trade a month. The broker is regulated by the Dutch AFM and DNB, and in many other jurisdictions around the world. A few frills are missing. Research and education tools are limited. Forex trading is not provided. But if you want to purchase stocks, this is where to shop  on stock exchanges around the globe at the best prices around.

Pros:

  • Very low fees
  • Access to global stock exchanges
  • Regulated by Dutch AFM/DNB and other jurisdictions globally

Cons:

  • Limited research and education resources
  • No forex trading

Start trading stock on DEGIRO

Step 1: Register your account

DEGIRO has the simplest and quickest sign up process among the online stockbrokers. This broker bypasses the  investor profile and risk management survey that is part of the registration process of many brokers. Once you fill in basic details, you are ready to complete the registration process. You will require a national ID card (passport) and bank account.

Step 2: Verify your bank account

With a “10-minute” sign up process, you will not have to wait long to trade on these global exchanges. DEGIRO uses bank-derived identification to open an account. You will be asked to deposit £0.01 into your DEGIRO account. Once your name is confirmed as the name on the registered bank account, your DEGIRO account will be opened. The bank account confirmation typically takes 2–3 days. No minimum account deposit is required to start trading.  US citizens are restricted from trading on DEGIRO.  No demo account is available.

Step 3: Trade stock

DEGIRO has one of the cleanest interfaces. The user-friendly trading platform is easy to navigate. Above is the QuickOrder window. Specify the type of order. You have the choice of ordering by number of shares or amount you want to invest.

Best Online Stockbrokers for U.S Customers

Ally Invest

Ally Invest is part of Ally Financial, the US bank that wants all of your financial services business – insurance, banking and investment – by providing low competitive pricing. Ally Invest delivers on price while still providing a fully featured trading platform to invest in stocks. There is no minimum account requirement at Ally Invest. Sign up, provide proof of identity and fund your account to start trading stocks, options and forex. Stock trades are a flat $4.95 a trade. Mutual funds are $9.95 a trade and option contracts $0.65. Over 100 commission free ETFs are also offered. This discount broker is cheap but not no frills. At no extra charge, you also receive technical indicators, charts, real time pricing data and research. For the options trader, all the basic tools are provided. An options trading bot is even provided. This option scanner makes trades based on your preset parameters. If you make at least 30 trades a quarter or maintain a daily average account balance of $100,000, the stock trading price falls to $3.95. If you do want to use broker-assisted trades, the fee is $20

Pros:

  • Low flat fee per trade, lowered for premium customers
  • No minimum account balance
  • Options trading, analytical tools and trading bot
  • Good technical analysis and research tools

Cons:

  • ETF choice is limited to one supplier, WisdomTree
  • No desktop app – must go mobile
  • Broker-assisted trades $20 + commission

How to Trade Shares on Ally Invest (Tutorial)

Whether you are a long-term investor adding large stocks to your portfolio or seeking some higher risk-return securities, you can buy stocks on Ally by following these easy sign-up steps:

1. Open your Ally Invest account

Open your account by clicking here. Fill in your basic account information and answer brief questions about your income and risk tolerance.

2. Fund your account

 

You are ready to fund your account.  Your Ally Invest account is funded directly   from your bank account. Click on your bank and log in on the log in screen.

2. Pick your stocks

A good range of stock reports, news and performance metrics are at your disposable to help you research and select stocks. Company quarterly/annual financial reports (SEC filings) are handily listed on the main stock profile screen. If you are ready to invest, click Buy. The trade order box will pop up.

4. Place your order

Your Ally Invest trading screen will display the Bid and Ask price.  Choose whether you want to buy or sell the stock, the type of order and amount of shares you want to buy. Below, the amount to be deducted from your account appears. Place the trade.

ZacksTrade

Zacks Trade provides low-cost trading with the option to upgrade and access the research tools of the pros. Choose across three trading packages to build a highly customizable trading experience. A range of securities are offered for trading – stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds. Although futures and options are not offered, margin trading is allowed. The minimum balance is $2500 to start to invest in stocks. Here is the real surprise. The trading fees look like discount fees. For stocks and ETFs of more than a dollar, the fee is $0.01 per share with a $3 minimum. And here’s another treat, broker-assisted fees are free.

Withdrawal fees: Investors are allowed one withdrawal from their account every month, with every withdrawal after that raking in a $1.00 fee. Subsequent withdrawals are subject to a $4.00 fee for a check and $10.00 for a wire transfer

Pros:

  • Low fees and free broker-assisted trades
  • Optional upgrade to workstation and research tools of professional traders
  • Margin trading allowed

Cons:

  • $2500 minimum account balance
  • No futures or options trading
  • Average platform speed

Start trading stock on Zacks Trade

Step 1: Register your account

Zacks Trade screens out the novice trader. Before being allowed to open an account, you will be required to have completed 100 live trades or, alternatively, trades on a simulated trading account may be accepted. You will need at least two years of trading experience. Additionally, you will be asked to meet individual net worth  ($20,000) and income ($40,000) requirements.

Step 2: Fund your account

The minimum recommended deposit is $2,500 for a cash account and $2,000 for a margin account. Wire transfers are deposited upon receipt. ACH transfers are deposited within four days.

Step 3: Verify your identity

Submit proof of identity and a utility bill for verification.

Step 4: Trade stock

 

Once you get past the strict screening process, you get access to Zacks’ high quality research from major investment banks.

The interface has been designed for a professional trading experience, allowing you to keep your eye on several markets or securities at a time. The Zacks Trade Pro screen (not shown)  has the look and feel of a pro trading experience – more Bloomberg than discount broker.

Best online stockbrokers for Australia & New Zealand

IC Markets

The IC Markets trading platform is built for the professional forex trader who seeks super fast trading execution and low latency. CFDs can be traded on stocks on the Australian Stock Exchange, Nasdaq, and NYSE. The high volume Aussie trader who wants to execute advanced trading strategies such as hedging and scalping will like IC Markets. These customized strategies can be preprogrammed into trading bots to execute smarter and faster. Tight spreads starting at 0.4 pips and high leverage are offered.

Pros:

  • Fast trade execution and low latency
  • Tight spreads and high leverage offered
  • Hedging and scalping supported
  • Automated trading with trading bots
  • Islamic trading option

IG Group

For traders down under in Australia or New Zealand, IG is a very established broker offering a licensed gateway to the world’s stock exchanges. Trade stocks directly on the US, UK, Australian, and New Zealand markets, as well as the Asian markets next-door that Australians favour like Japan and Singapore. Basic pricing, stock profile data, and charting by Autochartist is provided for each stock. Research is slim, and includes Reuters news updates and an economic event calendar.

Pros:

  • CFDs on 15,000 securities plus direct stock trading
  • Direct access to US, UK and Asian (Singapore, Japan) markets
  • LSE-listed and regulated broker

Best Stock Trading Website for Beginners

eToro

If someone offered you unlimited trading education and training for $200 across all trading styles and themes, would you accept the offer? Social trading is the most popular feature of trading platforms because it offers the best way to learn how to trade by copying top performing traders. You can get access to all of this trading education and intelligence for the $200 account balance and competitive fees starting at 2 pips.

Pros:

  • Learn from the pros and your peers on the leading copy trading platform
  • One click copying of the trades and portfolios of top traders on the CopyTrader™ platform
  • Copy and track an investment theme with CopyPortfolios™

eTrade

The online broker which introduced the average trader to self directed trading on the Internet still offers the best education for the beginning trader around. E*TRADE has built an extensive education library over the years, from basic trading tips to retirement planning. Daily insights is a good place to go for tips on the trading day ahead. Power E*TRADE has leveraged technology to create a training environment that puts a virtual trainer alongside you, coaching you and providing smileys when a trading opportunity looks profitable.

Pros:

  • Large investing and trading education resources
  • Virtual trainer to guide you while you trade
  • Daily tips to get an edge on the trading day

Best Stockbrokers for Experienced Traders

IC Markets

IC Markets provides an ECN, typically used by professional traders, across all three account types (commissions and spreads vary). The ECN allows traders to directly trade with each other, bypassing market makers who make money by widening the spread. Professional traders appreciate the low latency and execution speeds under 40 milliseconds. Over 50 banks and a dark liquidity pool provide high liquidity.

Pros:

  • Fast trade execution and low latency
  • Hedging and scalping
  • ECN and trading bots

ZacksTrade



The advanced trader can choose to upgrade to the ZacksTrade Pro extensible platform. If you want a professional trader workstation setup or analyst research from the investment banks, advanced features are available for a fee. The platform offers trading bots called scanners for options, ETFs, bonds and other instruments. Sophisticated portfolio development tools with what if analyses are provided.

Pros:

  • Upgrade option to ZacksTrade Pro
  • Professional, customizable workstations
  • Access to research from major investment banks

Best Stockbrokers for Low Fees

DEGIRO

DEGIRO’s low fee trading, at about $2 a stock trade, is taking the European discount brokerage industry by storm. Impressively, for this price traders get access to direct share trading on major stock exchanges around the world. In addition, CFDs, ETFs, funds, bonds, and investment trusts are offered. Research and education resources are sparse, but at this price, you can afford to buy access to your favourite research resources, or you may make do with those freely available on the web.

Pros:

  • Very low fee
  • Direct share trading on exchanges around the globe

Plus500



The fast trading speed, leverage, high order volume and risk management tools (trailing stops and guaranteed stops) the pro trader needs are here. The intuitive interface includes over 100 technical indicators. The trader with their own tools, stock data and news will be happy to execute on Plus500. Traders who qualify for a professional account (with a minimum portfolio value of €500k) can raise their leverage levels, for example, from 1:5 to 1:20 for stock trades. The beginner trader may prefer a platform with more trading support and education.

Pros:

  • Fast trading execution at discount broker prices
  • Trailing stops and guaranteed stops
  • High leverage for qualified professional traders

Best Stockbrokers for Reputation

eToro

In the popular social trading world, eToro has earned the trust of traders. Seven million traders invest and copy trades with eToro. The trading platform helps traders manage risk by rating the risk of each portfolio and a trader’s overall performance on a scale of 1–6, with six being the highest risk.

Pros:

  • Learn from the pros on the leading copy trading platform
  • One click copying of the trades and portfolios of top traders via CopyTrader™ and CopyPortfolios™
  • Portfolio risk management ratings

IG Group

IG stands out as an LSE-listed broker that has been in business since 1974 and is licensed in major markets around the world, including in North America, Europe and Asia. The trading layout is fully customizable and includes access to over 100 indicators. Advanced features include real-time tick-by-tick charting, option analysis and backtesting.

Pros:

  • CFDs on 15,000 securities plus direct stock trading
  • Direct access to US, UK and Asian (Singapore, Japan) markets
  • LSE-listed and regulated broker

What is a Stock Broker?

A stock broker, also known as an investment adviser or share broker in the UK, buys and sell stocks for individual and institutional investors. Companies issue stock to raise money to fund their business operations. In exchange for their investment, investors receive ownership in the form of a share certificate (a share or stock) in a company. Most stockbrokers sell other securities, including mutual funds, ETFs, indices, and bonds.

The broker is the intermediary between clients (investors) and the point of sale of the stock on a stock exchange. A stockbroker receives a license to buy and sell shares of a company after passing exams. The stockbroker works for a brokerage firm that is also registered to sell securities in the country it operates in. The broker makes money on the spread between the buy and ask price.

When companies ‘go public’ and issue stock to the public they choose which stock exchange to list their stock on. The broker has representatives licensed to directly buy and sell company stock on the exchange. Before automation in the 1980s/90s, these representatives were floor traders who worked from the floor of the stock exchanges such as the New York Stock Exchange or London Stock Exchange.

An investor, let’s call him Mr. Rich, would call his stockbroker and ask to buy 100 shares of IBM. The broker would then contact his floor trader on the New York Stock Exchange and order him to buy the 100 shares. Today, the online stockbroker has replaced the floor traders with electronic order systems to facilitate trades between his clients and the stock exchanges.

How does an online stock broker work?

Investors can choose between a full service and discount broker. A full service broker is an investment advisor who provides advice on portfolio allocation, long-term financial planning and retirement planning. A high minimum account balance is required and high fees are charged. Fees typically include commissions and a percent of assets under management.

Most full service brokers today also offer their clients online investment accounts. In the online world, more individual investors use discount brokers than full service brokers. Mr. Rich, for example, can open up his online broker app on his mobile, call up the stock profile of  IBM, and review the stock price, trading volume, news and other information. He can then open the Trade window, and click on buy or sell to execute a trade in IBM stock.

Discount brokers allow an investor of any income level to invest in the stock market. Online brokers are always happy to upgrade clients to higher fee investment advisory services. Investors can have the best of both worlds, for a fee. They can choose from online brokers offering an online broker account with full access to an investment advisor; investment guidance over the telephone; or basic telephone, email and chat access to customer service. Fees range from high for direct investment guidance to zero for a discount broker with customer service support.

Robo-advisors combine the services of a full services broker with the prices of a discount broker. The services of evaluating your investor risk profile, suggesting the best portfolio allocation for your risk profile, and periodically rebalancing your portfolio are automated. You need only interact with your mobile phone app.

What is the difference between share dealing accounts, and stockbrokers?

A share dealing account is used to buy and sell stocks with a view to making an investment return in the future by selling the stock at a profit and/or collecting regular dividends. Dividends are paid out of a company’s profits to shareholders typically on a quarterly basis. A share is a unit of ownership in a publicly listed company. The stockholder makes a profit/loss when the share value increases/decreases relative to the price paid per share.

Stockbrokers act as intermediaries between the stock exchanges where the shares are traded and the buyers and sellers. A stockholder can also short a stock.

When a share dealing account is managed from a retirement or savings account it may be exempt from taxes on gains and losses from the sale of shares.

What to Look for When Choosing a Stock Broker

  1. Affordable Fees – If you trade frequently, the fees add up, and can eat away at your gains. The number one reason active traders lose money is excessive fees incurred by overtrading.
  2. Regulatory-Compliant – Most countries have central registration depositories where you can check to see if your broker is licensed or has been subject to disciplinary act.
  3. High Liquidity – The broker you choose should have a good level of trading volume. On an illiquid exchange, the trader has a lower chance of buying and selling securities at their preferred price. Brokers with low trading volume will have wider spreads. Worst case scenario, you will not find buyers for your securities.
  4. High Trade Execution Speed – For active traders, trading speed is the most important feature. The price could move several pips in 1 millisecond causing a trading loss. The world’s fastest exchange the London Stock Exchange’s Turquoise platform completes a trade in 400 microseconds.
  5. Risk Management Tools – Trailing stops and guaranteed trailing stops help minimize losses. More sophisticated risk management tools options, futures and swaps allow traders to make bets on future price movements without purchasing the stock outright.

What to Avoid When Choosing a Stock Broker

  1. Low Account Security – Always look for a sign of trustworthiness on the website, like the ‘Lock’ icon at the top of the page next to the page URL.
  2. Limited Technical Analysis Tools – Basic moving average, volatility and volume indicators can provide important price information. Trading bots (expert advisors) can identify price trends and market entry and exit opportunities and execute trades much faster than a human trader.
  3. Excessive Commissions and Other Fees – Check to see if the broker charges commission. Commissions are the most commonly hidden fees. Withdraw, deposit, overnight and inactivity fees may be charged.
  4. Variable vs Fixed Spreads – A fixed spread does not fluctuate with prices. The trader has more control over profit and loss outcomes. Variable spreads may tighten in your favour or widen and increase your losses. Check the current and historical spreads of the broker and if the broker guarantees a spread range.
  5. High Account Minimum – The account minimums featured in this stockbroker survey vary from no deposit to $2500. Accounts with low balances may be subject to a monthly fee whereas those with a high minimum balance may charge lower trading fees and margin interest, or provide other benefits.

Conclusion

Online trading is the only way to invest for most traders. Mobile trading allows you to trade on the go and still have access to your watchlist, alerts and sentiment indicators. This review provides traders at any level the information needed to determine which stockbrokers best align with your investment style and goals. If you are a beginner or active trader, go ahead and choose a low cost broker like eToro, DEGIRO or Ally Invest. Why pay high trading fees for research and technical tools you may never use? Keep in mind that you can find professional research for free or a low monthly fee on the Internet. If you do see yourself trading alongside the pros in the future, extensible platforms that allow you to upgrade like Zacks Trade and IG Group will meet your current and long-term investment objectives. If you want the reputation and reach in the global stock markets of the big brokers like Merrill Lynch, take a closer look at IG or IC Markets.

FAQs

Which online trading company is best for buying stocks?

All of the stockbrokers we evaluated provide impressive trading platforms at competitive prices. A trader may use the fastest trading platform, Wall Street research and smartest trading bots, but ultimately your trading strategies will determine how profitable your trades are. All told, there may be exchanges that beat out eToro in one category or another, but eToro is the leader in social trading. In a community of seven million traders, copy the trades of top performing traders with one click on the CopyTrader™ platform. Or choose an investment theme on CopyPortfolios™, where you will find portfolios of hot sectors and legendary traders like Warren Buffet and Carl Icahn. With fees on par with discount broker brokers, we believe eToro offers among the best value out there. You can find out more about this broker by reading our eToro pros and cons.

Why do I need a stockbroker?

Stockbrokers are licensed to buy and sell stocks traded on public stock exchanges. The stock exchanges make up the stock market. Brokers at the exchanges are called market makers because they create a trade market in stock by buying and selling the stock with brokers. These brokers then sell the stocks to investors.

Can I trade stocks without a broker?

Most stocks are bought and sold through an online broker. It is possible to purchase stocks directly from a company. Many companies sell stocks directly to the public through direct stock purchase plans (DSPPs). You can have the company automatically reinvest the dividends through a dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP). This option will never work for the active trader who makes money buying and selling stocks in a short period. Brokers pay stock exchanges high fees to have a ‘seat’ on the exchange and the ability to make a market in certain stocks. Traders must go through the broker channel to trade these stocks.

Can I buy stocks online?

Almost all stocks are sold online today. Stocks used to be bought and sold by placing phone orders to brokers. The Internet allows individual investors to buy and sell stocks directly from the broker trading platform of an online stockbroker. Examples of online brokers are eToro and Ally Invest.

What fees do stockbrokers charge?

Trade Commissions – Trade fees are important because they can make the difference between a money-making and money-losing investment portfolio. The number one reason active traders lose money is incurring excessive fees, which offset any trading gains,  by overtrading. You will see three types of trading fees cited by brokers.

The spread – This is the difference between the price buyers are willing to pay for a stock (the bid) and the price sellers are willing to sell the stock at (the ask).

The trading fee – The trading fee may be an all-in cost such as $6.95 a trade, or it may be  based on a per share cost, such as .01 cents per trade. When per-share pricing is used, a fixed fee or commission is sometimes added.

The commission – This is a percentage of the trade or fees the broker adds to the trade-in cost.

Additionally, withdrawal, deposit and nonactivity fees may be charged.

What are stock options?

A stock option is a contract giving the right, but not the obligation, to buy a stock at a predetermined price at a predetermined date in the future. The two main types of options are puts and calls. If you expect the price to fall in the future, you will buy a put – the right to sell the stock. If you expect the price to rise in the future, you will buy a call – the right to buy the stock.

What does it mean to short a stock?

When you buy a stock, you take a long position, expecting the price to rise in the future. However if you expect the price of a stock to decline in the future, you can also profit by taking a short position in the stock. Instead of buying the stock out right, you borrow the shares from a broker and pay interest on the borrowed shares. If you expect Stock A to decline in the future, you borrow 100 shares from the broker and buy an option to sell those shares at $100 at a future date. If the share price falls to $90, you buy the shares for $90 and exercise your option to sell them at $100. You have made $10 per share, minus the interest and commissions.

What are dividends and how are they paid?

A dividend is a payment a corporation makes to distribute some of its profits to investors. A dividend is paid on a per share basis, typically quarterly. An investor who holds 100 shares in a company that pays a $0.10 dividend would receive $10 four times a year in dividend payments. If a company pays a consistent and increasing dividend, it is a sign that the company operates efficiently and is profitable.

What are CFDs?

A contract for difference (CFD) is a contract between a buyer and a seller whereby the buyer pays to the seller the difference between the purchase value of a contract and the price at the contract expiration date.

Do I need live pricing data to trade stocks?

If you are a day trader, you will require live price data to determine when to enter and exit a trade. Market prices constantly fluctuate. Without real time prices, the investor is exposed to higher price risk.

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