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In looking for the best online stock broker, there are plenty of options. In this online stock broker comparison, we take a look at Firstrade and Trade King, looking at what they offer in terms of stock trading and which has the lowest commission.

Firstrade

History of the company

Founded in 1985 as a local brokerage, Firstrade launched as an online broker in 1997. Since then, they have expanded their online platform, offering an easy to use trading environment online.

Products, (Stocks, Bonds, ETFs, Futures)

Stocks, Options, Mutual Funds, ETFs, Fixed Income, Bonds, CDs, IRAs, Dividend Reinvestment

Margin rates

Rates are based on the Firstrade Base Rate, 4.5% at time of writing. For balances up to $9,999, the margin is 8.25% (base rate plus 3.75%). The rate drops to the base rate for balances of $1,000,000 and above. The rates drop as balances increase, within these end ranges.

Financial security

Member FINRA, SIPC

Customer service

Live chat and telephone customer service is available during business hours, Monday through Friday. Emails are answered promptly during these hours, too.

Commission and fees

Flat fee trading on stocks, with a charge of $6.95 per trade for unlimited shares. For orders of stocks under $1.00 per share, a $0.005 per share charge is added. Options are charged at $0.75 per contract.

Research and education

Firstrade offers a variety of informational resources, including strategy guides and information about upcoming IPOs. Their research resources include heatmaps and other trend analysis, offering traders information about the latest changes in the markets.

Platforms and tools

The browser based trading platform offers two versions — Dashboard and QuickBar. The former is a full screen trading platform, whilst the latter is a small overlay that can be accessed from any screen, allowing for trades to be made during research without the need to change between screens. Mobile trading is also available. Additional tools include a range of research calculators and analysis.

Awards

– Stockbrokers.com (4.5/5 stars for ease of use)
– Barron’s
– Forbes
– Smart Money

Mobile trading

An iOS app is available, and WAP browsing of the website is offered as an alternative for other internet enabled devices.

Pros and cons

Pros: Low rates and fees, with an easy to use platform.
Cons: Limited customer service and lack of Android app.

TradeKing

History of the company

TradeKing has a short history, having been founded in 2005. In 2012, it merged with Zecco, expanding its range of services to customers.

Products, (Stocks, Bonds, ETFs, Futures)

Stocks, ETFs, Options, Mutual Funds, Fixed Income plans, Forex

Margin rates

Margins range from 8.75% on balances up to $4,999 to 4% for balances of $500,000 and above.

Financial Security

Member FINRA, SIPC, NFA

Customer service

Customer service representatives at TradeKing are all knowledgeable, but only available during business hours, Monday through Friday. They can be reached by live chat or telephone, and emails are generally responded to within 2 hours during business hours and within 24 hours on weekends. The company also promotes its social network of traders as an additional resource for many questions.

Commission and fees

Stocks and ETFs incur a flat fee of $4.95, with an additional fee of $0.01 per share for stocks priced less than $2.00. The maximum commission is capped at 5% of the trade value, with $4.95 representing a minimum charge. Options are priced at $0.65 per contract. A $50 annual charge is placed on inactive accounts with a balance of $2,500 or less that have not executed any trades in 12 months.

Research and education

TradeKing aims its research and education at every trader, offering information for beginners as well as more experienced traders. Traders can find specific resources by skill level, market type, or product, which helps narrow down a huge database of articles and videos. They also offer a daily market call with timely investing ideas.

Platforms and tools

The TradeKing platform is a browser based trading. The mobile application and mobile version of the website allow users to trade on the go. Developers can also use the TradeKing API for third party applications, meaning there are external options for trading. The range of tools is extensive, if a bit overwhelming. There are calculators and analysis tools for pretty much anything a trader could want to calculate or analyse.

Awards

– SmartMoney Magazine, the Wall Street Journal Magazine (#1 in Customer Service)
– Barron’s (4/5 overall)
– Kiplinger’s (Top 5 Online Brokers; top ranked for Customer Service)

Mobile trading

Apps are available for Android and iOS devices, along with a mobile version of the website.

Pros and cons

Pros: Very low fees and commissions, with great margin rates. Plenty of educational resources and tools.
Cons: Limited customer service and a web only trading platform

Final Thoughts

Firstrade still holds its local beginnings close, and is great for replicating the feel of working with a local brokerage. TradeKing offers a great fee structure, but might not be the best choice for a trader who doesn’t want to make regular use of the site.

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