Cheapest online stock and option trading for beginners


Fidelity is best known for its value driven customer experience. Beyond cost and ease of use, Fidelity also finished 1 for research tools. OptionsHouse has been rated the 1 platform for Options Trading the past seven years. Merrill Edge is the online broker of Bank of America and is available to all investors, regardless if they are a current BofA customer. Like TD Ameritrade and ETRADE, Merrill Edge is well-rounded; however, it has a huge advantage over all other brokers thanks to its Preferred Rewards program where customers can earn free trades, credit cards bonus cash back, priority customer service, and more.

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: For beginners and those looking to make relatively small trades, we believe that the following factors are particularly important and it's these that we suggest you look carefully at when deciding which online options broker to select. Traditionally, brokers could easily be placed in one of two categories; they were either full service or discount.

The advent of online brokers has made it somewhat more difficult to distinguish between the two as there tends to be a lot more flexibility in the services offered. Strictly speaking, a full service broker is one that will provide you with professional advice and guidance in addition to transacting your orders for you while a discount broker will simply carry out your orders as instructed.

For more details on this particular aspect of brokers, please visit Full Service Brokers vs. 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.