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Online Broker Comparison Chart 2014

Compare the top online brokers based on:
  a)  COST - Trading Fees and Account Minimums
  b)  QUALITY - Overall Service Quality ratings

Ranked from highest to lowest (5 stars is highest)

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3,879 new trading accounts created!  3,879 online traders have used the broker comparison charts on BeginningOnlineTrader.com to choose their new online broker (since 2008 and counting!)

>> This is the Quick Comparison Chart. Clicking the links below will take you directly to that broker's website.
To view more detailed information, go to the
Full Comparison Chart


Overall Rating = 4.5 Stars

$4.95 per trade

No Account Minimum
SmartMoney WSJ Magazine
* Rated "Best" in Customer Service
   in 2012, 2011 & 2010

Barron's 2014 Rated 4 of 5 stars

Best combination of low cost trading and high customer service ratings.


Overall Rating = 4 Stars

$9.99 per trade*
for 0-149 trades/qtr.

$2,000 Account Minimum 
SmartMoney WSJ Magazine
* Rated #4 online broker in 2012
* E Trade Rated 5 stars in
   Research & Trading Tools 2012
ETrade is one of the highest rated brokerages in most categories but with higher trading costs.

Overall Rating = 4 Stars
$7.00 per trade**

$500 Account Minimum
SmartMoney WSJ Magazine
* Rated #2 online broker in 2012
* Receives 4 stars for Mutual Funds and Investment Products
Offers competitive pricing, solid in most categories and has local branch offices.

Overall Rating = 4 Stars
$9.99 per trade

$2,000 Account Minimum
SmartMoney WSJ Magazine
* Rated #3 online broker in 2012
* Ranked 5 stars in quality of

   trading tools and Research.
High ratings for investment products and research and is a good broker for the most advanced traders.

Overall Rating = 3.5 Stars
$8.95 per trade

$1,000 Account Minimum
SmartMoney WSJ Magazine
* Rated #5 online brokerage 2012 and received 5 stars for Research
Targets the long=term investor with mutual funds, bonds, banking services and branch offices.

Information on Added Costs Per Trade for Online Stock Trading Brokerages

Online Brokerage Comparison By Daniel B. Johnson 

 *    E Trade - Per Trade pricing tiered from $9.99 to $7.99 based on number of trades per quarter with Etrade

**   Scottrade - $7.00 per trade except for stocks priced under $1, add 1/2% of the principal value. Most foreign and
       pink sheet stocks must be traded with broker assistance for a $27 commission.

*** TradeKing - $4.95 per trade except add $0.01 per share for stocks priced $1.00 or less. $100 minimum per order

        in OTCBB and Pink Sheet stocks.

About this Compare Online Broker Chart

This Online Stock Trading Brokerage Comparison Chart looks at what is the best online broker for beginners or experienced traders. While there are many ways to compare trading brokers, including availability of investment products, banking services or sophistication of its trading platform, a beginner should be concerned at first with cost factors and overall service quality ratings.

Cost Factors

In order to get a complete view of total cost when you compare online stock trading broker fees, look at all factors including trading fees (the cost to the trader for executing a single trade, whether a "buy" or "sell" trade. This can be misleading at first because buying a stock and then later selling it involves two trades. So compare online stock broker with $5.00 per trade fee will cost you $10.00 to buy and sell. A broker with a $10.00 per trade fee will cost you $20.00. After you sell a stock is when you determine your profit or loss and these fees must be included in your accounting. When you compare brokers, there are also some "additional" fees that are charged based on specific types of trades and these are outlined in the broker comparison chart above. "Per Trade" fees may also vary depending upon the number or volume of trades executed over a defined time period, with lower fees charged as trading volume increases. A "Flat-Rate" broker is one that charges the same "per trade" fee regardless of the type of trade or the volume of trades executed over a defined time period.

"Minimum Balance" and "Required Funding Amounts" are not a cost to you, but they take money out of your pocket and are a factor to be considered. One broker may require a minimum balance be in your account in order to maintain it while another may have no minimum balance. When you are setting up your account, this could mean the difference between depositing $400 into your trading account because that is what you want to start with, or having to deposit $2,500 in your account. A beginning trader may not want to deposit that much into their account initially, so that can be an important decision criteria when selecting your trading broker. The broker comparison includes these costs for you to compare brokers with complete information.

Quality Factors

An online broker's service quality is also important when you compare brokers. There is a broad range of quality across these brokers, but it is hard to determine these without direct experience. This online broker review, therefore, relies on the broker comparison ratings given by established and highly regarded financial publications including SmartMoney - The Wall Street Journal Magazine, Barron's, J.D. Power and Associates. These publications conduct annual broker reviews rating the brokers across a variety of service factors including the quality of customer support.

Since these publications conduct these trading broker reviews each year, there is a year-over-year comparative capability. This means that you can not only use their rating for the current year, but you can also see how that rating has changed since previous years. This can give you a good idea of how that broker is trending and areas where they are improving their service.

Star Rating

This review is primarily fact-based, reporting the brokers pricing schedule and online stock broker fees policies and ratings given by the named publications. Based on the totality of the Cost Factors and the Quality Factors, a star rating is given to summarize that particular online broker's performance in that category relative to its competitors. The overall star rating can be used to directly compare brokers by combining the Cost and Quality Factor ratings, using equal weighting (50% given to each) to arrive at a summary rating that can be used to choose a broker you want to open a trading account with.

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