This site is modeled mainly on a wonderful site for investors which closed a few years ago, and with which I had no connection. Its main purpose is to make comparisons among online discount brokers easier, and to organize customer remarks about their brokers.

You can use this link to send me your experiences with a broker, and I will post extracts as I think appropriate.    

Some explanations
Some definitions
More broker lists
MM Sweep Yields

Brokers in order of ascending price of limit orders for equities:

Just2Trade, (877) 206-2274, (202) 386-7261
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, foreign stocks
Market Orders: $2.50. Additional charges for extended hours trading, paper documentation.
Limit Orders: $2.50. Additional charges for extended hours trading, paper documentation.
Mutual Funds: $2.50, which seems to include load funds.
Options: $2.50/trade+$0.50/contract
Minimum to Open: $2500
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.00.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. DTC Out:$30.00 per request. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Foreign accounts: "Non-US citizens are eligible to apply", with the exception of a few countries. Online application for both US and foreign investors; online applicants can use a passport for ID instead of a driver's license. Has several screeners and calculators, including some unusual ones, and what seem to be some kind of private-label Morningstar research. Checkwriting and debit card for an annual fee.
Notes: On January 11, 2008, a user reported that the advantageous money market rate posted on their site is not available to retail customers. However, the site now seems to explicitly list requirements for their variety of sweep accounts, including one with respectable yield and no minimum. "A division of Success Trade Securities, Inc." Clears through Legent Clearing; until about May, 2008, they cleared through North American Clearing, whose assets have been frozen in relation to a fraud investigation; see user comment below. "A minimum of 2 years experience with online trading and computers is required."
User Comments: "I have been dealing with Just2Trade since January 2007 and have done numerous stock trades. I have dealt with many brokers in the 50 years I have been trading. I have not had any problems with Just2Trade. Trades go smoothly.... I have found it is easier to get an answer by emailing them [than by calling]. They send answers fairly promptly and have [solved] any problems that have arisen.... They pay a high interest rate on balances, about 4.2x% at this time. [My two money market funds are paying 4.09% and 4.17%. Ed.]... [I]t is difficult to determine which funds they actually handle. They list many more on their site than they accept for trading at this time. I asked about preferred stocks. At the present time you must call them to place a trade, but they indicated that they would add this to their site in the future. They provide a [direct access] trading platform on their site. However, on my 22" LCD monitor the type size is so small it is unusable, and there is no way to enlarge the type. I do not use it but place my trades without it. They did not charge my IRA account when I made a partial outgoing transfer. This is a very good broker for the services they provide. I am happy with them and I highly recommend them for stock trading."(November 25, 2007)    "[I]t is now easily determinable which funds they do trade."(January 12, 2007)    "North American's monthly statements are by far the worst I have ever seen. They are poorly organized, confusing, and very difficult to reconcile. They need a makeover. I like doing business with Just2Trade, but equally dislike North American Clearing.... In the last few months they omitted a dividend from a new mutual fund purchase which I finally got them to correct. They still have not corrected an incorrect 1099-DIV where they showed distributions that should have been shown on a K-1 since the company in question is a partnership. This has been going on for almost two months. I called the company that made the distribution directly and they sent me the K-1.... I have called Just2Trade on the phone very occasionally. Sometimes I get them right away, other times it takes a few minutes."(April 13, 2008)    "The worst broker I've ever dealt with. Their [recent] clearing company (North American Clearing) has had their assets frozen by the SEC pending fraud investigation and this has resulted in inability to liquidate (or trade, for that matter) for the last two weeks. I have now lost over $3500 because of this and all the broker can do is offer half-price commissions for the rest of the month of June (two weeks of trading left!), and tell me on the phone it has 'caught them by surprise' as well, so it's not their fault. Run, don't walk away from these guys."(June 10, 2008)    "I would like to add my name to the list of people who like just2trade.com. Besides their ultra-cheap trades, I like that they give you Maxit software for doing taxes for free. Maxit automatically collects trade data from your account and essentially does you schedule D tax form for you. They also give you free Level 2 Quotes. I had never see Level 2 quotes before because I didn't want to pay for them to see what they are like. At Just2trade.com, they are free."(January 29, 2011)    "Since Just2Trade changed... to Legent Clearing they have been an exemplary broker. Easy to contact, smooth transactions, no problems of any kind. I highly recommend this broker."(March 4, 2012)    "I tried to open an account with Lowtrades but was discouraged from doing so since I already have a J2T account."(January 18, 2013)
Rates Updated: March 4, 2012

eOption, 1-888-793-5333, 1-847-375-6080
Products: Stocks, foreign stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options
Market Orders: $3.00
Limit Orders: $3.00
Mutual Funds: $14.95; applies to "All Mutual Fund Trades" except for periodic investments and withdrawals, which are $5.00.
Options: $3.00/trade+$0.10/contract
Minimum to Open: $0 for domestic accounts. $5000 for cash accounts for international clients. Additional $5000 deposit - which cannot be used for trading and will not count toward equity or buying power - for international margin and spread accounts. "For International accounts that wish to trade uncovered puts, the security deposit will be an additional $10,000.00."
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00; $50.00 "Less Than 48 Hours". DTC Out:$25.00 per security. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on on-site table
Extras: Foreign accounts accepted; see some details under "Minimum to Open", above. Both free and paid cash management services, including checking. Incoming and outgoing ACH. Dividend reinvestment. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although it does have a termination fee. Also has direct access platforms.
Notes: "[A] division of Regal Securities, Inc." Clears through Penson Financial Services. Minimal research products. Seems to have a few unusual fees, as for worthless securities or conversion of convertibles.
User Comments: "On 14/02/2011, I submitted [to eOption] an application via email. I neglected to send a copy of the old broker's statement so was asked for it within about ten minutes of the sending of the application. I waited a week (in the meantime, [Just2Trade] approved and sent me information for two other accounts I transferred to them) and then sent an inquiry [to eOption]. Nothing. Another few days, still nothing. Finally on Friday the 25th, I sent them an email telling them to cancel the application. Still nothing. Finally, today, I sat for twenty minutes on their live chat and told them 'in person' to cancel everything. They do not respond to emails, it appears."(February 28, 2011)
Rates Updated: February 15, 2011

Marsco, 800.962-7726, 973.228-2886
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds
Market Orders: $3.95
Limit Orders: $3.95
Mutual Funds: $15.00 for no-load funds.
Options: $3.95/trade+$1.25/contract
Minimum to Open: $2500 minimum to open
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate (which I can't find posted)
Extras: Dividend reinvestment, checkwriting
User Comments: "I've been with Marsco about 8 months and, considering their low commission rates, I'd give them a passing grade. If you do regular-hours trading, stick to trading mostly stocks and options, and have other (better) sites for research, Marsco executes orders well. I had one minor problem. I sent in an order to buy restaurant chain "DineEquity Inc." (DIN) but my account showed that I had purchased "Concorcsio Grupo DINA" a Mexican truck maker. This was straightened out with a phone call the next day. E-mail response is somewhat dodgy, and a Marsco representative said, in effect, not to bother with e-mails, use the (toll free) phone. Check deposits to my account have been credited in an efficient, timely, manner. In summary, if you want an inexpensive, no-frills, order- execution broker, Marsco will work."(October 23, 2008)    "I am an American citizen living in Italy. About ten days ago, I sent off an inquiry email to Marsco asking if I qualified to open an account with them. I have yet to hear back. I wonder if they are out of business. Know anything about them other than what is on the site?" [Ed: One June 9, I sent Marsco a similar question. By June 12 it was obvious I would get no answer. I do not know what is happening at Marsco, but brokers tend to answer all inquiries from potential customers , even if the answer is negative. This is odd.](June 6, 2014)
Rates Updated: June 12, 2014

OptionsHouse, 877-653-2500, 312-279-9970
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds
Market Orders: $4.75
Limit Orders: $4.75
Mutual Funds: $9.95
Options: $8.50/trade+$0.15/contract+"Options Regulatory Fee"
Minimum to Open: $0. $2000 for margin trading.
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Fed Funds Rate+3.75%.
Extras: Check writing and debit cards are available for a fee.
Notes: "On September 2, 2014, OptionsHouse completed the transaction that brings the company one step closer to joining forces with tradeMONSTER...." They seem to have some unusual fees, such as a worthless security fee and a "FINRA Trading Activity Fee".
User Comments: "[N]o 1040 support with Gainskeeper or another tool. This makes it very difficult to track trades when it comes to tax time.... [T]heir website doesn't show margin equity used per position. (I was at TD Ameritrade and their site shows this much clearly and is more helpful)."(September 9, 2008)    "Options House is OK for margin accounts, but is horrible for cash accounts (e.g. IRAs). I had a margin account with them and it was very satisfactory. Accordingly, I opened an IRA account with the firm. One attractive feature of Options House IRAs is that you can buy calls and puts and write covered calls. However, they have a perverse implementation of free ride for cash accounts. With every other broker, if you sell stock A on Monday in a cash account, you can buy stock B the same day with the proceeds. The only restriction is that you can't sell stock B until Thur. With Options House, if you sell stock A on Monday, you cannot buy stock B with these proceeds until Thur. [A user has reported that Just2Trade has the same policy; it appears that Muriel Siebert also does. ed.] Options House staff admits that this is not consistent with the free ride rule, but that is their policy."(November 14, 2009)    "I bought my first stock in November 2010. I went with OH because they offered 100 free trades with a deposit of $3k. I needed free trades because I didn't know what I was doing. I found their site very useful and easy to navigate in. I did relatively good in my first 6 weeks. I made about 12% profit. I opened a second account (the first was a joint account, this second one was an individual acct). I asked if I would be getting 100 more free trades or should I just use the existing free trades from my other account. I thought OH said I could use the existing free trades and that they would expire on the same date. Everything appeared to be going fine until today 12-6-10 when I checked my account activity and found I'd been charged $2.95 [each] for 30 trades which was not what I expected.... [Y]you can only have one account with them in order to benefit from the free trades for 60 days. Other than that, I do recommend them. OH also has a handy online chat line which I found very helpful."(December 7, 2010)
Rates Updated: November 11, 2014

LowTrades, (202) 466-6890, (800) 597-8767
Products: Mutual funds, domestic and foreign stocks, options, "fixed income". (No online orders for fixed income products or international stocks.)
Market Orders: $4.95
Limit Orders: $4.95
Mutual Funds: $25.00
Options: $4.95/trade+0.60/contract
Minimum to Open: 0 for a cash account, $2000 for margin account. "There is a minimum equity requirement of $200 to hold OTCBB or Pinksheet securities in your account."
Inactivity Fee: $50/half-year, charged twice a year, unless one makes two trades a year, one in each of the 6-month charge periods.
Some Other Fees: DTC Out:$30.00 "per delivery". ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Proprietary table posted on site
Extras: Foreign accounts: "Applications are accepted from all countries outside the United States, excluding Canada." ACH transfers. "Free checking", maybe for domestic accounts only. Domestic account holders can also get a VISA debit card for a fee. If you want to pay an additional $14.95/month, you can also use an online "trading desk" which apparently looks something like a direct access interface, and which includes Level II and realtime streaming quotes.
Notes: "A division of Success Trade Securities, Inc." Clears through COR Clearing LLC.
User Comments: "I tried to open an account with Lowtrades but was discouraged from doing so since I already have a J2T account."(January 18, 2013)
Rates Updated: March 27, 2013

TradeKing, 877.495.5464 (877-495-KING)
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs
Market Orders: $4.95
Limit Orders: $4.95
Mutual Funds: $9.95 for ALL no-load funds
Options: $4.95/trade+$0.65/contract
Minimum to Open: $0. $2000 minimum for margin accounts.
Inactivity Fee: $50.00/year if "[n]o trades have been executed in your household account(s) in the last 12 months and The combined value of your household account(s) is less than $2,500."
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$50.00. DTC Out:$10.00 per security, $50.00 minimum. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary table
Extras: Dividend reinvestment, but for whole shares only, which is a major limitation. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although it does have a termination fee. For-fee check writing and debit cards. Customer blogs and articles. Seems to have more educational resources than most sites, all tilted toward traders.
Notes: Emphasizes interactive and digital tools. Little research, although it does have stock sheets from Thomson Financial. Citizens of some non-US countries can open accounts, if they have a social security number. "All customers including US citizens must be living in the USA to maintain a TradeKing account." As of mid-October 2010, TradeKing was finishing the process of changing their clearing agent from Legent Clearing to Penson.
User Comments: "Tradeking has been the perfect broker for me. The only thing I don't like is their fee for buying non-load mutual funds, seems high to me."(July 31, 2009)
Rates Updated: November 11, 2014

Zecco, 877-700-7862
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs
Market Orders: $4.95
Limit Orders: $4.95
Mutual Funds: $9.95 for ALL no-load funds
Options: $4.95/trade+$0.65/contract
Minimum to Open: $0. $2000 minimum for margin accounts.
Inactivity Fee: $50.00/year if "[n]o trades have been executed in your household account(s) in the last 12 months and The combined value of your household account(s) is less than $2,500."
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$50.00. DTC Out:$10.00 per security, $50.00 minimum. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary table
Extras: ACH transfers in both directions. Includes an online 'community'. Dividend investment for whole shares; the remainder is deposited in the cash account. In many cases, this will be a major limitation on dividend reinvestment.
Notes: Copied on November 11, 2014: "Zecco and Tradeking have taken the next step in merging their businesses.... Former Zecco Trading customer? Your account(s) have been migrated to the new TradeKing website. Please sign in to complete the migration." All of the rates listed above are thus taken from the TradeKing website.
User Comments: "I've been with Zecco for about two months now, overall a very good experience.... I used their customer service three times. They did not follow up with one issue so I had to make the third call.... Out of two e-mails I sent I got one reply... Limit orders sometimes execute at better than the limit price... They send you a paper statement (free) every day that you had any transactions, so you might end up with a large paper trail. Their system did screw up once so far by replacing my purchase price for a position in my portfolio, but (as of today) they appear to be on top of it. Their user interface took a long time to get used to, and their double-log-in... and very short session log-out time are a hassle. 1% annual interest paid on cash balance in the account."[Editor's note: My default sweep accounts at two other brokers are bearing 4.46% and 4.39% right now.](August 10, 2007)    "Opened a couple of weeks ago and customer service is terrible to fair if you can wait 24 hours on an email. But, no secure email from the web site and a very, very difficult web site to use. They do offer 4.39% on a money market sweep but you have to send in a form for it."[Editor's note: My default sweep accounts at two other brokers are bearing 4.51% and 4.55% right now.](August 31, 2007)    "You get what you pay for, sometimes. Zecco trades do save a few bucks but their all free trades theme is rapidly going south. All things considered, I have lost more fooling around with this substandard brokerage than had I [would have if I had] paid more at a higher end discounter. Their customer service is virtually unreachable by phone and when you do get them through e-mail you get one excuse after another. No one seems to know what is going on. Mutual fund trades can go days or weeks without being filled. Stock trades are frequently rejected due to "insufficient buying power".... Zecco is not worth your time or money...."(November 16, 2007)    "You have to tell them more than once that dividends are supposed to be reinvested. They charged me a $30 [IRA maintenance] fee at the end of November for 2007 when I opened the account and want to charge me another in February."(January 10, 2008)    "I have used Zecco for two weeks. I use margin and sometimes trade options. Overall it has been ok. My only complaint is that when I sell shares, the sale does not get settled [?] until the next day. For non-margin accounts, the settlement period is three days. This makes daytrading impossible because you have to wait overnight before the buying power is refreshed."(November 25, 2008)    "I read various comments on the Internet about ZECCO's poor customer service. Based on the email I sent to them and the response I got, I don't think customer service has improved." [His email to them: "How many mutual funds do you offer?" Their answer: "Please submit to us specific securities you would like to purchase and we will be able to assist you in finding out if you can hold them here."](January 23, 2009)    "Zecco for a while has been using dirty tactics to make money.... Like taking forever to clear trades, etc.... The proceeds from the sale take forever to be available for another trade.... ACH deposit[s] take forever to be available.... [Their] customer service is the worst I've ever encountered.... And... they tried to charge me for taking money out of my account via ACH.... [M]any times I go to sell a position and they give me a message that my trade was couldn't be executed because I don't own the position, when in fact I do. This particular time i had my order rejected twice, before trying it a third time and finally being executed.... [I] have had many brokerage accounts... Zecco is the worst by far."(February 2, 2009)    "Zecco... is the absolute worst online trading experience I have ever had. To start, their customer service reps and managers are woefully misinformed about SEC regulations and their responsibilities to their clients' money. They take the longest time on ACH transfers (20-30 days). A few of mine were cancelled for no reason and I had to call the office to follow up numerous times. Be prepared to call the office every day if you're taking money out. Many times the reps say that they will call back to resolve an issue, and they simply don't. Their online platform is mediocre to bad. Their trailing stops feature was down for a week during volatile market times, when my other brokerages were doing fine. Their charts lag relative to their competitors, and their executions are slow. Also, uninvited total screen refreshes put you behind the 8-ball when you have to wait, wait, wait, then make a quick move. Don't even think about trading on 5 minute intervals.... [T]hey have hidden fees on every transaction.... Their accounting system is broken. I'm having my accountant look over their records because my buying power doesn't even coincide with what their own account records say. As it is, I'm out about $500 because of a mistake they made, which I have yet to see fixed. I have complained to FINRA and the SEC. Yes, I believe it's that bad."(February 26. 2009)
Rates Updated: November 11, 2014

MB Trading, (866) 628-3001, (310) 647-4281
Products: Stocks, foreign stocks, futures, options, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $4.95
Limit Orders: $4.95
Mutual Funds: "$15 Transaction Fee + $25 Commission. Commission will apply to all No-Load Funds and to the Non-Loaded side of Load Fund."
Options: $0.95/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000; $2000 for margin account
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:"$25 per request/sym/account + Commissions". DTC Out:$25.00. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Proprietary rate posted on their site
Extras: Several sweep accounts available. Checks and debit cards for a fee. Foreign accounts accepted from many countries, based on list.
Notes: A direct access broker, but I have listed it because it has no additional ECN or exchange fees.
User Comments: "I have an account with them and have had no problems."(October 27, 2007)    "I've been trading with MB Trading and can't say enough good things about them; ranging from their trading platform to their customer support and university. I'm so happy I finally made the move from the "TV" brokers of the world. Although I still love the e-trade baby commercials. You owe it to yourself to give MB Trading a try."(February 24, 2010)
Rates Updated: November 12, 2014

SogoTrade, 1-888-709-7646, Chinese: 1-646-885-6594
Products: Stocks, options
Market Orders: $5.00
Limit Orders: $3.00
Options: $5.00/trade+$0.50/contract
Minimum to Open: Unknown
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$35.00. DTC Out:$25.00 per position. ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Online table
Extras: Incoming and outgoing ACH transfers. Chat support. Seems also to have sites in Simplified and Traditional Chinese. Detailed information for foreign investors online.
User Comments: "Sogoinvest does not include dividend activity on their "Activity" page. They don't actually tell you that a dividend has hit until you see it on your monthly statement. It will show up in your cash balance and you can trade with it, but there will be no indication on their website as to why the extra money showed up. While I didn't like the answer I got, I did like that they always responded within the hour to queries submitted on their website."(March 16, 2007)    "The web page can get real slow from time to time. Tech support says that is because Con Ed administers their servers.... but why on Earth would someone use Con Ed for this?"(October 15, 2007)    "I have been with Sogo trading a few weeks now. Their system does not allow me to sell against the box. Not sure why as Sogo can't figure out why either. All I get is if you are long you can't go short."(September 13, 2008)    "They no longer support scheduled investments, DRIPs or partial share purchases."(December 13, 2008)    "I opened an account with ST in November. From the beginning I had trouble with errors in my account balance which included me once pulling up the balance of another account holder when I logged-in, and repeated mistakes in my BP. I was constantly getting 4x my cash value instead of 1X. Their response was to "not use the extra buying power" and "just ignore it". Biggest problem I have had was on 12/23 when I placed an order, cancelled the order within seconds, received a cancellation notice, and then found out that the order never cancelled in their system. I had logged off not knowing this had happened, and found out approximately 2 hours later what had happened and with the stock at a minus $700.00. A complaint was filed with the SEC. Until today, 1/5/2009, I have received no positive feedback from Sogotrade...."(January 6, 2009)    "I've used Sogo now for about 3 months, and their trading platform is the worst I've seen, when compared to Interactive Brokers or the old Datek. I find myself going to Yahoo or Google for market data on my portfolio because Sogo doesn't give me enough information. Very difficult to watch your portfolio and trade on action on multiple securities. ACH transfers seem to close on time, and other features seem to work as advertised, but for even a moderately active trader, it just doesn't meet my expectations, and getting the account setup and running seemed to take forever, required lots of emails and calls to finally get trading."(August 4, 2009)    "I've been with [SogoTrade] for about 6 months and have made a large number of trades. For a discount broker they are pretty good. On the upside they are part of Genesis securities, so it's pretty well run. Trades execute fairly quickly, but not lightning fast. The web site has always been very available, and responsive. On a rare occasion you will see a hiccup on a graph which doesn't refresh or something minor. Overall I give the website an A-. The phone and email support is fair I would give them a B. You won't always get the right answer on the first call, but I've never had to call in more than twice. Usually the second time is a charm. I was pleasantly suprised last week when they actually called me on a short that was expiring and asked me to close it out by the end of the day. The short was was for less than 3k, and being a discount broker I expected they would simply sell it market for a minor gain. But instead they left a message on my voicemail, and even called my mobile number. There are no hidden fees that I've run across. On the downside, they charge about 7 to 8% on margin. Also on the downside, don't expect to do meaningful research on the site. The news feeds are pretty useless, and I question some of the research results such as dividend yield, etc. Overall I'd rate them a C+ which is somewhat higher than I would expect for a company charging $3 per trade. I'd recommend them to a friend, and would never consider going back to someone charging over $5 bucks a trade. Good value overall."(September 27, 2009)    "[On September 28, 2009], Sogotrade had a web outage which lasted for about 3 hours. They lost their feed to NASDAQ, and the trading screen... showed the price as of 12:16 when they lost their connection. All my trading graphs simply flat lined. Had I not already been logged in, and realized there was an outage, I might have have executed some bad trades, on bad info..... I tried calling support to confirm it this was a system outages, but was unable to get through and was lost on hold. A notification of "technical difficulties" on the phone system would have been helpful. I then sent support an email with a high priority through their secure message email system, and it took over two hours to get a reply. About 2 hours after the outage occured, they posted something on their web site explaining their was a system outage.... So I give Sogotrade two strikes. One stike for the outage, and a second strike for not having a good set of actions to respond to an outage. If a third strike should occur in the next 12 months, I'll be looking for another broker. I often short stocks, and when the screen went down, it's was like trying to fly a jet blindfolded. This didn't cost me any money, but I realize it could have easily cost me literally thousands of dollars. A loss of thousands of dollars could pay for a lot of trades at another broker."(September 30, 2009)    I signed up with SogoTrade a few weeks ago and received authorization to trade options. On Sunday, I went in to place a bear put spread. The trading platform allows you to do this. You can choose predefined chains ($5 increments, etc.) or you can build your own legs. When I clicked the Trade button, I was informed that my account was not authorized for this transaction. On Monday, May 3rd, I called SogoTrade to try to resolve the issue with my account. The lady said, "We don't provide that service." I said: What are you talking about? It's right there on your trading platform. I put a "B" in the little square to buy the spread and clicked the big "Trade" button with the lightning bolt on it. She said: "We're new to options trading, and even though your account has been approved for options trading, we do not currently support option spreads. It should be available by the end of the year." I repeated the entire conversation just to make sure that I understood what I was being told: Even though the online trading platform lets you review and select/build spreads, and even though there's a big "Trade" button, and even though they approved my account, they do not actually support trading option spreads.... [W]hat SogoTrade advertises and what they offer are not in sync.(May 5, 2010)    "SogoTrade - very bad broker... I have been with them for one month and I have nothing good to say about them: 1) trading center is intuitive but is slow and a bit buggy; 2) quotes are delayed on the fast moving market; 3) no level 2; 4) charting is poor; 5) extended hours trading is available from 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. only; 6) live-chat support is not always available from 8 a.m. as it should be; 7) one time there was a system issue that made placing orders impossible for an hour or two; 8) they charge additional 0.5$/100 shares on extended hours - even for adding liquidity orders, which is beyond my understanding; 9) the great borrows have become history; 10) finally, THE WORST - they make money on arbitraging their own customers' orders!!! Once I sent a sell order with the limit price of 168.00 and they filled it exactly at this price, although the best bid was at 168.58. [Many broker-dealers and market makers seem to do this - ed.]    The positives are: opening new acount is very fast (one business day), customer service is friendly and reliable - I never had to wait for an email reply more than one business day, although I contacted them many times, low commission."(Dec. 1, 2010)    "Very well established discount broker. If you need just executions and you are not going to trade penny stocks, then of course you should consider Sogo. There is no need to pay 10$ to Schwab or Ameritrade. Overall, as a 3-dollar discount broker Sogo offers very good value. Of course, you will not get all the things that a 10$ broker can offer. But don't forget - you are paying 3 times less! Traiding interface is one of the best in the industry (in my opinion). I like their new, very user-friendly, all-in-one-page trading center with real-time quotes (no need to refresh). It is like a Genesis' Laser software platform - order-entering process is very fast. For axample, price and quantity fields can be adjusted by the mouse (no need to erase and type in again), you can hit best bid/offer immediately just by clicking on it, etc. You can see all information in only one page - orders, positions with real-time profit/loss, executions, watch lists, etc. There are many advanced order types, including trailing stop and trailing stop limit (with dollar and percent increment) and advanced time-in-force types like "GTC + extended hours". Highest security - 2-steps log in process. No hidden or maintenance fees. Although their short list is not as good as before, it is still not bad - better than many other brokers'. Fast application process and good customer service are also big pluses."(December 9, 2010)    "System went down, no response to my emails. Lost a little money, but others probably lost more. Yesterday they were offline from the opening to about 11am. No explanation. No acceptance of responsibility. Today my account balances are all wrong. Changing brokers as soon as I can."(December 15, 2010)    "Both Sogo and Fidelity shut down some of my trading by pulling my margin loan rate from 60% to 30%. I had stock orders in the sell queue for a long time then all of a sudden they all were canceled. Sogo could not offer any reason and they did not expire. Not sure why that happened and they offered no reason for the lost orders. One day there was a computer system glitch and they kept reentering all the orders.... [N]o info... other than their regret."(December 30, 2010)    "They have gone from bad to worse. They have blocked ACH transfers and last week they denied Options House's request to transfer my account to them. I threatened them today with legal action if they don't transfer my account to OH by the close of business today. I think at this point it is fair to say that trading with Sogotrade\Wang is dangerous."(January 3, 2011)
Rates Updated: November 9, 2014

Venom, 888-656-0173
Products: Stocks, options
Market Orders: $5.00
Limit Orders: $5.00
Options: $5.00/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $500 (according to email from them)
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate (according to email from them)
Extras: "Real-time streaming quotes, Real-time charting, indicators and studies, Fully customizable layouts"
Notes: Clears through Vision Financial Markets, LLC. "Venom is a product of Cobra Trading, Inc." On November 12, 2014, both Google Chrome 38 and Firefox 33.1 reported problems with the SSL certificate for the URL above. This is unnverving.
User Comments: "I trade through Cobra Trading on their Cobra IQ platform.... I like these guys because they actually know my first name and I have got to know all of the brokers in the office, even Chad the president. I was previously with TradeStation and IB before that. These guys are the best I have come across so far.... Pricing is good, straightforward. Even broker trades I only pay .005/share but again the service is the best part for me.... I just started a futures account with them on the T4 platform. Good platform for a novice like me when it comes to futures.... Never had one problem with these guys (so far); been with them about 18 months."(June 11, 2009)
Rates Updated: November 12, 2014

Firstrade, 1.800.869-8800, 718.961-6600
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs
Market Orders: $6.95
Limit Orders: $6.95
Mutual Funds: $9.95 for no-load funds. NTF funds also available.
Options: $6.95/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $0
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. DTC Out:$10.00/security. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Dividend reinvestment. Valet accounts (with annual fee). Several kinds of Standard and Poor's research. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Foreign accounts accepted, including non-resident aliens. Also has site in Chinese.
User Comments: "Bad service. Called from Thailand and was told to send a fax application first, to get an account number, then send the original by post. Did that. One week after sending the fax, no communication. Documents sent by EMS should have arrived two days ago."(August 11, 2005)    "Firstrade has been an excellent broker in every way, they are quick to respond to queries, their Valet service is excellent, good all around. I would recommend them to anyone."(November 12, 2006)    "I am an American living in Thailand and working in the UAE. I have traded with Firstrade for almost 2 years. I trade three accounts, 2 IRAs with mutual funds and 1 account with stocks. I have never had trouble with their online access and services. Trades are executed and confirmations received in a few seconds. I have deposited and withdrawn funds a few times - never any problem. Customer services responds to general questions via email in 24-48 hours. I have never called them. I recommend them for good basic service with low fees."(October 14, 2007)    "Good customer service every time I have had to contact them, mostly by e-mail, once by phone. The best experience is when I had already sent in my application to rollover my IRA, they posted a new promotion on their web site (free trades for 1 year). I asked if they would extend the offer to me, even though the promotion did not start when I sent my application to them, and they agreed to do it."(April 23, 2008)    "I own some preferred stock which was to be exchanged for common shares (Citi). E*Trade advised me of the offer by post as soon as they had the information. I own the same preferreds in a Firstrade IRA but did not hear from them even though all information comes to me in email. I inquired and have yet to receive anything but a runaround. They even suggested that the information went to the spam folder, but if they had looked, it would have been evident from my voting record that I get everything they send. They are 'investigating'; that message arriving August 19, 2009. They are not responding to my further inquiries, leading me to believe that they have discovered that they screwed up badly. I will be filing a NASD complaint for this error."(September 8, 2009)    "Firstrade... recently 'upgraded' (if you can call it that) their site but... now do not have real-time quotes, except for their X-Stream product which is limited to 20 symbols per page. All quotes on their 'home' page are at least 15 minutes delayed, in other words, useless. Also, they have steadfastly refused to allow the investor to sort their holdings in alphabetical order on said home page. [T]hey appear to be run by a Chinese company, and every time I call them, I get a person with an Asian accent...."(November 15, 2011)    "I've being using First Trade 4 or 5 years. I only have mutual fund accounts with them. I was very happy prior to the recent site upgrade.... I've contacted them numerous time via email where I attached documents showing at times the fund prices do not update at the end of the day[,] and on Fridays they often won't be updated until the following Monday at Close of Business leaving me with inaccurate account balances. I've never received a correct answer to this problem which continues to this date. In addition, seems you only get a statement generated if you had a transaction that month[,] which makes my end the year performance review impossible to perform accurately. I'm in the process of looking for another brokerage house."(January 2, 2012)
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

Scottrade, 1.800.619-SAVE (7283)
Products: Stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, CDs, international stocks
Market Orders: $7.00
Limit Orders: $7.00
Mutual Funds: $17.00. Load funds also incur a $17.00 redemption fee. Also has NTF funds.
Options: $7.00/trade+$1.25/contract
Minimum to Open: $500
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. ACAT Out:$0.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Checkwriting. Also has site in Chinese. Personal broker. Provides a variety of Standard and Poor's research. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Has a specialized options-trading subsite called OptionsFirst (for US accounts). This is what they said about foreign accounts on April 1, 2004: "At the current time we can establish accounts for U.S., Chinese, Taiwan and Hong Kong residents only. This includes the 50 U.S. States, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands." However, on November 4, 2012, a user wrote: "Scottrade doesn't offer international accounts if you live outside of US. (If you are resident and have SSN it's possible to open an account)."
Notes: Low credit interest on cash balances. On February 13, 2008, Paul M. reported that "Scottrade now pays 0.42% on the cash in your account with no sweep options." On the same date, the money market funds which are the default sweep vehicles in my own two brokerage accounts were paying roughly 2.97% and 3.31%.
User Comments: "Scottrade is a great broker if you rarely have excess cash sitting in your account. However, the interest that they pay on excess cash is very poor, at the time of this writing [September 11, 2006] it is 3% (on $10,000) while other brokers are typically paying 4.5%. [My two money market funds are paying 4.36% and 4.45%. Ed.] This difference comes out to $150 per year in lost interest on $10,000 that one could have earned if they used a different broker. It takes a lot of $30 yearly maintenance fees or $15 trades to add up to the $150 per year in lost interest."(September 8, 2006)    "Scottrade's old trading platform used to be fast, functional and accurate. However, their new platform is extremely slow over a dial-up line and has many technical bugs and math errors which never seem to get addressed. They also lack the ability to write put options."(February 1, 2007)    "Compared to my benchmark rate at Vanguard, they're sitting on at least 200 basis points of my money as maintenance fee. This is why I want to leave Scottrade."(February 27, 2007)    "[Scottrade has] a security vulnerability in their website (specifically their Streaming Quotes tool) that I first notified them of several years ago. They have both failed to even acknowledge let alone fix it. The summary of the issue is that because of how streaming quote tool is first loaded, a third-party could impersonate the account holder and have visibility into the person's account and buy/sell securities within the account."(April 4, 2007)    "Scottrade... has been a complete ordeal. [They] required me to visit one of their brokers to set up my account. Upon doing so I found this particular broker to be an arrogant ass who went to far as to attempt to correct me when I used the terminology Investment Advisor Representative.... Because of his ignorance I had to find some information not mentioned on the application prior to opening my account and fax the additional information to him the next day. The broker chose to not call me and notify me when he received the information and he chose to not notify me when my account was activated and ready for funds. Upon attempting to seed my account I found that Scottrade does not accept ACH transactions.... After sending them a check to seed my account and having that check held for 12 days I was finally ready to trade. Unfortunately trading proved difficult as I found their site, at least by comparison with Ameritrade, very clunky and lacking some of the key tools I have come to rely on. I only made two trades, a purchase and a sale of a highly liquid big-cap stock. Both of these trades were executed exactly at my limit price despite the fact that the stock was trading about 10c below the limit price when I bought and about 20c above the limit price when I sold. Thanks to an open call contract I haven't closed my Ameritrade account yet. I have, however, closed my Scottrade account and will send that money back to Ameritrade, that is if I ever get it."(April 11, 2007)    "I sent in an application for business account to Scottrade on 3/27/2007. [Two weeks later] the account has not been opened. The representative seemed to have little knowledge of processing this type of account. I have resent the forms they required twice and they came back for more signatures which they could have told us about the first time.... Now this morning they want me to reapply from scratch and I flatly told them they can forget about the application and return the check I enclosed for account opening. This experience with Scottrade is indeed eye opening. I wonder how many new business Scottrade has turned away because of their poor customer service and [their representatives' lack of] knowledge of their new account procedures."(April 13, 2007)    "I've been with them for about nine months....[L]imit orders never execute at a better than limit price. Also, they don't pay high interest on the cash balance in the account. I don't like them too much.... Scottrade's website regularly crashes after some time with Firefox 2.0.0.6. Their little graph that shows your portfolio status when you log [into your] home page is ugly, always slow, and sometimes does not load...."(August 10, 2007)    "I've had a Scottrade account... for nine years, but active only for 7 1/2.... I normally use margin, which is exorbitantly costly at Scottrade.... The only other complaint I have about Scottrade is that in the middle of the night they shut the website down for 'batch processing.' They inform the reader that the process takes 30 minutes, which unfortunately is not the case. It may be hours, because I've never had the patience to keep trying after an hour or so. This has caused me twice to miss profitable buys."(September 23, 2007)    "I have been using Scottrade for about 6 years. In the beginning the trades were quick; even funding my brokerage account via ACH debit took anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to show up in my account if requested before 2:00 PM. I went to execute a stock buy a few days ago and it took approximately 4 minutes to execute; I ended up purchasing the stock for a much higher price. Yesterday, I initiated a ACH debit from my bank to my brokerage account. The funds will not be available for 3 business days. The stock that I was going to purchase has moved out of my range. I used to love Scottrade. It is now a sub-par company. I am looking for a new broker. I might just use my other broker, TD Ameritrade."(January 30, 2008)    "I've had Scottrade since 1993.... I have had no problems with them at all.... Everything else has been fine. The brokers have been knowledgeable on all but one occasion, and he had the senior broker help me. My limit orders have filled at lower-than-limit prices.... I don't do options and I have high speed. I use... IE, Mozilla Firefox and Mac Safari."(December 12, 2009)    "I have an account with Scottrade and I found out while trying to place an online trade that they have a policy that if a stock is down substantially on 1 day you can not buy it online; you have to call a rep to place the trade."(February 4, 2010)    "It might seem like you are only paying $7 a trade, but because of various self-serving undocumented algorithms the [used by the] market makers who actually do your trades and *pay* Scottrade..., you will not get best execution. I had a limit order with Scottrade for an NYSE listed security. After the NYSE opened, the security dropped below my limit bid, then the *offer* for the security dropped below my bid, but still Scottrade did not fill me. Why? Because their "policy", though they admitted that it is documented nowhere, is to only fill after a security first trades on the NYSE. This allows their market maker to trade ahead of you and use your trade as insurance. You cannot opt out of this type of biased trading. The other problem with this is that more and more securities are traded off the listed market; in many cases most of their daily volume is off the listed exchange. I have a formal complaint filed with FINRA, but FINRA is just made up of the brokerage firms, so one has very little voice. Best to avoid this very poor brokerage choice. The commission might have been $7, but they just lost $618 of my dollars. Not much of a bargain."(March 25, 2010)    "I have been with Scottrade a long time, and have had no problems."(May 30, 2010)    I tried to convert a Traditional IRA with Scottrade to a Roth IRA... and sent in all the forms and then I was told that their clearing [firm] could not handle a conversion because there were options in the account. In one day... both Merrill Lynch and Etrade were able to make the conversion for accounts I held with those firms, and the Etrade account also held options. My past experience has been that Etrade is far superior to any other firms as I also have accounts with Schwab and Ameritrade."(December 31, 2010)    "OptionsFirst... monthly reports are always the last of my five brokerage accounts to arrive on line. When I have had securities put to me you would think they would know what the cost basis is but they list it as zero. They are aware of this shortcoming but after two years have not yet fixed the problem. Their site is also difficult to navigate."(February 9, 2011)
Rates Updated: November 27, 2011

AOS, Inc., 800.569-3330, 312.253-0385
Products: Stocks, options, stock futures
Market Orders: $0.015/share ($7.50 minimum)
Limit Orders: $0.015/share ($7.50 minimum)
Options: $1.50/contract ($14.50 minimum)
Minimum to Open: $2000 (minimum balance)
Inactivity Fee: $30.00 if no activity in account for 1 year
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+2.50%
Extras: Also has direct access trading platform with different conditions, private client services, checks and debit cards. Foreign accounts accepted, including "most foreign residents"; Canadian accounts are among those not accepted.
Notes: From an email, April 15, 2011: "[W]e converted our legacy AOS business to TradingBlock in September, 2010. The AOS site and brand have been effectively 'retired' and the aosbroker.com site will be taken down in the next few months. All future development will be in support of the TradingBlock.com platform and brand." AOS was once called "American Option Services".
User Comments:
Rates Updated: November 9, 2010

tradeMONSTER, 1-877-598-3190
Products: Stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, futures
Market Orders: $7.50
Limit Orders: $7.50
Mutual Funds: $15.00 to buy. "No Fee To Sell"
Options: $0.50/contract, $12.50 minimum
Minimum to Open: $2000
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$15.00. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Fed Funds Rate+3.25%
Extras: Seems to have checking and ACH services. No maintenance fees for IRAs.
Notes: "On September 2, 2014, OptionsHouse completed the transaction that brings the company one step closer to joining forces with tradeMONSTER...."
User Comments: "I have previously used Fidelity ATP and USAA. I like tradeMONSTER. $7.50 trades, trade 7am till 8pm ["Additional 1-1/2 cents per share for extended hours trades"].... Great platform, real time [quotes], lots of educational webinars."(July 5, 2009)
Rates Updated: November 27, 2011

TradingBlock, 1-800-494-0451, 312-253-0385
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, futures
Market Orders: $0.015/share ($7.50 minimum)
Limit Orders: $0.015/share ($7.50 minimum)
Mutual Funds: $20.00, apparently even for load funds
Options: $0.75/contract ($7.50 minimum)
Minimum to Open: $2000 (minimum balance)
Inactivity Fee: $30.00 if no activity in account for 1 year
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Seems to be based on proprietary table
Extras: Auto-Trade available. ACH. Accepts SWIFT wires from non-US financial institutions. On the other hand, TradingBlock doesn't accept cashier's checks. Foreign accounts accepted, including "most foreign residents"; Canadian accounts are among those not accepted. The site is intentionally humorous in places.
Notes: Ordinary securities on ordinary platforms clear through Penson Financial Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: November 9, 2010

Fidelity Investments, 800.343-3548
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, annuities, insurance, commercial paper, CDs, IPOs, precious metals, managed portfolios
Market Orders: $7.95
Limit Orders: $7.95
Mutual Funds: $0.00 for Fidelity funds. $75.00 when buying other no-load funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $19.95/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $2500
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$38.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate. A casual comparison on September 23, 2007, suggested that their margin rates were high. "BrokerageLink accounts are not eligible for margin loans or short sales ...."
Extras: Extensive cash management and independent research. Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Dividend reinvestment, including partial shares. (Thanks to Alan for the update.)
Notes: July 2, 2014: According to Yahoo! Finance, citing The Wall Street Journal and a letter from Fidelity to their clients abroad, "Fidelity Investments... are telling U.S. clients who live outside the country that they can no longer buy or trade mutual funds in their brokerage accounts."
User Comments: "Fidelity does not stand by their statements. I bought a Sears bond in July 2003 listed as uncallable.... It was called...."(April 19, 2004)    "Fidelity in particular advertises superior inventory, with access to the shares in their mutual funds. I've had numerous short trades cancel on Fidelity that subsequently filled on Izone."(July 24, 2008)    "I did two stock purchases one day and the next sold the same stocks. They restricted my account for 90 days so I could only buy a stock if I had cash in my account to cover it, as they claimed I did not have the cash in their Fidelity Cash Reserves [Account](their so-called core account). However I had over $465,000 in other money market accounts with Fidelity which I told them should be counted as cash under the Federal regulation. They were obdurate and would not change the restriction. I have and have had accounts with many brokers where I have had balances in banks and money market mutual funds and have never run into this type of thinking.    One of my stocks is splitting into a US traded stock and another stock listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. Unless you have over $500,000 in assets at Fidelity they will not let you make international trades. However, they told me in a case like this they would let me sell the Toronto stock when I receive it into my account."(May 30, 2010)
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

MyTradz.com, 888-973-7890 (See below.)
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds
Market Orders: $7.95
Limit Orders: $7.95
Mutual Funds: $30.00
Options: $14.95/trade+$1.95/contract
Minimum to Open: $200. Margin accounts must maintain a $2000 balance.
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$10.00. DTC Out:$25.00/security. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+3.00%
Extras: Electronic check deposit. Online account opening.
Notes: "Effective March 22nd 2011 [MyTradz] Online Brokerage Services, Inc. is no longer accepting new accounts. To access an existing account please use the login link at FolioInvesting.com. If you have any questions regarding your account or the transfer please contact Folio at: 888-973-7890". Rates listed above were those in effect on October 1, 2007.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: November 27, 2011

Charles Schwab, 1.866.877-0134
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, CDs, insurance, annuities, foreign investments
Market Orders: $8.95
Limit Orders: $8.95
Mutual Funds: $49.95. NTF funds available.
Options: $8.95/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000 for US-based accounts, $25000 or $10000 for foreign accounts, depending on where held
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$39.00. DTC Out:$25.00 "per account". ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Cash management and other financial services. Separate site for foreign investors, including non-U.S. citizens. A user reports that foreign residents cannot purchase mutual funds. Another user reports that the "minimum to open a foreigner account is $25000". Direct access also available. Has site in Chinese.
User Comments: "Have had a satisfactory association for about two years but this year I attempted to open a 'checking' acct because it was paying much better interest than the money market acct. Rec'd a stack of check books within a few days, and wrote one check. But couldn't find my new acct on my online Schwab site. Eventually I learned that my acct. had not been opened because Schwab needed further info re my joint owner (my daughter) even tho she was also joint with me on my regular acct. No one bothered to inform me that the acct. had not been opened. My check was bounced even tho I asked them to honor it and cover the amount from my cash acct. I am appalled that I was sent checks when the firm knew that I couldn't use them. Communication in this instance was abominable."(November 4, 2008)    "As a decade-long Schwab customer, I have been quite happy with Schwab's service. For example, Schwab offers trading support teams to preferred customers at no charge. They operate 24/7/365 and are competently staffed. Through its banking division (Schwab Bank), Schwab offers banking services including checking, billpay, and even [home] equity line of credit and mortgage loans at preferred rates. They offer several trading platforms with convenient features. These are in addition to Schwab.com which [is] accessed through the user's browser. They include 'streetsmart.com', 'streetsmartpro' and most recently 'streetsmartedge'. Regrettably, two of the three require the investor to use a device with windows operating system - a PC. Only one, streetsmart.com, runs on the Mac - and it took some time to iron out the kinks. Asked about this, Schwab suggests to use a windows emulator on a PC.... Now, use the Windows-Mac kluge on a sophisticated trading system, and trouble is virtually guaranteed.... But, as long as Schwab offers at least one powerful trading platform that will run on the Mac - streetsmart.com - I will stay with Schwab."(June 8, 2011)
Rates Updated: February 2, 2010

Merrill Edge, 1.888.637.3343
Products: Options, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, bank products
Market Orders: $8.95
Limit Orders: $8.95
Mutual Funds: "No-Load/No Transaction Fee Funds - No charge"
Options: $8.95/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $2000
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:"$30 voluntary, $50 mandatory". DTC Out:"Partial account transfer, per security - No charge".
Maximum Margin Rate: According to proprietary base rate and table, easily accessible on site
Extras: Cash management services, including free checkwriting and debit cards. Seems to have no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although it does have a termination fee.
Notes: "Merrill Edge is the marketing name for two businesses: Merrill Edge Advisory Center... and a self-directed online investing platform. Both are made available through Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith Incorporated." "MLPF&S is a registered broker-dealer,... and a wholly owned subsidiary of Bank of America Corporation."
User Comments: "Margin rates are very high.... Exercise and/or assignment is not posted and if you ask you will get multiple answers from free to $50.00"(October 21, 2010)    "I had to call and talk to their trading desk to confirm that their option exercise and assignment fee is equal to the regular option trading fee... The first phone rep just assumed there was no cost."(January 22, 2011)    "Late in 2010 I converted a traditional Merrill IRA to a Merrill Edge Roth IRA. I specifically asked at that time if I would be able to do 'cash protected puts' in the Roth IRA and was told by their employee that I would. After the conversion I was not able to do so and when I called I was then told that Merrill Edge does not allow 'cash protected puts' in an IRA."(February 9, 2011)
Rates Updated: November 27, 2011

WR Hambrecht and Company, 1.800.673-6476, 610.725-1150
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, IPOs, private equity investments
Market Orders: $9.00
Limit Orders: $9.00
Mutual Funds: $50.00 on no-load funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $30.00/trade+$1.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $2000
Inactivity Fee: $25.00/year with less than 1 trade per year
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$50.00. DTC Out:$60.00 "per occurrence". ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+3.75%
Extras: Check writing. Dividend reinvestment for dividends over $2.00. Debit cards. Full service brokerage. Extensive in-house research, also available for free to the general public. They promise equitable IPO distribution through an auction system.
Notes: "This site is for U.S. investors only." Clears through Penson Financial Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: November 27, 2011

ShareBuilder, 800-747-2537
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds
Market Orders: $9.95
Limit Orders: $9.95
Mutual Funds: $19.95, plus a very few NTF funds.
Options: $9.95/trade+$1.25/contract
Minimum to Open: $0
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. DTC Out:"$15.00 per security ($75.00 maximum)". ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: According to proprietary table, viewable online.
Extras: Dividend reinvestment. "For funded accounts, you can view research reports from Standard and Poor's, Sabrient and TheStreet."
Notes: Also has periodic investment programs by paid subscription. Has a very small selection of mutual funds, all no-load or NTF. "ShareBuilder is a service of ING DIRECT Investing, Inc.,... a registered broker-dealer... a subsidiary of ING Bank, fsb"
User Comments:
Rates Updated: May 8, 2011

E*Trade Financial, 1.800.387-2331, +1.678.624-6210
Products: Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $9.99
Limit Orders: $9.99
Mutual Funds: $19.99 for no-load funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $9.99/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000; $2000 for margin accounts
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$30.00 (also charges $20 for involuntary reorganizations). DTC Out:$25.00. ACAT Out:$60.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Extensive financial services. Foreign investors: Sites in many countries and languages; however, on October 31, 2007, Alex D. reported that they no longer open accounts for Latin American clients. Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs unless you request paper statements and confirmations. Dividend reinvestment.
User Comments: "I contacted E*Trade Customer Service with some simple questions about insurance coverage on my two brokerage accounts. The E*Trade response was slow, less than satisfactory, and even a bit hostile!"(May 8, 2006)    "I was a BrownCo customer and when E*Trade took that over, I became a customer of E*Trade. On August 16, 2006, per E*Trade's request, I sent them the necessary information to establish a money market fund account associated with my brokerage account and requested two ATM cards for my wife and myself. As of December 17, my wife had not received her card yet. I called them many times during that four months, and they were not responsive. During the last call, the representative said that he had put the request through and once it was out of his office, he had nothing to do with it. I tried to get through to his supervisor but he was not responsive either. I decided to close the account with them. They had the guts to charge me the fee for closing the account They were incompetent and unresponsive."(December 28, 2006)    "I have been with ETrade for almost 3 years. The last year has been all down hill. Services are overpriced and customer service is non-responsive, hard to get to, and less than helpful. I am changing brokers; what pushed me over the edge was customer service's condescending attitude and refusal to inform me why denied when I recently applied for options trading upgrade. I would not recommend ETrade to anyone!"(January 24, 2007)    "I was a Brown customer for over 30 years. I became an E-Trade customer upon the take over. It is like dealing with the "Keystone Cops." Since early December I have been trying to open a savings account linked to my brokerage accounts. Customer service is frustrating and stupid. Lots of platitudes, no action. Imagine my shock when I executed a trade for $12,000 and when I checked my account I was on margin for $1,250,000 .....ooops. I'm on this site to move my money!!!"(January 31, 2007)    "E*Trade is terrible. I'm a longtime Brown & Co customer that got transferred to E*Trade; no real problems until it came time to consolidate some other accounts. We started with a simple Roth for my wife -- two total mutual fund transfers and one cash liquidation. They got the cash -- and immediately put it in a "restricted" status -- meaning we can do nothing with it -- and even [we faxed] the requested additional IDs, [it's still restricted and they can't explain why]. Customer Service has ever-changing BS reasons why the other two transfers aren't done.... Worse, E*Trade never tries to contact us to tell us what's going on -- we have to contact them and get the run-around. After several months of futility, we've had it....Stay away from E*Trade...."(June 20, 2007)    "I have been an E-trade customer since they absorbed my HarrisDirect account some time ago.... On Sept. 21, 2007 I mailed a form requesting to open a SIMPLE IRA plan, which I had downloaded from their website. I sent it Priority Mail and the delivery confirmation indicated it had been delivered on Mon. Sept. 24th. I found the form a bit confusing and placed a sticky note on the form indicating that it was critical the account be opened before Oct. 1st since law forbids opening and funding a Simple IRA in the final quarter. I stated this on the sticky note and asked that if there were any problems to please let me know, providing both home and cell phone numbers. Since I heard nothing I assumed things were being handled, but on Oct. 1st I began to worry and used their online customer service center to send a written query. To make a long sad story short, nothing was done. I apparently had filled the form incorrectly. It is now Nov. 5th, 2007 and still nothing."(November 5, 2007)"On Saturday, I received an email from [E*Trade] saying that my order to sell ten contracts was rejected. This order had been in place since May. Since they provide only limited email service on weekends, I called them to inquire where their collective heads were.... The gentleman I spoke with was very polite but had no clue why it had happened. He told me that... I would have to wait until Monday, suffering the consequences if the price I set was reached. I then received two more emails telling me that it would take anywhere from one to four days to discover the problem. Obviously, that was unacceptable. I then started to dig on my own to see if I could determine why it happened. I discovered that the symbol on my portfolio was different from the order symbol. Their system changed it on my portfolio but the trading system obviously does not speak with the portfolio system. I then communicated this to them. The only response was that they were glad that they did not have to make the trade for their book. So much for trust."(June 17, 2008)    "My... experience has been that Etrade is far superior to any other firms as I also have accounts with [Scottrade and] Schwab and Ameritrade."(December 31, 2010)    "I am a US citizen living in Italy.... Recently, I asked [E*Trade] to replace the ATM card for [my] individual account. After saying that they sent it to me and after I waited six weeks for it to arrive, I asked again where it was. I had to wait about two weeks for a response. The response was that they do not send ATM cards to foreign countries anymore. I asked if they would send it to my former secretary and she would send it to me but the response to that (after three days) was that they had to send it to the address on the account. The writer then said 'I guess you will not have access to the money in that account.'"(May 21, 2013)
Rates Updated: January 22, 2011

TD Ameritrade, 800-454-9272 for new accounts, 800-669-3900 or 402-970-5805 for Client Service
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, forex, commodity and index futures
Market Orders: $9.99, +$2.00 for paper confirmation if requested, for accounts below $10,000
Limit Orders: $9.99, +$2.00 for paper confirmation if requested, for accounts below $10,000
Mutual Funds: $49.99 for no-load funds. Also has NTF funds.
Options: $9.99/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $0, $2000 for margin account. "There is no minimum funding required to open an account[;] however, special promotional offers may have requirements. Electronic funding minimum is $500."
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$38.00, even for mandatory reorganizations. DTC Out:"Free". ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Debit cards and check writing, presumably for a fee. Funding by ACH transfer. Much independent research. Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Separate UK, Canada, and Singapore sites.
Notes: August 27, 2013: TD Ameritrade is forcing clients from certain countries to close their accounts, or to maintain them as as static holding accounts only, with no further investment possible. Here is an extract from the letter received by a client: "[W]e have made the business decision to no longer open new accounts or handle new business transactions for clients located in certain foreign countries.... As a result, we've had to limit your account to liquidating (closing) transactions only. This means that you will not be able to open new positions or make deposits into your account...." I don't know to which countries this decision applies.
User Comments: "In the Summer of 2006 I was contacted by phone and asked to move our Family Limited Partnership account back to TD Ameritrade from Brownco/E*Trade. I told the broker that the account was moved from Ameritrade a couple years ago due to the policy of not providing checking or real time quotes to partnership accounts.... He called back sometime later and assured me that the account would receive both checking and real-time quotes. In addition, in consideration for my time, efforts and expense, TD Ameritrade would credit the account $500 upon a full transfer. We agreed to move our Family Limited Partnership account to TD Ameritrade, which is a time consuming process. For the first month, I could not get quotes (and thus account balances) on my screen. After a lot of phone calls and emails stock quotes finally appeared in my account. A few months later, a $250 charge appeared on my account for providing quotes. After a lot of phone calls and emails the charges were reversed. Things went swimmingly for a couple months until a $125/month charge again appeared my statement. Again, more emails. Again the charge was reversed. Today I got a phone call that TD Ameritrade is not going to honor the assurance made last summer. Stock quotes (even delayed) will not be included with this TD Ameritrade account.... Something is amiss with a marketing program that buys accounts for cash while making misrepresentations about what basic and customary services will be provided. After [writing to the CEO of TD Ameritrade], I got a phone call indicating they would not give me real time (or even delayed) quotes. The account balance in question exceeds $500k. The IRA account is slightly larger. Both will be transferred to a another broker."(March 11, 2007)    "I signed up for a "free research service from Ameritrade" which turned out to be a third party marketing group that sold my e-mail address to penny stock spammers. Besides this deal-breaker, Ameritrade has always executed my trades, both stock and options, quickly and exactly according to my instructions. Their online trade fees are reasonable and their site is easy to use and has all of the features I need from them."(April 11, 2007)    "I have several accounts at [TD] Ameritrade. Unfortunately, Ameritrade issues a separate ID number for each account. This procedure fails to work with users of Intuit Quicken (at least, in the Macintosh version), since Quicken only one financial institution called Ameritrade and expects that each user will have one user ID."(May 28, 2007)    "Several times their software indicated that trades had been accepted when they were actually not, and this cost me money. Their response was to try to blame me and/or [the] "market maker." Additionally, they started charging me for trades prior to their 30 day free trade period expiring (though they did, eventually, correct this). All in all, very frustrating experience, particularly dealing with them on phone (once I finally got through). Couldn't recommend them at all."(December 9, 2007)    "TD Ameritrade is the worst broker. Their paperwork is impossible to understand, they never respond to complaints, they keep advertising and promoting their service but could save a lot of money if they would listen to their customers. Any intelligent broker should have a suggestion box that is easy to use."(December 25, 2007)    "I've seen good and bad from the TD Waterhouse / Ameritrade merger, but the net result is a reduction in quality and service as far as I'm concerned. Compared to the old TD Waterhouse days, the website has improved and has more features, which is a plus. However, the new monthly statement is terrible - practically indecipherable: a grab-bag of double-entries, 'journal' entries, and other unprocessed data that appears to be intended for CPAs or auditors rather than real people (and I'm an engineer, so I'm accustom to looking at loads of raw data) It is almost as if TD Ameritrade is defying you to make any sense of what is happening in your account. Too bad, as the old TD Waterhouse statement was much better. In addition, the Quicken data download has similar problems with a bunch of double-entries, missing data and worthless descriptions. Again, it used to work with Waterhouse; why did Ameritrade break it? Finally - and this probably doesn't affect many people - I regularly have money deposited to my account via international bank wire from overseas. No problem with Waterhouse, but soon after Ameritrade took over, I stopped getting paid! I spent about an hour on the phone trying to figure out what happened, and the Ameritrade phone rep. gave me a BS excuse that, due to U.S. 'anti-terror' law, they were prohibited from accepting international bank wires. What?!? I told him that, if that was true, they better be contacting the FBI, because TD Waterhouse (now TD Ameritrade) regularly accepted international bank wires and I have the records to prove it. He then replied that this policy could not be changed and that was that. Useless. I'm actively looking for a new broker, which is unfortunate, because I had no problems with TD Waterhouse before the merger."(January 17, 2008)    "I've been with TDAmeritrade since they took over TDWaterhouse. My margin loan is over a million dollars and so they give me a rate of 'prime - 1.75%'. This is a negotiated rate which I received when I began the process of transferring my account to Brown and Co. several years ago, and TDAmeritrade offered me this rate to stay with them. [On the afternoon of March 18, 2008, Prime-1.75% would have been 3.5%, using the prime rate from money-rate.com; TDAmeritrade's published minimum was 6.75%! Ed.] The only problem is that twice now they seem to have 'forgotten' this promise and reset my rate to a much higher one. Each time it was appropriately corrected, but caused me considerable stress as it did require some diplomatic arguing of my case. For this reason I'm no longer confident of TDAmeritrade's promise of excellent service and I'm looking to move elsewhere and am especially attracted to a broker who's margin rates are pre-set at a very low number and don't require any schmoozing...."(March 18, 2008)    "I have been with TDAmeriTrade for almost a year but I am very disappointed.... The thing that made me decide not to trade with them anymore was I found out they did not recalculate my trailing stop order when my ETF distributed dividends. Not only did they not recalculate the order like Fidelity did, they canceled my order without notifying me. No phone calls, no emails to my registered email address, no email to my TDAmeriTrade account to let me know my order was canceled!    I have an ETF ADRE in TDAmeriTrade's account. I set a trailing stop order on September 24th, 2009 in case there is a big drop in the market. On October 28th the market did have a big drop and I was surprised to find the order was canceled only four days after I had set it and my ETF was still in my account and the order was not executed. I contacted their manager and he said it is industry standard to cancel the order when dividends distribution was recorded. In doing so they are protecting their customers' assets. And it is not their responsibility to notify the customers that the order has been canceled and it is customers' responsibility to check their accounts to find the information and re-set the order.    The problem with his story is that I have another ETF QQQQ with Fidelity. That ETF distributed dividends on the same day, October 30, so I assumed they have the same ex-dividend day. I also had a trailing stop order on the ETF. I did not have any information about whether this ETF was going to distribute dividends or not,... [but] when I saw the actual dividends distributed in my account on October 30, Fidelity had already recalculated the trailing stop order for me.    I thought the whole purpose of trailing stop orders is to protect investors while they are not watching.I thought the whole purpose of trailing stop orders is to protect investors while they are not watching. If I monitor my investments everyday and every minute, I don't need to set the trailing stop order.... I had no choice but to move my business to Fidelity."(November 24, 2009)    "I have been a TDA customer for a couple of years. Their fees are somewhat high but they have a good and helpful support team and response to e-mails is very fast (usually within a few hours). However, their order status screen does not indicate the stipulated cost basis for sell orders which is very important under the new IRS rules. Recently I selected a cost basis other than my default using their drop-down list but when the trade executed, I found out they had used my default basis anyway and since it was past the settlement date, nothing could be done about it. Since then whenever I use anything other than the default, I send an e-mail to the client services asking them to check the entry but it is a headache. I have repeatedly asked them to add this one little extra item to the order status table but so far without any success."(September 1, 2011)
Rates Updated: August 28, 2013

thinkorswim, 1-866-839-1100 (TD Ameritrade)
Products: Stocks, bonds, options, futures, mutual funds, forex (through the desktop platform)
Market Orders: $9.99
Limit Orders: $9.99
Mutual Funds: $49.99. Also has NTF funds.
Options: $9.99/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $0; $2000 for margin account.
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$30.00; mandatory reorganization fee is $20.00.. DTC Out:"Free". ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Proprietary table posted on site
Extras: See information in TD Ameritrade listing.
Notes: thinkorswim does not have sweep accounts, but they pay interest on cash, starting at Fed Funds Rate - 3.75%, and they claim to have a "wide variety" of money market funds which you can buy.    January 8, 2009: "TD AMERITRADE... and thinkorswim Group Inc.... today announced that they have entered into a definitive agreement for TD AMERITRADE to acquire thinkorswim.... thinkorswim clients should expect no immediate impact to their accounts.... TD AMERITRADE and thinkorswim expect the deal to close within the next six months." Recorded on November 27, 2011: "After the transition, you will need to login to your account at [TD Ameritrade]. The ability to log in to your account at thinkorswim.com will no longer be available."
User Comments: "I have been with them for a few years now and the way they choose to conduct business is outstanding. Quite a few firms claim to offer someone to talk to you about your trading strategy but the level of excellence is unmatched here. 90% of the people on the trading desk are former pit traders and are OK telling you if you are doing something stupid. They are not very PC, and you will never hear one of them start off the conversation with something like 'How can I provide you with excellent customer service today.' Software works; the system does not go down too much. Currently my only concern is how this level of service will be impacted with the upcoming TD Ameritrade merger."(July 29, 2009)
Rates Updated: November 27, 2011

Trading Direct, 1.800.925-8566
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $10.95
Limit Orders: $10.95
Mutual Funds: $21.95. NTF funds available.
Options: $9.95/trade+$1.00/contract
Minimum to Open: $0; $2000 for margin accounts
Inactivity Fee: $60 on accounts with no trades for that trading year, with exceptions.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$30.00. DTC Out:$20.00/security. ACAT Out:$65.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+1.75%
Extras: Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Dividend reinvestment is available for an extra charge. Accepts foreign accounts, including non-resident aliens. Valet accounts available for a fee.
Notes: A division of York Securities. Clears through Ridge Clearing and Outsourcing. No money market sweep accounts, and very low interest on credit balances.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

Zions Direct, 1-800-524-8875
Products: Stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, CDs, precious metals
Market Orders: $10.95. May also have an "Exchange Process Fee" (Unclear)
Limit Orders: $10.95 May also have an "Exchange Process Fee" (Unclear)
Mutual Funds: $19.95 for all no-load funds.
Options: $10.95/trade+$1.50/contract
Minimum to Open: $0
Inactivity Fee: "$100 fee will apply to non-IRA accounts and non-CashLink accounts without trade activity."
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. DTC Out:"$25, per position". ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Cash management services in association with their banks. Online search and purchase of bonds. Online auctions of some income securities, including CDs. Stock research includes Standard and Poor's Snapshot Reports.
Notes: "A non-bank subsidiary of Zions Bank."
User Comments:
Rates Updated: November 28, 2011

Investrade Discount Securities, 1.800.498-7120
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds
Market Orders: $7.95
Limit Orders: $11.95
Mutual Funds: $15.00 for no-load funds.
Options: $1.50/contract, $14.95 minimum
Minimum to Open: $0, $2000 for margin accounts, $5000 for international accounts
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00 ($50.00 "Less than 48 Hours"). DTC Out:$25.00/security. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+1.50%
Extras: No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Dividend reinvestment. Streaming real-time quotes for active traders. Foreign currency conversions. Cash management accounts including checking, credit card, and bill payment. Customer-directed routing for broker-executed trades, which have a surcharge. Foreign accounts accepted.
Notes: "A division of Regal Securities, Inc." Clears through Penson Financial Services. Has a "processing fee" for pink sheet and bulletin board stocks.
User Comments: "I shorted QQQQ; had 70% of the short value in my account in cash, i.e. after adding the short sale proceeds I had 170%. IDS charged me margin interest on the other 30% and paid no interest on the big pile of cash in my account. What a rip-off!"(June 13, 2007)    "I've had an account with Investrade for nine years. Early on they made an egregious error, and three free trades in compensation hardly made up for an ultimate cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other than that, until they recently switched clearing firms, I've been happy with them. Their clearing firm leaves something to be desired. It sometimes reports day-ending balances tardily. In fact, in either July or August, they didn't post new balances for a week in the midst of stunning sell-offs, and for two days a client couldn't even obtain correct balances over the phone."(September 23, 2007)
Rates Updated: August 26, 2010

MarkeTrade.com, 1-888-353-6676, 1-415-901-0311
Products: stocks, foreign stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, options, futures
Market Orders: $7.95
Limit Orders: $11.95
Mutual Funds: $25.00. Also has NTF funds.
Options: $1.50/contract+$10.00/trade
Minimum to Open: $1000. Probably $2000 for margin accounts.
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.00.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$15. DTC Out:$10.00/security. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+3.00%
Extras: Also has Traditional and Simplified Chinese versions of site. Free checking for US residents, paid debit card. Foreign residents are accepted, but if they want checking, they pay a yearly fee.
Notes: "MarkeTrade.com is a service of W.R. Hambrecht + Co., LLC." "MarkeTrade.com was formed to serve this [Asian-American] community." Direct access and Web-based trading platforms with different conditions. Has an annual charge for sending you your 1099s! Clears through Penson Financial Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: November 28, 2011

Muriel Siebert and Co., Inc., 1.800.872-0444, 1.800.872-0711
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, IPOs
Market Orders: $14.95
Limit Orders: $14.95
Mutual Funds: $35.00 for no-load funds; also has NTF funds
Options: From table, based on option price
Minimum to Open: $0
Inactivity Fee: $0.00 (if householded balances are over $25000)
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$0.00. DTC Out:$0.00, apparently. ACAT Out:$0.00, apparently.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+2.0%
Extras: Accepts funding by EFT, after the customer is approved. Checking and debit card for a fee. Outgoing wire transfers "one per month free upon request". Much independent research. Dividend reinvestment. A user reports that Siebert has no communications facilities for Spanish-speakers.
User Comments: "I have had nothing but good results from Muriel Siebert, particularly the SiebertNet transactions. I find them very efficient, very helpful those times that I had to call them, and the experience has been very positive. Sure, I could have saved a few dollars on trades, but to me it is worth the investment of a few dollars to have the satisfaction that the Muriel Siebert company has given me. I highly recommend Siebert!"(April 23, 2007)    "I canceled my Muriel Siebert account in 2006,... fed up with their execrable customer service (despite their reputation). Always being handed off to someone else, being cut off, representatives who did not actually listen, etc. There were two final straws. On two consecutive [phone] calls asking for substantial ACH transfers from Siebert to my bank account, they transferred the wrong amount (same rep both calls). They record calls, so they reviewed the recordings and corrected their mistakes, but the mistakes were inexcusable. The last straw was being unable to get through to their margin department after repeated phone calls. I was so desperate to leave Siebert that I gave up a quarter-point benefit below their lowest stated margin interest, [which] I had negotiated."(September 23, 2007)
Rates Updated: November 9, 2014

JetTrade.com, 1.888.757- JETT
Products: Stocks, mutual funds, options, bonds, CDs
Market Orders: $14.95
Limit Orders: $14.95
Mutual Funds: $24.95. Funds which are NTF on purchase also incur a $29.00 redemption fee.
Options: $20.00/trade+$1.60/contract ($29.00 minimum)
Minimum to Open: Unknown
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees:
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Extras: Full service available.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: February 4, 2010

optionsXpress, 1.888.280-8020, 312.629-5455
Products: Options, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, futures
Market Orders: $8.95
Limit Orders: $8.95
Mutual Funds: $9.95, even on load funds
Options: $1.50/contract, $14.95 minimum
Minimum to Open: $0, $2000 for margin account
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.00
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: According to table posted on site
Extras: Free checking, online chat to customer service, message boards, automatic trading. Includes many interactive tools. As of November 12, 2012, their website still says "Yes, upon our review and at our discretion we accept unsolicited accounts from non-U.S. residents...", but a user writes: "OptionsXpress after merge with CharlesSchwab doesn't offer foreign accounts and forces foreigners to close or transfer their accounts." A user identifying herself as a "foreigner" said on August 25, 2009: "Offers foreigner accounts, although they don't offer mutual funds for foreigners. I actually pay $16.95, not $14.95, per order (stock trade)." "The $8.95 flat commission applies U.S. customers only."
Notes: Specializes in options (obviously), including complicated trades. "optionsXpress, Inc... is now a subsidiary of the Charles Schwab Corporation."
User Comments: "OptionsXpress... has a less than satisfactory level of service. They are slow to respond to queries, [and] when they respond it is usually some "pablum" type of answer such as: 'We are looking into it, maybe at a future date, we are considering it'. They have a hard time saying yes [or] no or giving a timeframe for concrete action. They told me when I reached a certain level of option contracts traded that I would get a discount. When I reached that level, they reneged. I have over $300,000 cash in the account. I receive 2% interest in their money market fund. They told me they are looking at alternatives : pablum! I would recommend that anyone look elsewhere for a broker. I am in the process of evaluating different brokers to make a move in the near future."(November 12, 2006)
Rates Updated: December 5, 2011

Placetrade Financial, 1-800-50-PLACE, 919-719-7200
Products: Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, IPOs
Market Orders: $10.95, except for penny stocks
Limit Orders: $14.95, except for penny stocks
Mutual Funds: $29.95 for no-load funds. Also has load funds and NTF funds.
Options: $1.50/contract, $19.95 minimum
Minimum to Open: $5000
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00 ($50.00 "Less than 48 Hours"). DTC Out:$50.00/security. ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+0.50%.
Extras: Dividend reinvestment. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although there is a termination fee.
Notes: Clears through Penson Financial Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

Freedom Investments, 1.800.944-4033
Products: Stocks, options, bonds
Market Orders: $15.00
Limit Orders: $15.00
Options: $40.00/trade+$2.00/contract
Minimum to Open: Unknown
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Notes: A subsidiary of Oppenheimer and Co. Inc.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

Seaport Securities Corp., 1-800-SEAPORT, (212) 482-8689
Products: Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $14.95. There seems to be a $1.00 "postage and handling" fee in addition.
Limit Orders: $14.95. There seems to be a $1.00 "postage and handling" fee in addition.
Mutual Funds: $35 on no-load funds. No NTF funds.
Options: $14.95/trade+$1.25/contract
Minimum to Open: $0
Inactivity Fee: $50/year, if there have been no trades between July 1 and June 30.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. DTC Out:$10.00 "Per Transfer Request". ACAT Out:$60.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+2.00%
Extras: Dividend reinvestment. Valet accounts with debit cards and check writing, presumably for a fee. Seems to have no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although there is a termination fee.
Notes: Clears through Penson Financial Services. Seems to have no research.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: November 27, 2011

NetVest, 1.800.961-1500
Products: Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, IPOs, precious metals, CDs
Market Orders: $14.00
Limit Orders: $19.00
Mutual Funds: $29 for no-load funds.
Options: $20/trade+$1.50/contract
Minimum to Open: Unknown
Inactivity Fee: $50.00/year. "No inactivity fee will be assessed if there is at least 1 (one) revenue-producing trade during the calander year."
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$50.00. "Any StockCross account transferring out or closing before year-end will also be charged the $30 maintenance fee.".
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+0.25%
Extras: Dividend reinvestment. No maintenance fees for IRAs if the IRA account maintains a balance of $10000 or has 2 transactions/year.
Notes: "A Division of StockCross Financial Services"
User Comments:
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

U.S. Brokerage, Inc., 800.25-STOCK, 614.448.3200
Products: Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $19.95
Limit Orders: $19.95
Mutual Funds: $25.00 for no-load funds. Apparently no NTF funds.
Options: $20.00/trade+$2.00/contract
Minimum to Open: $2500
Inactivity Fee: $50.00/year if there are no trades for 1 calendar year
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$50.00. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Extras: Cash management services including checkwriting.
Notes: Formerly U.S. Discount Brokerage. Clears through Penson Financial Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

JH Darbie and Co., 800.606-8844, 212.269-7271
Products: Stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, CDs, cash management, asset management
Market Orders: $14.95
Limit Orders: $19.95
Mutual Funds: $25.00 on no-load funds
Options: $37.50 minimum, which includes 5 contracts. $2.00 for each additional contract.
Minimum to Open: $0
Inactivity Fee: $0?
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$50.00. DTC Out:$25.00/security. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+2.50%?
Extras: For-fee checking accounts, accepts deposit by electronic check. Full service also available. Dividend reinvestment. ACH transfers (at least out, and I assume also in); both the setup request and the transfers are initiated by telephone, not online.
Notes: Clears through COR Clearing, LLC. A few years ago I wrote: I've had an account there for about 8 years, and I'm more than satisfied. Personal service, but very little research. Real-time quotes only late in the order entry process. Now, they are making various changes, icluding changing clearing agents. At JH Darbie itself, you no longer get a human who answers the phone immediately, but the service is still more personal and the phone maze still less hellish than at the larger brokers. The online information from COR is obscure and difficult of access at best, with strange goings-on, and JH Darbie's attempts to solve the problem have been grudging and ungracious. I used to buy CMOs and individual bonds routinely. I no longer can buy them at all.(Ed. December 17, 2013)
User Comments:
Rates Updated: (December 17, 2013)

T. Rowe Price Brokerage, 1.800.638.5660. "Outside the United States Contact the AT&T International Operator."
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, precious metals, bonds, CDs, foreign securities
Market Orders: $19.95
Limit Orders: $19.95
Mutual Funds: $35.00, which seems to apply also to load funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $19.95/trade+$1.00/contract
Minimum to Open: $2500
Inactivity Fee: $30.00/year, subject to several exemptions
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$0.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: "1.75% above the Pershing base lending rate"
Extras: Dividend reinvestment. Debit card and checking are available for a fee.
Notes: Brokerage arm of financial services firm. Clears through Pershing Securities.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: December 7, 2011

WellsTrade, 1-866-817-7940
Products: Stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds
Market Orders: $19.95, up to 1000 shares, for stocks over $1.00/share
Limit Orders: $19.95, up to 1000 shares, for stocks over $1.00/share
Mutual Funds: $35.00. NTF funds available.
Options: $9.95/trade+$1.00/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000
Inactivity Fee: $15.00/calendar quarter, unless the account has 2 commissionable trades in the previous 6 months, or $20,000 in assets
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: "WellsTrade accounts are offered through Wells Fargo Investments, LLC (member SIPC), a non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company", and WellsTrade offers incentives to link with Wells Fargo bank accounts, including some limited free-trading deals for those with accounts over $25,000.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: March 21, 2007

PNC Investments, 1 800-762-6111
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, CDs, annuities
Market Orders: $18.00
Limit Orders: $20.00
Mutual Funds: $25.00 for no-load funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $25.00/trade+$2.00/contract
Minimum to Open: $2000
Inactivity Fee: $20.00/year, unless 1 trade in that year. Exemptions for fee-based accounts, "fundvest position of $10,000 or more", and in many other cases.
Some Other Fees:
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+2.00%
Extras: Also has fee-based accounts and full-service advisory accounts with online trading. Full cash management services for VIP accounts, free check writing for other accounts, dividend reinvestment.
Notes: Formerly Peremel and Co., then Mercantile Brokerage Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: May 9, 2006

Vanguard Brokerage Services, 1.800.992-8327
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, foreign securities, insurance, commercial paper
Market Orders: $20.00; note promotional price below.
Limit Orders: $20.00; note promotional price below.
Mutual Funds: $35.00 for transaction-fee funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $30.00/trade+$1.50/contract
Minimum to Open: Unknown
Inactivity Fee: $20.00/year maintenance fee for regular accounts
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:"Vanguard Brokerage Services does not charge fees for incoming or outgoing transfers.".
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Extras: "Vanguard does not allow new accounts with foreign addresses to be opened online. Contact us." It sounds like Vanguard does open some foreign accounts, probably by mail. Dividend reinvestment for some securities. Electronic deposits. No commissions on Vanguard ETFs.
Notes: As of May 4, 2010: "$7 for the first 25 trades, $20 for subsequent trades. Vanguard Brokerage reserves the right to end these offers at any time."
User Comments: "I'm a Vanguard... Voyager Select (high value) customer. My trades are now $12 for 1000 shares. Quite nice. Downside: normal trades fine online, but no after-hours trading, and I had to wait 50 minutes (literally - the agent confirmed their wait time) to get to their Fixed Income Desk to buy a corporate bond (no online for corporates). Once I got someone they were very professional."(October 17, 2008)
Rates Updated: May 30, 2010

Wall Street Access, 800.925-5781
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options
Market Orders: $19.95+$1.50
Limit Orders: $19.95+$1.50
Mutual Funds: $50 for no-load funds+$1.50
Options: $1.35/contract ($19.95 minimum)+$1.50
Minimum to Open: Unknown
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees:
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+2.625%
Extras: Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Foreign accounts accepted, including non-resident aliens.
Notes: For active traders. Clears through Pershing LLC. They actively solicit "soft dollar" arrangements. The way they express their margin rate and their commissions (omitting the $1.50 "postage and handling" fee on all transactions) makes me suspicious.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: April 19, 2004

Ameriprise Financial, 800.AXP-SERV (297-7378)
Products: Stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, CDs, annuities, cash management services
Market Orders: $19.95+$4.00 "order handling fee"
Limit Orders: $19.95+$4.00 "order handling fee"
Mutual Funds: $39.95 on no-load funds. NTF funds also available.
Options: $40.00/trade+$2.00/contract (+$4.00 "order handling fee"?)
Minimum to Open: $2000
Inactivity Fee: $10.00/quarter unless the account balance is at least $25000.00. There are also other exemptions.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$35.00. ACAT Out:$75.00 (+$50 "Account Closure" fee!).
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Various account classes with or without many banking features.
Notes: Formerly American Express Brokerage.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: October 1, 2007

PennTrade, 800.953-2860, 208.676-0562
Products: Stocks, Canadian stocks
Market Orders: $29.95, including Canadian stocks
Limit Orders: $29.95, including Canadian stocks
Minimum to Open: $500
Inactivity Fee: $35.00/year, if there are no trades for one year and less than $10000 cash in the account on Dec. 31.
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Extras: Foreign accounts accepted, including non-resident aliens.
Notes: "the online trading division of Pennaluna and Company". Clears through National Financial Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: December 6, 2011