The purpose of this extension to my site is to facilitate comparisons among direct access brokers, which present special problems because of the varied ways in which they calculate platform, exchange, and data fees. To understand how I have tried to partially circumvent the problem, please read this.

Please also note that even these approximate price comparisons have to be taken with a grain of salt. I would feel more comfortable not listing direct access brokers at all; I am only listing them because of repeated requests from site users.

A user has also requested that I specifically encourage users to provide information on the various trading platforms.

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

Brokers in approximate order of representative total monthly "model price" for equities trades:

Just2Trade, (877) 206-2274, (202) 386-7261
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds
Model Pricing: $6.80
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $0.00
Mutual Funds: $2.50
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. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Foreign accounts: "Non-US citizens are eligible to apply." Free real-time streaming quotes; otherwise, the site is extremely barebones. 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. "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)    "Just2Trade clears through Legent Clearing (since summer of 2008). Things are going very smoothly now. Trades are executed quickly. Dividends are properly credited. Statements are correct. I have had zero problems in over a year and think this is a great broker. If you email or call, you receive excellent customer service. However, since the advent of Legent as clearing broker I have had little need for customer service. One noteworthy change is the very low interest on free balances. I am now receiving .05% in an FDIC insured bank. [For comparison: My 2 FDIC accounts at Citi yield 1.00% and 1.19% today, but they are very high. ed.] Just2Trade is an excellent broker and is highly recommended if you do not mind the low interest on free balances. (I have accounts with Scottrade, ETrade, TDAmeritrade, Fidelity and Vanguard as well)."(October 24, 2009)    "Since Just2Trade changed clearing broker two years ago they have been an exemplary broker. They have excellent customer service which is now rarely needed.... [T]hey do ACH transfer of monies to and from your bank. Low rates on stocks and mutual funds, great service and fast executions are definite pluses. Low interest on balances and limited research are minuses. Highly recommended if you can do your research elsewhere."(May 30, 2010)
Rates Updated: June 29, 2010

MB Trading, (866) 628-3001, (310) 647-4281
Products: Stocks, Canadian stocks, futures, options, bonds, mutual funds
Model Pricing: $9.90
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $0.00
Mutual Funds: $50.00 for no-load funds
Options: $1.00/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000; $2000 for margin account
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: DTC Out:$25.00. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Proprietary rate posted on their site. Was 8.95% on October 27, 2007.
Extras: A large assortment of Scudder money market funds available as sweep funds. Foreign accounts accepted from many countries, based on list.
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)    "1. [I]f you want to trade forex and stocks with MBTrading, you need to open and fund two separate accounts (which isn't the case for Interactive Brokers, for example, as far as I remember...). 2. The default free software they use isn't any good for professional trading, here is why: While trading options I encountered bugs and incorrectly calculated account values; some parts of the software are forever in [beta] and do fail from time to time ( charting, historical); poorly documented UI, some parts are not documented at all and barely useable; in the latest version some options just don't show up, you have to wait for X minutes to see the entire option list. Well, I mentioned bugs already; the account website is absolutely dumb, and the most recent one is 'The certificate for this site has expired, do you want to continue', and when you choose to continue, you are instead redirected to the previous page, and the account management page never opens.... 3. The API access they provide is of a questionable value: Latency isn't good, the API forum report around 800-1000ms; order management/notification-related API is simply funny and not workable; the quotes are delayed sometimes (especially BOD), according to the forums; API support redirects many questions to the trading desk, where they have no technical knowledge. Meaning, you aren't getting any answers; I personally got a few incorrect answers regarding the usage and calculations of account values and fees, for example. I... call MB trading API 'May Be trading API' because what you get is MayBe-quotes, MayBe-Orders, MayBeSupport, MayBeCharts, MayBe Historical Data, etc."(February 20, 2011; more than usually edited to fit format)
Rates Updated: October 27, 2007

SogoElite, 888-818-SOGO (1 888-818-7646), 212-668-8686
Products: Stocks
Model Pricing: $3.00
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $10.00
Minimum to Open: $2500
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Notes: The direct access platform of SogoTrade, a subsidiary of Genesis Securities LLC.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: December 14, 2008

Terra Nova Trading, 800.228.4216, 1.312.827.3663
Products: stocks, futures, options, mutual funds, forex, alternative investments
Model Pricing: $16.80
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $0.00
Mutual Funds: Unknown, telephone only
Options: $1.25/contract+$7.50/trade
Minimum to Open: $5000
Inactivity Fee: $50.00, "applicable to accounts under $100 [!] in equity and inactive for over 12 months"
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:"Variable". DTC Out:$15.00/stock. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+3.50%
Extras: Free checking, paid debit card. Foreign residents accepted.
Notes: Direct access and non-direct trading platforms with different conditions; the prices here are for direct access; Terra Nova's prices for Web-based trading are listed on the main page.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: January 30, 2008

NobleTrading.com, 877.TRADE.11, 212.812.5400
Products: stocks, futures, options, forex, bonds, mutual funds
Model Pricing: $17.40
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $0.00
Mutual Funds: $45.00. This seems to include load funds.
Options: $1.00/contract+$7.95/trade
Minimum to Open: $500
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:Unknown. DTC Out:$35.00. ACAT Out:$60.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Extras: Paid debit cards and checking.
Notes: Low credit interest.
User Comments: Both Web-based and direct access trading. Prices listed are for Web-based trading.
Rates Updated: January 30, 2008

Charles Schwab, 1.866.877-0134
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, CDs, insurance, annuities, foreign investments
Model Pricing: $17.90
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $0.00
Mutual Funds: $49.95. NTF funds available.
Options: $8.95/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000 for US-based accounts
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. Also has Web-based service.
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

Interactive Brokers, 1 (877) 442-2757 or 1 (877) 4IB-BRKR, 1 (312) 542-6901
Products: Options, stocks, bonds, forex, foreign securities, a few mutual funds
Model Pricing: $10.58
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $10.00
Mutual Funds: $14.95
Options: $0.70/contract ($1.00/trade minimum)
Minimum to Open: $10000, $3000 for "individuals age 21 or younger"
Inactivity Fee: Up to $20.00/month minimum activity fee, including commissions and other fees.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$0.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on various published benchmarks, according to currency. Table easily available on site.
Extras: Also has chat-based customer service. Canadian accounts accepted through IB Canada, UK accounts accepted through a separate site. Trades can be made and deposits accepted in various currencies. ACH transfers in both directions.
Notes: Commission and fee schedules are complicated and thoroughly obfuscated.
User Comments: "A common complaint when viewing Google searches is account liquidations. They have an automatic liquidation. They use real time margin. Market activity in after hours trading may cause account liquidations. When I inquired by telephone, they indicated that they had many account liquidations during the flash crash in May 2010 and they have modified their algorithm criteria for auto-liquidation."(November 27, 2010)    "I've... decided to move my daytrade account from LightSpeed to Interactive Brokers, mostly because of direct access issues with LS (seems to require huge bandwidth - just got tired of bogs/crashes). In terms of features it was great. So far, using the IB demo, I'm impressed that it's even deeper than LS in some ways, tho some info services are paid subscriptions, like L2s and some of the exchange feeds. Both are very, very robust and rich.... Both are very, very inexpensive, and both are absolutely brilliant platforms. Sure seems like they deserve a place in any review of low-cost, advanced platforms."(May 31, 2012)
Rates Updated: February 2, 2009

Lightspeed Trading, 1-888-LSPD123 (577-3123)
Products: Options, stocks, index and commodities futures, forex
Model Pricing: $04.17
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $18.00
Options: $0.50/contract
Minimum to Open: $10000
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees: DTC Out:$25.00. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Extras: Includes chat support, user forums, and market commentary by Lightspeed employees.
Notes: Clears through Penson Financial Services. Funding by check or wire, withdrawals by wire, check, or ACH.
User Comments: "I have been involved in stocks, futures, options and all other types of financial products for 35 years. I have never had a worse experience than with Lightspeed Trading. They absolutely are the worst in customer service. Their people are poorly trained and takes days and weeks to do simple tasks that take other brokers a few hours to complete. Their trading platform is archaic. Very simple and basic. Probably close to 10 year old technology."(September 10, 2010)    "I've... decided to move my daytrade account from LightSpeed to Interactive Brokers, mostly because of direct access issues with LS (seems to require huge bandwidth - just got tired of bogs/crashes). In terms of features it was great. So far, using the IB demo, I'm impressed that it's even deeper than LS in some ways, tho some info services are paid subscriptions, like L2s and some of the exchange feeds. Both are very, very robust and rich.... Both are very, very inexpensive, and both are absolutely brilliant platforms. Sure seems like they deserve a place in any review of low-cost, advanced platforms."(May 31, 2012)
Rates Updated: August 2, 2009

Speed Trader, 1-800-874-3039, 1.845.225.5132
Products: stocks, futures, options, bonds, mutual funds
Model Pricing: $22.30
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $0.00
Mutual Funds: $50.00 for no-load funds
Options: $1.25/contract+$9.95/trade
Minimum to Open: $500 for cash account
Inactivity Fee: "Semi-Annual Inactivity Fee... to accounts below $5000 equity credit balance who have placed no trades in the previous 6 months", but I can't find the size of the fee.
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:Unknown. DTC Out:Unknown. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on their clearing firm's proprietary rate.
Extras: They seem to have checking, debit card, and ACH services, but I can't find the details.
Notes: Both direct access and free Web-based platforms. Prices listed are for Web-based platform. Their clering firm seems to be Penson Financial. For those without checking access to their money market account, withdrawing money seems to be an obstacle course involving faxing them a form with photo ID.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: January 30, 2008

ChoiceTrade, 877.731-9114, 732.214-2660
Products: Options, stocks, bonds, mutual funds
Model Pricing: $10.00
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $14.95
Mutual Funds: $25.00, even on load funds
Options: $0.99/contract ($5.00/trade minimum)
Minimum to Open: $0, $2000 for margin account
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$25.00. Also has $10.00 fee for mandatory reorganizations.. DTC Out:$35.00. ACAT Out:$75.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: 8.95% on January 29, 2007
Extras: Free checking, paid debit card, and bill pay service. "Foreign citizens may establish accounts with ChoiceTrade."
Notes: Clears through Penson Financial Services. Direct access and browser-based services. Very low credit interest on default sweep account, but they also have a selection of better money market funds.
User Comments: "I have been with [ChoiceTrade] over a year and at $5 a trade I am satisfied. Recommended!"(May 28, 2005)
Rates Updated: January 29, 2008

MarkeTrade.com, 1-888-353-6676, 1-415-901-0311
Products: stocks, foreign stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, options, futures
Model Pricing: $18.80
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $35.00
Mutual Funds: $25.00
Options: $1.50/contract+$10.00/trade
Minimum to Open: $25000
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 Chinese version of site, and promises bilingual (Chinese) telephone representatives. Free checking for US residents, paid debit card. Foreign residents are accepted, but if they want checking, they pay a yearly fee.
Notes: Direct access and non-direct trading platforms with different conditions; the prices here are for direct access; MarkeTrade's prices for Web-based trading are listed on the main page. Has an annual charge for sending you your 1099s! Clears through Penson Financial Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: January 31, 2008

Pro Trading Systems, (800) 439-9125
Products: stocks, futures, options
Model Pricing: $10.30
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $50.00
Options: $1.25/contract+$9.95/trade
Minimum to Open: $5000
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees:
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Notes: Seems to clear through Instinet Clearing Services and Penson Clearing Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: January 30, 2008

TradeStation Securities, 1-800-808-9336
Products: stocks, futures, options, forex
Model Pricing: $6.00
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $63.95
Options: $1.00/contract
Minimum to Open: $5000
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees: Tender Fee:$35.00. Also has $10.00 fee for mandatory reorganizations.. DTC Out:$25.00. ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Posted on site. 8.25% on January 30, 2008
Extras: Has strategy and support forums and support wikis.
Notes: Low credit interest.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: January 30, 2008

NDX Trading, 888.331.8225, 612.331.8225
Products: stocks, options, futures
Model Pricing: $8.00
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $75.00
Options: $1.00/contract+$7.99/trade
Minimum to Open: $25000
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees:
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Notes: Clears through Southwest Securities, Dallas, Texas.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: January 31, 2008

TradePro, 248-608-5469
Products: "futures, equities, and options"
Model Pricing: $21.70
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $102.00
Options: $2.00/contract ($20.00/trade minimum)
Minimum to Open: Unknown
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees:
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Extras: Also has support by chat.
Notes: "Division of Integrity Trading, Inc." "Direct Access Day Trading" Seems to clear through Penson Financial Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: January 29, 2008

Cobra Trading, 1-877-79 COBRA, 715-381-6538
Products: Stocks, options, forex, commodities futures
Model Pricing: $6.40 ("All trades will be charged a $1.00 minimum commission." See also below.)
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $125.00 (See below.)
Options: $5.00/trade+$0.95/contract
Minimum to Open: $2500. Daytrading accounts require $30000 to open and $25000 minimum.
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Some Other Fees: ACAT Out:$50.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Extras: Also furnishes technical support and customer service through online chat; I tested it a long time ago, and they seem to respond well. Checking and debit cards available. "Request Customized Commission".
Notes: They also have a Web-based platform called Venom. The model pricing listed here is for the CobraIQ direct access platform. Pricing for Venom can be found on my main page. Clears through Penson Financial Services.
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: February 7, 2012

AOS, Inc., 800.569-3330, 312.253-0385
Products: Stocks, options, stock futures
Model Pricing: $19.90 "plus or minus ECN fees"
Model Monthly Platform Fee: $175.90
Options: $0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $25000 for direct access trading
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: Direct access and non-direct trading platforms with different conditions; the prices here are for direct access; AOS' prices for Web-based trading are listed on the main page. 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." Formerly American Option Services. Ordinary securities on ordinary platforms clear through Terra Nova Trading, L.L.C.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: January 29, 2008

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