Smart Money 2010 Best Online Brokers

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Smart MoneyEvery year, Smart Money takes an in-depth look at online brokers, from their trading platform to their customer service, and rates them based on their performance. They open up accounts and make trades, they call up customer service and pore through the reviews, and they share all of their experiences with you – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

One thing that does surprise me is how little the list changes each year. For yet another year, the top five are the same, though their order has changed a little, and the back of the list sees the same faces. You would think that these brokers would look at these problem spots and at least make some steps to address them.

Best Online Discount Brokers

Who are the top discount brokers according to Smart Money?

The top ten (of seventeen) are (list):

  1. Fidelity – $7.95/trade
  2. E*Trade – $9.99
  3. TD Ameritrade – $9.99
  4. Charles Schwab – $8.95
  5. TradeKing – $4.95
  6. Scottrade – $7.00
  7. WallStreet-E – $7.99
  8. Firstrade– $6.95
  9. Just2Trade – $2.50
  10. Muriel Siebert – $14.95

The top five this year are the same top five as last year (2009 Smart Money Broker rankings) with a few shifts. E*Trade lost the top spot to Fidelity while TD Ameritrade shot ahead two spots to take third. It’s interesting to note that in the top five, only TradeKing charges less than $5 a trade.

Individual Awards

  • Commissions & Fees – Best: Just2Trade, Worst: Banc of America
  • Customer Service – Best: TradeKing, Worst: ShareBuilder
  • Trading Tools – Best: Fidelity, Worst: WellsTrade
  • Mutual Funds & Investment Products – Best: Charles Schwab, Worst: SogoTrade
  • Banking Services – Best: E*Trade & Fidelity, Worst: OptionsXpress
  • Research – Best: Charles Schwab, Worst: WallStreet-E

Of the five brokers, I’ve used three (E*Trade, TD Ameritrade, and TradeKing) and have had great experiences at all three. I currently use TradeKing because of their low commissions and great customer service. I haven’t used Just2Trade but with a 9th place finish and $2.50 commissions, I’d give them serious consideration if I traded stocks more often.

Zecco, often lauded by many a personal finance blogger because of their low/free commissions, appears to have made a concerted effort to improve its services. Last year they were 15th out of 16. This year they climbed a few rungs up to 12th, putting it ahead of some discount veterans like Sharebuilder and Banc of America.

Which broker do you use and do you think they were fairly treated by the Smart Money research team?

{ 14 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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14 Responses to “Smart Money 2010 Best Online Brokers”

  1. Kevin says:

    I have accounts at Etrade, sharebuilder, scotttrade, Chuck schwab. For my needs (plunking a couple bucks into low cost mutual funds on a regular basis) I like chuck schwab and etrade the best.

  2. Chuck says:

    I don’t know why Options House is not on the list. I’ve been using them for a couple years. Prices are excellent, and customer support is good. Interactive Brokers is also good.

  3. freeby50 says:

    I have Scottrade & Fidelity and I like both.

  4. Vegas Vic says:

    Wells Fargo has 100 free trades a year per account if you have over $25K with them.

    They also have a 24/7 line for PMA accounts. For giggles I even tested it on New Years Eve around 11:45pm and got a banker but the tax experts were not there. 😀

  5. Vic says:

    Been pretty happy with Scottrade. Don’t know if this is common (at least it wasn’t when I used e-trade way back), but Scottrade has method of deposit that instead of a wire transfer, it will process it as an debit via MoneyDirect. Since you are doing it as a debit, there is no wire transfer fee (10-$20 with my bank & CU). So for someone who wants to incrementally invest, this makes up for the $7 trades at least partially. The only knocks on it is that:
    1) Hard Credit Check is done.
    2) 3 Day waiting period if buying stocks under $4 (otherwise its available immediately)

  6. eric says:

    Hmm I don’t trade a lot of stocks but I have a couple of the accounts listed above. I like tradeking and schwab isn’t too bad.

  7. Nate says:

    TradeKing is great but they changed clearing houses last month & can no longer do drips effectively. To me DRIPs without fractional shares is pointless and that’s how’s it is now as their new clearing house can’t do fractional shares.

  8. Anna says:

    We’ve been using MerrillEdge (where Bank of America put us after their consolidation), and *hate* it. We’re looking to move and are considering a few places. Thanks for the article.

  9. Ronnie says:

    I have no idea how Fidelity is on the list.

    Fees are average, customer service is good, but the only reason the service is necessary is because the website is horrible to navigate, inconsistent, and subject to frequent glitches, outages, etc.

    Fidelity is horrible.

  10. jim says:

    I just joined fidelity 2 weeks ago and am leaving already. they want $75 to buy the mutual fund I want.

  11. John says:

    I saw the website of Banc De Binary. It was a really cool website. it had all the things, that a person who is new to all this, should know. It had many different facilities like personal trader who are willing to help out and answer any queries that you might have. I really liked the facilities that they are offering

    • anthony says:

      Hi john!

      I viewed the website of Banc de Binary. It seems very user friendly in appearance.But I need specialzed tools and platforms. Does Banc de Binary offer such platforms?

  12. Shannon says:

    I saw in a comment on a blog that Banc De Binary also provide concierge service to its customers and that once can make 500% return in the first month. If this is true the i would give 10/10 to Banc De Binary.

  13. John says:

    Yes, They do provide concierge service to their customers. but these are the VIP customers. The thing that i like the most about the is that Banc De Binary offers to open an account on as low as $500. If you are not sure they start with a demo account.

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