Smart Money 2010 Best Online Brokers

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.
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Beware Broker Transfer Out Fees

My wife’s Roth IRA currently sits at a TD Ameritrade account, where it’s been sitting for the last three or four years. With the majority of it in cash, mostly because we lost track of the account, we want to invest it in our retirement investment of choice, an index fund. Our index fund of choice happens to be the Vanguard 500 Index Fund because most of our retirement funds are with Vanguard. Vanguard does not have the cheapest index fund, I believe that title now resides with Fidelity’s Spartan 500 index. Paying the extra 0.08% seems reasonable considering we can manage it all in one place.

The only downside about this entire process is that TD Ameritrade has a $75 outbound full account transfer fee. 🙁 Fortunately Vanguard does not charge you to transfer in an IRA (to my knowledge, no one does).

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Smart Money 2009 Best Online Brokers

Another year, another Smart Money broker survey! We’ve been reviewing SmartMoney’s best broker series for several years now (here’s 2008) and it’s always valuable to see how the different brokers fare from year to year. In the 2009 broker survey, we didn’t see too much change compared to 2008.

Unlike last year, which featured a merging of the discount and full service broker lists (in which TradeKing lost a #1 ranking they enjoyed for several years), they didn’t make any big changes to the way they analyzed the brokers. (here’s the list if you want to take a peek)

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Which is the Best Broker for an IRA?

Retirement Nest EggsOne of the most frequent questions I get is “Where should I open an IRA?”

Short answer: Anywhere, just open one! If you want mutual funds, open an account with the company that offers the funds you want, like Vanguard, Fidelity, etc; because they will let you buy and sell the funds for free. If you want stocks, open an account with a company that offers the lowest fees.

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Kiplinger’s Best Discount Brokers

In the latest issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, they rated a dozen discount brokers on a variety of factors including commission, research & tools, fees, investment options, “easy of use,” and customer service. The results were pretty close to the results of Smart Money’s 2008 ranking of the best discount brokers.

Kiplinger’s Best Discount Brokers

  1. Fidelity
  2. Charles Schwab
  3. Muriel Siebert
  4. TradeKing
  5. E*Trade
  6. OptionsHouse
  7. TD Ameritrade
  8. WellsTrade
  9. Firstrade
  10. OptionsXpress
  11. Zecco
  12. Scottrade

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SmartMoney’s 2008 Best Discount Brokers

It’s always fun to see discount broker rankings. Last week, I wrote about a little preview to the SmartMoney 2008 Broker Survey in which SmartMoney released some preliminary results from their annual ranking of brokerage firms. SmartMoney has published the full details of their report and I’m sad to say that TradeKing did not retain the top spot they enjoyed the last two years (third place isn’t bad!).

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SmartMoney 2008 Broker Survey

Smart Money reviews brokers every single year and they recently just gave a preview to their results. Rather than give the straight ranking, they discussed some headline categories (Commissions & Fees, Research, Trading Tools) and then listed the best and worst from each category.

For best commissions and fees, they listed Interactive Brokers, a brokerage firm I hadn’t heard of but does charge pretty rock bottom fees (half a cent per share on equity trades). They also showed the spread was anywhere from $4.95 for TradeKing to $112.50 for Fidelity on broker-executed trades.

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 Personal Finance 

Stock Market Brokerage Phone Numbers and Contact Links

Need to absolutely reach your brokerage right now? Here’s a handy resources of all the brokerages I am aware of, their phone numbers, hours of operation, and a link to the brokerage’s contact page. On that page you’ll usually find a Fax number, overnight mail address, regular mail address, email addresses, and sometimes even an online chat. In many cases, there are multiple telephone numbers listed, I chose the one for existing brokerage clients (if that’s not what you need, just hit up the link and you’ll find the whole list).

Brokerage Phone Number Hours of Operation Contact
Charles Schwab 800-435-4000 24/7 link
E*Trade 800-ETRADE-1 7AM-Midnight ET link
Fidelity 800-544-6666 Unknown link
Firstrade 800-869-8800 8:30AM-9PM ET M-F link
Merrill Lynch 800-MERRILL 24/7 link
optionsXpress 888-280-8020 9AM-5:30 ET M-F link
Scottrade 800-619-SAVE Unknown link
Sharebuilder 800-747-2537 8AM-9PM ET M-F link
TDAmeritrade 800-669-3900 7AM-8PM ET M-F link
T. Rowe Price 800-225-7720 8AM-8PM ET M-F link
TradeKing 877-495-5464 8AM–6PM ET M-F link
UBS None Online only link
Vanguard 877-662-7447 24/7 link
Wachovia Securities 877-879-2495 8AM-8PM ET M-F link
WellsTrade 800-TRADERS 24/7 link 909-657-6655 9AM-6PM (EST) M-F link

Did I miss your brokerage? Let me know and I’ll add their phone number.

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