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Best Online Discount Brokers of 2017

Unlike long-term investing for the future, active stock trading has qualities in common with gambling. On top of that, it’s expensive gambling. When you step up to a quarter slot machine, you know each bet will cost a quarter. You don’t lose a nickel on each spin as a “transaction fee.” In order to play the stock market, with “play” being the operative word, you lose money right off the bat in the form of commissions.

So if you’re going to invest in stocks, it makes sense to find the least expensive option. Here are some of the more popular choices, updated for 2016. If you have experiences with these brokerages, please feel free to share your comments at the bottom of this article.

Discount Broker
Online Trade Cost

Low Annual Fee

Betterment Review [2]


OptionsHouse Review [4] [3]


TradeKing Review [6] [5]


Fidelity Review [7]

Betterment [1] [1]. Betterment is a brand new investment website which takes all of the guesswork out of making money. Similar to other brokers on this list, Betterment allows users to purchase stocks and bond ETF’s but focuses more on automation, so investors don’t have to spend hours each week putting together their portfolio. Fees are charged on an annual basis and a $25 cash bonus is given to all new investors who sign up specifically from Consumerism Commentary.

tk_logo-300x170TradeKing [5]. This online brokerage features low $4.95 online trades. SmartMoney Magazine has awarded TradeKing the award for Best Discount Broker in 2006 and 2007 and Best Customer Service among discount brokerages in 2008. TradeKing continually sports $50 cash bonuses for signing up during the summer and offers users a community of stock traders to help you make the best decisions for your portfolio.

Scottrade [8]. Three years ago, Wachovia announced they were adding a $50 annual fee to my discount brokerage account. I tried to get the fee waived, but my protests fell on deaf ears. Rather than paying the $50 fee once and continuing to do so every year, I opted to pay the $75 account termination fee to move my funds to Scottrade. Scottrade offers no account fees other than the $7 commission for online trading. As I was holding only one mutual fund and I didn’t plan to do any trading, the account was free for me.

Since I am not an active trader, I don’t actively seek out new discount brokerages. If you have experiences you’d like to share, please leave comments below.

44 Comments (Open | Close)

44 Comments To "Best Online Discount Brokers of 2017"

#1 Comment By Anonymous On May 27, 2008 @ 12:46 pm

Man, you work through your “to-do” list quickly! Thanks for the informative article.

#2 Comment By Anonymous On May 27, 2008 @ 2:30 pm

I’d love to see the same thing written up for us Canadians. It’s something that interests me but I don’t know where to begin, and get overly confused as soon as I visit one of those trading sites.

#3 Comment By Anonymous On January 7, 2012 @ 1:36 am

I’ve use tradeking for about two years. It’s a nice site. I especially like the chat feature since they give lots of free insight and information for newbies. I’ve recently tried trading options and they have been pretty helpful. I ask a lot of dumb questions, but have always received patient advice and information. The other site I like to use is a site called buy and hold. It costs $14.95 per month for unlimited window trades – no special extras like options – and if you only trade twice a month, you can get the special for $6.99. Also available are real time trades for $15 each. I started with them about 8 years ago and have not been disappoined. Everything is done online, so if you are afraid of the net, this is not the place for you. I forget what the minimum investment amount is but it is not more lthan $2500. Check them out.

#4 Comment By Anonymous On May 27, 2008 @ 3:38 pm

Woohoo! I just checked since I thought that sharebuilder still charged 15.95 to sell. Yep, you were right with $9.95.

#5 Comment By Anonymous On May 28, 2008 @ 11:23 am

Hey Flexo, thanks for the writeup on the different brokerages. I gotta ask – did you check out any of Zecco’s social features (ZeccoShare)? We think it really sets us apart!

Tony (Zecco Product Manager)

#6 Comment By Anonymous On March 13, 2009 @ 1:02 pm

As of March 1, 2009, Zecco changed their policy regarding the minimum account balance required to be eligible for free trades. People should be aware that the minimum account balance to obtain free trades has increased from $2,500 to $25,000.

While this may not impact most “traders” who are accustom to paying fees for trades, the responses from Zecco customers were not positive. Per some of the other comments posted, review the “social community” responses to the recent changes. It appears that a number of customers felt alienated by the adjustment to the business model and applying those changes to existing customers.

It is important to note that Zecco still does not offer after hours trading, so if this is a feature that you value, it may be worth it to explore other low-cost brokerage options.

I became a customer of Zecco in 2007 and was initially attracted to the company because of the free trade model. I retained my ETrade account because I prefer the format and they provide better research and after-hours trading, which Zecco does not offer. In terms of customer service, I have always had positive experiences.

#7 Comment By Anonymous On April 11, 2011 @ 1:51 pm

Why don’t you let everyone know that you just raised your fees to trade stocks under a $1 by 55% from $4.50 a trade to $6.95 a trade, plus you eliminated all free trades that you used to provide. Many folks don’t know that yet because you hide it in your fine print while advertising $4.95 a trade. Who raises fees by 55%? Zecco does!!!!!

#8 Comment By Anonymous On May 29, 2008 @ 2:12 pm

E*Trade really rapes us on ESPP commissions. Even selling multiple blocks as a single transaction it seemed like they just multiplied the commission by the number of blocks.

#9 Comment By Anonymous On June 5, 2008 @ 12:27 am

Beware of Zecco trading! They will execute canceled orders if it will push you into the paid trades number! Very scary! Best to stay far away from this one.
Customer service was totally incompetent as well when I complained about the canceled orders being executed.
I went back to Scottrade for now, the trading interface is much better, and canceled orders go away immediately, and you can change them as many times as you like.

#10 Comment By Anonymous On June 9, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

As a young company Zecco is working out a few kinks, but improvements are being made quickly. We kick ass thanks to our social network and transparent investing community. What’s also cool is that investors can join our community without opening a Zecco account, so collaboration is free and transparency is celebrated.

John (ZeccoShare Community MC)

#11 Comment By Anonymous On April 11, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

Plus you just raised fees by 55% on all stocks under $1 and eliminated all free trades.It is scary how you advertise $4.95 a trade and hide the $6.95 charge for stocks under $1 in your fine print. Who raises fees by 55%? Zecco does!!!!!

#12 Comment By Anonymous On October 24, 2008 @ 5:00 pm

i have had bad experiences with sharebuilder as they restrict the securities that you are allowed to invest in saying it must meet their criteria but when you show them that it does they then use the excuse that allowing you to invest in it will drive up the price and then you will be able to buy fewer shares

i think that they are hiding something as i always thought that when you buy shares in something it is a good thing if the price goes up

#13 Comment By Anonymous On May 9, 2009 @ 1:49 am

I’ve had problems with Sharebuilder as well. They recently lost a $600.00 check I mailed to them. After ten days, they blamed me. They also didn’t place trades that I had ordered at the opening of the markets as I had requested. My total loss due to their messups— $600.00 approximately. I’m now looking for another broker. Too many excuses.

#14 Comment By Anonymous On March 2, 2009 @ 9:35 pm

I took a good advice and signed up with scottrade.com and got 3 free
trades with this promo code: YWEU0574

#15 Comment By Anonymous On April 14, 2009 @ 2:18 pm

Anyone have experience with Sogo? I have Zecco account and find them very good, except for foreign stocks? I’ll be working on that with them :)

#16 Comment By Anonymous On August 27, 2009 @ 5:52 pm

I too had a very bad experience with Sharebuilder. They gave me wrong information and then they said it was my fault that they took double of the amount I requested to be transferred from my bank account. One supervisory said it was our fault, they’ll take care of it but I would have to call another day. I called another day, they said they can’t honor what they said before because this is a new day with new rules. I’m taking my business elsewhere. I’m looking for another company that honors their promises.

#17 Comment By Anonymous On October 10, 2009 @ 10:32 am

Have anyone heard of, or have experience, with the following brokers: Interactive Brokers, TradeStation, TradeKing, SogoTrade, OptionsHouse, OptionsXpress, thinkorswim (owned by Ameritrade), FirsTrade, TradeMonster, Zecco, ScotTrade, e-Trade, ShareBuilder, Fidelity, Schwab, Vanguard, TDAmeritrade? Has anyone heard of Penson Financials and Genesis Securities?

#18 Comment By Anonymous On June 3, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

I have been a member of SogoTrade for over 6-years now and up until a few months ago I had been recommending this brokerage to all my friends. However, since they have been taken over by Wang Investments ( [9]) the execution and customer service has really gone down hill.
I recently placed several trades over the last couple months and only one of them was executed as I had directed. Some market trades weren’t even executed at all!
I have liquidated my portfolio with SogoTrade and am shopping for a new brokerage firm, which by the way is why I landed on this page.

#19 Comment By Anonymous On February 24, 2012 @ 10:58 am

I also liquidated my portfolio with SogoTrade, I was pretty happy before they changed. Now it is a fight to even get a 1099 from them, they are saying March 15. Just as a side note, the number they used to use gets a disconnected message when you call it….

#20 Comment By Anonymous On August 25, 2011 @ 1:09 am

I have been with TradeKing since Feb. 1, 2011. GOOD: Can talk to or place order with human on phone for same price as DIY online: $4.95 per trade and +$.65 per option contract; TERRIBLE: Website inaccessible on “Chaos Monday”, Aug. 8, 2011, for 37 minutes at market open; then, unreliable off and on all day. I emailed my newsletter guy and he said he knew that the E-Trade website was up all day long and suggested I switch to them. They will cost me $9.95 per trade, but how much would it have cost me if my newsletter guy had said “sell” and I couldn’t access my account at TradeKing? E-Trade GOOD: I just learned that I can transfer my open positions from TradeKing to E-Trade without closing them and my account is an IRA. It will also be a direct transfer, not a Rollover (can only do 1 rollover per year). Yeah!

#21 Comment By Anonymous On January 7, 2012 @ 1:41 am

Trade King is associated with Penson. Don’t know what you are looking for, but I’ve been with Trade King for about 2 or three years. No problems so far.

#22 Comment By Anonymous On December 14, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

I think SOGOTRADE is pretty good. It only cost $3 to make a trade (unlimited shares). They have good online and phone support, quick execution and a good inventory of shares that you can short! Oh and you only need $500 to open your account. You also get 100 free trades when you open your account. Can’t beat that.

#23 Comment By Anonymous On January 4, 2010 @ 11:27 pm

Charles Schwab is amazing. It has my favorite funds available in an IRA with low initial contribution requirements. The Index funds have a low contribution as well. Checking account is awesome. The ETFs have no commission costs. The 2% cashback visa card is fantastic. The customer service is great.

I love those guys to death.

#24 Comment By Anonymous On May 19, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

I agree. The no commission ETFs are great and the 2% cash back credit cards is awesome.

#25 Comment By Anonymous On December 14, 2010 @ 1:17 am

I was considering Ameritrade but saw no comments…

#26 Comment By Anonymous On April 27, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

I’ve been using Ameritrade for about 10 years now and I haven’t had any negative experiences. Granted, I don’t do a lot of trading but I can say that their customer service is excellent.

#27 Comment By Anonymous On November 14, 2012 @ 12:38 am

Ameritrade is great. Only thing i dont like about them is that you can trade international stocks. If you want to invest only in the usa there decent but look at fidelity and interactive brokers if your a global investor

#28 Comment By Anonymous On February 12, 2013 @ 10:21 am

I have been using “Think or Swim,” which is owned by Ameritrade now, for quite a few years. I was actually here looking for another platform for less expensive trades, though theirs seem middle of the pack here. The problem I have is that Think or Swims option trading platform is incredible. I used OptionsExpress before I switched to Think or Swim. Before I would consider a switch, I would have to analyze another firms options analysis and I would not consider moving unless the analytic software is similar.

#29 Comment By Ceecee On March 13, 2011 @ 10:45 am

I have used TDAmeritrade for several years. Trades are 9.99, you can usually get a promo with some free trades upon account opening. It’s not the cheapest. Their support has been good when I’ve had to call—–online trading was all new to me. I haven’t had any problems. The fee is probably a good thing—-it keeps me from trading too much on whims.

#30 Comment By Anonymous On May 19, 2011 @ 5:32 pm

You forgot SoGo Trade with $3 trades.

#31 Comment By Anonymous On September 7, 2012 @ 11:47 am

Be careful with SoGotrade, they lost 4K because they screwed up on Facebook IPO back in May 2012. I placed an order for 500 shares before it went public, and about an hour before it opened (late) I canceled. That following Monday morning I found out that I owned it, I couldn’t believe it so I called they admitted to me that the cancel order didn’t execute but when I spoke with the SoGotrade president told me he was not going to pick and choose who gets their money back because there were so many cancellations that didn’t execute…..so all they offered was a few free trades.
That same Monday I sold it and I wrote to the SEC, they gave the case to a woman who was worse than useless, she did nothing and they had the proof and everything I mailed to them, they needed to do something, my recourse of course was to hire an attorney which would cost more than I lost. Then they wonder why small investors say the stock market is a racket, and stay out, this is one good reason why some stay out.
I have one question, has anyone heard from the Facebook CEO yet? He got his money the day it opened so I guess he is done.
I have not traded with them since and took all my money out, I am presently looking for a new company, and closing SoGotrade, or Wang Investments.

#32 Comment By Anonymous On August 9, 2011 @ 11:35 am

Trade King goes down too often and it takes over 30 minutes to make a trade.. Be careful getting an account here if you really like to pay attention to the market.

#33 Comment By Anonymous On January 7, 2012 @ 1:44 am

I’ve never had that problem. Trades are usually instantaneous . Sometime it takes a little longer, but I’ve never had a problem with them being down.

#34 Comment By Anonymous On August 25, 2011 @ 7:20 pm

New 2011 and 2012 Scottrade referral code: IXFV9382

Will get yuou 3 free trades when you open any type of Scottrade account.


#35 Comment By Anonymous On August 30, 2011 @ 5:56 pm

@ Lyn, I use scottrade too and referred my roommate last year and they gave me $200 in gift cards, but I had to talk to a rep directly and tell them how much he was moving into the account. I bet you can get more than 3 free trades if you actually get someone on the phone and the sum of money is enticing enough for them. He was moving in $5k and I got the $200 so that should give you an idea of where to start when you speak with them.

#36 Comment By Anonymous On October 5, 2011 @ 11:22 pm

where can I find results that compare the fee to register stock in my name ( vs the street name ) among brokerage firms?
Firstrade $100
Tradeking $75
…are there other firms with lower prices?

#37 Comment By Anonymous On February 9, 2012 @ 11:57 am

Hi everyone:

Can anyone please help me with information regarding OptionsHouse as a broker?
Has anyone used it? what do they charge for Electronic trading? does a trader have access to international markets with NO DIFFERENCE in price? (stocks from other countries like Canada or China, or Peru, etc.). My current broker wants to charge $75 in & $75 out! – $150 round trip!!. Talk about “robbery”. This is NEW NEWS TO ME. Just found out.
You can understand why I’m now looking for a new broker.

I would appreciate ALL comments to my mailbox please: [10]

Thanks and happy trading to all!

Best Regards,


#38 Comment By Anonymous On April 1, 2012 @ 4:37 pm

2012 code – Get 3 free trades ($21 value) when opening a new account.


#39 Comment By Anonymous On May 6, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

Newbie here and after reading the comments to this article I have the same perspective as I did before: “Boiler room” thanks for sharing and I will not be “sharing” :(

#40 Comment By Anonymous On August 27, 2012 @ 4:28 pm

You have left off on the the best platforms for online trading, Merrill Edge, [11], with 25k of cash or 50k of enterprise wide assets between Bank of America and Merrill Edge 30 free stock/etf trades a month, otherwise they have very competitive $6.95 commissions.

#41 Comment By Anonymous On September 21, 2012 @ 4:59 pm


#42 Comment By Anonymous On December 30, 2012 @ 11:06 pm

Just wanted to mention that your info on ShareBuilder is not exactly accurate. The $4 you have listed is for their AUTOMATIC INVESTMENTS for the “basic” account. (The “Advantage” account, $12/mo service charge, gives you 12 free trades per month, $1/each after that..

Their ONLINE TRADES are $9.95 PER TRADE, even if you do multiple trades in one transaction, you will be charged $9.95 each time!!

Happy New Year!! :)

#43 Comment By Anonymous On March 16, 2013 @ 12:18 pm

Nobody mentioned Marsco. I’ve been using them for three years and think they’re great. $3.95 a trade. I used to be with Scottrade but they charge $7.00 a trade, but what really forced me to move is Scottrade started blocking trades on stocks that were moving up or down quickly and the only way to execute the trade was to actually call them and have them place it. I do a lot of trading. That nonsense cost me about $4000 in three months and I said enough is enough. Don’t have that problem with Marsco. The only negative for Marsco with some people might be that their online research is very very weak and almost non-existent. That means nothing to me because I never use the research tools on the brokerage sites but it may be a big deal to others.

#44 Comment By Anonymous On March 24, 2013 @ 7:26 pm

Sharebuilder is no longer for people living outside the US. Your citizenship has no effect – SB checks where you log in from. What will happen is that you can still check your positions but you can only sell, not buy. Now that Sharebuilder is part of Capital One instead of ING this no beyond-US-borders still holds.