Brokerages: Reviews & Comparisons
Brokerage firms provide varying levels of services and advice to investors large and small. The right brokerage for you depends on many factors, including how much you have to invest and your purpose for investing.
With so many brokerages to choose from it can be hard to know what features you should consider when shopping for a brokerage. This guide will show you how to filter your options and find the best brokerage for you.
How should you compare brokerages?
You should always check the reputation of any brokerage service you're considering. You can do this by looking at company ratings and consumer stock broker reviews. In addition, the questions below can guide you in choosing the best brokerage service for your needs.
What type of brokerage is the firm you are considering?When setting out to select a brokerage firm, there are a few types you can choose from:
- Full-service brokers offer the largest variety of financial services and will typically assign a licensed advisor to each client. These firms will usually charge higher commissions and fees.
- Discount brokers have smaller commissions and fees, but don’t always offer the more specialized products and services that full-service brokers carry.
- Online brokers provide users with direct access to trading platforms. This allows them to scale their services and charge the lowest fees and commissions.
- Robo-advisors are an automated portfolio management allows brokers to offer investment advice based on algorithms with little to no human intervention.
You will also find firms that provide a mix of the above brokerage types. For example, a company may provide an online broker dashboard with the option of enlisting the help of a broker to help with trades.
The right firm for you depends on your budget and how much assistance you need. Full-service brokerages feature traders who suggest or actively make investment decisions on behalf of their clients, while self-service online brokerages provide tools for investors to make their own transactions with little guidance. Naturally, full-service brokerages tend to be more expensive, but the expense may be worthwhile for novices. However, online brokerages are growing in popularity for all types of investors from beginners to experts as they offer convenience and varying levels of support.
What types of investments does the brokerage firm manage?
There is a wide range of investment vehicles available. SuperMoney's stock trading company reviews specify what investment vehicles you can trade with in each platform.In general, riskier vehicles have a larger potential for both gains and losses. Stocks, futures, options, and FOREX (currency trading) are among the riskiest investment vehicles. Less risky ventures with somewhat lower yields include municipal bonds and mutual funds. Experienced investors will be drawn to brokerages offering a range of investment vehicles, while novices may be okay with brokerages that focus on one or two.
What fees does the brokerage firm charge?
Fees are, of course, a big factor when choosing a brokerage firm as they will eat into your profits. Carefully compare the fees listerd in the brokerage reviews below. The fee types and amounts will vary from one firm to the next so it’s important to find out about any and all costs that will apply to your trading.
Common fees include:
- Broker assisted trading fees
- Online trade fees
- Annual fees
- Outgoing international bank transfer fees
- Incoming international bank transfer fees
- Incoming domestic bank transfer fees
- Returned deposit fees
- Exchange-traded fund trade fees
Fees can vary according to the level of assistance provided, the amount of money involved in a transaction, and the number of transactions completed within a month. Compare the fees of the firms you are considering to find the best value for your needs.
Is there a minimum investment required to open an account?
Brokerages may require you to invest a minimum amount to get started but not all will. Be sure to check this factor to ensure it aligns with the amount you want to invest.
What research tools are offered to investors by the brokerage firm?
Next, consider the amount and quality of research tools that a brokerage provides. In particular, online FOREX platforms routinely include practice accounts with “funds” that novices can use for practice investments (at no charge) before venturing into real trades.Some of the other research and educational tools offered include:
- Live seminars
- Global markets analysis
- Past earning reports
- Portfolio allocation
- SEC filings
- ETF top 10 holdings
- Social sentiment analysis
- Stock metric comparisons
- Account transfer fee reimbursement
- Mutual funds analysis
- Mutual bonds analysis
If you would like help researching your trades or practicing to gain experience, it will be important to evaluate the tools a brokerage provides.
What trading tools does the brokerage firm offer?
The standard brokerage features to look for include real-time quotes and filtering tools that allow users to monitor particular stocks or set limits according to price, volume, return on investment (ROI), and other factors. You should also look for brokerage services that allow you to create watch lists that include multiple buying and selling points for individual stocks. Experienced investors should seek brokerage services that allow users to add technical indicators and visual representations.
What features are offered by the brokerage firm?
Brokerages also vary in the features they offer investors, which can increase the value of a product.
SuperMoney's stock trading platform reviews list the main features of each brokerage.
Some of the common features include:
- No fee IRAs
- Online live chat
- Advisor services
- Automated trading strategy
- 24/7 support
- Dividend reinvestment
- No-commission ETFs
- Broker assisted trades
- Retail locations
- Account transfer fee reimbursement
- Declines payment for order flow (options and equities)
Consider a brokerage firm’s features in your vetting process.
What is the margin rate and minimum amount required to open a margin account?
Margin accounts enable you to borrow funds using the securities and cash invested in the brokerage as collateral. Check the broker’s margin rate range to find out how much it will cost you. Further, check the minimum amount that will be required to open the account to ensure it’s a good fit.
What do consumer brokerage reviews say about the quality of the brokerage's customer support?
Especially for novices, the availability of responsive customer service is very important. If you run into an issue, you’ll want someone who can resolve your concern quickly and efficiently. Research stock brokerage reviews to find out how it ranks in customer satisfaction.
Find the best brokerage account for your needs
Now you know the questions to ask when comparing brokerages. Ready to get started? We’ve made it easy for you by curating a list of the leading brokerage firms in the U.S. Compare the products and key features side-by-side to find the best fit for your needs. Plus, read real stock trading company reviews from past clients to find out how the firm ranks in customer satisfaction.
Minimum Initial Investment
Broker Assisted Trading Fee