Rating Discount Brokers

June 22, 2009
Special Feature

SmartMoney’s 17th annual discount broker survey shows that not all discount brokers are the same.

The tsunami that has overwhelmed the stock market over the past several months has many investors frustrated and downright angry with their brokers. Many are turning to discount brokers, figuring that at least they will pay less money for their stock trades. But discount brokers aren’t all the same, as SmartMoney’s 17th annual discount broker survey shows.

If you’re just looking for cheap trades, the survey winner in that category is a relative newcomer, Just2Trade. Launched two years ago, Just2Trade charges a rock-bottom $2.50 per trade for both stocks and mutual funds. If you’re interested in more than price, however, you may want to explore other options — Just2Trade finished in the middle of the pack overall, falling short in categories like customer service, trading tools, and the number of investment choices offered. Higher up the list, at fourth overall, is TradeKing, which charges $4.95 a trade and got high marks in customer service, as well as offering trading tools like pre-market and aftermarket trading and the ability to make trades over a smartphone.

Topping SmartMoney’s overall list were veteran discount brokers like E*Trade, Fidelity, and Charles Schwab. All of these brokers got high rankings in virtually every category. Active traders should be aware, however, that the per-trade costs for these brokerages is higher, ranging from $10 to almost $13. For the complete SmartMoney survey, click here.