Which Platform Should You Choose for Online Stock Trading?

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The following is a guest post from Jason Laurents. Enjoy!

Choosing a Platform for Online Trading

Investing in the stock market is by no means an easy task. Even more experienced traders have a difficult time calling the right investments, but that doesn’t mean a novice investor can’t do well for themselves. Even during this economic downturn, choosing to invest in the stock market can still provide excellent return on investments. Making the right investments is all about analysis, timing, and emotionless decision making. You also need a great broker.

Unfortunately, choosing to hire a broker can be expensive – especially if you choose one from a more distinguished firm. While these individuals have incredible knowledge about the stock market, they also charge high commission fees which can greatly reduce your return on investment, and quite honestly, not many people have the additional funds to hire such a broker.

Online Brokerage Options

However, for those wishing to avoid the high brokerage fees, there are numerous online trading platforms that can help with trading. These online trading platforms allow users to purchase stocks at relatively inexpensive prices and provide users with the most up-to-date analysis available so that they may make educated investing decisions. A few of the most popular platforms for online investing include:

• E-Trade
• Scottrade
• Fidelity

While each of these platforms has their own unique advantages and disadvantages, they are all industry leaders and generally good choices. Prior to choosing a firm, investors should read reviews including the E-Trade, Fidelity, and Scottrade review at different sites around the Web to ensure they are choosing the company that will best suit their needs and budget.

What to Look for in an Online Broker

Investors using online trading platforms also don’t have to worry about going at trading alone. Most of the online companies have brokers on staff who are willing and able to assist users and help them make good investing decisions. However, before signing up with an online trading platform, investors should always make sure that they are choosing a company with minimal account fees and low margin rates.


Trading stocks online can be a great way to invest additional savings, but investors should not let online trading become their only investments. The stock market is highly volatile, and those who don’t give their investments the time and dedication they need, risk losing their hard earned money. Diversification is, and always will be, the best way to manage your investments, and although only investing can produce worthwhile ROIs, no investor should ever rely on them solely for their savings.

How about you all? What is your favorite online stock and/or mutual fund trading brokerage? 

What features do you specifically look for in an online broker?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

Jacob’s Thoughts – Listed below are my random thoughts as I was reading this article.

  • @ Investing Strategy of Buying/Selling Individual Stocks – 
    • If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know that I am not the biggest fan of individual stock trading. 
    • Instead, I employ what’s called a passive investing strategy/approach.
    • However, I’m not totally against people investing in individual stocks. In fact, I think it’s healthy to invest a little play money in stocks to test your hand at fundamental and technical analysis. However, I would not recommend that any one base their retirement funds on money invested in individual stocks.
  • @ 3 Online Brokers Listed Above –
    • Of the 3 online brokers listed above, I’ve only bought and sold mutual funds with Fidelity and Scottrade. I have never used E-Trade.
    • Between the pair of Scottrade and Fidelity, Fidelity is definitely better for investing in mutual funds, mostly because they offer low-cost index mutual funds which trade free of commission within a Fidelity account.
    • For individual stock trading online, I would not recommend Scottrade, Fidelity, or E-Trade. Instead, I would go with a discount broker such as Zecco.com or Sogotrade.com. Both of these offer trades for around $3-$4. 
  • @ Diversification –
    • Diversification is extremely important in saving for retirement. If you must invest in individual stocks, be sure to own at least 5 stocks in different industries to obtain sufficient diversification.
    • In addition, before investing in stocks, ensure that you have 1) health insurance and 2) an adequate emergency fund consisting of 6-9 months of expenses in a liquid, cash account.

***Photo courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/ivanwalsh/3914312938/sizes/o/in/photostream/


  1. I have used Scottrade religiously for years and love it. I have recently switched to Wells Fargo because I get free trades, but I still use Scottrade for research.

    Some very important points for me are research options and price. Scottrade has both!
    My recent post New Coupon Site: Coupon Chief

    • Thanks for sharing Robert! I'm shocked that Wells Fargo offers free trades! What are the details/stipulations for that? Is it a certain # of stock trades per month that that only applies to? Do you have to have a min. account balance?
      My recent post My Personal Finance Journey Vs. The United States of America – Round 2 – What Interest Rate is Your Savings Account Earning?

  2. Andrea @SoOverDebt says:

    Posts like this one are always interesting to me because I want to dip my toes in the world of investing. I did open a Roth IRA through ShareBuilder, but I'm not sure if I want to keep everything in one place or try something new. I know I definitely need to learn more before I even try to invest on my own!

    • Thanks for reading Andrea! You're at an exciting time! It took me around 4-5 years before I really nailed down an investment strategy I was comfortable with. Thankfully, I was young at this time, so I'm hoping it will pay off in the long run.

      I also have a Roth IRA with Sharebuilder. It was one of the 1st investing accounts I opened back in 2005-2006.

      If I had to do it all over, I would probably not use this account because I've found that using a passive investing approach with Vanguard ETFs and mutual funds works better for my purposes!
      My recent post My Personal Finance Journey Vs. The United States of America – Round 2 – What Interest Rate is Your Savings Account Earning?

  3. I use Zecco for the trading I do in my Roth. My son has his account at Scottrade since they allow accounts for minors, so I've used that a bit too to do some trades for him.

    • Hey Jackie! Nice work! Zecco is one of the best/lowest cost brokerages out there!

      However, I'd use caution in investing for RETIREMENT with Zecco because you want to make sure that you don't have only individual stocks which will fund your living during your later years.

      Instead, I'd recommend using lower cost index mutual funds with Vanguard of Fidelity. Or, you can do index ETFs through Zecco, as well.
      My recent post My Personal Finance Journey Vs. The United States of America – Round 2 – What Interest Rate is Your Savings Account Earning?

  4. I have too many accounts open:). Our Roth IRAs are at Vanguard, I have a sharebuilder account not being used, a Fidelity account not being used, and two custodial accounts for my neice and nephew at sharebuilder as well. Which do I like most? We have a fund at Vanguard outside of retirement and I like the platform and ease of use.

    • I'm about the same Amanda! I have many accounts that I've tried and have left stagnant over the years.

      However, I have settled on my favorite broker being Vanguard by far. As a passive investing, you simply cannot beat their low cost index mutual fund offerings.
      My recent post My Personal Finance Journey Vs. The United States of America – Round 2 – What Interest Rate is Your Savings Account Earning?

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