Online Brokerages--which one?

I’m finally getting off my backside and want to invest. I’m having a minor problem, though, that there are so many online brokerages (US-based) with seemingly identical offerings. I can’t figure out which one is right for me. I’m planning maybe 5 or 6 trades per year. Yeah, big spender here. I don’t need most of that other stuff, like “research.” Please jump in with your positives or negatives with brokerages you’ve used.

I’ve used E*Trade, which kind of sucks and has fairly high fees ($10/trade, I think, although it might be higher) and, which also kind of sucks but gives you 10 free trades/month.

I have used Scottrade for my IRA. I have very few trades, and their $7 fee seems reasonable. I haven’t had any problems with them so far.

I use zecco to avoid the transaction fees. I almost always do fewer than 10 trades a month.
If you want to use any of their fancier tools, you have to pay for them, but I don’t.

I like to use Yahoo’s free stock screener and research on Yahoo finance and then do my trades on zecco.
About a week after i started using them, the trade center went down for most of a day. People were screaming bloody murder on the message boards, but I havent’ seen any down time or problems since then.

Sent you a PM. I’ve worked in the online brokerage industry for quite a while and I’d be happy to answer any general questions in the public forum about the industry.

When I researched this about 6 months ago, I found that TradeKing seemed to have the best terms. I just haven’t sent them my initial deposit because money has been tight. :frowning:

Wow! That was fast. Thanks everyone for your suggestions. You’ve narrowed down my choices.

I’ve used TD Ameritrade since they were Datek–they’re not the cheapest but other than that I have no complaints. They hook up neatly to my Quicken and I can check my balances whenever I want to. I think that will be some time in 2010.

[Hijack sorry]bink could you tell me a bit more about Ameritrade? What has been your experience with them and so on. For example, how is their order routing or customer service? You mentioned costs, do you feel like they try to nickel and dime you to death (like e-trade)?

Also, what kind of investor are you? Do you like to buy and hold? Rebalance every year or a few times a year? Active trader? Fundamental or technical trader?

The reason I ask is because they are acquiring the brokerage I use. I’ve asked around and the responses have generally been pretty negative. You’re the first person I’ve seen to say you like them. I was thinking of switching to another brokerage but I don’t want to rely only on negative responses.

The reason I left Ameritrade is they had inactivity fees; if you didn’t do a trade within a certain time period they’d deduct $5 or from your account.

I used E*Trade to make a bundle back in 1999-2001, but I will never use them again and am happy to tell others why.

For some mysterious reason, one digit on my SSN got changed on their records. Beats the heck out of me how, because it certainly wasn’t my fault. Just one day I get a notice that it isn’t correct and I can’t trade until it’s corrected. Cost me quite a bit of time and money (in lost trades) to get it sorted out.

ESPECIALLY since none of their customer service people had the slightest fucking clue how I was supposed to fix the damned thing, including the supervisors.

Then, about 8-9 months later, it somehow got changed back to the false number. Again, I didn’t do anything. It was their fuckup. But I had to jump through all the hoops all over again. That time it took several months and I’d had enough of those assclowns, so I sold all my stocks and emptied the accout. That was fall of 2001. When I went through the phone system to get my final check, less than one month after having fixed my SSN for the second time, IT WAS WRONG AGAIN. Fortunately, I was able to enter the same bad SSN they kept reverting to and get the funds.

Somehow, I ended up with $0.17 cents in my account after all that. They continued to send me statements for more than seven years (costing them Og knows how much money) until the beginning of this month when they sent me a check for that 17 cents. Damn straight I cashed it!

I’ve never been subject to inactivity fees on Ameritrade. I buy and hold; I don’t even remember when my last trade was! Maybe my DRIPs count as activity?

Honestly, I’ve never done anything that complicated with them and don’t know anything about their order routing. It costs 10.99 per trade–I punch in what I want to buy/sell, what kind of trade, how much for how many shares, and ping, it’s done. With that level of activity, I’m happy with them.

I use BuyAndHold. It’s bare bones. I wouldn’t use it as a source for anything but it’s only $2.99 for “window trades” so it’s great if you’re only using small amounts of money. You can also set up monthly contributions into 401ks and junk.

Customer service is EXCELLENT and it’s very cheap, but there’s next to nothing as far as information and research available.

There are no inactivity fees any longer at TD Ameritrade. Many firms started charging these fees after trading volume dropped after the dot com bust. Firms such as TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and Fidelity are trying to move away from from making money from trading volume alone

I use Sharebuilder, which allows me to auto-invest. I have the stocks set up that I wish to purchase and a dollar amount for each, and on a weekly (or bi-weekly or monthly) basis, Sharebuilder will draft funds and automatically invest for me. You can also do regular trades for $9.95 each. The auto-invest option has a monthly fee…I pay $20 per month for 20 auto trades.

The perception remains apparently. I stand corrected.