TradeKing seems like an amazing brokerage firm so I was excited before I even reviewed them. What I found didn’t disappoint, as TradeKing focuses on customer’s needs from the beginning of the company’s inception. Let me walk you through why I recommend this broker as your trading platform of choice in this review.
Essence of a Solid Discount Stock Broker
There are a few areas that I am particularly interested in when I look at a stock broker. They are:
- Solid Technologies – A website that doesn’t go down, responsive service etc. If I cannot exit my positions when the market is crashing because most people are logged on, then I will stay away even if the company offers me money every time I trade.
- User Interface – Functions and prompts should make sense and the the flow should make sense from one page to the next
- Inexpensive trades – Stocks, options, and ETFs are what I normally trade so I’m most interested in these.
- Fast Execution and Routing – The stock broker needs to try hard to obtain shares at the price I want.
- Research Tools – This is nice but it’s not crucial since I can get it everywhere else online.
- Extras – Low margin rates for the few times that I use it, or whether they offer anything else that the competition don’t etc
Now let’s see how TradeKing performs in these areas.
Unlike some of its competition, a quick search online doesn’t reveal any outage issues for TradeKing (a very good sign). Also, jumping from page to page doesn’t seem to take forever to load, even when there’s a big announcement in the market (usually a time when online stock brokers start to become less responsive due to heavy load). This is obviously a never ending test as I continue to work with this broker but so far so good.
I started trading stocks with Etrade Financial and I was spoiled with its user interface. I thought that every company’s interface would be comparable and made just as much sense but boy was I wrong. Luckily, TradeKing offers a solid platform for my trading needs. For example: The share price of a stock would conveniently show up on the screen after I type in the symbol (you’d be surprised that many brokers don’t do this). On the same screen, I can get a snapshot of all the essential facts about the company as well as trade the stock, see all the options chains, insider activity and advanced chart with another click of the mouse.
TradeKing is hard to beat when it comes to stock trade pricing. At $4.95 per trade, it is easily one of the lowest in the industry and the price stays the same whether you trade once a year or more than once every day. The straightforward pricing extends further because you can trade through the phone (known as broker-assisted trades) for the same low price of $4.95. I imagine most people can make trades online by themselves but it is great to know that the option is there just in case, like times when your computer is down but need access to the market.
As for options trading, the prices are or $4.95 per trade + $0.65 per contract. Not as straight forward as pricing on stock trades, so keep that in mind when you are trying to calculate your break even points.
Fast Execution and Smart Routing
Any stock broker has an obligation to execute customer orders at the best price available and TradeKing takes this a step further to offer best execution. In their eyes, best execution includes speed of transaction, execution price, price improvement opportunities and liquidity. In fact, if the broker is unable to obtain the best price available, your trade is free.
I’m slowly falling in love with the stock screener that TradeKing provides. I like the fact that it has tons of filters and that I can actually save the criteria so I don’t have to hand pick them every single time I want to use it. The technicals of a stock is so important for short term trading and TradeKing offers free technical analysis with every account. Even though studying the charts thoroughly is highly recommended, I like the quick summary that tells you whether the analysis signal a bullish or bearish tone. Among other tools, TradeKing also offers live webinars for us to attend, an options playbook (the most comprehensive guide on options I’ve read), and a forum for traders to talk about the market and different strategies.
An Update on the Webinars: Being an account owner of many stock brokers, I receive different invitations to webinars hosted by Etrade, TD Ameritrade, TradeKing, OptionsXpress among others. What I noticed was that TradeKing hosts many more webinars than others, and they make it available to everyone no matter how much assets you have (alternatively, Etrade and I believe TD Ameritrade seems to offer more services to people with more assets).
TradeKing Maxit Tax Manager
I used to hate doing taxes because the amount of trades, dividends and re-investments made the schedule D next to impossible to create. As a result, I used to pay about $80 a year for a service to have my trades automatically uploaded and organized. When I found out that TradeKing has a similar service built into their platform, I wanted to check it out.
Powered by Scivantage Maxit, the system will:
- Track the cost basis of all securities and transactions real time
- Adjust for mergers, splits and spin offs automatically
- Automatically handle wash sales
- Unrealized and realized gains and losses information are available at a touch of a button
- Generate a schedule D automatically
Best of all, it came with the account for free. No more importing and exporting and a savings of at least $80.
Customer Service and Awards
It’s comforting to know that TradeKing is known in the industry for its awesome customer support. In fact, the company has won many awards including the “Best Customer Service”, “Best for Option Traders” and “Best for Long-Term Investing” according to Barron’s and Smart Money.
A nice little feature I really like about the broker is the live chat feature. Instead of picking up the phone, I can launch live chat in a small window and just type my question. This instant messenger type system is efficient, natural for me and I can often get my questions answered within minutes. Thank you TradeKing, because I no longer need to press “0” as fast as I can in an attempt to get to a representative after I call the 1-800 number.
TradeKing’s margin rates are consistently among the lowest in the industry. Also, they are currently offering to reimburse up to $150 in transfer fee for you to switch over to them. With all that the stock broker has to offer, it can be tempting to take the plunge. However, deciding on the stock broker you stick with is an important choice, so remember to open an account and make sure you are comfortable with everything the broker does and doesn’t offer before making the switch.
- TradeKing.com – Official Site