Last fall I made the switch to TradeKing for my traditional and Roth IRA’s. I’ve been promising a TradeKing review for a while, so this is long overdue. Having held discount broker accounts with ETrade, Vanguard, Fidelity, TradeKing, Scottrade, Fidelity, Schwab, and a few others, I have a little more experience in this area than I’d probably like to, so hopefully this review provides some useful discount broker comparisons and commentary.
What is TradeKing?
TradeKing is an online discount broker that has a low fee trading structure and strong customer service. Plain and simple. I’ll get into what types of accounts you may want to consider opening or moving to TradeKing in a bit. You can trade stocks, funds, options and other equities through TradeKing.
Let’s cut right to what most of us care about the most when it comes to investing online with a discount broker – the fees.
- Stocks: $4.95 (online and even broker assisted on the phone)
- Options: +$0.65 per contract
Other than OptionsHouse (geared towards options traders) at $3.95 per trade, TradeKing’s trading fees are the lowest price of any legit discount broker that I am aware of.
I have my non-retirement account with Zecco because of their low priced trades, and my IRA’s with TradeKing. I’ll tell you why I went with both in the next section.
Here’s where TradeKing really excels. Whereas some discount brokers try to nickel and dime you with account inactivity fees and IRA fees, TradeKing does not. If you have over $2,500 in an account balance or make 1 trade over 12 months, there are no inactivity fees. And there are no “maintenance” fees. They also don’t have an annual IRA fee.
TradeKing’s price to buy in to mutual funds is a little bit higher than some discount brokers who offer a number of no-fee funds, at $14.95 to initially buy into a fund, but still very competitive to other broker’s funds with fees (i.e. E-Trade funds cost $19.99). If you prefer ETF’s over funds, that’s not really an issue. Here is a complete list of TradeKing fees.
TradeKing has no minimum balance for their accounts. This is a key factor for someone just getting into investing for the first time, who might not have a lot of money to put into an account right from the get go.
How is the TradeKing Customer Service?
The one time that I called in, I got someone on the phone right away, that person spoke great English, and they followed up with a promised email with documentation minutes after the call. This year, Smart Money rated TradeKing #1 in customer service in 2010 and gave them a 5 star (out of 5 ranking).
For those who like the chat customer service option, TradeKing offers live chat support 8 AM – 6 PM Monday through Friday. No complaints here.
Trading Tools at TradeKing:
TradeKing certainly doesn’t skimp on their tools. With all of the discount brokers I’ve used and the tools included for free in their interfaces, TradeKing can’t be beat in this area. Quickly summarizing each of their tools:
- MarketGrader Research Reports: This is basically an analytical analysis tool that grades stocks (not dissimilar from Morningstar) and whether analysts predict then to outperform or not.
- Technical Analysis: For experienced traders who use the charts, TradeKing provides chart pattern recognition, price forecasting and full educational support.
- Interactive Charts: includes volatility and technical indicators.
- Maxit Tax Manager: A cost-basis and tax reporting tool to help make things easier around tax time.
- Other Tools: probability calculator, profit & loss calculator, options calculator, options scanner, and stock screener.
This might be an area where you’d be disappointed if you were interested in banking services in addition to trading services. TradeKing is not a full-service bank, so don’t expect a debit card, checking account, mortgage loans, or other bank related services.
It’s one of the two discount brokers I use at the moment, so obviously, I like them. Good service, account security, low trading fees, and no other fees to screw you over. I’d recommend using them for both a regular trading account and a retirement account.
- TradeKing is currently offering $150 in reimbursements for those who switch a non-retirement account to them.
- They also offer a $50 referral fee if you refer a friend ($50 for both you and your friends).