Several companies online allow you to buy one share at a time or multiple shares without a broker both for investment and for gift giving. Buying individual shares of stocks is cheaper if you research and buy the stocks yourself rather than use a broker. However, do know that this introduces the risk that you will make a mistake in buying a stock.

When choosing where to buy single shares of stocks online, you want to consider the reputation of the company and the fees associated with the purchase. These can vary and even change over time. They will also depend on how often you plan to buy shares, and how much you plan to invest with each purchase.  So your reason for buying shares online and how much you plan to invest in a single purchase will determine which option is best for you.  Buy One ShareCredit: Flickr: 401(K)2012

Typical Costs of Buying Single Stocks Online for an Investment

All companies charge a per trade fee no matter the number of shares you buy. For example you may pay about $5 to $10 per trade no matter if you buy one share or 1,000 shares of a stock. If you plan to buy several hundred to several thousand dollars worth of shares in a single company at one time, then a per trade fee can be a bargain. But if you are buying one share at a time for yourself or a gift, then a per trade fee is going to be expensive.

There is also typically a commission where the online brokerage takes a percentage of money earned from the sale of any stock. Some companies will charge both a per trade fee for the purchase and then a commission when you sell the stock.

Some online brokerages will also charge an inactivity fee and require that you have a minimum amount, often in the thousands, to open an account. However if you are only dabbling in buying single shares of stocks, then such requirements and fees make investing prohibitive, especially if you are a beginning investor. The online brokerages on this list do not have minimums or inactivity fees as of 2012. You can get started investing with just a few dollars or buy an inexpensive, yet unique gift.

Sharbuilder is an ING Direct Investing, Inc. company that allows you to invest your money into a variety of options, from IRAs to educational accounts, and even by purchasing individual shares of stock. With an individual or joint investment account you make cash deposits that can then be used to purchase individual stocks of your choosing. Depositing the money can be done with a direct withdrawal from any checking account. No minimum deposit required.

Zecco Trading

Zecco Trading at usually has the cheapest per trade fee with no minimum to open an account. Zecco works much like Sharebuilder where you deposit cash and then make individual stock purchases and also has IRA options. The Zecco process for opening an account is streamlined and quick. If you visit the site during business hours and open your account, you can be trading and buying stocks online in about 30 minutes.

Where to Get Single Shares for Gifts

Single shares make great gifts for any graduation or even a 1st birthday to promote investing and savings. But they can also make a great gift for the hard to buy for teen who only wants clothes or cash. Instead buy her a single share of stock in her favorite clothing store. For a unique anniversary gift you can buy a single share for a company that has special meaning to the couple.

Several online companies make it easy to buy a single share of stock and still get the paper certificates to give as a gift. These include,, and You can also have the stock certificate framed, matted, and even add an engraving making this a perfect birthday or Christmas gift to get a child interested in investing or for the Disney fan in your life who has everything.

The cost of the certificate will vary and include the stock price, a transfer or processing fee, frame, and any extras such as engraving or gift wrapping.  Purchasing through one of these single share gift shops is not exactly an investment. But if your purpose is to give a nice gift that’s unique and encourages investing, then you will get exactly what you are looking for at any of these stock certificate gift shops.

Direct from the Company

With many companies you can still purchase shares directly from the company. This will save you any broker fees, but it’s not always the easiest process. First you have to identify which companies offer direct stock purchases and contact the department that handles direct sales. However, if you are just looking to make a gift purchase and would like to save some money, then this may be your best option.