A Cost Effective Way to Build Your Portfolio
Sharebuilder is a discount online brokerage firm similar to Scottrade, Etrade, and TD Ameritrade. Customers are offered a wide array of investment accounts including individual and joint accounts, traditional and Roth IRAs, and educational savings accounts. Sharebuilder also offers a number of different ways to invest, including real-time trades, automatic investing, options trading, and trading on margin. All major company stock from the US, IPOs, and a vast array of mutual and exchange-traded funds can all be traded via Sharebuilder accounts. Before investing any money, customers also have the ability to use a vast array of research tools on the Sharebuilder site that are very similar to the tools offered at many other online brokerages.
I have held accounts with Sharebuilder for over four years and have had no troubles with my account. I often use Sharebuilder's automatic investing features that allow customers to buy or sell stock for only $4 per trade. Compared to other online brokerages, this price is a bargain—Scottrade, Etrade, and TD Ameritrade all charge a minimum of $7 and up per trade. These automatic investing features allow customers to put their future in autopilot. An amount that the customer sets will be deducted from their bank account every month and placed in a Sharebuilder account. Of course, customers have the option of only participating in one trade at a time, giving the full flexibility that needed to ensure future financial success.
Unlike some other online brokerages, Sharebuilder requires no minimum account holdings and no minimum orders. That means that account holders can start investing with very small amounts of money. Because of this, Sharebuilder is a great way for young investors to start saving for their financial future. This is what I did, and I am extremely happy that I began building up my nest egg so long ago with Sharebuilder.
Selling Stock with Sharebuilder
The biggest issue that I have had with my Sharebuilder account is when I sell stock. Selling stock in real-time is simple and easy, but after you sell your stock, the money is in some state of limbo for about five days. The moment you press the trade button you lock in your stock price, but it takes some time to completely process this transaction. Since I live in an instant gratification world, I like to see my money right away. However, this is a very small issue if you plan and know when you will need the funds from selling your account holdings.
Types of Accounts Offered
At Sharebuilder, customers have the option of signing up for either a free account or a premium account that costs $12 a month. The premium account, which Sharebuilder calls “Advantage,” includes 12 automatic investments per month and offers customers discounts on real-time trades, options, and margin rates. Signing up for the Advantage account makes sense only if you make at least four automatic trades per month. The Advantage account also includes better research tools, but this is of little to no importance since these research tools can be found on many other websites.
Since I am a more sporadic investor, I have had no reason to sign up for their premium account and have been completely happy with what a basic account offers.
Online Investment Tools
Sharebuilder’s online investment tools are simply adequate. It offers most if not all the information needed to make an informed decision, but the user interface is still not as intuitive and user-friendly as that of Google Finance. Sharebuilder offers all the lists, guides, and numbers that you could ever need, but I usually find myself doing all of my research on other pages.
The Portfolio Interface
Unlike their investment tools, Sharebuilder’s portfolio interface is very simple and easy to use. When users sign into their account, they are greeted with a number of tabs to navigate through their account information. Users can view account holdings values as they update throughout the day under the “Positions” page, or users can view what their account holdings have done in the long run with the “Gains & Losses” tool.
Of everything offered in the portfolio sections of Sharebuilder.com, I have the lowest opinion of the gains and losses tool. Using this tool gives a picture of your account holdings and whether or not you have made money on those holdings, but it does not tell the whole story. Instead of just using your initial purchase price to track your gains and losses, this tool will continually add in all the dividends that have been added to your account. For example, if you purchase a stock for $100 and get a dividend of $2, Sharebuilder will show a zero percent change if the stock price has not changed. For record keeping purposed, Sharebuilder should say that your holding has had a two percent gain. The gains and losses tool just show generally how your accounts have performed, and the lack of dividend tracking is really only a minor annoyance.
From this portfolio interface, it is very easy to buy new stock or sell your account holdings. You can transfer money directly into your Sharebuilder accounts here, and you can also easily view your entire transaction history in this location. Again, simplicity is the name of the game here—Sharebuilder does not add extra fluff to these pages to distract for your important account information.
Other Sharebuilder Features
In 2007, Sharebuilder was purchased by ING Direct, which offers online banks accounts at high interest rates. When ING purchased Sharebuilder, prices for investing almost immediately went down, and customers could directly link their ING and Sharebuilder accounts. With normal bank accounts, it takes at least two days to transfer money between your bank and Sharebuilder. Once this buyout occurred, funds could then be immediately transferred between bank and brokerage.
Having these accounts linked is a great feature for all owners of ING Direct accounts, and really helps set Sharebuilder apart from the competition.
Special Deals and Offers on Sharebuilder
Frequently, Sharebuilder will offer new customers $25 or more to open a new account. There are certain criteria that can be effortlessly satisfied, making it easier than ever to get free money.
Also, doing a quick Google search for Sharebuilder promotional codes will almost always turn up an offer for free investment credits. When you input these codes into your account, you can essentially invest for free!
- Inexpensive trades
- Connectivity to ING Direct Accounts
- Good portfolio tools and interface
- Good selection of investment offerings and accounts
- Frequent online promotions
- Unsophisticated research tools
- Gains & Losses tools too simplistic
- Lag time when selling stock