I still remember when I first decided that I wanted to start trading stocks online. At the time I had been investing in my 401 at work for about ten years and had recently started an IRA at a local Edward Jones office. Of course the broker at Edward Jones basically told me exactly what to invest in which was fine because what did I know? Not much. Then one day I read that XM Satellite Radio was only a few days away from their initial public offering or IPO. For those that don’t know this is what it is called when a company first starts selling stocks on the open markets like the NYSE and the NASDAQ. Anyways, in my “expert” opinion I felt this was a great stock to own especially right out of the gate. So I headed over to the Edward Jones office to tell my broker that I would like to buy as much as I could with the money in my account. Well I’m sure on the inside he was laughing his butt off but he kept his composure and simple told me that I might want to consider opening a separate account with one of the top online stock brokerage firms. This way I could trade in stocks that I felt were good investments without risking the money for my retirement. So after discussing it with my wife this is exactly what I was going to do.

Women in Waldorf-Astoria Ticker TapeCredit: Underwood & Underwood, Photographer - Wiki Commons

Over the next few days I did a lot of research on the many online brokers available at the time. After careful consideration I finally picked the one that seemed to work best for me which was Scottrade. The reasons I chose them were because of the low amount needed to open an account and their low cost per trade. Plus they had a good reputation for customer service and they had been around for a long time.


List of Top Online Stock Brokerage Firms


Now you probably are not reading this to hear about a nobody like me. You probably want to know more about the top online stock brokerage firms available today. So let’s get to it. Below in now specific order you will find some basic information of five of the top online brokers. I will also include a link to all the brokerages websites so you compare for yourself. When you are done reading you should be much more informed making your choice of broker that much easier.

  • Scottrade – Has been around since 1980 and today has more than 500 local branches across the country. You can open an account for a minimum of $500. Each online trade cost $7.99 for all stocks over $1.00 no matter what the quantity. They also have many other features and option to numerous to mention here. You can fine more information at www.Scottrade.com.


  • ETrade - ETrade is one of the most famous stock brokerage firms that exist online. It is one that you will often see television ads about and other advertisements. Just this year ETrade was voted as the Number One online brokerage firm by the website stockbrokers.com. That is high praise indeed and ETrade is certainly deserving of this praise. After all, with their services you can trade anywhere for any amount of money you want. They even have great services such as ETrade Mobile Pro. This way, you can handle all your trades on the go and you can even manage your accounts through text messaging. They also require a $500 minimum and their online trades cost $9.99. You can find more at www.Etrade.com.


  • ThinkorSwim - Another excellent website that does not receive the same recognition is ThinkorSwim. While they may not advertise as much and, thus, are not as main stream, they are still a fantastic company. In 2010 they were voted as the best online trading company by Barron's. That is very high praise as Barron's takes their ratings very seriously. You have a lot of options with ThinkorSwim and they have very low fees for trading transactions. This makes it the perfect company for people who trade often and do a lot of buying and selling. When you first sign up, you can get promotional offers and money off on your initial trades as well. You can find out more at www.Thinkorswim.com.


  • Trade King - This is a service that is best known for the ease at which you can trade and the quickness of each transaction. They also have a very competitive commission structure, so their fees do not eat up into your profits as can be the case with some websites. There are around 200,000 people who use this website, so it is definitely a popular option. Their minimum cost per trade for stocks is $4.95 and they have no minimum amount for opening an account. This definitely makes it one of the top online stock brokerage firms that you can choose from. You can find out more at www.Tradeking.com.


  • TD Ameritrade - Is another great option if you are looking for a top online brokerage. They have no minimum requirement to open an account and have a flat rate of $9.99 for all online equity trades. You can find more information at www.TDAmeritrade.com.

Most of these companies are very comparable with their features like offering online banking, options trading, bonds, IRAs and even trading tools and educational sections. None of them have maintenance fees and many of them have sign on bonuses ranging from free trades to free money. These bonuses are ever changing so if you are planning on opening an account take the time to investigate each site for details.

Hopefully this list of top online stock brokerage firms has help get you one step closer to making your or first online stock trade. Good luck and happy trading. And for what it’s worth that first trade I made buying XM Satellite more than doubled my money in less than a few months. So take that Edward Jones.