As an avid trader and stock blogger, I've been a loyal user of trading software such as Scottrade, E-Trade, and TD Ameritrade. Each trading platform has its pros and cons, and each charge in the range of $7 to $9 per trade. I read recently some reviews of a newer platform called Tradeking, including a "Best Of 2009" mention it received in Smart Money, so I took notice and decided to give it a try. Here's what I found:
Cheaper than ScottTrade, Ameritrade, and E-Trade @ $5 per trade
TradeKing charges a very low (lowest I've seen) $4.95 per trade and $0.65 per option contract. The nice part is that its simple and straightforward, those low prices stay 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.
(here's a screen grab from their site showing their prices vs the top competitors)
(Click to see if Tradeking is running their $150 worth of free trades sign up promotion.)
Clean and fast interface for making trades - with fast execution routing
Trading on Tradeking is fairly similar to other platforms such as E-Trade. It's a clean and simple interface where you can enter in your trade information and preview trade totals based on real-time share prices that update right there on the screen.
See more screenshots on Tradeking's website.
Brokers generally have to execute your orders at the best price available - but TradeKing goes further to offer you the best execution, which means they include speed of transaction, execution price, price improvement opportunities and liquidity in their measure of execution. In fact, if the broker is unable to obtain the best price available, your trade is free.
My favorite quotes interface - quick access to essential information on each stock
You can see from the screengrab that quote information is provided in a nice and simple interface. Not much too different from other providers, but good that they didn't clutter it up needlessly - and it's fast.
Communities and forums that I actually used - good tips and feedback on trade ideas
I've always loved the Message Boards section of Yahoo! Finance as well as other online forums where you can see the latest chatter about each stock. While you have to filter through the muck usually, it's just a good way to guage sentiment and pick up on bits of information. Tradeking seems to have focused on building in great community tools to enable its users to connect and share ideas. The users on Tradeking are definitely a step up from your standard open forum, and I found there to be plenty of interesting insights into trades and stocks.
Tradeking even provides a Leaderboard to show the top performing users - always nice to check in on what the winners are doing :)
Lots of fundamentals data and research
Tradeking offers in-depth research on stock fundamentals. This is pretty standard stuff for many trading packages. The main difference with Tradeking's approach is that they aggregate a lot of the research and fundamentals data out there from different data providers and research houses and put it together into a report card that weighs various factors and comes up with a weighted average score for measures like Growth, Value, Profitability, etc. It's great if you're the type that just likes to take the top-level data and go with it, but not for those who like to crunch their own numbers and run their own fundamentals formulas. Either way, its a clean interface that provides a wealth of information.
I'm thoroughly impressed with Tradeking and in fact I'm moving more of my trading activity over to this new platform. The management team has obviously done a great job developing a clean, reliable, fast platform for trading - bolstered it with great extra features like community and research - and offers it all at a rock bottom price that the competition has not yet matched. Kudos to the company - and good news for us active traders.
Not sure if they are still running their sign up promotion, but here's the link: see if TradeKing is still running their $150 worth of free trades offer.