TradeKing may be a deep-discount broker, but its powerful blend of customer service, research, data and trade technology puts it in line with some of its more well-known — and higher-priced — competition. It’s always a strong contender in NerdWallet’s online broker roundups, topping our list of the best online brokers for stock trading.TradeKing
TradeKing is best for:
- Active traders
- Fee-conscious traders
- Frequent stock traders
- Top-tier research
- Free data analysis software
- User-friendly tools
While TradeKing is a formidable option for frequent traders, it’s not ideal for mutual fund or ETF investors, or beginner investors looking to open an IRA with hands-off investment options like target date funds. Rather, TradeKing is a robust trading platform with some of the lowest stock-trade commissions around, free analysis software and data, and an active trader community to help you bounce around strategies.
Open an account and new clients get a $200 cash bonus with a balance over $3,000 and at least three trades within 90 days of account opening. TradeKing will also reimburse up to $150 in transfer fees and provide a $100 cash referral bonus if you recommend a new account.
TradeKing at a glance
|Account Minimum||$0, but $50 inactivity fee on accounts with no executed trades in last 12 months and a combined value of less than $2,500|
|Account Fees||$50 outgoing transfer or IRA closing fee|
|Mutual Funds||$9.95 per trade. No transaction-fee free mutual funds.|
|Options||$4.95 + $.65 per contract|
|Broker-Assisted Trades||$20 + regular commission|
|Research and Data||Free|
|Customer Service||Phone service and support 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday; live chat and email support.|
Where TradeKing shines
Commissions: Only a few online brokers can beat TradeKing’s low stock and ETF trade commission of $4.95, and the fact that the company’s pricing is so clear cut is an added bonus. Options contracts are similarly low priced at $4.95 plus 65 cents per contract, and multi-leg options orders are priced the same as single leg, with only one base charge. The company’s own analysis shows that 50 contracts through TradeKing will cost $37.95, compared to $47.49 at ETrade and $69.50 at Scottrade.
Account minimum: TradeKing makes it easy for investors to get started, with a $0 account minimum.
Trading platform: Last time we reviewed TradeKing, we noted that its platform was disappointing to some users. The company’s launch of TradeKing Live! has changed that, though it’s a slow rollout and customers need to request access. Still, this is a big step up: The new platform, which is browser-based, offers quick trading capabilities, real-time streaming quotes and data, and a customizable dashboard, and is available for customers who trade at least once per year or maintain an account balance of $2,500. TradeKing Live! has also advanced the ability for customers to trade via mobile devices. Read our in-depth TradeKing Live Review here.
Research and tools: TradeKing offers a suite of tools that exceed expectations for a discount broker, including above-average charting capabilities, free research reports from S&P, and a range of calculators, like an options pricing calculator and a profit and loss calculator. It also has an online trader network, a sort of social media for traders, where users can get insight from others, share strategies and exchange trading notes. Finally, an upgraded platform, Quotestream, is available to investors who trade at least 10 times per month. Quotestream includes streaming quotes — as you might expect — along with multiple watchlists, option chains, an investment tracker and most active list.
Where TradeKing falls short
Commission-free ETFs: TradeKing has none, which isn’t terribly uncommon among discount brokers, but it makes the company a poor option for an investor who wants to dollar-cost average into ETFs each month, as the $4.95 charge for doing so will add up quickly.
Mutual funds: Again, the company doesn’t offer any transaction-fee free mutual funds, which can be costly to account holders who want to invest a little bit on a regular basis. On the plus side, mutual fund trades are priced at just $9.95, which is low when compared to close competitor OptionsHouse, which charges $20 per mutual fund trade. Mutual fund investors would still be better off at an online broker who offers a large selection of transaction-fee free funds.
Inactivity fee: Customers who don’t place at least one trade per year or maintain a balance of $2,500 will be charged a $50 inactivity fee. In the grand scheme of things, this is not a dealbreaker for most users; still, it’s worth pointing out because it’s an asterisk next to TradeKing’s $0 account minimum requirement.
The bottom line
TradeKing is a great online broker for active traders for a laundry list of reasons, not the least of which are its low prices and above-average trading tools for a discount brokerage. It’s also a strong selection for investors who trade options, with some of the best pricing available. But beginner investors and customers who typically invest in mutual funds and ETFs should look for a brokerage that offers a selection of those investments with no transaction fees or commissions.
To compare TradeKing to other online brokers and sort the options by your investing needs, use NerdWallet’s Online Brokerage Comparison Tool.
More from NerdWallet:
- Best Brokers for Stock Trading
- Best IRA Account Providers
- Best Roth IRA Account Providers
- Best Robo Advisors
- Online Broker Reviews
- Best Day Trading Platforms and Trading Software
- Best Online Brokers for Beginners
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