After spending quite a while looking at different online brokers, I think TradeMonster might be the one I’ll choose. Its commissions ($7.50/trade) are higher than TradeKing and Zecco (and barely higher than Scottrade), but I pay a lot less in commission every year than I do in margin interest. Trademonster’s margin interest rate is super-low, around 3.5% for $0-50,000. This will save me hundreds and hundreds of dollars per year over Scottrade. The cost in commissions will be a bit, but I’m estimating to save money overall. For a heavy margin trader that doesn’t day-trade, this is a pretty good deal.
So, Zecco works OK, but there could be some major improvements to it.
1. Stock quotes in different tabs interfere with eachother. You’ll be reading about ADBE in one tab, and click to change the stock chart, and all of a sudden you’ll be looking at the chart for MSFT but it will still say ADBE at the top! This is really horrid, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to switch because of it.
2. The charting settings don’t seem to be saveable. I never want to see “Mountain” charts, only Candlesticks. I have to change this every single time. There’s a seperate popup window chart, but I hate popup windows.
3. The margin rates aren’t great – 7.5% for the amount I need. TradeKing is a full 1% less.
4. They don’t show your total daily percentage or dollar change in the positions pane – just the total gain in dollars and percent. I want the change for today! Scottrade had this and it was color coded too! This is not a hard feature to implement!
5. Their streaming quotes thing is pretty crappy – like, worse than Scottrade’s Java thing. And if I want the good one, I have to pay money. Lame!
6. They have a maximum character limit of 16 on password. What possible reason is there for this?
7. Extremely slow transfers into the account. My request was processed the 20th, and it won’t be cleared until the 29th. Scottrade was instant! They would credit your account before the funds cleared once they verified your balance with your bank – it was awesome.
So, I think I might start the transfer process today.
Zecco is my new favorite discount brokerage. They offer $4.50 trades for stocks and options, as well as $0 trades if you execute more than 25 trades a month or have more than $25,000 in your account. This is huge, as it basically eliminates a big part of the cost of personal investing. I highly recommend switching from whichever brokerage you’re using now.
They have a really nice user community interface that allows you to see what other users are doing in real-time, and how their portfolios are performing. You can also opt to share your performance with others, though I have this turned off currently.
I managed to move my entire account from Scottrade just using a web browser and email (of course, I had to take a picture of a paper document I signed and send in an image of it). But the ability to do this and avoid fax machines is very convenient.
I really like the options strategy builder. It allows you to see a real-time plot of how different straddles, strangles, naked and covered options work. It’s 100% customizable – you can plug in anything you want.