How Do You Choose an Online Broker?

May 18, 2010

Choosing an online discount broker isn’t a simple task if you’re anything like me.  There are many companies to choose from, each of which has different strengths and weaknesses and you want to be sure to choose the best one for you.  Just like picking a bank, insurance company, mortagage lender, or other financial service company you probably go back and forth over the decision because the one you choose will have an impact on whether your money is put to good use.

Discount Broker Reviews

Luckily for us, SmartMoney magazine conducts an annual broker survey where they evaluate the online brokerages on a number of criteria and come up with a list of the worst and best online brokers.

The survey rates each discount broker from one to five stars in each category to come up with category winners; and also picks an overall winner.  This year’s survey is coming out in the latest edition of SmartMoney so we don’t know quite yet who the best are in each category.

I’m curious which aspects matter the most to you when choosing an online broker.  Here are the categories that the survey rates:

  • Commissions & Fees
  • Investment Products & Mutual Funds
  • Customer Service
  • Trading Tools
  • Banking Services
  • Research

Which of these are most important to you?


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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6 Responses to How Do You Choose an Online Broker?

  • Daddy Paul

    I buy the best no load funds. Picking single stocks is not a game many should be playing.

  • Ben

    Lynn, you can see the results from last year’s SmartMoney broker survey here,

    This year’s isn’t online yet as far as I can tell but should be soon, I’ll include a link once it’s available.

  • Lynn

    Couldn’t find the results for the annual survey on Smart Money’s website. Can you link up when it is available? Thanks.

  • Liza

    It’s hard for me to pick just one, my goal is to get the best mix of all those. If I had to pick the least important it would probably be banking services.

    The one that probably has the most immediate impact on my investment return would be the broker commission and fees.


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