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Top Online Stock Trading Sites

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Online stock trading sites offer investors access to a variety of tools and research that just a few years ago were only available through full service brokerage accounts.

There are many online stock trading sites to choose from, but narrowing down the field may seem time consuming and overwhelming.

Here are thirteen of the top-rated online stock trading sites that continually show up on just about every list of the best.

Ultimately, your choice is a personal one based on a number of factors and how you rank them in importance.

Not every online stock trading site on this list will work for you because some are stronger in one area, while weaker in another.

All of these sites encourage you to browse through their pages, although some parts will be off limits unless you have an account.

Here are online stock trading sites you should consider:

Charles Schwab

Schwab is the granddaddy of discount brokerage and is carrying this tradition to its online offering - although it is looking more like a traditional brokerage all the time. It offers its own research and clients can work with an investment advisor or Schwab will manage their account for them.

E*Trade

E*Trade gets high marks for its range of offerings including banking and mutual funds. The company has absorbed several other brokerage firms and is now a significant player in the online stock trading market. Like its competitors, active traders get lower rates on their trades.

Fidelity

Fidelity shows up at the top or near the top of almost every ranking of online stock trading brokers. They are not the least expensive, but top most lists in customer satisfaction. Fidelity is known for its research and investors can talk to advisors face-to-face at one of the many Fidelity investment centers.

Firstrade

One of the advantages of a brokerage account is consolidating your investment activity in one account cutting down paperwork. Firstrade topped a survey by Kiplinger as the online stock trading broker offering the most no-load mutual funds without a transaction fee.

Muriel Siebert

Muriel Siebert may not have the marketing muscle of other online stock trading sites but it is a solid brokerage house worth your look. The company receives high marks for customer service and research. The fee structure is straightforward and easy to understand.

OptionsXpress

Despite its name, this online stock trading site offers accounts that trade just about any type of security you want including options, stocks, mutual funds, exchange traded funds, futures and more. This site is easy to use and gets to the point. Not the cheapest, but tops in functionality.

Scottrade

Scottrade’s claim to fame is superior customer satisfaction as noted in J.D Power and Associates survey of online brokers. Commissions are on the low side and transactions are processed quickly.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade is another brokerage that is the result of mergers (Ameritrade was one of the merged companies and it has been around for a number of years). The company has a large selection of mutual funds and is noted for its responsiveness to customer inquiries.

Thinkorswim

This is a newcomer to the online stock trading scene, but worth checking out if you’re interested in something different. The site is not like any of the others, but Barron’s gives it extremely high marks, so despite its quirkiness, there’s plenty of substance.

TradeKing

TradeKing is the online stock trading site to checkout for low cost trading. This is their thing and SmartMoney.com, Barron’s and Kiplinger all agree. If you are looking for the best prices on trades, this is the place to start.

Vanguard

Vanguard made a name for itself at the low-cost leader in mutual funds. Vanguard is a solid company that excels in providing value to their customers and in consolidating investments in a brokerage account.

WallStreet*E

WallStreet*E combines low commissions with a broad range of web-based services to appeal to investors who want an integrated approach to investing and banking. The company offers a variety of online banking products and other services that will appeal to those who want to see their whole financial picture.

Wells Fargo

The financial services powerhouse Wells Fargo has an online stock trading site that fits it image of comprehensive services. You are offered five different levels of accounts depending on whether you want a strictly independent trading account or a version of their managed accounts. Investors looking for a single place to find all their financial services will find Wells Fargo a good place to start.

Conclusion

Online stock trading sites offer investors a wide range of tools, research and services.

Finding the right one for your style of investing and that meets your needs is a matter of visiting the sites to get a feel for the interface.

Pay attention to the fee structure and how it works with your trading style. If you are an infrequent trader, look for maintenance or inactivity fees.

If you want advice, see how that affects your trading costs.

Many of these sites will let you open a demo account, which will give you an idea how the real thing works.

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