TradeKing Review - Best Online Broker
Published 5/5/09 (Modified 3/22/11)
Bonus Promotion Code: $150 Offer For New TradeKing Account Transfers
The first thing you'll notice right away with online discount broker TradeKing is that the company has received quite a number of accolades and praises over the recent years for various high performing aspects of their popular investment brokerage business. In fact, when it comes to acknowledging the awards, the company is definitely not bashful about flaunting the coveted certificate of merits, and proudly name drops them whenever they can.
A quick visit of their website reveals numerous mentions and displays of graphical award banners from popular sources of financial critique and reviews. The Wall Street Journal's SmartMoney Magazine voted TradeKing the #1 Discount Broker in 2006 and 2007, and the #1 Customer Service broker with 5 stars in 2008. Kiplinger's Finance voted TradeKing as having the best Top-Rated Customer Service in 2008. Even Barron's, in its annual surveys of the Best Web Browser-Based Online Brokers awarded TradeKing 4 stars for its outstanding investment tools, customer service, social media offerings, usability, and cost factors in 2007 and 2008 - and further tabbed it as the Best For Options Traders in 2008 and 2009.
I suppose when you've developed a quality product that's getting attention and praise from the critics and product reviewers, there's no sense being overly modest about a good thing. After having used online brokerage TradeKing for more than a year now as one of my major discount brokerages for cheap stock trading, I personally have to agree with the majority sentiment - TradeKing's a recommended keeper. The online brokerage firm isn't perfect in all respects, but it packs a pretty good punch as top discount brokers go. Beginners new to stock market investing and trading really can't go wrong with TradeKing - as it's one of the best brokers out there in terms of overall quality and value.
Also, one of the very attractive practices of discount broker TradeKing is its well known propensity for offering lucrative promotional deals and offers to first time customers - frequently rolling out new account bonuses of $50, $100, and even $150, to lure customers of competing online brokers to the TradeKing platform. If this is your first introduction to online stock and mutual fund investing, you may be curious as to what the hubub with TradeKing's all about. For your benefit, I've provided a summary overview of the pros and cons of TradeKing below.
TradeKing's Best Online Brokerage Features: Low Fees & Commissions and Great Customer Service
Discount broker TradeKing has numerous standout features - but the two that get the most press and attention are its low fees for stock trades, and the highly touted quality of its customer service. While I think we can all pretty much unanimously agree that low trading cost is very important, some may disagree on the importance of having great customer service. Those readers who downplay the importance of customer service reputation, and focus solely on the online trading tools and investment options of the online brokerage - are rather short sighted. As a long time stock market investor and user of web-based trading tools, there have been countless number of times when I've had to contact customer service for account related issues - whether they be problems related to account set up, complicated investment fee structure questions, or technical issues related to website troubles. Sometimes, I'm just too lazy to look up an answer to my detailed trading or account question from TradeKing's self help pages and prefer to fire off a time saving direct question to one of Trade King's customer service reps for the definitive answer.
The fact is - trading and account problems do routinely arise and it's good to know that with a brokerage like TradeKing, their customer service response is one of their best features. TradeKing's online representatives communicate with customers via real time live chat, phone calls, email messages, and through the online TradeKing website community. If you want access to full service branches and live banking offices, you may want to look elsewhere, but just remember, you'll likely pay commissions that are twice or three times as high as that offered by TradeKing.
TradeKing offers cheap $4.95 stock trades for all equity transactions, whether they be market or limit trades, stocks or bonds, or whether they be online or broker assisted - each investment trade is only a flat $4.95. The TradeKing commission rate structures are not tiered so all accounts get this standard fair rate regardless of account balance or trading activity. Option trades are also priced very low, at just $0.65 per contract. Mutual fund trades are priced higher at $14.95, but this seems to be in line with what other discount brokers are charging for fund transactions as well. If your investment goal is to purchase mutual funds from one particular type of brokerage company, like a Vanguard or Fidelity fund, I'd recommend going through them directly rather than buying them from TradeKing due to the higher cost of mutual fund transactions at TradeKing. But those looking to engage primarily in individual stock and index fund trading will do quite well with TradeKing, from a commissions fee standpoint.
While TradeKing's low $4.95 stock and bond trades are not as comparatively low as some of the new offerings coming from deep discount brokers like Zecco, which is currently offering free Zecco trades, it is still substantially cheaper than the fees and rates demanded at other popular brokerages like TD Ameritrade, E-Trade, Fidelity Investments, and Charles Schwab.
On top of the already low cost commissions and fees for TradeKing, there is also no minimum deposit required to open an account, no hidden maintenance fees, no hidden inactivity fees, and no limits on minimum balances - ideal traits for new investors and those seeking a truly hassle free investing experience. Those desiring to open up a retirement fund and start maxing out their IRA contribution limits will also be pleased to know that TradeKing imposes no extraneous fees or maintenance costs for such tax deferred accounts.
Review Of TradeKing's Online Investment Tools and Community Self Help Forum For Simple and Complex Investing
Don't be fooled by TradeKing's cheap stock trading prices and get the impression that the deep discount broker scrimps on investment features and trading options - TradeKing is a fully stocked investment juggernaut. Okay, calling it a juggernaut's a bit of an exaggeration, but the broker comes complete with all of the fancy bells, whistles, and widgets you would expect from most full service premium brokerages.
For starters, TradeKing offers all the basic investment choices including stocks, options, index funds, ETF's, and mutual funds. The broker also offers access to various bond products such as corporate, agency, municipal, strips & zero coupons, and new issue fixed-income securities. Certificates of deposits (CD's) with a whole range of maturity dates are also available to brokerage account holders. In terms of account types, new TradeKing customers have plenty of options to choose from. They can open an individual account for ordinary trading purposes, open up a Roth IRA or traditional IRA account for their retirement needs, or even set up a tax deferred college fund for their children. In terms of investment mechanics, customers can choose to invest manually, or opt for automatic investment by taking advantage of TradeKing's auto trading tool which automatically places trades for you based on your pre-set parameters at no extra charge. Those looking to automatically reinvest their stock and mutual fund dividends will be happy to know that TradeKing offers free automatic dividend reinvestment, with the ability to purchase fractional shares as well.
In terms of investment tools, stock fund research, and trading interface, TradeKing provides a wide selection of practical tools to enable any trader or investor to carry out his or her desired investing strategy. These tools include financial calculators, automatic alerts, advanced stock charts and graphs, as well as streaming news. The discount broker also offers a useful free TradeKing Maxit Tax Manager service that serves as a tax reporting tool and online tracker of one's gains, losses, and cost basis statistics. The Maxit Tax Manager program helps customers stay better informed about any potential losses or gains in their portfolio with major tax implications.
But overall, one of the aspects I really like about TradeKing's website is its intuitive and streamlined setup. While some of the other brokers require you to jump through multiple hoops and clicks before accomplishing your trading objective, TradeKing speeds certain transactions up by letting you perform multiple transactions via the same page. One example would be in the case of writing a covered call option. Rather than require you to go out and buy the stock and then execute a request to sell the call manually, TradeKing provides you a very handy and efficient Options Trading menu where you can seamlessly execute a variety of fancy option trades on the fly, such as covered calls, protective puts, and even butterfly options.
If you are a beginner investor or someone who needs a wealth of educational handholding, TradeKing provides a tremendous library of free investment and financial education materials for your learning pleasure, including how-to videos, demo tutorials, expert articles, and audio lesson seminars. More self help trading tips and investment advice can also be further gleaned from TradeKing's community group forum called the Trader Network, which encourages the sharing and exchange of personal financial advice among TradeKing customers. The whole social media and community aspect of investing is a feature that seems to distinguish online brokerages like TradeKing from other sites, as not many other broker services offer or facilitate a similar forum based sharing of ideas, except perhaps low cost discounter Zecco.
Opening a TradeKing account literally only takes few minutes, even with����a close read of all of the associated terms and conditions. You'll need to provide the standard registration information required by all brokerages such as your name, address, social security number, employer information, and indication of your level of investing expertise.
Like most brokerages, Tradeking allows customers to link a bank account to TradeKing to deposit and withdraw money via free electronic ACH transfers. Unfortunately, at the present time, TradeKing only allows you to link up a single bank account to your broker for ACH transfer purposes. For most people however (myself included), this isn't that big of a deal since most individuals utilize only a single primary bank account, but it can be a mild nuisance for some multiple bank account holders. The other slight knock on TradeKing concerns the mandatory trading hold of 5 business days before recently deposited funds can be used for trading purposes, and the 10 day freeze before deposited funds can be withdrawn. As these account limitations are quite prevalent among most online brokerages I've come across, they're more minor nuisances to be aware of than anything else.
Those looking to sign up for a new TradeKing account really ought to take advantage of the various TradeKing promotions available. For account customers of other brokerages, TradeKing offers a very attractive, no-expiration date - $150 account transfer bonus to reimburse new customers who switch to TradeKing and incur transfer fees with their former broker. If you are unable to locate a current working $50, $100, or $150 bonus offer, you may want to try calling or initiating a live chat session with them and asking if there are current promotions available. Simply visit the main TradeKing.com website and access "Live Chat" at the top (in tiny print).
Thoughts and complaints about your TradeKing experience are always welcomed! Please share your comments below.