Published by Blain Reinkensmeyer
On Monday, January 18th, 2016
MB Trading offers active investors the platforms and tools they need to succeed, including access to forex and futures trading; however, customer service lacks quality and the broker's research offering is nearly non-existent.
Multiple platforms for both web and desktop serve all investor types; tiered options pricing offers discounts based on total contracts; supports stocks, options, futures, and forex.
Additional charges for trading after hours under the MBTR plan; very poor customer service; MBT World a weak effort at community functionality.
MB Trading targets primarily active and seasoned investors, but also caters for intermediate investors. While the company is best known for forex trading (we ranked them No. 1 for forex in our 2011 Forex Review), the broker offers the full spectrum of trading: equities, options, futures, and forex. This review will focus only on MB Trading's equity and options offering.
Commissions & Fees
For regular stock trades, two commission plans are offered: a flat fee of $4.95 per trade (MBTR plan) and $0.0075 per share, with a $4.95 minimum per trade (MBTX plan). Options trades are $.95 per contract if trading 0-10 contracts and can be as low as $.15 per contract when trading 251 contracts or more. For a complete breakdown, please click the Commissions & Fees tab above and scroll down to the notes section.
One important note is that under the MBTR plan, after-hours trades are charged an extra $.005 per share. This fee is archaic in today’s world and should be put to rest. Also, clients are charged a $7.50 data fee each month if at least $25 in commissions are not spent per month.
Lastly, mutual funds are supported only via phone orders, and cannot be placed online.
When it comes to commissions and fees overall, active traders will find MB Trading's rates competitive; however, they are not as low as the deep discount leaders, Interactive Brokers, Lightspeed, and OptionsHouse. This is especially true for trading on margin. Having said that, if you are trading large orders of 3,000+ shares or 101+ contracts, MB Trading is a very competitive alternative.
Platforms & Tools
MB Trading offers a variety of platforms, the two primary ones being MBT Desktop Pro (desktop-based) and MBT Web (web-based) for equities trading. The broker also offers mobile apps for iPhone, Android, and iPad.
MBT Desktop Pro is not built for newer investors, but is aimed rather at active traders. From trade hotkeys to market depth ladder trading, level II quotes, advanced charting, one-click trading buttons, completely customizable watch lists, numerous order types, direct market access, and all data real-time streaming, there is a lot to like.
The weaknesses with the platform include a lack of snap windows for easy setup, limited options trade analysis (no custom spreads grouping or advanced analysis for current positions; weak analysis for potential positions), and the UI overall, which requires some time to get used to.
As far as speed and smoothness go, MBT Desktop Pro, as the flagship platform, is a pleasant experience and bug free. MB Trading Web is also pretty smooth, although not as responsive as MBT Desktop Pro. Furthermore, the login process for MB Trading Web has a longer load time.
Like most active trader-focused brokers (in this case TradeStation, Lightspeed, Interactive Brokers, etc.), MB Trading does not offer any research, and education is extremely weak. This is expected.
On the mobile front, MB Trading has its bright spots and weak points. On the plus side, the app uses real-time streaming data throughout. Also, charts support a total of 45 technical indicators. On the cons side, there is absolutely no alerts functionality, the UI is not space efficient in certain areas (horizontal chart viewing mode, for example), and the apps cannot be used to place after-hours trades or complex options.
Customer service was disappointing. MB Trading's support, via phone, email, or live chat, was very weak. Connection times for phone calls were quick; however, the reps were clearly undertrained, were hard to understand in several cases, and on many occasions simply did not have the answers to our questions. Never once did a service rep ask for our name, ask if we had any more questions, or offer further assistance at the end of the call. Email and live chat offered some slightly better experiences, but, generally, they were also poor.
On the positive side, MB Trading's website is well organized, mobile friendly, and easy to navigate. For a broker with such a diverse offering, this is no easy task, and while MB Trading has done multiple iterations of its website, we feel this one is the best yet.
MB Trading is a broker built for active traders and investors who not only are interested in stocks, but also trade options, futures, and forex. The flagship platform, MBT Desktop Pro, is fast, bug free and an order entry magician. Coupled with its competitive commission rates, this makes MB Trading a legitimate competitor.
Like all brokers, there is also room for improvement. The mobile apps lack depth, and customer service is extremely weak, with inconsistency and a lack of attention to detail, making for a poor client experience.
The content portion of this Review was completed on February 17th, 2015.
Blain has been involved in the markets for over 13 years, heading StockBrokers.com equity broker research and reviews. His personal blog, StockTrader.com, provides to-the-point daily market recaps to over 17,000 subscribers.
Minimum Deposits - MB Trading minimum deposits to open an account vary by account type. For a cash account (stocks, options) the minimum is $1,000, margin accounts (stocks, options, futures) need a $2,000 minimum deposit, and for an IRA account (stocks, options) the minimum is only $500.
Stocks - MB Trading offers two different commissions structures for stocks: a flat rate setup and a tiered offering. Here at StockBrokers.com we utilize the flat-rate commissions structure for listing rates throughout the site. Both offerings and all subsequent fees are broken down below.
Flat-fee trading stock commissions - The MBTR plan offers both market and limit orders at any share price with an unlimited amount of shares for $4.95. Thus, a 100 share purchase of a $50 stock would cost $4.95, and a 8,000 share purchase of a $100 stock would cost $4.95. There are additional fees however for trading during pre (before 9:30 AM EST) and post (after 4:00 PM EST) market hours, or if placing any of the following specialty order types: Reserve, Discretionary, or Pegged. This additional fee is $.005 per share ontop of the base commission rate of $4.95.
Tiered stock commissions - The MBTX plan is designed for more active traders seeking better (professional) executions for their trades. Stock trades placed under this plan are $0.0075 per share with a $4.95 minimum per trade.
Data feeds & fees - It is important to note that MB Trading does charge a $7.50 per month data fee waived if a minimum of $25 in commissions are spent in a given month. Also note for clients who opt to have Level II quotes, there is a $10 monthly fee which can be waived if 10 trades are placed each month. A variety of additional advanced data feeds are also available.
Tiered Options commissions - All options orders are charged based on the number of contracts: $0.95 per contract (1-10 contracts); $0.60 per contract (11-100 contracts); $0.35 per contract (101-250 contracts); $0.15 per contract (over 251 contracts). The broker does not allow any naked put or call options orders to be sold. Also, there is a $.01 per share fee to exercise options contracts.
Mutual Funds - Mutual funds cost $12.95 per trade and must be phoned in. Mutual Funds currently cannot be traded through any MB Trading platforms.
Other Investments - MB Trading offers both forex and futures trading.
International Trading - MB Trading offers international trading support. For a full list of countries supported please visit the site.
All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 5/01/2015 and is believed to be accurate, but is not guaranteed. The StockBrokers.com staff is constantly working with its online broker representatives to obtain the latest pricing data. If you believe any data listed above is inaccurate, please contact us using the link at the top of this page. For stock trade rates, advertised pricing is for a standard order size of 500 shares of stock priced at $30 per share. For options orders, an options regulatory fee per contract may apply.