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Broker Reviews

Capital One Investing

Published by Blain Reinkensmeyer
On Friday, February 5th, 2016

Overview

ShareBuilder is a great fit for investors seeking automatic investment plans, and clients of Capital One 360. It also offers casual investors an easy way to research and trade.

Dislikes

No trade platform; limited offering of trade tools; automatic investment plan trades made only on Tuesdays.

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Capital One Investing (ShareBuilder) Review

ShareBuilder started out with the goal of making investing affordable and easy. Its automatic investments, pleasant customer service, and clean site design have succeeded in accomplishing its goal of attracting the portfolios of many investors over time.

Today, ShareBuilder is part of the Capital One family, and the online broker continues to thrive, executing in key areas that matter most to its clients.

Commissions & Fees

ShareBuilder is the only broker to offer its clients a separate rate to take advantage of discounted automatic investments.

Under the broker’s base commission structure, regular stock trades cost $6.95, options trades run at $6.95 plus $0.75 per contract (complex, multi-legged options are not supported), and automatic investments are $3.95 each.

Compared to the big-name brokers such as TD Ameritrade, ETRADE, Scottrade, Fidelity Investments, and Charles Schwab, ShareBuilder is less expensive. However, compared to other discount brokers such as OptionsHouse, TradeKing, MB Trading, and the like, ShareBuilder is more expensive.

Capital One InvestingETRADETD AmeritradeScottradeOptionsHouse
Stock Trade Fee (flat)$6.95$9.99$9.99$7.00$4.95
Options Base Fee$6.95$9.99$9.99$7.00$4.95
Options Per Contract Fee$0.75$0.75$0.75$1.25$0.50
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$19.95$19.99$49.99$17.00$20.00
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$19.95$25.00$44.99$32.00$25.00
Commissions & Fees

Where ShareBuilder comes out on top in a big way is with its automatic investments, giving clients the ability to automatically buy shares of stocks, ETFs, or select mutual funds each month (all automatic investments take place on Tuesdays). It is this simplicity that makes ShareBuilder so attractive for investors who want to "set it and forget it" with their IRAs.

Customer Service

ShareBuilder's phone customer service is consistently an enjoyable experience, and we were impressed. Reps were always enthusiastic, professional, and helpful. We were never on hold for more than one minute and the reps were clearly well trained, always asking us if we had further questions before ending the call and concluding all calls on a warm closing note. For phone support, ShareBuilder finished No. 2.

Phone aside, however, there is room for improvement. Email support was a very inconsistent experience. In one test, a rep responded within 24 hours and delivered a good email. After asking several follow up questions, however, we never heard back from ShareBuilder support at all.

Lastly, in past years, live chat support used to be ShareBuilder’s greatest strength; however, when testing for our 2015 Review, we found it to be good, but not great. Connection times averaged 1-2 minutes, compared to less than one minute last year. Once connected, support reps were professional and courteous; however, they did not leave us awed like our phone tests.

Ease of Use

The shining star in ShareBuilder’s arsenal is the website's ease of use. Everything, from navigation to placing trades and performing research, is an effortless experience. The website boasts a very clean design, and it is clear ShareBuilder takes its time before launching anything new to ensure top-notch user experience.

If there is one recommendation we would make for ShareBuilder in 2015, it would be to create a customizable dashboard for clients to replace the current boring My Accounts overview page.

Research

For research, we found ShareBuilder's coverage of equities, ETFs, and mutual funds to be very strong, thanks to their use of Morningstar as their primary provider. Although the broker purposely supports little more than 1,000 mutual funds for trading (focus on quality over quantity), we were impressed by the depth of research provided.

After pulling up Apple (AAPL) in the research area, we were pleased to see four third-party research reports available for us to read. To dig deeper into research, clients have ability to build custom side-by-side stock comparisons and compare fundamental data.

ShareBuilder stock comparisons

ShareBuilder’s research offering extends beyond vetting potential trades – it also includes client portfolios. The Portfolio Allocation and Total Return tools allow clients to assess their portfolio allocation, returns, and even break down their real equity exposure by fund. Full transparency into the client’s portfolio is something few other brokers provide.

Other Notes

ShareBuilder does not offer a formal desktop or web-based trading platform; instead, it relies on its website. Put simply, there isn’t anything for advanced traders to be excited about because active traders are not ShareBuilder's target market.

That said, ShareBuilder does have its fair share of innovative tools for regular investors. Our favorite is the new PortfolioBuilder tool launched in 2014. Using PortfolioBuilder, clients can create their own diversified portfolio with up to eight ETFs, aligning their investment style and long-term goals. Once a new portfolio is cooked up, it can be purchased for a single flat rate of $18.95. Only one other broker in the industry has a tool similar to Portfolio Builder, which is cost effective and a terrific asset for long-term investors.

ShareBuilder Portfolio Builder

Tools aside, as far as investments go, ShareBuilder has a mixed offering. Complex options are not supported, nor are after-hours trades or shorting. However, ShareBuilder, through Capital One, is the only company (alongside Bank of America Merrill Edge) to offer credit and debit cards, checking and savings accounts, as well as home mortgages. The company also supports universal login for clients for easy account management.

Closing Thoughts

ShareBuilder shines in ease of use; it performs very well in research and customer service, but suffers in its efforts to appease the tool-hungry active trader.

As a part of Capital One, ShareBuilder should only continue to thrive in doing what it does best, offering a great solution for casual investors and those seeking automatic investments alongside giving current Capital One 360 clients an easy way to access the markets.

The content portion of this Review was completed on February 17th, 2015.


Blain Reinkensmeyer

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.

Compare Capital One Investing


Capital One Investing Ratings

Overall
Commissions & Fees
Customer Service
Platforms & Tools
Research
Ease of Use
Offering of Investments
Education
Mobile Trading
Banking

Best in Class

Best in Class - Offering of Investments
Best in Class - Commissions & Fees
Best in Class - Platforms & Tools
Best in Class - Research
Yes Best in Class - Customer Service
Best in Class - Ease of Use
Best in Class - Investor Education
Best in Class - Mobile Trading
Best in Class - Active Trading
Best in Class - Options Trading
Yes Best in Class - New Investors

Capital One Investing Awards

2015

ShareBuilder was awarded Best in Class for New Investors and Banking. They also received #1 Portfolio Builder, a new award for this year's review. Read the 2015 Online Broker Review.

2014

ShareBuilder was awarded Best in Class for Customer Service and New Investors. They also received #1 for Online Banking Services. Read the 2014 Online Broker Review.

2013

ShareBuilder was awarded Best Online Banking Services and rated 4 stars for Customer Service. Read the 2013 Broker Review.

2012

ShareBuilder was Best in Class for Ease-of-Use. Read the 2012 Broker Review.

Commission Notes

ShareBuilder offers one set of primary commission rates along with a special rate for discounted automatic investing.

Note that Costco member exclusive pricing ended September 1, 2015. Existing co-branded accounts (opened prior to September 1) can continue to access Costco pricing ($5.95 online trades, $9.95 PortfolioBuilder trades and $2.00 automatic trades).

Stock Trades
Regular trades - All regular stock trades are $6.95 each. For stocks priced under $1.00, add $0.007 per share with a minimum $6.95 commission, maximum of the lesser of either 15 percent of the principal amount or $500.

Automatic investments - Automatic investments are $3.95 per trade. All automatic trades are made on Tuesdays.

Other notes - PortfolioBuilder trades are $18.95 each time you buy or sell or portfolio of 6 to 8 ETFs. Phone orders available for $19.95 per trade. Capital One Investing does not currently support the ability to short stocks.

Option Trades - Options trades cost $6.95 + $.75 per contract.

Trade Commissions Breakdown

$6.95 Stock Trade Fee (flat)*
N/A Stock Trade Fee (per share)*
$6.95 Options Base Fee*
$0.75 Options Per Contract Fee*
$20.00 Options Exercise Fee
$20.00 Options Assignment Fee
$19.95 Mutual Fund Trade Fee
$19.95 Broker Assisted Trades Fee
$0.00 Minimum Deposit

Margin Rates

7.70% Under $24,999.99
7.25% $25,000.00 to 49,999.99
6.70% $50,000.00 to $99,999.99
6.50% $100,000.00 to $249,999.99
5.25% $250,000.00 to $499,999.99
4.90% $500,000.00 to $999,999.99
4.70% Above $1,000,000.00

Miscellaneous Fees

$0.00 Bond Trade Fee
$0.00 Treasury Trade Fee
$0.00 CD Trade Fee
$0.00 IVR Trade Fee
$0.00 IRA Annual Fee
$75.00 IRA Closure Fee
$0.00 Forced Margin Sellout Fee
$5.00 Returned ACH Fee
$5.00 Returned Wire Fee
$0.00 Stock Certificate Processing Fee
$0.00 Stock Certificate Delivery Fee
$5.00 Paper Statement Fee
$5.00 Paper Confirmation Fee
$30.00 Domestic Wire Fee
$30.00 International Wire Fee

Offering of Investments

Bonds (Corporate)
Bonds (Municipal)
Bonds (US Treasury)
CDs
Pershing Clearing Firm
0 Commission Free ETFs
Direct Market Routing - Stocks
Direct Market Routing - Options
Yes DRIPs
0 # of Easy to Borrow Stocks
Forex Trading
Futures Trading
Yes Mutual Funds
0 Mutual Funds (Load)
1289 Mutual Funds (No Load)
511 Mutual Funds (NTF)
1289 Mutual Funds (Total)
Yes Mutual Funds Phone Trades
Yes Mutual Funds Web Trades
Yes No Fee IRAs
Yes No Inactivity Fees
Yes No Minimum Deposit
Yes Options Exercising (Phone)
Yes Options Exercising (Web)
Yes Options Trading
Options Trading (Mini)
Yes Options Trading (Weekly)
Yes OTCBB / Pink Sheets
Yes Stock Trading

Customer Service

Yes Phone Support
Yes Email Support
Yes Live Chat (Current Clients)
24/7 Support

Platforms & Tools

Desktop Platform (Windows)
Desktop Platform (Mac)
Web Platform
NA Active Trading Platform
Auto Investing
Yes Charting - Display Corporate Events
1 Charting - Drawing Tools
Charting - Notes
Yes Heat Mapping
Ladder Trading
Level 2 Quotes - Stocks
Level 2 Quotes - Options
Option Chains - Streaming Real-time
Option Analysis - P&L Charts
Yes Stock Alerts Delivery - Email
Stock Alerts Delivery - Sound
Yes Stock Alerts Delivery - Text SMS
Streaming Time & Sales
Streaming TV
Trade Hot Keys
Virtual Trading
Watchlists - Streaming Real-time Quotes

Research

Yes Research - ETFs
Yes Research - Mutual Funds
Yes Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB
Research - Fixed Income
4 Equity Research - Research Reports
Yes ETF Research - Top 10 Holdings
Yes ETF Research - Morningstar Style Box
Yes ETF Research - Research Reports
Yes Mutual Fund Research - Research Reports
Yes Mutual Fund Research - Fees Breakdown
Yes Mutual Fund Research - Performance Analysis
Yes Mutual Fund Research - Top 10 Holdings
Yes Screener - Stocks
Yes Screener - ETFs
Yes Screener - Mutual Funds
Screener - Options
Screener - Bonds

Education

Yes Has Education - Stocks
Has Education - ETFs
Has Education - Options
Yes Has Education - Mutual Funds
Has Education - Fixed Income
Has Education - Retirement
Yes Investor Dictionary
Client Webinars
Yes Live Seminars
Videos
Yes Retirement Calculator
Community Forums

Mobile Trading

Yes iPhone App
Yes iPad App
Yes Android App
Android Tablet App
Mobile Site
Yes Quotes (Real-time)
Quotes (Streaming Real-time)
Yes Watch List Syncing
Yes Market Movers (Top Gainers)
Stock Alerts Delivery - Push Notifications
Customizable Homescreen
Stream Live TV
Yes Trading - Stocks
Trading - Stocks (After-Hours)
Yes Trading - Simple Options
Trading - Complex Options

Banking

Yes Checking Accounts
Yes Savings Accounts
Yes Debit Cards
Yes Credit Cards
Yes Mortgage Loans
Yes Mobile Check Deposit
ATM Fee Reimbursement
Yes No Fee Banking
9 Retail Locations

Active Trading

Receives Payment for Order Flow
Client Liquidity Rebates
Financial Information Forum (FIF) Participant

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.

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