ShareBuilder ReviewOpen an Account
Integration with Capital One Bank; automatic investing; easy-to-use website; iPad app.
Automatic investment plan trades made only on Tuesdays; no trade platform; limited offering of trade tools.
Clients of Capital One Bank or investors seeking auto investments through an IRA.
|Commissions & Fees|
|Platform & Tools|
|Ease of Use|
2013 Review Star Ratings
N/A - Not Applicable
|N/R||Commissions & Fees|
|N/R||Platforms & Tools|
N/R - Not Ranked in Top 10
N/A - Not Applicable
After ShareBuilder was acquired by Capital One in February of 2012, investors were left wondering what would become of ShareBuilder and how the online broker would change in 2012. Now in 2013, beyond some branding updates and a variety of website enhancements, ShareBuilder has been changed very little, and that is a good thing.
Capital One has left ShareBuilder to thrive on its own, getting out of its way as the online broker continues to grow. While ShareBuilder still has its fair share of drawbacks, it remains a great choice for clients seeking automatic investments.
Commissions & Fees
ShareBuilder is the only broker to offer its clients a separate subscription plan to take advantage of heavily discounted automatic investments.
The brokers basic commission structure is free; regular stock trades cost $6.95, options trades run $6.95 + $0.75 per contract, and automatic investments are $4 each. Under the ShareBuilder Advantage plan, which costs $12 per month, 12 automatic investments are included each month, with each thereafter costing just $1.
Compared to the big name brokers such as TD Ameritrade, Etrade, Scottrade, Fidelity Investments and Charles Schwab, ShareBuilder is less expensive, however there are less features, tools and research available.
|Mutual Funds ($)||$19.95||$19.99||$49.99||$9.95||$9.95|
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.
ShareBuilder's customer service is consistently an enjoyable experience, and we were impressed. The broker's email and live chat support really stood out, placing top three in both sub-categories of the 2013 Broker Review. Phone service was also strong, placing in the upper half of the pack.
Reps were always enthusiastic, professional, patient and even sometimes a little quirky. In one of our email tests, a broker support rep opened their email, said hi with our name and then said, "I'm glad you contacted me.” This made the experience personalized, despite it being an odd opener, and left a positive impression.
There is room for improvement, however, when it comes to response times. While live chat was always speedy, connecting us to a rep in less than a minute every time, phone support would connect us in less than a minute but then require us to wait up to five minutes the next time.
In the end, ShareBuilder placed No. 5 overall for customer service in the 2013 Review; a very respectable finish.
Ease of Use, Research
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 that ShareBuilder takes its time before launching anything new to ensure the user experience is A+.
Speaking of research, we found ShareBuilder's coverage of equities, ETFs and mutual funds to be above average. Despite the broker purposely only supporting just over 1,000 mutual funds for trading, 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. The only piece missing from the broker's equities research? Insider analysis, and that is being picky.
We found nearly everything on our checklist when it came to ETFs and mutual funds research, minus an investment style box (something only available for brokers that utilize Morningstar research; ShareBuilder utilizes Lippers) and a third-party research report.
ShareBuilder does not offer a formal desktop or web-based trade platform, and instead relies on its website. Put simply, there isn't much for advanced traders to be excited about because active traders are not ShareBuilder's target market.
It is also worth highlighting ShareBuilder's new iPad app, which was released in December 2012. With customizable homepage modules that can be utilized vertically or horizontally, seeing what's most important becomes a breeze.
Lastly, ShareBuilder has a mixed investment offering. Complex options are not supported, nor are after-hours trades. However, ShareBuilder through Capital One is the only company to offer credit and debit cards, checking and savings accounts, as well as home mortgages.
ShareBuilder shines in ease-of-use, performs very well in research and customer service, but suffers in its efforts to appease the tool-hungry investor.
As a part of Capital One, ShareBuilder should only continue to thrive in doing what it does best, giving current Capital One Bank clients an easy way to access the markets and offering a great solution for investors seeking automatic investments.
Compare ShareBuilder to Key Competitors
Trade Commissions Breakdown
|$6.95||Flat-Fee Trade Plan*|
|N/A||Per-Share Trade Plan|
|$6.95||Options Base Trade Fee*|
|$20.00||Options Exercise Fee|
|$20.00||Options Assignment Fee|
|$19.95||Mutual Fund Trade Fee|
|$19.95||Broker Assisted Trade Fee|
|7.70%||$25,000.00 to $49,999.99|
|6.70%||$50,000.00 to $99,999.99|
|6.70%||$100,000.00 to $249,999.99|
|4.70%||$250,000.00 to $499,999.99|
|4.70%||$500,000.00 to $999,999.99|
|$0.00||Bond Trade Fee|
|$0.00||Treasury Trade Fee|
|$0.00||Certificate of Deposit (CD) Trade Fee|
|$0.00||Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Phone 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 Transfer 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||Outgoing Domestic Wire Transfer Fee|
|$30.00||Outgoing International Wire Transfer Fee|
Commission NotesShareBuilder offers one set of primary commission rates along with one other plan designed for discounted automatic investing. The basic pricing schedule does not have a monthly fee, while the Advantage plan costs $12 per month. Full commissions schedule breakdown below.
Stock Trades - Automatic investments - For basic pricing, automatic investments are $4 per trade, and with the Advantage plan 12 trades are included each month with each additional costing $1. It should be noted that all automatic trades are made on Tuesdays.
Non-automatic investments - For non-automatic trades, all regular stock trades are $6.95 each. For stocks priced under $1.00, add $.007 per share. Phone orders are available for $19.95 per trade.
Costco Member Exclusive Pricing - $5.95 basic online trade cost, $2.00 automatic basic trade cost, $4.95 Advantage Program online trade cost.
Also note, ShareBuilder does not support the ability to short stocks.
Options Trades - All options trades are $6.95 + $.75 per contract. Assignments cost $20 per assignment. This $20 rate also applies to any automatic exercise.
Mutual Funds - ShareBuilder offers access to 170 different funds. Cost per transaction is $19.95.
Other Investments - ShareBuilder does not currently offer futures, bonds, or forex trading.
Misc. Account Information
|0||No. of Commission-Free ETFs|
|8||No. of Retail Locations|
|0||No. of Mutual Funds (w/ Load)|
|1023||No. of Mutual Funds (No Load)|
|4||No. of 3rd Party Research Report Providers|
|0||Max. No. of Legs (Complex Options)|
|No Minimum Deposit|
|No Maintenance Fees|
|Online Trader Community|
|Live Chat Support|
|24/7 Customer Support|
|Long Term Trading|
|Credit Card Accounts|
|Debit Card Accounts|
Trading Platform Features
|Web Browser Platform|
|Windows Desktop Platform|
|Mac Desktop Platform|
Active Trading Features
|Direct routing offered to clients|
|Broker receives payments for order flow|
|Broker internalizes trades|
|Clients receive rebates for adding liquidity|