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Broker Reviews

ShareBuilder

Published by
On Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 .

Overview

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

Dislikes

Automatic investment plan trades made only on Tuesdays; no trade platform; limited offering of trade tools.

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ShareBuilder Review

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

Today, ShareBuilder is a part of the Capital One family and the online broker continues to thrive, executing in the key areas that matters 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 brokers base commission structure, regular stock trades cost $6.95, options trades run $6.95 plus $0.75 per contract (complex multi-legged options are not supported), and automatic investments are $4 each.

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

ShareBuilderETRADETD AmeritradeScottradeOptionsHouse
Stock Trade Fee (flat)$6.95$9.99$9.99$7.00$4.75
Options Base Fee$6.95$9.99$9.99$7.00$8.50
Options Per Contract Fee$0.75$0.75$0.75$1.25$0.15
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$19.95$19.99$49.99$17.00$9.95
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$19.95$25.00$44.99$32.00$4.75
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 customer service is consistently an enjoyable experience, and we were impressed. Reps were always enthusiastic, professional, and helpful. ShareBuilders big standout is its live chat support. Not only did we connect to a rep in less than one minute each and every test, they also delivered answers to all of our questions and made us feel right at home.

There is room for improvement, however, when it comes to response times. Email support had us waiting more than two business days on average for a reply, which is below the industry average. With that said, once the replies did come in, the responses were well written and positive.

Less this small drawback, ShareBuilder's custom service was fantastic, earning the broker five stars in our 2014 Review.

Ease of Use, Research

The shining star in ShareBuilders 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+.

If there is one recommendation we would make for ShareBuilder in 2014, it would be to create a customizable dashboard for clients to replace the current boring My Accounts overview page.

For research, we found ShareBuilder's coverage of equities, ETFs and mutual funds to be above average thanks to their use of Morningstar as their primary provider. Despite the broker purposely only supporting a little more than 1,000 mutual funds for trading, we were impressed by the depth of research provided.

ShareBuilder analyst research

After pulling up Apple (AAPL) in the research area, we were pleased to see four third-party research reports available for us to read. One of the few pieces we saw missing from the broker's equities research? Insider analysis, and that is being picky.

ShareBuilder mutual funds research

Other Notes

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.

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 to offer credit and debit cards, checking and savings accounts, as well as home mortgages. The company also supports universal log-in for clients for easy account management.

Closing Thoughts

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 360 clients an easy way to access the markets and offering a great solution for casual investors and those seeking automatic investments.


Blain Reinkensmeyer

Reviewed by

Blain has been involved in the markets for over 12 years, heading StockBrokers.com equity broker research and reviews. His personal blog, StockTradingToGo.com, provides to-the-point daily market recaps to over 17,000 subscribers.

Commission Notes

ShareBuilder offers one set of primary commission rates along with a special rate for discounted automatic investing. Full commissions schedule breakdown below.

First, it should be noted that the Advantage program officially concluded in April, 2014 and is no longer available to new clients. Previously, clients who frequently used the automatic investing could pay $12 per month for ShareBuilder Advantage pricing, in which 12 automatic investments were included each month, and each thereafter costed just $1. Clients who were already enrolled into the Advantage program prior to April, 2014 were grandfathered in.

Stock Trades
Automatic investments - Automatic investments are $4 per trade. 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 with $2.00 automatic trades.

Also note, ShareBuilder does not support the ability to short stocks.

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

Broker Ratings

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

Broker Awards

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.

Offering of Investments

Yes Stock Trading
Yes Options Trading
Yes Mutual Funds
Forex Trading
Futures Trading
Yes OTCBB / Pink Sheets
Yes DRIPs
After Hours Trading
0 Commission Free ETFs
8 Retail Locations
0 Mutual Funds (Load)
1124 Mutual Funds (No Load)
499 Mutual Funds (NTF)
1623 Mutual Funds (Total)
1 Complex Options Max Legs
Pershing Clearing Firm
Yes No Inactivity Fees
Yes No Minimum Deposit
Yes No Fee IRAs
Yes Broker Assisted Trades

Research

Mutual Funds Research
Yes Pink Sheets / OTCBB Research
Yes Fixed Income Research
Global Market Overview
Yes Equity Research - SEC Filings
Yes ETF Research - Top 10 Holdings
Yes ETF Research - 3rd Party Reports
Yes Fund Research - Strategy Overview
Yes Fund Research - 3rd Party Reports
Yes Fund Research - Fees Breakdown
Yes Fund Research - 3rd Party Ratings
Yes Screener - Stocks
Yes Screener - ETFs
Yes Screener - Funds
Screener - Options
Yes Screener - Bonds

Banking

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

Customer Service

Yes Phone Support
Yes Email Support
Yes Live Chat (prospect clients)
Yes Live Chat (current clients)
24/7 Support

Recommended For

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

Mobile Trading

Yes iPhone App
Yes iPad App
Yes Android App
Mobile Site

Platforms & Tools

Virtual Trading
Yes Web Platform
Desktop Platform
Mac Platform
Platform Backtesting
Trade Hot Keys
Streaming Time & Sales
Level 2 Quotes
Streaming CNBC TV
Yes Sitewide Real-time Quotes
Watchlist Streaming Real-time Quotes
Yes Options - Chains Basic View
Options - Chains Spreads View
Yes Options - Greeks Analysis

Active Trading

Internalizes Trades
Receives Payment for Order Flow
Direct Market Routing (Stocks)
Client Liquidity Rebates
0 # of Easy to Borrow Stocks

Education

Yes Investor Dictionary
Yes Live Seminars
Investor Community

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All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 04/07/2014 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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