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TradeKing

Published by
On Tuesday, February 17th, 2015 .

Overview

TradeKing offers clients a well-rounded package at a competitive price, and has a strong foundation for the future with its TradeKing LIVE and TradeKing Advisors offerings.

Dislikes

Current website’s triple-level navigation frustrating; site in limbo as new TradeKing Live responsive website awaits full rollout; constantly appearing security questions during login.

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TradeKing Review

When TradeKing launched in December 2005, its goal was simple: to provide low-cost commissions and quality customer service, and offer investors a place to go to every day to share ideas, discuss the market, and ultimately place trades.

Today, TradeKing’s vision has evolved, thanks partly to its merger with Zecco in late 2012. Instead of its community, costs, and service being in focus, the overall client experience is in focus. Zecco brought premium research alongside quality mobile trading to the table (among other things). These , combined with TradeKing’s core offerings, have placed TradeKing in a position to become the ultimate value broker.

Time will tell whether or not TradeKing will succeed in its mission. This TradeKing review will explore some of the offering’s highlights and lowlights.

Commissions & Fees

TradeKing's commissions structure is pretty much in line with its discount competitors. Offering flat-fee trades, regular stock trades are $4.95, with options trades costing $4.95, plus $.65 per contract. Penny stock traders will not find TradeKing's commissions structure ideal, however, as stocks valued at less than $2 per share cost $4.95, plus $.01 per share (up to 5% of trade value).

TradeKingOptionsHousetradeMONSTERScottradeScottrade
Stock Trade Fee (flat)$4.95$4.95$4.95$7.00$7.00
Options Base Fee$4.95$4.95$4.95$7.00$7.00
Options Per Contract Fee$0.65$0.50$0.50$1.25$1.25
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$9.95$20.00$15.00$17.00$17.00
Broker Assisted Trades Fee$20.00$25.00$15.00$32.00$32.00
Commissions & Fees

When it comes to trading on the TradeKing website, one thing I did not like was the process of placing a trade. Instead of an all-in-one trade ticket, TradeKing has more than a dozen separate trade ticket pages, which makes it inconvenient. Fortunately for clients though, the trade ticket provided in the new TradeKing LIVE platform is far superior and I highly recommend using it rather than the website whenever possible.

Customer Service

Traditionally speaking, TradeKing defines what quality customer service should be for clients. While TradeKing’s support slipped during testing for our 2013 Broker Review (the TradeKing Zecco merger was in full force during testing), the broker bounced back with a very strong result in our 2014 Review, finishing with 4.5 stars overall. Which leads us to this year’s testing.

During this year’s 2015 Broker Review, we found the broker once again to be very strong. However, the industry as a whole has evolved over the years, improving across the board as training and templates used by service agents have improved dramatically. Thus, based on today’s standards, TradeKing is good, mostly on a par with industry standards, but is no longer the Best in Class.

Of the three methods we tested – phone, email, and live chat – phone support was TradeKing’s weakest method. Response times were terrific, averaging less than a minute each, and the reps were mostly well trained and polite. The key flaws came with standards we now expect to see in places across the industry; for example, only once did a rep ask us if we had further questions before concluding the call. Also, several reps weren’t 100% positive when answering our questions; they either hesitated or required a confirmation before answering.

Phone support aside, email and live chat were a better showing for TradeKing. Live chat finished fourth overall in the industry, and email support finished sixth. In the end, TradeKing ended up with a 4 star rating for customer service; this was good but no longer a standout “great.”

Ease-of-Use, Platforms & Tools

Ease of Use is a category encompassing quite a large area. From logging in to navigating the website, placing a trade, managing account preferences, and conducting research, it’s about the full experience. TradeKing has had its fair share of challenges in the past. From its login process, which still asks us to answer security questions even though we check to have it remember our information, to navigating the site’s triple navigation maze, it’s a rough journey.

Fortunately, TradeKing is changing all that with its new TradeKing LIVE 100% responsive website, which launched in 2014. Still currently housed in a separate area, TradeKing LIVE couldn’t come soon enough. Everything about the client experience has improved. Real-time streaming quotes are everywhere and trades can be placed from any page using the right sidebar trade ticket. A fully customizable dashboard takes advantage of tiles similar to Microsoft products to be pleasing to the eye and 100% mobile friendly. Even monitoring orders, pulling quotes, and assessing performance have been creatively refreshed.

TradeKing review stock charting

Overall, we couldn’t be more excited about the future of TradeKing LIVE. Ironing out any bugs, adding some additional functionality to round out core client activities, then pushing LIVE into the limelight as the default experience for every client we imagine is, without a doubt, TradeKing’s #1 goal for 2015.

One suggestion for TradeKing: adding a colored feedback tile to the dashboard, with a simple type-and-send form, will significantly improve engagement from clients, instead of requiring them to click “Help” at the top, then scroll down to find a bland old survey to fill out.

Research

Every research area needs quality charting, and while most discount brokers are lacking in this area, TradeKing delivers. The charting area utilizes the full width of the screen, with a clean layout that is flexible and easily adjusted on the fly. Each indicator or study added to the chart is displayed with a mini box and x for quick removal. Being able to display corporate events such as splits, dividends, and earnings is also a nice addition.

TradeKing review stock charting

While research is mostly a data-mining experience, TradeKing goes the extra mile to bring visual appeal to the graphs illustrating data. The graphs have overlays that identify key points, which makes the experience far more insightful than staring at straight data. That said, we could go without the random banner advertisements promoting TradeKing’s products.

TradeKing research earnings projections

Lastly, TradeKing provides only one third-party research report from Standard & Poor's. With the offering of discounted trades, multiple third-party reports cannot be provided because the cost is simply too high. Given that nearly all of TradeKing’s close discount competitors provide no reports at all, this is fine with me.

Other Notes

TradeKing launched TradeKing Advisors in 2014. This service, powered by ibbotson, a Morningstar company, looked fairly impressive during the short term we spent exploring the product. While we do not cover advisory services here on StockBrokers.com, it is worth noting that TradeKing is now moving beyond offering a strictly trading platform.

TradeKing's community, the Trader Network, allows clients to share their real trades, make notes for why they made them, and interact with the rest of the community via blogs, forums, and groups. While the area always seemed to be active initially, over the past several years, it seems clients have found other interests. The last client Trade Note published was on 08/15/13. Blog posts were far more popular, with several per week, but the majority were from TradeKing staff, and only three of the first 40 had a comment. Finally, the forum showed the most life, with roughly half a dozen responses posted in the past 24 hours.

As far as TradeKing LIVE goes, the platform is very sleek, clean, easy-to-use (especially for placing trades) and well laid out, but is also very limited. Besides the real-time watch list, clients can only see a detailed quote for a stock, their current holdings, current account balance, basic charting and view options chains.

Having been a TradeKing Community follower since day one, however, the current activity is a far cry from the past. Our best guess is that the rise of social media, i.e., services such as StockTwits, now dominate investor discussions, and for good reason. TradeKing isn’t the only broker to experience a decline in its community activity. In 2014, Scottrade shut theirs down altogether. Either way, TradeKing needs to either address its weaknesses and try to put some creative development into revitalizing its community or consider moving on, as others have. Integrating third-party social network feeds from StockTwits into TradeKing LIVE would be the most logical replacement.

Final Thoughts

While TradeKing does have drawbacks, the broker provides a positive client experience at a discounted price. The broker still needs to do some work if it wants to compete with the big, full-service brokers; however, compared to other discount broker competitors, such as OptionsHouse, Firstrade, MB Trading, and Just2Trade, TradeKing stands out for its all-around offering and has a bright future with its new TradeKing LIVE interface.


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

TradeKing is an online broker with a straightforward commissions schedule. Full breakdown below.

Stock Trades - All stock trades (including broker assisted trades) are a flat $4.95 per trade. This is regardless of order type and size. For any stock under $2.00 per share, an additional $.01 per share is charged (max commission 5% of trade value). For OTCBB and Pink Sheet stocks a minimum of $100 worth of stock must be purchased at time of order.

Options Trades - Options trades are $4.95 + $.65 per contract. For multi-leg spreads, only one base commission is charged. Lastly, there is no commission charged for buying back short options valued at 5 cents or less.

NOTE: TradeKing changed its options commissions structure to "$4.95 + $.65 per contract for up to 8 contracts. If trading more than 8 contracts, the rate changes to $8.95 + $.15 per contract" on 3/10/11. They then reverted back to the original options commission structure on 3/25/12.

Mutual Funds - Mutual funds cost $9.95 for non Loaded funds and are $0 for Loaded funds. Note other charges apply for Loaded funds charged by the mutual fund itself.

Fixed Income - Bonds are $1.00 per bond (minimum $10, maximum $250). All Treasury trades, including auction and secondary trades, are $0.

Inactivity Fee - TradeKing charges a $50.00 per year inactivity fee to any account that has less than a $2,500 balance or does not place at least one trade for the year.

Trade Commissions Breakdown

$4.95 Stock Trade Fee (flat)*
N/A Stock Trade Fee (per share)*
$4.95 Options Base Fee*
$0.65 Options Per Contract Fee*
$9.95 Options Exercise Fee
$4.95 Options Assignment Fee
$9.95 Mutual Fund Trade Fee
$20.00 Broker Assisted Trades Fee
$0.00 Minimum Deposit

Margin Rates

7.75% Under $24,999.99
7.75% $25,000.00 to 49,999.99
6.75% $50,000.00 to $99,999.99
5.50% $100,000.00 to $249,999.99
4.50% $250,000.00 to $499,999.99
4.00% $500,000.00 to $999,999.99
4.00% Above $1,000,000.00

Miscellaneous Fees

$1.00 Bond Trade Fee
$24.95 Treasury Trade Fee
$0.00 CD Trade Fee
$0.00 IVR Trade Fee
$0.00 IRA Annual Fee
$50.00 IRA Closure FEe
$20.00 Forced Margin Sellout Fee
$30.00 Returned ACH Fee
$30.00 Returned Wire Fee
$200.00 Stock Certificate Processing Fee
$200.00 Stock Certificate Delivery Fee
$2.50 Paper Statement Fee
$1.00 Paper Confirmation Fee
$30.00 Domestic Wire Fee
$50.00 International Wire Fee

TradeKing Ratings

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

TradeKing Awards

2015

TradeKing was awarded Best in Class for Commissions & Fees. They also received #1 Broker Innovation for TradeKing Live. Read the 2015 Online Broker Review.

2014

TradeKing received 4.5 stars for Customer Service. They also won #1 Trader Community. Read the 2014 Online Broker Review.

2013

TradeKing was awarded Best Trader Community, rated 4 stars for Commissions and Fees, and had several Top 10 Category finishes. Read the 2013 Broker Review.

2012

TradeKing was 4 Stars overall and received Best in Class for Commissions & Fees, Customer Service, Investor Community, Investor Education, and Options Trading. Read the 2012 Broker Review.

Offering of Investments

Yes CDs
Apex Clearing Clearing Firm
0 Commission Free ETFs
Yes Corporate Bonds
Direct Market Routing - Stocks
Yes DRIPs
4000 # of Easy to Borrow Stocks
Yes Forex Trading
Futures Trading
Yes No Fee IRAs
Yes Mini Options
Yes Municipal Bonds
Yes Mutual Funds
7571 Mutual Funds (Load)
4516 Mutual Funds (No Load)
0 Mutual Funds (NTF)
12087 Mutual Funds (Total)
No Inactivity Fees
Yes No Minimum Deposit
Yes Options Trading
Yes Order Type - After Hours
Order Type - Algo
Yes Order Type - Broker Assisted
Yes OTCBB / Pink Sheets
0 Retail Locations
Yes Stock Trading
Yes US Treasury Bonds
Yes Weekly Options

Customer Service

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

Platforms & Tools

Desktop Platform
Mac Platform
Yes Web Platform
TradeKing LIVE Active Trading Platform
Yes Auto Investing
Ladder Trading
Level 2 Quotes - Stocks
Yes Option Chains - Basic View
Yes Option Chains - Strategy View
Yes Option Analysis - P&L Charts
Streaming Time & Sales
Streaming TV
Trade Hot Keys
Virtual Trading

Research

Yes Research - ETFs
Yes Research - Mutual Funds
Yes Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB
Yes Research - Fixed Income
Yes Misc - Global Market Overview
Yes Equity Research - News
Yes Equity Research - Chart
Yes Equity Research - Option Chains
Yes Equity Research - Balance Sheet
Yes Equity Research - Cash Flows
Equity Research - SEC Filings
Yes Equity Research - Insider Analysis
1 Equity Research - Research Reports
Yes ETF Research - Top 10 Holdings
ETF Research - Research Reports
Mutual Fund Research - Research Reports
Yes Mutual Fund Research - Fees Breakdown
Yes Mutual Fund Research - Performance Analysis
Yes Mutual Fund Research - Performance Chart
Yes Mutual Fund Research - Top 10 Holdings
Yes Screener - Stocks
Yes Screener - ETFs
Yes Screener - Mutual Funds
Yes Screener - Options
Yes Screener - Bonds

Education

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

Mobile Trading

Yes iPhone App
iPad App
Yes Android App
Android Tablet App
Yes Mobile Site
Yes Company Data
Yes Company News
Yes Watch List Syncing
Yes Options Chains Viewable
Yes Market Movers (Top Gainers)
Barcode Lookup
Yes Charting - Multiple Time Frames
Yes Charting - Can Turn Horizontally
Charting - Portfolio Perf vs Indices
Yes Charting - Stock Comparisons
Yes Trading - Stocks
Yes Trading - Simple Options
Withdrawal Balance Available

Banking

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

Active Trading

Internalizes Trades
Yes Receives Payment for Order Flow
Client Liquidity Rebates

Best in Class

Best in Class - Offering of Investments
Best in Class - Commissions & Fees
Best in Class - Platforms & Tools
Best in Class - Research
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
Best in Class - New Investors

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All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 11/01/2014 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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