For our 2017 Stock Broker Review we assessed, rated, and ranked sixteen different online brokers over a period of six months. In total, we conducted 349 customer service tests, collected 5,277 data points, and produced over 40,000 words of research. Learn more.
After operating as an independent online broker for over 10 years, TradeKing was acquired by Ally Financial in April 2016 for $275 million. Today, in 2017, TradeKing continues to operate as a standalone brand underneath the Ally umbrella. The broker remains focused on providing clients discounted trades without sacrificing a smooth client experience.
While numerous synergies are planned for TradeKing in the future – for example, I can’t wait to have my Ally high-yield savings account linked with my personal TradeKing account – the TradeKing experience remains untouched as of February, 2017.
Commissions & Fees
At TradeKing, regular stock trades are $4.95, with options trades costing $4.95 plus $.65 per contract. In years past, TradeKing had competition from other discount brokers. However, with OptionsHouse’s $4.95 per trade pricing currently in jeopardy due to the company’s acquisition by ETRADE, which charges $9.99 per trade, in 2016 TradeKing’s value-based pricing shines.
|Stock Trade Fee (flat)||$4.95||$4.95||$7.00||$4.95||$4.95|
|Options Base Fee||$4.95||$4.95||$7.00||$4.95||$4.95|
|Options Per Contract Fee||$0.65||$0.50||$0.70||$0.65||$0.65|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$9.95||$20.00||$17.00||$49.95||$76.00|
|Commission Free ETFs||0||5||0||91||229|
|Commissions & Fees|
Regular stock trades aside, penny stock traders will not find TradeKing's commissions structure ideal because stocks valued at less than $2 cost $4.95, plus $.01 per share (up to 5% of trade value). TradeKing also does not currently offer any commission-free ETFs.
One thing I did not like on the TradeKing website 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 on the new TradeKing LIVE platform is far superior, and I highly recommend using it rather than the website.
As in previous years, of the three methods we tested for our 2017 Review – phone, email, and live chat – phone support was, once again, TradeKing’s weakest means of communication. Although response times were good, with 70% of our calls being connected in less than a minute, the reps did not make a strong impression, in spite of the fact that they were generally knowledgeable and friendly. More specifically, on only two of our ten tests did our private testers leave a “great” overall net promoter score for a call. TradeKing finished 10th out of 16 brokers for phone support.
Phone support aside, email and live chat were much more impressive. Live chat finished fourth overall in the industry, and email support finished fifth.
Phone support aside, email and live chat were much more impressive. Live chat finished fourth overall in the industry, and email support finished fifth. In the end, TradeKing once again ended up with a four-star rating for customer service; good but not “great.” See: Best Brokers for Customer Service.
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 several challenges in the past. From the login process, during which we are still asked to answer security questions, even though we have checked to have it remember our information, to navigating the site’s triple navigation maze, it’s a rough journey.
Still currently housed in a separate area, TradeKing LIVE couldn’t come soon enough.
Fortunately, TradeKing is correcting most of these pain points 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. 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. Even monitoring orders, pulling quotes, and assessing portfolio performance have been creatively refreshed.
Platforms & Tools
TradeKing LIVE was initially a little weak in the charting and options areas; however, thanks to updates made in 2015, both have been enhanced. The charts are smooth, easy to modify, and now include 10 drawing tools as well as 84 different technical indicators. Both counts are a monster improvement over the two and three, respectively, we counted the previous year.
With options in TradeKing LIVE, profit & loss (P&L) charts were completely reworked in 2015 and no longer suffer from the Java security errors that once haunted us during testing. Instead, P&L charts are now clean, customizable, and flow extremely well with the rest of the research process. Deep analysis now also includes the flexibility to be able to assess theoretical positions with live positions.
While I was really excited about TradeKing LIVE’s launch in 2014, now, early in 2017, the platform still has multiple areas that require improvement.
While I was really excited about TradeKing LIVE’s launch in 2014, now, early in 2017, the platform still has multiple areas that require improvement. First, ironing out the viewing experience should be a priority for TradeKing – the desktop is clean, but the smartphone view still needs some UI tweaks. Second, the main website’s research functionality has not yet made its debut. Third, adding some more functionality to round out core client activities, then pushing LIVE into the limelight as the default experience for every client should undoubtedly be TradeKing’s #1 goal for 2017.
One final note on TradeKing’s platforms and tools; thanks to the acquisition of MB Trading in 2015, customers will eventually gain access to MB Trading’s active trader desktop platform. For a deeper look at the platform, read our MB Trading Review and scroll down to the Platforms & Tools section.
Compared to other brokers with similar discounted pricing, TradeKing is offering is the best. TradeKing does a very good job of bringing visuals and interactive analysis into the research experience. Whether analyzing earnings or insider transactions, the graphs have overlays that identify key points, which makes the experience far more insightful than staring at straight data. That said, we could do without the random banner advertisements promoting TradeKing’s products.
We also appreciate the subtle details, such as including a trends column when reading a company’s income statement, balance sheet, or cash flows. TradeKing also includes a peer comparison chart for equities research, another nice touch not found with other discount brokers. Customers can even download historical pricing spreadsheets for any security.
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. See: Best Brokers for Research.
For mobile trading, TradeKing offers customers iOS and Android smartphone apps, but nothing more. The apps are decent and include the core functionality needed to effectively monitor one’s portfolio and trade on the go, but they don’t stand out otherwise. With TradeKing LIVE being designed for mobile devices as well as desktop computers, we imagine TradeKing is going to eventually either sunset its mobile apps in favor of TradeKing LIVE or decide to support the app and invest more resources in updates. See: Best Brokers for Mobile Trading.
TradeKing's community, the Trader Network, allows clients to share their real trades, write notes on why they made them, and interact with the rest of the community via blogs, forums, and groups. While the area was active in the late 2000s, over the years, clients have found other interests. Twitter, StockTwits, and other financial social networks now dominate the social landscape. While always hard to let go, TradeKing is probably best off to sunset the Trader Network in favor of a more modern-day approach to social trading. That, or it needs to make a serious investment to re-spark client interest.
Over the past three years, TradeKing has hurt itself by spreading its development and leadership resources too thinly. Acquisitions of competitors and expanding into new business lines such as professional advice (see our TradeKing Advisors review) detracted from developing TradeKing LIVE and fixing website usability issues such as navigation and client login. Not only that, TradeKing itself was acquired by Ally Financial in 2016, which, as one could expect, took up resources.
These growing pains caused delays but were necessary steps in the long-term effort to evolve and provide a fantastic experience. With a clear direction alongside Ally Financial’s brand and resources behind it, I am optimistic 2017 will be the best year yet for TradeKing clients.
Reviewed by Blain Reinkensmeyer Blain heads research at StockBrokers.com and has been involved in the markets since placing his first stock trade back in 2001. He developed StockBrokers.com's annual review format seven years ago which is respected by broker executives as the most thorough in the industry. Currently maintaining funded accounts with more than a dozen different US regulated online brokers, he's executed thousands of trades through his career and enjoys sharing his experiences through his personal blog, StockTrader.com.
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Commissions & Fees
TradeKing is an online broker with a straightforward commissions schedule. Note, TradeKing does charge 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.
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.
Mutual Funds - Mutual funds cost $9.95 for non loaded funds and are $0 for loaded funds. Note other charges apply for loaded funds.
Fixed Income - Bonds are $1.00 per bond (minimum $10, maximum $250). All Treasury trades, including auction and secondary trades, are $0.
Trade Commissions Breakdown
|Stock Trade Fee (flat)||$4.95|
|Stock Trade Fee (per share)||N/A|
|Options Base Fee||$4.95|
|Options Per Contract Fee||$0.65|
|Options Exercise Fee||$9.95|
|Options Assignment Fee||$4.95|
|Mutual Fund Trade Fee||$9.95|
|Broker Assisted Trades Fee||$20.00|
|Margin Rate Under $24,999.99||8.00%|
|Margin Rate $25,000.00 to $49,999.99||8.00%|
|Margin Rate $50,000.00 to $99,999.99||7.00%|
|Margin Rate $100,000.00 to $249,999.99||5.75%|
|Margin Rate $250,000.00 to $499,999.99||4.75%|
|Margin Rate $500,000.00 to $999,999.99||4.25%|
|Margin Rate Above $1,000,000.00||4.25%|
|Bond Trade Fee||Varies|
|Treasury Trade Fee||Varies|
|IRA Annual Fee||$0.00|
|IRA Closure Fee||$50.00|
|Returned ACH Fee||$30.00|
|Returned Wire Fee||$30.00|
|Stock Certificate Processing Fee||$300.00|
|Stock Certificate Delivery Fee||$300.00|
|Paper Statement Fee||$2.00|
|Paper Confirmation Fee||$1.00|
|Domestic Wire Fee||$30.00|
|International Wire Fee||N/A|
Offering of Investments
|Advisor Services help||Yes|
|Bonds (Corporate) help||Yes|
|Bonds (Municipal) help||Yes|
|Bonds (US Treasury) help||Yes|
|Clearing Firm help||Apex Clearing|
|Commission Free ETFs help||0|
|Direct Market Routing - Stocks help||Yes|
|Direct Market Routing - Options help||No|
|# of Easy to Borrow Stocks help||3890|
|Forex Trading help||Yes|
|Futures Trading help||Yes|
|Member FINRA help||Yes|
|Member SIPC help||Yes|
|Mutual Funds help||Yes|
|Mutual Funds (No Load) help||5216|
|Mutual Funds (Load) help||4922|
|Mutual Funds (NTF) help||0|
|Mutual Funds (Total) help||10138|
|Mutual Funds Phone Trades help||Yes|
|Mutual Funds Web Trades help||Yes|
|No Fee IRAs help||Yes|
|No Inactivity Fees help||No|
|No Minimum Deposit help||Yes|
|Options Exercising (Web) help||No|
|Options Exercising (Phone) help||Yes|
|Options Trading help||Yes|
|Complex Options Max Legs help||4|
|Options Trading (Mini) help||Yes|
|Options Trading (Weekly) help||Yes|
|OTCBB / Pink Sheets help||Yes|
|Stock Trading help||Yes|
|Phone Support help||Yes|
|Email Support help||Yes|
|Live Chat (Current Clients) help||Yes|
|Live Chat (Prospect Clients) help||Yes|
|24/7 Support help||No|
Platforms & Tools
|Desktop Platform (Windows) help||Yes|
|Desktop Platform (Mac) help||No|
|Web Platform help||Yes|
|Active Trading Platform help||TradeKing LIVE|
|Charting - Display Corporate Events help||Yes|
|Charting - View Historical Trades help||No|
|Charting - Indicators / Studies help||84|
|Charting - Drawing Tools help||28|
|Charting - Trade Off Chart help||Yes|
|Charting - Notes help||Yes|
|Heat Mapping help||No|
|Ladder Trading help||Yes|
|Level 2 Quotes - Stocks help||Yes|
|Level 2 Quotes - Options help||Yes|
|Option Chains - Streaming Real-time help||Yes|
|Option Chains - Total Columns help||15|
|Option Chains - Quick Analysis help||Yes|
|Options Analysis - P&L Charts help||Yes|
|Options Analysis - Probability Analysis Basic help||Yes|
|Option Analysis - Probability Analysis Adv help||Yes|
|Option Positions - Contract Rolling help||No|
|Stock Alerts Delivery - Email help||Yes|
|Stock Alerts Delivery - Sound help||Yes|
|Stock Alerts Delivery - Text SMS help||Yes|
|Streaming Time & Sales help||Yes|
|Streaming TV help||No|
|Trade Hot Keys help||Yes|
|Virtual Trading help||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Streaming Real-time Quotes help||Yes|
|Watch Lists - Total Fields help||21|
|Research - ETFs help||Yes|
|Research - Mutual Funds help||Yes|
|Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB help||Yes|
|Research - Fixed Income help||Yes|
|Misc - Global Markets Overview help||Yes|
|Misc - Portfolio Allocation Breakdown help||No|
|Misc - Portfolio Builder help||Yes|
|Equity Research - Earnings Analysis help||Yes|
|Equity Research - Insider Analysis help||Yes|
|Equity Research - Metric Comparisons help||No|
|Equity Research - SEC Filings help||Yes|
|Equity Research - Social Sentiment help||No|
|Equity Research - Research Reports help||1|
|ETF Research - Performance Analysis help||Yes|
|ETF Research - Top 10 Holdings help||Yes|
|ETF Research - Morningstar Style Box help||No|
|ETF Research - 3rd Party Ratings help||Yes|
|ETF Research - Research Reports help||No|
|Mutual Fund Research - Fees Breakdown help||Yes|
|Mutual Fund Research - Top 10 Holdings help||Yes|
|Mutual Fund Research - Performance Analysis help||Yes|
|Mutual Fund Research - Prospectus help||No|
|Mutual Fund Research - 3rd Party Ratings help||Yes|
|Mutual Fund Research - Research Reports help||No|
|Screener - Stocks help||Yes|
|Screener - ETFs help||Yes|
|Screener - Mutual Funds help||Yes|
|Screener - Options help||Yes|
|Screener - Bonds help||Yes|
|Has Education - Stocks help||Yes|
|Has Education - ETFs help||Yes|
|Has Education - Options help||Yes|
|Has Education - Mutual Funds help||Yes|
|Has Education - Fixed Income help||Yes|
|Has Education - Retirement help||No|
|Investor Dictionary help||Yes|
|Client Webinars help||Yes|
|Client Webinars (Archived) help||Yes|
|Live Seminars help||No|
|Retirement Calculator help||No|
|Progress Tracking help||No|
|Interactive Learning - Quizzes help||No|
|iPhone App help||Yes|
|iPad App help||No|
|Apple Watch App help||No|
|Android App help||Yes|
|Android Tablet App help||No|
|Mobile Site help||Yes|
|Touch ID help||No|
|Account Transfers help||No|
|Quotes (Real-time) help||Yes|
|Quotes (Streaming Real-time) help||Yes|
|Watch List (Real-time) help||Yes|
|Watch List (Streaming Real-time) help||Yes|
|Watch List Syncing help||Yes|
|Market Movers (Top Gainers) help||Yes|
|Custom Screening / Scanning help||No|
|Charting - Stock Comparisons help||Yes|
|Charting - Technical Studies help||16|
|Charting - After Hours help||No|
|Stock Alerts - Basic Fields help||No|
|Stock Alerts - Advanced Fields help||No|
|Stock Alerts Delivery - Push Notifications help||No|
|Customizable Homescreen help||No|
|Streaming TV help||No|
|Trading - Stocks help||Yes|
|Trading - After-Hours help||No|
|Trading - Conditional Orders help||No|
|Trading - Mutual Funds help||No|
|Trading - Simple Options help||Yes|
|Trading - Complex Options help||Yes|
|Trading - Option Rolling help||No|
|Member FDIC help||Yes|
|Checking Accounts help||Yes|
|Savings Accounts help||Yes|
|Debit Cards help||Yes|
|Credit Cards help||Yes|
|Mortgage Loans help||Yes|
|Mobile Check Deposit help||Yes|
|Online Bill Pay help||Yes|
|Mobile Bill Pay help||Yes|
|ATM Fee Reimbursement help||Yes|
|No Fee Banking help||Yes|
|Retail Locations help||0|