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TradeKing

TradeKing Review

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  • Dislikes

    Website triple-level navigation frustrating; no site-wide quote bar; constantly appearing security questions during log-in.

  • Bottom Line

    While TradeKing’s website needs a makeover, the broker has improved its research and mobile offerings through its merger with Zecco to form a well-rounded offering at a competitive price.

Overall Star Star Star Star
Commissions & Fees Star Star Star Star
Customer Service Star Star Star Star Star
Platform & Tools Star Star Star
Research Star Star Star Star
Ease of Use Star Star Star
Investment Offering Star Star Star Star
Education Star Star Star Star
Mobile Trading Star Star Star Star

2014 Review Star Ratings
N/A - Not Applicable

TradeKing Review

TradeKing's goal when it launched in December 2005 was simple: to provide low-cost commissions, quality customer service, and build out a place where investors want to go each day to share ideas, discuss the market and, ultimately, place trades.

Today, TradeKing’s vision has evolved, thanks in part 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), which, combined with TradeKing’s core offerings, puts TradeKing in a position to try and become the ultimate value broker.

Whether or not TradeKing will succeed in its mission is for time to tell. This TradeKing review will explore some of the highlights and lowlights of the overall offering.

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 less than $2 per share cost $4.95, plus $.01 per share (up to 5% of trade value).

  TradeKing OptionsHouse tradeMONSTER Scottrade TD Ameritrade
Stock Trades $4.95 $4.75 $4.95 $7.00 $9.99
Options Base $4.95 $8.50 $0.00 $7.00 $9.99
Per Contract $0.65 $0.15 $0.50 $1.25 $0.75
Mutual Funds ($) $9.95 $9.95 $15.00 $17.00 $49.99
Broker Trades $20.00 $4.75 $15.00 $32.00 $44.99
Commissions, Fees starstarstarstar starstarstarstarstar starstarstar starstar star

When it comes to trading on the TradeKing website, the one thing that 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 TradeKing LIVE platform is far superior, and I highly recommend it over using the website whenever possible.

Customer Service

Traditionally speaking, TradeKing defines what quality customer service is supposed to be like for clients. During testing for the StockBrokers.com 2012 Broker Review, I found that no matter what route of support I tested, TradeKing had a high-quality experience waiting for me.

However, when testing TradeKing’s support for our 2013 Broker Review, we found that several competitors had caught up, and TradeKing, overall, had slipped from its once standout position. While our testing did not take place during the month of December 2012, when TradeKing’s merger with Zecco was in full force, it is worth noting that the merger may have had an impact.

During testing for our most recent 2014 Review, I was happy to see TradeKing was back to its old self. All our email tests were returned within one business day with well-crafted, clean templates. Phone and live chat were a similarly pleasant experience. TradeKing ended up finishing with 4.5 stars.

Community, Ease-of-Use

TradeKing's community, the Trader Network, allows clients to share their real trades, notes for why they made them, and interact with the rest of the community via blogs, forums and groups. While in past years the forums always seemed to be active, as of late, it seems clients have found other interests. Less than half a dozen topics were posted on each day with little to no trades being shared.

Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of the Trader Network is the fact that TradeKing's CEO Don Montanaro, known as "bigdog" within the community, runs his own blog, posting at least once per week. In fact, in early 2013, the CEO hit a milestone, passing 1,000 total posts. TradeKing also has their "All Stars" blog, which is a mix of market gurus and staff members.

TradeKing trader network

Overall, the TradeKing Trader Network is a good place for clients to mingle. Newer investors especially will find the community to be helpful in getting questions answered and expanding their education.

While the Trader Network is easy to navigate, the majority of the site is not. TradeKing’s triple level navigation menu is very difficult to become accustomed to. Furthermore, there is no site-wide quote bar, so pulling quotes requires multiple clicks. The biggest headache, though, comes with the log-in process, which constantly asks users to answer security questions, even if you click the “remember me” option.

Although TradeKing’s site is due for a serious ease-of-use makeover, the good news is that the overhaul is already underway. TradeKing is currently building a brand new 100% responsive website, and to say we are eager is an understatement. With proper execution, the new site design has the potential to be a huge win for clients.

Research

Even though TradeKing’s primary site navigation is a nightmare, the exact opposite is the case for the research area, which has its own navigation menu that appears once a stock quote is pulled up. Looking at a quote of Apple (AAPL), for example, investors can seamlessly navigate from the quote snapshot page to charting, news, options chains, earnings, fundamentals, financials or insider analysis.

Every research area needs quality charting, and while most discount brokers suffer 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 that is 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 also is 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 data — seeing graphs and having overlays to identify key points makes the experience far more insightful than staring at straight data. With that said, we could go without the random banner advertisements promoting TradeKing products.

TradeKing research earnings projections

Lastly, TradeKing only provides one third-party research report, which is from Standard & Poor's. With offering discounted trades, multiple third-party reports cannot be provided — the cost is simply too high. Given that nearly all of TradeKing’s close discount competitors provide none at all, one is fine with me.

Platforms & Tools

TradeKing offers simple pop-up watch list functionality through the main site alongside its browser platform, TradeKing LIVE. With the watch list functionality built into TradeKing LIVE being far superior, I wouldn't even bother using the watch list included with the regular site.

TradeKing live watchlist

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.

Back to the site experience, TradeKing provides seven different options tools for its clients. The plus side is variety and clients are able to screen for potential trades then analyze them accordingly. On the con side, nearly all of the tools are provided by third-party service IVolatility. Because of this, conducting analysis on theoretical positions is tedious and hardly a seamless experience for the client to research then trade.

Final Thoughts

While TradeKing does have it drawbacks, the broker provides a positive client experience at a discounted price. The broker still needs work to compete with the big full-service brokers, however, compared to other discount broker competitors such as OptionsHouse, tradeMONSTER, Firstrade and Just2Trade, TradeKing stands out for its high quality, all-around offering.

Compare TradeKing to Key Competitors

OptionsHouse
tradeMONSTER
Scottrade
ETRADE
TD Ameritrade
Blain Reinkensmeyer

Reviewed by

Blain has been involved in the markets for over 10 years, heading StockBrokers.com equity broker research and reviews. His personal blog, StockTradingToGo.com, provides to-the-point daily market recaps to over 15,000 subscribers.

Trade Commissions Breakdown

$4.95 Flat-Fee Trade Plan*
N/A Per-Share Trade Plan
$4.95 Options Base Trade Fee*
$0.65 Options Contract*
$9.95 Options Exercise Fee
$4.95 Options Assignment Fee
$9.95 Mutual Fund Trade Fee
$20.00 Broker Assisted Trade 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

$4.95 Bond Trade Fee
$24.95 Treasury Trade Fee
$24.95 Certificate of Deposit (CD) Trade Fee
$0.00 Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Phone 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 Transfer 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 Outgoing Domestic Wire Transfer Fee
$50.00 Outgoing International Wire Transfer Fee

Commission Notes

TradeKing is an online broker with a very 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.

Inactivity Fee - TradeKing charges a $49.95 per year inactivity fee to any account that has less than a $2,500 balance and does not place atleast one trade for the year.

2014 Awards

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

2013 Awards

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

2012 Awards

2012 Broker Review 4 Stars Customer Support Options Trading

2012 Review Results - 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.

Misc. Account Information

Apex Clearing Clearing Firm
0 No. of Commission-Free ETFs
0 No. of Retail Locations
7526 No. of Mutual Funds (w/ Load)
4341 No. of Mutual Funds (No Load)
2 No. of 3rd Party Research Report Providers
4 Max. No. of Legs (Complex Options)

Account Features

Virtual Trading
Check No Minimum Deposit
No Maintenance Fees
Check No-Fee IRAs
Check Online Trader Community
Check Investment Education
Live Seminars

Mobile Trading

Check iPhone App
iPad App
BlackBerry App
Check Android App
Check Mobile Site

Customer Service

Check Phone Support
Check Email Support
Check Live Chat Support
Retail Locations
24/7 Customer Support

Trade Types

Check Stock Trading
Check Options Trading
Check Mutual Funds
Check FOREX Trading
Futures Trading

Recommended For

Check Discounted Trading
Check Long Term Trading
Check Options Trading
Active Trading
International Trading

Banking Features

Checking Accounts
Savings Accounts
Credit Card Accounts
Debit Card Accounts
Mortgage Loans

Trading Platform Features

Check Web Browser Platform
Windows Desktop Platform
Mac Desktop Platform
Platform Backtesting

Active Trading Features

Direct routing offered to clients
Check Broker receives payments for order flow
Broker internalizes trades
Clients receive rebates for adding liquidity

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