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Overall

TradeKing offers clients a comprehensive package at a competitive price. The broker has a strong foundation for the future with its TradeKing LIVE responsive platform and new parent, Ally Financial.

Commissions & Fees
Offering of Investments
Platforms & Tools
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By Blain Reinkensmeyer on February 21st, 2017 | Last updated: February 21st, 2017

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

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.

TradeKingOptionsHouseScottradeFidelity Charles Schwab
Stock Trade Fee (flat)$4.95$4.95$7.00$7.95$6.95
Options Base Fee$4.95$4.95$7.00$7.95$6.95
Options Per Contract Fee$0.65$0.50$0.70$0.75$0.70
Mutual Fund Trade Fee$9.95$20.00$17.00$49.95$76.00
Commission Free ETFs05091229
Commissions & Fees 4.5/5 4.5/5 3.5/5 3/5 3.5/5

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.

Customer Service

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

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.

TradeKing LIVE platform

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.

TradeKing stock chart

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.

TradeKing LIVE options PL

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.

Research

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.

TradeKing research stock quote

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.

TradeKing research peer comparison

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.

Other Notes

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 mobile stock chart

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.

Final Thoughts

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.


Blain Reinkensmeyer

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.


Ratings Overall

Best in Class

2017
 8

Overall
This broker did not finish Best in Class.
2016
 6

Overall
  • Commissions & Fees
  • Offering of Investments
2015
 8

Overall
  • Commissions & Fees
2014
 9

Overall
This broker did not finish Best in Class.
2013
 6

Overall
  • Commissions & Fees
  • New Investors

Commissions & Fees

Commission Notes

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
Minimum Deposit $0.00

Margin Rates

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%

Miscellaneous Fees

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

Account Features

Offering of Investments

Advisor Services help Yes
Bonds (Corporate) help Yes
Bonds (Municipal) help Yes
Bonds (US Treasury) help Yes
CDs help Yes
Clearing Firm help Apex Clearing
Commission Free ETFs help 0
Direct Market Routing - Stocks help Yes
Direct Market Routing - Options help No
DRIPs help Yes
# 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

Customer Service

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
Option Analysis - P&L Charts help Yes
Option 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

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

Education

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
Videos help Yes
Retirement Calculator help No
Progress Tracking help No
Interactive Learning - Quizzes help No

Mobile Trading

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

Banking

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

Order Execution

Receives Payment for Order Flow (Equities) help Yes
Receives Payment for Order Flow (Options) help Yes
Client Liquidity Rebates help No
Financial Information Forum (FIF) Participant help No

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All pricing data was obtained from a published web site as of 2/20/2017 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 bottom 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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