|1. TD Ameritrade||2. Fidelity||3. Charles Schwab||4. Interactive Brokers||5. E*TRADE|
|Stock Trade Fee (flat)||$6.95||$4.95||$4.95||N/A||$6.95|
|OTCBB / Pink Sheets||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Research - Pink Sheets / OTCBB||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
Penny stocks, companies whose shares trades for under $1, are more risky investments. The vast majority of time, companies trade for pennies per share because of poor financial metrics, which results in an uncertain future and more risk.
Penny stocks typically trade Over the Counter (OTC), meaning they are not listed on a formal exchange like the NASDAQ. Instead, they are instead listed as a Pink Sheet or trade on the OTC Bulletin Boards (OTCBB). If a company listed on the NASDAQ trades below $1 for a certain period of time (or fails to meet other quality metrics), the company can be delisted and forced to convert to a OTCBB or Pink Sheet listed security.
That said, not all companies that trade OTC are penny stocks. Some are legitimate companies growing their business with the goal of one day being listed on a major exchange such as the NASDAQ or NYSE. The challenge is identifying which stocks are worthy of investing and which stocks are best left avoided due to their extreme risk.
The following online brokers are recommended for penny stock trading. We recommend these brokers because they offer, first and foremost, flat-fee trade commissions with no gimmicks. Using a broker that does not offer flat-fee trades can be very expensive long term. Typically, these brokers charge a base rate then an additional fee per share which is terrible since penny stocks are low priced and can result in trades of tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of shares. Most brokerages have maximum costs limits, but are still far more expensive than simply paying one fee.
Penny Stocks Fraud
Since most penny stocks trade for pennies a share for good reason, institutions avoid these companies. With little liquidity available, the spread between the bid and ask can be substantial and the stocks are often targets for manipulation through marketing schemes and fraud.
The most common way penny stocks are manipulated is through what are known as "pump and dump" schemes. The company will pay penny stock promoters to blast hundreds of thousands of emails and post on social message boards fake news and falsified information about the company to generate excitement and encourage unknowing investors to buy. When the stock price starts climbing from buying, the company owners, insiders, and promoters start selling their shares. Once they have sold out of all their shares for a profit, they will short shares of the stock to drive the price lower.
Penny Stock Myths
With penny stocks, it is a common misconception for investors to think they are getting "more for their money" by buying shares of stock for pennies per share instead of dollars per share. This is completely false. Stocks that trade for pennies are actually much more risky, as highlighted above, and stocks that trade for $10, $50, $100, or higher per share are companies with financials strong enough to support institutional ownership alongside, more importantly, a listing on a major stock exchange.
While the risks associated with trading penny stock trading are high, investors can make money, which is why they are still traded each and every day. Retail investors will forever be attracted to cheaper share prices alongside the dream of buying a stock for pennies a share and watching it surge to dollars per share, yielding dramatic returns. Sadly, this is very rarely the outcome for penny stocks. Instead, the majority end of up eventually going bankrupt and shareholders lose everything.