TradeKing Review: Low Cost Broker

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2009-04-0526

Being a TK account holder and investor, I’ve written my own review of TradeKing.

Open a TradeKing account, cheap stock trades

I’d like to discuss one of the most popular online discount brokers around, which I consider one of my top picks. As it is, I’ve got a lot of brokerage accounts (for the sake of diversification), including one with TradeKing, which has received various awards in the online world. Given my own experiences with this broker, I thought to offer you my insights on their services through this review. In other articles, I’ve included them in my list of top online stock brokers and also covered them in my Zecco vs TradeKing comparison.

TradeKing Review: A Great Low Commission Broker

TK is a fairly new broker, having been launched in December 2005, when they initially offered services for stock, ETF and option traders. But they made waves right away, and have been building a solid reputation in the stock brokerage community.

Pricing

So how is their pricing? One of the best things about them are their commission rates. In particular, they have no hidden fees and they charge a flat affordable fee for their stock trades. The commission here is a flat $4.95 for each transaction, whether it be a broker-assisted (via phone), limit or market trade. It’s a simple low fee applied to any trade you make. Now compare this to other well-known brokers such as TD Ameritrade (which charges a pretty high $44.99 on broker-assisted transactions) or Scottrade (which has a $27 per trade commission) — the difference is clear. As for TradeKing’s commissions on options trading, the price is $4.95 a trade with $0.65 per contract.

Trade King price comparison
To open an account, you can sign up here.

Customer Service

I also like their customer service, which is quite highly regarded. They have a phone line that’s open on weekdays during regular work hours (ET), but also have a Live Chat (open on the same hours as phone) and Email feature prominently displayed on their site.

Awards

They wear their reputation on their sleeve — just check out their awards page. Recently, they’ve received awards from at least three major financial publications. The nods have come from:

  • Kiplinger’s: top-rated customer service in 2008.
  • Barron’s: 4 stars for outstanding tools, customer service, social media, usability and cost in 2007 and 2008, and Best For Options Traders in 2008 and 2009.
  • Smart Money: #1 Discount Broker in 2007 and #1 Customer Service with 5 stars in 2008.

What I found interesting was that their accolades were across various categories, so they must be doing something right.

Account Open Process

I opened an account with them recently and the process was very straightforward. There is a little tradeoff here with regards to security features that TradeKing has applied to their site. They’ve employed a fancier password entry process using a virtual keyboard that I found more cumbersome than usual, and they ask you to set up several security questions and a security image for your account. But the extra steps are there to assure you that they really take security seriously here.

Trade King keyboard

Organization

I like the site for its slick appearance, speedy performance and nice organization. Their dashboard supports the following functionality:

The Accounts Management section is where your balance, positions, holdings, tax information, transaction history and account records are shown.

The Trading area is where all the action is: you can trade equities and options, along with mutual funds and fixed income vehicles. Something to watch out for though — I checked the Fixed Income area for a bit and found it a little buggy; perhaps this area is still under development, but should it work, you’ll be able to include bonds, treasuries and CDs in your investment portfolio. There’s also an AutoTrade service that you can subscribe to, with caveats.

Rich Features

I also like how TradeKing feels like it has a simple user interface, yet it manages to include tons of material in an easy to digest fashion. Their Stock Market Research and Quotes section has a lot of material for anyone who likes to keep careful tabs on the market and on their positions. It’s got a streaming quotes section, research reports, tools for technical analysis (alerts, stock screener, etc), and nice looking charts. And that’s just scratching the surface. On the downside, there are some bugs I encountered while looking up quotes by symbol (it worked when I searched by company name), while some mutual funds are unfortunately not available through TradeKing.

TradeKing quotes

The Tools area has a whole bunch of calculators, options scanners and stock and fund screeners. I’m not that familiar with an Options Calculator or Scanner, but I can pretty much use their various screeners to help me find the right stocks, ETF and mutual funds for my portfolio.

Community Support and Network

When I first started using online discount brokers way back when, there was no such thing as “community” or “network” support. In other words, you were on your own with your investments — or else it was between you and your broker. These days, as brokers go the way of Web 2.0, everyone now boasts groups, blogs, forums and member profiles. You’re also able to see what others are doing with their portfolios, plus a leaderboard of traders and their returns. It’s awesome to see this level of transparency in the market provided by this small trading community. Now we can all see and track how well TradeKing’s contrarian traders will do with their Citigroup, Bank of America, AIG and GM positions.

TradeKing community

Beyond the community, there’s also an Education and Learning Center, with tons of references, resources, extensive guides (like the Options Playbook for an options newbie like me). If you’re a fan of multi-media learning, you’ll be happy to come across webinars and live events which you can sign up to. They’re available for rookies and experts alike.

TradeKing Options Playbook

All The Other Extras: Free Money From TradeKing

And finally, I appreciate the bonuses that TradeKing has going on: they’re offering a few extras to entice you into signing up with them. They’ve got a generous referral program that will earn you $50 for each friend you refer to them. And they’ll also cover transfer fees of up to $150 if you decide to switch brokerages. So if you’ve got transfer fees from your current broker, you’ll get refunded up to $150 if you do decide to move your account to TradeKing.

I think they measure up pretty well. If this catches your interest, here’s where you can sign up!

Copyright © 2009 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

jim April 6, 2009 at 10:07 am

I’m a fan of TradeKing, they’re definitely one of the better brokers out there and they have a great track record so far. $4.95 a trade is a great price plus you get award winning (literally) service.

Silicon Valley Blogger April 6, 2009 at 10:34 am

I honestly can say as someone who used to design web applications for financial institutions and worked for a competing discount brokerage, that I like TradeKing quite a bit. The price is great and so is the customer service. But I can’t get over how nicely designed the site is. I guess I am biased as I worked on sites like this in the past over the last decade. Sure, there are still glitches that need to be worked on, but they can only improve.

I think TradeKing as a “system” works well because it’s able to leverage new technologies. A lot of the older banks and brokerages have had to deal with legacy systems which house tons of information from their customers. I remember having to work a lot on integrating old, legacy systems (most from the mainframe age) with newer systems and trying to give the financial data a spiffier, cleaner, more updated look. Most of these older, established brokerages are made up of a conglomeration of networked systems that need to be well-integrated to work right. So they’re much more complicated, I would presume, than the systems built over the last few years, using better design tools and newer software languages.

I’m guessing that TradeKing was built from scratch and if so (and done well), it makes for a nicer app all around.

Live for Improvement April 6, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I open a Roth IRA account with Tradeking and definately recommend it. The only draw back is that it doesn’t work with Mint.com.

-Dan Malone-

Frank April 6, 2009 at 4:57 pm

I opened a Roth IRA account with Tradeking and definitely recommend it. The only draw back is that it doesn’t work with Mint.com.

-Dan Malone-
P.S.: Forgot to add great post!

The Personal Finance Playbook April 7, 2009 at 9:28 am

I’ve been using TradeKing for the last two years. I think it’s an excellent service as well. I’ve had no problems. Some of the ticker symbols (like Berkshire) are slightly different, so be aware of that as a buyer.

Jenny May 12, 2009 at 8:12 am

great post.

jenn is mortal July 24, 2009 at 5:30 am

TradeKing is my broker of choice. There’s room for improvement but I like the community features, for sure.

Tradesmarter August 2, 2009 at 8:01 am

im a big fan of TradeKing, great post!

Jae Jun August 8, 2009 at 10:18 pm

Just signed up with tradeking. My first broker outside of my 401k.
Excited now that I don’t have to pay 10.95 for transaction fees which were painful ;)

Silicon Valley Blogger August 8, 2009 at 10:36 pm

Awesome! I also signed up with TradeKing even though I have a lot of other accounts already. Wanted to try them out and see how they worked. So far so good!

Aditya August 9, 2009 at 11:40 pm

TradeKing sounds great! I’m looking forward to signing up with them.

Simon September 3, 2009 at 6:28 pm

I am a newbie for trading stocks and shares. When I visited TradeKing, it seemed it is very user friendly for even a newbie like me. Let me try TradeKing and let you know my comments.

zuy September 29, 2009 at 2:37 pm

I also use tradeking and it’s great! I have both a trading account and Roth IRA and have never had any problems. I contacted customer service twice since I’ve opened my account and they are awesome, they answered my questions very quickly and were very knowledgeable. I totally recommend them.

Brandon November 3, 2009 at 4:25 pm

TradeKing has really worked well for me. Their trade executions have been pretty smooth and the rates are pretty low compared to those of other brokers. I especially like their learning resources — I am learning how to work with options through them. Even got the “Options Playbook” which they sent me for free.

Joe November 5, 2009 at 11:08 am

Nice review. I have used both Tradeking and Zecco for stock trading. I prefer Tradeking mainly because I have found their support and execution of trades to be much better than Zecco. I love the platform too.

Daddy Paul January 29, 2010 at 8:42 pm

I am glad to see all of the positive reviews on Trade King. They seem to have less hidden fees and low cost trades.

Andrei Rotariu April 30, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Another US site here. But I live in Australia and it’s so hard to find a good Aussie trading site, all the American sites ask for a whole bunch of US tax information which we Aussies simply don’t have. Aaaah well, wadya do?

Yuko May 4, 2010 at 7:34 pm

I’m a freehanded fan of TradeKing, enceinte position!

Learning Centre May 7, 2010 at 12:48 am

I have heard a number of people trading off their money over the Internet. The one thing that I dreaded was that not all of us are math and finance genius and so we appoint brokers to trade our money in the market. But even having a trader doesn’t make it easy since they could very well make a fool of you and after many years have passed, you would realize that they were making double the money you were making and that they make it off YOUR own money. Ironic!

Then came the revolutionary Internet where Forex trading and so many other trading sites were made for the individual investor who could trade their own money and be responsible for their gains and the losses. But TradeKing has made life simpler compared to our other not so trader-friendly trading sites. It has great features and aids the beginners and starters considerably well against other ferocious money making sites. Great website! Highly recommended if you are a newbie to the trading world.

Gume June 8, 2010 at 2:15 pm

I was using Zecco for some time, but didn’t do that well. Anyways, great post, with good insights! Thanks!

Sherwin October 6, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Me too I was using Zecco and was unsatisfied with the end result. I would love to try out and sign up with TradeKing and give it a good try. Hope it works!

Raul @ Share Market October 29, 2010 at 4:12 am

It seems that Trade King is a nice broker for trading.

hans April 4, 2011 at 6:41 am

Yet beware: If you have a business, corporate or LLC account, Trade King will charge you $250 to open that account and, charge you $250 a year to maintain it. No other brokerage firm assesses those charges.

mark August 9, 2011 at 8:47 am

I have used tk for about 4 yrs, I don’t trade with them anymore — their site is unreliable when it comes to trading, especially when the markets heat up, The site goes down, or is incorrect, or has no data, and calling in doesn’t work either. All you can do is wait and by then it’s too late. No sense in trading that way. This has happened consistently over the years. I’ve documented it for myself. They do have good education and the tools, when working properly, are good to use for paper speculating, but the site’s charting service sucks. The people offering educational material are great though, so I check that out consistently.

Hak December 30, 2011 at 11:21 am

Too many glitches. Do not open up your account with Tradeking. I’ve lost over $5,000 due to their slowness and glitches. All they said was “I understand, but you should’ve called earlier.” I’m withdrawing all of my money out of this account. Never will trade again with this garbage. Watch out! You do get what you pay for.

Silicon Valley Blogger December 30, 2011 at 1:46 pm

@Hak,
What do you mean when you said that TradeKing customer service told you “you should’ve called earlier.”? Not sure what you or they meant by that. What could they have helped you with if you actually called earlier?

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