Barron's Online Broker Ratings

When it comes to finding the best brokers for your needs, you can check out ratings from Barron's, which is a Wall Street Journal publication that was founded in 1921 and was named after the founder of modern financial journalism, Clarence Barron. Barron’s, like SmartMoney and Kiplinger's, rates brokers based on a variety of areas including customer service, investment product offerings, independent research and much more. Barron’s uses a five point scale when measuring a broker’s performance, where 5 stars is excellent and 1 star is inferior. Let's see how Barron's views the following top brokers.



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  • OptionsHouse offers its customers a great trading experience and has earned 4.3 stars in this category.
  • OptionsHouse doesn’t fare as well as some of the other brokers in the trade technology arena, getting only 2.7 stars out of 5.
  • OptionsHouse does well in offering a trading platform and educational tools that are intuitive and easy to use, with Barron’s giving 3.6 stars.
  • Independent research is available and is robust, which has earned them a 4 star rating in this category.
  • OptionsHouse offers its customers much more than just options trading when it comes to investment products, which has earned them 3.1 stars in this category.
Stock Trades Options Base Options Contract Minimum Deposit Broker Assisted Fund Trades
$3.95 $8.50 $0.15 $0.00 $3.95 $9.95


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  • Scottrade has consistently performed well in Barron’s reviews. In 2009, they were rated 3.3 stars for overall trading experience.
  • When it comes to trading technology, Scottrade didn’t make the top of the list; however, they fared better than average, earning 2.9 stars out of 5.
  • Barron's was satisfied with the ease of use of the tools offered by Scottrade, giving them 3.1 stars out of 5.
  • Scottrade offers quite a few investment options to its customers, which is why they were rated 3.2 stars in this area.
  • When it comes to independent research, Scottrade rated among the top, earning 3.6 stars out of 5.
Stock Trades Options Base Options Contract Minimum Deposit Broker Assisted Fund Trades
$7.00 $7.00 $1.25 $500.00 $27.00 $0.00 - $17.00


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  • TradeKing offers one of the best trading experiences of any broker rated by Barron's, landing 4.1 stars out of 5.
  • Trading technology was one of the weaker areas for this broker; however they still fared better than most, earning 3.1 stars in the category.
  • Usability is one of the most important factors for customers, and TradeKing meets this demand, landing a near perfect 4.4 stars in this area.
  • TradeKing offers a wide range of investment products, as reflected by their 3.7 star rating.
  • The availability of research is plentiful with TradeKing, as evidenced by the 4.1 stars out of 5 they earned in this category.
Stock Trades Options Base Options Contract Minimum Deposit Broker Assisted Fund Trades
$4.95 $4.95 $0.65 $0.00 $4.95 $14.95 (no load)


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  • E*Trade has created a name for itself with its customers. Barron's has awarded them 4.1 stars in the overall trade experience category.
  • E*Trade values its trading technology and it shows. Barron's gave E*Trade a 3.7 stars in this category.
  • Not only is E*Trade committed to developing their trading technology, they also place a high emphasis on the ability of their customers to use it, landing them 3.7 stars in this category as well.
  • E*Trade offers one of the most comprehensive portfolios of investment offerings of any online broker, and was rated 3.8 stars for their efforts.
  • E*Trade has committed to comprehensive research services as well, landing them a near perfect 4.5 stars in this category.
Stock Trades Options Base Options Contract Minimum Deposit Broker Assisted Fund Trades
$7.99 - $9.99 $7.99 - $9.99 $0.75 $500.00 $45.00 $0.00 - $19.99


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  • When it comes to overall trading experience, Zecco lands 2.9 stars from Barron's.
  • Technology is the key to creating a good overall trading experience and Zecco seems to be lacking a little in this area, receiving 1.6 stars in 2009.
  • Even though Zecco didn’t do as well as expected in the technology area, what they do offer is fairly usable, thus landing them 2.5 stars in this category.
  • Zecco does a little better than average in the investment offerings category, receiving 3.3 stars.
  • Zecco also did well in the independent research category, earning three and a half stars for their efforts here.
Stock Trades Options Base Options Contract Minimum Deposit Broker Assisted Fund Trades
$4.50 $4.50 $0.50 $0.00 $19.99 $10.00


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  • When it comes to a good overall trading experience, few brokers offer a better experience than OptionsXpress, which received 4.4 stars out of 5.
  • Trading technology is an important aspect of the trading experience, and OptionsXpress' hard work has paid off with Barron's giving them 3.8 stars.
  • XpressMethod and the OptionsXpress trading platform have been recognized as some of the easiest to use platforms by Barron's, earning 4.3 stars out of five in this area.
  • OptionsXpress offers one of the largest ranges of investment offerings in the industry, as evidenced by the near perfect 4.4 stars.
  • OptionsXpress also has a great devotion to research, and it shows, landing them 4.6 stars out of 5 in this category.
Stock Trades Options Base Options Contract Minimum Deposit Broker Assisted Fund Trades
$9.95 $0.00 $1.50 $0.00 $9.95 $9.95 + LOAD FEE


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  • tradeMONSTER is one of the best rated brokers according to Barron's, in terms of overall trading experience. They earned 4.3 stars in this category.
  • tradeMONSTER’s commitment to investing in their trading technology is evident and has earned them 4.2 stars out of 5 in this area.
  • While tradeMONSTER offers its customers a lot in the technology department, they suffer a little when it comes to usability, with a 3.8 stars out of 5 in this category.
  • tradeMONSTER is also somewhat lacking in the investment product offering category, earning three stars.
  • tradeMONSTER does place emphasis on their commitment to offer quality research features. For their efforts, they have received 4 out of 5 stars in this category.
Stock Trades Options Base Options Contract Minimum Deposit Broker Assisted Fund Trades
$7.50 $0.00 $0.50 $2,000.00 $7.50 $0.00 - $15.00

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Barron's Online Brokers Ratings & Broker Survey

When it comes to determining who’s who among online brokers, one of the most trusted names in providing annual reviews and rankings is Barron’s. Barron’s is a weekly newspaper devoted to the U.S. financial markets and covers anything from stocks and brokers to market trends and everything in between.

Barron’s started its long and illustrious history in 1921, when modern financial journalism founder and long time influential figure for the Dow Jones Corporation, Clarence W. Barron, determined that a weekly summary of the financial markets would benefit the American public. Barron’s is well-known for its critical assessment of stocks and other investment vehicles, as well as for investigative reporting of fraud and overvalued companies.

Barron’s aim is simple. They want to simplify what appears to be complicated. Independent analysts pore over the investment product offerings, pricing, trading platforms, and operations of the online brokers who are vying for your business. These analysts evaluate each broker and what they have to offer each trader, regardless of whether they are active or “buy and hold” investors.

Barron’s uses a very specific method to assess brokers, based on the following criteria:

  • Trade Experience. Barron’s utilizes a live account and assesses what a typical trader would experience when carrying out a real time trade. Brokers that offer a smooth end to end buy or sell experience with real time information injected at the appropriate times usually score well in this category.
  • Trading Technology. Brokers need more than just a slick looking order platform to score well here. Barron’s places a lot of emphasis on the availability of the interface to locate price-improvement strategies and smart order routing before awarding five star ratings here. Brokers also need to offer a vast array of market order types in order to score here. In addition, easily customizable applications designed to speed order entry are preferred to more static interfaces.
  • Usability, Usability is measured in a few different ways. First, the interface must be easy to navigate. Second, the application must move freely, without bogging down or lagging between screens. Customization is always a plus and will score a broker a point here, but more importantly, uptime is a paramount.
  • Range of Offerings. There is no more important factor for a broker when it comes to landing a good Barron’s rating than the investments it offers for trading. The diversity of products available for online trading are valued more heavily than those that can only be traded offline. Complex options trading, mutual fund offerings, bonds, futures, commodities and international trading all figure into the equation as well. A broker will only receive a 5 in this category if they offer all of these trading opportunities online.
  • Research Features. Research features refer to the tools that the broker makes available for you to gain historical and trending information on particular investments. Barron’s evaluates the quality and ease of use of independent research, real time quotes, charting, screeners, news and much more.
  • Portfolio Analysis and Reports. Barron’s places a huge emphasis on the format in which a broker makes information available to investors. Clearly laid-out reports that are topically relevant and up to date are highly valued in this ranking process.
  • Help and Customer Access. Customer service is a big deal at Barron’s. Why? Because it is a big deal with investors. Brokers are evaluated based on the availability of customer service in terms of hours of availability, ease of access (online chat, telephone, email, etc.), and time on hold. Educational offerings are also evaluated in this category as giving investors the opportunity to help themselves is a hallmark sign of an effective customer service strategy. Brokers that allow face to face customer service opportunities tend to do well in this category as well as brokers that have multiple avenues for service contact.
  • Costs. Last but not least, brokers are evaluated on price. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the cheapest broker scores the best. But, what is evaluated is the level of value the broker provides for the amount of commission it charges for its services. Other factors evaluated during the cost analysis include maintenance fees, additional services fees and whether or not the broker offers any commission-free opportunities.