For the past month or so, it seems that the Dow and S&P are making and breaking records nearly every day. With stocks on the rise, more people than ever before want to get in on the action, and many are turning to online brokerage services to take the plunge into investing.
Online trading platforms have become increasingly popular in recent years for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that more consumers than ever before feel comfortable taking control of their own investments. This is no surprise, given the ease with which we can obtain investment information via the Internet these days. Many people no longer feel compelled to have their investments professionally managed with so much up-to-the minute information at their fingertips.
Additionally, online brokerages offer consumers several other advantages over buying and selling equities the old fashioned way – that is, with a stock broker. Consider the following:
- Convenience – most online brokerages allow you to hop online and trade stocks, ETFs, and other equities any time you want to. No need to wait for a broker to call you back.
- Ease of use – online brokerages feature sites that are very easy to navigate and offer information in plain English, while many brokers use unnecessary jargon, making them difficult to understand.
- Less expensive – fees associated with trades and account management are the investor’s Kryptonite. Online brokerages usually offer services at a fraction of the prices of stock brokers.
While the advantages of using online brokerages are clear, it’s still important to choose your online trading platform carefully. Factors such as the type of equities you wish to invest in, the frequency with which you plan to trade, and the type of investment account you plan to open should all be considered.
In addition to your personal investment needs, it’s critical to carefully compare the benefits and drawbacks of the major online trading platforms that are out there today. Take a look at the comparison chart below to get started with your research:
|Sharebuilder (Capital One, formerly ING)|
|TradeKing (formerly Zecco)|
Angie Picardo is a writer at NerdWallet, a financial literacy site where you can find advice on topics ranging from trading to asset allocation.