Barron’s 2012 Online Broker Survey

Barron’s has released its annual ranking of online brokers. Each year Barron’s undertakes an exhaustive survey and ranks brokers in a number of helpful categories.

If you are looking to open a brokerage account, the survey is quite helpful in narrowing down the many options.

What’s New for 2012

First, Barron’s crowned a new broker as its best of the best. In last year’s survey, Barron’s named TradeStation as the top broker. This year, the honor of best online broker goes to Interactive Brokers, while TradeStation has slipped to fourth place.

Second, Barron’s evaluated each broker’s mobile trading platform, if they had one. So for those that may want to trade via an iPad or mobile phone, this addition to the rankings will give you a good start.

Coolest Mobile Feature: “TD Ameritrade’s iPhone app even lets you scan a barcode when you’re at the grocery store, and get a quote on the stock of the company that makes those cookies you like. It’s an exciting evolution in trading technology, and one that we expect to continue this year.”–Barron’s 2012 Online Broker Survey

Finally, rather than just having one long list from best to worst, Barron’s subdivided the rankings by categories. While this isn’t a new feature of the survey, Barron’s has added some additional categories. For example, if you want a broker that offers in-person service, Barron’s broke these out and offers a separate ranking for brokers with offices.

So who’s the best in each category?

Mobile Trading Platforms

OptionsHouse: Scored a 4.8 out of 5.0 for its mobile platform. With the highest rating and some of the lowest costs, OptionsHouse is a great choice for those who want to trade on the go.
TD Ameritrade: With a score of 4.6, this more traditional option showed its dedication to technology.
MB Trading: 4.6
tradeMonster: 4.5
Interactive Brokers: 4.3

Best for Frequent Traders

TradeStation: 4.5 stars
Interactive Brokers: 4.5 stars
MB Trading: 4.5 stars
Lightspeed Trading: 4.5 stars
TD Ameritrade (ThinkorSwim): 4 stars

Best for In-person Service

Scottrade: 4 stars. This is the broker I use for my SEP IRA, and I’ve been very happy with the cost, service, and reporting (you can check out my review of Scottrade for more details).
Merrill Edge: 4 stars
Charles Schwab: 4 stars
Fidelity: 4 stars
TD Ameritrade: 4 stars

Best for International Traders

Interactive Brokers: 4.5 stars
TradeStation: 4.5 stars
ChoiceTrade: 4 stars
Fidelity: 4 stars
MB Trading: 4 stars

Best for Long-Term Investors

Fidelity: 4.5 stars
TD Ameritrade: 4.5 stars
Charles Schwab: 4 stars
E*Trade: 4 stars
: 4 stars

Best for Novices

TD Ameritrade: 4 stars
Fidelity: 4 stars
E*Trade: 4 stars
Charles Schwab: 4 stars
ING Direct (Sharebuilder): 3.5 stars
Kapitall: 3 stars

Best for Options Traders

tradeMonster: 4.5 stars
OptionsHouse: 4.5 stars
TD Ameritrade: 4.5 stars
optionsXpress: 4 stars. In addition to being a great choice for options trading, optionsXpress also is running a $100 promotion for new accounts.

Topics: Investing

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