Every year, the good folks at Barron’s put together a survey of the best online brokers. This is actually the 16th time Barrons has surveyed the online investing channel and their kind enough not only to pick their favorites, but also review pretty much every major online broker and provide a rating. This year, for the very first time, TradeStation won the honor of Best Online Broker and to be honest I’ve never heard of them before!
Barron’s #1 Broker for 2011 – TradeStation
Receiving 4.5 starts, TradeStation received the honor from Barron’s as best online broker for the first time. Not being a highly experienced investor (I currently own a couple of shares of Google and that’s that), I had never heard of this broker. After reading up on TradeStation, it’s apparent why. Only experienced investors should be taking advantage of the tools TradeStation provides, offering just about every kind of trade available. There is a $99 monthly platform fee (in addition to trade fees) for anyone who does not trade at least 50 options or 5,000 shares of stock a month.
Depending on how often you trade, TradeStation offers two different plans for equities trades, as well as a discounted plan for futures, options and forex. Traders can pay on a flat price plan, which ranges from $6.99 per trade to $9.99 per trade, depending on frequency or on a per share plan in the following amounts:
- 100 shares costs $1
- 500 shares costs $5
- 1000 shares costs $8
Not bad for anyone who trades small amounts of stock, but remember, there is the $99 fee if you don’t trade a large amount of shares each month. From top to bottom, TradeStation was voted number one because of it’s tools, available options for both domestic and international traders, and overall usability.
Barron’s 2011 Broker Survey
You may notice a lot of brokers boasting that they ranked well in one category or another and Barron’s gives plenty of opportunities to do so. 24 total brokers were surveyed and Barron’s lists they’re favorites in the following four categories:
- Long Term Investing
- Options Traders
- Frequent Traders
- International Traders
You’ll notice that TD Ameritrade actually finds it’s way into the above graphic three times, but it still wasn’t strong enough to overtake TradeStation as best overall broker. Many brokers excel in one area or another but few excel in multiple areas.
Barrons 2011 Overall Ratings
Barrons compiled their rankings of 24 different online brokers using the following criteria:
- Trade Experience
- Trading Technology
- Range of Offerings
- Research Amenities
- Portfolio Analysis and Reports
- Customer Service and Education
From top to bottom, you’ll find the 24 brokers that Barrons’ reviewed below, along with their rank. Don’t be discouraged if you find your broker towards the bottom of this table but do research why they aren’t closer towards the top. You should start by visiting the complete Barron’s 2011 survey.