Brokerage Firms for Day Traders: T-Z
An online brokerage account is one of the first investments a day trader must make. This is a list of a few firms you may want to consider. The list is not exhaustive and does not imply an endorsement of any of the firms.
Brokerage firms don’t make money just on the commission. Other sources of revenue include monthly service charges, fees for real-time quotes, interest on margin loans to customers, and the spread, which is the difference between what you pay for a security and what the firm paid to get it.
So don’t let the commission be the critical factor in deciding among brokerage firms. Think about the services you need and the relative cost to you of different account offerings.
Although thinkorswim started life as a trading platform for options strategies, it has since been acquired by TD Ameritrade, a more traditional discount brokerage firm, and is now TD Ameritrade's service for active traders.
thinkorswim offers a full range of products, including mutual funds, on web, software, and mobile platforms. In addition to an auto-execute feature for subscribers of different trading newsletters, it has a paper-trading feature that lets you practice your trades before you commit real dollars.
It also offers what it calls swimming lessons, which are seminars on trading techniques and tools offered each day that the market is open. And it has services to help traders keep track of their gains and losses, the better to simplify tax time.
TradeKing offers a range of basic trading services in stocks, bonds, and options, both online and through mobile applications. The company’s most unique feature is the community offerings on its site, where customers can create blogs, track each other’s trades (if they want), share commentary, and send messages in hopes that they all make better, smarter trades. A lot of traders appreciate the support and the ability to share ideas through the community features.
TradeStation offers a huge range of services for people who day trade stocks, options, futures, and foreign exchange. A software-based system, TradeStation includes a rich set of features, especially for developing and testing trading strategies.
Traders who have strong systems will like the automatic trading features that signal — and can even act — when appropriate trading opportunities occur. TradeStation's services are especially popular with traders who like to develop their own systems and work on their own programs.
Zecco offers trading in stocks, options, and foreign exchange. Your first 10 trades per month are free if you make 25 trades per month or keep a $25,000 minimum balance; after that, you pay $4.50 per trade. Zecco has few services for traders other than message boards where customers can discuss news and share trading tips.