BEST OVERALL

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The retail trader is faced with a choice regarding trading platforms. There is the traditional web based trading platform which is basically nothing more than an order entry screen to a broker.

Then there is the direct access platform that provides traders direct access into the marketplace. If you are a long term swing trader or a buy and hold investor type, best direct access trading broker traditional web based trading platform should fit your needs.

However, if you are an active trader, using web based trading platforms could make things more difficult. Your executions may be slower, you may have a difficult time getting your exact price and you may miss opportunities due to speed and the lack of ability to route orders. Despite these disadvantages, web based trading platforms offer many advantages including lower monthly costs, a smaller learning curve to understanding the platform and the ability to trade from anywhere with an internet connection and a web browser.

This goes for stock, options and futures web based trading platforms. The good news is that active best direct access trading broker have a choice of both direct access and web based platforms. Direct market access platforms have changed the trading game forever. The unfair advantages provided by direct market access platforms for active traders are multiple.

What are a few of these unfair advantages direct access trading platforms provide? First and foremost is speed. Orders transmission and execution speeds are measured in milliseconds. Beating the next guy into the market is critical for several trading strategies. Among these strategies is tape reading and scalping. Getting the best position possible in the order queue can mean the difference between profit and loss.

Next, direct market access trading gives the trader control over where his order gets executed. You can choose what ECN, exchange or market maker to direct your order. This is particularly critical in the option trading marketplace. Options are occasionally mispriced by a particular exchange creating opportunities for savvy traders with access to routes that will ensure they get executions at the best available prices.

If you are uncertain of the best route, most direct access trading software will seek out the best execution venue at best direct access trading broker particular time. Cost is another advantage direct access provides traders. Direct access trading platforms usually charge per share, making many trades cheaper than the traditional per trade commission structure of online discount brokers. This is particularly true for active traders who tend to trade in smaller lot sizes, but do best direct access trading broker much more best direct access trading broker.

So which type of platform is best? Only you can answer that question after evaluating your needs as a trader or investor. If you are a casual investor, the ease of use and web access will steer you toward a web based platform. If you are more serious about trading, the execution speeds, order routing control, best direct access trading broker potentially lower commission costs could make a DMA platform more suitable to your needs.

This article is provided for educational purposes only and is not considered to be a recommendation or endorsement best direct access trading broker any trading strategy. The author is not affiliated with Lightspeed Trading and the content and perspective is solely attributed to the author. Evolving at the Speed of Light. Open an Account Try a Demo.

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Investors should know the best online brokers to trade with. Some online stock brokers are known for their award-winning customer service while others are known for inexpensive stock trades or powerful trading tools. This guide will highlight some of the best brokers available today with tips and advice for choosing a broker. Its platforms thinkorswim was 1 desktop platform , tools, mobile apps including Alexa Skill and Facebook Messenger bot , research, customer service 1 for phone support , and education 1 are all award winning.

Get up to free trades for 2 years. Fidelity is best known for its value driven customer experience. Beyond cost and ease of use, Fidelity also finished 1 for research tools. OptionsHouse has been rated the 1 platform for Options Trading the past seven years. Merrill Edge is the online broker of Bank of America and is available to all investors, regardless if they are a current BofA customer. Like TD Ameritrade and ETRADE, Merrill Edge is well-rounded; however, it has a huge advantage over all other brokers thanks to its Preferred Rewards program where customers can earn free trades, credit cards bonus cash back, priority customer service, and more.

I have personally been using the program since it launched in With its competitive commission rates for stocks and options trading, investors who have previous market experience will find themselves right at home. However, unless you are already an Ally customer, you will find that there are better offerings available.

Having the best stock broker to serve individual needs is very important for any investor. For example, cheap trades most often come at the expense of less research tools and a more simplified trade platform. Consider these 12 key factors to help compare all stock brokers and ultimately find the best broker to suite your needs. Trade Commissions What does it cost to buy shares of stock? Does the fee change based on the type of order or size of order?

To keep it simple, look for brokers that offer flat-fee trades, ie charging a flat rate regardless of the type, price of the stock, or size of the order. Customer Service When picking up the phone or emailing a broker, is a well trained customer service representative ready to assist? How any investor is treated as a client is more important to some than others.

Trading Tools Trading successfully is a lot easier when investors have great tools at their disposal. A top stock broker should offer access to a wide variety of trade tools to help make the most of each and every trade.

From real-time streaming quotes to last sale tickers, quality stock scanners, mobile trading apps, and level II quotes to name a few. Strong tools are essential for active investors.

Account Minimums Some brokers allow you to open an account with no minimum deposit while others may require several thousand dollars. Also know that some brokers require higher minimums to gain access to premium platforms, functionality, and personalized support. Market Research A good online broker will provide a variety of market research tools. The rule of thumb here is simple: Investment Options A online stock broker should offer access to not only trading stocks, but also a strong selection of no load mutual funds, commission free ETFs, and complex options.

Other unique investment offerings to look for could include direct market routing, conditional orders, futures trading, and forex trading. Other Fees Fees beyond trade commissions include inactivity fees common with active trading brokers such as Interactive Brokers, Lightspeed, and TradeStation and IRA fees for having a retirement account. Just like a bank account, stock brokers also make a portion of their profits off miscellaneous fees. There is no reason why you should pay an annual fee to have an retirement account.

If managing your own portfolio is not of interest, all full-service brokers offer optional advisory services as well. Furthermore, robo-advisors such as Betterment are growing in popularity. Once again, the experience at larger established brokers is going to be superior to smaller brokers. Banking Larger online brokers offer banking and other financial services. This goes beyond money market accounts and CDs. Checking accounts, mortgages, debit cards, and credit cards can also be offered.

The leader in this space is, hands down, Bank of America Merrill Edge. Account Security Because of the web today, all online brokers invest heavily into account security. Just like shopping online and choosing a trustworthy website to purchase from, the best bet is to choose a well-known, established broker for your portfolio.

To understand Order Execution, read this guide. International Trading For investors in the United States this is not a problem but for investors living outside the US, when comparing brokers it is important to make sure they offer service in your country.

If you need help deciding which broker to choose or have a broker specific question please feel free to email me and I will be happy to help. To view star ratings, summaries, screenshots, and more for these brokers, see our stock broker comparison tool.

This took many dozens of hours to put together so I appreciate your support! Enter your email address.