Top 5 Best Online Trading Platform (Ranking of 2016’s Top Stock Trading Websites)

What do individual investors and professional traders consider when seeking the best stock trading websites to use?

Based on an extensive keyword search analysis that we performed using Google, Bing, Yahoo!,, AOL, and other search mediums, AdvisoryHQ News determined that price per trade, low account maintenance fees, promotions, and fast trade execution were key factors for traders and investors.

Best-Online-Stock-Trading-Sites-Top-Stock-Brokers-minTrish Regan – “From my desk, I have a view of a packed newsroom with the energy of a
trading floor and America's financial pulse.”

(A)  Price Per Trade

Price per trade is the first and also the biggest factor for individual investors and professional traders who seek the best online trading platform. As you are most likely aware, price per trade is how much you’ll pay each time you trade (buy/sell) stocks, options, futures, bonds, or other financial products.

If you trade or invest often, you’ll find out very quickly how beneficial it is to go with a a top online trading platform that offers a low price per trade.

(B) Low Monthly Fees

Paying “little to no” service fees (i.e., $0 inactivity fees and no maintenance fees) is another key factor for investors and traders when they are conducting online stock trading reviews to find the top online stock broker and the best trading platform that fits their needs.

Going with an online stock trading website that offers little to zero account maintenance fees increases your overall trading and investing returns.

(C) Fast Execution

Opening a trading account with the best stock trading site that provides the fastest trade execution is another top priority for online traders and investors and is a factor that you should definitely consider before making your selection.

When trading or investing in fast-moving markets, sometimes the difference between gaining and losing thousands of dollars comes down to a few milliseconds (0.001 vs. 0.01 seconds can make or lose you a ton of money). Hence, extremely fast trade execution should be a top priority.

(D) Don’t Forget Added Value

In addition to the factors outlined in the section above, you’ll also want to consider “added value” or “perks” as important factors when searching for and selecting the best online stock trading platform.

For example, some investors consider value promotions (e.g., receiving up to $1,000 when you open an account), 24/7 customer service, free research tools, and highly advanced stock trading platforms as key criteria when finding the best stock trading site that meets their needs.


Review of the Best Online Stock Trading Sites

In this online stock trading review article, we present a list of this year’s top five online stock trading brokers as well as a detailed review of each of these highly rated stock brokerage platforms.

We’ve also included an overview of the approach, research, and selection methodology used by the AdvisoryHQ team when conducting these online stock trading reviews.

List of 2016’s Top Stock Trading Sites

Here is this year’s list of the top ranking stock trading websites:

  1. TD Ameritrade
  2. TradeKing
  3. E*Trade
  4. Fidelity
  5. Scottrade

So, the question now becomes, “which of the top 5 online trading websites should you choose?”

Identifying the Best Online Stock Trading Site for You

Depending on the type of investor or trader you are, there are a number of features that each of these online stock brokers and discount trading sites provide that will allow you to easily narrow down the list and identify the one trading platform that meets your needs.

Do you want the bare-bones, cheapest option with little to no customer support? Or do you want a full suite of advanced trading platforms and research tools – with a friendly voice over the phone – for when you need help?

Are you interested in mutual funds trading? Then you’ll want to review the “# of Mutual Funds” row in the online stock trading comparison table presented below.

What about margin rates? If you trade a lot on margins, then you’ll want to consider those brokers that offer the lowest margin rates. See the “Margin Rates” rows in the online stock trading comparison table presented below.

Making a wise decision when choosing the best trading site can return substantial amounts of cash to your pocket that could otherwise disappear in fees and commissions, so it is worth knowing what you want before selecting a trading platform.

Below is AdvisoryHQ’s high ranking comparison tables of the selected top trading sites followed by our selection methodology. The broker ranking tables are followed by a more detailed online stock trading review of each of these selected stock brokerages.

Tradeking - TKS Banner - 4.19.2016-min


Comparison Ranking Tables – Top 5 Online Trading Sites

The online brokers comparison table below is followed by a detailed review of each of the selected top ranking online trading sites.

Rates Comparison

Ranking Factors



Trade King



Cost Per Trade







Margin Rates ($0.01–$9,999)







Margin Rates ($10K–$24K)






Margin Rates ($25K–$249K)











Min. Initial Deposit

($2000 -margin account)

$500 ($2000 -margin account)

($2000 – margin account)

$2500 ($5000 – margin account)





Detailed Comparison (2016’s Top Online Stock Trading Sites)

Top Trading Platform Comparison (Best Suited for Whom?)

  • TD Ameritrade: Powerful platform, best suited for individual investors, professional traders, and beginners
  • TradeKing: Built for professional traders, loved by everyone including individual investors and beginners
  • Scottrade: Built for individual investors, traders, and beginners
  • E*TRADE: Built for individual investors, traders, and beginners
  • Fidelity: Built for average investors, focused on providing financial advice and planning to investors

Best Online Trading Platforms (Comparison by Level of Sophistication)

  • TD Ameritrade: Very fast and powerful platform, and a very user-friendly dashboard
  • TradeKing: Fast and powerful platform, advanced dashboard which is easy to use, one-click trade ticket, and a very intuitive interface
  • Scottrade: Improved trading platform and easy to use 
  • Fidelity: Average for regular users, and active traders gain access to an elite set of products and services
  • E*TRADE: Advanced trading tools

Top Online Trading Brokers (Maintenance Fees Comparison)

  • TD Ameritrade: No account maintenance fees
  • E*TRADE: No account maintenance fees
  • TradeKing: No account maintenance fees
  • Fidelity: No account maintenance fees
  • Scottrade: No account maintenance fees

Top Trading Platform (Inactivity Fees Comparison )

  • TD Ameritrade: No inactivity fees
  • E*TRADE: No inactivity fees
  • TradeKing: $50.00 (365-day inactivity fee)
  • Fidelity: No inactivity fees
  • Scottrade: No inactivity fees

Best Trading Websites (Promotion Comparison)

tradeking promotions-min

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Top Stock Brokers (Funds and Branch Comparison)

Ranking Factors

TD Ameritrade





# of Mutual Funds






# of Branches







Best Stock Trading Sites – Other Comparison

Ranking Factors

Customer Service


TD Ameritrade

  • TD Ameritrade has 100+ branches
  • 24-hour support
  • Highly experienced customer service specialists
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • iPod
  • Apple Watch
  • Android
  • Blackberry App World
  • Android tablets
  • Kindle Fire HD
  • Tablets
  • Windows phones
  • Etc.


  • 24-hour customer service
  • Branches in New York, California, D.C., Florida, NJ, Texas, and other states
  • iPhone
  • Android
  • iPad
  • Android tablets
  • Kindle Fire HD
  • Tablets
  • Windows phones


  • Chat and phone reps are available from 8am–6pm ET, Monday–Friday
  • iPhone
  • Android
  • Tablets


  • Fidelity has 185+ local offices all over the United States
  • Representatives are available to help anytime of the day or night
  • iPhone
  • iPad
  • Apple Watch
  • Android devices
  • Windows phones (8)
  • Tablets
  • Etc.


  • Connect to a Scottrade local branch during normal business hours
  • You will reach their National Service Center at all other times
  • iPhone
  • Android
  • BlackBerry
  • Smartphones
  • Tablets
  • Etc.


Key Selection Factors – Selecting the Top 5 Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading

What methodology did we use in selecting this final list of the top online and discount brokers?

AdvisoryHQ News started out with a broader list of over 47 online and full-service trading websites.

We reviewed TD Ameritrade, Scottrade, Vanguard, Fidelity, E*Trade, Charles Schwab, Firstrade, Capital One Investing, Merrill Edge, USAA Brokerage Services, Motif Investing, Just2trade, Raymond James Morgan Keegan, TradeStation, OptionsXpress, ChoiceTrade, and many others.

After applying various criteria (popularity, discounter vs. full-service, trading capabilities, user experience, costs, online research tools, etc.), we were able to narrow down the list to the selected online trading sites and stock brokers presented in this article.

When conducting research and searching for online stock trading reviews to find the best stock trading site to meet their needs, investors (new, intermediate, or experienced) normally consider the nine key variables below.

As part of our research and online stock trading reviews to find the top trading platforms that would best meet your needs, we integrated the below nine variables into our selection methodology.

  1. Cost per trade
  2. Service fees
  3. Fast execution
  4. Margin rates
  5. Promotions
  6. Account minimums
  7. Ease of use
  8. Types of investments offered
  9. Extras


In the section below, weve presented the detailed reviews of the selected online trading platforms, starting with TradeKing.

TradeKing Review

TradeKing is one of the year’s best and most highly rated online trading sites. With TradeKing, you pay $4.95 for stock and ETF trades and $4.95 plus 65 cents per contract when trading options.

TradeKing is built for serious traders whotrade actively and in large volumes. But new and intermediate investors and traders also benefit from the advanced trading capabilities provided by TradeKing as well as its low price per trade cost.

There are no account minimums, and the firm’s customer service is ranked #1. 

tradeking switch-min

TradeKing – $4.95 per stock trade (Click here to sign-up)

You can watch and interact with fellow stock and option traders. You can share experiences, ideas, and strategies for trading stock online. Relative to other discount brokers, TradeKing is dirt cheap.

Most of the savings you get from TradeKing comes from the fact that it devotes fewer dollars to its advertising budget than other firms.

However, note that you will pay an additional 1 cent per each stock under $2, and if your account is under $2500 and you don’t make a trade for 12 months, you will be slammed with a $50 inactivity fee. For the price, its available research is good – even if it, perhaps, lacks some of the bells and whistles of other brokers.

There is an active user forum, and interaction with other traders is strongly encouraged. The general consensus across online stock trading reviews is that you can’t go wrong with TradeKing.

Click below to open your account with TradeKing and start enjoying all of the perks.

tradeking promotions-min

TradeKing – $4.95 per stock trade (Top rated online broker)

Scottrade Review

As stated on the firm’s website: “With Scottrade, you can trade once a day, once a month or once a year without worrying about hidden stock trading fees or unexpected charges.” The firm offers a $0 annual fee and no maintenance fees. Investors pay just $7 for each stock trade.

Best Scottrade Promo Code

One of the firm’s mantras is, “Clear pricing, no surprises and simple account opening.” 

The few annoyances with Scottrade include that it does not provide “easy-to-use” information for your taxes, and customer service is not available 24/7. If you are an experienced trader who employs an accountant for your taxes, then this will not bother you in the slightest.

Scottrade’s low and consistent fees will likely be very appealing to you – what you see is what you get. With good educational resources, retirement planning tools, and access to a full suite of research and analysis tools, any small shortcomings are easily overshadowed by the benefits of this broker.

As one of the best-priced brokers with access to stock markets outside of the U.S., Scottrade takes a top spot on our list of top ranking online stock brokers.

Click below to open your account with Scottrade and start enjoying the many benefits offered by the firm.

TD Ameritrade Review

TD Ameritrade provides a wide range of research and trading tools which investors – from new to those more experienced – have found to be very useful when conducting stock, ETF or options research.

TD Ameritrade is a top pick for those investors who want access to similar analytical tools used by Wall Street, hedge funds, and institutional investors, including a customizable workspace, screeners, streaming market commentary/charts, back testing, strategy rollers, etc.

If you are only trading stocks and just starting out, the $0 minimum balance to open an account will be very appealing. This is a great company to use if you only want to invest in American markets, and the fees are competitive and attractive to beginners.

In addition to providing powerful trading tools to experienced traders, it is clear that TD Ameritrade has positioned itself to be the broker for new and beginning investors, and it is prone to spending large amounts of money on advertising at large sporting events.

With 24/7 customer service, great research tools, numerous other investment options, and plenty of physical branches throughout the U.S., TD Ameritrade is a great choice and is this year’s best stock trading platform.

E*TRADE Review

E*Trade is another trading site that takes a top spot on our list of best online trading sites. It offers a full range of investment choices that are adaptable for every investor. Looking to be at the crossroads of discount trading and full-service online brokerage, the firm provides services that cover stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds and fixed income, international investing, options, and futures. 

If customer service and research are important to you, then E*Trade should be near the top of your list. E*Trade is a great option for the volume trader who appreciates good customer service. It is a well-established company with competitive fees that favor people who trade often. It has a suite of other investment options that are accessible to you should you decide to explore them, including international stock markets. E*Trade is a leader in the category of “powerful and easy-to-use trading platforms.”

Review of Motif Investing

Fidelity Review

Fidelity is a full-service brokerage that is competing effectively in the online discount trading field. It offers $7.95 stock trades, and members can choose from thirty commission-free ETFs. Fidelity provides a wide range of fund choices (over 1,000) as well as retirement and debt management services. 

As a regular winner of the Smart Money best online broker award, Fidelity is a great choice for your online stock broker – if you have a U.S. Social Security number and at least $2500 for an initial investment. Fidelity has a flat buy/sell fee of just $7.95, and it stays the same no matter how many times you trade. There are no quarterly or annual account maintenance service fees.

Open a new account and get $1,000 in free trade commission (TradeKing)

Fidelity’s website has a ton of great learning and research tools that will help you plan for retirement or investigate other investment options as well as links to news articles to keep you updated on current affairs that may affect your investing.

When it comes to planning for retirement, Fidelity is the most experienced brokerage firm on our list of the best online stock trading firms. 

$1,000 worth of commissions on online trades (Serious value for serious traders)


Conclusion – Online Stock Trading Reviews

Ultimately, you, as the investor, have to determine the best stock trading site that is the right fit for your specific needs and requirements.

The list, reviews, and online broker rankings above have been provided as a first step in your research for the best online stock brokers.

OptionsHouse - Trade Free Promo

We hope you have found this best stock trading site reviews article useful.

If you have questions, comments, or tips about this review of the top ranking trading websites, use our contact us form to send us an email.

We look forward to hearing from you.


AdvisoryHQ Review Team