Comparison tables

US online discount stockbrokers comparison table

Last UpdatedMar 152012

The table below compares the dealing charges and other features of 30 US online stockbrokers to help you find the best stockbrokers for trading US shares only. If you are looking for US stockbrokers to trade international markets instead, try the US international stockbrokers list and the US international stockbrokers comparison table.

Different stockbrokers use very different commission structures, which can make direct comparison difficult. The table attempts to compare like-for-like as much as possible – where brokers offer better rates for more active traders, the rates for least active traders are listed. See below the table for fuller details of commissions for those brokers that have more complex fee structures.

A limited number of US-based stockbrokers will open accounts for non-residents, although policies on foreign clients are subject to change and citizens or residents of some countries may not be accepted. Firms that reportedly accept non-residents include eOption, Charles Schwab, Firstrade, Interactive Brokers, Just2Trade, LowTrades, OptionsXpress and Tradestation. Scottrade accepts foreign clients who are citizens of and resident in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan only.

Looking for US stockbrokers to buy international shares instead? Try the US international stockbrokers list and the US international stockbrokers comparison table.
Clearing firmLink
AB WatleyUS$9.95*US$9.95 + US$1.5
n/aNot statedUS$25/month inactivity feeUS$2,000PensonVisit site
Charles SchwabUS$8.95US$8.95 + US$0.75
n/aAdd US$25NoneUS$1,000Self-clearingVisit site
ChoiceTradeUS$5US$5 + US$0.15
n/aAdd US$5NoneNonePensonVisit site
Cobra TradingUS$0.005/share*US$5 + US$0.95
Fees on
Not statedNoneUS$2,500PensonVisit site
E*TradeUS$9.99*US$9.99 + US$0.75
Add US$45NoneUS$500Self-clearingVisit site
eOptionUS$3US$3 + US$0.1
n/aAdd US$6NoneNonePensonVisit site
FidelityUS$7.95US$7.95 + US$0.75
n/aAdd US$25NoneUS$2,500Self-clearingVisit site
FirstradeUS$6.95US$6.95 + US$0.75
n/aAdd US$20NoneNonePensonVisit site
ING Direct SharebuilderUS$9.95*US$9.95 + US$1.25
n/aUS$19.95NoneNonePershingVisit site
Interactive BrokersUS$0.005/share (min US$1)*From US$1 + pass-on fees*US$0.85
Add US$30US$10/month min commissionsUS$10,000Self-clearingVisit site
Just2TradeUS$2.5US$2.5 + US$0.5
n/aNoneNoneUS$2,500LegentVisit site
KapitallUS$9.95n/an/aNot statedNoneNonePershingVisit site
Lightspeed TradingUS$3*US$0.6
/contract (min US$3)*
Add US$20NoneUS$5,000PensonVisit site
LowTradesUS$4.95US$4.95 + US$0.6
n/aAdd US$20US$50/half year inactivity feeNonePensonVisit site
MB TradingUS$4.95*US$0.95
Not statedNoneUS$1,000PensonVisit site
Merrill EdgeUS$6.95*US6.95 + US$0.75
n/aAdd US$38NoneNoneSelf-clearingVisit site
OptionsHouseUS$3.95US$8.5 + US$0.15
n/aNoneNoneUS$1,000PensonVisit site
/contract (min US$12.95)
NoneNoneNoneSelf-clearingVisit site
PlaceTradeUS$0.01/share (min US$2.95)US$0.75
/contract (min US$1.5)
n/aFrom US$15US$10/month min commissionsUS$5,000Interactive BrokersVisit site
ScottradeUS$7US$7 + US$1.25
n/aAdd US$20NoneUS$500Self-clearingVisit site
SogoTradeUS$3US$5 + US$0.5
n/aAdd US$20-22*US$10/month abandoned accounts*US$500PensonVisit site
SpeedTraderUS$6.95/trade OR US$0.0039/share (min US$0.99)US$1
Add US$30NoneUS$500PensonVisit site
TD AmeritradeUS$9.99US$9.99 + US$0.75
Add US$35NoneNoneSelf-clearing (Penson for futures)Visit site
TradeKingUS$4.95US$4.95 + US$0.65
n/aNoneNoneNonePensonVisit site
/contract (min US$15)*
Not statedNoneUS$2,000PensonVisit site
TradeStationUS$9.99/trade OR US$0.01/share (min US$1)*US$1
/contract OR
US$9.99/trade +US$0.7
Add US$50US$99.5/month low activity*US$5,000Self-clearingVisit site
TradingBlockUS$7.5US$7.5 + US$0.75
n/aNoneUS$30/year inactivity feeNonePensonVisit site
VanguardUS$7-20*US$20 + US$1
n/aNoneNoneNoneSelf-clearingVisit site
ZeccoUS$4.95US$4.95 + US$0.65
n/aAdd US$15NoneNoneLegentVisit site
Notes on the US discount stockbrokers comparison table

1. Futures commissions are given on a per side per contract basis and will also be subject to exchange fees.

2. AB Watley offers two products: WatleyTrader is a basic browser-based platform, while UltimateTrader has additional data, routing and software flexibility. For WatleyTrade (min US$2,000 account size) rates are 1-400 trades/month US$9.95/trade, 400 trades+ US$6.95 or less – inactivity fee of US$25/month if no trades. For UltimateTrader (min US$5,000 account size), rates are 1-49 trades/month US$15.95/trade, 50-99 trades US$13.95/trade, 100-249 trades US$10.95/trade, 250-400 trades US$9.95, 400+ US$6.95/trade or less – inactivity fee of US$50/month if less than 11 trades per month.

3. Cobra Trading charges US$0.005/share for 0-250,000 shares/month and US$0.004/share for 250,000+ shares/month. The Cobra IQ platform adds an extra US$0.001/share. Platform fees: VenomTrade none, Cobra IQ US$125/month (full rebate if more than 75,000 shares/month), RealTick or Sterling US$250/month (full rebate if more than 200,000 shares/month).

4. E*Trade charges US$9.99/trade for 0-149 trades/quarter and US$7.99 for 150+ trades/quarter.

5. Interactive Brokers a number of pricing plans. For US equities, users can choose between a flat-rate and a cost-plus schedule. Flat-rate basis: US$0.005/share (min US$1, max 0.5% of trade value). Cost-plus basis charges pass-on exchange fees plus broker fees of US$0.0035/share under 300,000 shares/month, US$0.002/share for 300,000-3,000,000 shares/month, US$0.0015/share for 3,000,000-20,000,000 shares/month, US$0.001/share for 20,000,000+ shares/month.

For US options, users can choose between smart routed and direct routed orders. Smart routing: Under 10,000 contracts/month – US$0.7/contract for premiums over US$0.1, US$0.5/contract for premiums US$0.05-0.1, US$0.25 for premiums under US$0.05; 10,000-50,000 contracts/month – US$0.5/contract for premiums over Us$0.05, US$0.25 for premiums under US$0.05; 50,000-100,000 contracts/month – US0.25/contract; over 100;000 contracts/month – US$0.25/contract. Direct routing US$1/contract. All are subject to minimum commission of US$1 and pass-on fees.

For US futures, users can choose between a fixed-rate cost-plus basis and a tiered cost plus basis. Cost-plus fixed charges pass-on fees plus US$0.85/contract; Cost-plus tiered charges pass-on fees and US$0.1 carrying fee/contract/night plus US$0.85/contract for under 1,000 contracts/month, US$0.65/contract for 1,000-10,000 contracts/month, US$0.45/contract for 10,000-20,000 contracts/month and US$0.25 for 20,000+ contracts per month.

Telephone fees are for closing orders only. Broker-assisted trades are available on deals of over 10,000 shares or 100 contracts at rates of US$0.01/share (min US$100), US$0.95/options contract (min US$95) and US$3/futures contract (min US$300).

6. ING Direct Sharebuilder rates are US$9.95 for equities and US$9.95 plus US$1.25/contract for options under the Basic pricing program and US$7.95 for equities and US$0.795 plus US$0.75/contract for options under the Advantage pricing program. Recurring or one-off scheduled equity trades are US$4 per investment under the Basic plan and Us$1 per investment with 12 free per month under the Advantage plan. The Advantage plan costs US$12/month.

7. Lightspeed operates two pricing plans. Smart route access: equities US$3/trade (max 50,000 shares/order), OTC BB US$10/trade, options US$0.6/contract (min Us$3). Direct market access: Equities pass-on fees plus US$4.5/trade or US$0.0045/share (min US$1), OTC BB pass-on fees plus US$10/trade, options US$0.6/contract (min US$1).

8. MB Trading offers a flat-rate US$4.95/trade or improved routing at US$0.0075/share (min US$4.95).

9. Merrill Edge offers 30 free trades per month for customers with US$25,000 cash in Merrill or Bank of America accounts.

10. OptionsHouse options commissions are US$8.5 plus US$0.15/contract or US$5 for five contracts

11. SogoTrade broker-assisted charges are US$25/trade for shares and US$25 plus US$0.5/contract for options. The abandoned account fee applies to accounts with less than US$100 equity and no login activity for two years.

12. SpeedTrader requires a minimum account size of US$2,000 for options and US$5,000 for futures. Stock commission plans are US$6.95/trade flat rate or US$0.0039/share (min US$0.99).

13. TD Ameritrade requires a minimum account size of US$2,000 for options. Thinkorswim is now part of TD Ameritrade with the same commission schedule.

14. TradeMonster options rates: 1-10,000 contracts/month US$0.5/contract min US$12.5; 10,000-50,000 contracts/month US$0.4/contract min US$3.5; 50,000-100,000 contracts/month US$0.2/contract min US$3.5; 100,000 contracts/month US$0.1/contract min US$3.5.

15. TradeStation equities: Flat-rate 1-9 trades/month US$9.99/trade, 10-29 trades/month US$7.99/trade, 30-99 trades/month US$6.99/trade, 100-199 trades/month US$5.99/trade, 200+ trades/month US$4.99/trade; Per share US$0.01/share up to 500 shares, US$0.006/share above 500 shares.

Options: Flat-rate 1-9 trades/month US$9.99/trade + US$0.7/contract, 10-29 trades/month US$7.99/trade + US$0.5/contract, 30-99 trades/month US$6.99/trade + US$0.4/contract, 100-199 trades/month US$5.99/trade + US$0.3/contract, 200+ trades/month US$4.99/trade + US$0.2/contract.

Futures: <=300 contracts/month US$1.2 per side per contract, 301-1,000 contracts/month US$1 per side per contract, 1,001-10,000 contracts/month US$0.65 per side per contract, 10,0001-20,000 contracts/month Us$0.45 per side per contract, >20,000 contracts/month US$0.25 per side per contract. Account service fee of US$99.95/month if less than 5,000 shares or 50 options contracts or 10 round-turn futures (50 round-turn single stock futures) are traded per month or the account has a balance of US$100,000.

16. Vanguard operates tiered pricing. Equities: Accounts under US$50,000 US$7/trade for first 25 trades in year, US$20/trade thereafter, accounts from US$50,000-500,000 US$7/trade, accounts from US$500,000-1,000,000 US$2/trade, accounts over US$1,000,000 first 25 trades free, US$2/trade thereafter. Options: US$1/contract plus base fee of US$20 for accounts under US$50,000, US$7 for accounts from US$50,000-500,000 and US$2 for accounts over US$500,000.

Information in the US discount brokerage fee comparison table comes from the stockbrokers’ websites and leaflets, conversations with broker staff and conversations with investors who use the services. While I try to ensure it is accurate and up-to-date, I cannot guarantee that. You should always check current terms and conditions before opening an account. If you identify any errors or omissions, please email me using the contact form.