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OptionsHouse came onto the market several years ago, and for a while not many people really brought their money to it because they were so attached to the big guns like E-Trade... at least, until they saw the price. While a lot of online stock traders will charge you upwards of ten dollars to use their services, OptionsHouse doesn't go a penny over $3.95 as the flat fee.
Don't get mislead, though: Just because they're cheap, doesn't mean they skimp on features. OptionsHouse has some of the most flexible fees of any online broker, ranks in the top five for customer support and has many advanced trading features that ensure you're never at a loss for when to buy or when to sell.
The only downside I've managed to find out about OptionsHouse is that it does not give level II quotes, so day-traders or those who really require the extra depth to their traders may want to look elsewhere. Still, for $3.95, who's really going to pass up at least trying out this one?
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#3: TD AmeriTrade
Alongside E-Trade sits AmeriTrade, another one of the "big guns" when it comes to online stock brokering, and it proves to be one of the most comprehensive and advanced options on this list, despite having its own shortcomings.
Let me start by saying that AmeriTrade could be considered the online stock broker for rich people, and I don't mean that in a mean or offensive way at all; I just mean that it's kind of expensive to use for a few reasons. To start, you only need to pay $9.99 fee for the basic features and standard package that can have you trading like a pro in no time. Great, right?
Yes and no. Using AmeriTrade is sort of like staying at a really fancy hotel: Everything about it is fantastic, but you pay the price for it. When using this service, you'll be charged additional fees for broker assisted trades, trades you make with the interactive telephone service, a small fee for every options contract, and a $10 fee for every regular trade. In the long run, this does add up.
I suppose you pay the price for the great content, right?
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I like the idea behind ScottTrade and the business practices they use. I really truly do. Why? Because they ranked number one in customer loyalty, and that's something I consider very important; as far as I'm concerned, the customer is always right!
To use ScottTrade as your online stock trader of choice for Mac OS X, you'll have to fork over a very fair rate of $7 per stock trade, which isn't great, but it isn't awful by any means. With that you get all of the standard features you'd expect, but if you want you can also take advantage of ScottTrade Elite and other such services to get more advanced trading features. On top of that, ScottTrade has over 400 locations you can head to (physically- not online) to get assistance in person. This is a great addition, and it really helps add a level of trust to the whole trading process.
On top of that, like many online brokers, you get the ability to download the mobile app for smart phones so you can trade wherever and whenever you want. The only mentionable downsides to it are the lack of FOREX trading and its inability to do virtual trades. Not a huge deal, but worth mentioning nonetheless.
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Oh, how I hate giving the crown to the favored contender! Nevertheless, when you have a service as comprehensive as E-Trade does, it's fair to say that it could be considered the best online stock trader for Mac. A lot of people you know probably already use E-Trade, and here's why: For the active trader (more than, say, 200 trades per quarter), E-Trade has incredibly useful tools and won't charge you too much for regular trades (just $8), in addition to having all the mobile apps for BlackBerry and iPhone that we've all come to expect. In addition, you'll benefit from 24-hour phone support and the ability to trade in six global markets; why limit yourself to one or two, right?
The only problems it has are the same ones shared by the likes of AmeriTrade: It's so big, that they charge you for extras. If you have a balance less than $10,000 at any particular time, you'll have to pay a $40 quarterly fee (not huge, but it's worth mentioning), and they'll tack on a $45 charge for broker assisted orders. Unfortunate, but in terms of comprehension, it doesn't get a lot better than E-Trade.