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November 11, 2015

Online Stock Trading

Scottrade Review

Scottrade sits atop the list of online brokers when it comes to customer service and building relationships with their clients. Their costs and fees are lower than those of the other major brokers, but they are lacking in terms of investment products and research by comparison.

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The Good

Customer service to write home about

Scottrade is on a mission is to build quality relationships with their clients. What Scottrade lacks in actual support features they make up for with a personable customer service and support team that is extremely responsive. Scottrade won't give you the best prices or resources, but their edge lies in their large network of local branches (over 500) and exceptional customer service. Scottrade maintains a strong presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. They update their Facebook and Twitter accounts daily, which means you will get a response if you contact them through one of those two social networking sites. Scottrade goes as far as to post their social media hours on their website, letting you know that they have people dedicated to those communication channels. Contrary to what most online reviews say about Scottrade, they do offer live chat.

Simple design and navigation

By far the best feature about Scottrade's web-based platform is the ability to customize your home page. You can literally drag blocks around to create a home page setup that works best for you and delete whatever isn't important. Making a trade using the general navigation is just one click away, which is quicker than what you'll find with most brokers. Scottrade also includes a Quick Trade Bar at the bottom of every page. You can make trades and research stocks directly from the Quick Trade Bar, and it detaches so you can even trade while surfing other web pages. You can also view your account information and get quotes from the bar, making it a pretty handy tool.

Solid research tools

Scottrade's research is extensive and impressive. If you type in a stock symbol for a quote, you're taken to a page that displays anything and everything you would want to know about that stock. This includes the latest news, charts, financials, and even analyst reports and ratings from third parties. You can select from a number of charting tools that are responsive and simple to navigate.

Broad range of offerings

Scottrade stands out from some of the other major brokers because they offer just about everything a standard investor would need, including access to international markets. With Scottrade, you also have access to banking services, savings plans, retirement planning, small business tools, and other financial resources that you may find valuable.

The Bad

Promising but outdated mobile app

The Scottrade app is not very attractive and has an outdated appearance. As you open the app, you are met with large icons that represent the navigation. Selecting these icons will often direct you to small sub-menus that can be difficult to navigate. The research section is by far the most valuable part of the app: you can check out analyst views, market news, statistics, a market calendar, and much more. If it wasn't for the poor design and slow navigation, Scottrade's mobile trading would be much better. If you have the patience to dig beneath the surface, there are plenty of valuable elements worth exploring here.

Disappointing lack of innovation

Scottrade isn't a trailblazer in the industry when it comes to technology. Most of their new tools and additions seem to come in reaction to the competition. It was difficult to even find if Scottrade has smart-order routing technology, which is something of a red flag. Unlike a lot of the other brokers, Scottrade doesn't have an introductory offer or any kind of trading demo. However, you can get three free trades if you refer a friend to open an account with Scottrade (your friend gets three free trades as well). On the other hand, we can't emphasize enough just how good the people who work for Scottrade are. So if you value customer support and human interaction above innovation, Scottrade is the place for you.

Zero easy-to-borrow stocks available for short selling

By not having easy-to-borrow stocks available, Scottrade customers may not be able to short sell certain stocks. When a stock is listed as easy-to-borrow it means that the transaction of short selling is assured. If a stock is in high demand and you are trying to sell short using a Scottrade account, you may not be able to execute your trade. It's somewhat puzzling that Scottrade doesn't have a list of easy-to-borrow stocks while just about every other broker in the industry does.

The Details

Trading Costs and Fees

  • Broker Assisted Trades: $32
  • Futures Contract Fee: Not offered
  • Maintenance Fees: $0
  • Margin Rates: 5.75-7.5%
  • Minimum Account Balance Fee: $0
  • Mutual Funds Fee - Load: $0 to buy, $17 to sell
  • Mutual Funds Fee - No-Load: $17
  • Options Contract Price: $1.25
  • Options Flat Fee: $7
  • Stock Flat Fee: $7

Other Fees

  • ACH/EFT Withdrawal: $0
  • Bounced Check: $20
  • Check Withdrawal: $0
  • Domestic Wire Withdrawal: $20
  • Forced Margin Sellout: $20
  • Full Account Transfer: $75
  • IRA Annual Fee: $0
  • Partial Account Transfer: $75
  • Stop Payment on Check: $25
  • Telephone Orders: $32

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