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November 11, 2015

Online Stock Trading

tradeMONSTER Review

By combining unique trading tools with an emphasis on technology, tradeMONSTER has emerged as a serious threat to the major brokers. They may not be as well-rounded as the others yet, but tradeMONSTER is certainly winning in many areas.

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TradeMONSTER is no longer available. The company merged with OptionsHouse in 2014.

The Good

Standout technology and unique trading tools

It's clearly evident that tradeMONSTER is focusing on pushing their business forward with technology. Their trading platform offers some of the best tools to ease the complexity of options trading, which is the true highlight of using tradeMONSTER. One very cool feature is the ability to prioritize your personal preferences to create different options strategies for a given stock. The strategy is created for you based on how conservative or aggressive you want to be, and all you have to do is execute the trade. There is also an impressive visual trading tool available called Spectral Analysis. It's one of the many innovative trading tools tradeMONSTER has developed, along with other tools likeliveACTION and strategySEEK.

Fresh concept that is easy to use

TradeMONSTER has a one-size-fits-all platform that feels like something different, and that is a good thing. After logging in to your account, you launch the trading platform in a separate window. The application is far more advanced than most of the basic web-based trading platforms offered by other brokers. It feels as though you are downloading an advanced software, but it's completely web-based. If you want to make a quick trade, you have the option to click a separate "Quicktrade" button that will open a simpler window where you can place your orders. Most of the application is customizable, so you can play around with the setup to find what works well for you.

Systematic approach to trading using tradeCYCLE

Another quality feature that tradeMONSTER offers is a proactive investing guidance tool called tradeCYCLE. If you find yourself lacking discipline or a solid trading strategy, tradeCYCLE could be the helping hand you need to turn a profit. It includes six steps that are built into a complete process. You start by researching, move into crafting a strategy, test the strategy, execute your trade, plan an exit, and then adjust as needed. Each step along the way is accompanied by a proprietary tradeMONSTER tool to help you execute. This is a feature definitely worth trying out, especially for beginner or intermediate investors.

In-depth platform learning experience

If you're just getting into trading or new to tradeMONSTER, you may feel a little lost upon first launching the platform, but have no fear: tradeMONSTER offers an extensive platform educational page that breaks the learning experience into three levels (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). Each level has a detailed YouTube video that shows and explains that topic. They also offer webinars that allow you to ask questions of a senior manager at tradeMONSTER. All in all, the learning curve for tradeMONSTER could be steep if it wasn't for the extremely valuable resources they offer.

Deep educational resources

The education section on the tradeMONSTER website is segmented by options, stocks, and futures. It appears to be lacking in depth upon first glance, but as you select the product that you're interested in, you open up a very thorough educational guide. Clicking on options, for example, opens up three levels of options trading: beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Within those levels, you have all kinds of strategies and topics to choose from. If you want to learn how to trade options, this is the place to be. The education for stocks and futures trading isn't as advanced but is still sufficient.

The Bad

Separate application for trading futures

In order to trade futures with tradeMONSTER, you have to leave the trading application and download the CQG platform. Apparently there is a web-based version coming soon, but as this currently stands, it is very cumbersome to navigate to the futures page. The download also did not work on a Mac during our testing. The other obvious downfall is that you don't get to use the same trading platform from tradeMONSTER, which is the main reason you would probably choose the broker in the first place. The point is that if you want to trade futures only, tradeMONSTER is not the place to do it. It's made for options traders who want to dabble in the very occasional futures trade.

Inferior research amenities and charting tools

On the surface it may appear that tradeMONSTER offers all the research capabilities you need. However, the depth of their charting tools and research amenities are far behind that of some industry leaders. The charting options in particular are extremely limited. In order to access more detailed research, you have to sign up (for free) to something separate called researchLAB, which is actually found on the optionMONSTER website, not tradeMONSTER. The whole process is very confusing and needs to be simplified significantly before tradeMONSTER even touches the major brokers in terms of research capabilities.

Lacking in customer support features

There is no indication that the quality of customer support provided by tradeMONSTER is lacking. In fact, their support team is very responsive over email. However, it's hard to overlook a few missing components that may bother some people. There is no 24-hour support or dedicated tech support available, and the broker only supports English-speaking traders. In addition, if you value in-person customer support, you won't be able to get that with tradeMONSTER, as they are an online-only broker.

The Details

Trading Costs and Fees

  • Broker Assisted Trades: $15 + broker commission
  • Futures Contract Fee: $1.50
  • Maintenance Fees: $0
  • Margin Rates: 2.75% - 6.25%
  • Minimum Account Balance Fee: $0
  • Mutual Funds Fee - Load: $20
  • Mutual Funds Fee - No-Load: $0
  • Options Contract Price: $0.10 - $0.50
  • Options Flat Fee: $12.50 ($3.50 for 10,000+ contracts)
  • Stock Flat Fee: $4.95

Other Fees

  • ACH/EFT Withdrawal: $30
  • Bounced Check: $30
  • Check Withdrawal: $25
  • Domestic Wire Withdrawal: $25
  • Forced Margin Sellout: $15 + broker commission
  • Full Account Transfer: $50
  • IRA Annual Fee: $0
  • Partial Account Transfer: $0
  • Stop Payment on Check: $30
  • Telephone Orders: $15 + broker commission

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