TradeKing Review - A Discount Broker for Everyone

TradeKing Review - A Discount Broker for Everyone

TradeKing Review

TradeKing is a huge name when it comes to online investment platforms, and its brand power will naturally be attractive to those who are making their way through the murky waters of online trading as beginners. In this TradeKing review, we will shine a light on this platform and show you the ropes.

Renowned for its extremely low fees, TradeKing is owned and operated by Ally Financial out of the USA and has had a strong presence in the industry pretty much since online trading kicked off.

So is it all it’s cracked up to be? Let’s take a closer look at this well-known platform and assess every element of it from a trader’s perspective.


Brief Overview

TradeKing first came on the scene in 1995, making it one of the early pioneers of online trading.

With a superior, easy to use platform and low pricing, it quickly grew to become a market leader, winning multiple awards over time and distinguishing itself from the competition.

This platform has become renowned for being suitable for all levels of trader and investor from beginner to advanced, which is no easy feat to achieve.

It also brings the ‘trader network’ into play, adding a social element to trading.

TradeKing today is one of the top names in the financial industry in the United States and is on the cutting-edge of the industry.


Who Should Consider TradeKing?

TradeKing will appeal to some types of investor more than others. Like all platforms, whether this is the right one for you will depend on what your goals as an investor or trader are.

TradeKing is great for:

  • New traders who are still learning the ropes since it is very easy to use and has a great educational section. That said, it is perfectly suitable for advanced-level traders too.
  • Both options and Forex traders. There is a vast range of options for trading these securities, meaning lots of opportunities.

It might not be so great for inactive traders, though, since there is an inactivity fee after a certain period of time. We will outline this in more detail a little later.

It also might not be very good for mutual funds traders since the options are limited and the fees are higher than at some places.


Likes & Dislikes

As with all financial services products, TradeKing isn’t perfect. It’s our aim to provide biased and impartial reviews, and in keeping with that principle, the following is a list of things we like and dislike about TradeKing.

Likes

Dislikes

  • No Minimums - You can open an account without depositing a single dollar. 
  • Trader Network - TradeKing was one of the pioneers of social trading, having launched the Trader Network back in 2005. This allows you to trade ideas, share insights, and communicate with other traders.
  • National Best Bid Guarantee - TradeKing will not be beaten by any other US competitors. This is a guarantee, and you can take it to the bank.
  • Top-Notch Customer Service - TradeKing delivers all the way to the end, with a super professional and helpful customer service team to back up the platform.
  • Great Educational Materials - TradeKing has one of the best trader education centers we have seen. From beginner to advanced levels, there is plenty to learn for everyone.
  • Fee-Free IRAs - If you are thinking of putting a little profit away for the future, you can do so fee-free at Tradeking.
  • Free DRIPs - For long-term thinkers with a growth mindset, DRIPs are an unrivaled tool. Again, they are free at TradeKing.
  • Forex Available - While many platforms overlook the forex markets, TradeKing allows you to get in on it around the clock.
  • Tax Management - You can get professional assistance with managing your taxes. This is especially useful if you are relatively new to trading and aren’t sure what types of tax you need to pay and how you can save on taxes.
  • Inactivity Fee - This one will creep up and take a chunk out of your capital if you don’t read the terms and conditions. We will outline it in greater detail in the fees section below.
  • Limited Customer Service - While the customer service itself is excellent, it isn’t available 24/7. This could lead to problems if you are in another time-zone.
  • Extra Penny Stock Fees - If the shares you are buying are valued at under $2 each, there will be an extra fee of 0.01 per share.
  • High Mutual Funds Fees - It is expensive to trade mutual funds at TradeKing. Again, we will detail this in the fees section below.
  • ETF Commissions - Whereas it is common to find fee-free ETF trading at many other brokers, that is not so at TradeKing.
  • Overdone Security - It is nice to feel safe and secure, but there is a point where it goes overboard and can be annoying. There are constantly appearing security questions during login, which, after a while, can grate on you.

Investment Offerings

You can trade the following securities at TradeKing:

  • Stocks - You can buy and sell stocks around the world with the click of a button across a wide range of indices.
  • Options - TradeKing serves up 19 different options chains and a whole bunch of tools to help you make good decisions. The whole process is also very simple, but more on that later.
  • Mutual Funds - You can trade more than 12,000 mutual funds at TradeKing. You can even screen these according to set criteria and performance metrics. Remember, though, the fees are on the steep side.
  • Forex - The global currency market is the biggest of the lot, and it is great to see TradeKing enabling access to it. All of the popular pairs are available.
  • Treasuries - You can trade corporate, agency, municipal, and national bonds. There are also great tools for searching for and analyzing these.
  • CDs - You can trade certificates of deposit at Tradeking.
  • ETFs - You can trade a wide range of ETFs at TradeKing from iShares to much more. These are not commission free.

This is a great selection and whether you like to stay within the commonly defined lines or stray outside them in search of greater profits by trading more exotic instruments, you will be catered to at TradeKing. This is truly a global platform which will suit every type of traders from newbie to advanced.


Fees

The following is a brief list of fees at TradeKing at the time of writing.

It is not an exhaustive list, and fees can change over time. While we make every effort to keep this information up -to-date, always double check the fees before trading.

  • Stocks & ETFs - There is a flat fee of $4.94 per trade, no matter the size of your account or the frequency of your trading. Remember that shares under the value of $2 will incur an extra $0.01 fee per share.
  • Options - Options trades will incur a flat $4.95 fee plus 65 cents per contract.
  • Mutual Funds - If the fund is loaded, meaning a commission is charged on it, you won’t pay any extra fees. If it is not loaded, you will incur a flat fee of $9.95 for both the purchase and sale. If this made your raise your eyebrows, you are not the only one.
  • Bonds - You will pay a flat fee of $1 per transaction. There is a minimum trade amount of $1 and a maximum of $250.
  • CDs - Trading CDs will mean a flat fee of $24.95 per transaction.

There are also some service fees associated with using TradeKing. Some of them are:

  • Inactivity Fee - You will be charged $50 on accounts less than $2500 if you don’t trade for more than 12 months.
  • IRA Termination Fee - If you close your IRA, you will pay a fee of $100 - $50 for the transfer out fee and a $50 closure fee.

Note: There are no setup, maintenance, or annual fees for either IRA or taxable brokerage accounts.

On the whole, whether or not these fees are competitive depends on what you are trading.

For stocks traders, these fees are some of the most competitive in the business.

For mutual funds and bond traders, the fees are some of the least competitive. TradeKing isn’t exactly inexpensive for options traders either.


Platform

Usability

The TradeKing LIVE platform is completely web-based and can be used on various web browsers including Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Remember when using this platform that connectivity can affect the way it functions, so be sure your connection is excellent before using it.

That said, the platform itself is extremely easy to use and after poking around for a couple of minutes you will feel totally at home, even as a beginner trader.

One of the things we like best about it is that everything important can be found in one place, which is the dashboard, which, along with other elements of the platforms, is totally customizable.

You can set your dashboard up just the way you want it, meaning the most relevant information will appear each time.

There’s also a ‘settings’ icon in the top right, which looks like a little gear cog. This will allow you to change various things including the modules (windows) you see when you first log in. For example, you can edit your watchlist and change its position on your main screen.

When you want to trade, click the ‘Trade’ box in the top right. It’s as easy as ABC.

Navigating around the platform to various section is also easy, and you will see a menu at the top with the main category tabs such as the Dashboard, Accounts, Research, Education, and Tools. Click once on any of these and you will see a drop-down menu with various options.

We can say very little that’s negative about TradeKing’s usability. It is extremely easy to use and runs very well with no jumps, breaks, or freezes.

Design

The design itself is quite visually attractive. There are actually two themes, being a light and dark respectively, and the contrast between the buttons, important information, and background is great.

We can’t emphasize how important this contrast issue is because we have used many other platforms that are confusing in layout, with the problem only compounded by a poor choice of colors making it difficult to see what you are looking for.

Whether or not you choose the light or dark theme, the layout itself will be similar.

Everything is set out in ‘windows’ and this makes it simple to find what you are looking for. You can also drag and drop the boxes, as well as add and remove them, making the platform your own.

Customization Options

As touched on in the previous section, the main hub is customizable and you can drag and drop, cut, edit, and add windows to suit your trading style and the information you want to see.

Being able to customize saves time. You won’t have to dig through to find relevant information and the data related to the securities you are interested in trading.

It isn’t the most customizable platform we have ever encountered, but it gives plenty of options and you will be able to get most of what you need in one place and get rid of everything you don’t want to see.

It isn’t the most attractive platform out there, and it is so simple it might appear a little amateurish to advanced traders, but it is designed that way and the aim is to appeal to all investors from beginner up.


Mobile Platform

Since most people today are connected to the web via phone or tablet, it makes sense that TradeKing would have a mobile trading app.

The app itself which is tailored for both iOS and Android devices, is light and won’t chew up your device's memory.

On the mobile platform, you will have a full range of functionality including the ability to trade stocks, options, mutual funds, and other securities.

Charting is available - you can zoom in and out to change the view using touchscreen devices just as you would zoom in or out of a picture, for example. That makes charting quite easily manageable even on a smaller resolution.

In terms of information, you can see the biggest equity movers, how each major indices is performing, and you can set up your own watchlist to keep track of the securities you are interested in.

You can also access stock analysis pages and reports, and use most of the tools you need to make sound decisions (see the unique features section below for a description of these tools).

You can also get streaming quotes in real time and can set up alerts so that when price limits are reached, you can find out fast.

The mobile app also allows you to contact customer service directly.

As far as trading mobile apps go, TradeKing’s is quality and we were impressed - although there is some pretty stiff competition out there and we don’t think it is the most user-friendly app we have ever encountered.

We still prefer trading through the live desktop platform, since mobile phones with their smaller screens can take away from the experience and when using tools and charts, can be a little harder to use.


Unique Features

TradeKing has several unique features which set it apart from other platforms out there.

  • Options Calculator - This tool allows you to calculate the Greeks and implied volatility, as well as forecast and compare theoretical values. You can also fiddle with several different variables. The best part is the tool is extremely easy to use and you will grasp it quickly.
  • Probability Calculator - Experienced traders will know there are no guarantees, but using implied volatility, this tool can allow you to assess the probability of hitting your targets whether you are trading stocks or options.
  • Options/Strategy Scanners - With 150,000 potential contracts to choose from, it would be impossible to manually sift through them all. You won’t have to because this tool will allow you to scan by a set criteria in seconds. There are 25 parameters you can set, meaning you can get pretty precise.
  • Maxit Tax Manager - This tool is somewhat akin to having your own tax advisor on hand to remind you of your tax liabilities and tell you the tax implications of a trade before making it.
  • Technical Analysis - Chart pattern recognition, price forecasts, and lots of learning tools make up the technical trading tools at TradeKing.

Ok, so not all of these tools are 100% unique and some of them can be found at other brokerages and trading platforms, but it is still a pretty impressive range of trading tools and it is not a doubt whether or not you will be able to make better, more informed decisions as a result.

One thing we will say is that no tool is perfectly accurate and these tools can not and should not substitute doing your own research and placing trades manually where possible.


Trading

Process

Once you are ready to make some trades, simply log in and navigate to the TradeKing Live section of the module.

You will then see a menu with home (with all of your customized windows), and dashboard, accounts, education, etc along the top menu.

You need to go to dashboard, where you will see your charts, watchlist, options chains, open trades, etc. Don’t forget this can be customized and you can change what you will see.

This is where the trading is done. You can search for securities by symbol and bring up current prices, charts, etc.

At this point, you are ready to place an order. It is all very simple and easy and again, customizable. It couldn’t be any simpler.

Order Filling

Placing an actual order can be done almost anywhere in the dashboard. You can click on a bid/ask price, stock price on the ticker or watchlist, and you will be able to place a trade.

The actual order form itself will pop up on the right-hand side when you click a price and will allow you to buy/sell, determine the quantity, set limits, and determine the duration of the trade.

You will then have to click preview order, then confirm by clicking confirm order. All of this can take less than five seconds.

All orders will be filled at the National Best Bid and Offer. That is a TradeKing guarantee.

Order filling is easy and takes just a few steps. We like how simple the forms are, and that you can get an order placed very quickly after logging into the account.

Charting

The charts on TradeKing are very good as compared to some competitor platform, with lots of different options in terms of chart types and the information which can be plotted on them.

Charts are available in candlestick, bar, and line forms, and the size of the candles can be changed to suit your research.

You can also plot a number of technical indicators and studies such as the 50 day moving average on the chart.

You can even change the color of the studies when plotted on the chart and plot multiple data pieces at once.

The only criticism we have is that the charts don’t have 10-15 minute intervals. You can jump from 1-5 minutes then weekly to monthly.

TradeKing is unable to confirm if there is any delay in the charts but claim that it is real-time and the charts are down to the second, provided your connection is good.

The charts are easy, seamless, and versatile. Again, there is very little we can criticize.

Research

The research options available before making trades are good, but not the very best we have ever encountered. 

You can access market and company snapshots to build a quick overview of market conditions and individual companies, can build customized watchlists to keep an eye on real-time price movements, can get quotes both historical and current, can access pro-level technical analysis, and can make use of the excellent charts.

The tools available here are good, but not the most advanced we have seen and there is little in the way of professional research reports such as MorningStar.

They are, however, bug-free, high quality, and will be more than enough to serve most traders purposes.


Customer Support

TradeKing is renowned for having world-class customer support. Quick responses combined with a professional team which knows its product is what most people want, and at TradeKing, that is what you get. In fact, from 2010 through 2012, TradeKing was ranked #1 by Smart Money broker survey in this department.

You can get in touch via phone, e-mail, and live chat, but the only downside is the team is only available between 08:00 - 18:00 ET from Monday to Friday. The rest of the time, you’re on your own.

We found the TradeKing customer service to live up to its expectations, and it was actually enjoyable to deal with the customer service team. However, they could definitely take it to the next level by offering at least extended hours, if not 24/7 support for international traders.


Educational Materials

The education section is one of the main reasons we recommend TradeKing for beginner traders or anyone who still feels they have more to learn.

The educational section of the site is fantastic and has very few rivals even in the same league. You can learn just about anything related to trading across a vast spectrum of markets and securities, and it is all categorized according to level of experience, security, and overall market outlook.

To complement the fixed material there are lots of webinars and live events.

On top of all of that, there is the Trader's network, which makes you feel that you aren’t alone at any time. This gives the site a sort of social network feel, and you will be able to connect and share with traders from around the world.

We will say one thing about the trader's network which could be a potential downside, though - be careful who you trust and never follow the explicit instruction of anyone.

Do what your knowledge, intuition, and experience tell you because, in the end, it will be you who takes the losses if things go south. You wouldn’t be the first trader to be manipulated by a crafty, more experienced shark out to make a profit off your naivete.


TradeKing Review Final Verdict

It would be difficult to go wrong with TradeKing, especially if you are a stock trader.

With a simple, easy platform, lots of customization options, access to some pretty fantastic tools, and a wide range of securities to trading, it is one of the top players for a reason.

It probably isn’t the best in terms of price for options and fixed income securities traders, but for everyone else - you will struggle to find a better platform on the web. We recommend TradeKing wholeheartedly.

TradeKing is a huge name when it comes to online investment platforms, and its brand power will naturally be attractive to those who are making their way through the murky waters of online trading as beginners. In this TradeKing review, we will shine a light on this platform and show you the ropes.

Andrew
 

My name is Andrew and I run Slick Bucks to help folks learn to manage money cleverly, and how that clever management can make you wealthier.

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