TradeKing is a discount online broker, allowing self-directed investors to buy and sell stocks, options, bonds and mutual funds via electronic trading platform or by phone. Since 2005, the firm has offered investors low-cost commissions and quality customer service.
Amid countless other brokerage firms, TradeKing continues to improve and evolve. In recent years, they have done the following:
- Improved overall customer service
- Lowered commissions across the board
- Launched the TradeKing Advisor Service
Because of these policies, TradeKing is one of the standout brokers of 2016.
Research has shown that low fees are a primary predictor of investment success. TradeKing offers extremely competitive pricing and is one of the lowest cost brokers.
- Stocks and ETFs: $4.95 per trade (online and broker assisted on the phone)
- Options: $4.95 per trade + $0.65 per contract
- Mutual funds: $9.95 flat rate on purchase/sale
- Bonds: $1.00 per bond (minimum $10, maximum $250) per transaction
There are a few additional fees that might apply to you:
Account minimum: No minimum balance required
Inactivity fee: TradeKing imposes a $50 annual fee if both of the following two criteria apply to you:
- The combined value of your household account(s) is less than $2,500
- And no commission-charged trades have been executed in the account(s) during the last 12 months
If you have more than $2,500 in your account(s), or you trade at least once per year, no fee applies.
IRA fees: No fee to open or maintain an IRA at TradeKing. $50 fee to close or transfer out an IRA.
TradeKing Customer Service
Barron’s rates TradeKing customer service as 4 stars (every year since 2007). Several other financial publications have praised the TradeKing customer service as well.
With TradeKing, you receive the following support options:
- Phone support: 8 AM – 6 PM ET, Monday through Friday
- Live chat support: 8 AM – 6 PM ET, Monday through Friday
- Email support any time: TradeKing attempts to respond to every email within 2 hours during normal business hours and 24 hours during the weekend
In general, TradeKing customer service agents are helpful and knowledgeable. Compared to other discount brokers, TradeKing is offering much better overall customer service.
TradeKing offers enhanced cyber-security protection through the following methods:
- SIPC Coverage – Securities in your account are protected up to $500,000 in the case of fraud or mismanagement. TradeKing has an additional insurance policy to protect members above $500,000.
- Account Security – TradeKing offers unique security questions and keypad password entry. They also give you the option to establish two separate passwords: one to access account information, and another to place trades and execute sensitive transactions like fund transfers, for a dual layer of security.
- Automatic Logoff – Should you access your account and forget to sign out, TradeKing will automatically log you off after 30 – 180 minutes (you select the time).
- Limit Failed Logins – To protect your account from unauthorized users, TradeKing blocks access to your account after a set number of unsuccessful login attempts.
- 256-bit SSL Encryption – When you submit sensitive information via the TradeKing website, your information is fully encrypted.
TradeKing recently introduced the brand new TradeKing LIVE platform. It is completely browser-based, so there is no software to download and install. That makes it much easier to access all of your accounts from any computer or mobile device.
TradeKing LIVE offers quick trading capabilities, real-time streaming quotes and data, and a customizable dashboard that is well-designed with minimal clutter:
TradeKing offers a full suite of trading tools that exceed expectations for a discount broker, including all of the following:
- Stock Screeners
- Technical Analysis
- Maxit Tax Manager
- Probability Calculator
- Profit + Loss Calculator
- Options Pricing Calculator
- Analyst Recommendations
- Market Stats and Predictions
- Options and Strategy Scanners
- Stock, ETF + Mutual Fund Screeners
TradeKing offers a mobile application for Android and Apple devices. The app is a simplified version of TradeKing LIVE, and allows you to make trades on the go.
TradeKing also offers a Trader Network, where investors connect with one another, share experiences, ideas and strategies, and can see what others are trading and how they are performing.
Overall, I’m a big fan of TradeKing. But there are a few downsides that I would like to see improved:
- Fees: I don’t agree with the inactivity fee ($50) or the IRA closure fee ($50). These fees won’t apply to many investors, but they seem unnecessary in 2016. Many other brokers have scrapped these fees.
- Mutual Funds: TradeKing charges $10 to buy/sell a mutual fund. That’s far too high. You can open a free account at Vanguard and trade mutual funds with absolutely no fees or commissions.
TradeKing Advisors is an SEC-registered investment advisor that offers professionally-managed investment portfolios at a cost of 0.25% annually. TradeKing partnered with Ibbotson Associates to develop this package.
When you open an account with TradeKing Advisors, one of the first things you’ll do is complete an online risk tolerance questionnaire that will assess your personal risk tolerance. TradeKing then recommends different portfolios based on your risk tolerance results. If you aren’t satisfied with the initial recommendation, you can change your risk preference and portfolio selection.
The available investment options are primarily index based ETFs and ETNs (much like other robo-advisors). That means low fees and great diversification across all asset classes. Here are some of the specific investment options:
- iShares MSCI EAFE Small-Cap (SCZ)
- PowerShares Global Listed Private Eq (PSP)
- Vanguard FTSE Developed Markets ETF (VEA)
- Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF (VWO)
- Vanguard Mid Cap ETF (VO)
- Vanguard Mid-Cap Growth ETF (VOT)
- Vanguard Mid-Cap Value ETF (VOE)
- Vanguard Small Cap ETF (VB)
- Vanguard Small Cap Growth ETF (VBK)
- Vanguard Small Cap Value ETF (VBR)
- Vanguard Total Market (VTI)
- Vanguard Value ETF (VTV)
- iShares JPMorgan USD Emerg Markets Bond (EMB)
- iShares TIPS Bond (TIP)
- Schwab U.S. TIPS ETF (SCHP)
- SPDR Barclays High Yield Bond (JNK)
- SPDR Barclays International Treasury Bond (BWX)
- Vanguard Short-Term Bond ETF (BSV)
- Vanguard Total Bond Market ETF (BND)
- iShares International Developed Property (WPS)
- Vanguard REIT Index ETF (VNQ)
- SPDR Dow Jones Global Real Estate (RWO)
- iPath Bloomberg Commodity Index TR ETN (DJP)
Other features include:
Easy Account Integration: If you are a TradeKing brokerage client, you can easily sign up for the TradeKing Advisor service within your existing account. The first page of the Advisor services allows you to log into your existing account.
Minimum opening balance: no minimum to open the account, but $500 minimum to begin investing
Annual Fees: For accounts with a balance of $5,000 or more, the annual fee is 0.25%. Accounts with less than $5,000 are charged $1/month. There are no commissions, trading charges, or other hidden fees.
Risk Assist®: For an additional 0.50% in fees annually, you can add their Risk Assist package to your portfolio. Risk Assist is used to change asset allocation during bad markets by shifting a client’s portfolio allocation from investments that are sensitive to downward market conditions (like equities) to investments that are less sensitive to market corrections (like bonds). Personally, I would not consider adding this feature to my portfolio due to the high annual cost.
My Thoughts on TradeKing Advisors
The service offers high quality investments at a reasonable cost, but fails to standout among the multitude of available robo-advisors. The service is lacking many of the advanced tax features made available through Betterment and Wealthfront, despite charging equivalent fees. To be competitive in this market, the TradeKing Advisor service needs to find a unique selling proposition quickly.
TradeKing Review Summary + Reader Bonus
TradeKing is one of the best online brokers in business today. They offer a superior trading platform and rock-bottom pricing. Unlike many of the other low-cost brokers, TradeKing has shown commitment to customer satisfaction by offering high quality support.
TradeKing is offering our readers several different bonus opportunities at this time:
- Up to $1,000 in free trades for opening and funding a new account
- TradeKing will refund up to $150 in transfer fees that may be charged by your current broker when switching to TradeKing.
- They will also refund up to $25 in wire transfer fees if you fund a new account with $5,000 or more via wire transfer.
All of these offers are summarized on our TradeKing Bonus Page.
If you enjoyed this TradeKing review, or have experience with the firm, feel free to share a comment below.