You never want to overstate the case, but it may not be an exaggeration to say that TradeKing is one of the very best investment platforms available. Though the company has only been in existence for a little over 10 years, they've already built an impressive reputation in the industry and a long line of satisfied customers.
The platform offers an almost unique combination of investment and trading tools and services, along with some of the lowest trading fees in the industry, with generally no required account minimums. It would be hard to go wrong investing with this broker, and that is why we list them as one of the top online brokerages available.
- Quick Look
- Commissions: $4.95 per trade or $9.95 for mutual funds
- $0 account minimum
- Browser-based platform with an impressive suite of tools
- DIY investing or professionally managed portfolio, your choice
TradeKing was founded in 2005 and has become one of the most popular low-cost brokerage trading platforms in the industry since. The company offers one of the lowest trading fees available, combined with cutting edge technology, top level customer support, and a wide range of free tools and services to help improve your trading experience and performance.
In just 11 years the company has racked up an impressive number of awards and endorsements, including:
“Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading”
“4 stars out of 5” for the ninth consecutive year
“#1 Broker Innovation Industry Award”
“#1 in Customer Service” for the fourth time
With TradeKing you can trade the full range of investments, including options, stocks, exchange traded funds (ETFs), mutual funds and fixed income securities. You can open regular taxable trading accounts, in addition to IRA accounts.
TradeKing offers TradeKing Live, which is the platform’s fully browser-based and streaming active trading platform. It provides live streaming quotes of securities, and news items as they hit the wires. It uses an intuitive design that enables you to trade the way you want from your computer, iPad, tablet or any mobile device. TradeKing Live is fully customizable, and acts as your home trading page.
TradeKing Features and Benefits
Features and benefits that are available with a TradeKing account are too many to describe fully, but here is a list of what we consider to be the ones that are most important:
Cash Sweep Account. TradeKing allows your cash balances to be automatically swept into an FDIC insured account. The account is offered through Apex Clearing Corp., which is TradeKing's clearing firm. Your cash account balance is protected up to $250,000.
No account minimums. This is a major plus when it comes to TradeKing – no minimum initial account deposit, and no minimum account balance requirement. This makes TradeKing the perfect trading platform for both new and small investors. One exception however is margin accounts. The minimum balance required on margin accounts is $2,000.
AutoTrade. This feature enables you to activate automatic trading based on the recommendations of investment newsletters. TradeKing can accept trading instructions directly from the newsletter of your choice, and then execute them automatically according to parameters that you set your account.
Extended Hours Trading. TradeKing enables you to enter pre-market orders between 8 AM and 9:30 AM Eastern time, or post-market orders between 4:00 PM and 5:00 PM Eastern time. On days when the market closes early, you can generally place trades between 1:00 PM and 2:00 PM Eastern time.
Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIP). TradeKing offers DRIPs on all marketable US equities and selected American Depository Receipts (ADRs) that are priced at $4 or more, and trade on an exchange or quotes on NASDAQ. The DRIP can be set up on your entire account so that any eligible security will be automatically enrolled in the plan. There is no charge to enroll a security in a DRIP.
Mobile App. TradeKing's mobile app enables you to trade wherever you’re at from your mobile device, be it a an iPhone or Android.
No account fees. TradeKing does not have an annual fee but the account may be subject to annual inactivity charge (see below).
Maxit Tax Manager. This is TradeKing's tool that identifies tax smart investment opportunities. It provides cost basis and tax reporting for all portfolio transactions, it also identifies wash sales, calculates proper tax liability based on the selected accounting method and provides for pre-trade analysis for both short- and long-term gain/loss opportunities. And at the end of the year, Maxit provides on-demand tax reports, including the required form 1099. This will simplify the tax season rush to produce documents necessary in order to properly calculate your capital gains and losses for the filing of your income tax return.
Account Protection. Your TradeKing account is covered under the Securities Investors Protection Corporation (SIPC) for a maximum of $500,000 in cash and securities, including $250,000 in cash that is not moved into your sweep account. SIPC does not protect your investments from declines in value owing to market factors, but it does protect you from the failure of the brokerage account.
In addition to SIPC protection, TradeKing maintains additional insurance through a group of London Underwriters, that provides additional insurance in the event that SIPC limits are exhausted, and provides coverage on securities and cash up to an aggregate of $150 million. The additional insurance coverage is maintained by Apex Clearing, and similarly protects against broker failure, and not losses brought on by market factors.
Customer Service. TradeKing customer service is available as follows:
- Live Chat: Monday through Friday, from 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern time
- Email: Expected response time is within two hours during normal business hours, and within 24 hours during the weekend
- Telephone: TradeKing offers 800 phone service Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM to 6:00 PM, Eastern time
- Mail: TradeKing accepts correspondence by mail, if there is a need to send checks, forms, letters or overnight deliveries
TradeKing also offers dedicated support for Forex trading. They provide toll-free phone contact 24 hours a day, beginning 10:00 AM Sunday through 5:00 PM Friday, Eastern time. Email support for Forex trading is also available during the same hours.
Account security. TradeKing uses multiple systems and methods to protect your account. They employ electronic safeguards such as firewalls, and their entire site area uses secure socket layer (SSL) technology to protect all transactions. They also provide automatic logon procedures, limits on failed login attempts, and of course username and password security.
Online statement availability. Monthly account statements and trade confirmations for the previous 13 months remain online free of charge. If you need a document that is older than 13 months, there is a $4 charge for each monthly statement ordered, or a $2 charge for each trade confirmation requested.
TradeKing Tools and Calculators
TradeKing offers a number of tools to help you improve your trading skills.
Options Pricing Calculator. This tool helps you to research option contracts Greeks and implied volatility, as well as forecast theoretical values and compare them with current bid/ask prices. You simply type in the underlying stock or indexed symbol, and the pricing model will automatically populate. You can adjust variables to fit your forecast, and the tool will give you theoretical option values, current bid and ask prices, plus all the Greeks for the call or the put of your chosen strike price.
Probability Calculator. This tool helps you to determine your probability of success for any strategy for trading options. You choose the underlying security and select up to two target prices, and you can then adjust for variables, such as volatility, interest rate, or dividends. The calculator will show you the probability touching, finishing below, finishing between, or finishing above your targets.
Profit + Loss Calculator. This calculator charts the profit and loss potential of your trades before you even make them. It also allows you to study the profit/loss potential of any existing positions that you hold. It also offers an integrated options chain that allows you to choose a single option, or multiple legs for more advanced strategies. It also offers a set of sliders so that you can see how your profitability and targets change based on changes in volatility at any time until expiration.
Options and Strategy Scanners. This tool allows you to screen over 150,000 individual option contracts so that you can find the exact traits that meet your criteria. You can track as many as 25. And the tool will display matching options contracts. You can place the trade directly from the scanner, or even have the scanner find specific options strategies and then make the trade for you in a matter of seconds.
Stock, ETF and Mutual Fund Screeners. This is actually a set of screeners, one for stocks, one for ETFs, and one for mutual funds. Each screener enables you to set criteria based on your trading strategy, from which it selects investments within the criteria There is also a Back Testing Screener that can be used to build the right stocks screen for your online trading strategy. You can use it to add qualifying criteria, such as technical patterns.
Technical Analysis tools. This is a full suite of free technical analysis tools, including chart pattern recognition, price forecasting and full educational support. It scans the markets to find bullish or bearish technical patterns in the price charts of US stocks and indices. You can even setup automated email alerts to let you know about pattern formations in certain securities.
TradeKing Advisors: Managed Portfolios
Update: Ally acquired TradeKing in 2016. This is generally good news, as it'll broaden the range of financial services offered to customers. However, as with any transition like this, there are growing pains. One of which is that TradeKing's managed portfolios are currently unavailable, as the company works to move TradeKing Advisors over to ally.com. Once the move is complete, Ally promises a new lineup of professionally managed portfolios.
If you're not really into do-it-yourself investing and not into working with a robo-advisor like Betterment, TradeKing can help. They offer managed portfolios through TradeKing Advisors. You choose your investment plan and fund your account. TradeKing Advisors then builds a diversified, low-cost portfolio using ETFs. TradeKing Advisors manages and rebalances your portfolio as necessary. All you need to do is continue funding your account, and TradeKing handles all of the details for you.
You can choose either the Core portfolio, which creates a long-term investment allocation, or you can use the Momentum portfolio, that responds to market ups and downs, and is reviewed monthly for new investments.
The Core portfolio can be started with as little as $500, and there is a $1 per month advisory fee on accounts below $5,000, or 0.25% on balances above $5,000. There are no trading fees involved.
For the Momentum portfolio, there is a minimum investment required of $5,000, and an annual advisory fee of 0.50%.
How much does TradeKing cost?
There is a long list of fees for various activities, such as overnight delivery, check stop payment, returned checks, and similar charges, but the main trading fees are as follows:
Stocks and ETFs. TradeKing charges a fee of $4.95 per trade. This is the lowest trading fee among the major brokers, and one of the lowest in the entire industry.
Options. TradeKing charges $0.65 per option contract, plus $4.95 per trade. Multileg trades are charged for just a single leg. They will also allow you to close out short options valued at five cents or less for no charge.
Margin rates. TradeKing uses a sliding scale to determine margin rates. For example, the range on a margin account balance of less than $5,000 is 9.00%. The rate drops down to 4.25% on margin account balances and least $500,000.
Mutual funds. TradeKing charges no transaction fees on trades of mutual fund positions that require mutual fund loads. On no-load mutual funds however, the fee is $9.95 for both purchases and sales.
What we don't like about TradeKing
TradeKing is one of the very best trading platforms available. But not even TradeKing is completely perfect. Here are a few of the limitations that you should be aware of:
Check-writing and debit card use have steep requirements. TradeKing offers both check writing and debit cards, but you must maintain a minimum account balance $10,000 in order to qualify. Check writing also requires a $50 annual fee.
No demo trading accounts. Some brokerage firms provide a demo account that enables you to try your hand at trading without using real money. TradeKing does not offer that feature. However, since there are no account minimums required, and can still familiarize yourself with both the platform and all of the available tools without having to put up a large amount of money to gain access.
No accounts for non-US residents. Except for active military personnel stationed abroad, US citizens must be living in the US in order to open an account. US citizens who live abroad cannot open an account. Foreign citizens can open up an account, but only if they have a valid Social Security number and are legally residing in the US.
Inactivity charges. TradeKing does have an inactivity charge that applies if you have not traded for an entire year and have a combined household account balance of less than $2,500. TradeKing is a very low-cost trading platform because they rely on the fees generated by active trading. The inactivity charge is designed to offset a lack of trading activity. The inactivity charge applies to cash accounts, margin accounts, and IRA accounts. The fee for the inactivity charge is $50 per year.
Available TradeKing Promotions and Bonuses
TradeKing is currently offering to refund up to $150 in transfer fees that you may be charged by your current broker in the process of transferring funds to a TradeKing account. They are also offering $50 when you refer a friend to Trade King, and there is no limit to the number of friends that you can refer (the referral must open a new account with at least $3,000 and execute at least three trades in order for you to qualify for the referral fee).
They are also offering $1,000 in free trade commissions if you fund an account with at least $5,000 within 30 days of opening the account. The trade credits are good for 60 days after the award, and covers the cost of both equity and option trades.
Will TradeKing work for you?
TradeKing offers a complete range of training tools designed to make you a better trader, as well as features and benefits that create an intuitive, enjoyable investment experience. And they are able to deliver all of these services at one of the industry's lowest pricing models.
TradeKing is the perfect trading platform for new investors, small investors, active traders, and options traders. Their research tools make do-it-yourself'ers smarter and more effective, or you can opt for one of their managed portfolios as a much cheaper alternative to a personal financial advisor. Either way, their low fees and account minimums paired with their comprehensive investment services make investors at any level feel welcome.
That said, if you're unsure whether TradeKing is right for you, check out our other brokerage reviews before making your final decision: