It’s a great time to be an investor. There are many excellent stock brokers to choose from these days. But there are also a couple that stand out among the crowd. One of those is Scottrade, one of the highest rated stock brokers in the country.
They also feature the largest network of branch offices of any online brokerage firm, which is nice is you like to meet face-to-face with an actual broker. And if you prefer trading online from the convenience of your home, that’s OK too. Scottrade has award-winning features, an easy to use interface, and unlimited $7 trades.
Let’s dive in and take an in-depth review of Scottrade’s online brokerage, and you can decide if it is right for you or not.
Benefits of Investing with Scottrade
Scottrade is one of the top brokerage companies, offering customers over 35 years of experience in the stock brokerage industry. In addition to high quality rankings and a great reputation, Scottrade sets itself apart from other online brokerages because they also have local brokerages where you can meet with brokers and discuss your options in a face to face setting.
Top reasons to consider Scottrade:
- $7 Online Stock Trades.
- No inactivity or account maintenance fees.
- Free online workshops and access to Scottrade community.
- Free Gainskeeper tax tracking. Many brokers charge for this service.
- Local brokers. Over 500 brokerage offices makes it easy to ask questions in person.
- Additional services, including No-Fee IRAs, no transaction fee mutual funds, CDs and more.
How to Open a Scottrade Account
Opening a new account is easy – it should take about 10-15 minutes. You will need to
- Fill out the application – this includes providing proof of your identification (same as required for all financial accounts) and answering a few questions about your investing goals and experience.
- Fund your account – You can do this via ACH transfer (direct from your bank), account transfer from another brokerage or your 401k, with a wire transfer, or by check.
- Finalize account agreement – print, sign, and mail.
That’s it. This is pretty much standard for most financial accounts.
Scottrade Primary Account Features
As previously mentioned, Scottrade has an award-winning investing platform. But it also has a clean, and easy to use interface that gives users the ability to customize the interface to their preferences. Simply drag and drop different features to create your ideal homepage. You can also remove the elements you don’t wish to see.
Minimal Commissions & Fees: The standard commission is $7 per trade for stocks. There are even some commission-free ETFs. There is a $2,500 minimum balance to open a non-retirement account, but there is no minimum balance to open a retirement account, such as a Roth IRA. There are no inactivity or maintenance fees.
- Minimum initial deposit: $2,500 (non-retirement accounts)
- Minimum initial deposit: $0 (Retirement accounts)
- Stock Trades: $7 Online Stock Trades.
- Options Trades: $7 per online stock trade + $0.70 per contract
- Company Research: Free
- Data: Free
- Trading Platforms: Free
- Full list of fees.
Research Tools: Scottrade’s research tools get the job done quickly and efficiently. Type in the stock ticker you are researching, and Scottrade will display a wealth of information, including the latest news, financials, and charts (displaying important information such as price range, earnings, dividends, splits, etc.). There are also third party ratings and analyst reports for each stock. You can do all the research you need without ever leaving the Scottrade website.
Investment Products Offered at Scottrade
You can buy just about anything you can find at most other major brokerage firms, including stocks, bonds, CDs, ETFs, Commission-Free ETFs, Mutual Funds, Stock Options, Penny Stocks, and even International Stocks (many brokerages don’t offer the ability to trade international securities, except through ETFs or Mutual Funds). The ability to buy and sell international equities is a big advantage Scottrade offers over many other brokerages.
Mutual Funds Availability and Tools:
- Over 14,500 mutual funds available
- 3,000+ funds with no-transaction-fees (NTF funds)
- Advanced screening and research tools to find the right fund for you
Types of Investment Accounts: Scottrade supports investment accounts such as:
- Individual investment accounts
- Traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs
- Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
- Small Business Plans
Additional Scottrade Features:
Education Platform: Online community with online webinars, tutorials, live seminars, and blog.
Mobile Trading Platforms: Ability to make trades with dedicated apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry devices. You can conduct research and make real time trades right from your phone or tablet. There is also a separate mobile-optimized website if you choose to use a browser interface instead of a dedicated app.
Tax Tools: Free Gainskeeper tax tracking to keep track of your gains, losses, dividends, and other information. Export an itemized list for your taxes each year.
How Does Scottrade Compare to Similar Brokerages?
Scottrade is among the industry leaders in many areas. While they don’t offer the least expensive commissions, their pricing model is very competitive with many other discount brokerage firms, and they offer many brick and mortar locations, making this a unique feature at this price point. Their online platform, tools, and services make this an excellent value for investors.
Downsides to Scottrade
Honestly, there aren’t many, but there are two issues that could be deal breakers for some investors. The first issue is the price. $7 per trade is actually very affordable, and much cheaper than many of the larger brokerages and investment firms (and certainly much, much cheaper than going through an independent broker).
But there are a couple discount brokerages that offer trades in the $4.95 range (TradeKing and OptionsHouse come to mind). But if you don’t trade frequently, a dollar or two here and there isn’t a big difference. It’s only when you are making dozens of trades per year that the cost difference adds up. And since Scottrade offers physical locations, paying an extra dollar or two per trade isn’t a big deal when you consider the added value that comes from personalized assistance.
Another downside is the lack of DRIP investing options through Scottrade. DRIPS are dividend reinvestment programs, which allow investors to automatically roll their dividends right back into their investment, usually without any additional commissions. This is an excellent way to grow the number of shares you own over time.
Instead, Scottrade offers a Flexible Dividend Reinvestment Program, which has some similar features to DRIPS, except that it isn’t automatic, and it is limited to 5 funds. It is, however, commission-free, which is a nice bonus.
Note: While automatic dividend reinvestment can be beneficial, some investors prefer to receive dividends in cash. There are several advantages to receiving cash dividends, including more control over investments and investment timing, easier asset allocation, avoiding wash sale rules for tax loss harvesting, and more control over tax lots for investors who track share sales by specific lots.
Scottrade Customer Service
Scottrade has over 500 physical branches around the US. You can always go to a location near you and meet with a broker to help you with your account. And you can also contact their Customer Support via telephone (Customer service is available by phone, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week), live chat, or even their social media accounts on FaceBook and Twitter (they even have dedicated hours for responding to customer service queries via social media!). You can also ask questions in the Scottrade community, which features over 60,000 other investors.
Overall Thoughts on Scottrade
Scottrade is a well-known, and well-respected brokerage firm with excellent features and top-notch customer service. Their commissions are on the lower end of the spectrum, and there are no account or maintenance fees to worry about. The majority of investors can get everything they need in one location, and they have the opportunity to visit a brick and mortar location should they find the need to meet face to face with a broker. The only real downside is the lack of a Dividend Reinvestment Plan. If you don’t need that, then Scottrade should be able to handle virtually all investment needs for beginner, intermediate, and experienced investors.
For more information or to open an account, visit Scottrade’s website.