Finding the right online broker to meet all of your needs can be a time consuming task. There are so many options that it can be difficult trying to narrow down your choices. E*Trade, Scottrade, or TD Ameritrade may each offer a particular service that you find attractive. To help you make your decision, let’s take a look at the most important things to look for when selecting the right online broker.


Cost is the number one factor for most people when picking a broker. They want a brokerage firm that offers a plethora of services for a low cost. These costs should be clearly spelled out so that you know exactly what you are paying. Look for discount brokers whose fees are $10 or less. Avoid brokers with fees for inactivity and infrequent trading. It’s important to note that not all discount brokers are exactly the same. Many so called “discount brokers” charge fees that rival those of full service brokers.

Customer Service

You want to find a broker that will be there when you need them. Your brokerage firm should be available within a matter of minutes if you ever run into any issues with your account. There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to speak with a representative when you need one. Choose a broker that has a quick response time via phone or email. Brokers like TD Ameritrade have live chat functions that allow you to speak with a customer service agent anytime.


Discount brokers exist to serve the needs of self directed investors. Self directed investors need access to as much information as possible. This includes research reports, ratings, analysis tools, and functions that will help them in making their investment decisions. Today, mobile features are increasingly important. You want a broker that gives you the freedom to trade from your home, office, or while on the road. The more features that a broker offers, the better informed an investor can become.

Investment Options

You would be surprised to learn that some brokers only offer a few mutual funds and no bonds or options investing. These type of brokers severely limit your investment options. Find a broker that offers thousands of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and banking options. You want to give yourself as many investment alternatives as possible. This will make it easier to truly diversify your investment portfolio.