Years ago, to make a trade, you either had to call your stock broker, who was an actual person, and ask him or her to buy a stock for you. The process could take several minutes from the time of the call to the actual purchase and the actual stock price may have changed. The other way is to be on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange and make a purchase there. Either way, it wasn’t very convenient for people like you and me who have other things to do and other places to be. Thanks to the technological revolution we have been experiencing in recent history, trading stocks has never been easier. Thanks to Online Stock Brokers, you and I can trade from the comfort of our own home and without relying on a third party human to make the trades for us.

There are many online stock brokers now. They all have their advantages and disadvantages over one another, but they all make trading much easier and in most cases, cheaper.

Commissions paid to online stock brokers are far less than what you would have to pay an actual person to trade for you. Most online stock brokers also provide traders with various tools that allow you to deeply research into companies you may be interested in investing with. These tools include watch lists, research sections, as well as individual reports of companies by various analysts that you would normally not find on the internet.

Watch lists allow you to keep track of various stocks without actually purchasing them. Some brokers have special features with their watch lists such as notifications and the ability to export the information to a spreadsheet like Microsoft Excel.

Watch List notifications are very handy tools because you may not have the time you need to keep an eye on the stock all day long. You may want to set up a notification that notifies you when the stock has reached a certain price so that you can purchase it. Notifications in most cases can be set up to receive emails and text messages to your cell phone.

Most of these online stock brokers also come with live streaming quotes. These streams are updated live and allow you to buy and sell stocks in seconds. These quotes are much more reliable than the quotes you get from places like Yahoo Finance or MSN Money. In my opinion, this is the best tool any online stock broker can provide because it is all real-time so you won’t miss your opportunity to purchase or sell shares the price you want.

Another handy advantage of an online stock broker is the ability to set your own orders. There are different orders such as limit, stop, and stop limit orders. These orders allow you to place certain parameters for your future orders. For example, if you own 10 shares of Citigroup  and would like to sell them when the price of the stock reaches $30, you can set up a stop order or to sell at $30. The system will then automatically sell your shares whenever the value of Citigroup reaches $30. This is a great way to maximize profits or or minimize losses.

I’ve told you quite a bit about what online stock brokers offer, so you may be asking, what are some good online stock brokers.

I personally use Scottrade. I have been using their system for almost two years and I don’t regret it. Their trade price is $7 per trade. This means that I pay $7 in commission whenever I sell or buy a stock. They provide great tools including an awesome streaming quotes software. I generally have it running on the side of my monitor or in the background where I monitor stocks that I own and stocks that I am keeping my eye on for the future. If you’d like to try Scottrade, you can actually get 3 free trades by signing up with my referral number, VXPP8981. You can also click the following link to be forwarded to the sign up page: Click to Sign up with Scottrade.

You will get 3 free trades worth $21, and I will get 3 free trades. It’s a great way to get started and make your first purchase. They do require a $500 minimum deposit so make sure you’re ready when you do sign up!

Another great stock broker is E-Trade. You may have seen commercials on it with the talking baby, I guess the message they are throwing out there is that it’s so easy that a baby could do it. I have an account with E-Trade, however, I never actually put any funds in there. Their regular trades cost $9.99 per trade but they lower it to $7.99 if you make more than 150 trades per quarter. I am not a heavy investor, I only have a few trades a year.

E-Trade is also running a promotion where you get a $500 sign up bonus if you start an account with $2,000. This is also a great way to get started. But remember, you may have to pay interest taxes on the $500! You can sign up at

Another broker that has been making a breakthrough into the market over the past few years is Think Or Swim. They are currently owned by TD Ameritrade so their promotions and prices have been combined. They offer a flat $9.99 per trade  and now, if you open with $2,000 or more, they give you free trades for 30 days. If you make 20 trades your first month, you’ll be saving about $200. That’s a great way to start as well.

Another option you have is actually called Options House. They have been around for a while and they offer some of the lowest commission rates I have seen. They have a flat commission of $3.95 per trade. I have actually thought about moving here from Scottrade or even just opening a second broker account with them and conduct all of my future trades here. They require a minimum deposit of $1,000 to open a cash account. They are currently running a new promotion where you can get a 100 commission free trades, value of almost $400, if you open an account with a deposit of $3,000 and use the coupon code FREE100 when signing up.

Scottrade, E-Trade, Think or Swim, TD Ameritrade, and Options House are just five out of the many other options that you have when you have to choose an online stock broker. Other brokers include names like Schwab, TradeMonster, and OptionsXpress. They all have their advantages and disadvantages over one another. This articles serves to provide you with general information regarding online stock brokers.

The internet makes it easier for all of us to invest. But don’t allow companies to take advantage of you. Always do your own research and speak to representatives from stock broker companies that interest you before making an informed decision. In the future, I hope to provide you with more in depth reviews of some of these stock broker companies to help you with your research in finding the perfect stock broker for your needs.

Happy Investing!