You can use this link to send me your experiences with a broker, and I will post extracts as I think appropriate.

More broker lists

Brokers which accept "foreign" or "international" accounts, and which also have mutual funds, in order of ascending price of limit orders for equities:

(The list is probably very incomplete. Where the site mentions a requirement for W-8 forms, I assume that the company also accepts non-resident aliens, and have so indicated.)

Placetrade Financial, 1-800-50-PLACE, 919-719-7200
Products: Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds, foreign stocks
Market Orders: $1.50 minimum, $0.01/share plus certain third-party fees
Limit Orders: $1.50 minimum, $0.01/share plus certain third-party fees
Mutual Funds: $19.95. Seems also to apply to load funds.
Options: $0.75/contract, $1.50 minimum
Minimum to Open: $5000
Inactivity Fee: Up to $20/month
Maximum Margin Rate: Posted on site
Extras: Also has full service brokerage services, investing through foreign exchanges and in foreign currencies, wealth management services. Seems to emphasize frequent traders, international investing, and special services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: June 10, 2015

Just2Trade, (877) 206-2274, (202) 386-7261
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, foreign stocks
Market Orders: $2.50. Additional charges for extended hours trading, paper documentation.
Limit Orders: $2.50. Additional charges for extended hours trading, paper documentation.
Mutual Funds: $12.00, which seems to include load funds.
Options: $2.50/trade+$0.50/contract
Minimum to Open: $2500
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.00.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Foreign accounts: "Non-US citizens are eligible to apply", with the exception of a few countries. Online application for both US and foreign investors; online applicants can use a passport for ID instead of a driver's license. Has several screeners and calculators, including some unusual ones, and what seem to be some kind of private-label Morningstar research. Checkwriting and debit card for an annual fee.
Notes: Copied March 3, 2015: "Lowtrades and Just2Trade have been aquired by Who Trades, Inc. effective immediately.... The commissions, margin rates, and trading platform will all remain exactly the same...." Clears through COR Clearing; until about May, 2008, they cleared through North American Clearing, whose assets have been frozen in relation to a fraud investigation; see user comment below. "A minimum of 2 years experience with online trading and computers is required."
User Comments: "I have been dealing with Just2Trade since January 2007 and have done numerous stock trades. I have dealt with many brokers in the 50 years I have been trading. I have not had any problems with Just2Trade. Trades go smoothly.... I have found it is easier to get an answer by emailing them [than by calling]. They send answers fairly promptly and have [solved] any problems that have arisen.... They pay a high interest rate on balances, about 4.2x% at this time. [My two money market funds are paying 4.09% and 4.17%. Ed.]... [I]t is difficult to determine which funds they actually handle. They list many more on their site than they accept for trading at this time. I asked about preferred stocks. At the present time you must call them to place a trade, but they indicated that they would add this to their site in the future. They provide a [direct access] trading platform on their site. However, on my 22" LCD monitor the type size is so small it is unusable, and there is no way to enlarge the type. I do not use it but place my trades without it. They did not charge my IRA account when I made a partial outgoing transfer. This is a very good broker for the services they provide. I am happy with them and I highly recommend them for stock trading."(November 25, 2007)    "[I]t is now easily determinable which funds they do trade."(January 12, 2007)    "North American's monthly statements are by far the worst I have ever seen. They are poorly organized, confusing, and very difficult to reconcile. They need a makeover. I like doing business with Just2Trade, but equally dislike North American Clearing.... In the last few months they omitted a dividend from a new mutual fund purchase which I finally got them to correct. They still have not corrected an incorrect 1099-DIV where they showed distributions that should have been shown on a K-1 since the company in question is a partnership. This has been going on for almost two months. I called the company that made the distribution directly and they sent me the K-1.... I have called Just2Trade on the phone very occasionally. Sometimes I get them right away, other times it takes a few minutes."(April 13, 2008)    "The worst broker I've ever dealt with. Their [recent] clearing company (North American Clearing) has had their assets frozen by the SEC pending fraud investigation and this has resulted in inability to liquidate (or trade, for that matter) for the last two weeks. I have now lost over $3500 because of this and all the broker can do is offer half-price commissions for the rest of the month of June (two weeks of trading left!), and tell me on the phone it has 'caught them by surprise' as well, so it's not their fault. Run, don't walk away from these guys."(June 10, 2008)    "I would like to add my name to the list of people who like Besides their ultra-cheap trades, I like that they give you Maxit software for doing taxes for free. Maxit automatically collects trade data from your account and essentially does you schedule D tax form for you. They also give you free Level 2 Quotes. I had never see Level 2 quotes before because I didn't want to pay for them to see what they are like. At, they are free."(January 29, 2011)    "Since Just2Trade changed... to Legent Clearing they have been an exemplary broker. Easy to contact, smooth transactions, no problems of any kind. I highly recommend this broker."(March 4, 2012)    "I tried to open an account with Lowtrades but was discouraged from doing so since I already have a J2T account."(January 18, 2013)    "For the last week, Just2Trade has been unable to provide accurate quotes (and sometimes, no quotes at all, and sometimes, incorrect quotes) on the client's positions page. Last Thursday, the 15th, things went to hell and have gone from bad to worse. Today, there are no NYSE quotes nor are the values of the positions displayed on the page. There are inaccurate quotes on the value of options on said page."{January 22, 2015, about the time that J2T was being bought by Who Trades, Inc.)    "[Y]early IRA fees have gone from $30 to $40 and, it used to be that if you had sufficient funds in your accounts, the money was refunded; not any more...; you [also] have to make 40 trades in each account to get them waived; no more level 2 quotes; no ACH available from IRA accounts."(April 8, 2016) [Many other fees have also changed recently, mostly upward. Ed.]
Rates Updated: April 10, 2016

eOption, 1-888-793-5333, 1-847-375-6080
Products: Stocks, foreign stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options
Market Orders: $3.00
Limit Orders: $3.00
Mutual Funds: $14.95; applies to "All Mutual Fund Trades" except for periodic investments and withdrawals, which are $5.00.
Options: $3.00/trade+$0.10/contract
Minimum to Open: $0 for domestic accounts. $5000 for cash accounts for international clients. Additional $5000 deposit - which cannot be used for trading and will not count toward equity or buying power - for international margin and spread accounts. "For International accounts that wish to trade uncovered puts, the security deposit will be an additional $10,000.00."
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.00
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on on-site table
Extras: Foreign accounts accepted; see some details under "Minimum to Open", above. Both free and paid cash management services, including checking. Incoming and outgoing ACH. Dividend reinvestment. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs, although it does have a termination fee. Also has direct access platforms.
Notes: "[A] division of Regal Securities, Inc." Clears through Penson Financial Services. Minimal research products. Seems to have a few unusual fees, as for worthless securities or conversion of convertibles.
User Comments: "On 14/02/2011, I submitted [to eOption] an application via email. I neglected to send a copy of the old broker's statement so was asked for it within about ten minutes of the sending of the application. I waited a week (in the meantime, [Just2Trade] approved and sent me information for two other accounts I transferred to them) and then sent an inquiry [to eOption]. Nothing. Another few days, still nothing. Finally on Friday the 25th, I sent them an email telling them to cancel the application. Still nothing. Finally, today, I sat for twenty minutes on their live chat and told them 'in person' to cancel everything. They do not respond to emails, it appears."(February 28, 2011)
Rates Updated: February 15, 2011

LowTrades, (202) 466-6890, (800) 597-8767
Products: Mutual funds, domestic and foreign stocks, options, "fixed income". (No online orders for fixed income products or international stocks.)
Market Orders: $4.95
Limit Orders: $4.95
Mutual Funds: $25.00
Options: $4.95/trade+0.60/contract
Minimum to Open: 0 for a cash account, $2000 for margin account. "There is a minimum equity requirement of $200 to hold OTCBB or Pinksheet securities in your account."
Inactivity Fee: $50/half-year, charged twice a year, unless one makes two trades a year, one in each of the 6-month charge periods.
Maximum Margin Rate: Proprietary table posted on site
Extras: Foreign accounts: "Applications are accepted from all countries outside the United States, excluding Canada." ACH transfers. "Free checking", maybe for domestic accounts only. Domestic account holders can also get a VISA debit card for a fee. If you want to pay an additional $14.95/month, you can also use an online "trading desk" which apparently looks something like a direct access interface, and which includes Level II and realtime streaming quotes.
Notes: Copied March 3, 2015: "Lowtrades and Just2Trade have been aquired by Who Trades, Inc. effective immediately.... The commissions, margin rates, and trading platform will all remain exactly the same...." Clears through COR Clearing LLC.
User Comments: "I tried to open an account with Lowtrades but was discouraged from doing so since I already have a J2T account."(January 18, 2013)
Rates Updated: March 3, 2015

Firstrade, 1.800.869-8800, 718.961-6600
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs
Market Orders: $4.95
Limit Orders: $4.95
Mutual Funds: $9.95 for no-load funds. NTF funds also available.
Options: $4.95/trade+$0.65/contract
Minimum to Open: $0
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Dividend reinvestment. Valet accounts (with annual fee). Several kinds of Standard and Poor's research. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Foreign accounts accepted, including non-resident aliens. Also has site in Chinese.
User Comments: "Bad service. Called from Thailand and was told to send a fax application first, to get an account number, then send the original by post. Did that. One week after sending the fax, no communication. Documents sent by EMS should have arrived two days ago."(August 11, 2005)    "Firstrade has been an excellent broker in every way, they are quick to respond to queries, their Valet service is excellent, good all around. I would recommend them to anyone."(November 12, 2006)    "I am an American living in Thailand and working in the UAE. I have traded with Firstrade for almost 2 years. I trade three accounts, 2 IRAs with mutual funds and 1 account with stocks. I have never had trouble with their online access and services. Trades are executed and confirmations received in a few seconds. I have deposited and withdrawn funds a few times - never any problem. Customer services responds to general questions via email in 24-48 hours. I have never called them. I recommend them for good basic service with low fees."(October 14, 2007)    "Good customer service every time I have had to contact them, mostly by e-mail, once by phone. The best experience is when I had already sent in my application to rollover my IRA, they posted a new promotion on their web site (free trades for 1 year). I asked if they would extend the offer to me, even though the promotion did not start when I sent my application to them, and they agreed to do it."(April 23, 2008)    "I own some preferred stock which was to be exchanged for common shares (Citi). E*Trade advised me of the offer by post as soon as they had the information. I own the same preferreds in a Firstrade IRA but did not hear from them even though all information comes to me in email. I inquired and have yet to receive anything but a runaround. They even suggested that the information went to the spam folder, but if they had looked, it would have been evident from my voting record that I get everything they send. They are 'investigating'; that message arriving August 19, 2009. They are not responding to my further inquiries, leading me to believe that they have discovered that they screwed up badly. I will be filing a NASD complaint for this error."(September 8, 2009)    "Firstrade... recently 'upgraded' (if you can call it that) their site but... now do not have real-time quotes, except for their X-Stream product which is limited to 20 symbols per page. All quotes on their 'home' page are at least 15 minutes delayed, in other words, useless. Also, they have steadfastly refused to allow the investor to sort their holdings in alphabetical order on said home page. [T]hey appear to be run by a Chinese company, and every time I call them, I get a person with an Asian accent...."(November 15, 2011)    "I've being using First Trade 4 or 5 years. I only have mutual fund accounts with them. I was very happy prior to the recent site upgrade.... I've contacted them numerous time via email where I attached documents showing at times the fund prices do not update at the end of the day[,] and on Fridays they often won't be updated until the following Monday at Close of Business leaving me with inaccurate account balances. I've never received a correct answer to this problem which continues to this date. In addition, seems you only get a statement generated if you had a transaction that month[,] which makes my end the year performance review impossible to perform accurately. I'm in the process of looking for another brokerage house."(January 2, 2012)
Rates Updated: February 21, 2017

MB Trading, (866) 628-3001, (310) 647-4281
Products: Stocks, foreign stocks, futures, options, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $4.95
Limit Orders: $4.95
Mutual Funds: "$15 Transaction Fee + $25 Commission. Commission will apply to all No-Load Funds and to the Non-Loaded side of Load Fund."
Options: $0.95/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000; $2000 for margin account
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Maximum Margin Rate: Proprietary rate posted on their site
Extras: Several sweep accounts available. Checks and debit cards for a fee. Foreign accounts accepted from many countries, based on list.
Notes: A direct access broker, but I have listed it because it has no additional ECN or exchange fees.
User Comments: "I have an account with them and have had no problems."(October 27, 2007)    "I've been trading with MB Trading and can't say enough good things about them; ranging from their trading platform to their customer support and university. I'm so happy I finally made the move from the "TV" brokers of the world. Although I still love the e-trade baby commercials. You owe it to yourself to give MB Trading a try."(February 24, 2010)
Rates Updated: November 12, 2014

Scottrade, 1.800.619-SAVE (7283)
Products: Stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, CDs, international stocks
Market Orders: $7.00
Limit Orders: $7.00
Mutual Funds: $17.00. Load funds also incur a $17.00 redemption fee. Also has NTF funds.
Options: $7.00/trade+$1.25/contract
Minimum to Open: $7500 initial deposit
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Checkwriting. Also has site in Chinese. Personal broker. Provides a variety of Standard and Poor's research. No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Has a specialized options-trading subsite called OptionsFirst (for US accounts). This is what they said about foreign accounts on April 1, 2004: "At the current time we can establish accounts for U.S., Chinese, Taiwan and Hong Kong residents only. This includes the 50 U.S. States, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands." However, on November 4, 2012, a user wrote: "Scottrade doesn't offer international accounts if you live outside of US. (If you are resident and have SSN it's possible to open an account)."
Notes: Low credit interest on cash balances. On February 13, 2008, Paul M. reported that "Scottrade now pays 0.42% on the cash in your account with no sweep options." On the same date, the money market funds which are the default sweep vehicles in my own two brokerage accounts were paying roughly 2.97% and 3.31%.
User Comments: "Scottrade is a great broker if you rarely have excess cash sitting in your account. However, the interest that they pay on excess cash is very poor, at the time of this writing [September 11, 2006] it is 3% (on $10,000) while other brokers are typically paying 4.5%. [My two money market funds are paying 4.36% and 4.45%. Ed.] This difference comes out to $150 per year in lost interest on $10,000 that one could have earned if they used a different broker. It takes a lot of $30 yearly maintenance fees or $15 trades to add up to the $150 per year in lost interest."(September 8, 2006)    "Scottrade's old trading platform used to be fast, functional and accurate. However, their new platform is extremely slow over a dial-up line and has many technical bugs and math errors which never seem to get addressed. They also lack the ability to write put options."(February 1, 2007)    "Compared to my benchmark rate at Vanguard, they're sitting on at least 200 basis points of my money as maintenance fee. This is why I want to leave Scottrade."(February 27, 2007)    "[Scottrade has] a security vulnerability in their website (specifically their Streaming Quotes tool) that I first notified them of several years ago. They have both failed to even acknowledge let alone fix it. The summary of the issue is that because of how streaming quote tool is first loaded, a third-party could impersonate the account holder and have visibility into the person's account and buy/sell securities within the account."(April 4, 2007)    "Scottrade... has been a complete ordeal. [They] required me to visit one of their brokers to set up my account. Upon doing so I found this particular broker to be an arrogant ass who went to far as to attempt to correct me when I used the terminology Investment Advisor Representative.... Because of his ignorance I had to find some information not mentioned on the application prior to opening my account and fax the additional information to him the next day. The broker chose to not call me and notify me when he received the information and he chose to not notify me when my account was activated and ready for funds. Upon attempting to seed my account I found that Scottrade does not accept ACH transactions.... After sending them a check to seed my account and having that check held for 12 days I was finally ready to trade. Unfortunately trading proved difficult as I found their site, at least by comparison with Ameritrade, very clunky and lacking some of the key tools I have come to rely on. I only made two trades, a purchase and a sale of a highly liquid big-cap stock. Both of these trades were executed exactly at my limit price despite the fact that the stock was trading about 10c below the limit price when I bought and about 20c above the limit price when I sold. Thanks to an open call contract I haven't closed my Ameritrade account yet. I have, however, closed my Scottrade account and will send that money back to Ameritrade, that is if I ever get it."(April 11, 2007)    "I sent in an application for business account to Scottrade on 3/27/2007. [Two weeks later] the account has not been opened. The representative seemed to have little knowledge of processing this type of account. I have resent the forms they required twice and they came back for more signatures which they could have told us about the first time.... Now this morning they want me to reapply from scratch and I flatly told them they can forget about the application and return the check I enclosed for account opening. This experience with Scottrade is indeed eye opening. I wonder how many new business Scottrade has turned away because of their poor customer service and [their representatives' lack of] knowledge of their new account procedures."(April 13, 2007)    "I've been with them for about nine months....[L]imit orders never execute at a better than limit price. Also, they don't pay high interest on the cash balance in the account. I don't like them too much.... Scottrade's website regularly crashes after some time with Firefox Their little graph that shows your portfolio status when you log [into your] home page is ugly, always slow, and sometimes does not load...."(August 10, 2007)    "I've had a Scottrade account... for nine years, but active only for 7 1/2.... I normally use margin, which is exorbitantly costly at Scottrade.... The only other complaint I have about Scottrade is that in the middle of the night they shut the website down for 'batch processing.' They inform the reader that the process takes 30 minutes, which unfortunately is not the case. It may be hours, because I've never had the patience to keep trying after an hour or so. This has caused me twice to miss profitable buys."(September 23, 2007)    "I have been using Scottrade for about 6 years. In the beginning the trades were quick; even funding my brokerage account via ACH debit took anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours to show up in my account if requested before 2:00 PM. I went to execute a stock buy a few days ago and it took approximately 4 minutes to execute; I ended up purchasing the stock for a much higher price. Yesterday, I initiated a ACH debit from my bank to my brokerage account. The funds will not be available for 3 business days. The stock that I was going to purchase has moved out of my range. I used to love Scottrade. It is now a sub-par company. I am looking for a new broker. I might just use my other broker, TD Ameritrade."(January 30, 2008)    "I've had Scottrade since 1993.... I have had no problems with them at all.... Everything else has been fine. The brokers have been knowledgeable on all but one occasion, and he had the senior broker help me. My limit orders have filled at lower-than-limit prices.... I don't do options and I have high speed. I use... IE, Mozilla Firefox and Mac Safari."(December 12, 2009)    "I have an account with Scottrade and I found out while trying to place an online trade that they have a policy that if a stock is down substantially on 1 day you can not buy it online; you have to call a rep to place the trade."(February 4, 2010)    "It might seem like you are only paying $7 a trade, but because of various self-serving undocumented algorithms the [used by the] market makers who actually do your trades and *pay* Scottrade..., you will not get best execution. I had a limit order with Scottrade for an NYSE listed security. After the NYSE opened, the security dropped below my limit bid, then the *offer* for the security dropped below my bid, but still Scottrade did not fill me. Why? Because their "policy", though they admitted that it is documented nowhere, is to only fill after a security first trades on the NYSE. This allows their market maker to trade ahead of you and use your trade as insurance. You cannot opt out of this type of biased trading. The other problem with this is that more and more securities are traded off the listed market; in many cases most of their daily volume is off the listed exchange. I have a formal complaint filed with FINRA, but FINRA is just made up of the brokerage firms, so one has very little voice. Best to avoid this very poor brokerage choice. The commission might have been $7, but they just lost $618 of my dollars. Not much of a bargain."(March 25, 2010)    "I have been with Scottrade a long time, and have had no problems."(May 30, 2010)    I tried to convert a Traditional IRA with Scottrade to a Roth IRA... and sent in all the forms and then I was told that their clearing [firm] could not handle a conversion because there were options in the account. In one day... both Merrill Lynch and Etrade were able to make the conversion for accounts I held with those firms, and the Etrade account also held options. My past experience has been that Etrade is far superior to any other firms as I also have accounts with Schwab and Ameritrade."(December 31, 2010)    "OptionsFirst... monthly reports are always the last of my five brokerage accounts to arrive on line. When I have had securities put to me you would think they would know what the cost basis is but they list it as zero. They are aware of this shortcoming but after two years have not yet fixed the problem. Their site is also difficult to navigate."(February 9, 2011)
Rates Updated: December 9, 2014

TradingBlock, 1-800-494-0451, 312-253-0385
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, futures
Market Orders: $0.001/share ($7.50 minimum)
Limit Orders: $0.001/share ($7.50 minimum)
Mutual Funds: $30.00, apparently even for load funds
Options: $7.50/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $2000 (minimum balance)
Inactivity Fee: $30.00 if no activity in account for 1 year
Maximum Margin Rate: Seems to be based on proprietary table
Extras: Auto-Trade available. ACH. Accepts SWIFT wires from non-US financial institutions. TradingBlock accepts cashier's checks, with some limitations. Foreign accounts seem to be accepted, but I'm not sure. The site is intentionally humorous in places.
Notes: Clears through Apex Clearing.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: June 21, 2015

Charles Schwab, 1.866.877-0134
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, CDs, insurance, annuities, foreign investments
Market Orders: $8.95
Limit Orders: $8.95
Mutual Funds: $49.95. NTF funds available.
Options: $8.95/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000 for US-based accounts, $25000 or $10000 for foreign accounts, depending on where held
Inactivity Fee: Unknown
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Cash management and other financial services. Separate site for foreign investors, including non-U.S. citizens. A user reports that foreign residents cannot purchase mutual funds. Another user reports that the "minimum to open a foreigner account is $25000". Direct access also available. Has site in Chinese.
User Comments: "Have had a satisfactory association for about two years but this year I attempted to open a 'checking' acct because it was paying much better interest than the money market acct. Rec'd a stack of check books within a few days, and wrote one check. But couldn't find my new acct on my online Schwab site. Eventually I learned that my acct. had not been opened because Schwab needed further info re my joint owner (my daughter) even tho she was also joint with me on my regular acct. No one bothered to inform me that the acct. had not been opened. My check was bounced even tho I asked them to honor it and cover the amount from my cash acct. I am appalled that I was sent checks when the firm knew that I couldn't use them. Communication in this instance was abominable."(November 4, 2008)    "As a decade-long Schwab customer, I have been quite happy with Schwab's service. For example, Schwab offers trading support teams to preferred customers at no charge. They operate 24/7/365 and are competently staffed. Through its banking division (Schwab Bank), Schwab offers banking services including checking, billpay, and even [home] equity line of credit and mortgage loans at preferred rates. They offer several trading platforms with convenient features. These are in addition to which [is] accessed through the user's browser. They include '', 'streetsmartpro' and most recently 'streetsmartedge'. Regrettably, two of the three require the investor to use a device with windows operating system - a PC. Only one,, runs on the Mac - and it took some time to iron out the kinks. Asked about this, Schwab suggests to use a windows emulator on a PC.... Now, use the Windows-Mac kluge on a sophisticated trading system, and trouble is virtually guaranteed.... But, as long as Schwab offers at least one powerful trading platform that will run on the Mac - - I will stay with Schwab."(June 8, 2011)
Rates Updated: February 2, 2010

E*Trade Financial, 1.800.387-2331, +1.678.624-6210
Products: Stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $9.99
Limit Orders: $9.99
Mutual Funds: $19.99 for no-load funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $9.99/trade+$0.75/contract
Minimum to Open: $1000; $2000 for margin accounts
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.
Maximum Margin Rate: Based on proprietary base rate
Extras: Extensive financial services. Foreign investors: Sites in many countries and languages; however, on October 31, 2007, Alex D. reported that they no longer open accounts for Latin American clients. Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs unless you request paper statements and confirmations. Dividend reinvestment.
User Comments: "I contacted E*Trade Customer Service with some simple questions about insurance coverage on my two brokerage accounts. The E*Trade response was slow, less than satisfactory, and even a bit hostile!"(May 8, 2006)    "I was a BrownCo customer and when E*Trade took that over, I became a customer of E*Trade. On August 16, 2006, per E*Trade's request, I sent them the necessary information to establish a money market fund account associated with my brokerage account and requested two ATM cards for my wife and myself. As of December 17, my wife had not received her card yet. I called them many times during that four months, and they were not responsive. During the last call, the representative said that he had put the request through and once it was out of his office, he had nothing to do with it. I tried to get through to his supervisor but he was not responsive either. I decided to close the account with them. They had the guts to charge me the fee for closing the account They were incompetent and unresponsive."(December 28, 2006)    "I have been with ETrade for almost 3 years. The last year has been all down hill. Services are overpriced and customer service is non-responsive, hard to get to, and less than helpful. I am changing brokers; what pushed me over the edge was customer service's condescending attitude and refusal to inform me why denied when I recently applied for options trading upgrade. I would not recommend ETrade to anyone!"(January 24, 2007)    "I was a Brown customer for over 30 years. I became an E-Trade customer upon the take over. It is like dealing with the "Keystone Cops." Since early December I have been trying to open a savings account linked to my brokerage accounts. Customer service is frustrating and stupid. Lots of platitudes, no action. Imagine my shock when I executed a trade for $12,000 and when I checked my account I was on margin for $1,250,000 .....ooops. I'm on this site to move my money!!!"(January 31, 2007)    "E*Trade is terrible. I'm a longtime Brown & Co customer that got transferred to E*Trade; no real problems until it came time to consolidate some other accounts. We started with a simple Roth for my wife -- two total mutual fund transfers and one cash liquidation. They got the cash -- and immediately put it in a "restricted" status -- meaning we can do nothing with it -- and even [we faxed] the requested additional IDs, [it's still restricted and they can't explain why]. Customer Service has ever-changing BS reasons why the other two transfers aren't done.... Worse, E*Trade never tries to contact us to tell us what's going on -- we have to contact them and get the run-around. After several months of futility, we've had it....Stay away from E*Trade...."(June 20, 2007)    "I have been an E-trade customer since they absorbed my HarrisDirect account some time ago.... On Sept. 21, 2007 I mailed a form requesting to open a SIMPLE IRA plan, which I had downloaded from their website. I sent it Priority Mail and the delivery confirmation indicated it had been delivered on Mon. Sept. 24th. I found the form a bit confusing and placed a sticky note on the form indicating that it was critical the account be opened before Oct. 1st since law forbids opening and funding a Simple IRA in the final quarter. I stated this on the sticky note and asked that if there were any problems to please let me know, providing both home and cell phone numbers. Since I heard nothing I assumed things were being handled, but on Oct. 1st I began to worry and used their online customer service center to send a written query. To make a long sad story short, nothing was done. I apparently had filled the form incorrectly. It is now Nov. 5th, 2007 and still nothing."(November 5, 2007)"On Saturday, I received an email from [E*Trade] saying that my order to sell ten contracts was rejected. This order had been in place since May. Since they provide only limited email service on weekends, I called them to inquire where their collective heads were.... The gentleman I spoke with was very polite but had no clue why it had happened. He told me that... I would have to wait until Monday, suffering the consequences if the price I set was reached. I then received two more emails telling me that it would take anywhere from one to four days to discover the problem. Obviously, that was unacceptable. I then started to dig on my own to see if I could determine why it happened. I discovered that the symbol on my portfolio was different from the order symbol. Their system changed it on my portfolio but the trading system obviously does not speak with the portfolio system. I then communicated this to them. The only response was that they were glad that they did not have to make the trade for their book. So much for trust."(June 17, 2008)    "My... experience has been that Etrade is far superior to any other firms as I also have accounts with [Scottrade and] Schwab and Ameritrade."(December 31, 2010)    "I am a US citizen living in Italy.... Recently, I asked [E*Trade] to replace the ATM card for [my] individual account. After saying that they sent it to me and after I waited six weeks for it to arrive, I asked again where it was. I had to wait about two weeks for a response. The response was that they do not send ATM cards to foreign countries anymore. I asked if they would send it to my former secretary and she would send it to me but the response to that (after three days) was that they had to send it to the address on the account. The writer then said 'I guess you will not have access to the money in that account.'"(May 21, 2013)
Rates Updated: January 22, 2011

Trading Direct, 1.800.925-8566
Products: Stocks, bonds, mutual funds
Market Orders: $10.95
Limit Orders: $10.95
Mutual Funds: $21.95. NTF funds available.
Options: $9.95/trade+$1.00/contract
Minimum to Open: $0; $2000 for margin accounts
Inactivity Fee: $60 on accounts with no trades for that trading year, with exceptions.
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+1.75%
Extras: Seem to be no setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Dividend reinvestment is available for an extra charge. Accepts foreign accounts, including non-resident aliens. Valet accounts available for a fee.
Notes: A division of York Securities. Clears through Ridge Clearing and Outsourcing. No money market sweep accounts, and very low interest on credit balances.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: February 3, 2010

Investrade Discount Securities, 1.800.498-7120
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds
Market Orders: $7.95
Limit Orders: $11.95
Mutual Funds: $15.00 for no-load funds.
Options: $1.50/contract, $14.95 minimum
Minimum to Open: $0, $2000 for margin accounts, $5000 for international accounts
Inactivity Fee: $0.00
Maximum Margin Rate: Broker Call+1.50%
Extras: No setup fees or maintenance fees for IRAs. Dividend reinvestment. Streaming real-time quotes for active traders. Foreign currency conversions. Cash management accounts including checking, credit card, and bill payment. Customer-directed routing for broker-executed trades, which have a surcharge. Foreign accounts accepted.
Notes: "A division of Regal Securities, Inc." Clears through Penson Financial Services. Has a "processing fee" for pink sheet and bulletin board stocks.
User Comments: "I shorted QQQQ; had 70% of the short value in my account in cash, i.e. after adding the short sale proceeds I had 170%. IDS charged me margin interest on the other 30% and paid no interest on the big pile of cash in my account. What a rip-off!"(June 13, 2007)    "I've had an account with Investrade for nine years. Early on they made an egregious error, and three free trades in compensation hardly made up for an ultimate cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Other than that, until they recently switched clearing firms, I've been happy with them. Their clearing firm leaves something to be desired. It sometimes reports day-ending balances tardily. In fact, in either July or August, they didn't post new balances for a week in the midst of stunning sell-offs, and for two days a client couldn't even obtain correct balances over the phone."(September 23, 2007)
Rates Updated: August 26, 2010

optionsXpress, 1.888.280-8020, 312.629-5455
Products: Options, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, futures
Market Orders: $8.95
Limit Orders: $8.95
Mutual Funds: $9.95, even on load funds
Options: $1.50/contract, $14.95 minimum
Minimum to Open: $0, $2000 for margin account
Inactivity Fee: Seems to be $0.00
Maximum Margin Rate: According to table posted on site
Extras: Free checking, online chat to customer service, message boards, automatic trading. Includes many interactive tools. As of November 12, 2012, their website still says "Yes, upon our review and at our discretion we accept unsolicited accounts from non-U.S. residents...", but a user writes: "OptionsXpress after merge with CharlesSchwab doesn't offer foreign accounts and forces foreigners to close or transfer their accounts." A user identifying herself as a "foreigner" said on August 25, 2009: "Offers foreigner accounts, although they don't offer mutual funds for foreigners. I actually pay $16.95, not $14.95, per order (stock trade)." "The $8.95 flat commission applies U.S. customers only."
Notes: Specializes in options (obviously), including complicated trades. "optionsXpress, Inc... is now a subsidiary of the Charles Schwab Corporation."
User Comments: "OptionsXpress... has a less than satisfactory level of service. They are slow to respond to queries, [and] when they respond it is usually some "pablum" type of answer such as: 'We are looking into it, maybe at a future date, we are considering it'. They have a hard time saying yes [or] no or giving a timeframe for concrete action. They told me when I reached a certain level of option contracts traded that I would get a discount. When I reached that level, they reneged. I have over $300,000 cash in the account. I receive 2% interest in their money market fund. They told me they are looking at alternatives : pablum! I would recommend that anyone look elsewhere for a broker. I am in the process of evaluating different brokers to make a move in the near future."(November 12, 2006)
Rates Updated: June 10, 2015

PennTrade, 800.953-2860, 208.676-0562
Products: Stocks, Canadian stocks, mutual funds
Market Orders: $16.95 for US stocks, $29.95 for Canadian stocks
Limit Orders: $16.95 for US stocks, $29.95 for Canadian stocks
Mutual Funds: $16.95. Seems to apply also to load funds.
Minimum to Open: $500
Inactivity Fee: $35.00/year
Maximum Margin Rate: "Contact us"
Extras: Foreign accounts accepted, including non-resident aliens.
Notes: "the online trading division of Pennaluna and Company". Clears through National Financial Services.
User Comments:
Rates Updated: June 12, 2015

Vanguard Brokerage Services, 1.800.992-8327
Products: Stocks, options, mutual funds, bonds, CDs, foreign securities, insurance, commercial paper
Market Orders: $20.00; note promotional price below.
Limit Orders: $20.00; note promotional price below.
Mutual Funds: $35.00 for transaction-fee funds. NTF funds available.
Options: $30.00/trade+$1.50/contract
Minimum to Open: Unknown
Inactivity Fee: $20.00/year maintenance fee for regular accounts
Maximum Margin Rate: Unknown
Extras: "Vanguard does not allow new accounts with foreign addresses to be opened online. Contact us." It sounds like Vanguard does open some foreign accounts, probably by mail. Dividend reinvestment for some securities. Electronic deposits. No commissions on Vanguard ETFs.
Notes: As of May 4, 2010: "$7 for the first 25 trades, $20 for subsequent trades. Vanguard Brokerage reserves the right to end these offers at any time."
User Comments: "I'm a Vanguard... Voyager Select (high value) customer. My trades are now $12 for 1000 shares. Quite nice. Downside: normal trades fine online, but no after-hours trading, and I had to wait 50 minutes (literally - the agent confirmed their wait time) to get to their Fixed Income Desk to buy a corporate bond (no online for corporates). Once I got someone they were very professional."(October 17, 2008)
Rates Updated: May 30, 2010