New to BFS? Please click here to get started. See you in the comments soon! and Other Investment Company Reviews

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As you could see from our stock portfolio, that goes along with our 401k retirement planning, my husband and I have used as our stock investment company for the last 5 years. Overall, we have been very happy.

Here is our current review of

Overall rating: 9/10
Pros:  The $7 flat rate for trades is simple and reasonable.  We also use their email alerts for any stocks we are watching.  We also really like the fact there are no minimum balance rules or monthly purchase requirements.  My husband likes to use their streaming trader window so he can see real-time info.  He also likes the fact that our account is tied to our main bank account so we can do automatic transfers, one-time transfers, and as long as we buy a security that is traded on the American exchange that is valued at more than $1, they allow us to instantly use our money while they wait for the bank transfer to go through.
Cons:  If you buy small amounts of stock at a time, the $7 per trade can eat up profit quickly.  It was also a bit annoying that we had to take our initial deposit to an actual Scottrade facility, but it’s also comforting to know that there is one more line of defense between our money and identity thieves.
Other Comments:  We’ve been happy customers for more than 5 years.  We plan on sticking with them for the long haul.

Thanks to some awesome fellow bloggers, here are some more investment company reviews for you:

Reviewer: Tim @ Grow Rich Simply
Investment Company Name: Vanguard
Overall Rating: 9/10
Pros: One of the best things about Vanguard is the fees. VG is known as the mutual fund company with one of the longest track records, but also with one of (if not) the lowest expense ratios in the industry. They have a variety of fund families and are well respected within the industry. I would not recommend individual stock purchases though VG as their equity fees are among the highest out there (however, given that they are first and foremost a mutual fund company, this is unsurprising). For mutual funds, VG can’t be beat.
Cons: VG is not entirely friendly towards very small investors. Typically their funds have minimums of $3K, but they do allow you to set up an automatic investment (e.g., $100/month) account that will get you started. Additionally, I’ve heard (but not personally experienced) that their customer service hold times can be somewhat excessive. Their website is not very flashy — but again, if you offer the lowest fees in the business, there are going to be tradeoffs.
Other Comments: If you’re interested in learning more about Vanguard, check out their unofficial investment forums,, where long-time VG members dole out very solid investment advice.
Reviewer: Free From Broke
Investment Company Name: ShareBuilder
Overall Rating: 8/10
Pros: Inexpensive automatic trades, you can buy partial shares, my account is connected to my ING account for easy transferring of funds.
Cons: It’s a little tricky to get the automatic trades set up. Real-time trades aren’t as cheap as some other brokers (but there are codes for free trades out there).
Other Comments: I love ING products and ShareBuilder is a part of ING. It may not be the best broker of you want to do a lot of real-time trades but if you want a place to set up inexpensive automatic trades ShareBuilder is a great place. I’ve been using them for a few years now and have been happy with them.
Reviewer: Jacob at My Personal Finance Journey
Investment Company Name:
Overall Rating: 10/10
Pros: Market and limit order stock trades online for only $3. One of the lowest on the internet that I have been able to find. The account minimum is only $500. Reliable at being able to withdrawal money in 3-4 business days (normal) from your investment account. Is a subsidiary of the very well established Genesis Securities. Offer ETF’s and stocks listed on NYSE, NASDAQ, and AMEX exchanges.
Cons: Do not have physical offices / stock brokers, if that is what you are used to.
Reviewer: Mark at Buy Like Buffett
Invest Company Name:  Scottrade
Overall Rating: 8.5/10
Pros: Low Fees, Great Customer Service, Brokerages in most cities, Quality Investment Options
Cons: No Dividend Reinvestment Option, Trading Tools
Investment Company Name: Thinkorswim
Overall Rating: 8/10
Pros: Best option trading platform ever, ease of use for complex trades, charting is amazing.
Cons: Steep learning curve (they provide a lot of how-to videos, but it’s plain tough).
Other Comments: If you are looking to trade options, thinkorswim is the only way to go. The commissions are reasonable, and they treat spreads and other complex trades as one commissionable event (which saves you money when you really have 2-separate options trades). Their charting of options is the best available. They also have a “Paper Money” system that allows new investors to practice on their platform without using real money.
Investment Company Name: Vanguard
Overall Rating: 10/10
Pros: Vanguard has a great selection of mutual funds to choose between that you can buy and sell for free. It’s very easy to setup a variety of different brokerage and retirement accounts and transfer assets between them. It’s also easy to link accounts you have at other institutions so you can use their website as a dashboard and view all of your investments at once.
Vanguard has excellent support services that you can reach quickly. The people you talk to don’t work on commission so they typically have your best interest in mind.
Lastly, as you invest more your brokerage costs go down. $7 trades to start (for the 1st 25 in a calendar year) and then jumps down based tiers of investment to $2/trade then down to free.
Cons: I can’t think of anything bad to say about them! I’ve used Vanguard for twenty years and have had a great experience with them.
Reviewer: Retire By 40
Investment Company Name: First Trade
Overall Rating: 8/10
Pros: $7 trading on mutual funds and stocks. Good customer service. I have mostly positive experiences when I called.
Cons: Did not take my pre IPO penny stock certificate so I had to open a TD Ameritrade account.
Other Comments: It’s an online discount brokerage and I just use them to trade. I want low fee and minimal hassle and they provide that.
Other discount brokerage charges around $50 to trade no load mutual funds and I think that’s too much.
What investment companies have we missed?  How do you like yours?

FYI:  I worked at a dead end cubicle job from 2005-2011 for about $30,000 per year.  I went self-employed in July 2011 and make between $70,000-$90,000 through blogging, professional pet sitting, hubby's reffing, and our rental home.  If you’d like to start your own site (link to my free step-by-step guide), I highly suggest checking out Bluehost (my referral link with a nice discount for you, PLUS a free custom header banner from me!).  Please contact me any time at budgetingfunstuff*at*gmail*dot*com with questions or just to brainstorm! I’d love to help!
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22 thoughts on “ and Other Investment Company Reviews

  1. Simple. Sharebuilder for the Roth IRA because I use the cheap $1 trades using automatic investments. Then Zecco for my other investing because I get $4.50 real time trades and options are only $0.50 a contract.

    Done and done. 🙂

  2. I have used ShareBuilder and I am currently using Vanguard.

    I have no major complaints about ShareBuilder. I just switched to Vanguard due to fees. The automatic investing program with ShareBuilder costs $4, then $9.95 for any market orders. With Vanguard, I don’t pay a fee for trading their ETFs. I like free. 🙂

  3. I use InteractiveBrokers (IB) as a main account. Very cheap and direct access.

    Secondary account is Global Futures (GF). For anyone who really “trades,” I’d recommend having 2 accounts. And even tho’ I do not “daytrade” anymore, I still have these acconts. I’ve been with IB since 2006, and Global Futures since 2002. Obviously GF is only for futures trading, but you can trade Soybeans and any other commodity, including the e-Mini’s which are boon in trending times. With IB, I can trade “any market (futures, stocks,bonds, currency, etc) in the world” and in real time. IB does not have the bells and whistles that some of the other “more popular” discount brokers have. But with any good chart program, you can make due. If you daytrade, I recommend eSignal (1st choice), or even realtick. Great features and chart setups. One day, I may get back into actual fulltime trading one day, but for now a few good swing and position (core) trades work good. Happy Hunting. 🙂

  4. As one who does a lot of stock research, Fidelity offers fantastic research tools. Unless you do a ton of trading, most of the brokers today have fairly reasonable fees. Actually, through my work and personal accounts we use Schwab, Vanguard, and TD Ameritrade.I’ve been satisfied with them all.

  5. Great post and comments. I hadn’t heard of IB and GF, then again I don’t get out much, in broker terms. I’ve pretty much stuck with Scottrade through the years.

  6. I used to work for Scottrade and they actually will let you make your first deposit online, but it will not be available for use for penny stocks until the waiting period is over, usually a few days. I use Scottrade and, one for my individual account and one for my IRA. I like Scottrade because of all of the supplemental services they offer and the no-fee structure. I like BuyandHold cause I often buy in small dollar amounts and their fee per trade is only 2.99.

  7. I absolutely love my Scottrade account. They’re inexpensive, the trades are executed very quickly, and their Knowledge Center is second to none. Add in the local branch offices and Scottrade can’t be beat in my book!

  8. I use Scottrade.. They have never screwed up my account. Use referral code IXFV9382 and get 3 free trades for you and me when you open an acccount. Good luck investing.

  9. Thanks to all the people that used my Scottrade referral code: IXFV9382 I was given 21 free trades this months from all the people that opened accounts at Scottrade. I know some of them came from this web-site. Thanks everybody for my free trades also. Dave

  10. I absolutely adore reading your blog posts, the variety of writing is smashing.This blog as usual was educational, I have had to bookmark your site and subscribe to your feed in i feed. Your theme looks lovely.Thanks for sharing.
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  11. New 2011 and 2012 Scottrade referral code: IXFV9382 will still give you 3 free trades when you open any type of Scottrade account.

    Thanks guys,


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