questionswhat is the best site for buying stocks online?

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Decide what you are going to buy and how. If you are going to buy equities (individual stocks) and ETFs (exchange traded funds, basically mutual funds that trade like stocks) then go with Scottrade: they have nice tools and a very low commission (7 bucks for a market order, limit orders are more).

If you are just going to be buying ETFs, I'd go with Vanguard (which I did). They have a very large family of their own ETFs that trade commission free. Their fees for equity trades are 7 bucks for the first 25, then 20 after that. If you have 50k invested in Vanguard their fees are a flat 7.

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@wilfbrim: I have Scotttrade and have never paid more than $7 for a limit trade. They do charge extra for penny stock trades (I think it is either 1/2 or 1% of the price in addition to the $7). But, it has been a while since I traded anything so they might have changed their policy.

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If you are not looking for a lot of fancy things and just want reliable service for not much money, TradeKing is a good source. I use them mainly for options (4.95 + .65 per contract), however they also do stocks for 4.95 per trade. I also use Schwab for my IRA, a bit more pricy, but I like their research options and such.

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I've been using Firstrade for years. Very low prices and super easy to use website. There's no hand-holding though so if you're new to investing you might want to look at a full service site until you figure things out. Also, research, research, research.

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Note: These are just my personal opinions, not those of my employer or anyone else.

1) Many sites offer free equity trades when you open an account. If you are planning to buy and hold, or trade infrequently, these will lower your entry costs.

2) If you plan to buy regularly, there are sites with low fees to execute scheduled trades, like buying 2 shares of something every two weeks.

3) Consider how much and type of trading you are planning to do, and how much $ you are planning to invest - trading fees will be influenced by those factors.

4) If you are a novice trader, please check out the many resources available about the different types of investing, and the inherent risks of each (like equities, options, ETFs, etc.).

5) Decide on your goals - dividends/income, growth, etc. before you start trading, and stick with them.

6) My experience & that of those I personally know, is that day trading takes a lot of focused research & discipline.

No specific recommendation

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Continued:

I personally suck at trading (buy high, sell low), and for my retirement use a full service brokerage. I figure that the ~1% I pay off the top is more than worth it to get the services of someone who lives & breathes this stuff.

My broker's holiday cards usually feature her in front of some trade-related location. One year she was in front of the Beijing exchange. That's her idea of a vacation.

I personally do not have the interest nor inclination to do the research necessary, nor do I have the discipline required to trade. I've proved this more than adequately on multiple occasions, and feel the need to do zero further research!

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You could always see if @Shrdlu pops in for some advise on stocks. (I don't think she has notifications turned on though.)

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I use scottrade. I have no idea what I'm doing but I still do it :)

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@wilfbrim: @benyust2 is correct Scottrade is only $7 for market or limit orders. I actually just signed up for Scottrade about a week or two ago and just put in my first orders (which were limit trades at $7 comission). Broker orders, non-online orders, certain options trading, and certain unique stocks such as penny stocks do require an additional fee. You can look here for a complete breakout of fees: http://www.scottrade.com/online-brokerage/trading-fees-commissions.html#tab0

To answer the question, though, I would definitely recommend Scottrade. As others have stated, depending on what exactly you are wanting to do, there are other sites out there that may be better suited for that specific area. However, assuming you are just looking to trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, or do any options trading, Scottrade is well suited to handle all of those things at some of the lowest costs around.

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@xarous: I have notifications on, actually, but there's no way I could have resisted this question. I'm sure you are unsurprised.

I've talked about this before, but with the current state of the Deals database, recognize that it may be difficult or impossible to find. If you just look at the "answered" tab for me, there's nothing before a year ago.

http://deals.woot.com/questions/users/shrdlu/answered?page=26&sort=answered

Yep. Sad but true. I noticed this a while back, but decided I just didn't care anymore, and haven't pointed it out to developers or others.

I would recommend that ANYONE just now getting into the stock market show some serious caution. The sharks are circling, and almost anything you might buy right now is close to its top price. As I always say:

"In the stock market, it's always wise to buy low, and sell high. Those of us who do, thank those of you who do not."

There are very few bargain stocks out there right now, but there are plenty of ways to LOSE your $$.

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@shrdlu: +1 to that.

For all the "all-time highs" the DJIA hits (another one is looking likely today), I expect some reversion to the mean within the next couple months. The economy just doesn't support the current highs.

It's impossible to predict when the highs or the lows will occur, I'd highly recommend holding off a little, then investing heavily when you start hearing everyone complain about how poorly the stock market has been performing. Though I reiterate that timing the market is impossible. The best you can hope for is educated guesses... anyone with a surefire strategy is full of bull.

Oh and to answer your question, for my occasional trades I use Schwab. More expensive standard trade fees ($8.95), but I love the flexibility. I keep a lot of liquid cash in their high yield checking account, and mostly invest in their no-load mutual funds and very large selection of commission free ETFs. However this is not ideal for frequent stock traders due to their higher fees.

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For most purposes, the large discount brokerages are all more or less the same. Figure out which features are important for your needs, then figure out which one works best for you. Personally, I use Sharebuilder because I already have a high-yield (ha!) savings account with ING (now CapitalOne something-something). So, it's convenient for me to manage all my accounts and easily transfer money between accounts.

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I use Scottrade. I like the phone support I can get. I am an amateur. A rank amateur. I bought facebook. And still have it. However - it is my only loss. lol