Scottrade is a well-known player in the online brokerage space. My wife and I do a majority of our investing through Scottrade, leading me to do a Scottrade review to discuss what makes them different and how they can help grow your wealth.
In my Motif Investing review I discussed how I appreciated that they think outside the box when it comes to helping them meet their clients’ investing needs. The difference you’ll see in my Scottrade review is they’re more traditional in their offerings and services. Both are needed so investors can have the selection they need in order to find the best online broker for them. With that in mind, let’s get on with our Scottrade review.
How Scottrade is Different
Scottrade is considered one of the bigger online brokers. I have dealt with them both as a client as well as on the business side as a stockbroker. My interaction with them, overall, has been a positive one over the long-term. When deciding on an online brokerage you need to look at what makes them unique. Below are some of the things that sets Scottrade apart from the crowd:
- Scottrade is known for their flat $7 stock trades. That puts them right in the middle of the competitive range for pricing. Some are cheaper, like Motif, but others are more expensive. The flat rate is a big winner in my book as you can count on that regardless of the number of shares you’re trading.
- Scottrade has an extensive national branch network. They have over 500 branches throughout the country, which to my knowledge is the most in the industry.
- Scottrade is an older online brokerage as they started business in 1980. Due to that, they are able to offer quite a number of products and services.
- Scottrade offers access to over 14,500 mutual funds, of which more than 3,000 are no-fee mutual funds. This is more than any other online brokerage, that I know of, and if you invest in mutual funds you know how pricey they can get, with many charging upwards of $50 to trade.
- For many years Scottrade did not offer dividend reinvestment. They changed that several years ago with the introduction of Scottrade FRIP. FRIP stands for ‘Flexible Reinvestment Program.’ Scottrade allows you to pool eligible securities to reinvest in up to five different stocks. I love this feature as it allows you to direct how you want to reinvest dividends – for free.
What’s Needed to Open a Scottrade Account
Whereas you can open an account at Motif Investing for as little as $250, you need at least $2,500 to open an account with Scottrade. If that amount is a bit too much for you, Scottrade has a $500 minimum requirement for retirement accounts.
This would make Scottrade a viable option for those who’re investing with $1,000 or less. Scottrade offers a wide variety of accounts from the standard IRA and non-IRA to Trust accounts, business accounts and more. If a minimum balance requirement is a concern for you, you can also check out TradeKing, as they do not have a minimum balance requirement and are at a level similar to Scottrade, not to mention with a cheaper commission.
I hate investment fees. There’s no reason why you should have to pay an exorbitant amount to do your investing and Scottrade does generally well in this area. Beyond the flat $7 trades, they do not have any hidden fees, account maintenance fees or anything like that.
This doesn’t fall under the fees category, but one thing that does stand out is that they offer a higher platform for those who have more than $25,000 invested in one account. That is their Scottrade Elite platform which offers increased charting and more tools than the standard Scottrade platform.
Honestly, I wish they offered this to all of their clients, but this is unfortunately a common trend within the industry. That being said, if you’re not an active trader then it won’t make much difference to you anyway.
One thing I do like about Scottrade is they offer a broad range of products. They, of course offer stock trading, along with mutual funds, options and the like. But, they also offer things such as:
- International trading in over 20 countries
The one area Scottrade is a little lacking in is their options trading offerings. As long as you only trade covered calls or buying a call or a put then you’re going to be just fine. If you want anything more advanced than that you have to open a second account through OptionsFirst, which is a sister company to them.
This brings a second account you must log in to which is sort of a hassle in my opinion. If you don’t trade options this is of no concern. If you do like to trade options and want one place to go for your investing then I would recommend looking at TradeKing instead.
Scottrade Review – My Take
I believe for many Scottrade is a great fit. They have a solid history and a wide range of investment options. I also like that they have their local branch network as it makes it easy to deal with someone face to face in the event you have any account related questions. I love their platform as it’s very intuitive and straightforward to use while also offering many of the tools most would need to manage their investment needs.
Honestly, I’m not a fan of requiring a certain account balance to get access to more tools or the increase in minimum needed to open a non-IRA account. I believe they should be available to all clients, but it’s the nature of the beast in this industry – money talks. I would also say the same thing about their options trading capability, though if you don’t trade them, it’s a moot point.
I have seen Scottrade work great for beginning investors and seasoned investors alike. If you’re more of a buy and hold type of investor and trade minimally throughout the year then Scottrade could be a solid option to consider.
Where do you handle your investing? How much do you pay for your trades? Are you more inclined to invest with a broker that gives you the ability to meet with someone face to face?