Scottrade is one of the top four online brokerage services. It offers the full range of services around mutual funds, bonds, certificates of deposit, options and stocks. It gives good value on a satisfactory website for investment research and trades. However reports about customer satisfaction are a very mixed bag.
Headline advertising of Scottrade pricing is $7 per trade. This is well down the price range for brokerage services and good reason to give them a long hard look. Options are $7 per trade plus $1.25 per contract. This is a little above the norm for the industry. Compared with its big 3 competitors (Ameritrade, Interactive and E*Trade) Scottrade has the lowest commission option. However, on a straight per trade comparison there are even better discounts to be had.
Where Scottrade really scores well is on fees, or more precisely, the lack of them. It seems strange to talk about things that are not charged for, but these items are so prevalent with other brokerages that it is important to consider them. Scottrade does not charge an annual account maintenance fee nor a fee when the account is dormant. Unlike many brokerage houses there are no account closing fees. This can be an important consideration when closing out your IRA. Their electronic statements are free too. Five other services that come as a standard part of the Scottrade account are the Dow Jones real-time news, real-time streaming quotes and charts, cost basis accounting, incoming and or outgoing Direct Registration System and Direct Withdrawal at Custodian. Scottrade aims to attract the small investor too, with a low minimum $500 account opening sum.
Scottrade is very good in the area of mutual funds. With no-load, ‘no-transaction fee’ (NTF) funds, it costs you nothing to buy and sell. For funds outside the NTF program, the fee is $17 per transaction which is still cheaper than many other brokers. So, if your strategy is to focus on these kinds of funds, Scottrade’s commission in this niche will be good for you.
Scottrade has three different trading platforms, which, for the most part, work fine… while the website itself could be more intuitive and easier to look at. There are also reports of slippage between level II price quotes and their bid and ask prices.
The three platforms are:
Scottrade Trading Website – The web platform is actually web based so you don’t have to install anything on your computer. It will meet your investor requirements and is on par with the other major discount broker platforms.
Scottrade Mobile – A mobile phone application that strips down the web based version to allow for rapid trading on the go.
Scottrade Elite – Is the all-singing, all-dancing trading application that equals the hardcore trading platforms of the competition with streaming quotes, customizable and recorded sessions as well as real time news headlined continuously.
The Scottrade ‘Knowledge Center’ is a very good investor resource. It offers over 2000 articles online aimed at informing the novice investor and the seasoned professional alike. Scottrade have more than 400 branch offices across all 50 states, so on the odd occasion when you have a question too nuanced for the FAQs-type-help, you can talk with a human being in person or on the phone. In truth, blog reports for Scottrade customer responsiveness tells a very mixed story. Many say that everyone is helpful and happy to meet your needs while some other individual anecdotes can cause you to think twice. Two such repeated stories are being unable to get online when trades are about to peak, missing out on profits, an unsympathetic response and no compensation and perhaps worst than this are reports of long delays in getting settlement payments out of Scottrade. One blogger put it this way about the Oakland branch:”They take their fees pretty quick, but you need an act of congress to get them back”.
In Summary, Scottrade has good value for the money, very few extra fees, excellent platform options, but some may argue – they maybe a little patchy when it comes to personal service.