ChoiceTrade Review – How Does This Broker Stack Up?

ChoiceTrade Review
  • Commission Structure
  • Software Packages
  • Customer Service
  • Overall Value
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Summary

Through our ChoiceTrade review, we’ve determined that although at first glance, the commission sturture seems very attractive, you ultimately pay for it in software fees. The most active traders, however, will still hugely benefit from the commission structure.

About ChoiceTrade

Founded in 2000, ChoiceTrade has been trying to attract frequent traders for several years. Armed with investing software and ultra-low commissions, the brokerage firm is an enticing prospect. Although it isn’t one of the big players in the industry, it’s definitely worth taking a look at. In this ChoiceTrade review, we will attempt to quantify it’s value for various types of traders.

Pricing

Commissions

Pricing is one of the main areas where ChoiceTrade shines.

ChoiceTrade has always had favorable pricing and they improved their rates again in October of 2019.

ChoiceTrade clients have access to zero-commission trading on NYSE, Nasdaq, an AMEX stocks trading over $1 per share. This free trading is available for ETFs as well. Like most brokers who made the shift to free trading, ChoiceTrade has some stipulations, but overall this is a great deal for equities traders. Commission details can be found on ChoiceTrade’s website.

Options

As of October 2019, ChoiceTrade offers options trading at $0.40 per contract. There is no per-trade base fee and options commissions are capped at $50/month. This is particularly enticing for active options trades because it essentially means they can trade as many contracts as they’d like for a flat fee of $50 per month.

The savings on options commissions can quickly add up, especially when compared to popular brokerages like ETrade and TD Ameritrade.

Account Requirements

ChoiceTrade has a $100 account minimum. Foreign accounts are accepted but will incur a $5 monthly maintenance fee.

Software Fees

There are five platforms available at ChoiceTrade, three of which come with fees. The cheapest is $14.95 per month, while the most expensive is $135.

Trading Platforms

Website

I was excited to receive a free trial of ChoiceTrade’s website platform. After getting inside, I was surprised how simple it was. Option chains are not laid out well, for example.

Charting on a stock’s profile page does not offer comparisons, technical studies, company events, or drawing tools. There is a Java version, but I was not able to get it to function in any browser.

Choice Trade Chart

 

After entering a ticker symbol in the ‘Start’ box in the upper-left of the screen, an information section will display a chart icon. Clicking on this does produce a small graph where some technical studies and comparisons can be made.

Choice Trade Chart 2

One feature that I did like was Power Basket. Here I was able to enter orders for multiple stocks, line by line. For example, I could enter ‘Buy 5 GOOG @ Market DAY’ and similar lines of text to create multiple trades for different stocks at the same time. The trades are saved in a different section, and I had to go there to submit the orders, a slight nuisance.

Choice Trade Web

ChoiceTrade Elite

ChoiceTrade Elite is a web-based platform that has some more advanced features you won’t find in ChoiceTrade’s standard web-based platform. The platform has a monthly cost of $29.95, but traders can sign up for a free 14-day trial to test the functionality before committing to the subscription cost.

This platform is certainly an improvement over the standard web platform. You’ll find most basic features you’d expect, such as watch lists, news, and portfolio management. I liked how you could select a “Chart View” on the watch lists to get a snapshot of all the charts.

The platform also has some advanced features that may justify the price tag for some traders. ChoiceTrade Elite has built-in scanners, data visualization tools, and advanced charting options.

The fundamental data visualization tools are a great feature that you won’t find in every platform. This tab makes it easy to get a quick overview of how a company is performing.

ChoiceTrade Elite Fundamentals

The platform also features some advanced tools for options traders.

ChoiceTrade Options

Overall, ChoiceTrade Elite is a major upgrade to the standard web-based platform. The platform is easy-to-use and packs some powerful features.

Mobile

ChoiceTrade’s mobile app was built for simplicity. You can access most basic features like charts, watch lists, options chains, and account management. The app is useful for monitoring your positions and watch lists on the go, but doesn’t provide a full, standalone trading experience. That said, active traders generally require a more robust desktop app to achieve optimal results so we rarely recommend trading from a mobile app. It appears as if ChoiceTrade is continuing to develop and expand their mobile offerings, and the app has come a long way over the years.

Choice Trade Mobile

QuoteStream

QuoteStream comes in regular and professional versions. The pro edition has real-time alerts and a mobile app, which the regular platform doesn’t offer. Both platforms come with headline news, advanced charts, heat maps, and streaming quotes from major exchanges. OTC quotes, data from CME, and Level II information all cost extra.

Direct Pro

Traders who need direct-access routing can use Direct Pro, which is available as a desktop program. I thought it was much better than the broker’s website. Direct Pro comes with real-time Level II quotes (at $20 per month) and ECN books. Also useful are time and sales windows. News headlines and real-time alerts are available but news traders may prefer a standalone service like Benzinga Pro or a stock recommendation service like Motley Fool.

The platform can trade option strategies as well.

The worst thing about Direct Pro is the fact that the broker’s $0 commission schedule can’t be used with the platform. Stock trades on Direct Pro cost 0.25¢ per share with a $5 minimum.

Choice Trade DAS

A chart can be shown as a small window within the platform, or it can be expanded to fill the monitor. Although there are technical studies, I was dissatisfied with how they could be displayed. For example, indicators that normally are shown below a graph, such as MACD, would display on top of a graph. I could not figure out a solution to this problem. On the flip side, colors are customizable.

Choice Trade Chart DAS

Customer Service

ChoiceTrade clients might be able to reach a company associate during the week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, EST. The company can also be reached by email for less time-sensitive support issues.

Executions and Routes

It’s possible to select the destination of your order at ChoiceTrade. The broker offers ARCA, TRAC, INET, and several other venues.

Shorting Stocks

ChoiceTrade permits short equity positions in a margin account. Initial margin is the greater of 50% of the sale price or $5. Maintenance margin for securities above $5 is 30% or $5. For stocks below $5, it is 100%. Stocks under $2.50 cannot be shorted at ChoiceTrade.

Type of Trader ChoiceTrade is Best For

Because ChoiceTrade charges a monthly fee for some accounts, the broker isn’t ideal for inactive buy-and-hold investors. On the other hand, the broker’s $0 stock commission is ideal for traders who place a lot of trades every month using market or limit day orders.

Pros…

  • Very appealing commission schedule.
  • A wide selection of trading software.
  • ChoiceTrade allows free trials of some of its platforms, so you can take them for a test drive before committing any money.

…and Cons

  • Using a live broker over the phone to complete a trade is an extra $30.
  • The broker’s best platform right now, Direct Pro, can’t be used with the $0 commission schedule.

Judgment

ChoiceTrade offers bargain-basement trading with low monthly account fees that will rival low-cost firms like Robinhood and Firstrade. Its trading tools may not be ideal for highly active traders, but the company seems to be dedicating time and resources to improving these offerings.

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