Trading Account In US

July 25, 2007 | 4 Comments   

Someone asked me to blog about stocks trading in US. It is really simple to trade shares in US. All you need is to open an online trading account. There are couples of US online trading available like Ameritrade, eTrade, Scottrade and others. Each has its own pricing, benefit and T&C. You have to pay attention to Service Fee, Trading Fee and other administration fees.

Here is a chart that I have put up, note there may be changes to the fees:

TD Ameritrade eTrade Scottrade
Minimum To Open An Account $2000 $1000 $500
Minimum Account Balance $0 $1000 $500
Trading Fee $9.99 Unlimited Shares $12.99 With Conditions $7 Unlimited Shares With Conditions
Quarterly/Annual Account Maintenance Fee $0/$0 $40/60 $0/$0
Wire Funds Out Fee Domestic/ International $25 $25 $20/$40
Stocks Certificates Issuing $50 $40 per certs $250
Account Closing & Transfer Out Fee $75 $60 $0
Other Fees Other Fees Other Fees Other Fees

My advice to you before selecting a trading account, do read their company portfolio and read customers’ review on their company.

After you have chosen an online trading account, you registered and open an account. You have to fill W8 BEN form. This form is to state that you are not an US Citizen, if you aren’t. You will be tax differently.

Do not play with Margin Options, switch it off. This option allows you to borrow money to invest in the shares. It can burn you deeply if your shares fall under its value. Interest is high.

With US shares, you can buy 1 unit. It is different from Malaysia where you need to buy minimum of a 1000. Of coz, it is a little crazy to buy 1 unit as you will be wasting transaction fees. Let say company XYZ share is US20. You can buy say 10 units and pay US200 + transaction fees.

Selling and buying is just a click of a button. The trading acct will provide you with tools like streamer that allow you to view the shares price live and online. You can set it to your targeted shares. For me, I am long term investor, I do not do any short selling. I buy and keep. However if the shares go up to a certain threshold, I may sell. Some shares do give out dividends when the company profits.

You can also set your target price on the trading tool. When it hits the target price, your shares will be automatically sold off. This is very useful especially when you cannot monitor US shares during the night time. Sometimes shares can hit the peak for short period of time and dropped quickly.

Lastly when you have profited and want to transfer money back, you can use wire transfer to bring money home to any local banks. You need to request your local bank swift code or ABA routing number. All local banks have it. In your trading account, you need to fill up your wire transfer information with ABA routing code, your local account number and other required information. Happy Investing.

Take note any investments, there are risks. Before diving into an investment, do your research. There are message boards (aka forum) from Yahoo or any other where a lot of people talk about the individual company. You can gain some information from it. There are also analyst reports to help you with. However it has a lot of financial terms which is difficult to digest.