One of the top discount brokers for high-velocity traders looking to save money on commissions, ChoiceTrade offers unlimited free trades for a $5 a month flat fee. However, investors will not be privy to any managed or robo-advisor options.
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ChoiceTrade - Reviews & Ratings
• Account Minimum: $100
• Fees: $0 commission for stocks & ETFs but other fees apply
• Best For: Casual investors
• Highlight: Great retirement planning tools
Investor Warning: Day trading can be extremely risky. Day trading generally is not appropriate for someone of limited resources and limited investment experience or trading experience and low risk tolerance. You should be prepared to lose all of the funds that you use for day trading.
ChoiceTrade is a USA-owned and operated brokerage firm founded in 2000. Often looked at as a “discount’ broker, the platform primarily targets day traders
And while it’s enticing with its “unlimited free trade” promise, you do have to pay extra to use their software bundle, which makes it less competitive in comparison to other top discount brokerage firms like TD Ameritrade, E*Trade, or Interactive Brokers.
There are a number of trading platforms with different software applications available for expert traders through ChoiceTrade. This is the main reason why it’s not more popular.
To use ChoiceTrade, you definitely need to have a solid grasp on investing fundamentals. It helps if you understand option spreads and have different sources for market data.
Further, you cannot buy mutual funds, bonds, and CDs through ChoiceTrader’s online application, but you can open traditional accounts: Roth IRAs, and SEP IRAs. There are no funding requirements for retirement accounts.
Overview and Summary
- If you want to trade most stocks for $0 commission fees, you can use ChoiceTrade to save some money. However, the “unlimited free trades” is a bit misleading as you need to pay $5 a month and hold a $100 minimum account balance to use the “free” edition of the software. For robust analysis tools and more charting options, you also have to upgrade to a monthly subscription of $29 to $135 depending on what features you want.
- Most of the features are outdated and do not stream appropriately in real-time as they should. It even costs money to get real-time streaming quotes. QuoteStream (basic) costs $14.95 or $29.95 for the pro version.
- There are a limited number of offerings, so it’s best to only look for equities and options trades. In fact, ChoiceTrade offers the lowest rates on options at $0.40 per contract with a $0 base.
- Short-selling has drawbacks on ChoiceTrade because its interface does not update in real-time.
- Customer service is hard to reach, but you will eventually get a response via email or if you call within regular business hours Monday through Friday.
- You can access a 14-day free trial of ChoiceTrade Elite to see how the other half lives. This gives you access to the most robust charting analysis and options strategies on the platform, but it has a cost of $29.95 per month.
How Does ChoiceTrade Work
Over the past few years, ChoiceTrade has made some improvements to their free online platform, but these have additional costs. While it’s easy to sign up and get an account, you cannot access analysis features unless you pay for the RoboAnalyst add-on. In addition, you’ll need to open your account with a minimum deposit of $100.
There are three different trading platforms available through ChoiceTrade, including its web-based platform, mobile app, and desktop trading platform. The browser-based free edition is the best offer as you can pay a $5 flat fee and gain access to option trading, dynamic trade tickets, learning center, and strategy tests.
You can execute trades under the Trader Home tab only, but you probably will spend most of your time on the Research tab, which includes Java charts, fundamental data, and financial information. This could be better streamlined, but it’s a discount broker that has infinite commission-free trades.
There is a limited number of ways to invest through ChoiceTrade. The main focus is on active day traders and options traders. There aren’t many education or robust research tools available either.
It also seems that some functionality has issues, as we were not able to see real-time quote streaming after logging into the account, though it is available in preview mode.
The ChoiceTrade Experience
The ChoiceTrade platform feels a bit outdated and slow. For instance, while quotes are in real-time, you have to manually refresh to see the latest stream. Other data points have a significant delay, and you have to pay extra for real-time streaming.
Streaming data is included in the premium packages, like ChoiceTrader Elite, Direct Pro Trader, and QuoteStream Trader. These have a monthly price of $29.95, $135, and $14.95 respectively. Only the ChoiceTrade web platform is free with a $100 minimum deposit.
You also cannot control trade routing with the basic free account. This means that your trade executions might not be as fast, unless you upgrade to Direct Pro, which costs $135 per month. If you hold $30,000 in your account, however, this fee is waived.
You can customize ChoiceTrader Elite and Direct Pro Trader. However, it takes a long time to get approved for these accounts as you must answer several questions about your income sources, trading experience, investment objectives, and sign off on four different agreements.
In 2018, ChoiceTrade launched its mobile app, which allowed its users to login and view their portfolio, and that’s about it. You can’t set up pricing alerts, and while it does have a Watchlist feature, you cannot trade on it or execute pre-made trades like you can on the web or desktop application. There’s also no streaming data after two years on the app.
Overall, if you want to trade traditional stocks and options, you can save money through their flat fee of $5 and unlimited free trades, but you may want more research and analysis tools, which are only available through the premium applications.
- Straightforward investment options for casual investors
- $0 commissions on stocks and ETFs
- 24/7 customer support
- Great retirement planning tools
- Access to human advisors and robo-advisors
- Higher costs for options traders
- Not suitable for active traders
- Orders are all manually entered
- Underwhelming education and research tools
What Can You Trade with ChoiceTrade
ChoiceTrade focuses on equities and options. Their offerings do not extend to commodities, crypto, mutual funds, bonds, or even futures. Pink sheet stocks and OTC stocks are supported, however.
You can access international trading options through the phone. Option orders have limits to four leg spreads with a maximum of 250 contracts for each. If you want to create advanced options strategies, ChoiceTrade may force you into creating a margin account.
You can use ChoiceTrade for short-selling, and it’s even supported on the free web-based platform. However, there are no suggestion tools or research and analysis options. If you search a stock that is unavailable for short-selling, you simply receive an error message. You can work with customer service to check on availability, but this takes too much time.
In addition, ChoiceTrade requires users to have an equity balance of at least 50 percent of the total value position for all short sales. You also need a minimum equity cash balance of $2,000 for all of your margin accounts, which is due to US regulations. Currently, the margin rate is at 8.5 percent with ChoiceTrade, which is higher than Interactive Broker.
Opening an Account
Both US and international customers can use ChoiceTrade to invest, but US customers have an easier time of opening an account. While the process is pretty straightforward, it still takes about 15 to 20 minutes to answer questions and provide verification documents.
The verification was fast for a business day, but some customers have reported that it takes up to a month to be verified. This could be due to security issues with international customers. For our testing purposes, the turnaround was within 24 hours.
Analysis, Charting, and Research Tools
Much of the analysis and robust research tools are available through the premium packages or as paid add-ons. The free web-based platform has news tickers and a Twitter feed. You can also use the free stock screener tool in the web-based application.
While there aren’t any options scanners with the free ChoiceTrade edition, you can find these in ChoiceTrade Elite, which costs $29 per month.
If you want more analysis tools, then you will need to upgrade to get RoboAnalyst, which is a paid add-on for the free platform. It’s included in the ChoiceTrade Elite and Direct Pro editions. RoboAnalyst is an AI that provides an in-depth analysis of any stock, and you can get new trade suggestions every day.
For those who want real-time portfolio analysis, in-depth reports, and other management tools, you should look elsewhere. ChoiceTrade does give you basic portfolio data, such as a trade journal, trade activity, position monitoring, and margin balances, but you have to upgrade to get streaming quotes and real-time data.
Under their FAQs page, you can find answers to questions about using the most basic functions on ChoiceTrade, like opening a margin account or funding your account. However, education is not a main focus of ChoiceTrade, which prefers users to understand how options work and know what strategies they want to use before investing.
The website does not offer any type of learning center, webinar hub, or other knowledge base to help beginner investors.
Account and Investment Costs
If you want zero-commission stock trades for life, then all you have to pay is $5 with ChoiceTrade. This offers you unlimited free stocks and ETFs with no commission.
However, you’ll be charged for stop, stop limit, GTC, or extended hours trade at $5 per trade. Also note that the stock must cost $1 or more per share, so it does not apply to penny stocks.
To get the $0 commission per trade, you need to have a $100 minimum account balance and trade on the NYSE, Nasdaq, or AMEX stock exchange. The zero dollar commission also applies to ETFs. All other stocks cost $7 commission per trade.
Options also have a cost even if you pay the flat right. This includes $0.40 per contract with a $0 base. However, this is capped at $50 per month.
As you can see, there is a catch to everything considered “free” by ChoiceTrade. While the browser-based platform is technically free, you have to make a $100 deposit to use it.
In addition, if you want simple streaming quotes, you have to pay for the QuoteStream add-on. This includes real-time sales data, more charting options, and mobile app access. However, it costs $14.95 per month or there’s a higher cost edition QuoteStream Pro for $29.95.
ChoiceTrade Elite is the advanced web-based platform with a desktop add-on that has some advanced features not available in the free edition. With a monthly cost of $29.95, you can access more charting options and customization tools.
It can help you visualize your trades and see profitability scores. With more scanners and advanced options customization, you can see how much the free edition lacks in terms of research and analysis.
ChoiceTrade Direct Pro offers direct access software that is useful if you need to set up different sub accounts. You can create fast Level 2 equity trades and single-leg options trade with robust order-routing capabilities. However, it costs $135 per month. This fee is waived if you keep $30,000 more in your account.
ChoiceTrade has not updated their mobile app in quite some time, so it’s pretty simple to use. It has basic features like watch lists, option chains, account management, and charting tools. However, you will probably get the most use for watching your positions and stock lits.
It does not have a full trading experience, but you can select different options and preview to see the trade or select “Trade Now” to put in the order.
Manual Order Types
There are a lot of order types available with all versions of the ChoiceTrade software. Even in the mobile app, you can access the following order types:
- Stop limit
- Trailing stop
- Market/limit close
- Market/limit open
ChoiceTrade does give you even more choices with order time limits, including:
- Immediate or Cancel
- Fill or Kill
- All or Nothing
Much like the rest of the website, ChoiceTrade is also lacking in modern security and login features for the web app and mobile app. The web login is only a one-step authentication, which has some risk. Many brokerages are now using two-step authentication factors to ensure that accounts cannot be hacked.
In addition, the mobile app does not have any Face ID login options or other biometric protections.
Your investments are insured for $500,000, but no negative balance alerts are included.
Funding, Payments, and Withdrawals
You can easily fund your account through a bank transfer. The withdrawal process is not that user-friendly and can take up to 7 days or more to post in your account. There are also fees to withdraw whether you are using ACH or wire transfers.
ChoiceTrade is pretty limited with customer support. You can fill out a form on their website to get email support, or you can call their office during normal business hours, which are listed as Monday through Friday, 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Most online brokers have a live chat option, and some even offer 24/7 support. Since ChoiceTrade is a discount broker with pretty low costs, it’s forgivable, but beginner traders may want to avoid if you are looking for more support and help.
Tricks to Using ChoiceTrade Like a Pro
To take advantage of the “unlimited free trades,” you can sign up for an account and stick to commission-free eligible stock trades. These will only cost you a flat fee of $5 and a minimum account balance of $100.
ChoiceTrade offers some pretty great mobile trading options and robust order types. You can use their mobile app for options trading on-the-fly. The main ChoiceTrade mobile app is free.
If you want to trade ChoiceTrade Elite to see advanced features, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial.
Latest News About ChoiceTrade
ChoiceTrade wants to get into micro-investing and has announced they will be joining the security token market soon.
In 2018, ChoiceTrade partnered up with ValueSetters for consulting and advisory services that are now available through their Direct Pro package.
What Rocks About Trading with ChoiceTrade
ChoiceTrade gets away with offering premier versions since it has a low $5 flat fee and $0 commission fee for most stocks. It’s also one of the lowest cost brokers for options trading. Investors pay $0.40 centers per contract.
The free version of the browser platform offers basic charting and portfolio management tools. For those who want more options, complex trades, test strategies, and ideas, you will have to upgrade to ChoiceTrade Elite or Direct Pro. Each ticker quote allows you to check out relevant charts and compare, and you can plot other tickets alongside it with visual indicators.
The mobile app is pretty robust for order types and trading. You can manage your portfolio, watch positions, and track your stock watch list.
You can customize your dashboard in some ways, such as default trade sizes and which Twitter feeds or news feeds to track, but you need to manually refresh to display the latest data.
Active traders can see several charts at once and set up more advanced analysis with ChoiceTrader Elite for an additional cost. However, it’s time-consuming and not intuitive enough to be worth the cost.
What ChoiceTrade Could Do Better
Everything is not so free or refined in the latest ChoiceTrade platform. Much of the browser platform is outdated and clunky, and you will need to refresh to get accurate, real-time quotes.
If you are looking for speed, then ChoiceTrade is not the best option either. You will have to switch between tabs or manually keep track of what orders you want to make. There is no best price or even an improvement guarantee, though you can select your own routing for orders.
ChoiceTrade is very limiting on what you can trade. It does not offer futures, mutual funds, or bonds, and while you may see some strange news regarding crypto being offered on ChoiceTrade, there is no evidence that this functionality exists on any platform associated with the broker.
While ChoiceTrade does claim to offer “unlimited free trades,” this seems to be just a gimmick. The truth is that it costs a $5 per month flat rate and a $100 account minimum. This isn’t a big issue, but the platform also limits you in what stocks qualify for the $0 commission rate.
You also pay for options, although the cost is quite low in comparison to other brokerages.
Conclusion: Should You Invest with ChoiceTrade?
Overall, ChoiceTrade tries to appear as an intuitive brokerage, but many of the features are clunky or overpriced. The catchy “unlimited free trades” gimmick really only applies to certain stocks traded on NYSE, Nasdaq, and the AMEX, and you don’t have access to a variety of other trade products like with larger brokerages.
If you are a self-directed investor with a winning strategy, you could still use ChoiceTrade’s $0 commission to get the most out of your investments. However, the platforms take some time getting used to, and if you make your money on short-selling, you’ll need help from customer service to complete your trades more often than not.
Through the premium packages like ChoiceTrade Elite and Direct Pro, you can access more tools, but they are not as smart as some of the other brokers either. For instance, you’ll need to pay $14.95 to access the basic robo-advisory tool RoboAnalyst, but these suggestions and recommendations are included with your account on TD Ameritrade and E*Trade.
Finally, if you are looking for information and clarity on how to use ChoiceTrade, there aren’t too many resources or educational articles available. You will have to rely on yourself to learn the platform or call customer support during business hours to get a walk-through.