Focused on active traders of all stripes, ChoiceTrade has four trading platforms catering to different trading styles. The management team has been selected for experience in securities trading and regulation, allowing ChoiceTrade to develop tools and resources to help clients succeed in an ever-changing investment landscape.
ChoiceTrade has positioned itself as one of the more affordable brokerages for active traders. In January, it began offering unlimited free trades on U.S.-listed stocks and ETFs. The per-contract fee for options trades also is significantly lower than the competition's. Because there is no tiered pricing structure for different account sizes, it's easy to remember how much any given trade will cost you. For options traders, ChoiceTrade offers two fee plans - one with a per-trade commission plus a per-contract fee, and one with a higher per-trade commission but no per-contract fees. Options traders can switch between plans as often as once a month depending on which plan best suits their current trading volume.
Where this simple pricing structure doesn't pay off is in ChoiceTrade's margin rates. The brokerage charges a flat 7.45% interest rate regardless of account size, which means it is one of the pricier options for bigger clients.
As with any good brokerage, ChoiceTrade is a member of both the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC). Being a member of SIPC means ChoiceTrade carries insurance to protect customers against loss resulting from brokerage insolvency (investments themselves can never be insured against market risk). ChoiceTrade has also secured additional insurance through Lloyd's of London and other London Underwriters to cover any losses outside of the standard SIPC limits.
ChoiceTrade's security features aren't particularly eye-catching, though they do use both cookies and encryption technology to protect user information. On the public site, only SSL encryption is used, but higher-level TLS encryption is used on the online trading platform. You can also elect to use security questions to increase your login security and limit access to your account by browser or IP address, though no other security tokens or keys are available.
It is important to note that ChoiceTrade does not have a formal policy on fraud or reimbursement of funds lost because of unauthorized account use.
The current free platform is light on features. Built for the DIY investor who is looking for a simple, utilitarian platform with minimal fees, ChoiceTrade has generally skipped the bells and whistles. While the advanced platforms offer a variety of research tools, the free platform currently lacks any screeners, backtesting capabilities, or other strategizing resources. ChoiceTrade also does not offer any advisory services - robo or otherwise - so investors seeking professional guidance will need to look elsewhere.
That said, 2018 will bring changes. Specifics have yet to be released, but the brokerage is poised to provide additional features and educational tools sometime this year.
ChoiceTrade's current rating reflects its lean and mean free platform. As such, it scored quite low regarding features and resources. However, considering the unlimited free stock and ETF trading and other changes in the works, the coming year appears to be full of new developments for the brokerage.
For investors who already know their way around the markets - or are overwhelmed by screens of constantly updating charts and data - the current platform is a functional and simple option. Traders looking for more robust features might want to check back with this brokerage in mid-2018 to see what's been added.
ChoiceTrade's paid platforms appear to offer plenty of customizable bells and whistles, but its free basic platform is fairly bare-bones. While there are a few tools aimed at making trading simpler, there isn't much in the way of in-depth data or analysis. Instead, the platform is designed to be simple and intuitive - one that any investor, regardless of experience, can use to execute trades quickly and efficiently.
What high-level day traders might see as a drawback, more casual traders might find refreshing - that the ChoiceTrade basic platform is simplicity itself. If you know what you're looking for, you can pull quotes, check news and financials, and place trades quickly and easily. The Power Basket tool lets you add multiple potential trades to a WatchPlus list, where you can update or execute trades from one location with a single click. You can also leave brief notes for future reference.
The platform has several shortcuts that allow users to automatically populate trades, set default order sizes, and quickly navigate to other sections. While there are two different charting tools, the comparison chart, accessed through the Trader Home quote screen, is by far the more robust. Users can plot different studies, compare other tickers or indexes, and save chart settings. Potentially the best feature of the web-based platform is the demo account. Potential users can try out the basic platform free, using a paper trading account of $100,000, to see if the product is a good fit.
The free platform's primary drawback is its lack of in-depth analytical tools. While streaming quotes are provided, you must pay an additional $13.95 per month for the full streaming data platform. Without it, all other content is delayed by 15 minutes.
Currently, the free platform doesn't have any screeners or other tools for narrowing down trade opportunities; new developments planned for 2018 have yet to be officially announced. Neither does the platform let you save screenshots of charts or otherwise document your trading and research activity outside of the notes section on the WatchPlus list. While the quote-level comparison chart is reasonably robust, it can't be used to draw trend lines or other diagrams. While you can draw using the Java version of the research-level chart (you get to it through the Research tab rather than through the Trader Home quote screen), this method supports only simple trend lines and can be difficult to use if you're on a Mac.
ChoiceTrade's mobile platform is similarly simplistic. While apps are available for both iOS and Android on the paid platforms, the free web-based platform offers only a mobile site. With even fewer features than the original, the mobile site has just four tabs -- Positions, Balances, WatchPlus, and Orders.
The simple format allows users to quickly check up on their WatchPlus list, pull quotes, check the status of current orders, and place new trades. It has all the basic functionality the average trader would need for simple, on-the-go check-ins and quick trades. Users can place stock, multi-leg options, and ETF trades and add orders to their WatchPlus list.
With whispers of new apps coming out in 2018, however, it's possible that the current mobile site is just the beginning.
Even more bare-bones than the basic platform, the mobile site offers nothing in the way of research or education. You can place trades and check balances quickly and easily, but you can't do much else. There are no additional security features, charting capabilities, or news feeds. In addition, users cannot use the mobile site to transfer funds, so you'll need to be near a computer to top up your trading account.
While ChoiceTrade provides live support from actual brokerage professionals, phone lines are staffed only from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern time, Monday through Friday. You can place extended-hours trades in the pre-market and after-hours sessions, but no one will be there to answer your call if you need assistance. For a brokerage focused at least in part on day traders, 24/7 customer support would seem to be an important feature.
Once again, ChoiceTrade's services are focused on traders who already know the ropes. If you are looking for a brokerage that offers a lot of hands-on assistance or round-the-clock support staff, this isn't the one for you. The email support, however, is very responsive.
The web-based platform offers all the basic research tools one would expect from a free product. It doesn't have any in-depth research or analysis articles, but it does provide a wide range of news items - for both U.S. and foreign markets - as well as analyst ratings, insider trading information, and company information. Users can access annual or quarterly financials, check on SEC filings, and view historical price information for any ticker symbol.
ChoiceTrade offers a decent selection of both fundamental and technical analysis tools, including a functional and customizable chart and ample financial data. In fact, for options traders, the basic ChoiceTrade platform offers a surprising amount of research data. What's more, the built-in (but removable) Twitter feed allows you to select a ticker symbol to keep tabs on. It updates with live tweets featuring the company or fund you select.
Traders who don't need - or want - a lot of additional data or features won't be lost in the weeds with this straightforward platform.
With no screeners, backtesting capabilities, or market events calendar, this platform isn't made for those who want to have their finger on the market's pulse. Similarly, active traders who want to use a variety of tools to find trade opportunities and hone strategies will probably find the current platform lacking. If you want the bells and whistles, you would be better served by one of the paid platforms.
The ChoiceTrade platform's primary drawback is its lack of educational features. While this is something the brokerage is working hard to remedy in the coming year, the current smattering of old blog posts and FAQs provides little information for the new investor. A planned site overhaul may change this assessment significantly, but for now, the platform is not the ideal place for new investors or those looking to deepen their understanding of trading strategies or industry insights.
As previously noted, the current ChoiceTrade platform is built for investors who know what they're doing and just want a simple interface that allows them to execute trades efficiently and cheaply. That said, the brokerage is working to expand its offerings across the board in the coming year. While we don't yet know what those updates will look like, we think it may be worth revisiting ChoiceTrade later in 2018.
While ChoiceTrade does offer IRA investment accounts, it does not offer any banking services or other financial products. Like other lean-and-mean online brokerages, it is focused on keeping costs down and providing an efficient trading tool for investors who know what they're doing.