Which U.S. online discount broker is the best value for money?
Lower prices preferred, but I also like to be able to reach somebody by phone when help is needed. 24 hours not required, but after hours trading is a nice to have...
I agree, Schwab representatives are easy to reach and very helpful. I also like Vanguard for their low mutual fund fees, so I do my retirement stuff with them, but it took forever to get in touch with a representative just to ask a simple question.
Now that they are lowering their rates to 8.95 per trade (effective January 19th), the value for your money is even better.
I am very happy with Charles Schwab. I use both their investing tools and banking tool, but I don't do much investing besides buy more shares a random mutual fund I purchase 4 years ago
I did once need to call in about an IRA rollover and I got a person on the phone immediately who answered my questions and followed up as he said he would.
It is anecdotal, but I am happy with them.
If you have at least $25,000, Wells Fargo is the place to be, as you get 100 free trades per account. I have three investment accounts with them and get 100 free trades in each a year, though I only ever actually use 10-20. i can't vouch for their phone service as I've never needed it, but free is very hard to beat in the "value for money" department.
Update: Apparently in some states the requirement is $50,000. However, they count 10% of your mortgage as well as all deposit and investment accounts toward that balance.
I've never used them myself, but Scottrade might be something for you to look at. They do $7 internet trades, but also offer $27 broker assisted trades (that's for stocks, in both cases). Plus, they have brick-and-morter storefronts all over the US for that extra "I gotta have a human touch". :-)
Also, they do have after hours trading, for the same commission as regular trading.
For self-service type online customers, OptionsXpress gives me far better trading features(like technicals advanced conditions) and tools, ACH money management & scheduling, fullfillment too. $9 stock trades.
I don't know if they yet share Schwab's (their new parent company?) commission-free ETFs getting so trendy nowadays.