This look at ShareBuilder, from ING Direct, is part of our series on Online Stock Broker Reviews to help you find the best online brokerage for your investing needs
Sharebuilder is an online discount brokerage brought to you from ING Direct that makes investing both simple and affordable. Their discounted stock trades are available through automatic investments for only $4. As a result, Sharebuilder can help those with even the smallest of investment amounts realize the best return on their money. Dividend reinvestment and fractional share purchase functions work to compound interest, while inexpensive stock trades keep costs to a minimum.
By adding ShareBuilder as a self-directed online brokerage service, ING has continued its steady track record for allowing money management tools to be accessed by people with little or no prior investment knowledge or experience.
Automatic investing puts ShareBuilder in a class all its own. This feature allows you to purchase partial shares if you don’t have enough money to buy full shares of stock. Portfolios that are slowly built up in this way are taking advantage of dollar-cost averaging. Full shares in real-time trading can also be purchased and these orders can be made on the spot, seizing instant buying opportunities. Sharebuilder also provides phone trading, but it is mainly a self-directed online broker.
Sharebuilder offers opportunities to invest in individual stocks, mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs). Over 170 no-load mutual funds are available to choose from and you can either open or roll over a Roth or Traditional IRA into your personal retirement planning account. Options trading, such as Early Exercise, Automatic Exercise and Assignment can be accessed by certain types of accountholders.
There are two pricing categories to choose from when signing up for a ShareBuilder account and they include Basic and Advantage. As the name suggests, ShareBuilder Basic is well-suited to the beginning investor or infrequent investors. This plan provides a free monthly subscription and each automatic investment trade costs only $4. Real-time trades are priced at $9.95. The ShareBuilder Advantage account charges $12 per month to subscribe and allows up to 12 free automatic investment trades each month. After that, all trades are only $1 and advantage members pay only $7.95 for real-time trades. Advantage also offers stock reports, which beyond the bonus of cheaply priced trades, gives you the research you need to make good investments.
ShareBuilder’s No Transaction Fee program allows investors to invest in up to 70 different funds without paying fees. As a ShareBuilder Basic member options contracts will cost an extra $1.25, while Advantage members will pay an additional $0.75. For those who are comfortable borrowing against their portfolio, Advantage members get a 50% discount off of Basic rates, but there is no margin rate discount for Basic members. The price for making phone trades is $19.95 per transaction. Express trading can be purchased at real-time commission prices, with a $6.95 additional trading fee.
ShareBuilder places a strong emphasis on investor education. It offers free search tools like Stock Finder, Mutual Fund Finder and ETF Finder, and there is also a Fund Compare tool. This function allows you to track market movement using Market Mover and to locate the highest rated stocks using the Stock Grade Finder. Watch List will also help you to keep track of any potential investments that you have selected to follow.