How to choose a broker? In our last blog on how to pick the right broker, we covered the very basics: full-service vs. discount brokers, costs and account minimums. Now, with discount brokers in the news like never before, we\u2019ll fill you in on some of the finer details to help you make a choice that suits your trading style and strategy. Today, brokerages are fiercely competing for your money. In 2013, Robinhood shook up the brokerage game by offering $0 commissions on every trade. Finally, we were all free to buy shares of Hertz after bankruptcy or pump-and-dump GameStop to our heart\u2019s content. But there\u2019s no such thing as a free lunch \u2013 or trade. Obviously Robinhood has to make money somehow, and they do so by selling orders to a market maker, namely Citadel Securities, who effectively sets the bid\/ask spread on every trade and receives part difference as payment for ensuring that trades can go through. The point is, free trades are everywhere now. Other brokers followed suit: E-Trade, SoFi, Interactive Brokers, Webull, TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab \u2013 need we go on? With so many brokers offering free trades, the race to the bottom in terms of fees now over. (Though, it\u2019s technically possible that a brokerage could pay you to trade, but that\u2019s an SEC violation waiting to happen.) Brokerages now compete largely through value-added services, many of which are essential learning tools for new traders. Education: TD Ameritrade will literally hold your hand, showing you how to trade stocks on their platform, in person at their offices. Plenty of other brokers, even Robinhood, feature some kind of explanation, graphics or articles to explain the basics. If finance blogs aren\u2019t cutting it \u2013 we\u2019re doing the best we can, we swear \u2013 then these resources can be a huge help. ETFs: Most investors are just looking for somewhere safe to park their money long term. Thus, the rise of mutual funds, indexes, and most recently, ETFs. Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) allow investors to purchase a single security that comprises several individual companies or assets. For many investors, they\u2019re the perfect balance between the ultra-conservative wide net of an index and the stress-inducing volatility of an individual stock. Interactive Brokers and Charles Schwab have designed tools to make this approach even easier, allowing you to compare and analyze ETFs in countless industries and verticals. How to choose a broker? What if you want to keep your options open? Let\u2019s preface by stating that we neither condone nor encourage reckless option trading. It\u2019s often a last-ditch effort when a trader\u2019s all out of options. (Sorry, couldn\u2019t resist.) We even wrote a whole blog about how easy it is for things to go wrong trading options. But if you still want to defy all evidence and logic to take a swing, there are plenty of online brokerages with nifty option platforms to help. Here\u2019s what to watch out for: Fees: Keep in mind that while a brokerage may offer commission-free trading, they\u2019ll often charge a fee for option trades. For example, Ally Invest is commission free, but charges $.50 per contract. E-Trade charges $0.50\u20130.65. Bear in mind that since each contract is for 100 shares, this fee should be negligible for most trades. UX: Is the platform user-friendly, with information displayed coherently? It\u2019s surprisingly easy to misread and misunderstand an option grid when all the data is presented at once. Good brokers will make it clear what\u2019s in the money and out, as well as directing your attention to open interest, greeks and other critical stats. Speed: This can vary wildly even on a single platform, so brokers are often hesitant to present specific speed claims. But if your strategy includes quickly entering and exiting positions,\u00a0 it\u2019s worth your time as a trader to look into how fast a website can respond and fulfill orders. A complicated interface requiring lots of clicks can slow this down as well. Once you\u2019ve decided how to choose a broker, you\u2019ll be on your way to developing a trading strategy of your own. Whether you\u2019re trading futures, forex, options, ETFs or all of the above, fractalerts can be a critical part of that strategy. Every 1\u20132 weeks, we send you trade alerts based on our proprietary mathematical models 24\u201348 hours before we make the very same trade. To find the right fractalerts for your trading strategy tell us about what you trade on our Get Started page.