How to Start Online Stock Trading

by Contributor

So you want to buy a few stocks and don't want to pay a lot doing it? Good for you! Opening an online stock trading account is easy, requires just a few clicks of the mouse and a few signatures, then you're ready to go.


Pick an online discount broker. There are dozens of online brokers on the web, but finding one that fits your needs can be a challenge. Do your research, find which broker fits your specifics needs as well as possible, and then open your account.


Complete the registration process. You will be required to give all of the relevant information, such as your name, social security number, address, and other information the brokerage site will ask you for.


Fund your trading account. You can send in a handwritten check, or transfer the money through a wire transfer (with a fee) or a slower ACH transaction (free but takes three or more days).


Mail in the required paperwork (and funds) to the address provided by your online broker. It may take up to 7 days to process your account.


Complete the remaining registration process. Trading passwords, PIN numbers, and other security measures may be involved but takes only minutes to complete. Never share these with anyone, but it is wise to write them down at your home or office just in case you forget them.


Acquaint yourself with the menus and trading screens your broker has created for you. Take their online tutorial or watch any "beginning investor" videos they site may have prepared to expedite your learning curve.


Buy your first stock. Choose the company you want to invest in, input the stock symbol it trades under, input the amount of shares you want to buy, and click "Execute."


  • check Many online brokers have a wide range of transaction fees or inactivity fees, so do some research before you settle on a broker. Zecco, TradeKing, ScottTrade are all brokerage companies that charge low fees.
  • check The more popular online brokers (eTrade, TDAmeritrade) are better staffed and have better customer service, so if you're new to investing and might need some help, they are a good place to start learning about online investing.


  • close If you're new to trading, you might want to stick to well known "large cap" companies. Examples of large cap companies are Wal-Mart and Microsoft.
  • close Some online brokers require multiple passwords for security purposes, so write these down in a notebook and store in a safe place so you have a hard copy at home.

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