5 Easy Steps. How to Buy Stocks Online
Brokers, Accounts, and Investing Your Money
With the convenience of the Internet, it is easy to buy stock online, even if you haven't done it before. In a nutshell, here are the steps you take to buy stocks online. Each step about brokers, accounts and investing your money is explained in detail.
- Choose an online stock broker, either a discount broker or a full-service broker
- Open an account with the broker and fill out the application form online.
- Transfer some money to your account.
- Set your goals. You may want to consider a buy-and-hold strategy for long-term investing in stocks.
- Research the market and choose a company stock to invest in.
Choose a broker, either a discount broker or a full-service broker. An online stock broker will execute your stock buy and sell orders. With a discount stockbroker, you will make your own buying and selling decisions, while full-service broker provides stock research and recommendations. Today, you have a good choice of places to buy stocks online, reliable discount brokers and well-known companies like Ameritrade, Fidelity, Schwab, eTrade, and Scott. In the course of my investing I have used all five of these companies at one time or another.
- How much does a discount broker charge when you buy stocks?
A discount broker typically charges a commission of $10 or less for transaction entered online, no matter how many shares of stock you buy or sell. The commissions are higher if you buy stocks using their automatic phone trading system ($34.99) or if place your trade with a live broker ($44.99).
- How much money do you need to buy stocks online? Some brokers may specify a minimum deposit of $500. If you trade options or want to buy on margin, that is, to borrow money from the broker to pay for stock, an opening deposit of about $2,000 is required. Note that you can withdraw the cash from your account at any time. There is no fee to open any account. And there is never a fee to add or withdraw money from your account. However, it is likely that a broker will charge to send you money by overnight delivery or wire transfer to your bank.
- Often stockbrokers have promotional offers when you buy stocks. You may get your first 50 trades free, or you may get access to special research tools as incentive to open an account. To choose a broker, you may compare their commission fees. You also want a broker who can deliver quick executions, especially if you trade often or in shares of small companies. You might want a broker who has an office in your town, although it is unusual to visit a brokerage in person if you are buying stocks online. For your peace of mind, all major stockbrokers also have a toll-free phone number for you, and provide assistance from a live person. Stockbrokers also have apps for your cell phone, in case you want to check your account or buy stocks on the run.
- Open an account with a broker. To buy stocks online, you can complete the online application for a new account, or you can talk to a New Account Assistant for guidance. There are special situations when you are transferring stocks from another brokerage account, opening or rolling over an IRA retirement account.
- What type of account do you need to buy stocks? A standard unrestricted brokerage account is the usual choice. With this account, you can buy and sell stocks, options, mutual funds, ETFs, bonds and CDs, UITs and REITs. You can even trade OTC bulletin boards, pink sheets or penny stocks. But as a novice you should only buy stocks and mutual funds.
If you want to buy stocks online for retirement, you should specify a tax-exempt retirement account, like an IRA or a Roth account, instead of a standard account A retirement account can only be used for retirement funds, and has certain limits and tax benefits. If you don't have one, research a Roth account and consider setting one up later.
- Next before you buy stocks online, decide whose name will be on the account, that is, who will own it and who will buy the stocks online. An individual account is a standard brokerage account with only one owner. If a husband and wife will own the account, ask your accountant to select one of these designations: Joint Tenants,Tenants in Common, Community Property, or Tenants by the Entireties. These designations affect your right to inherit, and determine if the account can be used to pay off an owner's debts. You can also designate a Guardianship or Conservatorship account if you are managing the account for the minor owner.
- No broker will guarantee that you will make money when you buy stocks. However, the stockbroker does provide some guarantees. The funds in your account are protected up to $500,000 guaranteed by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. All brokers participate in SIPC. In addition, if you lose cash or securities from your account due to unauthorized activity, most brokers will reimburse you for the cash or shares of securities you lost.
- Here's how you make money when you buy and sell stocks. When you buy a stock, you buy a fraction of the company. When you sell the stock at a higher price, you will realize your gain. The stock price varies up and down every day, but it doesn't affect your pocketbook until you sell your shares.
- The next step is to deposit money into your online account.. You can do this with an online bank transfer, a wire transfer from your bank account, or a check sent by mail. If your broker has a local branch office, you can drop off your money in person. As soon as the funds have cleared, you are ready to buy stocks online.
- If you already hold paper stock certificates, you may also want to deposit them into your account. On the back of the stock certificate write the name of your broker as the attorney to transfer the stock. Then only the broker can sell the securities, so they can be mailed safely. Now all you need to do is sign your name exactly as it is printed on the certificate and date the certificate.
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