My search for a new brokerage account is on… first stop ShareBuilder .
My ShareBuilder Review
I had an old account at ShareBuilder  that I haven’t used in 6 years, so I had to open a new one. Although, they wanted me to remember my user name and password from back then… and the name of a pet I didn’t have.
After a quick phone call, I was able to recover the password and the representative even offered me a “welcome back” option to upgrade to the top pricing program for free.
Of course, once again, my new account is opened in my maiden name , despite my attempts to open it with my married name!
- Account Minimum: None
- Opening Account Minimum: None
- Account Fees: None
- Deposits: Use electronic funds transfer and the money will be deposited at the start of the next business day. You can also use the “express funding” option to execute a trade without money in your account for a $5 fee for non-retirement accounts.
Trading Fees: $9.95 per online trade, or you can use the automatic investment program. Automatic trades are placed on Tuesdays. You can select weekly, monthly, or biweekly automatic trade frequencies for the following fees:
- Basic: $4 per investment; no monthly fee
- Standard: $12 per month; includes 6 investments; $2 for each additional
- Advantage: $20 per month; includes 20 investments; $1 for each additional
When I filled out the application and selected the pricing program, it did indicate the standard program would be free for the first month; something to watch for if you sign up for an account.
Their niche. ShareBuilder  focuses on dollar cost averaging using the automatic investment plan. You can also buy fractional shares. This would be helpful for my sister-in-law who initially didn’t deposit enough money into her Roth IRA to buy her first share of VTI . With ShareBuilder , she could have at least gotten a fraction of a share.
Dividend Reinvestment. Because of the ability to purchase fractional shares, you can opt for reinvestment of dividends and capital gains.
Fund Availability. Mutual funds are limited to ING funds, but you can buy ETFs and stocks (7,000 available).
Gainskeeper Tracking. I’m excited about the gains and losses tool. One of the big downfalls to having a combination of stock certificates and DRIP programs is the complete lack of tracking the cost basis. It would be nice to consolidate it in one tool, and have the dividend reinvestment portions tracked automatically.
The application process took only minutes. My information was prefilled from the existing account, so it may take a little longer for a brand new account. I’ll sign my husband up and see how long it takes to open a brand new account.
In addition, you can link your ShareBuilder  account to your ING account  so you can view and transfer money between the accounts. I linked my accounts and it took less than 30 seconds. I can now see my ShareBuilder  account from my ING account page, which is nice.
The ShareBuilder  account isn’t going to be the cheapest solution (at $9.95) if you like to place market orders. It’s also not the best solution for active traders.
However, it’s the perfect type of account for my younger family members just getting started, like my sister-in-law. The availability to purchase ETFs, like VTI, once a month for $4 will be perfect…. it might even be a good option to start some custodial accounts for my kids.