Online trading has really taken off over the past decade with the advent of online brokerages. The wealth of choice available to traders today is several times better than it was even five years ago, which gives traders a nice problem to have – choosing the right platform.
Largely, what you want in a platform depends on a few different factors, like what kind of assets you want to trade, how much you want to pay per trade, and what kind of investment and trading tools are available.
MB Trading stands for Manhattan Beach Trading Financial Service, a company headquartered in El Segundo, California. There’s not a lot of information about the owners of the corporation or the history of the platform itself, although it was awarded a 4.5-star rating from Barron’s in 2011.
MB Trading offers a good selection of assets for trading, reflecting a trend over the past few years of trading platforms offering wider access to assets and moving away from the specialization model. You can use MB Trading to trade:
- Foreign currencies (forex)
- Mutual Funds
Taking a Look at the Trading Platform
The main platform offered by MB Trading is the MBT Desktop Pro. It’s not the most intuitive platform I’ve seen or used, and the user-friendliness leaves something to be desired. With that being said, the program is quite capable – and it has some of the best trading tools in the game today to play with.
Taking a Look at Fees and Commissions
Another main factor in choosing online trading platforms is price. Trading costs money, and for most traders, differences in fees and commissions can be the difference between choosing one or the other.
Here is a rundown of fees and commissions charged by MB Trading for its various trading methods.
MB Trading offers several pricing plans with different rates.
The MBTR plan offers a flat rate of $4.95 per trade, which is tied with the lowest per-trade rate in the industry (with TradeKing). Additional fees apply for extended trading hours and any order type other than market or limit orders.
For more advanced trading, the MBTX plan offers a per-share cost of $0.0075 plus $4.95 per trade. 500 shares is $4.95; 1,000 shares is $7.50; 2,000 shares is $15; and 5,000 shares is $37.50.
These prices are pretty low, at $0.95 per contract. To exercise options contracts, MB Trading charges a $0.01 per share fee.
$0.95 per contract. MB Trading also charges an exchange fee that varies by exchange. For example, the total fee for a U.S. Treasury Bond is $1.52 per contract; for soybeans, it is $2.77. Any customer who is not a member of a particular exchange is also charged an additional fee of $0.02 per contract.
Margin requirements similarly vary by exchange.
$12.95 per trade, which is lower than the usual rate.
$12.95 per trade.
MB Trading offers commission-free trading for forex and claims to be the first broker to offer such an arrangement. This trading is currently available only through their MetaTrader 4 platform. MB Trading makes its money instead off the spread, instead of charging a fee.
MB Trading also offers trading for 2.50 units of your base currency per 100,000 units of currency traded. They’ll also pay 0.50 units per 100,000 units traded with limit orders. This arrangement is pretty unique in the industry, and is something you probably won’t find many other places in the market.
To open a cash stock trading account with MB Trading, a $1,000 opening deposit is required. On margin, you’ll need $2,000; for an IRA, you’ll need $500. The same rules apply for futures and options accounts.
As with most providers, MB Trading charges for outgoing wire transfer fees, conversion fees, and a high frequency message fee (in excess of 100 trade messages per day, per symbol). This last fee is $0.005 per request. Incoming wire deposits, incoming check deposits, incoming ACH deposits, and outgoing ACH withdrawals are all free for USD based accounts. For other assets, there doesn’t appear to be any unusual or excessive fees that aren’t standard in the industry.
Taking a Look at Education and Customer Service
Where MB Trading doesn’t do so well against the competition, in my view, comes in the areas of customer service and education. Customer service for MB Trading is poor, and when you read reviews of this provider, this deficiency is almost always quoted. The trader education materials provided by MB Trading are also sub-par. If you’re an advanced trader who needs a powerful platform to use and little else, MB Trading may be for you; for anyone else, you’ll have a hard time learning what you need to know – and a hard time finding someone to help should the situation arise.
Taking a Look at Comparisons
MB Trading is very technically sound. You also have access to pretty decent commissions and fees, and won’t pay out the nose for access to its trading capabilities. With that being said, it is a pain to open a new account, customer service is lacking, educational materials leave something to be desired, and the platform itself can be difficult to learn how to use for inexperienced traders.
MB Trading won’t be as cheap as the bargain-level providers out there, such as Zecco but it is significantly cheaper than E*TRADE, Scottrade, TD Ameritrade, and optionsXpress. The trading tools and platforms offered by MB Trading are its strong points, and are probably better for most traders than those offered by Zecco et. al – even if they are difficult to learn.