FreeTrade.com dubbed itself as "the Ultimate Discount Broker" and that is no exaggeration. As a customer, each month your first 20 equity trades (no matter they are market, limit, stop, stop-limit, short sell, odd-lot or OCTBB orders) are commission-free. After that, you pay $1 to $3 for each trade.
It charges some other commissions though:
- Extended Hourse Equity Trade: $10/limit order
- Mutual Funds: $17.99/trade for no-load funds or sell/exchange of load funds. Free for purchasing load funds.
- Option Trades
- Subscription Services (for example, Streamer costs $9.99/month)
The site also ethnically discloses it earned fees from interest income and order flow fees (from market makers and specialists).
As described in the same web site, to achieve this commission schedule, the site runs its business by:
- "[R]educing marketing and advertising costs to little or nothing"
- "[U]sing the Internet for all communications with clients"
- Making sure "[a]ll trades and client services will be executed by and through the Internet"
Also, the site "only accept Individual, Joint, and Trust accounts. We do not accept other account types such as IRA, or corporate accounts." It also requires you to have two years of [satisfactory] experience with discount broker and two years of experience as an Internet user.
I don't have a plan to try it out, but the site is operated by AmeriTrade so it must be a real business.