How to Set Up a Stock Trading Account

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Individuals interested in investments can buy and sell stocks with a stock trading account. Online brokerages make it easy for new investors to set up their own stock trading accounts. It takes only a few minutes, and you don't need any special equipment or software—just Internet access. You don't have to pay to set up your stock trading account, but you do have to wait for it to be approved.

Select an online brokerage to set up your new stock trading account. Some examples include E-Trade, Zecco, Sharebuilder and TradeKing. Kiplinger has an online tool to help you decide which broker is best for you. It's a good way to learn about the different brokers if you are unsure of which one to use.

Create an account with your preferred online brokerage by picking a user name and password. Your financial and personal details are also required. Be prepared to give your date of birth, Social Security number, bank account details, your address and citizenship information. U.S. brokerages restrict new accounts to U.S. citizens only.

Wait for approval of the account. Typically, stock trading account applications are approved within 24 hours if set up on a weekday. Some brokers require the account holder to verify his identity over the phone before the account will be approved. Once the account is approved, it can be an additional two to four days before the account is funded from your bank account. You cannot buy stocks until the account is funded.

Tips & Warnings

  • While setting up a stock trading account is free, there are fees for trading stocks. The fees can range from $3 to $20 per trade and vary among brokerages.

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