Clark is often asked about the best brokers and has compiled his own list of top notch brokerages, based in part on a compilation of rankings from SmartMoney and Kiplinger's magazines.

First up is Fidelity, a huge financial house that has an extremely wide range of services available but at higher than normal discount broker commissions. Expect to pay around $7.95 a trade.

Three firms received identical rankings for second place: Muriel Siebert is somewhat invisible as a discount broker, but people seem to like using it. A typical trade is $14.95. Charles Schwab has a very comprehensive product line as well. Schwab's typical trade is $8.95. TD Waterhouse ranks very high in the magazine surveys, but has been a source of complaints from time to time on our show. Clark has had a small account with Waterhouse for five years and has never experienced a problem. Trades are now $9.95.

With the top four, as with any discount broker, you can buy and sell mutual funds without paying a commission. They're called "no transaction fee fund purchases." But the one advantage to Fidelity, Charles Schwab and Waterhouse is their extensive network of local branches.

If you'd like to read further, you can view the individual magazine surveys:

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to put more money in your pocket, with advice you can trust. View More Articles

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