How to Trade Stocks by Phone

Be advised -- it's generally less expensive to conduct stock trades online. There are times, however, when you might want, or need, to spend an extra couple of dollars to trade stocks over the phone. Of course, there are times when the Internet is down. And there are also instances where the type of trade you want to make is complex, thereby requiring a broker or financial advisor's assistance or advice. Most brokerages offer solutions for these common scenarios and beyond.

Trading With a Live Human

Locate the phone number your brokerage sets aside to reach a broker. You can generally find this on the "Contact Us" or customer or account services page of your brokerage's website. Typically, you can just call the brokerage's main number and wait for the prompt that asks you to press (pick a number) to get a live broker on the horn.

Provide trading instructions to the broker. You can simply tell the broker to buy 100 shares of ABC Corporation at market price. You can also give special instructions, such as a limit order. When you place a limit order, you instruct your brokerage to not fill your order above (for a buy order) or below (for a sell order) a certain price.

Review your order. It's standard protocol for your broker to repeat the particulars of your order back to you. Once you tell her it's good to go, she'll place the order and there's a good chance you won't be able to cancel it.

Go online to check the status of your trade. Most investors have online access to their brokerage accounts. You can check your trade history or open orders to see if your brokerage filled your trade and at what price.

Automated Trading Systems

Call your brokerage's main telephone number. Select the option that connects you to its automated trading system. Not all brokerages offers automated touch-tone trading, but many do.

Follow the prompts given by your brokerage's automated trading interface. Of course, the exact procedure varies by firm, but most ask for the ticker symbol, number of shares you wish to trade and the type of order -- market, limit or other type of order -- you wish to place. Some systems use voice recognition software. Others require you to manipulate the keypad of your phone to input your request.

Verify your order. Submit it. Go online to your account to make sure everything went off without a hitch.

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