The average stock broker gets a commission based largely on the type of service she provides. A full-service brokerage will charge substantially higher commissions than a non-full service one since the client gets extra advisory and research help. Discount brokers provide online research services and technical web support, but its brokers get far less per trade.
Full-service commissions can vary significantly from one firm to another. As of 2013, the commission could be as low as $30 per trade or as high as $300, but the average was around $120. Some full-service firms also have brokers who use a discount commission rate to be competitive with other online brokers. Some also have a reduced broker-assisted commission rate that ranges from $30 to $40 per trade.
Most brokers working with a discount commission online will take $5 to $10 per trade. If the broker isn't rated by Smart Money, that may drop to as low as $1.
To learn more about commission rates at each brokerage, go to a website that evaluates brokerages. These sites will often project monthly commission costs based on a specified number of trades, and will give details of other charges and offers. In some cases, you may find a brokerage with high commission rates will lower them based on current trade volumes.
Many full-service brokerages charge account set-up fees and minimum balance fees. Full-service brokers also have commission free accounts, where the brokerage charges the client an annual fee based on a percentage of the account balance. Other full-service brokers charge fees based on the annual balance as well as commissions on trades.