How to Purchase Single Shares of Stocks

A stock certificate makes a unique gift.
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While most stock trades involve blocks of stocks, at times, investors will want to buy only a single share. Parents and grandparents in search of a truly unique gift might give a share of stock in a kid friendly company like Disney or McDonalds. Other investors might start out by purchasing a single share of their favorite company, then use automatic investments to add to their holdings and build a low-cost portfolio.

Step 1

Decide whether you want the single share of stock to be a physical gift, or a way to build wealth for the long term. If you want to purchase a share of stock as a gift for a child or grandchild, companies like OneShare (see Resources) can provide you with a framed stock certificate in the recipient's name. If your goal is to build long-term wealth and eventually purchase more shares, you can use a service like ShareBuilder (see Resources) to buy a single share of stock and continue to invest month after month.

Step 2

Open an account at ShareBuilder, OneShare or the service of your choice. To open an account at ShareBuilder, just click on the "Get Started" button. ShareBuilder has no minimum investment requirements, and trades are as low as $4 each. With OneShare, the only minimum is the price of the stock, since the service allows you to purchase a single share of stock. Go to the "My Account" section of the OneShare website to get started.

Step 3

Log on to your brokerage account if you want to buy a single share of stock to hold in your account. Go to the trading menu and enter the ticker symbol of the stock you want to buy. You can find the ticker symbol in the stock tables of your local newspaper, or you can look it up on financial websites like Yahoo! Finance and CNN Money.

Step 4

Review the details of your trade and make sure you have enough cash in your account to complete the purchase. Double-check the cost of the commission, since a high commission could add considerably to the cost of that one share of stock. If the commission is too high, consider opening an account at a brokerage firm with lower trading costs or using an automatic investment plan with lower fees.

Step 5

Print a copy of the trade confirmation and keep it with your tax records. You will need this documentation to compute your capital gain when you sell the stock down the line.

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