How to Buy, Sell, & Trade Stock Online

by Alexis Lawrence

If you want to try your hand at stock investments, one of the simplest ways is to trade online. Transactions can be completed quickly, and many stock-trading sites have no minimum investment requirements and charge lower commissions than brick-and-mortar brokers.

Sign up with a reputable online trading company. Companies like E-Trade and ShareBuilder offer simple interfaces that make the trading process easy for amateurs. To compare online companies, look through their respective trading screens. The best companies will have an interface that isn't confusing. You may need to open a temporary account to access a site's interface. You also want to check commission structures. Some companies offer unlimited buying, selling and trading for one set price. Some charge a fee for each transaction.

Deposit money into your account. This can be done in several ways, including depositing directly from your bank account or sending a cashier's check. Direct deposit will be the quickest way to get you started.

Buy and sell stocks using the trading system. Most online stock companies have a simple trading system with a search box. If you know which stocks you would like to invest in, you can look up the stock up using the ticker symbol. This code is generally one to four letters and an abbreviated form of the company's name. When you have found your stock, you'll fill out a form that asks for the number of shares you want to purchase, whether you want to buy at the current price or set a target price and other information.

Set up automatic investment by selecting stocks or mutual funds you want to invest in and enter an amount that you wish to invest periodically. You then schedule weekly or monthly investments that are taken directly from your online brokerage or bank account.

Watch your stock. Once you have invested in stocks, you should keep an eye on them. The market fluctuates daily, and checking stocks every day can be nerve-racking. Set up a schedule to check your stocks once a week or less. Don't panic each time the stock dips. Keeping an eye on them will help you know when your stock has had a series of declines in value.

Items you will need

  • Computer
  • Internet access

About the Author

Alexis Lawrence is a freelance writer, filmmaker and photographer with extensive experience in digital video, book publishing and graphic design. An avid traveler, Lawrence has visited at least 10 cities on each inhabitable continent. She has attended several universities and holds a Bachelor of Science in English.

Photo Credits

  • Simon Willms/Lifesize/Getty Images