Learn how the stock market works fully before starting an online stock account. Having a stock account doesn't provide you with help making decisions about where to invest, how much to invest or when to sell. Therefore, you must be able to make these decisions for yourself.
Know what discount brokers are. Discount brokers are the most common type of online stock account. As their name implies, they do not provide you with stock advice but rather the ability to invest in stocks. Compare several companies for costs and for the services they offer before you open an account. Commissions range from a few dollars up to 10 percent or more of the profit you make, but they may also charge per transaction.
Choose an online stock account providing real-time information and stock quotes. Find out how often stock prices are updated so you have the freshest information available before making investments.
Determine which account offers the features you are interested in. Some allow you to use a credit card; others do not. Some stock accounts provide you with more ability to research information. Others offer consulting services.
Select the best online stock account for you and fill out the application. You may need to send a hard copy to the broker before you can trade. Most allow for immediate access to the markets to trade. You may have to deposit funds into your account before being able to perform transactions, and some accounts allow you to have an initial credit line.