How to Buy Preferred Stock

Contributor, Benzinga

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Did you know that more than 1 type of stock is available for purchase on the market? A preferred stock is a combination of both stock and bond and entitles its owner to a number of benefits over an owner of common stock.

Though you can purchase preferred stock similar to how you’d purchase common stock, owners of preferred stock should have a better understanding of investment risk and pay closer attention to stock performance.

How to Buy Preferred Stock:

Believe that preferred stock is the right choice for you? Follow these steps to add preferred stock to your list of assets.

  1. Compare the credit ratings of preferred stock of different companies.

    Like bonds, preferred stocks carry a credit rating that you can see before you decide to buy. Preferred stocks with a higher credit rating will carry less risk than those with lower ratings. To check the credit ratings of your preferred stock, visit Standard & Poor’s global site, create an account, and search for a company using the “Find a Rating” tab.

  2. Compare online brokerage firms and open an account.

    Like buying common stock, purchasing preferred stock requires you to deal through a broker or brokerage firm. There are a large number of brokerage firms that now operate online which allow you to open an account with a low minimum balance and trade. Each broker comes along with a unique set of advantages and disadvantages.

    Consider a number of factors, including trading support, commissions, fees, ease of platform use, and brand reputation before opening an account. Not sure where to start? Check out Benzinga’s list of the best online brokerage firms for a crash course in choosing a broker. 

  3. Decide how many shares you want to purchase.

    Follow your stock of choice for at least a week before you make sure you’re buying at a low price. A common mistake that beginners make when executing their 1st trade is to buy too much in an effort to lower the effects of their broker’s commission.

    A much better strategy is to be conservative, buy a few shares and see how they do in the coming weeks. Purchase more if they perform well. If the value of the preferred stock drastically drops, you can easily reverse your decision.

  4. Place your order with your broker.

    Once you’ve decided how many shares you’d like to buy, use your brokerage’s trading platform to request a buy. Though the specific mechanisms of how to execute your trade will depend on your platform, most brokerage firms have a specific tab or page dedicated solely to buying and selling stock.

    Enter the name of the stock, your order type and the number of stocks you’d like to buy. Your broker will handle the rest and you’ll soon see your new stocks in your account.  

  5. Monitor your stock’s performance.

    Preferred stock is a more stable investment than common stock, so you won’t have to check in on its performance daily. However, you should make time to evaluate your stock’s performance at least once a year and recalibrate your portfolio to remove underperforming assets.

Best Online Brokerage Firms

Here are some of our favorites:

get started securely through Webull’s website
Best For
Intermediate Traders and Investors
N/A
1 Minute Review

Webull, founded in 2017, is a mobile app-based brokerage that features commission-free stock and exchange-traded fund (ETF) trading. It’s regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Webull offers active traders technical indicators, economic calendars, ratings from research agencies, margin trading and short-selling. Webull’s trading platform is designed for intermediate and experienced traders, although beginning traders can also benefit.

Webull is widely considered one of the best Robinhood alternatives.

Best For
  • Active traders
  • Intermediate traders
  • Advanced traders
Pros
  • No account maintenance fees or software platform fees
  • No charges to open and maintain an account
  • Intuitive trading platform with technical and fundamental analysis tools
Cons
  • Does not support trading in mutual funds, bonds or OTC stocks
get started securely through Moomoo’s website
Best For
Active Traders
N/A
1 Minute Review

Moomoo is a commission-free mobile trading app available on Apple, Google and Windows devices. A subsidiary of Futu Holdings Ltd., it’s backed by venture capital affiliates of Matrix, Sequoia, and Tencent (NASDAQ: FUTU). Securities offered by Futu Inc., regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

Moomoo is another great alternative for Robinhood. This is an outstanding trading platform if you want to dive deep into smart trading. It offers impressive trading tools and opportunities for both new and advanced traders, including advanced charting, pre and post-market trading, international trading, research and analysis tools, and most popular of all, free Level 2 quotes.

Get started right away by downloading Moomoo to your phone, tablet or another mobile device.

Best For
  • Cost-conscious traders
  • Active and Advanced traders
Pros
  • Over 8,000 different stocks that can be sold short
  • Access trading and quotes in pre-market (4 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. ET) and post-market hours (4 p.m. to 8 p.m. ET)
  • No minimum deposit to open an account.
Cons
  • No chat support
get started securely through eTrade’s website
Best For
Desktop Trading
N/A
1 Minute Review

E*TRADE is an online discount trading house that offers brokerage and banking services to individuals and businesses. One of the first brokers to embrace online trading, E*TRADE not only survived both the dot-com bubble and Recession — it thrived. You can choose from two different platforms (one basic, one advanced). E*TRADE is a suitable broker for traders of most skill levels, whether you want to buy mutual funds and hold them for decades or dabble in options swing trading. E*TRADE offers a library of research and education materials to help you out.

Best For
  • Active traders
  • Derivatives traders
  • Retirement savers
Pros
  • Sophisticated trading platforms
  • Wide range of tradable assets
  • Exceptional customer service
Cons
  • Limited currency trading
  • Higher margin rates than competitors
  • No paper trading on its standard platform
get started securely through Interactive Broker’s website
Best For
GlobalAnalyst Product
N/A
1 Minute Review

This latest groundbreaking technology is IBKR GlobalAnalyst, a new trading tool that helps investors compare the rate of PEG or price-earnings growth valuations and provide more immediate and comprehensive financial metrics of stocks, globally.

Recognizing that stock selection can be challenging for investors to compare the valuations of domestic and international stocks, Interactive Brokers created GlobalAnalyst to offer investors a simple, yet powerful tool to easily evaluate investment opportunities around the world.

Using GlobalAnalyst, investors can search for stocks by region, country, industry, market capitalization and currency to uncover undervalued stocks worldwide. The resulting table displays the current market and financial metrics, including the PEG Ratio. The PEG Ratio is the PE ratio divided by the three-year compound earnings growth rate, and smaller PEG Ratios typically indicate undervalued companies.

Best For
  • Price earnings growth valuations
Pros
  • Easily evaluate investment opportunities
Cons
get started securely through CenterPoint Securities’s website
Best For
Momentum traders
N/A
1 Minute Review

CenterPoint Securities is ideal for active traders who demand access to advanced tools and services. While investors and casual traders are likely to be content with the basic offerings of traditional online brokerages, active traders will benefit from CenterPoint’s suite of advanced trading tools. If you value execution quality, access to short inventory, advanced trading platforms, and accessible customer service, CenterPoint is an excellent choice.

Best For
  • Intermediate to Advanced traders
  • High-volume traders
  • Momentum traders
  • Short sellers
Pros
  • Unrivaled access to short inventory
  • Flexible order routing for improved executions
  • Discounts for active traders
  • Advanced platform with fast executions
  • Reliable customer service
Cons
  • Not designed for beginner or low-volume traders

The Difference Between Preferred Stock vs. Common Stock

Common stock and preferred stock are similar in a number of ways — they both entitle the holder to a percentage ownership of the company, they’re both bought and sold on the open market and the process for acquiring both types of stock is very similar. Despite these similarities, the differences between each type of stock are as follows. 

Common Stock

As its name suggests, common stock is usually the type of stock you purchase when trading unless otherwise specified. Owners of common stock make the most money when they sell their holdings.

The value of common stock fluctuates with the movement of the market, so common stockholders aim to buy their stocks at a low price and sell when the value increases. Common stock is considered more risky than preferred stock because they are highly volatile and not guaranteed to return dividends.

Preferred Stock

Preferred stock carries less risk than common stock because it receives higher and more frequent dividends. Unlike common stockholders, preferred stockholders receive fixed dividends on a predetermined schedule. These dividends are not subject to the ebb and flow of the general market.

If a company declares bankruptcy, preferred stockholders receive payouts before common stockholders. However, preferred stock may be “callable,” meaning that the company can purchase the stock back at any time, for any reason.

Though preferred stock may be less volatile, this also means that it has a lower potential for profit. Preferred stock options are usually a better idea for investors closer to retirement or those with a lower risk tolerance. Watch the video below for more detail.

Check Out Preferred Stocks

Common stock has a higher potential to increase drastically in value, but it can also lose its value in an instant. Check out preferred stocks or purchase bonds to hedge your risk.

Near retirement? Simply don’t want to risk your savings? Preferred stocks are less volatile and can retain value to provide more security as you invest. 

Ready to start investing in preferred stock? Check out Benzinga’s guide on how to create an investing strategy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q

What is a preferred dividend?

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What is a preferred dividend?
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A preferred dividend is one that’s accrued and paid on a company’s preferred shares. In the event that a company is unable to pay all the dividends, preferred dividends are paid first over dividends that are paid on common shares. Preferred stock pays much higher dividend rates than common stock of the same company — it’s the main benefit to owning preferred shares.

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Q

How do preferred stocks trade compared to common stocks?

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How do preferred stocks trade compared to common stocks?
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Preferred stocks trade the same way as common stocks — it usually occurs through a brokerage firm and with the same transaction costs.

Common and preferred stock prices offered by the same company differ. Preferred stocks tend to be more stable because of their regular income stream and common stock is often more volatile.

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Q

What are the different types of preferred stock?

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What are the different types of preferred stock?
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The classes of preferred stock include cumulative, convertible, callable and participating.

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Q

What are the features of preferred stock?

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What are the features of preferred stock?
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Preferred stock has several components, including preferences in dividends, liquidation, non-voting, callable and convertible options.

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