SmartMoney magazine reviews and rates brokerages in its August issue every year. This year's reviews named Merrill Lynch (NYSE:MER), Fidelity, and OptionsXpress as the best in the full-service broker, premium discount broker, and discount broker categories, respectively.

The brokerages featured in the Fool's Broker Center were also reviewed and did fairly well. It's important to note that while we often focus on the price of commissions as we seek low ones, there are many other aspects of brokerages to consider when deciding which one to go with. Here are SmartMoney magazine's comments on the five brokerages that support the Fool:

  • Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD): "It's still the mammoth, egalitarian, and happily glitch-free operation it was last year. We were impressed by the fact that emails were almost always returned within the hour."

  • BrownCo, a unit of JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM), "is a favorite among the higher-asset investors and heavy traders. You need $15,000 and five years' investing experience to open an account.... Trades are just $5 and frills are sparse."

  • HARRISdirect was cited for the "best customer service in the discount category" and also received top marks for its research offerings.

  • Power E*TRADE: "E*Trade (NYSE:ET) is vastly improved over last year, and by offering free advice, free banking services like online bill payment, and relatively low commissions, it represents great value."

  • ShareBuilder isn't a traditional brokerage. Instead, it's something of a hybrid between a brokerage and a dividend reinvestment plan (Drip). For those interested in investing small amounts regularly (we're talking sums considerably less than $100, if you want) and who don't need instant execution of orders, ShareBuilder can be a compelling alternative.

Learn more about these brokerages in our Broker Center, where you can also find guidance on how to choose a broker.

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Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.