I was looking into trading international shares from Australia and I found OptionsXpress.com.au.
Their fees are pretty good and I was attracted by the fact they also offer virtual trading. In fact, they advertise for free virtual trading if we open an account with them, but they don't say anything that once the account is created, funds need to be deposited, otherwise they block the access.
So I applied for an account and I started doing the virtual trading. A few days ago I submitted the requested documents and my account has been activated. As soon as this happened, I lost the access to Virtual Trading.
I contacted the Support Live and they told me that I had access to virtual trading when in fact I should have not had and if I want to continue accessing the virtual trading, I have to deposit $10000 into my account.
I am a bit puzzled about their actions. I know it is easier to attract flies with honey than vinegar so I don't know what they've got to lose by letting prospective customers use the virtual trade function and to familiarize themselves with the website and their features. I don't know if I would have funded the account in the future, but I was seriously considering this - provided I was able to check if I have any luck at making some money in the virtual account. It is annoying that I started a competition with my wife a week ago and I was up quite a bit and now I lost all track of the stocks I had.
I'll probably go back again to Interactive Brokers, where I have a demo account. I find their software powerful, but extremely complex for my level. At least they don't block my access to it if I don't fund my account...
Are there other good brokers that offer virtual trading without forcing customers to fund their accounts?