Quality - is it worth paying extra?
Personally I would say if you can afford it, it is definitely worth it. Allow me to explain
I previously stayed in Singapore (June 2010 - May 2012) working full time as a software engineer. I started to gain interest on investing in late 2010. It was actually trading because like everyone else, I wanted to make a quick buck (can’t help it, with the interest rate is less than 1% in Singapore putting your money in the bank is simply useless). So my fiance’s father introduced me to E*Trade platform. I found the pricing to be the best compared to the other brokerage at that time (fixed fee of $19.99 per trade vs commission based+minimum fee of $19.99). Everything was fine - I made some gains and losses, and even tried short selling (boy, that was stressful).
After reading some books I decided to be a value investor with medium to long term holding instead. Then the next thing I knew Standard Chartered Singapore just started their Online Trading account. For a small time investor like me their fee is really sweet. No hidden fees - E*Trade has quite a few of hidden fees (e.g. withdrawing the cash $60, company merger $20, split/reverse split stock $20, etc) and 0.25% commission per transaction with no minimum fee, I was sold within 2 weeks. The fee is really cheap for me because I mostly purchase $50 - $1,000 worth of shares at a time.
I created a Standard Chartered Online Trading account and started to buy some shares while still keeping my E*Trade account as they charge me extra if I want to transfer my shares - which is really good and I will explain in a moment.
After a while I began to realize things that I had missed from E*Trade. Yes, Standard Chartered Online Trading is for mainly for trading, so no fancy features included which is fine but E*Trade would let me vote for the shares that I owned (not that I own that many that my vote matters but still it is a nice feeling to be able to vote), unable to purchase bonds, etc.
The problem started when I moved back to Australia in May 2012. After I updated my address on both E*Trade and Standard Chartered, Standard Chartered simply disable my online trading account because I need to provide them with the new W8BEN form. I can understand that but the problem is they did not even let me know until I checked my account online (technically they did, but they send a letter to my Singapore address when I clearly stated that I am already in Australia - I am still unable to understand the logic behind it … seriously). In the meantime, E*Trade did not make a fuss about it, I send them the new form and they process it and it was done. I was still able to access my account (before I submit the new form, probably would not be able to buy or sell shares), it is much better than simply having your account disabled.
Few weeks later I realized that when I received my dividends on my Standard Chartered account, I still had a tax withholding of 30% (as an Australian resident I am entitled to have 15% rate instead). So I called Standard Chartered and explained them that based on the IRS form, my dividend should be taxed at 15% and they simply said that they are not able to do anything about it and I must speak with the tax agent. Meanwhile, E*Trade is able to change my tax withholding rate to 15%. I decided that I had enough, I will close my Standard Chartered account and either cash out the shares or transfer it to my E*Trade account (I doubt they are able to do that in the first place).
So moral of the story is if you can afford it, go for quality. It is so much better in the long run.
TL;DR Had two trading accounts, E*Trade and Standard Chartered. Unhappy with Standard Chartered and will switch back to E*Trade
PS - Speaking of quality, I recently bought this Calvin Klein underwear for about $30 (my first expensive underwear)
it is much more expensive compared to my other underwears but the quality is awesome! It is sooo smooth
[Update: just to clarify, when I mentioned E*Trade I meant Singapore/Hongkong E*Trade. Australia E*Trade is ridiculously expensive]