There are some big differences between preferred stock and common stocks.
First, let's talk about preferred stockholders. These individuals have a bigger right to the assets and earnings of a company than the average stock holder. They will be the first people to receive dividends when the company is making a profit. Preferred stock holders will get significantly more dividends in these occasions. The preferred stock holders also get special treatment when the company goes bankrupt. The preferred stock holders will get their share of the profits before the average stock holders. In a worst case scenario, the common people will not even get their share if there is not enough left over.
The dividends for preferred stock accounts are always greater than the ones that you would get from average stock. These dividends are always paid out in regular intervals to the stockholders, unlike the sporadic payouts that are possible under common stock. If you only have common stock, you are at the whim of the board of the directors as to when you will receive your payout. Because of these differences, preferred stocks are often more steady and less prone to fluctuations than their average counterparts. Some commentators prefer to call preferred stock fixed income securities to represent its unmovable and solid nature.
There are even variations of preferred stock available that give the holder the right to pick when they are paid out. This form of stock is far rarer than the average variety. However, it is definitely worth the struggle to find these elusive stocks because it means that the investor can control their income. They can redeem their stock whenever they need a little spare liquid cash.
When you are looking at preferred stock options, you need to look at both sides of the situation. The preferred stockholders have far more options and far more profits than the average varieties. You can earn more, and do so more easily with preferred stock than you can with their average stock counterparts. However, some companies require that you give up your voting rights to join the group of preferred stockholders. Compare the pros and cons before you make any big decisions.