NerdWallet offers financial tools and advice to help people understand their options and make the best possible decisions. The guidance we offer and info we provide are deeply researched, objective and independent. We spent over hours reviewing the top online brokers before selecting the best for our readers.
There is no single best online broker for stock trading. Are you just starting out and looking for a friendly place to learn the ropes? Really into trading options and futures? Seeking access to sophisticated investing research? A cost-conscious frequent trader? To find a suitable online broker, read on for highlights and links to our in-depth reviews on each.
Merrill Edge offers high-quality customer service, robust research and low commissions and fees. Customers of parent company Bank of America will love the seamless, thoughtful integration, with a single login to access both accounts. Ally Invest may be a deep-discount broker, but its robust trading platform and lineup of free research, charting, data and analytical tools puts it in line with some of its more well-known — and higher-priced — competition. TD Ameritrade makes up for higher-than-average trading commissions with better-than-average service, research and trading tools that will make everyone from beginner investors to active traders happy.
E-Trade has long been one of the most popular online brokers, largely because of its easy-to-use tools. They offer a tiered commission structure that favors frequent traders but can add up to high costs for casual investors. Charles Schwab has earned its strong reputation: The broker offers high-quality customer service, two robust trading platforms and a wide selection of commission-free ETFs and no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
Interactive Brokers is a strong option for advanced, frequent traders: The broker offers international trade capabilities, low commissions and a quality trading platform. New traders might be turned off by inactivity fees, high balance requirements and a lack of educational resources.
Here are more NerdWallet resources to answer other common questions about online brokerage accounts. Do I have enough money to get started investing? Note that many of the brokers above have no account minimums. One easy way build a diversified portfolio for little money is to invest in exchange-traded funds. ETFs are essentially bite-sized mutual funds that trade like stocks: Like a mutual fund, ETFs contain a basket of similar assets e.
But instead of having to qualify for a mutual fund investment minimum, investors can buy and sell individual shares of ETFs just like individual stocks.
Is the money in brokerage accounts insured? Are there different kinds of accounts? What paperwork do I need to open a stock trading account? How do I determine if a broker is right for me before I open an account? Some key criteria to consider are how much money you have, what type of assets you intend to buy, how frequently you plan to transact and how much service you need. Dayana Yochim is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website: Integrated with Bank of America.
Free trades for eligible Bank of America customers. Cons No commission-free ETFs. Minimum balance requirement for active trading platform. Robust research and tools. No no-transaction-fee mutual funds. Cons Higher trade commission. High short-term ETF trading fee. Access to extensive research. Reduced commissions for frequent traders. Cons Higher commissions for low-volume traders. Two platforms with no minimum or fees. Cons Higher trade commissions.
Cons High account minimum Trade minimum for active trading platform. Cons Inactivity fees High minimum balance requirement Complex pricing Minimal educational resources.
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Discounts available based on trade volume. Breadth of research from other providers and own offering. Impressive platform and research depth; low commissions. Top research; two powerful trade platforms; educational content. Large selection; reasonable commissions and fees.
Among largest selections of commission-free ETFs. Discounts for frequent traders; among best platforms.More...