Posted byBlain ReinkensmeyerLast updated on Apr 24th, 2019 Published Apr 28th, 2017
Investors should know the best online brokers to trade with. Someonline stock brokersare known for their award-winning customer service while others are known for inexpensive stock trades or powerful trading tools. This guide will highlight some of the best brokers available today with tips and advice for choosing a broker.
I spend hundreds of hours testing financial products and services each year. My reviews are honest and unbiased. If you use the links on this page to open an account, I may be compensated. Thank you for your support.Read more.
Here are some of the online brokers that offer investors the most value for their portfolios.
Stock Trades:$6.95Option Trades:$6.95 + $0.75 per contractMinimum Deposit:$0
Current Offer:Trade free for 60 days + Get up to $600
TD Ameritradewas ranked 1 Broker Overall 2019 by m* with its $6.95 stock trades and became the first broker to support 24/5 trading (24 hours a day, five days a week). Its platforms (thinkorswim was 1 desktop platform), tools, mobile apps (Mobile Trading was 1 Trader App), research, customer service (1 for phone support), and education (1) are all award winning.Full review.
Stock Trades:$4.95Option Trades:$4.95 + $0.65 per contractMinimum Deposit:$2,500
Fidelityis best known for its value driven customer experience. Regular stock trades are just $4.95 each and Fidelity was rated 1 for order execution quality, which drives down trading costs even further. Beyond cost and ease of use, Fidelity also finished 1 for research tools. Its Viewpoint articles are top of class and Fidelity is the only broker to offer 12 third-party research reports for individual equities.Full review.
Stock Trades:$6.95Option Trades:$6.95 + $0.75 per contractMinimum Deposit:$500
Current Offer:Trade Free for 60 Days Get Up to $600
E*TRADEshines for its Power E*TRADE platform for options trading alongside its mobile apps. Power E*TRADE has been rated the 1 platform for Options Trading the past eight years. E*TRADE was also rated 1 for Mobile Trading in the 2019 Review*. Like TD Ameritrade, E*TRADE charges $6.95 per trade but offers a reduced rate of $4.95 (options $4.95 + $.50 per contract) when placing at least 30 trades per quarter.Full review.
Stock Trades:$6.95Option Trades:$6.95 + $0.75 per contractMinimum Deposit:$0
Merrill Edgeis the online investing arm of Bank of America (BofA), which is open to all investors, regardless if they are a current BofA customer. Thanks to its Preferred Rewards program, investors can get 30 free equity trades per month with a $50,000 three-month average combined balance, and 100 free equity trades per month with a $100,000 three-month average combined balance. Other rewards perks include credit card bonus cash back, savings interest bonuses, priority customer service, and more. My wife and I have personally been using the program since it launched in 2014 and I have yet to pay for a single stock trade. Its awesome.Full review.
Stock Trades:$5.00Option Trades:$5.00 + $0.50 per contractMinimum Deposit:$500
Current Offer:All-New Pricing. Now Only $5/Trade + No Software Fees
TradeStationoffers one of the most advanced desktop trading platforms in the industry. With its competitive commission rates for stocks and options trading, investors who have previous market experience will find themselves right at home. TradeStations target customers are traders that seek highly-customizable trading tools.Full review.
Stock Trades:$4.95Option Trades:$4.95 + $0.65 per contractMinimum Deposit:$0
Current Offer:Up to $3,500 cash bonus + commission free trades for new accounts
Ally Investoffers investors $4.95 stock trades and banking services through Ally Bank. Despite having an easy to use platform, from my experience, unless you are already an Ally customer, you will find that there are better offerings available like TD Ameritrade and Fidelity above.Full review.
Having thebest stock brokerto serve individual needs is very important for any investor. For example, cheap trades most often come at the expense of less research tools and a more simplified trade platform. Consider these 12 key factors to help compare all stock brokers and ultimately find the best broker to suite your needs.
What does it cost to buy shares of stock? Does the fee change based on the type of order or size of order? To keep it simple, look for brokers that offer flat-fee trades, ie charging a flat rate regardless of the type, price of the stock, or size of the order.
When picking up the phone or emailing a broker, is a well trained customer service representative ready to assist? How any investor is treated as a client is more important to some than others. But, even for those that dont rely on customer support that often, to know that they have award winning service there when they need it is comforting.
Trading successfully is a lot easier when investors have great tools at their disposal. A top stock broker should offer access to a wide variety of trade tools to help make the most of each and every trade. From real-time streaming quotes to last sale tickers, quality stock scanners, mobile trading apps, and level II quotes to name a few. Strong tools are essential for active investors.
Some brokers allow you to open an account with no minimum deposit while others may require several thousand dollars. Also know that some brokers require higher minimums to gain access to premium platforms, functionality, and personalized support.
A good online broker will provide a variety of market research tools. The rule of thumb here is simple: the more you pay per trade, the better the market research (both fundamental and technical) that is provided.
A online stock broker should offer access to not only trading stocks, but also a strong selection of no load mutual funds, commission free ETFs, and complex options. Other unique investment offerings to look for could include direct market routing, conditional orders, futures trading, and forex trading.
Fees beyond trade commissions include inactivity fees (common with active trading brokers such as Interactive Brokers, Lightspeed, and TradeStation) and IRA fees for having a retirement account. While most brokers do not charge predatory fees, its still important to do your due diligence. Just like a bank account, stock brokers also make a portion of their profits off miscellaneous fees.
Funding a IRA, Roth IRA, or other retirement account with no annual fees is an extra perk many online brokers offer. There is no reason why you should pay an annual fee to have an retirement account. If managing your own portfolio is not of interest, all full-service brokers offer optional advisory services as well. Furthermore,robo-advisorsare growing in popularity. Once again, the experience at larger established brokers is going to be superior to smaller brokers.
Larger online brokers offer banking and other financial services. This goes beyond money market accounts and CDs. Checking accounts, mortgages, debit cards, and credit cards can also be offered. The leader in this space is, hands down,Bank of America, Merrill Edge.
Because of the web today, all online brokers invest heavily into account security. SSL websites (look for https at the beginning any URL) are used by most brokers and some are now even offering two-factor authentication (using your phone to confirm a code before logging in). Just like shopping online and choosing a trustworthy website to purchase from, the best bet is to choose a well-known, established broker for your portfolio.
For the active trader, execution speed and fill price are very important. I wont get too in depth here but I have tested many of these brokers and there can be noticeable differences in trade execution times and quality. For the majority of investors, saving a penny per share on a 100 shares order isnt the end of the world, but for active traders it is something to look into. To understand Order Execution, readthis guide.
For investors in the United States this is not a problem but for investors living outside the US, when comparing brokers it is important to make sure they offer service in your country. Heres a good list ofinternational brokersto start with.
If you need help deciding which broker to choose or have a broker specific question please feel free toemail meand I will be happy to help.
To view star ratings, summaries, screenshots, and more for these brokers, see ourstock broker comparison tool.
Also, if you feel this guide was helpful for you please share it on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or email it to a friend. This took many dozens of hours to put together so I appreciate your support!
* The 2019 Online Broker Reviewincluded 16 brokers whom were each assessed within nine primary categories: Commissions & Fees, Customer Service, Platforms & Tools, Research, Ease-of-Use, Offering of Investments, Education, Mobile Trading, and Banking.
TD Ameritrade, Inc. and Reink Media Group are separate, unaffiliated companies and are not responsible for each others services and products.Terms.
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