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Best Online Brokerage

The good news for today’s traders is that there is certainly no shortage of online brokers from which to choose. The bad news is, with so many options, it can be difficult to know which broker is the best. While it may take a bit of digging to find the right fit for you, choosing the best broker is an important part of being a successful trader or investor.

Quick look – Best Online Brokerages

Each trader is different and is looking for different tools and resources in a broker. Once you know what you’re looking for, the breakdown below can serve as a helpful guide for finding the best broker for you based on your trading type, skill level, and financial situation.

 

Why an online broker (over a real, live money manager)?

For the right investor, there may be dozens of advantages to using an online broker instead of a personal broker or financial advisor. One of the most distinct advantages to using an online broker is that you are in control of your own portfolio; an advantage that truly shouldn’t be overlooked. The more research, time, and knowledge you have invested in your own portfolio, the better off you’ll be. Nobody will look after your money better than you.

It’s also a possibility that you’ll pay a lot more in fees through a financial advisor (though research is certainly necessary in any situation). Ultimately, however, it’s important to remember that a stock broker/financial advisor is in the business of making money for themselves. Yes, they might be watching out for you, but they’re ultimately watching out for Numero Uno.

Another reason an online broker just might be your ticket to wealth is that most advisors have their clients’ money knee-deep in mutual funds. You just have to do a simple Google search: “average mutual fund expense ratio” or “mutual fund commissions” to know that these percentages are high. Often way too high, compared to, for example, low-fee, low-expense index funds. (Now, it’s true that you can invest in mutual funds through an online broker as well, but chances are that your commissions or expense ratios will be lower.)

What are your goals?

Why are you investing?

Without goals, how do you know what your plan is and what type of investment to dive into? Different brokers offer different products, and your ultimate goals should end up guiding the products you choose in the end.

What do you want your money to do for you? Do you want to build up a secure retirement? Save some money for a vacation to Japan? Save money for your kids’ college education? Make sure you have enough for an addition for your home?

All of the above?

Write down your goals, because those will be what fuels your drive and inner fire. And if you do have some money socked away for something really fun, like for real, a trip to Japan, boy, won’t it be exciting to watch that grow? Rewarding yourself with something tangible at the end of all that hard work is so incredibly, incredibly amazing. It also makes you want to invest more, and more, and more, because finally, you can see what all the fuss is about.

What to look for in a broker

  • Research
  • Trading tools
  • Asset classes
  • Fees
  • Banking services
  • Positive customer reviews

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing your first broker. Consider what type of trading you will be doing. Day traders will be looking for different tools and information than long-term retirement investors will be. Some traders will be looking for research to provide trading ideas for them, while others will be using the platform just to execute trades.

Consider commissions and fees and how they may impact your overall returns. Look for potentially hidden or unexpected fees in particular.

Consider whether or not you will need banking or advisory services. Some brokers offer these services, and others do not. Finally, read reviews by other customers and look for patterns of complaints about customer service or any other problems with the service.

Red flags to avoid

The first step in the process of choosing an online broker should be to rule out any choices that don’t fit your needs. Here are several red flags to avoid.

Account Minimums

Some brokers have high account minimums that could potentially prevent you from opening an account in the first place.

Margin Rates

Margin traders may find some brokers have lower trading commissions but charge a higher interest rate on margin.

Hidden Fees

Passive investors may need to watch out for fees such as account maintenance fees or inactivity fees.

Premium Features

Finally, for investors who need lots of educational tools and research, watch out for brokers who charge a premium for those features. Many brokers offer educational resources for free, and those fees can add up quickly.

How much money do you have/need to get started?

In the world of investing, “how much money you need” equates to the industry standard term “account minimum.”

How much money do you have to meet your account minimum, and which online brokers allow for that amount?

This is a required research area, as online brokers are all over the map when it comes to account minimums. Some online brokers require $1,000 to open an account, some require $500. Some, like TD Ameritrade, don’t have any account minimums.

Common online broker fees

There’s no such thing as a free lunch, and online brokers aren’t operating charities. However, understanding what type of fees to expect and what type of fees are reasonable will help minimize those profit-eating costs over time. Most brokers charge a flat trading commission in the $3 to $10 range for each stock trade. Instead or in addition to a flat fee, many brokers will charge a per-share trading fee for stock and option contract trades. Many brokers have additional fees that can sometimes catch users off guard.

These fees include annual fees, inactivity fees, broker-assisted trading fees, trading platform fees, premium research and data fees and paper statement fees. Each reputable online broker should have an easy-to-find and clear breakdown of all their fees on their website.

Fees aren't the only consideration

It’s always a good idea to keep costs as low as possible. But new and inexperienced traders can end up costing themselves much more in the long run by choosing a discount broker and attempting to trade stocks and other assets without any guidance or help. Wall Street is a complicated place, and jumping into the deep end of the pool without first learning to swim can lead to some costly mistakes.

Sure, it may cost a little more to pay for a full-service broker, but the resources you get from those extra fees can help protect you from yourself as you learn the ropes of trading. After a few years when you’re a trading wizard, then you can make a switch to a no-frills discount broker.

Types of investment accounts

Before opening any investment account, it’s important to decide which type of account is right for you and whether or not your broker of choice offers that account type. Not every broker offers each of these account types, and fees and interest rates vary from one broker to the next.

  1. Cash trading accounts require users to pay for all trades in cash within two days of the day the order is placed.
  2. Margin accounts allow traders to trade on credit, but charge varying interest rates on the margin they use.
  3. Money market sweep accounts automatically sweep all cash proceeds into an interest-paying money market account.
  4. IRA and/or Roth IRA accounts offer retirement investors unique tax advantages.
  5. Custodial accounts or 529 college savings funds also offer unique tax benefits if offered.

Best for beginners

Best For
  • Beginner investors
  • Advanced traders
  • Investors seeking commission-free etfs

Charles Schwab

  • Reasonable fees
  • First-class customer service
  • Library of research and educational tools

If you want to dip your toes into the investing world but don’t know exactly where to start, Charles Schwab is an excellent option for your first online broker. Schwab’s $4.95 trading fee is relatively low for a broker that offers extensive educational tools and resources.

The firm has exceptional customer service, the platform is easy-to-use and intuitive, the mobile app is excellent and users get access to an extensive library of research.

In addition, customers that need that next level of assistance can go to one of the many branch locations around the country.

Read Benzinga’s Charles Schwab review.

Notes for 2018: Schwab’s $4.95 trading fee is still the current trade price. It’s also $0.65 for options per contract.

 

Best mobile app

Best For
  • Beginner investors
  • Advanced traders
  • Investors who want portfolio-building advice.

TD Ameritrade

  • Award-winning standard app
  • Two smartphone apps: Mobile and Mobile Trader
  • Professional-grade trading tools

For traders on the go, mobile trading is the best in the industry with TDAmeritrade, and currently offers clients two free mobile apps. TD Ameritrade Mobile is for casual and newer investors, and TD Ameritrade Mobile Trader is for more advanced traders (the names are similar, so it can be tricky to differentiate until you see the complexity of Mobile Trader over Mobile.)

Mobile Trader features advanced charting, over 300 technical analysis options–the charting tools are the best in the industry for any broker. You can also do paper trading on the app as well. Placing trades is a snap. After typing in the ticker symbol, the app displays a menu for options, news, charts and more.

See Benzinga’s comprehensive review of TD Ameritrade.

Notes for 2018: We changed our vote to TD Ameritrade’s apps as best in the industry.

Best retirement investing

TD Ameritrade

  • Commission-free ETFs and mutual funds
  • Retirement Calculator
  • FutureAdvisor integration capabilities

For retirement investors, TD Ameritrade offers a range of resources that take the guesswork out of building your nest egg. The platform’s trading commissions ($6.95 per trade) are a bit pricier than some other brokers, but TD Ameritrade offers a wide range of commission-free ETF and mutual fund options.

In addition, TD Ameritrade’s Retirement Calculator helps clients track their progress free of charge, and its IRA Selection Tool helps customers determine their IRA eligibility and maximize their IRA tax benefits. Finally, TD Ameritrade customers can seamlessly integrate retirement accounts with FutureAdvisor’s roboadvisor algorithm to take advantage of free trading advice or premium automated trading features.

Notes for 2018: TD Ameritrade requires no account minimum for retirement savers, another plug for using this company’s funds to park your retirement assets.

Open a TD Ameritrade Account here.

The platform provides free research on many of these assets and provides exceptional customer support for traders curious about dabbling in new asset classes.

Best selection of assets

TD Ameritrade

  • Standard asset classes, as well as futures and forex
  • Free asset class research
  • Exceptional customer service

TD Ameritrade has all the bases covered, from the entry-level trader looking for stocks and ETFs to the advanced trader looking to implement advanced options and futures strategies. TD Ameritrade offers stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options, futures and forex trading.

The platform provides free research on many of these assets and provides exceptional customer support for traders curious about dabbling in new asset classes.

Best for research

Best For
  • Retirement investors
  • Active traders
  • Premium research
  • Low fees
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds

Fidelity Investments

  • 20 different research sources
  • Specialized ETF reports and mutual fund fact sheets
  • 30-day free trial

For traders tired of scouring the internet looking for tradable news or fed up with trying to piece together a fundamental picture of a stock one metric at a time, Fidelity is the best one-stop research source out there. Fidelity provides market research from 20 different providers. Users get access to analyst ratings, specialized ETF reports, Equity Summary Scores, and even mutual fund fact sheets. For traders who would like to test out Fidelities extensive research offerings without any commitment, the firm is currently offering non-customers 30 days of free access if they sign up for a guest account.

Read Benzinga’s comprehensive Fidelity Investments review.

Note for 2018: Fidelity’s research is free for all customers.

Best for day trading

Best For
  • Day traders
  • Penny stock traders
  • Forex traders

Interactive Brokers

  • $0.005 per share commission
  • Programmable hotkeys
  • Algorithmic trading support

Day traders have their own unique niche within the trading community, and they have very specialized needs. Interactive Brokers was designed from the ground up to cater to those needs and was tailor-made for day traders. The single most important factor for day traders is minimizing commissions and fees, and Interactive Brokers charges just $0.005 per share for trades. In addition, it offers a wide range of advanced trading features that are geared toward providing day traders with that split-second advantage in the market, including programmable hotkeys, customizable order types and algorithmic trading support.

Notes for 2018: Stock trade fee per share is still $0.005, and options base fee is $0 and options per contract fee is $0.70. The only stumbling block may be IB’s $10,000 starting account deposit minimum. Visit Benzinga’s Interactive Brokers review for a full list of commissions/fees.

Best for options trading

Best For
  • Mobile traders
  • Traders looking for research and data
  • Investors looking for retirement planning guidance

E-Trade

  • OptionsHouse platform and mobile app
  • strategySEEK
  • TradeLAB analysis

E-Trade firmly established its commitment to options trading when it acquired OptionsHouse in 2016. Between the online OptionsHouse platform and its mobile app, E-Trade offers two of the most comprehensive and easy-to-use option trading platforms available. OptionsHouse’s strategySEEK tool allows users to mine market data for options strategies based on customizable criteria. TradeLAB provides options traders a snapshot of everything they need to know about an options trade all on one screen, including profit/loss/break-even points and profitability probabilities. Traders can explore a number of different contingencies before they put a single dollar at risk.

Check out Benzinga’s full E-Trade review.

Note for 2018: Options trades through E-Trade are a flat $4.95 + $0.50 per contract.

Best promotion

TD Ameritrade

  • 90 days of commission-free trades
  • Tiered cash bonuses
  • Earn up to $1,000 for new accounts

When choosing the best online broker, it never hurts to get a big bonus right out of the gate. Lots of brokers offer promotional deals for new customers, but TD Ameritrade has the best offer going. TD Ameritrade currently offers 90 days of commission-free trades when you deposit $10,000 and tiered cash bonuses based on how much money you deposit into your account. Customers who deposit at least $25,000 within 60 days of opening an account get a $100 bonus. A $100,000 deposit gets you a $300 cash bonus. Finally, new customers who deposit at least $250,000 get a $600 cash bonus.

Notes for 2018: If you deposit $3,000 or more, you’ll earn 60 days of commission-free trades. If you have $500,000 burning a hole in your pocket, TD Ameritrade will give you a $1,200 cash bonus and 90 days of commission-free trades. If you have $1 million, you’ll receive a $2,500 cash bonus and 90 days of commission-free trades as well.

Best for buy-and-hold investors

E-Trade

  • Low account minimum, at $500
  • Premium, reputable tools
  • Available 24/7 customer support
  • Can trade more than just standard asset classes

Buy-and-hold, or passive investing, is an “ignore the fluctuations of the market” approach. In short, it’s a long-term investing strategy in which you buy funds and don’t sell them for a long period of time. It helps to know that passively managed funds outperform actively managed funds over the long term, and proof can be spotted in the activity of the markets over time.

Note: The upside to being a long-term investor is that you don’t need to worry about paying frequent trade commissions and fees, so you don’t need to avoid a broker that does charge these types of fees.

Best for margin accounts

Interactive Brokers

  • Charges the absolute lowest margin rates in the industry
  • If you’re an advanced or professional trader, give IB a whirl
  • Fast executions

Buying on margin simply means buying securities without actually paying for them, and yes, it can be extremely risky business. If you’re positive a stock is a “good buy” and want to purchase more but you don’t have the cash, you can borrow money to purchase more shares.

As with anything you borrow, you’ll be charged interest for the amount you borrowed. It’s imperative that you secure a low margin rate. Interactive Brokers is as low as you can get, provided you can afford the $10,000 initial account minimum.

Here are the margin breakdowns, straight from the website:

Margin amount Margin rate
$0 – $100,000 2.66%
$100,000.0 – $1,000,000 2.16%
$1,000,000.01 – $3,000,000 1.66%
$3,000,000.01 – $200,000,000 + 1.41%

For comparison’s sake, Vanguard has the second-lowest margin rate at $7.75% for $0 – $4,999. That’s a far cry from Interactive Brokers’ lowest-in-the-industry margin rates.

Best for low-cost trading

Ally Invest

  • $3.95 per stock and ETF trade for high-balance or high-volume traders
  • $4.95 per online stock and ETF trade (standard rate)
  • No minimums or hidden fees

Ally Invest is excellent for high-volume stock traders who are hyper price-sensitive. Low commissions at only $3.95 per trade ($4.95 per trade for lower-volume traders) exist for not only stock traders, but for options, bonds and futures traders as well. For options trading, it’s $4.95 + $0.65 per contract and $0.50 per contract if making 30+ trades per quarter or for $100,000 balances).

Mutual fund commissions stand at $9.95, a steal compared to a lot of other brokers. For example, OptionsHouse is comparable in most areas (stock/options trading through OptionsHouse is $4.95 as well) but OptionsHouse charges $20 fees for mutual funds.

Commissions on bonds are $1 per bond with $10 minimum, $250 maximum. Treasuries are commission-free and CDs are $24.95.

Margin rates are low as well. For balances between $0.01 and $9,999, Ally Invest’s margin rate is 8.75%, compared to TDAmeritrade’s 9.50% and ETrade’s 9.75% at that same margin balance. For balances at $1,000,000+, Ally Invest’s margin rate is a low 4.25% compared to TD Ameritrade’s 6.75% and ETrade’s 6.25%.

Research opportunities are staggering (in a good way) and trading tools are excellent.

For a comprehensive overview of Ally Invest, see Benzinga’s review.

Best for mutual funds

Ally Invest

  • Mutual fund commissions: $9.95 for no-load funds
  • $0 for funds that charge a load
  • $0 account minimum

Though Ally invest does charge a transaction fee with all of its funds, Ally Invest (formerly TradeKing) stops potential investors in their tracks with its especially low mutual fund commissions. Commissions on stocks and ETFs are notoriously inexpensive as well, and for more active traders or those with larger account balances, commissions can dip as low as $3.95 per trade. In addition, there’s no account balance minimum required, so you’re free to purchase as many (or as few) mutual funds as possible.

If you’re on the hunt for diversification, lower costs and professional management (Ally Invest does all the work for you) these funds take care of their own. If you have a plan with your money (and you should, remember the discussion earlier?) then a mutual fund might be the way to go, as long as you do your research.

Best for futures

Lightspeed Trading

  • Low pricing from $0.25 to $0.60 per contract
  • $100 monthly software fee for Lightspeed Trader, $130 for Sterling Trader, $275 for RealTick Pro and WebTrader is free
  • Pricing starts out at $0.60 per contract, then continues dropping until an account reaches 100,000 contracts in a month, when the commission is only $0.20.

Unique among brokerage houses, Lightspeed actually does offer futures. Futures traders can trade pit traded and electronic futures on the CME Globex, CBOT, ICE US and NYMEX/COMEX with 24-hour market access.

Catering to active traders, Lightspeed also makes sure its clientele remains in the “experienced” category. For newbie day traders or investors looking for guidance on “entry-level” information, Lightspeed likely isn’t going to be the best choice.

Lightspeed’s trading platforms offer professional software for advanced traders. These include Lightspeed Trader, Sterling, Livevol X, and its most advanced software, RealTick Pro. Lightspeed’s website is for entry-level traders.

Best for ETFs

Vanguard

  • Among the lowest expense ratios in the industry
  • Strictly stock or bond funds through Vanguard, keeping it simple
  • More than 70 Vanguard ETFs available

An ETF is an exchange-traded fund, a collection of hundreds or thousands of stocks or bonds in a single fund that is traded on a major stock exchange, just like individual stocks.

Why an ETF instead of individual stocks, or for that matter, mutual funds? Great question. Compared to stocks, ETFs carry less risk. They’re a big collection of stocks instead of a single stock that could be washed away by one market downturn. In addition, they’re lower cost and require much less maintenance than individual stocks.

As for ETFs versus mutual funds, the costs are lower for ETFs. Also, exactly like stocks, you use real time pricing to buy and sell ETFs. Mutual funds can only be sold or bought at the end of the trading day.

Vanguard is the industry’s low-cost pioneer, so it’s no doubt we’ve chosen them to represent the best broker for ETFs. In addition to all commission-free ETFs, there is no minimum initial investment required; you only need to pony up enough money for one share. Also, there’s no required minimum account balance.

Best for customer service

Charles Schwab

  • 24-hour phone support
  • Live chat
  • Email support
  • Advisors and consultation available at 300 Charles Schwab branches

Charles Schwab has always understood the importance of excellent customer service, even in an online trading age. It’s no wonder Schwab’s past commercials and ads have ended with “Talk with Chuck.”

Ideal for beginners, Charles Schwab actually has brick-and-mortar locations for investors who are just beginning their investing journey. Even those who are self-driven investors may need a helping hand, and if a Schwab investor, a helping hand is there.

Schwab prides itself on automated phone services, speech recognition and Telebroker services, which allow you to get real-time quotes on stocks, options, mutual funds, etc. You can place, trade, change and review trade orders as well as review account balances and activity. Through speech recognition, you can cut through at any time by saying, “Representative,” and you’ll be immediately connected to a live representative.

Best overall

Best Overall—TD Ameritrade

  • Three trading platform options
  • Well-rounded service
  • Extensive research and news data

TD Ameritrade isn’t the cheapest option out there, but users can rest assured they are getting plenty of bang for their buck. TD Ameritrade’s $6.95 commissions may be on the pricey side, but it has a $0 account minimum requirement and provides access to 100 commission-free ETFs and nearly 4,000 commission-free mutual funds.

Investors can explore its three trading platforms—Trade Architect, Web Platform and Thinkorswim—and choose the interface that is most comfortable based on their individual trading needs.

Whether it be the outstanding promotional offers for new customers, access to a wide range of asset classes, world-class retirement investing tools or free access to a trove of market research, TD Ameritrade provides every trader with exactly what they need to take on the market.

Best Overall—Ally Invest

  • Competitive fee structure for traders and investors
  • Wide array of investment products
  • Excellent customer support

There’s no question: Low commissions, excellent customer service and low cost professional portfolio management for investors and traders alike allow Ally Invest a prominent seat at the “best overall” table.

As we’ve mentioned in other categories, Ally Invest is excellent for high-volume stock traders who are looking for a deal on commissions and fees.

Lessening the focus on traders for a bit, Ally Invest is also a great go-to option for investors as well, with a robust selection of retirement funds, educational materials and customer service for newbie investors.

Best Overall—E-Trade

  • A comprehensive broker, E-Trade has something for experienced and inexperienced traders and investors
  • Extensive array of trading tools
  • 24/7 customer support

E-Trade has something to offer every single trader out there. Advanced, active traders can enjoy access to E-Trade Pro’s premium tools and lower commission fees. Beginners can enjoy the intuitive, customizable web and mobile platforms, the educational materials, the 24/7 customer support options, and the My Virtual Advisor retirement-planning tool.

E-Trade offers access to an extensive list of research sources, trading tools, expert commentary, banking services and a top-tier mobile trading app is certainly a worthwhile investment for most traders and investors.

Best Overall—Charles Schwab

  • Low $4.95 per-trade commission on stock transactions
  • Resources tailored to those who are looking to beef up their long-term investment portfolios
  • Large scope of products, tools and research

Known for high quality competitive trading platforms and a large selection of commission-free exchange traded funds and no-transaction-fee mutual funds, Charles Schwab is one of the most well-rounded and comprehensive brokers in the marketplace.

Its pricing and selection of no-fee products alone make Charles Schwab a strong broker. The added benefits of a solid and reliable trading platform, as well as a host of research, guidance and investment tools for every client should prompt any trader or investor to seriously consider opening an account with Chuck.

Best Overall—Fidelity

  • Wide array of investment products
  • Low-cost and some commission-free products
  • Excellent customer support

Platforms and tools, including Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro, has some great features. Fidelity’s patented Trade Armor integrates trading workflow with drag and drop order and alert entry with chart, news and realized and realized gain/loss positional information. There are over 60 indicators and advanced studies and charting, as well as tabbed charts, which also allow for up to ten combinations of time, frequency and indicators–whatever combination advanced traders would like to see.

Fidelity can also speak to new and long-term investors, too. Beginners shouldn’t find Fidelity intimidating at all, given its detailed website and easy-to-understand content. It’s absolutely perfect for clients who seek thorough education about trading or investing. In addition, customer service is hands-down excellent.

Compare Online Brokers

Broker Best For Commissions Account Minimum Choose your platform
TD Ameritrade
  • Beginner investors
  • Advanced traders
  • Investors who want portfolio-building advice.
$6.95 $0
Get started securely through TD Ameritrade's website
1 Minute Review

This publicly listed discount broker, which is in existence for over four decades, is service-intensive, offering intuitive and powerful investment tools. Especially, with equity investing, a flat fee is charged, with the firm claiming that it charges no trade minimum, no data fees, and no platform fees. Though it is pricier than many other discount brokers, what tilts the scales in its favor is its well-rounded service offerings and the quality and value it offers its clients.

Pros
  • Superior technology
  • No account minimum balance
  • Excellent customer support
  • Premier data and news partnerships
Cons
  • Slightly higher commissions
  • Can be for more advanced users
Current Promotion

Trade Free for 60 days + Get up to $600 with Trade Architect from TD Ameritrade.

Ally Investment
  • Active traders
  • Beginners looking to start trading
  • Low fees
  • Penny stocks
$4.95 volume discount available $0
Get started securely through Ally Investment's website
1 Minute Review

If investors are on the hunt for a bargain broker, Ally Invest could be the one. With low commissions across the board, Ally Invest (formerly TradeKing) stops potential investors in their tracks with its especially low mutual fund commissions. Commissions on stocks and ETFs are notoriously inexpensive as well, and for more active traders or those with larger account balances, commissions can dip as low as $3.95 per trade.

Pros
  • Volume discounts available
  • Among the lowest fees in industry
  • Good for every experience level
  • Excellent customer service
Cons
  • No commission free ETFs
  • Lacks physical locations
Current Promotion

$3.95 per stock trade for Active Traders at Ally Invest

Fidelity Investments
  • Retirement investors
  • Active traders
  • Premium research
  • Low fees
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds
$4.95 $0 for IRAs. Some accounts may require a minimum opening balance of $2,500
Get started securely through Fidelity Investments's website
1 Minute Review

Fidelity's customized market research for individual investors is unmatched. Fidelity is best for experienced traders willing to make a minimum 36 trades per quarter. Not only does Fidelity offer 24/7 customer support, there are branches nationwide that offer in-person seminars and webinars to ensure that customers are always informed on the latest market research and technologies.

Pros
  • Low cost trade commissions
  • Commission free ETFs
  • Excellent customer support
Cons
  • Platform can be complex
  • Minimum investment balance of $2,500
Current Promotion

Commission-free trades good for 2 years

eTrade
  • Mobile traders
  • Traders looking for research and data
  • Investors looking for retirement planning guidance
$6.95 for fewer than 30 trades/quarter. $4.95 for 30 or more trades/quarter $0
Get started securely through eTrade's website
1 Minute Review

E-Trade is best known for its user-friendly browser, desktop and mobile trading platforms and its extensive research and educational information. E-Trade may not have the lowest commissions compared to discount online brokers, but customers certainly get their money’s worth from E-Trade’s comprehensive offerings.

Pros
  • Extensive resources
  • Full banking services
  • Easy-to-use platforms
Cons
  • Limited access to ETrade Pro
  • Higher commissions than discount brokers
Current Promotion

60 days of commission-free trades with deposit of $10,000 or more

Charles Schwab
  • Beginner investors
  • Advanced traders
  • Investors seeking commission-free etfs
$4.95 $1,000 waived if you set up an automatic monthly transfer of $100 through direct deposit
Get started securely through Charles Schwab's website
1 Minute Review

Charles Schwab is known for high quality competitive trading platforms, a large selection of commission-free exchange traded funds and no-transaction-fee mutual funds. Consistently winning awards with J.D Power, Fortune, and Inventors Business Daily, Charles Schwab is praised for its heritage of innovation, modern wealth management capabilities and customer service.

Pros
  • $4.95 standard trade commissions
  • Powerful research tools
  • Low cost index funds (no minimums)
  • Excellent customer service
Cons
  • $1,000 minimum balance
  • No Forex
Current Promotion

$100 referral award for first-time clients

Interactive Brokers
  • Day traders
  • Penny stock traders
  • Forex traders
$0.005 per share minimum $1 and maximum 0.5% of trade value; volume discount available $10,000 $5,000 for IRAs, $3,000 for clients 25 or younger
Get started securely through Interactive Brokers's website
1 Minute Review

If you’ve got $10,000 and you consider yourself a sure-footed professional trader, Interactive Brokers might a major possibility for you, particularly if you’re adept at navigating tricky trading platforms (can you say 124 option indicators?) or have done more than just dipped your toe a “coupla times” into the complex world of international markets.

Pros
  • Interactive Brokers offers the lowest margin rates in the industry
  • Low pay-per-share commissions on stock trades (up to 1,000 shares) and on options trades (up to 20 contracts)
  • Vast order types options for professional traders
Cons
  • It’s a hefty $10,000 minimum to open an account
  • Account fee charges (including annual, transfer, closing and inactivity fees) and complex trading platform, which can be difficult for beginners
Current Promotion

Lower minimum activity requirements ($3/month) and opening account minimum requirement ($3,000) for clients 25 and younger.

Vanguard
  • Advanced users
  • Saving on taxes
  • Complex financial planning
0.30% annual fee $50,000
Get started securely through Vanguard's website
1 Minute Review

Vanguard Personal Advisor Services combines the best of high-touch and high-tech to help you with your real-life investing needs.

Pros
  • Dynamic Educational tools
  • Thorough Research Reports
  • Large savings for bigger accounts
Cons
  • Not suited for active traders
  • Higher Fees
Current Promotion

None