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Online Stock Trading

Investment Style
Tradable Securities
What's most important?
Broker Best For Commissions Account Minimum Choose your platform
  • 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 commission–free for 90 days & get up to $2500

  • 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

  • Intermediate investors
  • Retired investors
  • College students
0.25% annual fee for accounts 0.4% Premium Plan with additional features annual fee for accounts more than $100,000 $0
Get started securely through Betterment's website
1 Minute Review

Offering personalized investment strategies, Betterment tailors customer portfolios based on a host of factors such as goal type, risk tolerance, account type, time horizon etc. The firm focuses on tax-efficient investing at all stages, which is its unique selling proposition.

Pros
  • Built in tax-saving strategies
  • Automated rebalancing
  • Personalized service
Cons
  • Lack of customization
  • Other Robos can be free
Current Promotion

None at this time

  • Small accounts
  • Beginner investors
  • Passive traders
FREE automated investing $100 for regular accounts $500 for retirement accounts
Get started securely through M1 Finance's website
1 Minute Review

The brokerage allows its clients to trade without fees and commissions and takes an innovative approach to portfolio creation. With M1 Finance, everything is about the Pie, a simple way to build a portfolio. You can create custom Pies by selecting your stocks and assigning them targets or you can choose Expert Pies, which are designed to meet certain goals or to give you an exposure to a certain industry. When you pick your Pie, you can also use automation features to set up recurring investments, automatic rebalancing, tax efficiency and cash control.

Pros
  • No fees and commissions
  • Easy to create a diversified portfolio
  • Good for every experience level
  • Automated rebalancing of the portfolio
  • Allows investing in fractional shares
  • Referral program
Cons
  • New brokerage, accounts SIPC protected up to $500,000
  • You can’t invest in mutual funds
Current Promotion

Free automated investing

  • 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

  • options traders
  • Frequent traders
  • Penny stock traders
  • No account minimum
  • futures traders.
$4.95 $200 minimum equity balance required to maintain an IRA.
Get started securely through OptionsXpress's website
1 Minute Review

optionsXpress is a great tool yourself on stock options trading. The Virtual Practive Trader gives the customer 25,000 virtual trading account to test trading strategies and gain experience without putting any money on the line. With customer support from Charles Schwab optionsXpress offers broker assisted trades and a pleathora or educational tools when a trader is ready to enter the stock market.

Pros
Cons
Current Promotion

Customers who open a new account and transfer at least $5,000 from another brokerage earn 50 commission-free trades.

  • 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

  • Great for beginners
  • Lower fees
  • Easy learning curve
0.25% annual fee $500
Get started securely through Wealthfront's website
1 Minute Review

At Wealthfront we believe that everyone deserves access to sophisticated financial advice, without the hassle or the high fees. So live the life you want.

Pros
  • Amazing platform
  • Low fee structure
  • Automatic tax-loss harvesting
Cons
  • No partial shares allowed
Current Promotion

None at this time

  • Mobile traders
  • Traders looking for research and data
  • Investors looking for retirement planning guidance
$6.95 for fewer than 30 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

  • Commission-free trading
  • Bank of America customers
  • High-balance customers
  • Investors who value customer service
  • Penny stock traders.
$6.95. Customers who maintain combined balances of $25,000 or more in Bank of America deposit accounts or combined balances of $25,000 or more in Merrill Edge self-directed accounts can qualify for up to 30 commission-free trades per month. $0
Get started securely through Merrill Edge's website
1 Minute Review

Merrill Edge is a great option for a casual trader and Bank of America customer. The customer is able to log in the their Bank of America account and view their invesments in one seamless step. Merrill Edge has one of the best customer support systems with 24/7 phone, live chat, e-mail support as weel as over 2,000 Bank of America locations.

Pros
  • Seamless integration with Bank of America
  • Self Directed investing options
  • No surcharges for stocks that trade under $1
Cons
  • Lacks no-fee ETFs
  • Dated and Sluggish user interface
Current Promotion

Cash bonuses ranging from $100 for deposits of $20,000 to $49,999, to $600 for deposits of $200,000 or more

If you’ve never traded stocks before, you might imagine trading to be like the old cliché: dozens of brokers in suits yelling at clients over the phone. It may be difficult to picture yourself in the chaos, especially if you’re a beginner.

Online stock trading removes you from the scene. You don’t have to deal with phone calls, broken promises, and mayhem. Instead, you can trade from the comfort of your own home or on-the-go. Like many other industries, brokerages anticipated the need for great online experiences and delivered. Firms created desktop platforms and mobile experiences with built-in trading tools, education, and analytics at your fingertips.

What is online stock trading?

With online stock trading, you’re able to buy and sell securities over an online platform. It takes the place of the traditional method of making phone calls.

There are three types of brokerages. The first is a full-service brokerage, which provides comprehensive services, tips, and education. A beginner may want to choose this. The second is a discount brokerage. They provide their services for a lower fee but do not provide advice or research. The last is robo advisors. Robo advisors collect client information and make trades based on algorithms. They’re usually inexpensive, but will lack the personalized service of other brokers.

These brokerages provide services on the web and mobile applications.

Why should I trade stocks online?

Whether you’re just starting to trade or thinking of making the switch to an online brokerage, there are a few things you should know.

  • They normally have lower fees than brick-and-mortar brokerages. This is because online platforms save the brokerage both time and money. This savings is passed to onto the trader through low or no fees of commissions.
  • Access to the latest trading news and trends. So, you won’t have to pay for another news subscription service. Education can come in the form of live news alerts, weekly news roundups, and more intensive trading guides. Brokerage firms also integrate this information into their platforms, providing a seamless trading experience.
  • Because all of the trades happen online, they happen instantly instead of taking minutes. Over time, instant trades can make a huge impact on your portfolio, especially when trading volatile stocks.

But, if you have a great relationship with your current brokerage or are new to trading and want a more personal relationship with your broker, it may not be worth it to make the switch.

Who trades stocks online?

Anyone from beginning traders to seasoned investors trades stocks online. With the recent improvements in online brokerage technology and lower fees, making the switch to online trading is easy. It can save money and time.

But online stock trading might not be right for everyone. While it’s true that you can make money trading online, you have to be willing to put in the work. It isn’t a get rich quick scheme; you have complete control of your success. If you’re not willing to put in the research, time, and money, you won’t see a return on your investments.

How to start trading stocks online

First, you’ll have to choose a brokerage. You’ll have to consider the following:

  • If you want your account self-managed or managed by an advisor. If you’re confident in trading, a self-managed account is worth the savings. If not, you’ll want an advisor. You will pay more in fees, but it may pay off if you have a great advisor.
  • What types of securities you’ll be trading. You can pick from stocks, mutual funds, options, forex, bonds, ETFs, and futures. If you’re new to stock trading, know the risks and rewards associated with each type of security before you commit.
  • Commissions and fees. How much are you willing to pay? Many online platforms will have low fees, but you’ll need to do the math before you start trading, especially if you can’t commit a lot of money to stock trading. Consider annual fees, discounts for balances, and fees per share.
  • Think about account minimums. Some brokerages offer $0 minimums. Others may have higher account minimums, but more perks. If the brokerage does have account minimums, make sure to look into any penalties.
  • How much market data will you need? Certain brokerages will offer platforms with market data fully integrated into their user experience. Whether you’re a beginner or advanced trader, this may be crucial to your success.
  • What platform you see yourself trading on. At the minimum, brokerages offer access to a desktop platform. Most offer a mobile application. Some platforms are designed better than others, though. Watch out for reviews of clunky, slow, and hard-to-use platforms.
  • Customer support. 24/7 live customer support is the gold standard. Look out for supports via email and live chat as well.

Once you choose a brokerage, you can usually sign up for an account online. You’ll need to collect a few things first.

  • Social Security Number or Individual
  • Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Foreign tax id, passport or visa number if you aren’t a US citizen or permanent resident
  • Proof of identity
  • W-9
  • Your employer’s information
  • Method of funding your account

Now, you’re ready to go. You should be able to sign up through the brokerage’s online portal. Depending on the brokerage, you may even be able to start trading on the same day.

Final Thoughts

Online stock trading makes investing accessible to the masses. Brokerages provide low-to-no fees, user-friendly platforms, and educational content to make trading simple – even for the beginning investor. But you still have to work hard, do your research, spend money, and be willing to put in the time to see a return on your investments.