Anyone from online brokers to robo advisors offer free stock trading for new account holders. And now, with Robinhood finding wild success, you’ll find another new class of online brokerages looking to compete in the free stock trading world. With new brokerages and free stock trading promotions popping up, they can be hard to keep track of.
Every month, Benzinga hunts down where you can trade for free and puts the brokers in the list below. You can check back on the first of each month for more exclusive deals, promotions and other opportunities for free trades. If you’re looking for a new brokerage, it’s also worth it to check out Benzinga’s picks for the best online brokers to compare services, fees, and other features.
Best Free Stock Trading Brokers and Apps:
- Best for Active Stock Traders: TradeStation
- Best for Day Traders: TD Ameritrade
- Best Mobile App: Fidelity
- Best for All Levels: Charles Schwab
- Best for Retirement Savers: E*Trade
- Simplest Platform: Vanguard
- Best for Access to Foreign Markets: Interactive Brokers
- Best for Passive Traders: M1 Finance
- Best for Free Trades: Firstrade
- Best for Beginners: Robinhood
Best Free Broker Apps:
Signing up for an account with TradeStation is intuitive and simple. You’ll begin by choosing the type of account you want, entering a little personal information, answering a few questions about your experience level and agreeing to the company’s terms of service. A TradeStation representative will review your application and open your account. As soon as your account is open you can begin funding your account and making trades.
If you’re new to trading, you’ll love TradeStation’s Simulated Trading tool. Its Simulated Trading tool allows you to practice entering buy and sell orders, using TradeStation’s suite of charting and analysis tools and using your trading strategy without risking any of your own money. One area where TradeStation excels is in education. Though it was originally aimed at professional investors, TradeStation now offers a wealth of education options that brand new traders can understand and use.
TradeStation offers traders a variety of affordable equity and contract trading options. You can currently trade stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, futures, options and cryptocurrencies on TradeStation’s platform. For each asset, you can use TradeStation’s comprehensive platform to inform your trades and screen by your chosen set of indicators.
2. TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade offers the best of both worlds. On one hand, 0-commission trading and a vast library of educational articles and videos make TD Ameritrade ideal for a new investor’s first brokerage account. On the other hand, technology like the Thinkorswim platform gives accomplished traders the tools needed to pull off labyrinthine options trades or sell livestock futures at 3 a.m.
TD Ameritrade has developed a user-friendly platform and tries to appease investors of all shapes and sizes. From account signup to trade execution, the process is smooth and painless. New accounts can be opened in minutes and a variety of different options are available, including retirement vehicles like Roth IRAs and custodial accounts like UTMA/UGMA and 529 plans.
TD Ameritrade has several ways to get in contact with their support staff. The easiest way to get in touch is via phone. Ameritrade offers 24/7 phone support for both new and existing clients. Finding an exact email address is difficult though — you’ll just be directed to a form located on the website, which means a back-and-forth email conversation is difficult. Text support is also available, but live chat options only occur during normal working hours.
Fidelity’s brokerage platform is easy-to-use and beginner-friendly. Casual and retirement investors can place buy and sell orders directly from their browsers or mobile app, while more involved traders will enjoy using Fidelity’s Active Trader Pro downloadable desktop trading platform.
The Active Trader Pro is comprehensive and easy enough that even beginner traders will quickly be able to get a hang of how to use the platform’s many tools. The tool includes pre-built market shortcuts that you can use to immediately start making more informed trades, including hot keys, watch lists and other news and research tools.
You can even customize your layout by choosing your preferred colors and font size. For traders with visual impairments, this minor customization feature can make a huge difference in comfort and usability.
Fidelity offers access to the full U.S. stock market, as well as 25 international markets. Buy, sell and trade stocks and ETFs with $0 commissions. Fidelity also offers a wide range of bonds, stock and factor ETFs with no fees. Finally, Fidelity offers access to over 10,000 mutual funds, 3,300 of which are commission-free.
4. Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab’s primary desktop trading application, StreetSmart Edge, is a customizable trading platform you can use to chart, track and place informed trades. The platform is responsive, updating market data on a second-by-second basis. StreetSmart Edge is completely customizable. You can set individual stocks, funds or watchlists to populate immediately when you load up your app. You can also customize your layout by dragging and dropping different windows into specific areas of your screen.
Charles Schwab offers traders both online and in-app education tools you can use to improve your trading strategies and learn how to more effectively save for retirement. Let’s take a look at 3 unique education tools offered by Charles Schwab
Charles Schwab offers you full access to the U.S. stock market, allowing you to buy and sell over 11,000 stocks and 2,000 ETFs with no commissions. Charles Schwab’s SmartStreet Edge includes a number of screening tools, including average expert rating, daily movement, average daily trading volume, price, beta rating and much more. In addition to U.S.-based equities, traders can also invest in 30 foreign markets and a separate set of screening tools are available for foreign and developing markets. Charles Schwab also offers access to over 3,000 mutual funds — though few funds come with $0 commissions.
E*TRADE leverages multiple platforms, 2 different mobile apps and a variety of account types and financial services to provide an inclusive brokerage experience. Most brokers aim their platform toward a specific type of investor, but ETRADE offers a little something for everyone. Does this overburden the trading system? Not at all.
E*TRADE offers 3 main avenues for providing clients with research and education to improve not only their trading acumen, but to better understand investing and markets. E*TRADE will walk you through the process of trading on their platform in a way no other broker does.
Stocks, ETFs, and (most) mutual funds are free to trade on E*TRADE, but that doesn’t stand out much anymore. Mutual fund and ETF screeners are also free, even if you don’t have an E*TRADE account. Search through over 2,300 ETFs and 9,000 mutual funds, sorted by asset allocation, leverage, expense ratio, Morningstar rating and more. Use the advanced search feature to look for securities based on risk profiles and technical indicators. E*TRADE’s standard E*TRADE mobile app and Power E*TRADE are free to clients on both iOS and Android, but they serve different purposes. E*TRADE Web mobile is aimed at the buy-and-hold, “set-and-forget-it” type of investor, while Power E*TRADE mobile seeks out the day trading and derivatives crowds.
Vanguard was the first to offer low-commission trading on inexpensive index funds based on consumer-friendly investment principles. Day traders might not find Vanguard’s old-school style appealing, but retirement savers, buy-and-hold investors and companies that seek employer-sponsored programs might want to take a gander. Vanguard is a sensible choice for common-sense investment advice and efficient products. It’s a company that sticks to the morals of its hardy pioneer, Jack Bogle.
Vanguard is the right place to be if investing is new and scary to you. The company offers a host of step-by-step guides to inform and educate clients about proper investment practices. Vanguard takes its fiduciary duty very seriously — you won’t be pushed into expensive investment products that benefit a salesperson more than you.
Vanguard offers a wealth of education and research materials, including some of the most in-depth reports on retirement planning you’ll find. Vanguard has the process down pat — an automated system asks about your retirement goals and makes suggestions pertinent to your situation. (In a way, Vanguard was the first robo-advisor.)
Vanguard’s customer service reps are helpful and dedicated to serving clients. However, Vanguard’s contact methods are a bit outdated. Email support can only be reached with an active account and phone support is only available during the week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Text and chat support options are also unavailable. Vanguard’s ahead of the curve in so many ways — but its customer support structure could use a facelift.
7. Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers (IBKR) is a comprehensive trading platform that gives you access to a massive range of securities at affordable prices. With access to over 125 global markets, you can buy assets from all around the world from the comfort of your home or office. Options, futures, forex and fund trading are also available — and most traders won’t pay a commission on any purchase or sale. IBKR is geared primarily toward experienced investors. The platform offers limited assistance and can be a challenge for new users to become acclimated to. The broker’s tiered pricing strategy can also be frustrating for traders who focus on hourly or daily price movements.
IBKR has always been a top choice for professional brokers, but its new IBKR Lite accounts can appeal to new investors looking to test the waters of trading. However, IBKR still maintains its host of professional tools and charting software. Outside of its trading platform, Interactive Brokers offers a wide range of educational tools and resources you can use to learn more about trading. Let’s take a look at a few of the free resources it offers to help you learn more about the markets.
Interactive Brokers offers trades full access to the U.S. stock market on both its Pro and Lite platforms. You can even access stocks listed on European and Asian stock exchanges to buy and sell foreign securities. Most traders will pay $0 on all of their commissions, but high-value Pro account holders may pay a fraction of 1 cent per share.
8. M1 Finance
M1 Finance uses Pies, which allow you to show your holdings as slices of a pie. All you need to do is assign a percentage to each slice, fund your Pie and you have a portfolio of stocks. You also have the option to take advantage of M1’s ‘Expert Pies’ feature. M1 Finance has an in-house asset management team for those who prefer to invest passively but maximize returns. This feature is great for investors who are transitioning from a robo-advisor.
M1 really introduces something more than passive investing and other brokers might adopt the same or similar concept. Its strategy is based on a vision of its founder, who believes that in the future customers are not going to compare brokers based on fees. Instead, they are going to compare platforms. If this vision becomes a reality, investing is going to become more approachable and a lot more fun for retail investors.
It is difficult to diversify small accounts if you are trading with brokerage firms that allow only whole shares investing. M1 Finance offers fractional shares investing. When you receive a dividend or when you add a small amount of money to your account, you don’t have to wait until you have enough to buy a whole share. M1 allows you to put your money to work immediately.
Firstrade’s platform offers the following:
- Manage and trade from one screen
- Adjustable layouts
- Customizable widgets
- Advanced technical charting
- Helpful graphs
- Position simulator
- Guides and podcast available for education purposes
You can monitor your portfolio’s performance easily with the Firstrade mobile trading app, which offers a more dexterous option compared to a desktop. You’ll be exposed to a touch ID screen for iOS devices, equity ratings and fundamental data, advanced charts, comprehensive dashboard and improved research and trading interface.
Firstrade offers varied customer service options, including live chat with a registered customer service representative Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET, or you can use the Firstrade Chatbot (named Sammi), which is available 24/7.
Robinhood is the broker for traders who want a simple, easy-to-understand layout without all the bells and whistles other brokers offer. Though its trading options and account types are limited, even an absolute beginner can quickly master Robinhood’s intuitive and streamlined platform. On the other hand, more advanced traders might be frustrated by Robinhood’s lack of technical analysis tools, a feature that’s now nearly universal across other platforms.
Robinhood only offers basic research tools. Though the brokerage has been making an effort to improve its options in recent months, the level of fundamental and technical analysis tools still pale in comparison to almost every other competing broker. Robinhood gives traders access to the U.S. equity markets, so you can buy and sell over 5,000 individual stocks and ETFs. You can also buy and sell over 250 stocks listed on foreign exchanges — though the platform doesn’t give you access to full foreign markets like some competitors. All trades are made with $0 commissions, whether you’re using Robinhood Gold or a standard Robinhood account.
One of Robinhood’s strongest assets is its mobile app. Like the desktop platform, Robinhood’s mobile app is streamlined, so even new traders can quickly buy and sell on the go.
Every Commission-Free Stock Trading Broker App
With Robinhood’s ever-increasing popularity, you may be curious where else you can trade stocks for free. Luckily, there are a number of new online brokers and robo advisors that offer free stock trading.
Robo advisors, like Acorns and Wisebanyan, offer managed accounts with zero commissions and low account minimums. These may be a great option for you if you’re looking to venture in the investing world and have goals, but might be too intimidated to pick your investments.
Other online brokers that offer self-directed trading accounts, like Webull, M1 Finance, Firstrade, and Matador, give you the power to make their own trading decisions. These brokers aren’t bare-bones, either. They’re equipped with news feeds, great mobile experiences and investor education.
All Free Stock Trading Promotions for New Account Holders
While some brokers are completely free, a number of larger, more traditional online brokers offer free trades through other means. These free trades or cash bonuses through promotions for new customers or commission-free electronic funds transfers (ETFs) for the life of the account.
The first offer is free stock trading for new account holders. The free stock trading windows will last anywhere from 2-6 months. While the free trading period doesn’t last forever, it can help users learn the platform, take time to absorb educational content and get more comfortable executing trades. After the period is up, account holders will be charged the standard commission rates.
Some brokers may even offer cash bonuses for initial deposits. Some brokers, like Ally Invest, will offer up to $3,500 for a large deposit. The bigger your deposit, the higher the cash bonus. The bonuses are usually deposited directly into your account.
Outside of the two offers above, many brokers offer commission-free ETFs from iShares, Wisdom Tree and other popular ETF providers. In some cases, ETF fees can be as high as $20, so the savings can make a serious impact over time.