Benzinga’s Online Brokerage Review Methodology

We aim to provide comprehensive and unbiased reviews on Benzinga to help users understand and learn about brokerage platforms. Below you’ll find a detailed methodology for how we rank brokers in our content.

Meet the Reviewers

Sarah Horvath is a financial writer located in New York City, New York. She focuses on the topics of insurance and investing for retirement. Horvath has written for numerous websites and publications, and her work regularly appears on websites like Robinhood’s news feed and Benzinga.

Dan began writing for Benzinga in 2018 covering topics like stocks, brokers, and retirement savings. He received a journalism degree from Penn State in 2008 and has spent most of his life in the Philadelphia area (Go Birds). His favorite books about investing are Dark Pools, Random Walk Down Wall Street, and Beat The Dealer.

Luke Jacobi, expert trader and CFO at Benzinga, hosts multiple trading and investing shows and has been a Benzinga team member since 2013. Luke’s writing has appeared on Benzinga’s news and Money sites along with Yahoo! Finance, Morningstar, MSN and many others. He has led Benzinga to a top 1,000 most visited US website, the largest distributor of news to US brokerages and 4 consecutive years of 50%+ revenue growth. Luke attended the University of Michigan and in his spare time, he reads and makes snacks.

Our Methodology Scores

FactorsWeight
Usability10%
Services Offered15%
Customer Service15%
Education10%
Research, News and Data25%
Mobile App10%
Account Min10%
Fees5%

Review Process

For brokerage reviews, Benzinga created a weighted scale based on the following criteria: usability, services offered, customer service, education, research, mobile app, account minimums and fees. Reviewers meticulously researched each category and rate based on the following metrics.

Usability Criteria

Our usability score accounts for 10% of the overall rating. We looked at factors such as onboarding time, an easily navigable site and the ability to make a trade with minimal effort and previous experience.

Star RatingAttributes
5New customers onboarded less than 10 minutes
Reviewer can easily navigate the site and find everything necessary to make a trade with no difficulty
Teaches users how to use the platform
Screen reader support enabled
4New customers onboarded less than 10 minutes
Reviewer can navigate the site and find everything necessary to make a trade with little to no difficulty
3New customers onboarded greater than 10 minutes
Reviewer can navigate the site and find everything necessary to make a trade with little to some difficulty
2New customers onboarded greater than 20 minutes
Reviewer can navigate the site and find everything necessary to make a trade with difficulty
1New customers onboarded greater than 20 minutes
Reviewer can navigate the site and find everything necessary to make a trade with difficulty

Services Offered Criteria

For this section, we looked at the number of asset classes that are available to traders and investors. It accounts for 15% of the overall rating. An example of a 5 star platform in this section has 7 asset classes and international securities.

Star RatingAttributes
5Offers stocks, ETFs, bonds, options, futures, forex
Can trade international securities
Offers 5+ account types
4Offers (5/7) stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures, forex
No access to foreign markets
Offers 3-4 account types
3Offers (4/7) stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures, forex
No access to foreign markets
Offers 2 account types
2Only stocks, options
Offers 1 account type
1N/A

Customer Service Criteria

This section accounts for 15% of the overall rating and we looked at the options available to contact customer service, if there were any special services for disabled users and how quickly a customer could contact customer service.

Star RatingAttributes
5Offers text chat, call, email options
Special services for disabled
Can chat with a live person in less than 2 minutes
4Offers text chat, call, email options
Special services for disabled
Can chat with a live person in less than 5 minutes
3Offers (2/3) text chat, call, email options
Special services for disabled
Can chat with a live person in less than 10 minutes
2Offers (1/3) text chat, call, email options
No special services for disabled
Can chat with a live person in less than 15 minutes
1Offers (1/3) text chat, call, email options
No special services for disabled
Can chat with a live person in less than 20 minutes

Education Criteria

The education section accounts for 10% of the overall rating. An example of an online broker that has 5 stars has a full repository of educational materials such as blogs and tutorials, is well organized, connected to both mobile and desktop and offers retirement guidance.

Star RatingAttributes
5Full repository of educational material
Well organized educational content
Connected to mobile and desktop app
Offers retirement guidance
4Full repository of educational material
Decently organized
Either on mobile or desktop
Offers retirement guidance
3Has educational materials
Decently organized
Either on mobile or desktop
Some retirement guidance
2Few educational materials
Not well organized
Either on mobile or desktop
Little retirement guidance
1N/A

Research, News and Data Criteria

For a platform to earn 5 stars in the research category they require customization capability for assets, a fixed income screener, market commentary, options research and access to analyst research. Most importantly considered in the rankings is access to news within the platform that is provided either internally or externally from trustworthy publishers. This accounts for 25% of the overall rating.

Star RatingAttributes
5Has customizable stock, ETF, mutual fund and fixed income screener
Provides market commentary in the form of shows, webinars, podcasts, etc.
Provides options research
Access to analyst research
4Has customizable stock, ETF, mutual fund and fixed income screener
Provides market commentary
Access to analyst research
3Has stock research platform
Provides market commentary
Access to analyst research
2Has minimal stock research platform
No market commentary
Little access to analyst research
1No stock research
No market commentary
No access to analyst research

Mobile App Criteria

For a platform to earn 5 stars in the mobile app category they require the same experience on desktop, ability to integrate between mobile and desktop, available on iOS and Android and is deemed easy to use. This accounts for 10% of the overall rating.

Star RatingAttributes
5The mobile app offers the same experience as desktop
Integration between mobile and desktop
Available iOS and Android
Easy to use
4Mobile App offers a similar experience as desktop
Integration between mobile and desktop
Available iOS and Android
Easy to use
3Mobile App offers a similar experience as desktop
Integration between mobile and desktop
Available iOS and Android
Easy to a little difficult to use
2Mobile App does not offers a similar experience as desktop
Integration between mobile and desktop
Available iOS or Android
Little difficult to use
1No mobile app

Account Mininmum Criteria

For a platform to earn 5 stars in the account minimum category they require a $0 account minimum. This accounts for 10% of the overall rating.

Star RatingAttributes
5$0 to $100 account minimum
4$101 to $250 account minimum
3$251 to $500 account minimum
2$501 to $2,000 account minimum
1$2,001 + account minimum

Fees Criteria

For a platform to earn 5 stars in the fees category they require free stock trading and $2 or less for options trades. This accounts for 5% of the overall rating.

Star RatingAttributes
5Stocks: Free
$2 or less for options
4Stocks: Free
$2 to $5 for options
3Stocks: up to $5
>$5 for options
2Stocks: > $10
>$5 for options
1Stocks: > $20
>$5 for options

Specialties Ratings

For online brokers that focus specifically on one asset class, we created a separate methodology to apply to our rankings.

Asset5 stars4 Stars3 Stars2 Stars1 Star
ForexOffers Forex trading
> 80 Forex pairs
$0 account minimum
< 0.8 PIPs per trade
Offers Forex trading
> 80 Forex pairs
$0 to $250 account minimum
< 1 PIPs per trade
Offers Forex trading
> 60 & < 80 Forex pairs
$0 to $250 account minimum
< 1.5 PIPs per trade
Offers Forex trading
< 60 Forex pairs
> $ 250 account minimum
> 1.5 PIPs per trade
No forex trading
OptionsOffers options trading
$0 account minimum
< $0.65 per options contract
Offers options trading
$0 account minimum
> $0.65 per options contract
Offers options trading
$0 to $250 account minimum
> $0.65 per options contract
Offers options trading
> $250 account minimum
> $0.65 per options contract
No options trading
ETFsFree ETF trading
Has ETF screener
Has ETF educational material
Free ETF trading
Has ETF screener
Minimal ETF educational material
Only certain ETFs are free to trade
Has ETF screener
Minimal ETF educational material
Only certain ETFs are free to trade
No ETF screener
Minimal ETF educational material
No ETFs free to trade
No ETF screener
No ETF educational material
Mutual FundsOffers no-fee mutual funds
No-load mutual funds
< $20 fees
Has mutual fund screener
Offers > 2,000 mutual fund options
Offers no-fee mutual funds
No-load mutual funds > $20 fees & < $40
Has mutual fund screener
Offers > 2,000 mutual fund options
Offers no-fee mutual funds
No-load mutual funds > $40
Has mutual fund screener
Offers < 2,000 mutual fund options
All mutual funds have costs
No-load mutual funds > $40
Has mutual fund screener
Offers < 2,000 mutual fund options
All mutual funds have costs
No-load mutual funds > $40
No mutual fund screener
Offers < 500 mutual fund options

Benzinga Fintech Awards

Benzinga’s Fintech Awards is the centralized hub for finding access to the best and brightest in the fintech space. As Benzinga evaluates companies to participate in the awards we look for innovative standouts and the value-driven impact these companies are creating for their users. We bring in guest judges that span multiple different business verticals that can see the long-term potential that these companies bring to their space.

Click here for a list of the 2021 Benzinga Fintech Awards Listmakers and Winners.

We apply the listmakers and award winners to our content to further give credence to the value these platforms bring to our users.