5 Top Online Stock Brokers

Banking Larger online brokers offer banking and other financial services. The lack of commission-free ETFs and mutual funds can be a turnoff to some investors. From real-time streaming quotes to last sale tickers, quality stock scanners, mobile trading apps, and level II quotes to name a few. Markets rise and markets fall, but there are ways to insulate your portfolio from excess risk. Account Security Because of the web today, all online brokers invest heavily into account security. Both platforms are free to use for any investor with a TD Ameritrade account.

NerdWallet’s top online brokers of 2018

Best Stock Brokers Summary

Both platforms are free to use for any investor with a TD Ameritrade account. The web-based Trade Architect, though often in the shadow of thinkorswim, is streamlined and easy to use.

It will appeal to beginning investors, or anyone who prefers a simplified, educational interface. Its tab-based navigation lets users flip between trading tools and account overview, plus charts, stock screeners, heat maps, and more.

Since the company acquired Scottrade, our favorite platform for beginners, in , we predict it will continue getting better at serving junior traders.

Thinkorswim, on the other hand, is a powerhouse designed for the advanced. This desktop application regularly racks up awards for its superior tools and features — research reports, real-time data, charts, technical studies. Things any other broker would charge a premium for. Its Strategy Roller feature lets investors create custom covered calls and then roll those positions from expiration to expiration. TD Ameritrade has been a powerful player in the online stock trading ecosystem for years.

The flipside to such robust platforms: TD Ameritrade remains one of the more expensive options out there, even with more than commission-free ETFs.

Though its pricing structure is more expensive than some of the other discount brokers, there are many traders who think its best-in-class trading platforms. If you already have a firm handle on your investment strategy and want to maximize your profits, OptionsHouse is excellent.

What it lacks in some of the investor education features that competitors like TD Ameritrade can claim, it makes up with its low-cost, streamlined trading platform. Along with competitive pricing, OptionsHouse has one of the most accessible platforms. Clean design and user-friendly tools help make heaps of information easier to digest. Trigger Alerts lets users set up their accounts to automatically purchase an order based on a particular scenario. For example, you can set an alert to buy any number of shares of one stock if its direct competitor falls by a certain percentage.

Tools like tradeLAB help dissect options spreads, with green smiley faces for the statistical probability of making a profit, and red frowns for a loss. Whether you prefer to trade via desktop, tablet, or mobile, its customizable interface seamlessly transitions between all three — though, admittedly, customers seem to either love or hate the app.

You can sort stocks by size, performance, and even criteria like sales growth or profit growth. Want to sort ETFs by the sectors they focus on, or their expenses? When it comes to research, Fidelity is in a league of its own. The intellectually curious can dive into research from more than 20 providers, including Recognia, Ned Davis, and McLean Capital Management. They cover how to apply principles to your own Fidelity investments.

Charting with Recognia requires a significant trades per year to use, and its Active Trader Pro requires 36 trades per year. Warren Buffett is the best example to hit this point home. Conversely, hedge funds stack management fees on top of trading fees to pay for the time and knowledge actual strategists are putting into your investments.

So what happened to the bet? Buffett won , and donated the winnings to charity. He managed to beat his high-priced peers not because he scored bigger gains, but because he minimized costs. Customers of parent company Bank of America will love the seamless, thoughtful integration, with a single login to access both accounts.

The lack of commission-free ETFs and mutual funds can be a turnoff to some investors. Interactive Brokers is a strong option for advanced, frequent traders: The broker offers international trade capabilities, low commissions and a quality trading platform. New traders might be turned off by inactivity fees, high balance requirements and a lack of educational resources.

Charles Schwab has earned its strong reputation: The broker offers high-quality customer service, two robust trading platforms and a wide selection of commission-free ETFs and no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Here are more NerdWallet resources to answer other common questions about online brokerage accounts. How much money do I need to get started investing? Not much at all. Note that many of the brokers above have no account minimums. Once you open an account all it takes to get started is enough money to cover the cost of a single share of a stock and the trading commission. How can I build a diversified portfolio for little money?

One easy way is to invest in exchange-traded funds. ETFs are essentially bite-sized mutual funds that are bought and sold just like individual stocks on a stock market exchange. Like mutual funds, each ETF contains a basket of multiple sometimes hundreds of stocks that adhere to a particular criteria e. Unlike mutual funds, which can have high investment minimums, investors can purchase as little as one share of an ETF at a time.

Is my money insured? What kind of account? Beyond cost and ease of use, Fidelity also finished 1 for research tools. OptionsHouse has been rated the 1 platform for Options Trading the past seven years. Merrill Edge is the online investing arm of Bank of America BofA , which is open to all investors, regardless if they are a current BofA customer. 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 and I have yet to pay for a single stock trade. With its competitive commission rates for stocks and options trading, investors who have previous market experience will find themselves right at home. However, unless you are already an Ally customer, you will find that there are better offerings available.

Having the best stock broker to 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. Trade Commissions 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. Customer Service 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. Trading Tools 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.

Tips for Choosing a Broker