Finding the right investment broker can be difficult, especially if you’re an investing novice who isn’t sure what features you will need. Should you be looking for the best online brokerage specifically or just the best stock broker overall? Are the best brokerage firms the ones offering the best brokerage promotions or do lower annual costs trump up-front perks? And how do you weigh all of these factors against each other?
Fortunately for you, the GOBankingRates Best Brokers ranking has combed through all your brokerage options, analyzing commissions, fees, customer service options and various features to determine which of these firms represent the best investment brokers for your money.
Here are the best investment brokers:
- Ally Invest
- Charles Schwab
- TD Ameritrade
The Best Investment Brokers
Here’s a closer look at the fees and commissions associated with the Best Investment Brokers:
|The Best Investment Brokers|
|Broker||Stock Trade||Bonds||Mutual Funds Fee (No-Load)||Minimum Opening Balance|
|TD Ameritrade||$6.95||On a net yield basis*||$49.99||None|
|Information accurate as of August 1, 2018. *The price of bond commissions are folded into the yields as they’re quoted on the site.|
Few things matter more when selecting an investment brokerage than how much of your hard-earned money will go to it in fees and commissions rather than earning you returns and building your nest egg. However, that doesn’t mean that paying a little more in fees won’t be worth it to secure features and services that help you increase how fast your money is growing or even just help you understand your investments better.
Balancing these different factors will ultimately depend on your personal investment plan, so be careful to consider each broker through the filter of your needs.
Fidelity keeps costs to a minimum with the lowest per-trade fees on offer for stocks. What’s more, with no opening account minimum and free trading on mutual funds, it’s especially easy for a beginning investor to get started even with modest savings, making it the Best Investment Broker overall.
Fidelity offers research and educational tools investors can use to better educate themselves and optimize their portfolios. The lack of futures trading isn’t ideal, but it’s also probably not going to affect most investors who are simply trying to build their nest egg.
Click to see all of the Best Brokers so you can choose the right one for your money.
Where Fidelity Shines
- Among the lowest commissions on stock and bond trades
- Free trades on most mutual funds
- No minimums to open an account
Where Fidelity Falls Short
- No trading of futures contracts available
Click to see GOBankingRates’ picks for Best IRAs.
The $4.95 trading fee for Ally is in line with the other top low-cost brokerages, and while the $9.95 fee for trading no-load mutual funds doesn’t compare favorably to Fidelity, it’s still a steep discount over your other options.
This brokerage might be better for advanced investors rather than the investing novice given its lack of robust educational tools or access to financial advisors. Ally also doesn’t offer access to 529 college plans on its site, which can be a major need for many families.
Where Ally Invest Shines
- Among the lowest stock and bond trading fees
- Low fees for trading mutual funds
- New accounts can get up to $3,500 in bonus cash and commission free trading
Where Ally Invest Falls Short
- Minimal research and educational tools and features
- No access to a financial advisor
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Schwab rounds out the trio of brokers in the $4.95-per-trade tier. And, if you’re ready to stick with either Schwab ETFs or ETFs participating with Schwab OneSource, you can trade commission-free. With those low costs you’re also getting a storied name with ample experience and a solid advisory service attached to its discount brokerage, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding advice.
If you’re looking to start investing but just don’t have enough in savings, the $1,000 minimum could prevent you from getting the ball rolling. Likewise, the $76 fee for no-load mutual funds is the highest in the industry, though there are a lot of options for free mutual trading provided you aren’t interested specifically in no-load funds.
Find Out: Best Brokers for Mutual Funds
Where Charles Schwab Shines
- Among the lowest commissions on stocks and bonds
- Free trading of selected ETFs
- Access to financial advisors and robust customer service platform
Where Charles Schwab Falls Short
- No introductory perks
- $1,000 minimum to open an account
If you prefer passively managed funds, consider the best robo-advisors for your portfolio.
Getting started with TD Ameritrade requires no minimum investment, but for those people who do start with a large enough deposit, they can score up to $600 in bonus cash and trade free for the first two months. The brokerage also has 24/7 customer service available by phone and live chat.
If you do plan on being an active investor and using a wide variety of different types of investments, you might find that the costs with TD Ameritrade will add up, given the higher costs for options and futures in addition to the $6.95 per trade commission for stocks. However, if you plan on making a large deposit and settling on your investments primarily in the first two months, you might be able to avoid a lot of those potential costs by leveraging the introductory offers.
Where TD Ameritrade Shines
- No minimum to start investing
- Up to $600 and 60 days of free trading for new accounts
- Strong customer service and research and educational tools
Where TD Ameritrade Falls Short
- Higher trading fees than some competitors
- High costs for trading no-load mutual funds
Click to see the best features to look for when choosing a broker.
While the $6.95 commission on stock trades is higher than the lowest-cost competitors, it drops to $4.95 a trade for anyone making 30 trades or more each quarter, meaning active traders can get a similar cost structure to Fidelity, Ally Invest and Charles Schwab. What’s more, if you’re willing to work from E-Trade’s list of commission-free ETFs, you can trade for free.
The $19.95 commission on no-load mutual funds is certainly not excessive when compared to the competition, but it’s still higher than the lowest-cost options available. However, with free trading on transaction-fee funds and selected ETFs, it’s worth noting that you might be able to do plenty of fund investing without ever needing to pay this charge.
Where E-Trade Shines
- Up to $600 in bonus cash and 60 days of free trading for new customers
- Reduced trading costs for active traders
- Free ETF trading on selected ETFs
Where E-Trade Falls Short
- $19.95 commission on no-load mutual funds
Are you a small business owner or just want to see how your 401k stacks up? Click to see the Best 401k Companies.
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Methodology: To determine its Best Investment Brokers category ranking, GOBankingRates examined the top brokerages by asset size, excluding non-active institutions.
Criteria for ranking: GOBankingRates scored the brokerages from most to least favorable on the following factors: (1) cost to trade, (2) number of account types offered, (3) number of investment options, (4) opening investment requirement, (5) promotional or introductory offers, (6) free research and educational tools and (7) customer experience, which includes: access to financial advisors, mobile and online access, and 24/7 customer service with a live person. Brokerages were then ranked according to their total score.
Data for Best Brokers was compiled from and verified against the individual institutions’ websites between June 13 and August 1, 2018. Costs, terms and conditions are subject to change at the discretion of the individual financial institutions. Some information might reflect short-term or promotional offers only, and it is possible additional terms and conditions must be met in order to obtain the terms listed. Availability might vary by region, minimum investment amounts and other factors. Please verify terms and conditions before opening an account.
GOBankingRates is a personal finance and consumer interest rate website owned by ConsumerTrack, Inc., an online marketing company serving top-tier banks, credit unions, and other financial services organizations. Some brokerages mentioned in the Best Brokers rankings are clients of ConsumerTrack, Inc., which serves more than 100 national, local and online financial institutions. Rankings are completely objective, and no institution, client or otherwise, paid for inclusion or specific placement.