With so many choices available, choosing the best online broker can be a challenge. In lieu of throwing a dart at a list, take a moment to figure out what type of account you need today — and going forward. Finding the best online brokerage account really depends upon your personal financial needs.
An online broker delivers services over the internet instead of face-to-face at an office location. Today, almost all top brokers offer online services with top-notch account security features, whether they have a brick-and-mortar location or not. Review these top internet brokerage firms, get over your fear of investing online and choose the best match today.
1. Best New Online Brokerage for Comprehensive Financial Needs: Ally
- Commission: $4.95 for stock and ETF trades, $9.95 for no-load mutual funds; $3.95 for stock and ETF trades if you make 30 or more trades per quarter and maintain an average daily balance of more than $100,000
- Commission-free trading: None
- Account minimum: None
Ally, an internet-only bank, recently acquired online broker TradeKing, which enabled it to enhance its products and services. Ally Invest offers a range of self-directed and managed investment products for all investors, from newbies to the experienced traders.
For high-volume traders, the $3.95 per trade commission is rock bottom. Additionally, if you’re looking for a one-stop financial services provider, Ally offers a full slate of banking, lending, corporate finance and robo-advisory financial management services. Finally, the 24/7 customer service is useful for busy investors.
2. Best Online Brokerage for ETF Investors: Charles Schwab
- Commission: $4.95 for online stock trades and ETFs not included on Schwab ETF OneSource List
- Commission-free trading: More than 200 ETFs; thousands of mutual funds
- Account minimum: $1,000 for a regular account or an IRA.; no account minimum if you set up automatic monthly transfer of $100
Schwab is becoming the online broker to beat. In addition to low, $4.95 stock and ETF trades, Schwab has more than 200 ETFs and thousands of mutual funds that trade for a zero brokerage fee.
The low account minimum and free, automated robo-advisor — Schwab Intelligent Portfolios — makes this online broker a great choice for new investors. In addition, you’ll find any investment product you need at Schwab, including banking services.
3. Best Online Brokerage for Stock Research: Fidelity
- Commission: $4.95 for online stock and ETF trades
- Commission-free trading: Free trades promotion for depositing $50,000 or more; 91 commission-free ETFs online from Fidelity and IShares
- Account minimum: $2,500 for trading and investing
Charles Schwab and Fidelity recently lowered trading commissions to $4.95 per trade. For active mobile trading individuals, Fidelity offers Active Trader Pro, which offers real-time data, analytics and intuitive trading tools.
Additionally, Fidelity enables traders to use sophisticated screening tools and extensive research reports from third-party providers. Like Schwab and Ally, FidelityGo robo-advisor is available for anyone looking for professional, digital, investment management.
4. Best Online Brokerage for Those Short on Cash: TD Ameritrade
- Commission: $6.95 for online stock trade and ETFs that aren’t commission-free
- Commission-free trading: Free trading for 250 nonproprietary ETFs; special promotion includes 60 days of commission-free trades with a $3,000 deposit and additional cash bonuses for higher account deposits
- Account minimum: None for a regular account; $2,000 for margin and option accounts
TD Ameritrade and Scottrade recently merged into a full-service online broker. One factor that distinguishes this online broker is that it has no account minimum. If you’re new to investing you can access extensive online investment training courses. Active traders have access to several platforms including Trade Architect, thinkorswim, and web and mobile trading.
5. Best Online Brokerage with Access to Full Broker Services: Merrill Edge
- Commission: $6.95 for online equity and ETF trades; option to qualify for free commission trades
- Commission-free trading: Commissions waived for online stock and ETF trades for qualified accounts when you enroll in Bank of America Preferred Rewards program
- Account minimum: None
Merrill Lynch opened its first Wall Street office in 1914 and Bank of America acquired it in 2008. Throughout its storied history, the firm catered exclusively to full-service clients.
In 2010, however, it launched its Merrill EDGE service, which currently boasts 2.3 million accounts and $165 in assets. With more than 2,000 branches and a Bank of America Preferred Rewards program, Merrill Edge is great if you’re seeking face-to-face guidance for your online account.
The Bank of America – Merrill Lynch relationship gives you access to an amazing range of banking and investing services and products. Merrill Edge also offers its own robo-advisory platform, Merrill Edge Guided Investing.
You Can’t Make a Wrong Move
You can’t go wrong choosing any of these top brokers for your investment needs. Each offers excellent products and services. Just make sure understand the specific investments and their tax consequences before deploying your hard-earned dollars.