The Best IRA Accounts

Find the best IRA provider for your retirement nest egg.

When you think of the best ways to save for retirement, most people think of their 401k. However, 401ks are only available through an employer, so if you’re a freelancer, don’t like your current 401k or just want to save more, you’ll need another option. Enter the individual retirement account, or IRA, which functions much like a 401k, but gives you complete control over your investments, making it an excellent financial instrument for anyone.

If you’re interested in a traditional IRA, it’s still important to research providers if you want to find the best IRA account. Fees and commissions can have a huge impact on your savings, so getting the best IRA provider can maximize your retirement savings.

That’s why the GOBankingRates Best Brokers rankings took a deep dive into the top IRA account providers to see where you should be looking if you want to find a home for your retirement nest egg.

Here are the five best IRA brokers from GOBankingRates’ Best Brokers ranking:

  • E-Trade
  • TD Ameritrade
  • Fidelity
  • Charles Schwab
  • Merrill Edge

The Best IRA Brokers

Before you start saving for retirement, take a look at the Best IRA providers to choose from:

The Best IRA Account Providers
BrokerCost to TradeMinimumFees
E-Trade E-Trade$6.95$0Early withdrawals taken before age 59½: $25; $31.95 broker-assisted trade; Excess contribution removal: $25; Recharacterizations: $25
TD AmeritradeTD Ameritrade$6.95$0$0 service fees; $44.99 broker-assisted trade fee
Fidelity Investments logoFidelity$4.95$0$0 account opening and annual maintenance fees; $50 account closeout fee
Charles Schwab$4.95$1,000Minimum deposit requirement is waived if you establish an incoming monthly transfer of at least $100 through direct deposit or Schwab MoneyLink
Merrill EdgeMerrill Edge$6.95$0$0 service fees; Merrill Edge waives its commission fee for: 30 monthly online stock & ETF trades for Platinum tier clients; or 100 monthly online stock & ETF trades for Platinum Honors tier clients
Information accurate as of Aug. 28, 2018.

E-Trade

E-Trade has a flat $6.95 per trade commission, but that falls to $4.95 — right in line with their lowest-cost competitors — for accounts that make 30 or more trades per quarter. So, if you are an active trader, you can get lower commissions as a result. And even though there’s no minimum to open an account, you’ll qualify for introductory perks with opening deposits of $10,000 or more. If you think you’ll need to do a lot of trading in those first two months, you might want to consider starting with a large sum.

Where E-Trade Shines

  • No account minimums
  • Up to $600 and 60 days of free trading for opening an account with $10,000 or more
  • Lower commissions available for active traders

Where E-Trade Falls Short

  • $6.95 per trade commission
  • Additional fees for early withdrawals, excess contribution removals and recharacterizations

Click to see which brokers made the list of the best online stock brokers for beginners.

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade does charge $6.95 a pop for basic stock or ETF trades, which fairly standard but isn’t the lowest-cost option out there. Also, for passive retirement investors, trading fees shouldn’t be much cause for concern. Plus, you are getting access to financial advisors and tax services, you won’t be charged service fees and there’s no minimum to open an account — all of which contributes to TD Ameritrade offering the best IRA account.

Where TD Ameritrade Shines

  • No account minimums
  • No service fees
  • Up to $600 bonus cash and 60 days of free trading for new accounts

Where TD Ameritrade Falls Short

  • $6.95 per trade commission
  • $44.99 fee for broker-assisted trades

Must-Read: The Best Investment Brokers for Your Money

Fidelity

Fidelity’s flat $4.95 per trade fee — regardless of how many trades you’re making — puts it firmly among the discount brokers with the lowest overall fees. And you can get started with whatever savings you can muster as there are no account minimums. However, its promotional offers are limited to a $20 to $30 discount on tax software, and you might be charged a $50 fee if and when you close your account.

Where Fidelity Shines

  • No account minimums
  • No annual maintenance fees
  • $4.95 per trade commission

Where Fidelity Falls Short

  • $50 account close-out fee

See: The Best Robo-Advisors for Your Money

Charles Schwab

With a $4.95 per trade commission, Charles Schwab is among your lowest-cost options for brokers, which might be all that some investors need to know. What’s more, that $1,000 minimum to open an account is waived if you sign up for automatic monthly transfers of $100 or more, so even if you don’t have enough in savings initially you can still get the ball rolling.

Where Charles Schwab Shines

  • $4.95 per trade commission
  • Strong customer service and research/educational tools
  • Account minimum waived with automatic transfers

Where Charles Schwab Falls Short

  • $1,000 minimum to open an account
  • No promotional or introductory offers

Click to see the best features to look for when choosing a broker.

Merrill Edge

The $6.95 per trade commission at Merrill Edge is not the lowest option available, but you can avoid those fees completely if you bank with Bank of America (the parent company of Merrill Lynch) and keep enough money in your account. Even if you aren’t with Bank of America, you will enjoy the lack of service fees and can still open an account without a minimum deposit, making it a choice option for passive investors.

Where Merrill Edge Shines

  • No service fees
  • Up to 100 free trades a month for Platinum Honors tier clients
  • Up to $600 in bonus cash for opening a new account

Where Merrill Edge Falls Short

  • $6.95 per trade commission
  • No access to financial advisors and tax services

Click to see the best 401k companies for your small business.

More on Investing

Methodology: To determine its Best IRAs category ranking, GOBankingRates examined the top brokerages, 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 investment options, (3) access to financial advisors, (4) promotional or introductory offers and (5) customer experience, which includes: access to research and educational tools, mobile and online access, 24/7 customer service with a live person and live chat. 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.