Best Roth IRA Account Providers

Once you’ve made the decision to contribute to a Roth IRA, how do you go about selecting the best Roth IRA account provider? What are the most important things to consider? There are several features that any IRA account you open should have, regardless of how experienced an investor you are:

  • Low cost, commission-free mutual funds and/or ETFs
  • Reasonable account minimums (below $1,000)
  • Basic banking products (check writing and debit cards)
  • No account inactivity fees

All of our IRA account recommendations at the bare minimum have these features. To determine which IRA provider is best for you should depend on what kind of investor you are. We have broken down the most common categories that people fall under below:

Best Overall IRA Accounts

Variety of low cost and commission-free mutual funds and ETFs, comprehensive research and analytics tools, useful educational tools and local branches

  • Mutual Funds & ETFs: 3,100+ no transaction fee mutual funds but no commission-free ETFs
  • Customer Service: 500+ local branches, 24/7 phone & e-mail
  • Account Fees: $75 for a full account transfer from Scottrade to another broker
  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Stock Commissions: $7.00
  • Learn more about Scottrade
  • Sign up for Scottrade
  • Mutual Funds & ETFs: 1,300+ no transaction fee mutual funds and over 90 commission-free ETFs
  • Customer Service: 28 local branches, weekday phone support and 24/7 online chat
  • Account Fees: $60 account closing fee
  • Account Minimum: None
  • Stock Commissions: $9.99
  • Learn more about E*Trade
  • Sign up for E*Trade

If you are opening your very first retirement account, the most important things to consider are: 1) the availability of index funds or ETFs with low fees, and 2) quality customer service that can guide you through the process of opening and managing your account. Scottrade and E*Trade provide both of these. They also offer complete online education centers with in-depth tutorials on basic investing topics.

Scottrade is a better option for those who want accessible in-person interaction and quality customer service. Scottrade’s customer service is consistently well-reviewed, and was recently voted as having the highest rate of customer satisfaction by a JD Power & Associates survey. E*Trade has better research offerings than Scottrade, as it provides access to S&P, Credit Suisse, and Morningstar research reports.

Roth IRA Accounts For Active Investors

Cheap commissions for frequent traders plus research & data tools

  • Mutual Funds: $9.95 to buy/sell
  • Customer Service: Available business hours on weekdays only
  • Account Fees: $20 account closing fee
  • Account Minimum: None
  • Stock and ETF Commissions: $4.75
  • Mutual Fund Commissions: $9.95
  • Learn more about Optionshouse
  • Sign up for Optionshouse
  • Mutual Funds: $9.95 to buy/sell
  • Customer Service: Available business hours on weekdays only
  • Account Fees: $50 to close and/or transfer funds out of your account
  • Account Minimum: None
  • Stock and ETF Commissions: $4.95
  • Mutual Fund Commissions: $9.95
  • Learn more about TradeKing
  • Sign up for TradeKing

For those who want to trade frequently, both TradeKing and Optionshouse offer low commissions, customizable trading platforms, and tools such as stock screeners and volatility charts. Optionshouse is a niche options brokerage, and if you are simply looking for a platform to inexpensively trade stocks and options, Optionshouse can be a good choice. Optionshouse does provide access to thousands of mutual funds, but does not offer no-transaction fee mutual funds. Also, mutual fund trades can only be phoned in, making Optionshouse a poor choice for those who want to invest in mutual funds and more appropriate as a side account for stock and options trading.

TradeKing has broader appeal than Optionshouse and supports a similar number of mutual funds, but allows trades to be executed online. It also offers an investor community forum, no transaction fee mutual funds, and comprehensive educational resources. TradeKing’s tools, such as its stock, ETF, and mutual fund screener, are better designed for investors who trade across a variety of asset classes.

Roth IRA Account For Index Funds

Best selection of low-cost index funds

  • Mutual Funds & ETFs: 120 Vanguard mutual funds and 52 Vanguard ETFs
  • Customer Service: Available business hours daily
  • Account Fees: None (If account balance exceeds $10,000 OR you are signed up for electronic documentation)
  • Account Minimum: $3,000 ($1,000 for any Vanguard Target Retirement Funds or for Vanguard STAR Fund)
  • Stock Commissions: $20.00
  • Sign up for Vanguard

Vanguard is credited with creating the first index fund for individual investors. The Vanguard 500 Index Fund provides an extremely low-cost way to gain diversified exposure to the U.S. equity market. Their expense ratio of 0.17% is 84% lower than the industry average. For retirement investors who want to simply hold onto a few low-cost stock or bond index funds, Vanguard is a great choice. That said, Vanguard does charge a $20 commission on stock trades, so it is not appropriate for those who want to trade stocks.

  • doc digerydoo

    Companies charging account closure fees should be skipped over in favor of those that do not.

    • Maxime Rieman

      If you’re looking for a retirement account, we generally suggest you prioritize finding the best services with low commissions over looking specifically for accounts with no closure fees. If you find a great account that will last you through retirement, it shouldn’t matter what the closure fees are.

  • Julian Brennan

    Wonder why Schwab is not even mentioned here… It is comparable to TDA in terms of fees and branch locations as well as commission free ETFs etc.

    • smlcap

      I wonder also.
      Maybe the author of this story is better served, personally, by promoting the companies she/he is recommending here.

  • Moscato-Moe

    The pick between TD Ameritrade and Vanguard is a hard one, because TD Ameritrade has some, but not all Vanguard ETFs commission free.

    If you want to live on autopilot with a mutual fund, go Vanguard. If you want ETFs, it’s kinda a toss up.

  • Heather Arias

    Motif is awesome!

    • redyeller

      how does a motif IRA work?

  • crzydrgn

    vanguard’s stock commision is $7 for first 25. It will be $7 for everything if you have more than $50K in mutual funds. Not sure if it will be relevant for many, but if you have over half million it’s $2 a trade.

  • krn

    yes, I’d like to hear about Charles Schwab, too. No review of them, either.

  • Jessica Ruby

    Thanks so much for this post. You’ve shared so much insight and information that is greatly appreciated.

    • Julian Brennan

      insight? this post is pure commission churning! the worst accounts are rated best because they pay the highest commission. and the best account are not even mentioned because they don’t have an affiliate program.

      • Nicole

        So please elaborate, Julian. I am new to all of this. I’d like to hear what the best accounts are in your opinion, and why?

      • Bec

        I hope you will elaborate, as Nicole has requested.

  • Jessica Ruby

    Very effective tips and information giving by you I really appreciate your work. We are also in same field and welcome you to visit our websit

  • Renier

    I use Schwab and in my opinion it beats many on this list

    • Ms Carter

      Schwab’s monthly fee is about $93… much higher than the top 5 listed

  • Allen

    Don’t forget MerrilEdge with $0 trades 30 times a month and 6.95 trades afterwards! You only need a balance of 25k to qualify for the 0$ trades ($6.95 otherwise). Also, don’t forget the no-fee DRIP programs MerrilEdge and Vanguard provide!

  • Meg

    How do people feel about Fidelity? I’ve been using them a while now. I started with them because I didn’t know much about ROTHs, but my friend liked using them herself. I am not very big into the market game – I don’t really understand it and I’m not super active. Maybe checking in once or twice a year. I just want something stable and not too high maintenance that will grow my money so I have something to retire with. Is Fidelity a good choice, or should I think about moving my ROTH?

  • Shiloh Jaxen

    Can someone explain to me, once you open an IRA, do you just put the money in there and thats it? Or do you then actively invest that money in a fund of your choice? How’s this all work:)!

    • canjcat

      Great question Shiloh! I’d like a general answer to this as well.

      • Shiloh Jaxen

        So, what I’ve found out so far is that the IRA is basically like an investment account, the only difference being in how the money is taxed (and when) and when you’re permitted to access the money in the account. So you put $ in the IRA, and then once it’s in there, you chose how to invest it (stocks, ETFS, etc) and I guess the capital gains are not taxed if you withdraw after you turn 59.

        • FraserSt

          Yup. Regarding, “the capital gains are not taxed if you withdraw after you turn 59″, that’s the case for Roth IRAs (after age 59.5 and assuming that the first contributions were at least 5 years before the distributions begin). With regular IRAs, your distributions will be taxed at your then-current rate.

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  • Hazel

    What do people think about MerrillEdge? I’ve been using them inactively for years, but I recently from a lot of complaints about MerrillEdge on Not sure if ME will be the best place to put additional IRA funds into. Can anyone share positive experience with MerrillEdge or give a the final straw to move my money from their company?

    Thanks in advance!

  • Ashika

    What about Roth IRAs for people who aren’t experienced as investors? Something for someone in their 30s looking for a solid company that gives advice and doesn’t charge too much…. something a bit on the “easy” side