Best Roth IRA Account Providers - NerdWallet

Best Roth IRA Account Providers

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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 should have, regardless of how experienced an investor you are:

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

All of our IRA account recommendations have these features at the bare minimum. Beyond that, determine which IRA provider is best for you by considering what kind of investor you are. We have broken down the most common types of investor below:

Best Roth IRA providers overall

These providers stand out because of their low-cost and commission-free mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs), strong customer service and no account minimums.

TD Ameritrade logo
5.0_stars
  • Mutual funds: Over 2,000 commission-free mutual funds
  • ETFs: Over 100 commission-free ETFs
  • Customer service: 126 local branches; phone support 24/7; email support
  • Account fees: $75 account transfer fee, waived for clients who either average five or more trades per month in their account or have a total account value of $100,000 or more
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Stock commissions: $9.99
  • Current promotion: Roll over a 401(k) or open an IRA with $3,000 or more and get commission-free trading for 60 days, plus a cash bonus for larger amounts. (Bonus is $600 on $250,000+; $300 on $100,000 to $249,999; and $100 on $25,000 to $99,999.)
  • Learn more about TD Ameritrade
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4.5_stars
  • Mutual funds: Over 1,300 commission-free mutual funds
  • ETFs: Over 100 commission-free ETFs
  • Customer service: 30 local branches; 24-hour phone support weekdays; email support and live chat
  • Account fees: $60 outgoing transfer fee
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Stock commissions: $6.99 to $9.99
  • Current promotion: 60 days of free trades (up to 500) on deposits of $10,000 or more; plus bonuses on deposits of $25,000 or more. (Bonus is $2,500 on $1,000,000+; $1,200 on $500,000 to $999,999; $600 on $250,000 to $499,999; $300 on $100,000 to $249,999; and $200 on $25,000 to $99,999.)
  • Learn more about E*Trade
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In an ideal world, an IRA would have no minimum, a range of investment options, good customer service to help you sort through them, and low fees — both commissions and investment expense ratios. The accounts offered by E-Trade and TD Ameritrade check all of those boxes.

Best Roth IRA providers for beginners

These providers have $0 minimum investment requirements, plus exceptional customer service and educational offerings.


4.5_stars
  • Mutual funds: Over 1,300 commission-free mutual funds
  • ETFs: Over 100 commission-free ETFs
  • Customer service: 30 local branches; 24-hour phone support weekdays; email support and live chat
  • Account fees: $60 for outgoing transfer or to close account
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Stock commissions: $6.99 to $9.99
  • Current promotion: 60 days of free trades (up to 500) on deposits of $10,000 or more; plus bonuses on deposits of $25,000 or more. (Bonus is $2,500 on $1,000,000+, $1,200 on $500,000 – $999,999, $600 on $250,000 – $499,999, $300 on $100,000 – $249,999 and $200 on $25,000 – $99,999.)
  • Learn more about Etrade
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4.0_stars
  • Mutual funds: 2,500 commission-free mutual funds
  • ETFs: No commission-free ETFs. $7 per trade.
  • Customer service: Over 500 local branches; phone support weekdays 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. ET; Saturday and Sunday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET; email support and live chat
  • Account fees: $75 for outgoing transfer or to close account
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Stock commissions: $7
  • Current promotion: Get up to a $2,000 cash bonus if you open a new account or fund an existing account. (Bonus is $2,000 on deposits of $1,000,000+, $1,000 on $500,000 – $999,999, $600 on $200,000 – $499,999, $300 on $100,000 – $199,999 and $100 on $50,000 – $99,999.)
  • Learn more about Scottrade
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Scottrade and E-Trade are ideal for beginners: They both emphasize investor education, strong customer service and a network of physical branches where investors can meet with an advisor and even attend investing seminars. E-trade will appeal to people who want to dabble in ETFs; it offers more than 100 commission-free, whereas Scottrade has none.

Best Roth IRA providers for hands-off investors

Robo-advisors like Betterment and Wealthfront manage your portfolio for you with low-cost ETFs and reasonable management fees.

Betterment logo
5.0_stars
  • Mutual funds: Betterment does not invest in mutual funds.
  • ETFs: Betterment invests in ETFs with expense ratio ranging from 0.9% to 0.17%. No commission to purchase.
  • Customer service: Phone support weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET, and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET; live chat and email support
  • Account fees: Three tiers: under $10,000, 0.35% annual advisory fee with minimum of $100/month auto deposit or $3 a month without auto deposit; $10,000 to $100,000, 0.25% annual advisory fee; $100,000+, 0.15% annual advisory fee.
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Stock commissions: Betterment does not trade stocks.
  • Current promotion: Get one month free if you sign up now.
  • Learn more about Betterment
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4.0_stars
  • Mutual funds: Wealthfront does not invest in mutual funds.
  • ETFs: Wealthfront invests in ETFs with an average expense ratio of 0.12%. No commission to purchase.
  • Customer service: Phone support weekdays 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT;  email support
  • Account fees: First $10,000 managed free, then 0.25% annual advisory fee
  • Account minimum: $500
  • Stock commissions: Wealthfront does not trade stocks.
  • Learn more about Wealthfront
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A robo-advisor like Betterment and Wealthfront takes on the brunt of the work: These companies manage your IRA using automated investing technology combined with customized portfolio allocation based on your goals.

You’ll pay a small fee for the service, but it’s substantially lower than what a financial advisor would charge, and both companies invest in low-fee ETFs. Which is best for you? Here’s a direct comparison.

Best Roth IRA providers for frequent traders

These options offer low commissions on stock trades, plus extensive research and tools.


5.0_stars
  • Mutual funds: No commission-free mutual funds; $19.99 per trade
  • ETFs: No commission-free ETFs; $4.95 per trade
  • Customer service: Phone support weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. CT; live chat and email support
  • Account fees: $60 IRA closure fee
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Stock commissions: $4.95
  • Current promotion: New accounts funded with $5,000 within 30 days of opening get 100 commission-free trades for stock or options executed within 60 days of funding. Must use code 60FREE. Referral rewards: $150 Amazon gift card or 30 commission-free trades when friends use your referral link and fund account with $1,000 within 30 days of opening.
  • Learn more about Optionshouse
Get started

4.0_stars
  • Mutual funds: No commission-free mutual funds; $9.95 per trade
  • ETFs: No commission-free ETFs; $4.95 per trade
  • Customer service: Phone support weekdays, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET; email support and live chat
  • Account fees:$50 outgoing transfer fee
  • Account minimum: $0, but $50 inactivity fee on accounts with no executed trades in last 12 months and a combined value of less than $2,500
  • Stock commissions: $4.95
  • Current promotion: TradeKing will refund your transfer fees from your current broker when you switch, up to $150.
  • Learn more about TradeKing
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Playing the market with your entire portfolio goes against common advice for the average investor. But if you want to dedicate a portion of your IRA to stock trading, you want to look at trading commissions, research and tools when comparing providers.

For the lowest stock trading costs, look to OptionsHouse and TradeKing. Both offer stock and ETF trades for $4.95, as well as tools to help you craft your trading strategy. OptionsHouse edges out TradeKing by charging no account fees; at TradeKing, you’ll pay a $50 annual fee if you don’t execute at least 12 trades a year or maintain a combined account balance of $2,500.

Best Roth IRA providers for fee-conscious investors

You want to prioritize providers that offer low-cost mutual funds and ETFs.


5.0_stars
  • Mutual funds: Over 3,300 commission-free mutual funds through the Fidelity FundsNetwork
  • ETFs: Over 85
  • Customer service: Over 189 local branches; phone support 24/7; email support and live chat
  • Account fees: $50 to close account
  • Account minimum: $2,500 initial investment or $200/month auto investments
  • Stock commissions: $7.95
  • Current promotion: IRA match: New or existing IRAs will get a match on annual contributions of up to 10% for the next three years. Match varies from 1% for a $10,000 transfer to 10% for a $500,000. Worth up to $1,950 in matching dollars.
Get started

5.0_stars
  • Mutual funds: 120 commission-free mutual funds
  • ETFs: Over 60 commission-free ETFs
  • Customer service: Phone support weekdays 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, Saturday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET; email support
  • Account fees: $20 annually when balance is under $10,000. Waived if you register for online account access and get documents electronically.
  • Account minimum: $1,000 for Vanguard Target Retirement Funds and Vanguard STAR Fund; $3,000 for most other funds.
  • Stock commissions: $7 for the first 25 trades; subsequent trades are $20.
Get started

 

If access to low-cost mutual funds and ETFs are your No. 1 concern, you should look to Fidelity, which offers a wide range of commission-free mutual funds and commission-free ETFs with low expense ratios. The downside? Fidelity requires a minimum $2,500 initial investment (or $200/month auto investments).

Vanguard gets an honorable mention for its Vanguard 500 Index Fund, which is free to purchase and carries an expense ratio of just 0.17%, which is 84% lower than its counterparts. But its minimum initial investment can be prohibitive: You can open an account with just $1,000, but you’ll need $3,000 to invest in most funds, including the Vanguard 500.

Arielle O’Shea is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: aoshea@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @arioshea.

  • doc digerydoo

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

  • 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.

  • http://unicornuproar.com/ 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!

  • 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.

  • Jessica Ruby

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  • Renier

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

  • 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:)!

  • https://www.faaastcash.com/ Steve Burgess

    Well it is always beneficial to be aware of the terms & condition, before making any investment from future point of view.

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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 http://www.consumeraffair.com 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

  • Ismael Ish Perez

    So as I replied to some posts herein decided to start. Iceberg dedicated to a company since 2003 always putting the max contributions every year with the wild imagination I should see 10% return only as I do the math I see more like 2-3%. As I’m reading it sounds some manage their own accounts vs handing someone money to manage their account. Now I’m look at it as I’m starting all over it with a good amount of capital behind me. Any ideas? Serious thank you in advance!!!

  • Ismael Ish Perez

    Having a Roth account accumulating since 2003 maxing every year out only to see what should be a 10% annual return more like 2-3%. I’m looking to change my circumstances. I have had a manger this whole time. Someone I thought they knew what they were doing. Apparently this is otter case. It seems from reading around on here some manage their own accounts? Looking for some good ideas since I’m about to jump ship with the manager I currently have. Thank you in advance. I appreciate your time.

  • CC

    I have two 401ks; one with Fidelity and another with Expert plan. I have been advice to combined both and move them to c company called Curian Capital LLC. Are you familiar with this company? Unfortunately I am not an experienced investor and I am afraid to move to a company that will charge me more fees. I don’t even know how much Expert plan is charging me.

  • Shay

    Helpful. I have Schwab, which seems to have the very lowest ETF fees, (if you stick with their ETFs, of course). Is there a reason they were not included on this list? Do they charge some fee of which I may not be aware?

  • Shay

    Helpful. I have Schwab, which seems to have the very lowest ETF fees, (if you stick with their ETFs, of course). Is there a reason they were not included on this list? Do they charge some fee of which I may not be aware?

  • http://www.RiderRants.BlogSpot.com Richard Rider

    We have a larger rollover Roth (and a regular) IRA. We pick uber-low cost index funds with total annual costs under .08%. One is .04%. No annual fees, and $9 trading cost if it’s an ETF index fund.

    Vanguard has a great program if buying mutual funds. Lots of low cost funds, and IRA fees are waived. Doesn’t lend itself to small “per month” initial accounts, though still offer great options.

    Buy and forget. With index funds, you’ll beat most of the active investors.

  • http://www.RiderRants.BlogSpot.com Richard Rider

    We have a larger rollover Roth (and a regular) IRA. We pick uber-low cost index funds with total annual costs under .08%. One is .04%. No annual fees, and $9 trading cost if it’s an ETF index fund.

    Vanguard has a great program if buying mutual funds. Lots of low cost funds, and IRA fees are waived. Doesn’t lend itself to small “per month” initial accounts, though still offer great options.

    Buy and forget. With index funds, you’ll beat most of the active investors.

  • Michael

    I opened Vanguard with $0. Later I purchased a $1000 mutual fund shares. Also you can buy as low as 1 ETF share. So, you don’t really to have $1000 available to open and buy Vanguard’s ETF’s

  • Michael

    I opened Vanguard with $0. Later I purchased a $1000 mutual fund shares. Also you can buy as low as 1 ETF share. So, you don’t really to have $1000 available to open and buy Vanguard’s ETF’s