Best Roth IRA Account Providers - NerdWallet
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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
Get started

  • 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
Get started

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: $20 to buy/sell
  • Customer Service: Available 7am-7pm CT on weekdays only
  • Account Fees: $75 account closing fee
  • Account Minimum: None
  • Stock and ETF Commissions: $4.95
  • Mutual Fund Commissions: $20
  • Learn more about Optionshouse
Get started

  • 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
Get started

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
Get started

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.

If you’re opening a traditional IRA account, check out our list here:

Best IRA account providers >

  • 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:)!

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • redyeller

    how does a motif IRA work?

  • Maxime Rieman
  • 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.

  • canjcat

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

  • Ismael Ish Perez

    I thought the same unpicking out who or how you manage your account is where the meat is at. I’ve been loyal at one for 10yrs just put money in and watch it grow has been lack luster to say the least. 2-3% annual for the last 10 years is really depressing now I’m where I started in 2003, who do I go to?

  • 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.

  • Ms Carter

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

  • Penelope

    My experience with Schwab has been lousy…when I opened my account with them, they guided me toward mutual funds that had the same holdings (and I didn’t realize it until later, when I learned to start researching and making decisions myself). They make commission either way, but it’s good to be able to trust who you bring your money to, and my experience with them was that I couldn’t trust them to really help or guide me, so I left them.

  • 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.

  • smlcap

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

  • AdamsS3

    S&P 500 or another Index Fund

  • Hinrg4me

    Consider Vanguard STAR fund, or a Vanguard retirement date fund (e.g. Vanguard Target Retirement 2045 if you plan to retire around 2045). Vanguard is a great low-cost provider. You are not going to get unbiased, personalized “advice” from any financial provider for free.

  • Dave

    Honestly I prefer T-Rowe Price over Vanguard. They have been amazing to me and I’ve been using them for over 20 years. As far as a fund type for yourself, skip the index funds, and look for Growth funds. Usually a much higher rate of return. If you want to be a little safer, use a “life” fund. They’ll be aggressive in your younger years but become more conservative as you get closer to retirement…just remember there are no guarantees when investing.

  • Philip Weisberg

    Open a Roth at a discount broker and invest in the S&P 500 (SPY or VOO), the NASDAQ 100 (QQQ), and the total world stock market (VT). Hang in there through the ups and downs and as you get closer to retirement, hire a fee only advisor to guide you through that stage of investing. You could also educate yourself along the way and not need an advisor, saving 1% of your portfolio per year.

  • Chad Riley

    I wouldn’t recommend ME, look at Fidelity, Schwab, or Vanguard. No fees, great service, broad investment options

  • Dave

    I personally use T.Rowe Price, have been since I was 18 (I’m 42 now). I’m a lot like you, I don’t understand all the ins and outs but they have some amazing funds, with longevity, and produce some wonderful results. One of my funds is performing at 13.8% return over a 5 year period.

  • Philip Weisberg

    Fidelity is among the better choices because they are discount and no load combining a fundsnet in addition to their own funds. They have some commission free ETFs and you can buy any listed individual equity. Their customer service is excellent and they have some brick and mortar places if you need to talk to someone in person.

    T Rowe Price, Vanguard, Scottrade, Schwab, TD Ameritrade, Interactive Brokers, and E-Trade are also excellent

  • Ismael Ish Perez

    Do you make your own trades or does a manager sort all that out for you? I’m looking to change my current situation. Since 2003 I have seen 2% annual return and that’s not cutting it. With a high 5 figure balance sheet