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12 Best Online Brokers for ETF Investing 2020

Kevin VoigtSeptember 14, 2020

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Exchange-traded funds have surged in popularity because they offer investors a simple way to build a diversified portfolio on the cheap. Investors don’t have to search far and wide to invest in these assets: They’re a common offering of both online brokers and robo-advisors.

ETFs trade like individual stocks, so many of the features sought by investors in a stock-trading account are also relevant to ETF investors. Like stocks, many brokers now offer ETFs commission-free. But because ETFs essentially are mini-mutual funds, it’s also important to consider other criteria, including a broker’s fund selection and tools for creating a well-diversified portfolio.

Here are NerdWallet’s picks for best online brokers for every kind of ETF investor, whether you’re looking for a broker with free commissions, the broadest range of ETFs or the best platform to help you build and manage a portfolio. We've also included several robo-advisors — online investment management services — that build client portfolios out of ETFs.

Summary of Best Online Brokers for ETF Investing 2020

Our pick for

Hands-On Investors

If you're a DIY investor who wants to pick your ETFs and build a portfolio from scratch, you're probably best suited for an online broker. The brokers here offer a large selection of ETFs without commissions.

Merrill Edge

on Merrill Edge's website

Merrill Edge

Merrill Edge

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

on Merrill Edge's website


Promotion

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

Why we like it

Merrill Edge offers high-quality customer service, robust research and low fees. Customers of parent company Bank of America will love the seamless, thoughtful integration, with a single login to access both accounts.

Pros

  • Robust third-party research.

  • Integrated with Bank of America.

Cons

  • Advanced traders may find fewer securities on offer.

Read Full Review

Our picks for

Hands-Off Investors

Want some help building an ETF portfolio? A robo-advisor is for you. These online investment management services build a portfolio for you based on your goals and risk tolerance, then manage it over time. These are the best robo-advisors for a managed ETF portfolio.

Wealthfront

on Wealthfront's website

Wealthfront

Wealthfront

Fees

0.25%

management fee

Account Minimum

$500

Promotion

$5,000

amount of assets managed for free

on Wealthfront's website


Promotion

$5,000

amount of assets managed for free

Why we like it

Wealthfront has built client trust by offering free management on the first $5,000 — with NerdWallet’s promotion — and the company’s stock-level tax-loss harvesting service really shines.

Pros

  • First $5,000 managed free (NerdWallet promotion).

  • Low ETF expense ratios.

  • Daily tax-loss harvesting.

  • Automatic rebalancing.

Cons

  • No fractional shares.

  • No large-balance discounts.

Read Full Review
Ellevest

on Ellevest's website

Ellevest

Ellevest

Fees

$1 - $9

per month

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

2 months free

with promo code "nerdwallet"

on Ellevest's website


Promotion

2 months free

with promo code "nerdwallet"

Why we like it

This advisor markets itself to women and takes a goal-focused approach that factors in women’s lower incomes, lifetime earnings and longer lifespans. With its $0 account minimum, competitive membership fee and a la cart access to CFPs and coaches, Ellevest is an appealing choice for investors of any gender.

Pros

  • Low account minimum and fees.

  • Goal-focused investing approach.

  • Portfolio mix that factors women’s needs.

  • A la carte sessions with coaches and CFPs.

Cons

  • Essential members can't open an IRA.

  • No tax-loss harvesting.

Read Full Review
SoFi Automated Investing

on SoFi Invest's website

SoFi Automated Investing

SoFi Automated Investing

Fees

0%

management fee

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

on SoFi Invest's website


Promotion

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

Why we like it

SoFi Automated Investing is great for beginning, cost-conscious investors who favor a hands-off approach. Plus, as a customer, you could be eligible for bonuses on other SoFi products.

Pros

  • Broad range of low-cost investments.

  • Free management.

  • Automatic rebalancing.

  • Customer support.

  • Access to certified financial planners.

Cons

  • Limited account types.

  • No tax-loss harvesting.

Read Full Review

Our pick for

Hands-On Investors

E*TRADE

on E*TRADE's website

E*TRADE

E*TRADE

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

on E*TRADE's website


Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

E*TRADE has long been one of the most popular online brokers. The company's $0 commissions and strong trading platforms appeal to active traders, while beginner investors benefit from a large library of educational resources.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use tools.

  • Large investment selection.

  • Excellent customer support.

  • Access to extensive research.

  • Advanced mobile app.

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

Cons

  • Website can be difficult to navigate.

Read Full Review

Want to compare more options? Here are our other top picks:

Last updated on September 14, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet's ratings for brokers and robo-advisors are weighted averages of several categories, including investment selection, customer support, account fees, account minimum, trading costs and more. Our survey of brokers and robo-advisors includes the largest U.S. providers by assets under management, plus notable and/or emerging players in the industry. Factors we consider, depending on the category, include advisory fees, branch access, user-facing technology, customer service and mobile features. The stars represent ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Online Brokers for ETF Investing 2020

Frequently asked questions