Best of

Best IRA Accounts of April 2019

NerdWalletApril 23, 2019

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Our picks for

Hands-On Investors

For people who want to pick their own investments, opening an IRA at an online broker makes a lot of sense. At the best brokers, you’ll find a large list of low-cost investments to choose from, including index mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. Here are the favorites from this year's analysis:

Ally Invest IRA

on Ally Invest's website

on Ally Invest's website

Fees

$4.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $3,500

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

Ally Invest’s low commissions, no annual fee and no account minimum make it a good choice for IRA investors. For investors who want to be more active, the broker also offers a solid suite of research and tools, but IRA customers may be put off by closure and transfer-out fees.
Merrill Edge IRA

on Merrill Edge's website

on Merrill Edge's website

Fees

$6.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

$100-$600

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

Merrill Edge offers high-quality customer service, robust research, low commissions and fees — all with no account minimum for IRA investors. Customers of parent company Bank of America will love the seamless, thoughtful integration, with a single login to access both accounts.
TD Ameritrade IRA

on TD Ameritrade's website

on TD Ameritrade's website

Fees

$6.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

$100-$600

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

TD Ameritrade’s $0 account minimum, wealth of free research and retirement planning tools, and plentiful lineup of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free ETFs make it an ideal place to set up an IRA. Its library of educational resources and free paper trading account are also great features to help investors hone their skills.
Etrade IRA

on Etrade's website

on Etrade's website

Fees

$6.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $600

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

Retirement investors will find a lot to love with E-Trade’s IRA offering, including a large line-up of no-trading-fee mutual funds and an extensive library of retirement advice and tools. Plus, there’s no minimum account balance.
Interactive Brokers

on Interactive Brokers's website

on Interactive Brokers's website

Fees

$0.01

per share

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

No promotion available at this time

Interactive Brokers is a strong option for advanced, frequent traders: The broker offers international trade capabilities, low commissions and a quality trading platform. New traders might be turned off by inactivity fees, high balance requirements and a lack of educational resources.
Vanguard Brokerage

on Vanguard's website

on Vanguard's website

Fees

$7.00

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Vanguard is the king of low-cost investing, making it ideal for buy-and-hold and retirement investors. But active traders will find the broker falls short, with no trading platform and increased commissions for frequent trades.
Schwab Brokerage IRA

on Charles Schwab's website

on Charles Schwab's website

Fees

$4.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$1,000

Promotion

Up to $100

bonus award

Charles Schwab is one of the best overall IRA providers large fund selection, high-quality customer service and reasonable account minimums and fees. The company offers a large selection of no-transaction-fee funds and commission-free ETFs. Minimum $1,000 deposit waived for IRA with $100 monthly automatic deposit.
Fidelity IRA

on Fidelity's website

on Fidelity's website

Fees

$4.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

500

free trades with a qualifying deposit

Fidelity’s lineup of services for investors goes well beyond retirement accounts. The company’s brokerage arm features low commissions, a wide investment selection, plenty of research and advanced trading capabilities (including a strong mobile app). The biggest knock are the volume and trade minimum requirements to access its active trader platform.
T. Rowe Price

on T. Rowe Price's website

on T. Rowe Price's website

Fees

$19.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$2,500

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Mutual fund investors are well-served by T. Rowe Price’s selection of no-load, low-expense-ratio funds and free tools to build and manage a well-balanced retirement portfolio. Stock, options and ETF traders aren’t the company’s target clientele, which makes sense when you compare T. Rowe Price’s commissions, account fees and minimums to other discount brokers.

Our picks for

Hands-Off Investors

For people who want to invest for retirement but don’t want to worry about managing their portfolio over time, a robo-advisor is an easy choice. Generally, robo-advisors hire investment pros to develop a handful of portfolios aimed at different types of investors. Here are our top three picks for investors who prefer help with management:

Wealthfront IRA

on Wealthfront's website

on Wealthfront's website

Fees

0.25%

management fee

Account Minimum

$500

Promotion

$5,000

amount of assets managed for free

Wealthfront takes the hassle out of IRA investing. The robo-advisor manages accounts by constructing portfolios out of low-cost ETFs, with a flat and low-cost fee structure that appeals to investors seeking a hands-off approach. What’s more, the company has built client trust by offering free management on the first $5,000 invested (for NerdWallet readers).
Betterment IRA

on Betterment's website

on Betterment's website

Fees

0.25%

management fee

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to 1 year

of free management with a qualifying deposit

With its low-cost ETFs, automatic rebalancing, extensive tax strategies and retirement advice, Betterment is a strong bet for retirement investors. Betterment’s planning tools include advice on “asset location” — which types of investments are best for different types of accounts — and investors can sync outside accounts, as well.
Sofi Automated Investing

on Sofi Wealth's website

on Sofi Wealth's website

Fees

0%

management fee

Account Minimum

$100

Promotion

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

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

Summary of Best IRA Accounts of April 2019

BrokerCommissionsPromotionAccount MinimumLearn More
Ally Invest IRA Logo

Ally Invest IRA

on Ally Invest's website

$4.95

per trade

Up to $3,500

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Ally Invest's website

Merrill Edge IRA Logo

Merrill Edge IRA

on Merrill Edge's website

$6.95

per trade

$100-$600

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Merrill Edge's website

TD Ameritrade IRA Logo

TD Ameritrade IRA

on TD Ameritrade's website

$6.95

per trade

$100-$600

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on TD Ameritrade's website

Etrade IRA Logo

Etrade IRA

on Etrade's website

$6.95

per trade

Up to $600

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Etrade's website

Interactive Brokers Logo

Interactive Brokers

on Interactive Brokers's website

$0.01

per share

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

on Interactive Brokers's website

Vanguard Brokerage Logo

Vanguard Brokerage

on Vanguard's website

$7.00

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

on Vanguard's website

Schwab Brokerage IRA Logo

Schwab Brokerage IRA

on Charles Schwab's website

$4.95

per trade

Up to $100

bonus award

$1,000

on Charles Schwab's website

Fidelity IRA Logo

Fidelity IRA

on Fidelity's website

$4.95

per trade

500

free trades with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Fidelity's website

T. Rowe Price Logo

T. Rowe Price

on T. Rowe Price's website

$19.95

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$2,500

on T. Rowe Price's website

Wealthfront IRA Logo

Wealthfront IRA

on Wealthfront's website

0.25%

management fee

$5,000

amount of assets managed for free

$500

on Wealthfront's website

Betterment IRA Logo

Betterment IRA

on Betterment's website

0.25%

management fee

Up to 1 year

of free management with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Betterment's website

Sofi Automated Investing Logo

Sofi Automated Investing

on Sofi Wealth's website

0%

management fee

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

$100

on Sofi Wealth's website

BrokerCommissionsPromotionAccount MinimumLearn More
Ally Invest IRA Logo

Ally Invest IRA

on Ally Invest's website

$4.95

per trade

Up to $3,500

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Ally Invest's website

Merrill Edge IRA Logo

Merrill Edge IRA

on Merrill Edge's website

$6.95

per trade

$100-$600

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Merrill Edge's website

TD Ameritrade IRA Logo

TD Ameritrade IRA

on TD Ameritrade's website

$6.95

per trade

$100-$600

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on TD Ameritrade's website

Etrade IRA Logo

Etrade IRA

on Etrade's website

$6.95

per trade

Up to $600

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Etrade's website

Interactive Brokers Logo

Interactive Brokers

on Interactive Brokers's website

$0.01

per share

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

on Interactive Brokers's website

Vanguard Brokerage Logo

Vanguard Brokerage

on Vanguard's website

$7.00

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

on Vanguard's website

Schwab Brokerage IRA Logo

Schwab Brokerage IRA

on Charles Schwab's website

$4.95

per trade

Up to $100

bonus award

$1,000

on Charles Schwab's website

Fidelity IRA Logo

Fidelity IRA

on Fidelity's website

$4.95

per trade

500

free trades with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Fidelity's website

T. Rowe Price Logo

T. Rowe Price

on T. Rowe Price's website

$19.95

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$2,500

on T. Rowe Price's website

Wealthfront IRA Logo

Wealthfront IRA

on Wealthfront's website

0.25%

management fee

$5,000

amount of assets managed for free

$500

on Wealthfront's website

Betterment IRA Logo

Betterment IRA

on Betterment's website

0.25%

management fee

Up to 1 year

of free management with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Betterment's website

Sofi Automated Investing Logo

Sofi Automated Investing

on Sofi Wealth's website

0%

management fee

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

$100

on Sofi Wealth's website

Note: Some of these promotions won’t apply for first-time depositors, due to IRA contribution limits of $6,000 per year in 2019. We’ve included promotions with low deposit requirements where available.

Our rating 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.

IRA FAQs

Am I eligible to save on taxes with an IRA?

Anyone can open a traditional IRA — there are no income limits — but if you’re also covered by a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k), the amount of your contribution that you can deduct on your tax return may be phased down or eliminated based on your income.

If you exceed the income limits, you can still make the maximum annual contribution, but a portion or all of it will be considered a nondeductible contribution. There’s no immediate tax benefit on nondeductible contributions, but you’re still able to defer taxes on investment income until retirement. Read more about the traditional IRA deduction limits.

Roth IRAs have income limits for eligibility; if you earn too much, your contribution limit is phased down or eliminated completely. To see if you’re affected, use our Roth IRA calculator.

What are the benefits of an IRA?

IRA accounts offer significant tax benefits over traditional savings and brokerage accounts. As long as your money stays in an IRA, you’ll owe no tax on your investment earnings — that means you have a bigger nest egg to compound and grow each year. In contrast, with a traditional brokerage account, taxes may eat into your savings every year, depending on how you invest.

And if you qualify for a deductible IRA, the benefits are even greater, because you’ll reduce your taxable income for the year you contribute. For example, if your marginal tax rate is 25%, a $6,000 IRA contribution can reduce your tax bill by $1,500. See if you’re eligible for a deductible IRA here.

What is the difference between a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA?

There are a few differences between these accounts, but the main way they differ has to do with taxes:

  • A traditional IRA earns you a tax deduction on contributions for the year they are made. You’ll then pay income taxes on the distributions you take in retirement. Because you’re delaying taxes until retirement, the investment growth in a traditional IRA is tax-deferred.
  • A Roth IRA offers no tax deduction when you make contributions, but qualified distributions in retirement are not taxed. That makes the investment income in a Roth IRA tax-free — you won’t pay taxes on it at all, so long as you wait until retirement to access it.

Generally, a traditional IRA is best if you expect your tax rate to be lower in retirement than it is now — by putting off taxes until retirement, you’ll pay that lower rate. If you expect the opposite to be true — your taxes are lower now and will be higher in retirement — you may want to choose a Roth IRA.

For more on this decision, dig into our comprehensive comparison of Roth and traditional IRAs.

What is the IRA contribution limit?

You can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA each year, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. (Those are the contribution limits in 2019.) That’s a combined limit shared by the two types of IRA — you can have both a Roth and a traditional IRA, but that maximum limit applies to all of your IRA contributions combined. But the contribution limit doesn’t include amounts rolled over, such as from a 401(k).

How easily can I access that money?

This is a retirement account, so the money is intended to stay put until age 59 ½ or later.

That said, traditional IRA withdrawal rules are stricter than Roth IRA withdrawal rules: With a traditional IRA, you may be taxed and hit with a 10% early withdrawal penalty if you pull money out before age 59 ½. There are a few exceptions.

With a Roth IRA, you can pull your contributions out at any time — remember, you’ve already paid taxes on them. You may be taxed or penalized on early distributions of investment earnings, however.

How do I open an IRA?

It’s a simple process: You can open an IRA online, at any broker or robo-advisor (though we’re partial to the ones above, for the reasons we outlined). It takes about 15 minutes and you’ll need to provide some personal information, including your name, birthdate, mailing address and Social Security number. Here’s our guide to opening an IRA, which also includes information about how to fund and invest the account.[/nw_accordion]

What do you mean by invest the account?

Unlike savings accounts, IRAs don’t pay a set interest rate or return. Once you’ve put money into the account, you need to select investments; otherwise, your money will sit in cash, which isn’t ideal for a long-term goal like retirement. Most IRA providers offer a wide range of investment options, including individual stocks, bonds and mutual funds.

If that sounds out of your league, you can open your IRA at a robo-advisor — like the two mentioned above — which will manage your investments for you for a small fee.

Last updated on April 23, 2019

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 IRA Accounts of April 2019