BEST OF

14 Best IRA Accounts of May 2021

Alana BensonApril 30, 2021
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An individual retirement account, or IRA, is one of the best places to save for retirement — the tax benefits can give your savings a nice lift. And, spoiler alert: It typically takes just 15 minutes to open an account. We’re here to help you find the best IRA for your situation.

How (and why) to open an IRA

Opening an IRA is a simple process. You’ll need to provide some personal information, including your birthdate and Social Security number, but that’s about it.

Even if you have a 401(k) or other workplace plan, it can make sense to save in an IRA — as long as you also make sure to get any company 401(k) match you may be offered — because IRAs often offer more investment choices. This is important, because your investment returns will have a big impact on your savings over time.

Say you put $500 every month into an IRA (that adds up to the annual maximum of $6,000). The stock market’s annual average return of 8% would get you more than $475,000 after 25 years. Even if you earned a more conservative 6%, you’d end up with more than $345,000 after 25 years.

Every year, we evaluate a broad swath of major U.S. online brokers and robo-advisors for the best IRA account offerings. Our favorites are below. (Note: The star ratings on this page are for the provider overall. Some brokers with a lower overall rating are included here because IRAs are where they excel.)

Summary of Best IRA Accounts of May 2021

Our picks for

Hands-Off Investors

SoFi Automated Investing

on SoFi Invest's website

SoFi Automated Investing

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
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
Betterment

on Betterment's website

Betterment

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
Betterment

Fees

0.25%

management fee

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to 1 year

of free management with a qualifying deposit

on Betterment's website


Promotion

Up to 1 year

of free management with a qualifying deposit

Why we like it

Betterment has maintained its status as the largest independent robo-advisor for a reason: The company offers a powerful combination of goal-based tools, affordable management fees and no account minimum.

Pros

  • Multiple portfolio options and customization.

  • No account minimum and low fees.

  • Fractional shares mean all your cash is invested.

  • Robust goal-based tools.

Cons

  • No direct indexing.

Read Full Review
Ellevest

on Ellevest's website

Ellevest

5.0

NerdWallet rating 
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 carte access to CFPs and coaches, Ellevest is an appealing choice for investors of any gender.

Pros

  • No account minimum.

  • Goal-focused investing approach.

  • Portfolio mix that factors women’s needs.

  • A la carte sessions with coaches and CFPs.

Cons

  • IRA access for Plus and Executive members only.

  • No tax-loss harvesting.

Read Full Review

Our picks for

Hands-On Investors

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

on J.P Morgan's website

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

4.0

NerdWallet rating 
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

on J.P Morgan's website


Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing is a clear-cut investment platform that is great for beginners looking to learn how to buy and sell investments. More advanced investors, however, may find it lacking in terms of available assets, tools and research. INVESTMENT PRODUCTS: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE

Pros

  • Easy-to-use platform.

  • $0 commissions.

  • App connects all Chase accounts.

  • No account minimum.

Cons

  • Limited tools and research.

  • Portfolio Builder tool requires $2,500 balance.

Read Full Review
E*TRADE IRA

on E*TRADE's website

E*TRADE IRA

4.5

NerdWallet rating 
E*TRADE IRA

Fees

$0

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

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 and no fee for stock or ETF trades.

Pros

  • No minimum balance.

  • Extensive research and tools.

  • Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.

  • 4,400+ no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds.

Cons

  • $19.99 cost for trading non-NTF mutual funds.

Read Full Review

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

Note: Some of these promotions won’t apply for first-time depositors, due to IRA contribution limits of $6,000 per year in 2021. We’ve included promotions with low deposit requirements where available.

Disclosure: The author held no positions in the aforementioned securities at the time of publication.

Last updated on April 30, 2021

Methodology

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers and robo-advisors by assets under management, along with emerging industry players, using a multifaceted and iterative approach. Our aim is to provide an independent assessment of providers to help arm you with information to make sound, informed judgements on which ones will best meet your needs.

DATA COLLECTION AND REVIEW PROCESS

We collect data directly from providers, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. Our process starts by sending detailed questionnaires to providers to complete. The questionnaires are structured to equally elicit both favorable and unfavorable responses from providers. They are not designed or prepared to produce any predetermined results. The questionnaire answers, combined with product demonstrations, interviews of personnel at the providers and our specialists’ hands-on research, fuel our proprietary assessment process that scores each provider’s performance across more than 20 factors. The final output produces star ratings from poor (one star) to excellent (five stars). Ratings are rounded to the nearest half-star.

RATING FACTORS

Evaluations vary by provider type, but in each case are based upon the weighted averages of factors that include but are not limited to: advisory and account fees, account minimums and types, investment selection, investment expense ratios, trading costs, access to human financial advisors, educational resources and tools, rebalancing and tax minimization options, and customer support including branch access, user-facing technology and mobile platforms.

Each factor can involve evaluating various sub-factors. For instance, when gauging the investment selections offered by robo-advisors, 80% of the score is based on the potential for diversification (how well-diversified a resulting portfolio of investments could be) combined with the availability of specialty portfolios and level of customization for investors. Expense ratios form an additional 10% of the score, and low or no management fee the remaining 10%.

FACTOR WEIGHTINGS

The weighting of each factor is based on our team’s assessment of which features are the most important to consumers and which ones impact the consumer experience in the most meaningful way. The factors considered, and how those factors are weighted, change depending upon the category of providers reviewed.

Provider categories include: Best Brokers for Stock Trading, Best Brokers for Beginners, Best Brokers for Day Trading, Best Brokers for Options Trading, Best Discount Brokers, Best Brokers for Free Trading, Best Investment Apps, Best Brokers for Penny Stocks, Best IRA Brokers, Best Robo-Advisors, Best Financial Advisors, Best Real Estate Platforms, Best Brokers for ETFs and Best Brokers for Mutual Funds.

INFORMATION UPDATES

Writers and editors conduct our broker and robo-advisor reviews on an annual basis but continually make updates throughout the year. We maintain frequent contact with providers and highlight any changes in offerings.

THE REVIEW TEAM

The review team comprises seasoned writers, researchers and editors who cover stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds, exchange-traded funds, alternative investments, socially responsible investing, financial advisors, retirement and investment strategy on a daily basis. In addition to NerdWallet, the work of our team members has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Forbes, USA Today, Bloomberg News, Nasdaq, MSN, MarketWatch, Yahoo! Finance and other national and regional media outlets.

The combined expertise of our Investing team is infused into our review process to ensure thoughtful evaluations of provider products and services from the customer perspective. Our writers and editors combine to have more than 70 years of deep experience in finance, ranging from a former Wall Street Journal reporter to a former senior financial advisor at Merrill Lynch.

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

While NerdWallet does have partnerships with many of the reviewed providers, we manage potential conflicts of interest by maintaining a wall between our content and business operations. This wall is designed to prevent our writers and the review process from being influenced or impacted by our business partnerships. This way, all reviews can provide an unbiased review that serves the interests of our users. For more information, see NerdWallet’s editorial guidelines.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best IRA Accounts of May 2021

Frequently asked questions