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14 Best IRA Accounts of June 2020

Andrea CoombesMay 21, 2020

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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 June 2020

BrokerNerdWallet Rating CommissionsPromotionAccount MinimumLearn More
Ellevest

Ellevest

on Ellevest's website

Best for: Hands-Off Investors

0.25%

management fee

1 month free

of Ellevest Digital

$0

on Ellevest's website

Betterment IRA

Betterment IRA

on Betterment's website

Best for: Hands-Off Investors

0.25%

management fee

Up to 1 year

of free management with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Betterment's website

SoFi Automated Investing

SoFi Automated Investing

on SoFi Invest's website

Best for: Hands-Off Investors

0%

management fee

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

$0

on SoFi Invest's website

You Invest by J.P.Morgan

You Invest by J.P.Morgan

on You Invest by J.P.Morgan's website

Best for: Hands-On Investors

$0

per trade

Up to $725

when you open and fund a new account with $25,000 or more in new money

$0

on You Invest by J.P.Morgan's website

E*TRADE IRA

E*TRADE IRA

Best for: Hands-On Investors

$0

per trade

None

no promotion at this time

$0

Read review

Our picks for

Hands-Off Investors

Ellevest

on Ellevest's website

Ellevest

Ellevest

Fees

0.25%

management fee

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

1 month free

of Ellevest Digital

on Ellevest's website


Promotion

1 month free

of Ellevest Digital

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 advisory fees (ranging from 0.25% - 0.5% of assets) and unlimited access to financial advisors (Premium clients can talk to CFPs), 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.

Cons

  • Few accounts supported.

  • No tax-loss harvesting.

Read Full Review
Betterment IRA

on Betterment's website

Betterment IRA

Betterment IRA

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

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.

Pros

  • Multiple investment options.

  • Robust goal-based tools.

  • Fractional shares mean all your cash is invested.

  • Low management fee.

Cons

  • $100,000 minimum and higher fee for access to financial advisors.

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 picks for

Hands-On Investors

You Invest by J.P.Morgan

on You Invest by J.P.Morgan's website

You Invest by J.P.Morgan

You Invest by J.P.Morgan

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $725

when you open and fund a new account with $25,000 or more in new money

on You Invest by J.P.Morgan's website


Promotion

Up to $725

when you open and fund a new account with $25,000 or more in new money

Why we like it

You Invest Trade 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

E*TRADE IRA

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion at this time


Promotion

None

no promotion 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

Note: Some of these promotions won’t apply for first-time depositors, due to IRA contribution limits of $6,000 per year in 2020. We’ve included promotions with low deposit requirements where available.

Last updated on May 22, 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 IRA Accounts of June 2020

Frequently asked questions

Picking the best IRA account will depend a bit on what matters most to you. Below we detail some criteria to keep in mind, but don’t forget that the most important thing is to get started saving for retirement. The sooner you get started, the better off you’ll be. Before decision paralysis slows you down, consider simply opening an account at one of our top picks — we’ve done hours of research already.

Here are some important criteria to keep in mind as you pick the best IRA account:

Low-cost investments: For long-term retirement-savings success, make sure high fees don’t eat into your investment returns. Open your IRA at a broker or robo-advisor that offers low-cost investments (if you’re thinking of opening your IRA at a bank, check out the FAQ below for more on bank IRAs). For many retirement investors, a smart investment is a low-cost mutual fund. Investing in a handful of mutual funds is an easy way to own a diversified portfolio, because each mutual fund invests in dozens, hundreds or even thousands of companies. With mutual funds, one of the main fees to focus on is the expense ratio. Ideally, you’re investing in mutual funds with an expense ratio of less than about 0.5%.

Low fees: While you’re keeping an eye on expense ratios, also keep others fees in mind. If you’re a do-it-yourself investor who plans to open an IRA at a broker, make sure you pick a broker with low trading commissions (or a high number of commission-free ETFs and no-transaction-fee mutual funds) and low transfer and other fees.

Investment help: If you want guidance picking investments, a robo-advisor likely is a better choice for you than a broker. All robo-advisors offer either ready-to-go investment portfolios or provide some help picking investments.

Customer support: Make sure the broker or robo-advisor offers customer support that meets your needs, whether that’s live chat, telephone support or access to human financial planners.

You might have noticed we don’t include any bank IRA accounts in our roundup of the best IRAs. Generally, an investment broker or robo-advisor is a better option than a bank for an IRA account, because for a long-term goal like retirement you want to tap into the power of the stock market to grow your money.

Bank IRAs generally offer access to savings products such as certificates of deposit. CDs are savings products that guarantee a rate of return as long as you leave your money in for a specific period of time. Historically, stock market returns average about 10% a year. CDs are currently offering about 3%. Yes, the stock market comes with the risk that, in any given year, your account may lose value — but investors who leave their money in the market, even through those down days, generally enjoy hefty gains over time.

If, despite that, you decide to go with a bank CD, be sure to pick among the IRA accounts with the best IRA CD rates so you know you’re getting the best possible rate of return for that type of account.

While unlikely, it is possible for an IRA account to lose value and, potentially, drop to zero. That’s much likelier to happen if you invest in a single company stock. The key to sidestepping this risk is to make sure your investments are diversified. That means investing in a variety of companies — of different sizes and in different industries and locations — and in both stocks and bonds. That way, when any one slice of your investments faces trouble, the others are there to keep your overall portfolio on a steady course.

The easiest path to a diversified portfolio is with mutual funds and exchange-traded funds. One single fund can invest in thousands of companies, making it a simple one-stop shop for investment diversification.

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.

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.

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.

You can contribute up to $6,000 to an IRA each year, or $7,000 if you’re 50 or older. (Those are the annual contribution limits in 2019 and 2020.) 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).

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.

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.

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.