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14 Best IRA Accounts of November 2020

Andrea CoombesOctober 1, 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 November 2020

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 picks for investors who prefer help with management:

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
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

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:

Merrill Edge IRA

Merrill Edge IRA

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit


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 — all with no account minimum. 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

  • Lower number of low-expense-ratio mutual funds than some competitors.

Read Full Review

TD Ameritrade IRA

TD Ameritrade IRA

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time


Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

TD Ameritrade’s $0 commissions, $0 account minimum, wealth of free research and retirement planning tools, and plentiful lineup of no-transaction-fee mutual funds 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.

Pros

  • $0 account minimum.

  • Large lineup of no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

  • Good customer support.

  • Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.

Cons

  • Costly broker-assisted trades.

  • High short-term ETF trading fee.

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 October 1, 2020

Methodology

NerdWallet’s mission is to provide consumers with clarity for all life’s financial decisions. To select our best IRA providers, we screened brokers based on criteria suited to both “hands-on” investors (those generally looking for a self-directed brokerage account) and “hands-off” investors (those likely to prefer a robo-advisor account).

For the “hands-on” category, we evaluated brokerage accounts by factors such as account fees, technology, retirement planning tools, customer support options and the range of low-cost investment funds offered. For the “hands-off” category, we evaluated robo-advisors by factors such as portfolio mix, management fees, investment expense ratios and access to quality financial advisors.

Our evaluation team, led by NerdWallet investing authority Arielle O’Shea, dedicates more than three months each year to intensive research on brokers and robo-advisors, and continues to monitor these providers throughout the year. In this process we compile more than 500 data points across more than 30 providers to evaluate and rank their services for everyone from first-timers to seasoned investors.

Each provider in our analysis completes detailed questionnaires, while our reviewers independently evaluate and compare offerings, often supplemented with interviews and platform demonstrations. All results go through a rigorous fact-checking process, and our rankings are subject to change as providers update their offerings.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best IRA Accounts of November 2020

Frequently asked questions