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Best Brokers for Beginners of June 2024

The best brokers for beginners offer a combination of low costs, helpful educational content and a broad investment selection. They also have trading platforms that are easy to navigate and flexible as you grow your skills.

Chris Davis
Kevin Voigt
By Kevin Voigt and  Chris Davis 
Edited by Arielle O'Shea

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.


The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only. NerdWallet, Inc. does not offer advisory or brokerage services, nor does it recommend or advise investors to buy or sell particular stocks, securities or other investments.

When you’re a beginner investor, the right broker can be so much more than a platform for placing trades or selecting your investments. Online brokers can help you build a solid investing foundation — functioning as a teacher, advisor and investment analyst — and serve as a lifelong portfolio co-pilot as your skills and investing strategy mature.

What exactly does a broker do?

Brokers are licensed to buy and sell stocks and other securities via stock market exchanges. Decades ago, the only way for individuals to invest directly in stocks or other investments was to hire stock brokers to place trades on their behalf.

What was once a clunky, costly transaction (conducted on landline telephones!) now takes place in seconds through online stock brokers. Better yet, those brokers cost a fraction of what full-service brokers used to charge for the service. In fact, many online stock brokers, including all of the ones below, offer commission-free trading, which means you don't pay the broker a fee to purchase stocks.

What should beginner investors look for in a broker?

We do a deep, comprehensive analysis of online brokers, which involves not just collecting data points about their offerings, but also hands-on testing of each broker. For beginners, we focus heavily on ease of use: How usable is the online broker's website? How easy is it to fund an account and navigate the broker's trading platform? (Yes, we fund accounts and place trades as part of our testing process.)

We also look at factors like account fees, customer service, mobile app and investment selection — we don't expect the best brokers for beginners to have complex investment offerings, but we do expect them to offer a range of approachable investments, like mutual funds and index funds.

Our deep, independent analysis of online brokers cuts through the details to find and evaluate the information investors want when choosing an investing account.

  • Over 60 investment account providers reviewed and rated by our expert Nerds.

  • More than 50 years of combined experience writing about finance and investing.

  • Hands-on testing of the account funding process, provider websites and trading platforms.

  • Dozens of objective ratings rubrics and strict guidelines to maintain editorial integrity.

To see our full methodology and learn more about our process, read our criteria for evaluating brokers and for evaluating robo-advisors.

When you’re a beginner investor, the right broker can be so much more than a platform for placing trades or selecting your investments. Online brokers can help you build a solid investing foundation — functioning as a teacher, advisor and investment analyst — and serve as a lifelong portfolio co-pilot as your skills and investing strategy mature.

What exactly does a broker do?

Brokers are licensed to buy and sell stocks and other securities via stock market exchanges. Decades ago, the only way for individuals to invest directly in stocks or other investments was to hire stock brokers to place trades on their behalf.

What was once a clunky, costly transaction (conducted on landline telephones!) now takes place in seconds through online stock brokers. Better yet, those brokers cost a fraction of what full-service brokers used to charge for the service. In fact, many online stock brokers, including all of the ones below, offer commission-free trading, which means you don't pay the broker a fee to purchase stocks.

What should beginner investors look for in a broker?

We do a deep, comprehensive analysis of online brokers, which involves not just collecting data points about their offerings, but also hands-on testing of each broker. For beginners, we focus heavily on ease of use: How usable is the online broker's website? How easy is it to fund an account and navigate the broker's trading platform? (Yes, we fund accounts and place trades as part of our testing process.)

We also look at factors like account fees, customer service, mobile app and investment selection — we don't expect the best brokers for beginners to have complex investment offerings, but we do expect them to offer a range of approachable investments, like mutual funds and index funds.

Our deep, independent analysis of online brokers cuts through the details to find and evaluate the information investors want when choosing an investing account.

  • Over 60 investment account providers reviewed and rated by our expert Nerds.

  • More than 50 years of combined experience writing about finance and investing.

  • Hands-on testing of the account funding process, provider websites and trading platforms.

  • Dozens of objective ratings rubrics and strict guidelines to maintain editorial integrity.

To see our full methodology and learn more about our process, read our criteria for evaluating brokers and for evaluating robo-advisors.

Best Brokers for Beginners

Our pick for

beginner crypto investors

Robinhood has consistently improved its crypto offering over the years, and our reviewers have taken notice: It is now our pick for the best traditional online broker for crypto trading. Robinhood is known for its user-friendly interface, which makes it easy for beginner investors to access crypto markets.

NerdWallet rating 

4.3

/5
Robinhood
Learn more

on Robinhood's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

1 Free Stock

after linking your bank account (stock value range $5.00-$200)

Pros

  • No account minimum.

  • Streamlined interface.

  • Cryptocurrency trading.

  • IRA with 1% match.

  • High interest rate on uninvested cash.

Cons

  • No mutual funds or individual bonds.

  • Limited customer support.

Why We Like It

Robinhood provides free stock, options, ETF and cryptocurrency trades (but no bonds or mutual funds), and its account minimum is $0, too. Robinhood Gold offers a high interest rate on uninvested cash and low margin rates.

Our pick for

trading platform for beginners

Schwab gets an edge here for its paper trading platform — a tool that allows you to practice trades without putting your real money on the line. Aside from being a generally strong broker like Fidelity, Schwab's paper trading platform stood out to our testers, and it offers a large selection of investments to try out. Once you're ready to graduate from the play money, Schwab's impressive lineup of platforms will more than meet your needs — in fact, the broker's platforms are a favorite among even advanced traders.

NerdWallet rating 

4.9

/5
Charles Schwab
Learn more

on Charles Schwab's website

Fees

$0

per online equity trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros

  • Four trading platforms with no minimum or fees.

  • Above-average mobile app.

  • Extensive research.

  • Large fund selection.

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

Cons

  • Low interest rate on uninvested cash.

Why We Like It

Charles Schwab has earned its strong reputation: The broker offers high-quality customer service, four free trading platforms, a wide selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and $0 commissions for stocks, ETFs and options.

Our pick for

index funds and ETFs

Vanguard made its name in index investing for a reason — the company's index funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs) really can't be beat. Vanguard prides itself on its low-cost funds and overall low fees. One downside? Most Vanguard index funds have a minimum investment requirement of $3,000. If you can't meet that, consider opting for a Vanguard ETF instead. These trade on exchanges like a stock, which means there is no minimum investment outside of the fund's share price — often $100 or less.

NerdWallet rating 

4.2

/5
Vanguard
Learn more

on Vanguard's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros

  • Large mutual fund selection.

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • Leader in low-cost funds.

  • High interest rate on uninvested cash.

  • High order execution quality.

Cons

  • Basic trading platform only.

  • Limited research and data.

Why We Like It

Vanguard is the king of low-cost investing, making it ideal for buy-and-hold and retirement investors. It offers a top-notch selection of proprietary, low-cost mutual funds, including many ESG options. Despite its $0 trade commission, active traders will find the broker falls short due to the lack of a strong trading platform.

Our pick for

educational content

E*TRADE stood out to our testers for its large library of educational content, including a knowledge center that is full of videos and articles to help beginner investors level up. E*TRADE also offers regular market-focused webcasts and webinars with guidance for everyone from novice investors to advanced traders.

NerdWallet rating 

4.4

/5
E*TRADE
Learn more

on E*TRADE's website

Fees

$0

per trade. Other fees apply.

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Get up to $1,000

when you open and fund an E*TRADE account

Pros

  • Easy-to-use tools.

  • Excellent customer support.

  • Advanced mobile app.

  • Commission-free stock, options, mutual fund and ETF trades.

Cons

  • Website can be difficult to navigate.

  • Low interest rate on uninvested cash.

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.

Our pick for

in-person customer support

J.P. Morgan earns high marks from our reviewers for its customer service, a key factor for beginner investors. In addition to that, the broker stands out for its large network of locations where investors can receive in-person support.

NerdWallet rating 

4.2

/5
J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing
Learn more

on J.P. Morgan's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Get up to $700

when you open and fund a J.P. Morgan Self-Directed Investing account with qualifying new money.

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.

  • Low interest rate on uninvested cash.

Why We Like It

"Beginners: 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. If building an investment portfolio from scratch seems overwhelming, J.P. Morgan's Self-Directed Investing Portfolio Builder tool makes the process less intimidating.

INVESTMENT PRODUCTS: NOT A DEPOSIT • NOT FDIC INSURED • NO BANK GUARANTEE • MAY LOSE VALUE"

Our pick for

mobile investing app for beginners

Webull stands out to our testers for its sleek, intuitive platform, and its mobile app store scores reflect that. It's a good choice for beginner investors who prefer accessing their accounts and trading on their phone versus a desktop platform.

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Webull
Learn more

on Webull's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Get up to 75 free fractional shares (valued up to $3,000)

when you open and fund an account with Webull.

Pros

  • Low costs.

  • Easy-to-use platform.

  • Advanced tools.

  • Access to cryptocurrency.

  • High interest rate on uninvested cash.

  • High order execution quality.

Cons

  • No mutual funds.

  • Thin educational support.

Why We Like It

Webull will appeal to the mobile-first generation of casual investors with its slick interface for desktop and mobile apps. The brokerage also delivers an impressive array of tools for active traders and a wide investment selection, including stocks (plus fractional shares), options, ETFs, crypto, commodities and futures. However, its relatively weak educational content may leave true beginners in the lurch, and it lacks access to bonds and mutual funds.

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

Do you need a broker to invest?

You may already be investing through other accounts — for example, if you have a 401(k) or other retirement account at work, that's an investment account. But an online broker allows you to invest outside of that account, with access to a wider investment selection and more tools and resources, including a trading platform. Through an online brokerage account, you can begin to purchase investments and make trades on the stock market.

How do you get started investing?

To start investing, you need to open an investment account through a broker. That account is called a brokerage account, and it holds the cash you’ll use to buy and sell investments, as well as the investments themselves once you own them. (Learn more about how brokerage accounts work.)

If you have a 401(k) or other employer-sponsored retirement account, you already have one kind of investment account. Many investors find it beneficial to open additional accounts when:

  • Saving for retirement. If you want or need to save for retirement in an account separate from your employer, you can open an IRA. These come in two flavors: a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA. (Read more about the differences between Roth and traditional IRAs.)

  • Investing for other goals. If you’re saving for a goal other than retirement or you’ve topped off your 401(k) and IRA contributions, a standard taxable brokerage account is a good option. It's called a taxable account because it doesn't come with the tax benefits that many retirement accounts offer, but that also makes it more flexible to be used for various goals.

Is money safe with a broker?

The Securities Investor Protection Corporation insures cash and securities up to $500,000, with a $250,000 limit on cash losses. But this protects you only in the event your stock broker fails. Many investments, including stocks, carry the risk of loss, and you're not protected if an investment you purchase goes down in value. You should expect the value of your investments to fluctuate, but over a long time horizon, the stock market has historically returned an average of 10% per year before inflation.

How much does a broker cost?

The brokers on our list generally have low fees as a requirement to appear here, and they don't charge commissions to trade stocks or most other investments. It also doesn’t take a lot of money to get started — many online stock brokers allow you to open an account with no minimum deposit requirement.

To begin investing, you will need enough money to purchase the investments you choose. Stock share prices can vary widely, but some brokers allow you to purchase fractional shares, which are a smaller slice of a stock. We have a list of the best brokers for fractional shares. Other investments, like mutual funds, may have investment minimums, but generally speaking, you can find options that don't — especially at the brokers we've chosen to appear here.

What’s the difference between a full-service broker and a discount broker? Which is best?

The difference between a full-service stock broker and a discount stock broker comes down to the level of service and how much you want to pay for that service.

Traditional full-service stock brokers do more than assist with the buying and selling of stocks or bonds. They often offer a wide array of services and products, including financial and retirement planning, investing and tax advice and regular portfolio updates. But they can charge substantial fees and transaction costs that can erode long-term investment gains.

If you have more money than time, a full-service broker may be for you. For most investors, however, it can pay to look at discount stock brokers. These brokers allow you to buy investments online through their website or trading platforms. You'll pay less in trading commissions and fees at a discount broker.

Other brokers, called robo-advisors, offer a combination of access to financial planners and automated investing technology. Companies in this category include Betterment and Wealthfront, and they build your investment portfolio for you for a fee. If you want a service to make investment decisions for you, robo-advisors are a good option.

What's the best trading platform for a beginner?

For beginner investors, we look for trading platforms that are easy to understand and navigate, but can also grow with you as you begin to move away from "beginner" status and start feeling more comfortable with investing and trading. Brokers that scored highly for both ease of use and their platform's capabilities include Fidelity, Charles Schwab and Interactive Brokers. However, we selected Charles Schwab as the best platform for beginners because it stood out for its paper trading capabilities and ease of use.

Can you take money out of these accounts?

Yes, but it will take more time than getting cash from your ATM — often a few business days. Your broker may need to sell securities (like stocks, bonds or mutual funds) equivalent to the amount you want to withdraw, so it's not as simple as removing cash from a savings account.

If you're taking all of your money out, whether transferring to a different stock broker or cashing out to move to Tahiti, there may be account closing fees as well.

More resources for beginners

Last updated on June 19, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokers by assets under management, along with emerging industry players. 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. We adhere to strict guidelines for editorial integrity.

We collect data directly from providers through detailed questionnaires, and conduct first-hand testing and observation through provider demonstrations. The questionnaire answers, combined with 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).

For more details about the categories considered when rating brokers and our process, read our full methodology.

To recap our selections...

NerdWallet's Best Brokers for Beginners of June 2024