Best of

8 Best Brokers for Penny Stock Trading

Kevin VoigtOctober 16, 2020

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence 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.

Penny stocks — often called OTC or over-the-counter stocks — are a lot like they sound, though they don’t actually cost a penny. Generally defined as stocks that trade for less than $5 per share, penny stocks are traded outside the major stock exchanges. (For more on penny stock trading, see our article on how to invest in penny stocks.)

Five dollars a share seems like a steal when stacked against companies that trade for $500 or more. This is where the backstory is important: These stocks are cheap for a reason. Because they are issued by small, yet-to-be-established companies, penny stocks can be volatile. They are often hard to research and accurately value, and they trade infrequently, which means they can be tough to sell. Bottom line, there are plenty of other ways to expose your portfolio to stocks without ponying up a high share price — here are a few suggestions.

Choosing a penny stock broker

In case the above didn’t make this clear: NerdWallet does not recommend taking on the risks that come with trading penny stocks unless you are a sophisticated investor and you understand this market. You'll also want to be aware of the following when selecting an online broker to trade penny stocks:

Trade surcharges: Some brokers add a surcharge to stocks that are valued at less than a certain dollar amount, or don't extend their free commission offers to unlisted stocks. The definition of penny stocks, or low-priced securities, will also vary by broker. Some consider anything trading under $5 to be a penny stock, while others put the cutoff at $2 or $1.

Volume restrictions: The best penny stock brokers allow trades of unlimited shares without additional fees, but a few charge more for large orders. For example, TradeStation's $0 commission applies to trades of 10,000 shares or less. Some brokers also limit the number of penny stock shares you can trade in one order or in one day, slowing your ability to trade and forcing you to pay another commission for a second order.

Trading restrictions: Watch out for firms that require you to trade penny stocks by placing a phone order or that impose limits on the types of trades you can execute. Ideally, your penny stock broker will allow you to trade penny stocks with the same online platform used for other stock trades.

Below are NerdWallet’s top brokerages for penny stock traders. You'll notice that many of these brokers also appear on our list of the top online brokers for stock trading; they're all well-rounded brokers that also offer a uniquely strong suite of features for penny stock trading.

Summary of Best Brokers for Penny Stock Trading

Merrill Edge

on Merrill Edge's website

Merrill Edge

Merrill Edge

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

on Merrill Edge's website


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. 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

  • Advanced traders may find fewer securities on offer.

Read Full Review
Interactive Brokers IBKR Pro

on Interactive Brokers's website

Interactive Brokers IBKR Pro

Interactive Brokers IBKR Pro

Fees

$0.005

per share

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Exclusive!

0.25% reduction on margin loans. Tiers apply

on Interactive Brokers's website


Promotion

Exclusive!

0.25% reduction on margin loans. Tiers apply

Why we like it

Interactive Brokers attracts active traders with per-share pricing, an advanced trading platform, a large selection of tradable securities — including foreign stocks — and ridiculously low margin rates.

Pros

  • Per-share pricing.

  • Volume discounts.

  • Large investment selection.

  • Extensive tools for active traders.

  • Powerful trading platform.

  • NerdWallet users who sign up get a 0.25 percentage point discount on margin rates.

Cons

  • Complex pricing on some investments.

  • Inactivity fees.

  • Website is difficult to navigate.

Read Full Review
Robinhood

on Robinhood's website

Robinhood

Robinhood

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

on Robinhood's website


Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

Robinhood is truly free: There are no hidden costs here. You’ll give up a few things in exchange for free trades — trading tools, research, education, investment options beyond stocks and ETFs — but if limiting costs is your No. 1 concern, Robinhood is a solid choice.

Pros

  • No account minimum.

  • Streamlined interface.

  • Cryptocurrency trading.

Cons

  • No retirement accounts.

  • No mutual funds or bonds.

  • Limited customer support.

Read Full Review
TradeStation

on TradeStation's website

TradeStation

TradeStation

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $5,000

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

on TradeStation's website


Promotion

Up to $5,000

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

Why we like it

TradeStation is a strong choice for active stock, options and futures investors who rely on the broker’s high-octane trading platform, reams of research and sophisticated analytical tools. Trades of up to 10,000 shares are commission-free.

Pros

  • High-quality trading platforms.

  • Comprehensive research.

  • Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.

  • Advanced tools.

  • Active trader community.

Cons

  • Free trading on advanced platform requires TS Select.

  • No transaction-fee-free mutual funds.

  • Plans and pricing can be confusing.

Read Full Review
Zacks Trade

on Zacks Trade's website

Zacks Trade

Zacks Trade

Fees

$0.01

per share

Account Minimum

$2,500

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

on Zacks Trade's website


Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Why we like it

Zacks is a great choice for experienced and active investors who would appreciate a little extra support from a representative, but trades cost more than at competitors.

Pros

  • Ample research offerings.

  • Robust trading platform.

  • Access to international exchanges.

Cons

  • Trails competitors on commissions.

  • High account minimum.

Read Full Review

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

If you’re still on the fence about penny stocks, learn more about some of your other investment options:

Last updated on October 17, 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 Brokers for Penny Stock Trading