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9 Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading of December 2019

Dayana YochimNovember 25, 2019

At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.

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

  • Minimum balance requirement for active-trading platform.

Read Full Review
TD Ameritrade

on TD Ameritrade's website

TD Ameritrade

TD Ameritrade

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

on TD Ameritrade's website


Promotion

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

Why we like it

TD Ameritrade meets the needs of both active traders and beginner investors with quality trading platforms, $0 commissions on online stock, options and ETF trades and a large selection of mutual funds.

Pros

  • Commission-free stock, ETF and options trades.

  • Free research.

  • High-quality trading platforms.

  • No account minimum.

  • Good customer support.

  • Large investment selection.

Cons

  • Costly broker-assisted trades.

  • High short-term ETF trading fee.

Read Full Review
E*Trade

on E*Trade's website

E*Trade

E*Trade

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

$100 to $2,500

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

on E*Trade's website


Promotion

$100 to $2,500

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

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.

Pros

  • Easy-to-use tools.

  • Large investment selection.

  • Excellent customer support.

  • Access to extensive research.

  • Advanced mobile app.

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

Cons

  • Website can be difficult to navigate.

Read Full Review
Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite

on Interactive Brokers's website

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

No promotion available at this time

on Interactive Brokers's website


Promotion

None

No promotion available at this time

Why we like it

Interactive Brokers' IBKR Lite is a strong option for frequent traders: The broker offers international trade capabilities, no stock-trading commission and a quality trading platform.

Pros

  • Commission-free stock and ETF trades.

  • Large investment selection.

  • Strong research and tools.

  • Over 4,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

  • No inactivity fees on IBKR Lite.

Cons

  • High options contract fee.

  • Access to advanced platform requires IBKR Pro.

Read Full Review
TradeStation

on TradeStation's website

TradeStation

TradeStation

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$500

Promotion

Up to $2,500

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

on TradeStation's website


Promotion

Up to $2,500

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. Active traders will like its per share/per contract and unbundled pricing plans. There's also a flat-fee plan and the TSgo plan that offers pared-down features but also $0 trade commissions. A lack of commission-free ETFs and mutual funds can be a turnoff to some investors.

Pros

  • High-quality trading platforms.

  • Comprehensive research.

  • Low commissions.

  • Advanced tools.

  • Active trader community.

Cons

  • No commission-free ETFs.

  • Minimum balance requirement for active trading platform.

Read Full Review

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

Summary of Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading of December 2019

BrokerCommissionsPromotionAccount MinimumLearn More
Merrill Edge Logo

Merrill Edge

on Merrill Edge's website

$0

per trade

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

$0

on Merrill Edge's website

TD Ameritrade Logo

TD Ameritrade

on TD Ameritrade's website

$0

per trade

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

$0

on TD Ameritrade's website

E*Trade Logo

E*Trade

on E*Trade's website

$0

per trade

$100 to $2,500

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

$0

on E*Trade's website

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite Logo

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite

on Interactive Brokers's website

$0

per trade

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

on Interactive Brokers's website

TradeStation Logo

TradeStation

on TradeStation's website

$0

per trade

Up to $2,500

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

$500

on TradeStation's website

Charles Schwab Logo

Charles Schwab

$0

per trade

None

No promotion at this time

$0

Read review
Fidelity Logo

Fidelity

$0

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

Read review
Robinhood Logo

Robinhood

on Robinhood's website

$0

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

on Robinhood's website

Ally Invest Logo

Ally Invest

$0

per trade

$50 - $3,500

in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.

$0

Read review
BrokerCommissionsPromotionAccount MinimumLearn More
Merrill Edge Logo

Merrill Edge

on Merrill Edge's website

$0

per trade

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

$0

on Merrill Edge's website

TD Ameritrade Logo

TD Ameritrade

on TD Ameritrade's website

$0

per trade

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

$0

on TD Ameritrade's website

E*Trade Logo

E*Trade

on E*Trade's website

$0

per trade

$100 to $2,500

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

$0

on E*Trade's website

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite Logo

Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite

on Interactive Brokers's website

$0

per trade

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

on Interactive Brokers's website

TradeStation Logo

TradeStation

on TradeStation's website

$0

per trade

Up to $2,500

cash credit with a qualifying deposit

$500

on TradeStation's website

Charles Schwab Logo

Charles Schwab

$0

per trade

None

No promotion at this time

$0

Read review
Fidelity Logo

Fidelity

$0

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

Read review
Robinhood Logo

Robinhood

on Robinhood's website

$0

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

on Robinhood's website

Ally Invest Logo

Ally Invest

$0

per trade

$50 - $3,500

in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.

$0

Read review

Last updated on November 25, 2019

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 Online Brokers for Stock Trading of December 2019

Frequently asked questions

Not much. Note that many of the brokers above have no account minimums for both taxable brokerage accounts and IRAs. Once you open an account, all it takes to get started is enough money to cover the cost of a single share of a stock and the trading commission, if charged. (See “How to Buy Stocks” for step-by-step instructions on placing that first trade.)

Trading costs definitely matter to active and high-volume traders, but many brokers now offer commission-free trades of stocks, ETFs and options. Other factors — access to a range of investments or training tools — may be more valuable than saving a few bucks when you purchase shares.

One easy way is to invest in exchange-traded funds. ETFs are essentially bite-sized mutual funds that are bought and sold just like individual stocks on a stock market exchange. Like mutual funds, each ETF contains a basket of stocks (sometimes hundreds) that adhere to particular criteria (e.g., shares of companies that are part of a stock market index like the S&P 500). Unlike mutual funds, which can have high investment minimums, investors can purchase as little as one share of an ETF at a time.

 

Your money is indeed insured, but only against the unlikely event a brokerage firm or investment company goes under. A broker’s SIPC coverage (Securities Investor Protection Corporation) doesn't cover any loss in value of your investments.

Your account choices boil down to a taxable brokerage account versus tax-favored retirement account, such as an IRA. Our guide to brokerage accounts goes into more detail about what’s involved in setting up a taxable account. Opening an IRA involves choosing which type, such as a Roth IRA, traditional IRA or SEP IRA. If you're new to this, we’ve got you covered in our guide to IRAs.

After you’ve opened the account, you’ll need to initiate a deposit or funds transfer to the brokerage firm, which can take anywhere from a few days to a week. Once that is complete, it’s off to the investing races! And by that we mean taking a thoughtful and disciplined approach to investing your money for the long-term.

Some key criteria to consider when evaluating any investment company are how much money you have, what type of assets you intend to buy, your trading style and technical needs, how frequently you plan to transact and how much service you need. Our post about how to choose the best broker for you can help you sort through the features brokerage firms offer and rank your priorities.