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11 Best Brokerage Accounts for Stock Trading: 2024

In our analysis, these 11 brokerage accounts stand out as the best choices for stock trading, due to their low fees, strong platforms and quality customer support.

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Written by Chris Davis
Assigning Editor
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Reviewed by Arielle O'Shea
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Fact Checked

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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.

Our deep, independent analysis of online brokers cuts through the details to find and evaluate the information investors want when choosing a stock trading account. To see our full methodology and learn more about our process, read our criteria for evaluating brokers.

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 stock trading platforms.

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

Most investors trade stocks and other investments through an online broker. The best brokers are well-rounded, offering high-quality, responsive customer service, fast trade execution, comprehensive yet user-friendly stock trading platforms, free investment research, and a large selection of investments.

In addition to those features, the companies that made our list of the best brokers don't charge commissions when trading stocks or exchange-traded funds. Other fees may creep up — most commonly, brokers tend to charge contract fees to trade more complex investments like options, and there may be fees to transfer investments out of your account. Both are factored into our analysis.

How we select the brokers for this list

The star ratings below represent each online brokerage's overall score. Our reviewers — who are investing writers and editors on NerdWallet’s content team — spend months compiling this list every year, extensively testing each brokerage account's stock trading capabilities in our analysis. That way, we’re able to report on every aspect of the user experience, from funding a new brokerage account to actually placing trades.

We score each online broker against a set of criteria that factors in both the features offered and the actual user experience of using those features. This includes how easy it is to sign up for and fund a new account. Note that a broker may score highly for the stock trading platforms, tools or research it offers, but low for the experience of actually using those features. This means a broker can offer an advanced stock trading platform, but if it is clunky to use or the process of opening an account is unnecessarily arduous, that will be reflected in their score.

Our deep, independent analysis of online brokers cuts through the details to find and evaluate the information investors want when choosing a stock trading account. To see our full methodology and learn more about our process, read our criteria for evaluating brokers.

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 stock trading platforms.

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

Most investors trade stocks and other investments through an online broker. The best brokers are well-rounded, offering high-quality, responsive customer service, fast trade execution, comprehensive yet user-friendly stock trading platforms, free investment research, and a large selection of investments.

In addition to those features, the companies that made our list of the best brokers don't charge commissions when trading stocks or exchange-traded funds. Other fees may creep up — most commonly, brokers tend to charge contract fees to trade more complex investments like options, and there may be fees to transfer investments out of your account. Both are factored into our analysis.

How we select the brokers for this list

The star ratings below represent each online brokerage's overall score. Our reviewers — who are investing writers and editors on NerdWallet’s content team — spend months compiling this list every year, extensively testing each brokerage account's stock trading capabilities in our analysis. That way, we’re able to report on every aspect of the user experience, from funding a new brokerage account to actually placing trades.

We score each online broker against a set of criteria that factors in both the features offered and the actual user experience of using those features. This includes how easy it is to sign up for and fund a new account. Note that a broker may score highly for the stock trading platforms, tools or research it offers, but low for the experience of actually using those features. This means a broker can offer an advanced stock trading platform, but if it is clunky to use or the process of opening an account is unnecessarily arduous, that will be reflected in their score.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Once you've opened an account at one of the online brokers below, you can fund the account through a bank transfer or by initiating an ACAT transfer from another brokerage. An ACAT transfer will allow you to move eligible investments to your new broker without selling them.

Best Brokerage Accounts for Stock Trading: 2024

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

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • Streamlined interface.

  • Cryptocurrency trading.

  • IRA with 1% match.

  • High interest rate on uninvested cash.

Cons

  • No mutual funds.

  • Limited customer support.

Why We Like It

With its easy-to-use margin offerings, fractional share capabilities and wide investment selection, it's no wonder Robinhood has become a household name among stock trading apps.

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

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • Four trading platforms with no minimums or fees.

  • Above-average mobile app.

  • Extensive research offerings.

  • Large fund selection.

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.

Best Online Broker for Advanced Traders 2024

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Interactive Brokers IBKR Lite
Learn more

on Interactive Brokers' website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • Large investment selection.

  • Strong research and tools.

  • Over 19,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

  • High order execution quality.

Cons

  • High minimum to earn interest on uninvested cash.

  • Website can be difficult to navigate.

Why We Like It

Don't let the name fool you: IBKR Lite offers commission-free stock trading (including international trade capabilities), more than 19,000 mutual funds, and a well-featured 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

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • 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.

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

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • Easy-to-use platform.

  • App connects all Chase accounts.

  • In-person customer support at Chase branches.

Cons

  • Limited tools and research.

  • Portfolio Builder tool requires $2,500 balance.

  • Low interest rate on uninvested cash.

Why We Like It

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

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

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • Easy-to-use tools.

  • Strong customer support.

  • Advanced mobile app.

Cons

  • Website can be difficult to navigate.

  • Low interest rate on uninvested cash.

  • No fractional shares.

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.

NerdWallet rating 

4.6

/5
Public
Learn more

on Public's website

Fees

$0

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Earn up to $10,000

when you transfer your investment portfolio to Public.

Pros

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • Rebates for trading options.

  • Impressive selection of alternative assets.

  • Easy-to-use signup and trading interface.

  • High interest rate on uninvested cash.

Cons

  • No mutual funds.

  • No margin trading.

  • Lack of tools (e.g. customizable investment screeners).

  • No IRA accounts.

Why We Like It

Public provides free stock and ETF trades, pays you to trade options, and gives traders access to crypto, alternative assets and bonds, as well as a high-yield savings account. The platform will appeal to traders looking for a low-cost options broker and access to many types of assets.

NerdWallet rating 

4.2

/5
SoFi Active Investing
Learn more

on SoFi Invest's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $1,000

in free stock for users who sign up via mobile app

Pros

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • Free financial counseling.

  • IPO access.

Cons

  • Low interest rate on uninvested cash.

Why We Like It

SoFi Active Investing's $0 trading commission, free access to financial advisors, fractional shares and $1 account minimum are attractive to new investors. More advanced investors will appreciate the company's wide mutual fund selection and IPO access.

NerdWallet rating 

4.4

/5
Ally Invest
Fees

$0

per trade (on eligible US securities)

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • No account minimum.

  • Strong web-based platform.

  • Integration with Ally Bank, with easy transfers to high-yield savings account.

Cons

  • No fractional shares.

  • Limited third-party research providers.

Why We Like It

Ally Invest’s robust trading platform and lineup of free technical tools makes it a good choice for active traders, as do its free stock trades and low options trading costs. But its lack of fees, portfolio management feature and cash management options also make it a good choice for beginner investors.

Best Broker for Beginning Investors 2024

NerdWallet rating 

5.0

/5
Fidelity
Fees

$0

per trade for online U.S. stocks and ETFs

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Pros

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • Large selection of research providers.

  • Strong customer service.

  • Expense-ratio-free index funds.

  • Highly rated mobile app.

  • High interest rate on uninvested cash.

Cons

  • Relatively high broker-assisted trade fee.

Why We Like It

Fidelity is one of the largest and most well-established brokerages, and it shows. Fidelity charges no trading commissions, offers an extensive set of no-fee, no-minimum index funds. It also stands out for its top-notch research tools, a renowned trading platform and very strong customer service.

NerdWallet rating 

4.4

/5
Firstrade
Fees

$0

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $200

in Transfer Fee Rebates

Pros

  • Commission-free stock, options and ETF trades.

  • $0 contract fee on options trades.

  • All mutual funds are commission-free.

  • Chinese language options.

Cons

  • No 24/7 customer support.

  • Low interest rate on uninvested cash.

Why We Like It

In addition to free stock and options trading, Firstrade charges no commission for mutual funds, a deal no other broker matches. Options traders will appreciate that the broker charges no contract fee, also a rarity among brokers.

How to choose the best online broker

There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting a broker, and the decision will likely come down to individual priorities. Some investors are willing to pay higher fees for a state-of-the-art platform; others count costs above all else. Some may want to stick with the largest brokerage firms with heavy name recognition; others may be more interested in sifting through the smaller brokers to find the perfect fit for them.

You can start by evaluating brokers based on a few factors, including:

Commissions

Brokers generally offer a similar menu of investment options: individual stocks, options, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and bonds. Some will also offer access to cryptocurrencies, futures trading and foreign currency exchange markets.

Commissions or other trade fees are rare among online brokers these days, but they can pop up on certain investments:

  • Individual stocks: Some brokers still charge a commission to buy and sell stocks, either per trade or per share. However, the vast majority of online brokers now charge no commission.

  • Options: Options trades often incur the stock trade commission (if charged by the broker), plus a per-contract fee, which usually runs between 15 cents and $1.50. See NerdWallet’s list of the best brokers for options trading — several have recently eliminated their contract fee completely.

  • Mutual funds: Some brokers charge a fee to purchase mutual funds. You can limit mutual fund transaction costs or avoid them completely by selecting a broker that offers no-transaction-fee mutual funds. (Mutual funds also carry internal fees called expense ratios. These are charged not by the broker, but by the fund itself.) See the ranking of best brokers for mutual funds.

  • ETFs: ETFs trade like a stock and are purchased for a share price. Most brokers offer ETFs with no commission. Here’s a list of the best brokers for ETF investors.

  • Cryptocurrencies: More and more brokerages are starting to offer access to a few cryptocurrencies, but be sure you understand the risks and fee structures that may be associated with these trades. See our list of the best crypto platforms.

  • Bonds: You can purchase bond mutual funds and ETFs at no charge by using no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free ETFs. Brokers may charge a fee to purchase individual bonds, with a minimum and maximum charge. Some brokers offer access to U.S. Treasurys at no fee. See our list of the best brokers for investing in bonds.

Reliability

There’s a wide range of brokers out there. Some have been around for decades, while others are relatively new to the scene. That doesn’t mean these newcomers are untrustworthy — if they’re handling trades for other people, then they’re regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission and are members of a self-regulatory body, such as the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. But it does mean they may be unproven during a variety of stock market scenarios.

If this is concerning to you, you may want to consider investing with a large institution. But if all you need is a no-frills investment account, then trimmed-down apps or relatively new brokerage firms are likely fine for you.

Account fees

You may not be able to avoid account fees completely, but you can certainly minimize them. Most brokers will charge a fee for transferring out investments, or for closing your account entirely. If you’re transferring to another broker, that new brokerage firm may offer to reimburse your transfer fees, at least up to a limit.

Most other fees can be sidestepped by simply choosing a broker that doesn’t charge them, or by opting out of services that cost extra. Common fees to watch out for include annual fees, inactivity fees, trading platform subscriptions and extra charges for research or data.

Pricing and execution

Most casual stock traders won't notice differences in execution quality between brokers, as they tend to be relatively minor, especially if you're placing few trades. But active traders, particularly those who trade large quantities of shares frequently, often do. For our reviews, we look at each broker's self-reported execution quality, which is defined as the percent of a broker's orders that are executed at or better than the National Best Bed and Offer.

Tools, education and features

If you’re new to investing, it may be best to look for a brokerage that offers free educational resources, such as live webinars, thorough how-to guides, video tutorials, glossaries and more.

And, if you’re interested in continued learning around advanced trading strategies, be sure to research how well the broker supports its clients in helping them understand the risks of such strategies. This may mean guidance from an on-call customer support team, a live chat function or clear and in-depth instructions on how to use these investment products responsibly.

Another great feature to look for is fractional shares, which let investors purchase stock or ETFs by the dollar amount, rather than by the number of shares. This is especially helpful for investors who don’t have much money to invest but want to build a diversified portfolio, or are looking to set up a dollar-cost averaging strategy. (Learn more about fractional shares.)

Active traders may want a little more out of their brokerage account. Some brokers offer highly customizable downloadable platforms with in-depth analysis tools, or access to additional research and data for an extra cost. If these aren’t the types of tools and resources you’ll need, be sure to avoid paying extra for them.

Promotions

Online brokers, like many companies, frequently entice new customers with deals, such as a cash bonus on certain deposit amounts. It isn’t wise to choose a broker solely on its promotional offer — a high commission over the long term could easily wipe out any initial bonus or savings — but if you’re stuck between two options, a promotion may sway you one way or the other.

How to switch online brokers

Switching to a new broker is quick and easy, and in most cases, the entire process can be handled online.

Here's a quick three-step process to transfer your investments to a new online broker:

  1. Find your most recent brokerage account statement, then open an account at the new broker. You can do this online, and you'll need to supply details like your address, income, birthday and Social Security number.

  2. Initiate the transfer process through the new broker. You'll likely be asked to fill out a form online that initiates an ACAT, or Automated Customer Account Transfer. This is where you'll need your brokerage account statement — you'll have to supply things like your old account number. Your new online broker will use that information to confirm that your investments can be transferred in-kind, which means you don't have to sell them. This is often the case with most stocks, ETFs and mutual funds. If the new brokerage doesn't support one of your investments, you can sell it and transfer the cash instead.

  3. Play the waiting game. It can take up to seven days to complete the transfer — your brokerage firm will give you a more specific timeline. Once the transfer is complete, you'll be notified and you can begin trading.

🤓Nerdy Tip

When you switch brokerage accounts, be sure your new account matches your old account — a taxable brokerage account should be transferred into a taxable brokerage account, and a retirement account like an IRA needs to be transferred into an IRA.

Frequently asked questions

What is a brokerage account?

In many ways, brokerage accounts are like bank accounts with a bit more freedom — once you've deposited money into a brokerage account, you can use that money to purchase investments that aren't available in a typical bank account, including individual stocks, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds.

Traditional brokerage accounts are sometimes called taxable accounts, because the capital gains in your account — the investment income — may be taxable each year.

What type of online brokerage account should I choose?

Your account choices boil down to a taxable brokerage account or a tax-favored retirement account, such as an IRA. Part of the decision depends on what you're investing for. Retirement accounts are intended for retirement, and there can be penalties if you take your money out too early. (If you're new to this, we’ve got you covered in our guide to IRAs.) If you're investing for a shorter-term goal, generally a brokerage account will be best.

How much money do I need to open an account at an online broker?

Not much. Note that many of the online brokers above have no account minimum. 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, or, if your brokerage firm offers them, a fractional share. Read our article on how to buy stocks for step-by-step instructions on placing that first trade.

Another option for investing smaller amounts of money is exchange-traded funds. ETFs are essentially 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 (some brokers even offer fractional shares of ETFs, too). All of the online brokers on our list offer ETFs.

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

The difference between a full-service broker and an online broker comes down to the level of service and how much you want to pay for that service. None of the brokers on our list are full-service brokers; they are all discount online brokerage firms.

Traditional full-service 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 investing and tax advice and regular portfolio updates. However, 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 (or a financial advisor) may be for you. For most investors, however, it can pay to simply open a brokerage account at an online broker such as the ones we've listed here. These brokers allow you to buy stocks yourself through their websites or trading platforms, often with no fee or commission.

Is the cheapest broker always the best broker?

Trading costs definitely matter to active and high-volume traders, but many brokers offer commission-free trades of stocks and ETFs. A few online brokers have also eliminated fees for options contracts. Other factors — such as access to a range of investments and the quality of the research — may be more valuable than saving a few bucks when purchasing shares. You might also want to consider platforms. If that's important to you, we have a separate list of brokers with the best trading platforms.

Is my money insured at brokerage firms?

Your money is indeed insured but only against the unlikely event a brokerage firm or investment company fails. SIPC insurance covers up to $500,000 for lost or missing assets; within that, $250,000 can be applied to cash that is not yet invested. What it doesn't cover is a loss in the value of your investments.

How quickly can I start trading with an online broker?

After you’ve opened the brokerage account, you’ll need to initiate a deposit or fund transfer to the brokerage firm, which typically takes just a few days — though certain circumstances may mean it takes longer. For example, if you're transferring investments from another brokerage account rather than moving around cash, that may extend the timeframe.

Several of the brokerage firms on our list will allow you to begin trading before your deposit clears.

Last updated on July 1, 2024

Methodology

NerdWallet’s comprehensive review process evaluates and ranks the largest U.S. brokerage firms 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.