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11 Best Discount Brokers 2020

Kevin VoigtJanuary 2, 2020

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.

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

  • Large investment selection.

  • Strong research and tools.

  • Over 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Cons

  • Website is difficult to navigate.

  • Inactivity fees on IBKR Pro.

Read Full Review
TradeStation

on TradeStation's website

TradeStation

TradeStation

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

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. 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

  • Access to advanced platform requires TS Select.

  • No transaction-fee-free mutual funds.

  • Plans and pricing can be confusing.

Read Full Review

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

Summary of Best Discount Brokers 2020

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

$0

on TradeStation's website

Fidelity Logo

Fidelity

$0

per trade

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

Read review
Charles Schwab Logo

Charles Schwab

$0

per trade

None

No promotion at this time

$0

Read review
Firstrade Logo

Firstrade

$0

per trade

Up to $200

in Transfer Fee Rebates

$0

Read review
Ally Invest Logo

Ally Invest

$0

per trade

$50 - $3,500

in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.

$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

SoFi Active Investing Logo

SoFi Active Investing

$0

per trade

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts 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

$0

on TradeStation's website

Fidelity Logo

Fidelity

$0

per trade

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

Read review
Charles Schwab Logo

Charles Schwab

$0

per trade

None

No promotion at this time

$0

Read review
Firstrade Logo

Firstrade

$0

per trade

Up to $200

in Transfer Fee Rebates

$0

Read review
Ally Invest Logo

Ally Invest

$0

per trade

$50 - $3,500

in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.

$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

SoFi Active Investing Logo

SoFi Active Investing

$0

per trade

Free

career counseling plus loan discounts with qualifying deposit

$0

Read review

Discount brokers FAQ

How much do discount brokers charge?

There’s good news for investors — the primary fees charged by brokers, known as trading fees or commissions, have gotten much lower in recent years. As you can see in our table above, all of the brokers we've included here charge no trading commissions.

What fees do brokers charge?

In addition to the trading fee or trading commission — if charged — there are a slew of other fees and charges to watch for, including ones for broker-assisted trades, as well as annual, transfer, closing and inactivity fees. (Lost? Here's our explainer on investment fees.)

In the table above, click on the review for each of our top-rated brokers to find out about any fees they may charge.

What is the difference between a full-service broker and a discount broker?

With a full-service broker, you pay higher fees in exchange for investment guidance and management, among other perks.

With a discount broker, you pay far less to trade investments, but generally, you’re in charge of managing your trades, and you’re likely to pay an extra fee if you want help from a person.

One brokerage that offers both low-cost trades and free access to broker-assisted trades is Zacks Trade.

How can I trade online without a broker?

If you’re looking to sidestep a broker entirely, you can try investing directly through a company’s direct investment plan (aka DRIPs). Keep in mind, though, that generally it’s not as easy as trading with a broker — and only some publicly traded companies offer such plans.

How can I invest in stocks with little money?

It’s easier than ever to invest in stocks with very little money, in large part because a growing number of brokerages and robo-advisors offer fractional shares. These allow you to buy a small piece of a stock share, instead of the entire share. That means rather than needing hundreds of dollars to buy a pricey stock, you can invest in many companies at amounts as low as, say, $5.

Some brokerages that allow for fractional purchases of stocks include Interactive Brokers, Sofi Active Investing, Stash and Motif. Meanwhile, Acorns lets you buy fractional shares of ETFs. A number of robo-advisors also offer fractional-share purchases.

How can I trade stocks for free?

Easy, now that many brokers have eliminated commissions: All the options above provide free stock trades.

Is it better to invest with a bank or a broker?

If you have long-term goals you’re saving for, such as your own retirement or your kids’ college tuition, it makes sense to invest in the stock market because stocks offer the investment earnings that can power your savings.

Investing in the stock market usually means investing with a broker, because most banks don’t offer access to stock-market investments; or, if they do, those investments tend to be offered through an investment advisory that likely charges higher fees than a discount broker.

Last updated on January 2, 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.