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6 Best Discount Brokers 2019

Kevin Voigt, Andrea CoombesOctober 24, 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.

TD Ameritrade

on TD Ameritrade's website

on TD Ameritrade's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $600

cash credit with qualifying deposit

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
Interactive Brokers

on Interactive Brokers's website

on Interactive Brokers's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

No promotion available at this time

Interactive Brokers is a strong option for advanced, frequent traders: The broker offers international trade capabilities, low commissions and a quality trading platform. New traders might be turned off by inactivity fees, high balance requirements and a lack of educational resources.

Pros

  • Free trades.
  • Wide investment selection.
  • Advanced tools on Pro tier.

Cons

  • Complex pricing on some investments.
  • Inactivity fees on Pro tier.
Read full review
Fees

$4.95

per share

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

Motif is great for socially conscious investors or buying fractional shares — not for beginners.

Pros

  • Fractional shares.
  • Portfolio trades of up to 30 stocks or ETFs.
  • Theme- and values-based guidance.

Cons

  • No dividend reinvestment.
  • Minimal trading tools.
Read full review

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

Summary of Best Discount Brokers 2019

BrokerCommissionsPromotionAccount MinimumLearn More
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

Interactive Brokers Logo

Interactive Brokers

on Interactive Brokers's website

$0

per trade

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

on Interactive Brokers's website

Robinhood Logo

Robinhood

$0

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

Read review
Schwab Brokerage Logo

Schwab Brokerage

$0

per trade

None

No promotion at this time

$0

Read review
Motif Investing Logo

Motif Investing

$4.95

per share

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

Read review
Ally Invest Logo

Ally Invest

$0

per trade

$50 - $3,500

in cash bonus with qualifying deposit.

$0

Read review
BrokerCommissionsPromotionAccount MinimumLearn More
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

Interactive Brokers Logo

Interactive Brokers

on Interactive Brokers's website

$0

per trade

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

on Interactive Brokers's website

Robinhood Logo

Robinhood

$0

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

Read review
Schwab Brokerage Logo

Schwab Brokerage

$0

per trade

None

No promotion at this time

$0

Read review
Motif Investing Logo

Motif Investing

$4.95

per share

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

Read review
Ally Invest Logo

Ally Invest

$0

per trade

$50 - $3,500

in cash bonus 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, the cost to trade an investment at a discount broker ranges from $0 to $6.95 per trade.

There are other fees to be wary of, though, including account inactivity, closing or transfer fees. For example, Ally Invest charges just $4.95 per trade, but if you decide to transfer your money out of Ally, you’ll face a $50 full-account outgoing transfer fee.

Ally is by no means alone in that regard: Motif charges a $65 outgoing transfer fee. TD Ameritrade charges a $75 full-account transfer fee and, in some cases, if you hold a mutual-fund investment for less than three months, you may owe a fee of $49.99.

But weigh your options carefully before shopping by price alone — you might give up some useful features by going with the lowest-cost brokers. For example, Robinhood offers entirely free trades, but if you’re hoping for extensive research or high-end tools, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

What fees do brokers charge?

In addition to the trading fee or trading commission — what you pay every time you buy or sell an investment — 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.

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

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. 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 investment apps and robo-advisors offer “fractional shares.” That’s where you can buy a small piece of one share of, say, Apple. Instead of needing hundreds of dollars to buy a pricey stock, you can invest in many companies at amounts as low as, say, $5.

Two investment apps that allow for fractional purchases of stocks are 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?

There are a couple of ways to trade stocks for free. One way is to pick a broker that charges no trading commissions, such as Robinhood.

Another way is to focus on brokers that offer a high number of commission-free trades. For example, Charles Schwab offers more than 500 commission-free ETFS and more than 4,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds. That said, this latter path may mean you’ll be investing in ETFs or mutual funds, rather than individual stocks.

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 October 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 Discount Brokers 2019