Best of

Best Discount Brokers 2019

NerdWalletApril 23, 2019

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Ally Invest

on Ally Invest's website

on Ally Invest's website

Fees

$4.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $3,500

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

Ally Invest’s robust trading platform and lineup of free research, charting, data and analytical tools make it a good choice for active traders. But it’s also appropriate for beginning investors who will appreciate that there is no account minimum and no annual fees.
TD Ameritrade

on TD Ameritrade's website

on TD Ameritrade's website

Fees

$6.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

60

days of commission-free trades with qualifying deposit

TD Ameritrade makes up for higher-than-average trading commissions with better-than-average service, research and trading tools that will make everyone from beginner investors to active traders happy.
Robinhood

on Robinhood's website

on Robinhood's website

Fees

$0

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

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.
Schwab Brokerage

on Charles Schwab's website

on Charles Schwab's website

Fees

$4.95

per trade

Account Minimum

$0

Promotion

$100

cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

Charles Schwab has earned its strong reputation: The broker offers high-quality customer service, two robust trading platforms and a wide selection of commission-free ETFs and no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
Interactive Brokers

on Interactive Brokers's website

on Interactive Brokers's website

Fees

$0.01

per share

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.
Motif Investing

on Motif 's website

on Motif 's website

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.

Summary of Best Discount Brokers 2019

BrokerCommissionsPromotionAccount MinimumLearn More
Ally Invest Logo

Ally Invest

on Ally Invest's website

$4.95

per trade

Up to $3,500

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Ally Invest's website

TD Ameritrade Logo

TD Ameritrade

on TD Ameritrade's website

$6.95

per trade

60

days of commission-free trades with qualifying deposit

$0

on TD Ameritrade's website

Robinhood Logo

Robinhood

on Robinhood's website

$0

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

on Robinhood's website

Schwab Brokerage Logo

Schwab Brokerage

on Charles Schwab's website

$4.95

per trade

$100

cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Charles Schwab's website

Interactive Brokers Logo

Interactive Brokers

on Interactive Brokers's website

$0.01

per share

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

on Interactive Brokers's website

Motif Investing Logo

Motif Investing

on Motif 's website

$4.95

per share

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

on Motif 's website

BrokerCommissionsPromotionAccount MinimumLearn More
Ally Invest Logo

Ally Invest

on Ally Invest's website

$4.95

per trade

Up to $3,500

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Ally Invest's website

TD Ameritrade Logo

TD Ameritrade

on TD Ameritrade's website

$6.95

per trade

60

days of commission-free trades with qualifying deposit

$0

on TD Ameritrade's website

Robinhood Logo

Robinhood

on Robinhood's website

$0

per trade

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

on Robinhood's website

Schwab Brokerage Logo

Schwab Brokerage

on Charles Schwab's website

$4.95

per trade

$100

cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

$0

on Charles Schwab's website

Interactive Brokers Logo

Interactive Brokers

on Interactive Brokers's website

$0.01

per share

None

No promotion available at this time

$0

on Interactive Brokers's website

Motif Investing Logo

Motif Investing

on Motif 's website

$4.95

per share

None

no promotion available at this time

$0

on Motif 's website

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 April 23, 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