Fidelity Investments has a strong reputation for its mutual funds, but its brokerage arm is no slouch either: It has low commissions, a swath of research and an easy-to-use platform that also can be customized for more advanced traders. In addition, Fidelity offers an impressive number of no-transaction-fee mutual funds, potentially saving investors a lot of money. If there’s a downside, it’s that Fidelity doesn’t offer an introductory promotion for accounts with less than $50,000, but the wealth of its other offerings more than make up for that.
- Commissions: $4.95 per trade
- Account minimum: $0, though ETFs may require $2,500
- Promotion: 300 commission-free trades with deposit of $50,000 or more
Fidelity Investments is best for:
- Retirement investors
- Active traders
- Premium research
- Low fees
- No-transaction-fee mutual funds
Fidelity Investments at a glance
|Stock trading costs||$4.95|
|Options trades||$4.95 + $0.65 per contract|
|Account minimum||$0, though certain ETFs may require $2,500 in the account|
|Account fees (annual, transfer, closing, inactivity)||No annual or inactivity fee; $50 account closing fee|
|Trading platform||Online trading platform; Active Trader Pro for desktop and browser is available to customers who trade at least 36 times in a rolling 12-month period|
|Mobile app||Advanced features mimic a desktop trading platform|
|Investment selection||More than 3,700 no-transaction-fee mutual funds; more than 90 commission-free ETFs;
• Mutual funds
|Research and data||Free and extensive|
|Customer support||Phone support 24/7; live chat and email support; more than 180 local branches; Broker-assisted trades $32.95|
|Promotion||Fund an account with $50,000 and get 300 commission-free trades, plus access to Active Trader Pro platform. Fund an account with $100,000 and get 500 commission-free trades.|
Where Fidelity Investments shines
Commissions: Fidelity charges just $4.95 for a stock trade, and that’s cheap among online brokers, especially for the level of service the company provides.
Research: Fidelity is unmatched here. The company offers research from more than 20 providers, including Recognia, Ned Davis, Thomson Reuters and McLean Capital Management.
Stock quote pages show an Equity Summary Score, which is a consolidation of the ratings from these research providers. It gives an “accuracy-weighted sentiment derived from the ratings of independent research providers on Fidelity.com,” according to the website.
ETF snapshot pages also show an impressive number of analyst ratings and reports, and mutual fund fact sheets include Morningstar ratings.
Twenty or more research firm offerings might seem like too much to wade through, but investors can take a short quiz to identify providers that match their investment style. A research firm scorecard evaluates the accuracy of the provider’s recommendations.
Customer service and educational support: Fidelity has long scored points for customer service, and the company offers in-person guidance and free investor seminars at branch locations throughout the country. Seminars cover such topics as how to navigate the company’s website, when to take Social Security and the basics of technical analysis. Online, Fidelity’s learning center offers guides and webinars on a similar range of issues.
Customers who qualify for the company’s Active Trader Services also get 24/7 access to dedicated trading specialists. To qualify, investors must place 120 or more trades in a rolling 12-month period and maintain at least a $25,000 balance in their eligible Fidelity accounts.
Platforms and tools: Like other brokers, Fidelity offers trading via its website and mobile apps, plus a desktop platform for active traders.
The company’s online trading platform is easy to navigate and fairly comprehensive — highlights include advanced screeners using the aforementioned research and strategy-testing tools based on 10 years of historical data. Fidelity’s mobile app is equally impressive, with real-time quotes, multi-leg options trading, a consolidated version of the company’s research offerings, and a notebook where you can save ideas and articles from your mobile browser.
Active traders who qualify for it will prefer the company’s Active Trader Pro platform, which includes both a downloadable desktop version and a web alternative at ActiveTraderPro.com. Investors can toggle seamlessly between the two. The customizable platform includes intuitive shortcuts; pre-built market, technical and options filters; advanced options tools; and a multi-trade ticket that can store orders for later and place up to 50 at a time.
Finally, the company’s Wealth-Lab Pro, also a premium tool, is desktop-strategy-testing software that allows investors to customize strategies and access up to 20 years of daily historical data.
Where Fidelity Investments falls short
Trading platform restrictions: The downside to Fidelity’s trading platforms and tools is that, as mentioned, certain offerings are restricted to high-volume traders. Active Trader Pro requires that customers trade at least 36 times in a rolling 12-month period; some advanced tools on that platform, like charting with Recognia, are available only to traders who place at least 120 trades per year. Wealth-Lab Pro access requires 36 trades per year and a minimum of $25,000 in assets. However, if you don’t quite meet those requirements, you might still ring up customer service and ask if they’ll hook you up with Active Trader Pro.
Investment minimum for mutual funds: While Fidelity’s account minimum for brokerage accounts is $0, buyers of most Fidelity and non-Fidelity mutual funds need a $2,500 minimum. That’s a fairly high bar to clear. The good news: You can avoid that mutual fund minimum by signing up for automatic investments of at least $200 a month or $600 a quarter.
Fidelity Investments vs. similar brokers
The bottom line
Fidelity’s got a great rep for mutual funds, but it should be just as well-known for its brokerage. With a strong trading platform, low commissions and an easy-to-navigate interface, Fidelity offers a solid experience for beginning investors without sacrificing anything that advanced investors might need. Those looking for research will also be pleasantly surprised, as will anyone who needs to trade via mobile app. Fidelity is strong all the way around.
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