Roll Your 401(k) Over to an IRA: The Best Providers

401(k), Brokers, Investing, IRA, Retirement Planning

When leaving a job, many people also leave their most valuable retirement asset behind: their 401(k), which sits where it is until retirement, quietly amassing fees.

But you can — and in most cases should — take it with you, because 401(k) fees are notoriously high. You’ll likely save money and open yourself to a wider range of investment options by rolling it over to an IRA.

The process is simple: See our guide to 401(k)-to-IRA rollovers for full details. The toughest part, in many ways, is choosing an account provider for your individual retirement fund or Roth IRA, if you don’t already have one. That’s where we come in.

Here are NerdWallet’s picks for the best IRA providers for your IRA rollover.

Best IRA providers overall

These providers offer a large fund selection, high-quality customer service and minimal account fees.

td-ameritrade 5.0-stars
  • Offers more than 100 commission-free ETFs and over 2,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds with no account minimum. See our TD Ameritrade review.
  • Commission: $6.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Promotion: $100 cash bonus for new accounts over $25,000, up to $600 for accounts over $250,000
Chales Schwab 5.0-stars
  • Offers more than 200 commission-free ETFs and over 3,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds. See our Charles Schwab review.
  • Commission: $4.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $1,000; waived with auto-deposits of $100 or more
  • Promotion: $100 referral award for first-time clients

Both Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade are ideal for retirement investors because of their large selections of exchange-traded funds and mutual funds that can be traded with no fees or commissions. TD Ameritrade offers over 2,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds and over 100 commission-free ETFs; Schwab beats that with over 3,000 no-transaction-fee funds and over 200 commission-free ETFs. Schwab also waives its $1,000 minimum for customers who set up auto-deposits of $100 a month or more. Both brokers also have 24/7 customer service, as well as local offices and a wealth of online and in-branch educational resources.

Best IRA providers for the hands-off investor

Robo-advisors Betterment and Wealthfront manage your portfolio for you.

Betterment 5.0-stars
  • Offers access to human advisors for an extra fee. See our Betterment review.
  • Management fee: 0.25% to 0.40% depending on plan.
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Promotion: Up to one year of free management with qualifying deposit
Wealthfront 5.0-stars
  • Manages the first $10,000 invested for free. See our Wealthfront review.
  • Management fee: 0.25%
  • Account minimum: $500
  • Promotion: NerdWallet readers get $15,000 managed for free

Betterment and Wealthfront are robo-advisors that manage your IRA account for you. These services build a portfolio out of low-cost ETFs and automatically rebalance it as needed, for an annual management fee that is substantially lower than what a financial advisor would charge. Which is best for you? The fees on their base offerings are nearly identical at 0.25%. Wealthfront waives its charge on the first $10,000 invested ($15,000 for NerdWallet readers), making it slightly less expensive overall. But Betterment offers a premium plan that includes access to a team of financial advisors, if a hybrid approach is more your style. Here is NerdWallet’s direct comparison of Wealthfront and Betterment.

Best IRA providers for low costs

These providers offer a large selection of mutual funds and ETFs with low expense ratios.

Fidelity Investments 5.0-stars
  • Offers over 3,600 no-transaction-fee mutual funds and over 85 commission-free ETFs. See our Fidelity review.
  • Commission: $4.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $0 for IRAs
  • Promotion: 300 commission-free trades
vanguardlogo 4.0-stars
  • Known for its low-cost index funds. See our Vanguard review.
  • Commission: $7 for first 25 online trades per year; $20 for subsequent trades
  • Account minimum: $0

If transaction fees and expense ratios are your primary concern — and they should at least be high on the list, as investment fees can really eat up your retirement savings — you should look to Fidelity and Vanguard (though Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, our top picks, are also strong contenders here, as noted above). Fidelity gives its clients access to more than 3,600 no-transaction-fee mutual funds and 85 commission-free ETFs, including a large selection of highly rated funds with expense ratios under 0.50%. Vanguard offers a smaller selection of funds that can be purchased without transaction fees or commissions (120 no-transaction-fee mutual funds and 60 commission-free ETFs) but is a pioneer when it comes to keeping investment expenses down: The company that brought investors the index fund — known for its low costs — boasts an average fund expense ratio of just 0.18%. For comparison, the typical equity mutual fund expense ratio is 0.70%.

Best IRA providers for active traders

These brokers offer low commissions, plus extensive research and strong trading platforms.

Chales Schwab 5.0-stars
  • Offers more than 200 commission-free ETFs and over 3,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds. See our Charles Schwab review.
  • Commission: $4.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $1,000; waived with auto-deposits of $100 or more
  • Promotion: $100 referral award for first-time clients
ally_logo_clear card 4.5-stars
  • Competitive commissions on stock trades and no account minimum. See our Ally Invest review.
  • Commission: $4.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Promotion: None

For the most part, 401(k) plans limit you to a curated pool of investment options, primarily mutual funds. But an IRA typically allows you to trade individual stocks (and in some accounts, trade options).

That said, most retirement investors would be wise to avoid playing the market within an IRA. If you decide to dedicate a portion of your account to trading, you should pay careful attention to commissions, research and tools when comparing providers. Charles Schwab and Ally Invest both offer $4.95 stock and ETF trades, alongside advanced tools and trading platforms. Investors should be aware that Ally Invest doesn’t offer any commission-free ETFs or no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Best IRA providers for a 401(k) rollover

Broker
Best
for
Highlights
Commiss-
ions
Promotion
Account minimum
Start investing

TD Ameritrade

Overall
Commission-free:
100 ETFs, nearly 4,000 funds
$6.95
per trade
$100 bonus ($25,000+ deposit)
up to $600 ($250,000+ deposit)
$0

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab
Overall and active trading
Commission-free:
200 ETFs, 3,000 funds
$4.95
per trade
$100 referral award for first-time clients
$1,000

E*Trade

E*Trade
No account minimum
Waives $500 account minimum for IRAs
$6.95
per trade; volume discounts
60 days of commission-free trades ($10,000+ deposit)
$0 for IRAs

Merrill Edge

Merrill Edge
No account minimum
First-rate customer service
$6.95
per trade
$100 to $600 bonus (based on account size)
$0

Betterment

Betterment
Hands-off investors
Offers access to human advisors for a higher fee.
0.25%-0.40% of account balance
per year
Up to one year of free management with qualifying deposit
$0

Wealthfront

Wealthfront
Hands-off investors
Manages first $10,000 for free
0.25% of account balance
per year
$15,000 managed free (for NerdWallet readers)
$500

Ally

Ally
Active traders
Competitive commissions, no account minimum
$4.95
per trade
None
$0

Fidelity

Fidelity Investments IRA

5.0 stars
Low cost
Commission-free:
3,600 funds, 91 ETFs
$4.95
per trade
Up to 500 free trades with a qualifying deposit
$0 for IRAs

Vanguard

Vanguard
Low cost
Known for low-cost index funds
$2 to $20 per trade depending on account balance
None
$0

Arielle O’Shea is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: aoshea@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @arioshea.

Updated June 30, 2017