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Best Discount Brokers 2018

Feb. 21, 2018
Brokers, Investing
NerdWallet adheres to strict standards of editorial integrity to help you make decisions with confidence. Some of the products we feature are from partners. Here’s how we make money.
We adhere to strict standards of editorial integrity. Some of the products we feature are from our partners. Here’s how we make money.

A discount broker is an online broker with rock-bottom pricing. Here, we’ve sorted through our top online brokers to surface the ones with the best tools, platforms and investment selection for the lowest possible commissions and fees. These discount brokerages will help you keep transaction costs down without hindering your trade capabilities.

NerdWallet’s top picks for discount brokerages

NerdWallet rating

Fees

$4.95

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

Up to $3,500

in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

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.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Low commissions.

  • No account minimum.

  • Strong web-based platform.

  • Robust research and tools.

Cons

  • No no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

  • No branches.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$6.95

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

500

commission-free trades + up to $600 with qualifying deposit

The bottom line

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.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Large investment selection.

  • Free research.

  • High-quality trading platforms.

  • No account minimum.

  • Good customer support.

Cons

  • Higher trade commission.

  • Costly broker-assisted trades.

  • High short-term ETF trading fee.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$4.95

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

$100

cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

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.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • No inactivity fees.

  • Two platforms with no minimum or fees.

  • Above-average mobile app.

  • Extensive research.

  • Strong customer support.

Cons

  • Higher trade commissions.

  • Higher account minimum.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$0.00

per trade

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None

no promotion available at this time

The bottom line

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.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • No commissions on stock trades.

  • No account minimum.

  • Streamlined interface.

Cons

  • No retirement accounts.

  • No web trading platform.

Read full review
NerdWallet rating

Fees

$0.01

per share

Account minimum

$0

Promotion

None available

The bottom line

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.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Low commissions.

  • Quality trading platform.

  • Advanced tools.

  • Low margin rates.

  • Wide investment selection.

Cons

  • Inactivity fees.

  • High minimum balance requirement.

  • Complex pricing.

  • Minimal educational resources.

Read full review

Summary: Best discount brokers

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

Ally Invest

Ally
Frequent traders
Impressive platform and research; low commissions
$4.95
per trade
$200 cash bonus with qualifying deposit
$0

TD Ameritrade

Mutual funds, ETFs
Large selection of commission-free ETFs and funds
$6.95
per trade
Up to $600
cash bonus
$0

Robinhood

Robinhood
Free trading
No-frills, free trading app for beginners
$0
per trade
n/a
$0

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab
Overall; mutual funds and ETFs
Large selection of commission-free ETFs and funds
$4.95
per trade
$100 cash bonus for qualifying deposit
$0

Interactive Brokers

Frequent traders; options traders
Discounts for frequent traders; among best platforms
$0.005
per share;
min. $1, max. 0.5% of trade value
n/a
$10,000
($5,000 for IRAs)

» Need more guidance? Here’s how to open a brokerage account

Updated Feb. 21, 2018.

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