Best Roth IRA Accounts: 2016 Top Picks

Brokers, Investing, IRA
The Best Roth IRA Providers

Whether you’re opening your first Roth IRA, rolling over a 401(k) or looking to transfer your existing IRA to a new online broker, NerdWallet has selected the best Roth IRA account providers by category.

When considering your options, be sure to look at things like investment choice — you’ll want a large selection of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free exchange-traded funds — account minimum, account fees and customer service. If you plan to trade stocks in your Roth IRA, you should also consider the online broker’s stock commissions.

Here are NerdWallet’s picks:

Best Roth IRA providers overall

These providers offer a large fund selection, high-quality customer service and reasonable account minimums and 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: $9.99 per trade
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Promotion: Cash bonuses ranging from $100 for deposits of $25,000 to $99,999, to $600 for deposits of $250,000 or more
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: $8.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $1,000; waived with auto-deposits of $100 or more
  • Promotion: $100 to $500 cash bonus for deposits of $10,000 or more

Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade are ideal for retirement investors because of their large selection of funds that can be traded with no fees or commissions. Both brokers have 24/7 customer service, as well as local branches and a wealth of online educational resources for new investors. TD Ameritrade has no account minimum, while Schwab requires a $1,000 initial deposit. However, that minimum is waived with auto-deposits of at least $100 a month. Schwab also offers a large selection of index funds with investment minimums of just $100.

Best Roth IRA providers with no account minimum

These providers have $0 minimum investment requirements for Roth IRAs.

Etrade 4.5-stars
  • Waives its $500 brokerage account minimum for Roth IRA customers. See our E-Trade review.
  • Commission: $9.99 per trade; volume discounts available
  • Account minimum: $0 for Roth IRAs
  • Promotion: 60 days of commission-free trades with deposit of $10,000 or more
merrill edge logo 4.5-stars
  • Provides first-rate customer service. See our Merrill Edge review.
  • Commission: $6.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Promotion: Cash bonuses ranging from $100 for deposits of $20,000 to $49,999, to $600 for deposits of $200,000 or more

In addition to our top-choice TD Ameritrade — which also has no account minimum — investors starting small should consider E-Trade and Merrill Edge, which are ideal for those who don’t have a large amount of money available to fund a new account. They both provide 24/7 customer service, including physical branches. (Merrill Edge advisors are available in many Bank of America locations.) E-Trade will appeal to ETF investors, with more than 100 commission-free options; Merrill Edge doesn’t offer any, but brings more than 5,000 no-transaction-fee mutual funds to the table.

Best Roth IRA providers for hands-off investors

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

Betterment 5.0-stars
  • Ideal for clients with account balances of $100,000 or more because of its low fees. See our Betterment review.
  • Management fee: 0.15% to 0.35% depending on account balance
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Promotion: Up to six months of free management
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 Roth IRA account for you, taking on the brunt of the work by building a portfolio out of low-cost ETFs and automatically searching for rebalancing opportunities. You’ll pay an annual management fee at both advisors, but it’s substantially lower than what a financial advisor would charge. With a tiered fee structure that lowers costs on higher account balances, Betterment is less expensive on balances of $100,000 or more. Wealthfront is the lowest-cost choice for balances under $100,000, as the service manages the first $10,000 deposited for free. Here is NerdWallet’s direct comparison of Wealthfront and Betterment.

Best Roth IRA providers for active traders

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

optionshouselogo 5.0-stars
  • Competitive commissions on stock trades with no account minimum or inactivity fees. See our OptionsHouse review.
  • Commission: $4.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Promotion: $1,000 in free trade commissions with deposit of $5,000 or more.
tradekinglogo2 4.0-stars
  • Competitive commissions on stock trades and no account minimum. See our TradeKing review.
  • Commission: $4.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $0
  • Promotion: $1,000 in free trade commissions with deposit of $5,000 or more

Playing the market with your entire portfolio goes against common advice for the average investor. But if you want to dedicate a portion of your Roth IRA to stock trading, look at commissions, research and tools when comparing providers. OptionsHouse and TradeKing both offer $4.95 stock and ETF trades, alongside advanced tools and trading platforms to help you craft your strategy. OptionsHouse edges out TradeKing by charging no inactivity fees; at TradeKing, you’ll pay a $50 annual fee if you don’t execute at least one trade per year or maintain an account balance of $2,500. Investors should be aware that neither broker offers commission-free ETFs or no-transaction-fee mutual funds.

Best Roth IRA providers for low costs

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

Fidelity Investments 4.5-stars
  • Offers more than 3,400 no-transaction-fee mutual funds and 85 commission-free ETFs. See our Fidelity review.
  • Commission: $7.95 per trade
  • Account minimum: $0 for Roth IRAs
  • Promotion: Get up to a 10% Roth IRA Match on future contributions, with qualifying deposit
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 costs — both transaction fees and investment expenses — are your No. 1 concern, you should look to Fidelity and Vanguard. (Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade, our top picks, are also standouts here.) Fidelity clients have access to more than 3,400 no-transaction-fee mutual funds and 85 commission-free ETFs, including a large selection of highly rated options with expense ratios under 0.50%. The majority of the company’s mutual funds have a $2,500 investment minimum, but Fidelity waives that on many with auto deposits of at least $200 a month. Vanguard has 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 the leader in low-cost funds — the company boasts an average fund expense ratio of just 0.18%. For comparison, the typical equity mutual fund expense ratio is 0.70%. That said, Vanguard’s retirement funds have a $1,000 investment minimum, and many of its other funds carry a $3,000 minimum.

Note: Some of these promotions won’t apply for first-time depositors, due to Roth IRA contribution limits of $5,500 per year. We’ve tried to include promotions with low deposit requirements where available. 


Summary: Best Roth IRA account providers

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

TD Ameritrade

Overall
Commission-free:
100 ETFs, 2,000 funds
$9.99
per trade
$100 bonus ($25,000+ deposit)
up to $600 ($250,000+ deposit)
$0

Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab
Overall
Commission-free:
200 ETFs, 3,000 funds
$8.95
per trade
$100 to $500 cash bonus for deposits of $10,000 or more
$1,000

E*Trade

E*Trade
No account minimum
Waives $500 account minimum for IRAs
$9.99
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
$100-600 bonus (based on account size)
$0

Betterment

Betterment
Hands-off investors
Ideal for balances of $100,000+
0.15-0.35% of account balance
per year
Up to 6 months free management
$0

Wealthfront

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

OptionsHouse

OptionsHouse
Active traders
Competitive commissions, no account minimum
$4.95
per trade
$1,000 in free trade commissions ($5,000+ deposit)
$0

TradeKing

TradeKing
Active traders
Competitive commissions, no account minimum
$4.95
per trade
$1,000 in free trade commissions ($5,000+ deposit)
$0

Fidelity

Fidelity Investments
Low cost
Commission-free:
3,400 funds, 85 ETFs
$7.95
per trade
Up to 10% match on future contributions qualifying deposit
$0 for IRAs

Vanguard

Vanguard
Low cost
Known for low-cost index funds
$7
for first 25 trades/year, $20 for later trades
None
$0

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

This article was updated. It originally published Feb. 26, 2016.

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