Best Roth IRA Accounts: 2017 Top Picks

Brokers, Investing, IRA

NerdWallet offers financial tools and advice to help people understand their options and make the best possible decisions. The guidance we offer and info we provide are deeply researched, objective and independent.

We spent over 300 hours reviewing the top online brokers before selecting the best for our readers. And to help you find the one that’s best for you, we’ve highlighted their pros, cons and current offers.

The Roth IRA is a unique addition to your retirement savings plan, giving you a pot of tax-free income in retirement. Whether you’re opening your first account, looking to transfer your existing Roth IRA to a new broker or converting a 401(k) to a rollover IRA, check out NerdWallet’s roundup of the best Roth IRA account providers.

(Have questions about Roths? See our post about Roth IRAs.)

A Roth IRA is probably right for you if you’re looking for an individual retirement savings account and your income is lower now than you expect it will be in the future. Below, we’ve considered the factors that matter most to Roth IRA investors — fees, investment selection, account minimums and customer service — to select our top picks by category. Most of the brokers below offer a wide selection of funds that can be purchased without transaction fees, including no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

NerdWallet’s top Roth IRA account providers

NerdWallet rating
Fees
$6.95
per trade
Account minimum
$0
Promotion
$100-$600 in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

TD Ameritrade’s $0 account minimum, wealth of free research and retirement planning tools, and plentiful lineup of no-transaction-fee mutual funds and commission-free ETFs make it an ideal place to set up an IRA. It’s library of educational resources and free paper trading account are also great features to help investors hone their skills.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • $0 account minimum
  • Large lineup of no-transaction-fee mutual funds
  • Good customer support

Cons

  • Higher trade commissions
  • High short-term ETF trading fee
Read full review

NerdWallet rating
Fees
$4.95
per trade
Account minimum
$0
Promotion
$200in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

Ally Invest’s low commissions, no annual fee and no account minimum make it a good choice for IRA investors. For investors who want to be more active, the broker also offers a solid suite of research and tools, but IRA customers may be put off by closure and transfer-out fees.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Low commissions
  • No account minimum
  • No IRA annual fee
  • Strong web-based platform
  • Robust research and tools

Cons

  • IRA closure fee of $25
  • IRA transfer out fee of $50
Read full review

NerdWallet rating
Fees
$6.95
per trade
Account minimum
$0
Promotion
$100-$600in cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

Merrill Edge offers high-quality customer service, robust research, low commissions and fees -- all with no account minimum for IRA investors. Customers of parent company Bank of America will love the seamless, thoughtful integration, with a single login to access both accounts.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • No account minimum to access first-rate customer service.
  • Robust third-party research.
  • Ongoing promotions for opening and funding a qualified IRA account.

Cons

  • No commission-free ETFs for IRA investors.
  • Minimum balance requirement for day trading platform.
Read full review

NerdWallet rating
Fees
0.25%
management fee
Account minimum
$500
Promotion
$15,000amount of assets managed with no fee

The bottom line

Wealthfront takes the hassle out of IRA investing. The robo-advisor manages accounts by constructing portfolios out of low-cost ETFs, with a flat and low-cost fee structure that appeals to to investors seeking a hands-off approach. What’s more, the company has built client trust by offering free management on the first $10,000 invested — $15,000 with NerdWallet’s promotion.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Low-cost, hassle-free approach to IRA investing.
  • First $10,000 managed free ($15,000 for NerdWallet readers).
  • Automatic rebalancing.
  • Free automated tax-loss harvesting.

Cons

  • No large-balance discounts.
  • No access to human advisors.
Read full review

NerdWallet rating
Fees
0.25%
management fee
Account minimum
$0
Promotion
Up to 1 yearof free management with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

With its low-cost ETFs, automatic rebalancing, extensive tax strategies and retirement advice, Betterment is a strong bet for retirement investors. Betterment’s planning tools include advice on “asset location” — which types of investments are best for different types of accounts — and investors can sync outside accounts, as well.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • No account minimum
  • Extensive tax strategies
  • Robust goal-based tools
  • Free automated tax-loss harvesting

Cons

  • Limited investment options
Read full review

NerdWallet rating
Fees
$6.95
per trade
Account minimum
$500
Promotion
60days of commission-free trades with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

Retirement investors will find a lot to love with E-Trade’s IRA offering, including a large line-up of no-trading-fee mutual funds and an extensive library of retirement advice and tools. Plus, there’s no minimum account balance.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • No minimum account balance for IRAs
  • 4,400+ no-transaction-fee (NTF) mutual funds
  • 156 commission-free ETFs
  • Extensive research and tools

Cons

  • Higher cost for trading non-NTF mutual funds
  • Higher trading fees for low-volume ETF and stock traders
Read full review

NerdWallet rating
Fees
$4.95
per trade
Account minimum
$1K
Promotion
$100cash bonus with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

Charles Schwab is one of the best overall IRA providers large fund selection, high-quality customer service and reasonable account minimums and fees. The company offers a large selection of no-transaction-fee funds and commission-free ETFs. Minimum $1,000 deposit waived for IRA with $100 monthly automatic deposit.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Minimum waived with $100 monthly deposit.
  • No inactivity fees.
  • Above-average mobile app.

Cons

  • Higher account minimum.
  • Higher trade commissions.
Read full review

NerdWallet rating
Fees
$4.95
per trade
Account minimum
$0
Promotion
500free trades with a qualifying deposit

The bottom line

Fidelity’s lineup of services for investors goes well beyond retirement accounts. The company’s brokerage arm features low commissions, a wide investment selection, plenty of research and advanced trading capabilities (including a strong mobile app). The biggest knock are the volume and trade minimum requirements to access its active trader platform.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Low trade commissions
  • Free research and data
  • Strong customer support
  • Low fees
  • Quality trading platform

Cons

  • Trade minimum for active trader platform
Read full review

NerdWallet rating
Fees
$6.95
per trade
Account minimum
$0
Promotion
Noneno promotion available at this time

The bottom line

Vanguard is the king of low-cost investing, making it ideal for buy-and-hold and retirement investors. But active traders will find the broker falls short, with no trading platform and increased commissions for frequent trades.

Show pros & cons

Pros

  • Large mutual fund selection
  • Over 50 commission-free ETFs
  • Leader in low-cost funds
  • Helpful customer support

Cons

  • High trade commissions
  • No trading platform or tools
  • Limited research and data
Read full review

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

Merrill Edge

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

Ally Invest

Ally
Active traders
Competitive commissions, no account minimum
$4.95
per trade
$200 cash bonus or 90 days of free trades with a 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

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

E*Trade

E*Trade
No account minimum
Waives $500 account minimum for IRAs
$6.95
per trade; volume discounts
Up to $600 in commission-free trades
$0 for IRAs

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

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

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

Learn more about Roth IRAs

What is a Roth IRA, and why would you want one?

A Roth IRA is a retirement account. Your contributions are made with after-tax dollars, which gives the account two unique benefits:

  1. Unlike with other retirement accounts, contributions can be withdrawn at any time, tax- and penalty-free. What you may be taxed and penalized on is early withdrawals of your investment earnings. Generally, early is defined as before age 59 ½, but read more about the Roth IRA withdrawal rules.
  2. Your money grows tax-free, and distributions in retirement are not taxed. That means as long as you follow the rules for distributions, you’ll never pay taxes on the investment earnings.

You can dig into the details of these benefits and more in our Roth IRA guide, but think of the tax treatment this way: You’re paying taxes on the money you contribute now, locking in your current tax rate and skirting taxes in retirement. Because of that, a Roth IRA is best if you think your tax rate will be higher in retirement. Many younger workers or recent career changers are among those whose tax rates are likely to rise over time.

If your tax rate is higher now than it will be later, you might be better off with a traditional IRA, which gives you a tax deduction on contributions but taxes distributions in retirement. Read about the differences between a Roth and a traditional IRA.

Who qualifies for a Roth?

The Roth IRA has income rules for contributions. For 2017, the amount you can contribute begins to phase down at $118,000 in annual income for single filers and $186,000 for those married filing jointly. The contribution limit is slowly reduced until your ability to contribute is eliminated completely. If your income is above these amounts, our Roth IRA calculator tells you your contribution limit and how those contributions can grow over time.

How much can you contribute to a Roth?

You can contribute up to $5,500 a year, or $6,500 if you’re 50 or older, unless your contribution is reduced by the income limits above. That limit applies only to new contributions to the account, not rollovers.

Can I contribute to a Roth IRA if I already have a 401(k) or a traditional IRA?

Yes. You can combine a Roth IRA and a 401(k) and contribute the maximum you’re allowed to each.

With a traditional IRA and a Roth IRA, the contribution limit is a shared limit — you can contribute a total of up to $5,500 per year, and it’s up to you to decide how you want to divvy that up between the two.

How do you open a Roth IRA?

The process is easy as can be: You can open a Roth IRA at any online broker or robo-advisor, typically online in about 15 minutes. You’ll need to provide some personal information like your name, address, birthday, Social Security number and means of funding the account, so have that handy. Here’s our step-by-step guide to opening a Roth IRA, including details about how to fund and invest the account.

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

Updated September 19, 2017.