Find and Compare The Best Online Brokerages
Our goal is to help you find the best broker for your needs, and to that end, our team has spent over 300 hours reviewing the top brokers. We consider how each broker stacks up against the most important factors for investors, evaluating over 15 criteria before assigning each broker a rating or making a recommendation.
We strive to put the customer first and all reviews and assessments are solely based on our team’s editorial analysis. NerdWallet does not have relationships with every broker listed, and our recommendations are completely independent of any partnerships we do have. For complete transparency you can see How We Make Money.
Select Your Preferences
Tell us about your investing preferences and we'll show you the best online broker, completely tailored to your needs.
What do you want to invest in?
The first step in choosing an investment account is understanding your investing strategy.
Investors who trade individual stocks and advanced securities like options are looking for exposure to specific companies or trading strategies.
Mutual funds and ETFs are typically best suited to investing for long-term goals that are at least 5 years away, like retirement, a far-off home purchase or college.
Beginners and long term investors often look to get exposure to whole markets and don't have a preference on which type of securities to trade.
How much will you deposit to open the account?
Some brokers have minimum deposit requirements, while others may require a minimum balance to access certain advanced features or trading platforms.
If a broker is offering a new account promotion, there may be a minimum initial deposit requirement to qualify.
How often will you trade?
Like most things, when it comes to stock brokers, you often get what you pay for — which means there may be a trade off between price and quality.
Some brokers charge more per trade but offer access to a high-quality platform and premium research for free. Others have lower commissions, but offer fewer tools and services or charge to access certain tools.
If you're trading frequently — more than weekly — you'll want an advanced broker that has powerful platforms, innovative tools, high-quality research and low commissions.
Those who trade monthly or yearly will want a well-rounded broker with a user-friendly interface, helpful customer support and competitive pricing.
Who will manage your investments?
Yes, it's true — you don't have to manage your own investments. In fact, these days it's not only possible, but inexpensive to get the kind of management that was previously only available to investors with very high balances (read: mostly millionaires).
Thank the robo-advisor: These services use algorithms to build and manage investor portfolios. For a very low fee, they'll create a portfolio of ETFs based on your investing goals and risk tolerance, then rebalance it as needed. Many also offer tax-loss harvesting for taxable accounts.
If that sounds too hands-off for you and you want to manage your own investments, choose a self-directed account at an online broker.
What is most important to you?
Low Cost: Mutual fund and ETF investors want access to funds without commissions or transaction fees; stock or options traders want low commissions and no added fees for inactivity, tools or research.
Platform and tools: If you plan to trade frequently, you likely know what kind of tools you'll use most and what you want out of a platform.
User interface: Website and tools should be intuitive and easy to navigate.
Premium research: Investing, particularly frequent trading, requires analysis. The broker should provide extensive information to help you select the investments for your portfolio.
Promotions: This shouldn't be your primary concern, but it might be a tie breaker if you're stuck between two options.
Recommended brokers for you
|Broker||Best For||Highlights||Commissions||Account Minimum||Current Offers||Start Investing|
|Goal-based tools motivate investors to save more||Up to six months of free management|
Get Startedon Betterment’s secure website.
Charles Schwab(Our Review)
|Among largest selections of commission-free ETFs||500 commission-free trades|
Get Startedon Charles Schwab’s secure website.
|Leads on research - reports from 20+ firms||300 commission-free trades|
Get Startedon Fidelity’s secure website.
Options House(Our Review)
|Low commissions; superior tools, particularly for options||Trade free for 60 days with balance of $5,000 or more|
Get Startedon Options House’s secure website.
TD Ameritrade(Our Review)
|Top research; two powerful trade platforms; educational content||Up to $600 cash bonus|
Get Startedon TD Ameritrade’s secure website.
|Offers superior tax efficiency on accounts over $100,000||NerdWallet readers get the first $15,000 managed for free|
Get Startedon Wealthfront’s secure website.
|Large selection; reasonable commissions and fees||Cash bonus for new E-Trade account funded within 45 days of opening|
Get Startedon Etrade’s secure website.
Merrill Edge(Our Review)
|High-quality customer service with low commissions and fees||Up to $600 cash bonus|
Get Startedon Merrill Edge’s secure website.
Interactive Brokers(Our Review)
|Discounts for frequent traders; among best platforms||$3000 minimum deposit if you are under age 25|
Get Startedon Interactive Brokers’s secure website.
Personal Capital(Our Review)
|Offers a number of tools completely free||None available|
Get Startedon Personal Capital’s secure website.
|Real-time data and charting in a customizable package|
Receive 50 free trades with deposits over $10,000.
Get Startedon Scottrade’s secure website.
|Impressive platform and research depth; low commissions|
When you refer a friend, you both get $50!
Get Startedon TradeKing’s secure website.
|Industry leader in low-cost mutual funds, ETFs and index funds||None available|
Get Startedon Vanguard’s secure website.
|Automatic-investing program is great for a newbie||Get up to $600 when you open and fund a new account|
Get Startedon Sharebuilder’s secure website.
|Award-winning platform, in-depth research, and advanced tools||Save 20% on commissions through September 2016|
Get Startedon TradeStation’s secure website.