Find the Best Online Brokerage | Easy Comparison Tool

Find and Compare The Best Online Brokerages

Photo of Arielle O'Shea
Curated By
Arielle O'Shea
June 2016

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.

Investment Type
Amount
Trade Frequency
Management
Features

Recommended brokers for you

BrokerBest ForHighlightsCommissionsAccount MinimumCurrent OffersStart Investing
Betterment
(Our Review)
  • ETFs
Goal-based tools motivate investors to save more
  • 0.35% management fee
  • $0 account min.
Up to six months of free management
Get Started
on Betterment’s secure website.
Charles Schwab
(Our Review)
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
Among largest selections of commission-free ETFs
  • $8.95/trade
  • Best for trading monthly, occasionally
  • $1,000 account min.
500 commission-free trades
Get Started
on Charles Schwab’s secure website.
Fidelity
(Our Review)
  • Stocks
  • Options
Leads on research - reports from 20+ firms
  • $7.95/trade
  • Best for trading monthly, occasionally
  • $2,500 account min.
300 commission-free trades
Get Started
on Fidelity’s secure website.
Options House
(Our Review)
  • Stocks
  • Options
Low commissions; superior tools, particularly for options
  • $4.95/trade
  • Best for trading weekly, monthly, occasionally
  • $0 account min.
Trade free for 60 days with balance of $5,000 or more
Get Started
on Options House’s secure website.
TD Ameritrade
(Our Review)
  • ETFs
  • Stocks
  • Options
Top research; two powerful trade platforms; educational content
  • $9.99/trade
  • Best for trading monthly, occasionally
  • $0 account min.
Up to $600 cash bonus
Get Started
on TD Ameritrade’s secure website.
Wealthfront
(Our Review)
  • ETFs
Offers superior tax efficiency on accounts over $100,000
  • 0.25% management fee
  • $500 account min.
NerdWallet readers get the first $15,000 managed for free
Get Started
on Wealthfront’s secure website.
Etrade
(Our Review)
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
Large selection; reasonable commissions and fees
  • $9.99/trade
  • Best for trading weekly, monthly
  • $500 account min.
Cash bonus for new E-Trade account funded within 45 days of opening
Get Started
on Etrade’s secure website.
Merrill Edge
(Our Review)
  • Stocks
High-quality customer service with low commissions and fees
  • $6.95/trade
  • Best for trading weekly, monthly, occasionally
  • $0 account min.
Up to $600 cash bonus
Get Started
on Merrill Edge’s secure website.
Interactive Brokers
(Our Review)
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
Discounts for frequent traders; among best platforms
  • $1/trade
  • Best for trading weekly, monthly
  • $10,000 account min.
$3000 minimum deposit if you are under age 25
Get Started
on Interactive Brokers’s secure website.
Personal Capital
(Our Review)
  • ETFs
Offers a number of tools completely free
  • 0.89% management fee
  • $25,000 account min.
None available
Get Started
on Personal Capital’s secure website.
Scottrade
(Our Review)
  • Stocks
Real-time data and charting in a customizable package
  • $7/trade
  • Best for trading weekly, monthly
  • $2,500 account min.
Receive 50 free trades with deposits over $10,000.
Get Started
on Scottrade’s secure website.
TradeKing
(Our Review)
  • Stocks
  • Options
Impressive platform and research depth; low commissions
  • $4.95/trade
  • Best for trading weekly, monthly
  • $0 account min.
When you refer a friend, you both get $50!
Get Started
on TradeKing’s secure website.
Vanguard
(Our Review)
  • ETFs
Industry leader in low-cost mutual funds, ETFs and index funds
  • $7/trade
  • Best for trading monthly, occasionally
  • $0 account min.
None available
Get Started
on Vanguard’s secure website.
Sharebuilder
(Our Review)
  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
Automatic-investing program is great for a newbie
  • $6.95/trade
  • Best for trading weekly, monthly
  • $0 account min.
Get up to $600 when you open and fund a new account
Get Started
on Sharebuilder’s secure website.
TradeStation
(Our Review)
  • Options
Award-winning platform, in-depth research, and advanced tools
  • $4.99/trade
  • Best for trading weekly, monthly
  • $5,000 account min.
Save 20% on commissions through September 2016
Get Started
on TradeStation’s secure website.
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