Best Online Broker for Beginning Investors

How we picked the companies to evaluate:

NerdWallet reviewed 17 online brokerages that offer self-directed accounts. These brokerages constitute the majority of that market based on their assets under management. Some of the providers are NerdWallet partners, but this did not influence our selection of the winner.

How we chose the winner:

NerdWallet evaluated each provider across the weighted criteria below to determine the winner for beginning investors:
  • Customer service, including hours of availability, ease of finding key information on the provider’s website, and educational support offerings (35%).
  • Investment selection (25%).
  • Mobile app ratings in the Apple and Google app stores (10%).
  • Trading platform: ease of use, availability and included tools (10%).
  • Low or no account fees (partial transfer, full transfer or closing) (7.5%).
  • Research and data, including number of third-party providers and quality of research tools (5%).
  • Stock trading commissions (2.5%).
  • Options trading costs (base fee and per-contract fee) (2.5%).
  • Default sweep interest rate (2.5%).

How we verified our data:

NerdWallet writers sent detailed questions to all reviewed companies. NerdWallet writers and editors also confirmed fees, rates, policies and other key features on each company's website.