Technology has ushered in a new era in the investing world, including the ability to trade stocks from home and in real time. But what is the best online brokerage for stock trading in 2019? This can depend on the type of investor you are, the features you look for and how much you’re willing to pay for top notch trading technology.
Bankrate pored over all the features the major stock trading sites offer to help you find the best online stock trading platform for your needs. Here are our 2019 picks based on investing style and major benefits.
Here are the best online brokers for stocks in 2019:
- Fidelity – best for investing research
- TD Ameritrade – best for beginners
- Charles Schwab – best for low fees
- Robinhood – best for digital user experience
- E-Trade – best for ongoing education
- Ally – best for cheap trades
What to consider when choosing a broker
The best online stock trading websites offer consumer-friendly features and fees traders can easily justify. To come up with this list of options consumers should consider for their trades this year, we considered the following factors:
- Price: When it comes to fees, you’re in luck — fees have been dropping swiftly as a price war across the investing world wages on. For this list of best online trading sites, we considered fees and ongoing trading costs to see how they stack up.
- Broker resources: You’ll also want to consider factors like the kind of advice and research tools from the broker, the quality of the digital trading app, and the ability to place trades quickly and reliably, among other details.
- Strategy: The account you really want will ultimately come down to your personal investment strategy — including how frequently you plan to trade and whether you’re a beginner or are more experienced. We considered how each investing platform tailored its offerings to a different type of consumer.
Overview: top online stock brokers in September 2019
Fidelity – Best for investing research
Fidelity has a strong reputation for offering some of the best research and tools for consumers planning for retirement, which is part of the reason they have gained so much consumer trust.
Overview: As Bankrate’s in-depth review put it: “Fidelity is one of the few brokers out there where investors can do intensive research on every element of their portfolio without ever having to do a Google search or visiting a third-party site.”
The information available on their platform— which includes sophisticated screening tools, such as dividend screens with payout ratio and ex-dividend dates — makes the account a good option for investors who want to dig in.
Pricing: Fidelity’s pricing is also competitive for those who trade stocks frequently. Once you open an account, you’ll pay $4.95 for each stock trade.
Bolstering their reputation further is the fact that Fidelity Investment won first place in the customer experience rating in Investor’s Business Daily’s annual investor survey, which polled the people who ought to know best – customers who actually use their services..
Review: Fidelity earned 4.5 out of 5 stars in Bankrate’s review.
TD Ameritrade – Best for beginners
TD Ameritrade has introduced an interesting lineup of innovations over the last few years, many of which make them ideal for first-time investors who are comfortable with technology.
Overview: Most recently, the company made a splash by announcing that customers can now ask Alexa-equipped devices to buy and sell stocks in addition to other things they’ve been able to ask for months, such as getting market updates.
A voice command is designed to simplify your life at times when you’re, say, cooking spaghetti and have your hands covered in carbonara sauce — a scenario that would make firing up a mobile app more complicated. Besides that, there are plenty of people who think voice is the future of navigation.
On the consumer side, this platform gives you access to a library of educational content that includes almost 500 videos and more than 2,000 articles. Yes, that sounds a bit overwhelming. But that’s also why TD Ameritrade says its education center curates the most popular content based on the overall viewership numbers.
The company’s integral Trade Architect platform is also extremely easy to use, making it a popular option for first-time investors who want to get their feet wet.
Pricing: You will, however, need to spend a little more to make trades than you would at other companies. On the flip side, the fact that there are no account minimums makes this an attractive option for beginners.
Review: TD Ameritrade scored 4.5 out of 5 stars in Bankrate’s review.
Charles Schwab – Best for low fees
There’s a reason investing leaders like Warren Buffett continually harp on the importance of assessing investing fees.
Overview: The more fees you pay over the long haul, the more they eat away at your returns. When you pay less to invest your money and let it grow, on the other hand, you keep more of your money in your pocket.
Pricing: That’s why many cost-conscious investors opt to trade with Charles Schwab. The company’s online stock trading platform offers trades for $4.95 and options for $4.95 plus an additional $.065 per contract.
Yet, Charles Schwab won’t make you endure shoddy customer service in exchange for low costs. The company was ranked by J.D. Power as “Highest in Investor Satisfaction with Full Service Brokerage Firms, Three Years in a Row”.
Charles Schwab also has an innovative customer service policy that says clients can get refunds on related commissions, a transaction fee, or an advisory program if they feel unsatisfied — something Walt Bettinger, president and CEO of Charles Schwab, said you already expect.
“Today’s consumers expect great value, a great experience and a refund if they aren’t satisfied,” Bettinger said in a press release announcing the guarantee. “We believe a modern investing experience should deliver on these expectations – period.”
Review: Charles Schwab earned 4.5 out of 5 stars in Bankrate’s review.
Robinhood – Best for digital user experience
Robinhood is a newcomer, but the online brokerage has made quite a splash.
Overview: Robinhood’s mobile app is particularly useful and rewarding for consumers who give it a try. The app itself is sleek and easy to use, and its language is more accessible than others. For example, the app’s help box leads with, “Hey! How can we help?” instead of formal, boring investing speak.
Robinhood’s research tools are less robust than other options, which is part of the reason this platform is more geared to experienced investors. However, there’s also an option to pay for premium services. And regardless, the limited approach helps make the experience feel less overwhelming.
Most recently, the company built an independent clearing system to settle and clear transactions. Translation: The digital customer experience should only improve from here.
Pricing: Why should you consider it? Not only does the fintech company offer a zero-fee stock trading app, it is aggressively striving to disrupt the industry and become a platform that offers all kinds of financial products and services.
Robinhood was founded in 2013, and the company already claims 6 million customers — many of whom are millennials.
Review: Robinhood earned 3.5 out of 5 stars in its Bankrate review.
E-Trade – Best for ongoing education
Investors who want to become lifelong learners need an online stock trading platform that continually educates them as markets change.
Overview: This is one area where E-Trade absolutely shines.
Not only does the platform offer a library of educational tools, but they roll out a merry go round of webinars, news clips and educational videos aimed at investors of all speeds. You can also check in with E-Trade analysts for up-to-date analysis and commentary that can help you craft your trading strategy.
If you’re worried about being left to invest on your own, rest assured that E-Trade also offers 24/7 phone support and an online chat option. Their helpful customer service representatives can help you navigate the online platform or answer timely questions.
Pricing: With these benefits in mind, we believe E-Trade is ideal for careful investors who want to keep learning more with each passing year. While E-Trade isn’t the least expensive online stock trading site, sometimes you get what you pay for.
Review: E-Trade earned 4 out of 5 stars in its Bankrate review:
Ally – Best for cheap trades
Keeping costs low is the name of the game in the investing world, and this is one area where Ally stands out.
Overview: If you’re a buy-and-hold investor who is simply seeking a low fee structure, it’s hard to beat the low costs and simplicity of Ally. With that in mind, the overall lack of commission-free mutual funds and ETFs could make it a poor option for consumers seeking these options.
Pricing: Trades cost just $4.95, and each options trade is $4.95 plus $.65 per contract. Ally does not charge an inactivity fee if you take time off from trading, and they don’t charge an annual fee, either.
Active investors can also benefit from $3.95 equity trades, although you’ll need to have more than 30 trades each quarter, 10 trades per month or a balance of $100,000 to qualify.
Review: Ally Invest earned 4 out of 5 stars in its Bankrate review: