Best online brokerage accounts 2019

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If you’re trying to find a brokerage account that works best for you, you’ll want to have a comprehensive look at the top options, and that’s what Bankrate provides below.

We’ve examined many of the largest brokers based on characteristics that matter to individual investors – including trading fees, account minimums, free research and sign-up bonuses. We’ve evaluated each broker based on their pros and cons, and rated each on how they stand out from the crowd: best overall, best broker for low costs, best broker for active traders and more.

Best online brokerage accounts

Charles Schwab: Best overall

Schwab has been well-known for decades with its customer-first approach. Charles Schwab does it all well, from low fees to solid research to no account minimum – all at a reasonable trading commission. Beginners will like the hundreds of commission-free ETFs and thousands of no-transaction-fee funds, while more advanced traders will appreciate the highly customizable StreetSmart Edge trading platform. On top of all of this, the broker offers great customer support, educating you on how to invest and giving you a fast response. Read more…

Commission: $4.95 per stock or ETF trade
Minimum: $0
Exclusive offer: 500 commission-free stock and options trades with $100,000 deposit

Fidelity Investments: Best overall

With a reputation for being investor-friendly, Fidelity is another winner for best broker overall. Fidelity provides a wealth of research and is highly regarded for its snappy customer support, too. Like our other best overall pick, Fidelity offers hundreds of commission-free ETFs and thousands of mutual funds without a transaction fee. The broker is also great about getting rid of unnecessary account fees even as they provide a top-quality experience and plenty of research, at a reasonable commission. Read more…

Commission: $4.95 per stock or ETF trade
Minimum: $0
Exclusive offer: 300 free trades with qualifying deposit

Interactive Brokers: Best for active traders

With its stripped-down trading interface, Interactive Brokers only looks like a no-frills broker. But the broker has put all its resources into creating a great experience for active traders. So it’s no surprise that it’s a top choice among professionals. Volume-based discounts and a pro-level trading platform are enticing to many of these active traders, but most investors will also appreciate the broker’s $1 minimum commission and speedy execution. Read more…

Commission: $1 minimum per trade, $0.005 per share, with volume discounts available
Minimum: $10,000
Exclusive offer: None

TradeStation: Best for active traders

TradeStation also caters to the crop of high-volume traders with substantial discounts off the list price per trade. But even if you’re not an active trader, the broker charges a flat fee that’s competitive with what its rivals offer. Active traders will also appreciate the broker’s trading platform, and lots of free technical screening tools add to the overall value, too. Read more…

Commission: $5 per stock or ETF trade, with volume discounts available
Minimum: $500
Exclusive offer: None

Vanguard: Best for ETF investors

Vanguard is really tops for ETF investors. The broker lets you buy and sell any of its own ETFs for free, and Vanguard funds have some of the lowest expense ratios in the industry. But clients will also receive free ETF trades on more than 1,800 other funds, too. Stock investors will pay commissions that are a couple dollars more than the industry standard, but clients with more than a half-million in their accounts will find trades for $2 or even free. Read more…

Commission: $7 per stock trade; $0 for Vanguard ETFs
Minimum: $0
Exclusive offer: None

Ally Invest: Best for low costs

Ally Invest is a great selection for frequent traders, because the broker gives discounts if you make just 30 trades a quarter or maintain a balance of more than $100,000 in the account. Ally also has more than 100 commission-free ETFs and no inactivity fees. Cost-conscious investors may also like the broker’s sign-up promotions, which include free trades as well as a cash bonus, if you make a qualifying deposit. Read more…

Commission: $4.95 per stock or ETF trade, $3.95 if discounted
Minimum: $0
Exclusive offer: Free trades plus up to $3,500 in cash, with qualifying deposit

Robinhood: Best for low costs

Robinhood has made a splash in the industry, notably for its free stock trading. But it’s expanded its free trading service to options and offers free cryptocurrency trading, too. Those savings can be huge for investors if they’re trading a lot, and even a fair bit if doing just a handful of trades per year. An easy-to-use mobile app rounds out the package. Read more…

Commission: $0
Minimum: $0
Exclusive offer: Free share of stock

E*Trade: Best for investment selection

If you want access to all types of investing, then E*Trade can give that to you. The broker allows you to trade stocks, bonds, options, ETFs, mutual funds and futures. You’ll also be able to buy more than 4,400 mutual funds with no transaction fee and more than 200 ETFs without a commission. And you might enjoy the broker’s generous promotion offering free trades, too. Read more…

Commission: $6.95 per stock or ETF trade
Minimum: $500
Exclusive offer: Free trades plus up to $2,500 cash, with qualifying deposit

TD Ameritrade: Best for investment selection

TD Ameritrade is great if you want a broker that can go anywhere. Besides the usual stocks, bonds, ETFs and options, you’ll also get access to futures and forex. That’s on top of more than 4,000 mutual funds with no transaction fee and more than 300 commission-free ETFs. With free research and the high-powered thinkorswim trading platform available to investors, it’s a winner. Read more…

Commission: $6.95 per stock or ETF trade
Minimum: $0
Exclusive offer: 60 days of free trades and up to $600 cash, with qualifying deposit

Merrill Edge: Best for research

Merrill Edge’s strongest suit is the research it offers clients, which comes from the broker’s extensive in-house team of analysts. The package includes detailed analysts’ reports for companies that it covers, and Merrill also offers good educational material for beginning investors. One of the best features is the broker’s integration with Bank of America, so you can move money quickly from bank to broker, and if your portfolio is large enough (think $20,000 and up) you’ll be awarded free trades on a monthly basis, too. Read more…

Commission: $6.95 per stock or ETF trade
Minimum: $0
Exclusive offer: Up to $600 cash, with qualifying deposit

WellsTrade: Best for research

WellsTrade’s most outstanding attribute is its research, with the company’s in-house analysts providing reports on individual stocks as well as market commentary and investment recommendations. WellsTrade complements a Wells Fargo bank account, and the broker incentivizes you to link your accounts by offering a reduced trading commission of $2.95. Read more…

Commission: $5.95 per stock or ETF trade, $2.95 for Wells Fargo bank customers
Minimum: $0
Exclusive offer: None

Bottom line

Selecting a broker requires you to think about what your needs are, because it’s not always just about price. If you’re a buy-and-hold ETF investor, you probably need a different broker than if you’re an active trader. So consider your needs as you’re deciding on your next broker.

While new investors might find choosing a broker to be a daunting step, you aren’t likely to go wrong with any of the names mentioned above. The bigger step is just getting started, so don’t delay. Once you’ve found a broker, you can begin plotting your way to a more secure financial future.

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