Fidelity® review 2021

Bankrate senior reporter James F. Royal, Ph.D. covers investing and wealth management. His work has been cited across major media, including CNBC, the Washington Post, The New York Times and the Associated Press. Royal believes in the power of education to help individuals make smart financial decisions that can positively and significantly improve their lives.

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Fidelity Logo

Best For

  • Overall experience
  • Research
  • Customer support

Fidelity does so many things right – from free research to responsive customer support, from mutual funds to high-powered trading tools – that it’s hard to pin down one or two areas where the broker is a standout. It’s even taken the investor-friendly move of slashing the usual account fees that rivals continue to charge, and Fidelity does it all without sacrificing your experience as a customer. The site is easy to navigate, and you can quickly find what you’re looking for. But if you have any questions, customer service is as fast and friendly as you’ll find anywhere. 

Fidelity is an excellent selection for your main broker, and you’re not likely to be disappointed.

Fidelity at a glance

Star Rating

5
  • Cost: 5 of 5
  • Accounts and trading: 5 of 5
  • Research and Education: 5 of 5
  • Mobile: 4 of 5
  • Customer Experience: 4 of 5
  • Minimum Balance:
    $0
  • Cost per stock trade:
    $0
  • Cost per options trade:
    $0.65 per contract
  • Promotion:
    None
  • Commission-free mutual funds or ETFs:
    All
  • No-transaction-fee mutual funds:
    3,400+ NTF mutual funds
  • Securities tradable:
    Stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options
  • Customer service:
    Phone 24/7, email, live chat M-F 8 a.m.-10 p.m. and Sat/Sun 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
  • Account fees:
    None
  • Mobile app:
    Fidelity offers mobile apps on the Apple App Store, Google Play Store and Amazon devices.

Top features you'll love

Active Trader Pro: The biggest tool at Fidelity is Active Trader Pro, the broker’s flagship trading platform. You’ll be able to set up the look of the platform with one of a few preset layouts or customize it completely to your preferences. You’ll be able to build stock charts, show dozens of technical indicators and place multiple trades at a time.

Fidelity’s other trade tools – such as Real-Time Analytics and Trade Armor – are integrated into the platform dashboard for easy access. You can pull streaming Bloomberg TV onto your desktop as well.

Voice assistants: Just ask Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant and you’ll get updates on how the market is trending, as well as how your portfolio is performing. The functionality is fairly limited for the moment, but it’s an easy way to interact with Fidelity and get the news you’re looking for.

Pros: Where Fidelity stands out

Account fees, account types and no minimum

If you’re looking to minimize all those “nickel and dime” fees that brokers often bombard you with, you could hardly do better than Fidelity. The broker charges no fee for the standard categories – including account or activity fees and transfer-out fees – as well as some of the obscure ones such as the IRA closeout and reorganization fees.

And if you pay bills from your brokerage account, Fidelity doesn’t charge for typical bank fees either. These include stop-payment fees or ATM fees. Fidelity is incredibly investor-friendly. On top of all of this, the broker has no account minimum, so it’s easy to get started, too. 

Clients can trade stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds and options at Fidelity — and the broker has almost any account type imaginable. That includes individual and joint accounts, business accounts (SEP IRA and solo 401(k)), health savings accounts, 529 education savings plans and many more. It also includes a managed portfolio, if you’d prefer someone else to do that investing.

Mutual funds

Fidelity performs great in this area, and it offers customers two investor-friendly ways to play mutual funds.

No-transaction-fee funds: The broker offers more than 3,400 mutual funds without a transaction fee. That means you can get into and out of the fund without cost, though you’ll still be on the hook for any expense ratio charged by the fund. Fidelity has a huge selection of these advantaged funds, and compares favorably with the best brokers.

Fee-free funds: As if that weren’t enough, Fidelity does even better, offering mutual funds without an expense ratio at all, part of what it calls its ZERO mutual fund line-up. It’s the first company to offer fee-free mutual funds, though you don’t have to be a customer of the brokerage to buy it. Without a transaction fee or an annual expense ratio, you could own the fund at no ongoing cost, a great deal. A Fidelity ZERO fund hits our list of best index funds, too.

Commissions

Although Fidelity offers the rock-bottom of commission prices in the industry, it also doesn’t offer rock-bottom features, which is not the usual trade-off if you care only about costs. Instead, at Fidelity you’ll pay $0 for stock and ETF trades – for a high level of features, including all of their research and educational offerings as well as a wealth of trading tools. Fidelity’s commission is competitive with other top brokers such as Charles Schwab and TD Ameritrade.

For options, Fidelity charges a figure that's in line with much of the industry, $0.65 per contract. 

Fractional shares

In 2020, Fidelity rolled out its fractional share purchase program called Stocks by the Slice, which allows you to buy partial shares for as little as $1. You’re able to buy shares in more than 7,000 stocks and ETFs for the same no-cost commission that you’re used to, and you can reinvest any dividends into fractional shares as well, making your money maximally effective.

Mobile app

Fidelity’s mobile app doesn’t have a catchy name – Fidelity Mobile – but it can still help you get a lot done: 

  • Manage your individual and workplace accounts and monitor your portfolio.
  • Trade securities, including stocks, ETFs and mutual funds and those more complex options trades, too. 
  • Pay bills, access tax forms and receive customizable alerts. 
  • Access a personalized feed of news based on the market and your holdings. 
  • Listen to Fidelity podcasts on finance and the economy.

In short, you’ll be able to get a high level of functionality from the mobile app.  

Research and education

Fidelity offers an extensive lineup of research and education resources for investors of every level. And even if you’re not yet a customer, you can check them out for free to see if you like them.

Research: There is a vast amount of valuable information available on the Fidelity site. Go to the page for an individual stock and you can receive financial data, competitor analysis, news and reports on individual stocks from a variety of third-party research companies including Thomson Reuters, Ned Davis, Zacks, and many others.

You’ll also have access to SEC filings and a variety of sources of market commentary. And you’ll find further reports on ETFs. Really the resources go on and on, and with the clean layout you’ll have no problems finding what you’re looking for.

Education: You can get assistance on the basics of personal finance – budgeting, managing debt and saving – but it goes way beyond planning and advice. In Fidelity’s learning center, you can attend webinars or view recorded ones that detail almost any aspect of trading, options, funds and how to use the many tools Fidelity offers, such as Active Trader Pro. You’ll find the short courses ranked according to skill level, too.

Tools

Besides Active Trader Pro, Fidelity provides a number of other tools if you’re looking to improve your trading or to get better trade ideas.

Real-time Analytics: This tool provides trade signals in real-time based on historical price movements. You’ll be alerted when a stock hits a new high or low, crosses a key technical level or shows other unusual activity.

Trade Armor: Trade Armor allows you to visualize your trading opportunities on a chart. You can set alerts to track price movements and determine prices to get in and out of a position. You can also enter orders right from the tool.

Daily Dashboard: This tool pops up when you launch Active Trader Pro and provides real-time news, earnings and economic news, so that you’re abreast of what’s impacting your portfolio.

Quick comparison of Brokerage options:
Brokerage Overall Rating Avg. Cost Per Trade Accounts and Trading
Fidelity logo
$0 5 of 5
Charles Schwab® review 2021 logo Read Our Review
$0 5 of 5
Merrill Edge® review 2021 logo Read Our Review
$0 4 of 5
TD Ameritrade® review 2021 logo Read Our Review
$0 5 of 5

Cons: Where Fidelity could improve

New account bonus

Fidelity does not offer any account bonuses, unlike a number of its rivals. For all that Fidelity offers in the way of other features and tools, that’s a modest trade-off and shouldn’t dissuade you if the broker is otherwise satisfactory. For those who need an account bonus, however, see Bankrate's list of the best brokerage account bonuses

Investment selection

Fidelity doesn’t offer trading on the more exotic products, such as futures and forex, though it does all the basics – stocks, ETFs, bonds, mutual funds, options. That array is probably going to suffice for more than 99 percent of investors. Are we splitting hairs here? Absolutely, but it’s worth knowing what the broker can and can’t do for you.

Bottom line

Fidelity is an excellent pick for almost anything you’ll want to do, and so it makes a great brokerage that can work with you as your needs develop. 

  • Fidelity’s research and customer support are among the best in the industry. 
  • Fidelity remains tremendously investor-friendly – no account minimum, no commissions on stock and ETF trades, fair prices for options, and you’ll generally avoid extra fees for routine services.
  • Fidelity’s no-fee mutual funds, wide array of account types, mobile app and trading platform make the broker a “do anything” powerhouse for customers. 

Investors looking for another overall great broker should check out Charles Schwab, where research and investor-friendly policies are a priority. Merrill Edge is a great place for in-depth research on individual stocks, while Interactive Brokers competes well with its fast execution and pro-level trading platform, and you can opt for that broker’s no-fee service tier, too.  

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