Bankrate’s reviews focus on the largest and most respected online brokers and robo-advisors. The reviews take an investor-first approach, meaning evaluations are based on how a typical customer might derive value from the company, rather than focusing on whether a particular feature benefits the broker or robo-advisor. Bankrate’s reviews offer timely and objective information on brokers and robo-advisors so that individuals can make informed decisions.

Bankrate evaluates brokers and robo-advisors on factors that matter to individual investors, including commissions, account fees, available securities, trading platforms, research and more. All data are collected directly from the companies themselves, through the website or direct contact with a representative.

We weight these objective measures according to our assessment of their importance. Then we systematically score the brokers and robo-advisors across categories and scale the raw scores to ensure that you’re seeing the top options among a field of high-quality companies.

Our reviews provide a score rating, on a scale of one to five stars, across five key dimensions as well as an overall score. In addition to this quantitative evaluation, a qualitative section provides further details and context, highlighting features that users may find interesting or useful. In addition, we offer alternatives for investors looking for a specific feature or service.

Broker review criteria

Bankrate evaluates brokers on the following criteria:

  • Cost – we look at trading fees for stocks, ETFs, options and mutual funds and also consider other account fees.
  • Accounts and trading – account types, securities available, trading platforms and whether a broker offers fractional shares are considered.
  • Research and education – brokers are rewarded for having strong research and educational offerings.
  • Mobile offering – we consider the strength of a broker’s mobile app.
  • Customer experience – customer support options are considered including the hours of availability and communication method.

Robo-advisor review criteria

  • Cost – annual management fee, fund expense ratios and account fees are considered.
  • Investments and portfolio – we look at the funds available, account minimum and whether fractional shares are used to build portfolios.
  • Account types – types of accounts available are considered.
  • Features and tools – we look at whether a robo-advisor offers a tax strategy, regular rebalancing and access to a human advisor, among other things.
  • Customer experience – we consider the customer support options available to clients including the hours of availability and method of communication.

Bankrate typically conducts a comprehensive review of each broker and robo-advisor once a year but may update them throughout the year as key facts change or the industry shifts.