Best Online Stock Brokers



With so many different types of online brokers available to investors, it can be tough to choose one that works best for you. That’s why we put these U.S.-based online brokers through a comprehensive review process that included hands-on research to determine the best in the industry.

We publish unbiased product reviews; our opinions are our own and are not influenced by payment we receive from our advertising partners. Learn more about how we review products and read our advertiser disclosure for how we make money.

Best Online Brokers and Trading Platforms:

Fidelity Investments: Best Overall

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0 for stock/ETF trades, $0 plus $0.65/contract for options trade

Why We Chose It

Fidelity is on a multi-year run as our best overall broker due to its client focused approach. Other brokers are closing the gap, but Fidelity remains our overall pick for investors. In addition to refusing payment for order flow, Fidelity continues to keep costs low, provides exceptional tools to help investors manage and analyze their portfolio, and are always improving the platforms and app to make things easier for the individual investor. One example of this is Fidelity’s cash sweep of uninvested funds into a money market funds to give clients another source of modest returns in their portfolios. Fidelity also has excellent order execution and shares the revenue from the stock loan program back to clients. All this shows the Fidelity’s commitment to lowering costs for customers while improving returns—and many investors can benefit from having a broker like that on their side.

Pros

  • 97.9% of Fidelity orders are executed at a price better than the national best bid or offer

  • Robust research and asset scanners

  • Cash is automatically swept into a money market fund

  • Rich educational offerings

Cons

  • Some traders and sophisticated investors may need Fidelity’s web platform in combination with Active Trader Pro to access all the tools and research they require

  • Non-U.S. citizens or residents cannot open an account.

  • Fidelity has a wide offering of securities, but no commodities or options on futures.

TD Ameritrade: Best for Beginners

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Free stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading commissions. $0.65 per options contract.

Why We Chose It

TD Ameritrade’s strength in investor education flows naturally to TDA being one of the smoothest introductions to the market for new investors. There are, of course, brokers that do it cheaper or flashier, but TD Ameritrade has the resources, range of offerings, and the support that will help new investors become better over the long-term. Major factors in choosing TD Ameritrade include the expanded learning pathways covering everything from beginning to invest to advanced trading, and the ability to paper trade on the platform without making any commitment. TD Ameritrade makes a very compelling case for being a new investors’ choice to enter the market because it manages to be a comprehensive and robust platform without being overwhelming.

Pros

  • Extensive education section with learning pathways designed with beginners in mind

  • Dashboard on mobile and web where clients can quickly access account details

  • A range of trading platforms and investment selections for all types of investors and traders

Cons

  • Some investors may have to use multiple platforms to utilize preferred tools

  • Wide menu of account types can make choosing the right one challenging

  • Investors are paid a tiny rate of interest on uninvested cash unless they take action to move cash into money market funds

TD Ameritrade: Best Mobile App

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Free stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading commissions. $0.65 per options contract.

Why We Chose It

TD Ameritrade is our best mobile app by virtue of its two-prong approach. The thinkorswim mobile app is designed to make trading easy for traders to manage existing positions and open new ones. The workflow on the app is intuitive and powerful enough that it is possible to trade solely from the app, potentially bringing about a generation of app-only traders who may never touch the more robust, downloadable platforms. The standard TD Ameritrade app for regular investors, you may find the app superior to the full website as it streamlines the entire experience to the necessities while nesting all the other functions in the app for those who are so inclined.

Pros

  • Mobile trading on TD Ameritrade mobile is more streamlined than the website

  • Trading from charts on mobile is simple in both apps

  • Dual apps allow traders and investors to select the one that best fits their needs

tastyworks: Best Broker for Options

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0.00 stock trades, $1.00 to open options trades $0.00 to close

Why We Chose It

Tastyworks remains very competitive on price when it comes to trading options contracts, but what makes it our pick as the best broker for options traders is the focused tools, education, and platforms it offers. Tastyworks isn’t the broker you start options trading on—it is the one you end up choosing once you’ve decided options trading is all you want to do. Tastyworks is optimized for this task in a way that few other brokers are. Options traders will find all the tools and analysis they need during trading sessions, and they can spend their downtime consuming options related content to get ready for the next session.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All the options tools you need

  • Charting is tweaked to options, allowing you to analyze the risk profiles of the combined position

  • Fantastic library of original, options focused content

Cons

  • If you are coming to tastyworks to trade something other than options, you are in the wrong place

  • There is no fixed income trading (outside of ETFs that contain bonds)

  • Additional portfolio analysis requires setting up an account with the Quiet Foundation, also part of the tastytrade empire

Fidelity: Best Broker for Low Costs

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0 for stock/ETF trades, $0 plus $0.65/contract for options trade

Why We Chose It

Over the last year, we have re-evaluated what it means to be our best low-cost online broker. There are online brokers that cost next to nothing to trade on. That was all it took to walk away with this category in the past despite a broker having a limited range of assets, or a lack of useful tools, or a weak trading platform—and potentially all three as long as the price was cheap enough. We’ve adjusted our scoring to look for low-cost in comparison to the value delivered. This approach to the data ended up with Fidelity (our best overall broker) on top, but the winning factors over close competitors were the cash management options on idle cash and the excellent portfolio analysis tools that consolidate outside accounts. If you aren’t going to be trading a large amount of options and you don’t require futures or cryptocurrency, then Fidelity offers you the most bang for your buck.

Pros

  • Low costs overall and a lack of many common fees

  • Strong account management options, including a sweep program into money market funds

  • Transparent pricing disclosure

  • Excellent execution quality

Cons

  • No future, commodities, or cryptocurrency

  • Only available to U.S. residents

  • A high fee ($32.95) for live broker assistance

Interactive Brokers: Best for Advanced Traders

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) remains our pick for advanced day traders, continuing another multi-year run. In this category, we assume advanced day traders are willing to bring third party solutions to make up for the gaps in back testing and automation in exchange for the wider access that Interactive Brokers provides in terms of international exchanges, an extensive selection of stocks on the easy-to-borrow list, and incredibly low margin rates. Cryptocurrency inclined advanced day traders are now able to engage in direct coin trading as of September 2021, and everyone else will find that Interactive Brokers has all the assets, reach, and tools they need as well as a very attractive margin rate.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Superior order execution

  • Contingent orders for every conceivable situation

  • Low margin interest rates

  • Cryptocurrency joins a long list of tradable assets

Cons

  • IBKR’s SmartRouter not available to IBKR Lite clients

  • TWS can take some time to learn

  • No backtesting of custom trading algorithms or automated trading

Interactive Brokers: Best for International Trading

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite

Interactive Brokers is in no danger of being unseated as our pick for best online broker for international trading. Interactive Brokers dominates the scoring in this category simply by virtue of its access to 135 exchanges in 33 countries all accessible through a single account. On top of this, Interactive Broker gives you the ability to trade 23 currencies in 115 different pairs in addition to the broker’s robust order selection and trading tools. This breadth and depth combines to enable traders to set up positions across markets and asset classes in a way that no other broker can currently match.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Interactive Brokers is unparalleled in its market reach and asset variety.

  • Trader Workstation (TWS) is a powerful tool with a high level of customization.

  • The direct access to exchanges worldwide allows for 24-hour trading.

Cons

  • International trading on IBKR works best through TWS, which can be intimidating for non-traders.

  • Interactive Brokers fee-based pricing structure is tiered and can be confusing (although the fees are modest).

Charles Schwab: Best for ETFs

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Free stock and ETF trading, $0.65 per options contract

Schwab is a full-service investment firm that ranks highly across many of our scoring categories, let alone for ETFs. Schwab often sits top five and frequently top three throughout our categories, getting edged by slightly more focused offerings. When it comes to ETFs, however, Schwab continues to be our pick. This is largely on the strength of its ETF screener combined with the general quality of its overall offering, including education around ETF investing and portfolio analysis tools for everyday investors. Schwab makes the process of investing in ETFs simple while still providing excellent research and multi-criteria screening for investors who want that depth prior to making a decision.

Pros

  • StreetSmart Edge ETF screener has 150+ screening criteria

  • The StreetSmart Edge platform is customizable and robust

  • Schwab is an excellent broker overall beyond the ETF specific functionality

Cons

  • To get the best ETF screener, investors need to work through StreetSmart Edge.

  • Outside of ETFs, Schwab can be a bit pricey on options, and futures are traded through a separate platform – something to keep in mind if you intend to trade in those assets

What to Consider When Choosing an Online Broker

When you are choosing an online stock broker you have to think about your immediate needs as an investor. Are you a beginner? Maybe you need a broker that has great educational material about the stock market. Do you only have a small amount of money you can put aside to invest? Some online brokers allow for small minimum deposits which can be a great option for those with limited funds. Are you always on the go and in need of a robust mobile platform? Some online brokers have incredible mobile apps delivering nearly all the features that their desktop counterparts do.

Another important thing to consider is the distinction between investing and trading. When people talk about investing they generally mean the purchasing of assets to be held for a long period of time. These types of investments are usually made to reach a retirement goal or to put your money into assets that may grow faster than it would in a standard savings account accruing interest. Trading, on the other hand, most commonly involves the buying and selling of assets in short periods. Trading is generally considered riskier than investing.

All of these factors must be considered before choosing an online broker. Do you want to trade or invest? Do you want a great mobile app to check your portfolio wherever you are? What types of assets are you looking to invest in? Answering these questions is not always easy. You can check out our guide to choosing a stock broker to gain further insight so you can make a sound decision. Once you’ve made a decision on a broker, you can also check out our guide to opening a brokerage account.

Methodology

Investopedia is dedicated to providing investors with unbiased, comprehensive reviews and ratings of online brokers. Our reviews are the result of months of evaluating all aspects of an online broker’s platform, including the user experience, the quality of trade executions, the products available on its platforms, costs and fees, security, the mobile experience and customer service. We established a rating scale based on our criteria, collecting thousands of data points that we weighed into our star-scoring system.

Click here to read our full methodology.

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