NerdWallet offers financial tools and advice to help people understand their options and make the best possible decisions. The guidance we offer and info we provide are deeply researched, objective and independent. We spent over hours reviewing the top online brokers before selecting the best for our readers. It can help you build a solid investing foundation — functioning as a teacher, advisor and investment analyst — and serve as a lifelong portfolio co-pilot as your skills and strategy mature.
A stock broker is a person or an institution licensed to buy and sell stocks and other securities via the market exchanges. Back in the day, the only way for individuals to invest directly in stocks was to hire a stock broker to place trades on their behalf.
But what was once a clunky, costly transaction conducted via landline telephones now takes place online, in seconds, for a fraction of what full-service brokers used to charge for the service. Merrill Edge offers high-quality customer service, robust research and low commissions and fees. Customers of parent company Bank of America will love the seamless, thoughtful integration, with a single login to access both accounts.
Ally Invest may be a deep-discount broker, but its robust trading platform and lineup of free research, charting, data and analytical tools puts it in line with some of its more well-known — and higher-priced — competition. TD Ameritrade makes up for higher-than-average trading commissions with better-than-average service, research and trading tools that will make everyone from beginner investors to active traders happy.
Scottrade offers the kind of hand-holding that beginner investors need to get started, including a breadth of educational resources, in-person support and free investor seminars. Its research offerings make it appealing to more advanced traders, as well. Charles Schwab has earned its strong reputation: The broker offers high-quality customer service, two robust trading platforms and a wide selection of commission-free ETFs and no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
Vanguard is the king of low-cost investing, making it ideal for buy-and-hold and retirement investors. But active traders will find the broker falls short, with no trading platform and increased commissions for frequent trades. Robinhood is truly free: There are no hidden costs here. The company is a solid brokerage option for values-based investors and small account balances. Dayana Yochim is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website: Integrated with Bank of America.
Free trades for eligible Bank of America customers. Cons No commission-free ETFs. Minimum balance requirement for active trading platform. Robust research and tools.
No no-transaction-fee mutual funds. Cons High account minimum Trade minimum for active trading platform. Cons Higher trade commission. High short-term ETF trading fee. Two platforms with no minimum or fees. Cons Higher trade commissions. Cons High trade commissions No trading platform or tools Limited research and data. Cons No retirement accounts No web trading platform.
Cons No dividend reinvestment Minimal trading tools. More resources for new investors Ready to place your first order? Read our step-by-step guide on how to buy stock. Unsure of how to build your portfolio? Learn more about stocks, ETFs and mutual fund.
We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. Please help us keep our site clean and safe by following our posting guidelines , and avoid disclosing personal or sensitive information such as bank account or phone numbers.
Any comments posted under NerdWallet's official account are not reviewed or endorsed by representatives of financial institutions affiliated with the reviewed products, unless explicitly stated otherwise. Low commissions, free tools and research. Broad educational content; no inactivity fees.
High level of support: Among largest selections of commission-free ETFs. No-frills, free trading app for beginners. Low commissions, availability of fractional shares.More...