Compare Online Stock Brokers
An online broker provides trading services over the Internet, as opposed to a traditional (or “full service”) brokerage firm. If you decide to open an account with a traditional brokerage firm, you will work one-on-one with a personal stock broker. He or she will offer investment ideas, prepare reports about your portfolio, give you a run-down of how well your investments are doing, and generally be available with a single phone call or email to buy or sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or other investments for your account. In addition, traditional brokers offer a variety of research sources to their customers. In exchange for this one-on-one service and guidance, however, you will be charged a significantly higher commission.
Discount online brokers, on the other hand, are geared toward the do-it-yourself investor. Generally, these brokers will not offer investment advice. They will simply execute orders once you’ve decided to buy or sell an investment. Instead of working with the same stock broker, you will do most of your trading online, or if you decide to call in your order, with the first available broker. In exchange for sacrificing personal contact with a regular broker, you will be charged a significantly lower commission.
Online trading has provided anyone who has a computer, enough money to open an account, and a decent financial history with the opportunity to invest in the market. The market is now more accessible than ever, and the online broker industry has become highly competitive. As a result, online brokerage firms have begun providing research sources and trading tools that are on par with those offered at the traditional brokerage firms. But the levels of help, account types, fees, and services offered will vary greatly from firm for firm. It is therefore imperative to consider your trading and investment habits when evaluating different online brokerage firms. If you trade frequently and want to perform your own research, then focus on a firm with a low trade fee. Likewise, if you need a broker to help you with your trades, then select an online broker that offers broker-assisted trades or advice from live brokers—just ensure these services are offered at a reasonable price before depositing your funds.
As an investor, choosing a broker will be one of the most important decisions you make. You should therefore take the time to explore all the options that are available to you. Here are some of the most critical criteria to keep in mind as you research potential online brokers:
- Commissions and Fees. You should first narrow your options according to trading and account fees—even the smallest difference in fees and commissions can have a big impact on your profitability. Every broker charges a certain price (called commission) to trade. There can be significant differences in commission prices among online brokerage firms. One broker may charge $20 per trade, while another may charge no more than $5. In some cases, a higher price is indicative of better service, faster execution (i.e. your buy-and-sell orders are carried out in a shorter period of time), and more perks; however, this is not always the case. This is why it is important to shop around and compare brokerage firms before you open an account.
- Account Minimums. Every brokerage has different terms and conditions for opening an account, but most firms require investors to deposit a certain amount of money into a new account. There is a wide range of minimum deposits, varying anywhere from $500 to $2,500, so make sure you read the fine print beforehand. You don’t want to take the time to fill out application forms, only to discover you don’t have enough money to open an account. If you don’t have much money, there’s no need to worry. More and more, online brokerages don’t require a minimum deposit at all. To find a firm with an affordable account minimum, use the corresponding filter on the left side of the search results page.
- Services. It is also important to consider the types of services provided by the online brokerage firm. A few trading sites enable you to buy and sell stocks, but not much else. Others are more like major banks, offering debit cards, mortgage loans, and opportunities for other investments like bonds and futures. You will therefore need to determine the services you require and then narrow your options from there.
- Investment Tools. Most online brokers also provide various tools for trading stocks and options online — from mobile trading platforms to streaming quotes and charts. But no broker offers the exact same set of tools, resources, and perks to their customers. Some will allow you to instantly log in to your account via the Internet and print out an analysis of your portfolio, view the balance of your account for the past six months, check your realized and unrealized gains, and view dividend records for the past few years. Others may be slim on certain features, but will offer thorough and comprehensive research that you cannot get anywhere else. It is therefore imperative to explore the various platform features provided by the online brokerage firms you are considering. Click on a specific listing to view its detail display page, where you’ll find further details on the types of investment tools offered.
Continue reading the guide to learn more on how to choose an online broker. Once you’re ready to start comparing, head back to the search results page dcfuxbcayeddzvcqdvua and use the specially-designed filters to narrow your options.
The fee charged by the brokerage firm for executing a stock trade (per trade). Many of the advertisements you see for online brokers focus on the price per trade (or the commission ) for stocks. While choosing the brokerage that provides the absolute lowest price per trade might be attractive—and might even make sense—you may be sacrificing service quality for price.
Range across all Online Brokers
$0 United States dollars / trade
$6.36 United States dollars / trade
$19.95 United States dollars / trade
Best Online Brokers Sorted by stock trade fee (per trade)
The monthly fee charged by the brokerage firm for maintaining the account.
Range across all Online Brokers
$0 United States dollars
$22.63 United States dollars
$99.99 United States dollars
Show the top Online Brokers with the lowest service fee
Best Online Brokers Sorted by service fee (United States dollars)
The fee charged by the brokerage firm for executing an options trade. You may be tempted to choose the brokerage firm with the lowest price per trade, but the price is usually indicative of service, so cheaper is not always better. It is therefore very important to know the level of support and types of investment tools provided before opening an account with a particular broker.
Range across all Online Brokers