Best online brokerage checking account
For technology lovers, the bells and whistles on a broker's mobile app may be the basis for a decision, while investors driven by fundamentals might seek a brokerage firm that provides the best access to research resources. To suit your needs and preferences, MoneyRates. Any of the figures mentioned in this study are subject to change at any time at the sole discretion of the brokerage firm. Also, two brokerage firms in this study, Scottrade and TD Ameritrade, will be joining forces in the coming year, so you may want to reevaluate them after the transition is complete.
Below are the top-ranked online brokers in each category. Listed first are the overall winners based on average rankings in those six categories. The online brokerage branch of Merrill Lynch was the overall winner because it did better than most of the brokers studied in every category except margin rates, and that consistency earned it the best ranking on average. Of all the things online brokers advertise about their offerings, commission rates are probably the attribute they most often use to appeal to investors.
In that light, it is interesting that Merrill Edge ranked first because its commission rate is far from the lowest. Like Merrill Edge, Charles Schwab outperformed most of the brokers studied in every category but one to earn the second overall ranking.
Ally acquired TradeKing in to add brokerage to its well-known online-banking capabilities. Based on Ally Invest's high overall ranking in this study, the acquisition appears to have been a good choice. While not the cheapest option, customers might find that the quality of TD Ameritrade's research resources and online tools helps them make more effective investment decisions. By and large, online brokers these days offer flat-rate, per-trade commissions rather than charging based on the size of the trade.
That works especially well for people who make larger trades. But smaller investors need to watch trade commissions carefully because they can eat up a significant amount of funds, especially since you will pay that commission both when you buy and sell a stock.
This means they would be cheaper than a fixed rate for small trades but not for large trades. Getting started can be one of the most difficult parts of investing. Online brokers try to make it easy by offering user-friendly interfaces, but there are also dollars-and-cents barriers to consider.
Assuming most new investors start with relatively small amounts of money to invest, MoneyRates. As mentioned previously, Firstrade had the second-lowest commission rate in the study.
When you combine that with no monthly maintenance or inactivity fees and no account minimum, the economics work well for new investors. In particular, customers of Ally's banking services might find the transition to their brokerage service to be especially seamless. However, with no maintenance or inactivity fees and no account minimum, it is a fairly cost-effective place to get started, especially for lower-volume traders. It is currently offering cash bonuses for new accounts.
This broker was an exact match for Capital One with respect to commissions, monthly fees, and minimum funding policy. They, too, offer an incentive for new investors -- in this case, it is 60 days of free trading plus cash bonuses for certain account sizes. A monthly maintenance fee is a set dollar amount charged in addition to usage-based charges like commissions and, since it is typically a dollar-based rather than percentage-based fee, it is proportionally more burdensome on small investors.
Inactivity fees are charged by some brokers to investors who don't meet a certain volume of trading activity. Like monthly maintenance fees, these are set dollar amounts that disproportionately affect small investors. Also, newer investors who want to wade into the market gradually are more likely to fall below the required trading volume. Finally, while many online brokers allow you to start an account with any amount of money, some impose a minimum account size which could be a barrier to getting started.
So, in considering the best online brokers for new investors, MoneyRates looked for those with reasonable commissions, no monthly maintenance or inactivity fees, and no minimum funding requirement. MoneyRates also found that a few online brokers are offering special incentives for new investors. Since these incentives are temporary, they were not considered dominant factors, but they are noted above where applicable. For investors who use margin, the margin interest rate is a key hurdle to overcome in order to earn a positive rate of return.
Here are the brokers that had the cheapest margin rates:. With a margin rate of just 2. Online brokerage mobile apps are heavy on price and volume charts but typically a little thin on facilitating access to fundamental research. Overall, two apps rose to the top:.
No earth-shattering features, but overall one of the more robust line-ups including portfolio status, watch-list information and alerts, and current market data. Some online stock brokers are known for their award-winning customer service while others are known for inexpensive stock trades or powerful trading tools. This guide will highlight some of the best brokers available today with tips and advice for choosing a broker. Its platforms thinkorswim was 1 desktop platform , tools, mobile apps including Alexa Skill and Facebook Messenger bot , research, customer service 1 for phone support , and education 1 are all award winning.
Get up to free trades for 2 years. Fidelity is best known for its value driven customer experience. Beyond cost and ease of use, Fidelity also finished 1 for research tools.
OptionsHouse has been rated the 1 platform for Options Trading the past seven years. Merrill Edge is the online broker of Bank of America and is available to all investors, regardless if they are a current BofA customer. Like TD Ameritrade and ETRADE, Merrill Edge is well-rounded; however, it has a huge advantage over all other brokers thanks to its Preferred Rewards program where customers can earn free trades, credit cards bonus cash back, priority customer service, and more.
I have personally been using the program since it launched in With its competitive commission rates for stocks and options trading, investors who have previous market experience will find themselves right at home. However, unless you are already an Ally customer, you will find that there are better offerings available. Having the best stock broker to serve individual needs is very important for any investor.
For example, cheap trades most often come at the expense of less research tools and a more simplified trade platform. Consider these 12 key factors to help compare all stock brokers and ultimately find the best broker to suite your needs.
Trade Commissions What does it cost to buy shares of stock? Does the fee change based on the type of order or size of order? To keep it simple, look for brokers that offer flat-fee trades, ie charging a flat rate regardless of the type, price of the stock, or size of the order. Customer Service When picking up the phone or emailing a broker, is a well trained customer service representative ready to assist?
How any investor is treated as a client is more important to some than others. Trading Tools Trading successfully is a lot easier when investors have great tools at their disposal. A top stock broker should offer access to a wide variety of trade tools to help make the most of each and every trade.
From real-time streaming quotes to last sale tickers, quality stock scanners, mobile trading apps, and level II quotes to name a few. Strong tools are essential for active investors.