The Best Online Brokers From Financial Treat. Choosing the right online broker is one of the most difficult decisions you will make as an investor. With the list of available options getting longer and longer, it can be daunting to find a broker that meets all your needs. Forbes Advisor spent six months testing 21 leading online brokers to determine the best of the best.
In our tests, Forbes Advisor compared and contrasted over 100 different characteristics and variables of each online broker – from commissions and costs to customer service and investment products – to determine which trading platforms are best for different types of brokers user. We thoroughly evaluated the various tools and trading features each platform offers, details that become even more important when choosing an online broker, as the race for zero stock commissions is over.
TD Ameritrade is a highly flexible online broker that shines in many areas, from education and research to its platform and technology. All of this makes it the best option for new investors looking to get involved.
The platform’s extensive educational resources include a free streaming video platform, the TD Ameritrade network, live seminars, and curated online courses, articles, videos and webcasts.
Rich educational resources
TD Ameritrade’s courses feature progress tracking and gamification elements, rewarding progress with points and badges. Topics include more advanced topics such as technical analysis, income investing, and options trading.
Given the sheer number of educational resources available, TD Ameritrade offers the ability to categorize topics by your skill level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) and media type (article, video, webcast, course, or event), which is helpful .
TD Ameritrade also provides third-party news and analysis from Thomson Reuters, Dow Jones and Credit Suisse. Customers can get daily inspiration from the company’s Market Java emails. Sent before the market opens, it provides updates on pre-market conditions, key stock movements and analyst insights.
Besides the FAQ and chatbot features, beginners will definitely have problems. To help answer these questions, TD Ameritrade offers customer service that was solid in our tests, with solid phone support, a message center, and 24/7 live chat.
It’s always a good idea to test trading ideas in a virtual environment first. paperMoney trading simulator allows beginners to get started without risking any real money. Users can test strategies using real-time market data across multiple markets.
Interactive Brokers has long been a favorite of active traders and investment professionals for its extremely low commissions and fees, amazing range of tradable products, and powerful platforms and tools.
Low fees and broad market access
Commissions and fees are sensitive issues for active traders. With $0 commissions becoming the new norm for discount brokers, it can be difficult to identify players who offer the best value for money. Interactive Brokers’ commissions and fees have always been very low, and one area where it continues to stand out is its margin rates, where the company is more than a few percentage points lower than its competitors.
Access to global markets is another key advantage of this broker. Whether you want to trade stocks on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange or speculate on futures options on the Mexican Futures Exchange, Interactive Brokers has you covered. There are 135 markets in 33 countries available for trading.
Interactive Brokers’ Trader Workstation (TWS) desktop platform provides secondary market data, advanced charts, technical analysis tools, scanners, alerts and Bloomberg TV streaming. Popular functions among professional day traders such as B. “Hotkeys” are also available.
In addition to providing the best trading platform for beginners, TD Ameritrade’s Thinkorswim mobile app also stands out. All the advantages of this online broker’s education and research offerings, products and technology are carried over, although the more basic TD Ameritrade app is also available, which may appeal to beginners.
With the thinkorswim mobile app, you can trade stocks, options, futures and foreign exchange. You can access all settings and preferences for the thinkorswim desktop platform through the mobile app. This means your chart drawing and market scans can be synced to any mobile device.
Rich features on mobile devices
The well-designed app allows you to easily navigate through numerous functions. Customer support is at your fingertips from your phone. You can chat live with trading experts and share your screen without even leaving the app.
News and insights are available on mobile devices with live streaming video from TD Ameritrade Network and CNBC. The app even has a built-in chat room so you can talk deals with your peers.
Mobile traders can use advanced order types such as trailing stop and OCO (one cancels the other). With a virtual paperMoney account, you can also make risk-free paper transactions anytime, anywhere.
Developed by options trading professionals, Tastyworks is reflected in the creative innovation of the platform. This user-centric broker combines low commissions, cutting-edge technology and unique resources to help you create options trading ideas.
Tastyworks offers competitive prices and fees, including $10 per leg commission on stock options trades. It also offers commission-free trading on stocks and ETFs, and has one of the lowest futures commission rates in our survey.
Options trading made easy
The user experience of the Tastyworks platform is excellent on desktop and mobile devices. The trading platform offers conveniences such as the Quick Roll feature, which allows you to roll over your options position to the next expiration cycle with a simple right-click.
The Follow Feed feature allows you to view trades made by a group of experienced traders and helps keep your ideas flowing. You can customize the people you follow in your feed based on your interests. You can even follow the trading activities of founder Tom Sosnoff, who started his career as a floor trader at the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE).
While testing the quality of Tastyworks’ customer service, it was a pleasant surprise to receive a response from Nick Battista, co-host of the Bat vs. Bat show on the Tastytrade network.
Fidelity is our pick for the best overall online broker. It has an excellent comprehensive platform and is a great choice for active traders, long-term investors or new to investing.
Fidelity provides high-quality trade execution at the lowest cost. It is a broker that offers commission-free stock, ETF and options trading but does not sell order flow. On average, 85% of orders are filled at better than the National Best Offer (NBBO) price, with an average execution speed of 0.07 seconds.
For other brokers, the sell order process helps offset lost sales by offering commission-free trades, but often results in poor execution quality.
Low cost, great investment opportunity
Fidelity’s fees are surprisingly low. For example, it’s the only broker in our survey that doesn’t charge a transfer-out fee – a small detail that shows its overall approach.
Fidelity is a recognized leader in the mutual fund industry with 70 years of experience. To underscore its commitment to value and low cost, it launched an index fund with a zero expense ratio in 2018. There are no minimum purchase thresholds for these funds and no fees for private broker account holders.
As an early adopter of new investment products, Fidelity offers partial trading on more than 7,000 U.S. stocks and ETFs. Rival Charles Schwab only offers fractional shares of S&P 500 stocks. Fidelity also excels in international stock trading, with access to markets in 25 countries.
Research on a wide range of products, including reports from multiple independent providers including Zacks and Argus. Tools such as Fidelity Stock Screener, Stock Research Dashboard and the powerful Active Trader Pro platform help users identify attractive investment opportunities.
Charles Schwab is a strong contender for first place in several of our categories. Ultimately, its reliable and knowledgeable representatives earned it the top spot for customer service.
Charles Schwab’s website is easy to navigate, with support features front and center, rather than tucked away in an obscure corner as many brokers tend to do.
Quick answers from competent experts
In our tests, phone inquiries were resolved within minutes. Schwab’s chat support with a human operator responded almost immediately, a rare luxury. Representatives are knowledgeable licensed professionals. They usually hold a Series 7; some have multiple licenses.
Additionally, Schwab offers an extensive network of offices across the United States for those who prefer a face-to-face experience with an advisor.
For this survey, we spent six months thoroughly testing 21 of the top U.S. online trading platforms. We tested products side-by-side across six main categories, evaluating over 100 features and variables, and collecting thousands of individual data points. The six categories we tested were commissions and fees, platform and technology, product offerings, research and education, account security and customer service.
Categories are weighted according to their relative importance to Best Overall Broker, Best for Beginners, and Best for Active Traders. Testing is conducted by an experienced market professional with over 20 years of brokerage and retail investor experience in the market. We opened accounts with all 20 brokers in our survey to conduct practical, granular tests of their platforms and services.
When looking for an online broker, you should consider whether it fits your investment profile and fits your goals. Be aware of the commissions and fees they charge, especially those related to the investment products you use most often.
Carefully consider the platform and technology offered by the broker. Make sure the tools provided are suitable for your investing style. Are you in need of an easy-to-use platform for some long-term investing, or are you looking for a tool that provides tools to optimize your chances of success in the fast-paced world of active trading?
A good broker is more than just a place to execute trades. Find a broker who can support your decision-making and development as an investor with quality research and training materials. Also, consider how much customer support you are happy with. Some brokers offer 24/7 live representation via chat and phone, while others only offer email support.
Finally, watch out for promotions and bonuses – many leading brokers offer account bonuses based on your initial deposit size. For large deposits, these can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars.
An online brokerage account is a combination of cash and securities on an online trading platform. Investors can use online brokers instead of traditional financial advisors to buy and sell stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, options and other assets.
Some online brokerage firms have minimum accounts ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars. However, the top online brokers we have listed here allow users to open an account without a minimum balance.
To open an online brokerage account, all you have to do is visit the broker’s website. Each company has its own account opening process, which can be done entirely online – although you may need to upload certain documents, such as a B. driver’s license photo. Once your account is created, you can fund your account by transferring funds directly from your bank account via ACH or wire transfer.
Which type of online brokerage account you should open depends on your financial goals. For example, if your goal is to save for retirement, consider using a tax-advantaged account, such as an individual retirement account (IRA). However, if you are investing money that you intend to use before retirement age, you can opt for a taxable brokerage account. These accounts can still be used for retirement investing and what you want to achieve until then.
If you are an experienced investor and want to actively trade the markets, you should consider opening a margin account instead of a cash account. Margin accounts allow you to use leverage or borrow funds to invest more than you actually put in. If you trade this money, a process called margin trading, you can magnify any losses you suffer. So unless you’re relatively new to investing and don’t plan to monitor your account on a regular basis, it’s usually best to stick with a cash account.
Securities regulators require all brokerage firms to know their clients — even online brokers. So, in order to open an account, you need to provide information so the company knows who you are and how much investment experience you have.
In addition to your name, date of birth, mailing address, and social security number, you may also need to provide:
A demo trading account is a demo investment account that allows users to choose to invest without risking real money. The account tracks the entire market and shows users how their investments would perform if they actually invested.