Best Online Brokerage Accounts [2024]

Updated Nov. 17, 2023
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An online brokerage account that fits your needs may improve your success chances when investing. But with so many options to invest your money, it's essential to take your time to decide on one that matches your investment style, provides the education you need, offers the asset classes you'd like to buy, and suits your experience.

Speaking of options, we’re here to help you narrow them down. So here are our picks for the best online brokerage accounts and who they’re right for.

Best for small investments

Stash

  • Get $20 to make your first investment1
  • Invest in stocks, bonds, and ETFs
  • Start investing with just $1

Paid Non-Client Promotion

Visit Stash

Best for low fees

Robinhood

  • When you sign up, a surprise stock appears in your account
  • Commission-free trading with no account minimums
  • Trade stocks, options, and cryptocurrencies
Visit Robinhood

Best for fractional shares

SoFi

  • Invest in Apple, Tesla, and Spotify for as little as $1
  • Pay zero commission fees
  • Be a smarter investor with news updates

Paid Non-Client Promotion

Visit SoFi

Best for options trading

TD Ameritrade

  • Enjoy $0.00 commission trades on stocks and ETFs
  • Open an account in less than 5 minutes
  • 24/7 customer support
Visit TD Ameritrade
In this article

Best online brokerage accounts

Whether you're learning how to invest money or you already have trading experience, using one of the best brokerage accounts may give you the tools you need to be successful and improve your personal finance. Here are our picks for the best online brokers that meet different needs:

Compare the best online brokerage accounts

Broker Account minimum Fees Available assets
Stash

Paid Non-Client Promotion

$0 $3 to $9 monthly account fee
$0 commission
Stocks, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies
Robinhood $0 $0 account fee for a standard account
$5 monthly account fee for Robinhood Gold
$0 commission
Stocks, ETFs, options, cryptocurrencies, and ADRs
Betterment

Paid Non-Client Promotion

$0, $100,000 for the premium plan $4 monthly account fee or 0.25% annual fee, based on monthly deposits or account balance ETFs (including stock, bond, and Treasury ETFs) and cryptocurrencies
SoFi Invest

Paid Non-Client Promotion

$0 $0 account fee
$0 commission
Stocks, ETFs, cryptocurrencies, and IPOs
TD Ameritrade $0 $0 account fee
$0 commission
Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, cryptocurrencies (via trusts, funds, and futures), bonds, options, futures, and forex
Merrill Edge
$0 $0 account fee
$0 commission
Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, and options
Fidelity $0 $0 account fee
$0 commission
Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, cryptocurrencies, bonds, and options
TradeStation
$0 for TS GO plan, $2,000 for TS Select plan $0 account fee
$0 commission
Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, cryptocurrencies, bonds, options, and futures
Vanguard $0 for brokerage accounts, $1,000 for most mutual funds $25 annual account fee
$0 commission
Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, and bonds
Charles Schwab $0 $0 account fee
$0 commission
Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, and futures
Interactive Brokers
$0 $0 account fee
$0 commission for IBKR Lite and up to 1% of stock and ETF trades for IBKR Pro
Stocks, ETFs, mutual funds, bonds, options, futures (including cryptocurrencies), and forex

Best for small investments: Stash

Pros
  • Simple to use with a low minimum investment requirement
  • New investors may benefit from Stash's Smart Portfolios
  • Commission-free trading minimizes what you pay in fees
Cons
  • Smart Portfolios don't use tax-loss harvesting
  • No access to human financial advisors

Stash may be a good choice if you want to make small investments because you can start investing in stocks or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) for as little as $1. You can set up automatic recurring investments or even use the Stash roundup feature3 that tacks on a small money amount to your purchases made using the Stock-Back® Card4 and invests it.

Why we like it: You can build a portfolio using suggestions from Stash's Smart Portfolios or create your own portfolio from a selection of individual stocks and ETFs. Stash also offers an online banking account and the Stock-Back® Card. This debit card rewards you with shares of stock when you use it for your purchases5. This may help you grow your portfolio in a way traditional cashback rewards can’t.

What we don't like: Stash doesn't offer tax-loss harvesting, which is an investment strategy investors can use to reduce capital gains taxes they owe to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Additionally, the platform doesn't offer access to a human advisor. 

Visit Stash

… Or read our Stash review.

Paid Non-Client Promotion

Get $20 to start investing. Invest in stocks, bonds, ETFs and fractional shares.

Learn More

Best for low fees: Robinhood

Pros
  • Simple and intuitive interface that anyone can use
  • Extensive educational material and sources
  • Access to the fractional shares of many major U.S. companies
Cons
  • No access to mutual funds or bonds
  • Margin trading is only available through Robinhood Gold

Robinhood stands out for its fee-free online stock trading. You can trade as often as you want without paying commission fees. This makes it one of the best online stock brokerage accounts for active traders looking to avoid charges that eat into their profits. 

Why we like it: Robinhood offers access to commission-free trades for individual U.S. stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies through a user-friendly interface. It also offers advanced traders Robinhood Gold, a subscription that costs $5 per month and gives you access to advanced stock market data, larger instant deposits, and higher APY rates on balances. You may also qualify for a margin account after you subscribe to Robinhood Gold, which enables you to borrow money to get more purchase power.

What we don't like: While Robinhood offers access to various asset classes, it doesn't offer mutual funds or bonds. This limits your access to two common types of assets that you may find on some other platforms. Additionally, some of Robinhood's features, such as margin trading, are reserved for its premium subscribers.

Visit Robinhood

… Or read our Robinhood review.

Claim Your Free Stock - Between $5 to $200

Learn More

Best for hands-off investors: Betterment

Pros
  • Various managed portfolio options to fit different investors
  • Automatic portfolio rebalancing
  • Retirement and banking accounts are available
Cons
  • Relatively high fees for human advisors
  • Limited control over the asset classes in each portfolio

Betterment tops our list of the best robo-advisors out there. It may be ideal for hands-off investors who don’t want the hassle of actively managing their portfolios.

Why we like it: Betterment makes investing simple. Answer some questions about your risk tolerance and goals, and Betterment will construct a portfolio for you based on your investment needs. Once you have your portfolio, Betterment occasionally rebalances it to keep it in line with your goals. The platform also manages your portfolio’s tax efficiency using tax-loss harvesting.

Additionally, Betterment offers several trading account types, including taxable brokerage accounts and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). You also have access to banking via high-yield savings accounts and checking bank accounts, Plus, if you want some guidance, you can use the add-on for access to financial advisors.

What we don't like: One downside is that you have limited customization as far as asset classes go. Betterment builds your portfolio from a selection of ETFs, bonds, and cryptocurrency. You can choose your portfolio’s focus, such as innovative tech or social impact.

Visit Betterment

… Or read our Betterment review.

Best broker for fractional shares: SoFi Invest

Pros
  • A low $1 investment requirement
  • Access to individual and joint accounts as well as traditional and Roth IRA accounts
  • Stock and ETF trades have no fees
Cons
  • Limited access to advanced trading tools
  • No access to mutual funds, bonds, or options

SoFi Invest makes it easy to buy a small fraction of major stocks, like Amazon (AMZN) and Google’s parent company, Alphabet (GOOG), with its Stock Bits feature. This feature allows you to buy fractional shares of select stocks starting at $1. There are no trading fees with SoFi, so every dollar you invest into a fractional share goes toward buying stock.

Why we like it: SoFi Invest offers the ability to choose between active investing or managed investing, making it easy to choose your preferred style. Additionally, your SoFi membership provides access to other financial products, including bank accounts and loans.

What we don't like: SoFi uses a simple and straightforward platform that doesn't contain advanced trading tools some investors may need. Additionally, while it offers access to stocks and ETFs, it doesn't offer mutual funds, bonds, or options contracts.

Visit SoFi Invest

… Or read our SoFi Invest review.

Paid Non-Client Promotion

Get up to $1,000 in stock when you fund a new Active Invest account

Learn More

Best for options trading: TD Ameritrade

Pros
  • Access to stock, bond, and options trading
  • Many account types, including individual, joint, partnership, IRA, trust, and more
  • FOREX and IPO trading is available
Cons
  • A steep learning curve to mastering its thinkorswim platform
  • Broker-assisted trades can be more expensive than competitors

TD Ameritrade offers stocks and bonds, but it stands out for offering options trading, a form of trading that uses contracts that give you the right to buy or sell an asset at a set price at a certain date. It also offers margin trading, which allows you to borrow money for certain margin rates to expand your purchase power.

Why we like it: TD Ameritrade offers a powerful desktop and mobile trading platform called thinkorswim. The advanced mobile app allows you to utilize the full power of TD Ameritrade using your phone. For example, you can execute several types of orders and access research and real-time market information.

What we don't like: As an advanced platform, TD Ameritrade's thinkorswim can be a bit challenging to learn and may require some skill or familiarity with investing. 

Visit TD Ameritrade

… Or read our TD Ameritrade review.

Best for ETFs: Merrill Edge

Pros
  • Integration with Bank of America allows for simplified money movement
  • Access to many asset classes, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
  • Extensive library of research and trading tools
Cons
  • No cryptocurrency trading
  • Limited mobile app capabilities compared to some other platforms

Merrill Edge is a subsidiary of Bank of America that offers access to a wide selection of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and options. You may use a self-directed account to build your own portfolio or use the managed trading option to have one built for you. There are no trading fees when you use your Merrill Edge brokerage account for stocks, mutual funds, and ETF trades. The managed investing account charges a 0.45% annual management fee6.

Why we like it: Not only does Merrill Edge offer a investment access to a variety of products, but you also get access to Bank of America banking products. You may also get help when you need it from financial advisors, as well as access to a wide range of investment research tools and insights.

What we don't like: Merrill Edge offers various asset types, but it doesn't give you access to cryptocurrency. Additionally, you may find that the mobile app is somewhat limited compared to some of its competitors.

Visit Merrill Edge

... Or read our Merrill Edge review.

Best for learning about investing: Fidelity

Pros
  • Access to international stocks and commodities
  • $0-fee robo-advisor for accounts with more than $25,000
  • Stock screener tool helps new investors research shares
Cons
  • No dedicated active trading app
  • Account opening takes more time than competitors

Fidelity is a well-known full-service brokerage and retirement account management and remains one of the best brokers out there. You can access a variety of features with Fidelity, including its stock screener tool that makes it easier for new investors to research stocks. 

Why we like it: In addition to offering traditional brokerage services, Fidelity also provides Fidelity Go, a robo-advisor that has a $0 account minimum and low fees — in fact, it’s free for accounts under $25,000. In addition, Fidelity provides an extensive learning library with information about almost every investing topic imaginable. If you want to learn the investing basics before diving in, Fidelity may offer what you need, from beginning topics to advanced concepts.

What we don't like: Fidelity has a lengthier account opening process compared to some other platforms. Additionally, while Fidelity is a full-service brokerage, its mobile app offers basic active trading capabilities. Some competitors offer a dedicated app for active trading that offers advanced tools.

Visit Fidelity

... Or read our Fidelity review.

Best for experienced traders: TradeStation

Pros
  • Advanced trading platform with active trading data
  • Access to simulated trading for strategy practice
  • Ability to completely customize your own trading platform
Cons
  • A steep learning curve for new investors
  • Lengthy account opening process

TradeStation offers several asset classes, including stocks, bonds, cryptocurrencies, futures, and options. It has a lot to offer experienced investors, including advanced charting and trading tools, access to active trading data, and a high-end stock online trading platform. 

Why we like it: TradeStation allows you to create your own trading system, which makes it attractive to active investors and day traders. The platform allows you to place several order types, including market orders and stop-loss orders. It also offers simulated trading to help you practice your trading strategy without using real money.

What we don't like: Beginner investors may face a steep learning curve. The advanced investing platform could be difficult to get used to if you’re not accustomed to advanced charting and technical analysis.

Visit TradeStation

... Or read our TradeStation review.

Best for long-term investing: Vanguard

Pros
  • A pioneer in investment accessibility and simplicity
  • A focus on long-term investment may fit hands-off investors
  • Access to a robo-advisor to help manage your investments
Cons
  • Most available mutual funds require at least $1,000 to $3,000
  • Hands-on investors may find the platform limited

Vanguard is an established name in the investment world for pioneering the movement of improving investing accessibility to more people. With Vanguard, you can put your money into one of its investment products, and you’re encouraged to leave it for a while. The goal isn’t necessarily to beat the market but to mirror its performance and potentially meet your wealth-building financial goals. This makes it a good fit for long-term investors who don't mind the wait.

Why we like it: Vanguard is famous for helping its users with saving for retirement. The broker gives you access to a wide variety of mutual funds and ETFs to build your portfolio and retirement plan. However, it can also manage your portfolio for you.

What we don't like: You usually need a $1,000 to $3,000 minimum deposit to invest in most mutual funds it offers. However, if you use some of its retirement products, you might be able to get in with a lower minimum, especially if you commit to a monthly contribution.

Visit Vanguard.

Best for mutual funds: Charles Schwab

Pros
  • Access to a wide variety of assets and funds
  • Thematic stock investing simplifies market research
  • Integrated banking products make it a comprehensive platform
Cons
  • Tax-loss harvesting is only available with a minimum balance of $50,000 or more
  • No direct cryptocurrency trading

Charles Schwab offers a wide variety of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, index funds, ETFs, futures, and options for investors. It also offers fractional stocks and IPO stock access. One of the perks of this online stock broker is that it has a number of funds with no transaction fees and low expense ratios. It also gives you suggestions, divides funds by goal, provides lists of stocks that fit certain themes, and even offers broker-assisted trades to make managing your investment portfolio easier.

Why we like it: Schwab also offers its Intelligent Portfolios, a robo-advisor you may use with no minimums and low management fees. Schwab completes its financial product offering with its banking products that make it easy to use your liquid cash in conjunction with your investing account. You can also access research and insights from Schwab professionals and watch regular webinars on the state of the economy, which may help you make better investment decisions or plan out your next money moves.

What we don't like: To benefit from tax-loss harvesting, you need to have $50,000 or more in your portfolio. Additionally, you can't trade actual cryptocurrencies on Schwab, but you can trade ETFs that offer some exposure to them. 

Visit Charles Schwab

... Or read our Charles Schwab review.

Best for international stocks: Interactive Brokers

Pros
  • A wide array of investment assets and products, including international stocks and currencies
  • High-quality data and extensive charting and market research tools
  • Advanced trading platform that allows for many types of trades
Cons
  • The trading platform can be challenging to learn
  • The website is unintuitive and hard to navigate

Interactive Brokers was founded in 1978 by Thomas Peterffy and has since grown to provide 1.9 million average daily trades to more than 2 million clients. The brokerage is also publicly traded under the IBKR ticker.

Interactive Brokers has a clear edge over many other brokerages thanks to the access it offers to global markets. This brokerage provides you with access to international stocks, options, futures, forex, and funds that trade on 150 markets in 33 countries using 26 currencies. Keep in mind that investing in international assets can be risky, so it may not be a good fit for new investors. 

Why we like it: Interactive Brokers uses a sophisticated platform that offers advanced trading tools, comprehensive portfolio reporting, and more. It also offers several calculators, such as a stock margin calculator and an options calculator. These calculators can speed up the process of getting essential asset-related information, which can be especially useful for day-trading investors.

What we don't like: Since Interactive Brokers offers an advanced trading platform, there's a steep learning curve needed to become familiar with it. The brokerage's website isn't much better either, as it can feel unintuitive to some users.

Visit Interactive Brokers.

FAQ about online brokerages

What are the best online brokers for beginners?

The best online brokerages for new investors are those that make it easy to learn the ropes through simple functionality, as well as offer choices for low-cost investing. Discount brokers like Stash, Robinhood, SoFi Invest, and Betterment may all help you learn the basics of investing and allow you to quickly get started while you build your knowledge base.

Which online brokers charge the lowest fees?

Many of the best brokerage accounts have been reducing their fees in recent years. In fact, some trading apps such as Robinhood have long had no transaction fees. Other more traditional brokers are getting rid of trading fees, including Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and Fidelity. Make sure to review the pricing structure before signing up with an online broker, as different brokerages may offer different pricing options.

How can I get a free stock?

Some brokerages or investment apps may offer a promotional free stock after you open a new account and fund it. Some popular platforms that may occasionally offer similar promotions are Robinhood, Webull7, moomoo, SoFi Invest, and Acorns8.

What is the safest brokerage firm?

All investments carry a risk of loss. However, all of our best brokerage accounts offer insurance from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), which protects your investment account balance of up to $500,000 in the event that a brokerage fails or faces theft. Although it will not protect you against losses due to market events, you may have some peace of mind when you stick with a broker that carries SIPC insurance.

What are the best large brokers?

The “big four brokerages” include Charles Schwab, Fidelity, E-Trade, and TD Ameritrade. The merger of Schwab and TD Ameritrade will combine two of these brokerages to create one with even more customers and managed assets.

What are the best small brokers?

Some of the best small brokers include Robinhood and robo-advisors such as Stash and Betterment. You may receive good customer service, access to investment accounts that meet your needs, and other perks to make the most of your money.

Best online brokerage accounts: bottom line

To decide the best brokerage account for you, you should consider the fees, investment options, trading tools, customer support, and user experience. Some platforms may offer simple investment options that don't require much attention, while others may need someone with a decent level of trading experience and willingness to be involved.

Make sure to research and compare multiple brokerage accounts before choosing where to put your money. Once you choose a platform, use strategies such as dollar-cost averaging to help manage risk and balance your returns over the longterm.

Our methodology

In determining our list of the best online brokerage accounts, we evaluated companies according to a set of criteria we consider critical to the consumer. We did not evaluate all companies in the category. We used editorial judgment to determine what use or user each account would be best for.

FinanceBuzz assessment criteria include:

  • Fees: We considered a variety of fees, including wealth management fees and trading commissions, in assessing our top picks for online brokerages.
  • Features: We looked at platform features, such as real-time quotes, watchlist options, and accessible customer support, as we determined our ranking for the best online brokerages.
  • Educational resources: Many online brokers offer educational resources for investors, though some offer more in-depth financial planning and research tools than others. We considered this factor in our rankings.
  • Investment options: Different online brokers offer different investment options, including ETFs, mutual funds, and more. We considered these options in our assessment.
  • Consumer protections: All the brokerages on our list are registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. They also offer additional protections like Securities Investor Protection Corp. insurance up to a certain amount.

FinanceBuzz is not an investment advisor. This content is for informational purposes only, you should not construe any such information as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.


Stash Benefits

  • Get $20 to make your first investment1
  • Invest in stocks, bonds, and ETFs
  • Fractional shares available
  • Start investing with just $5

Paid Non-Client Promotion

Author Details

Miranda Marquit Miranda Marquit has covered personal finance for more than a decade and is a nationally-recognized financial expert and journalist, appearing on CNBC, NPR, Forbes, Yahoo! Finance, FOX Business, and numerous other outlets.
Yahia Barakah, CEPF Yahia Barakah, CEPF, is a Senior Editor at FinanceBuzz and has created finance-focused content since 2011. As a Certified Educator of Personal Finance, he has a background in institutional investment and asset management, as well as a deep passion for financial literacy.

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