Thanks to the Internet, there has been a massive wave of discount online brokerage firms and new investment opportunities.
Investors are no longer required to walk into a brokerage firm, or even use a stock broker, to make investment trades or open up investing accounts.
Each online brokerage site is different, so which one is the best?
Because each person has different preferences and different preferences on how much to invest whether that be the best way to invest 100 dollars or the best way to invest 1000 dollars, each person is going to have a different “best brokerage” for them.
Best Online Brokerage Firms
When deciding which online brokerage firm to choose, you need to consider what will work best for you. In some cases, a slightly higher fee is worth it, if the brokerage meets your needs and helps you reach your goals.
The top 12 online Brokerage Accounts:
All of the online firms listed above have accounts that are easy to set up, offer cheap investing opportunities, and many have awesome customer service that makes you feel as if you’re meeting with somebody in real life.
We also highlight online discount brokers that encourage investor education by offering deep knowledge bases, webinars, or even online courses for their investors.
Ally Invest – Best All-Around Online Brokerage
Trade King was recently purchased by Ally Bank and has been completely re-branded as Ally Invest.
- Account Set Up Fees $0
- Trade Commission $4.95
- Mutual Fund Commission $9.95
- Annual Fee $0*
- Account Minimum $0
- Promotion up to $150
They have kept the platform exactly the same as an online discount brokerage firm with some of the least expensive trade fees available. $4.95 for stock and ETF trades is crazy talk. Plus no-load mutual funds are reasonable at $9.95 per trade. If you want to get funky with your investing you can trade options with TradeKing for just $0.65 per contract (plus the $4.95 base). Ally Invest also offers Forex services for the truly adventurous.
Ally has a number of free tools, including market and company snapshots, research, quotes, screeners, and more. Check out our TradeKing Review to learn the full details on Ally (we will be updating shortly with the new brand).
Give Ally Invest a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Betterment – Best Brokerage for Beginners
Betterment’s philosophy is this: investing is so complicated that many people get analysis paralysis. Instead of making any decision, they freeze and make no decision. By studying over a Betterment Investing review, which is designed to help you understand that investing can be incredibly simple.
You have very few choices to make:
- how much money to invest (there is a minimum requirement of $100 per month or a lump sum deposit of $10,000)
- how often you want to invest it (one time or automatically invest on a schedule)
- what asset allocation you want between stock and bond investments
That’s it. Betterment takes care of the rest. No having to look through a bunch of mutual fund tables to decide which funds to go with. The firm automatically invests in a basket of ETFs in two categories: stocks and bonds. You answer simple questions that help Betterment determine your risk profile. If you go with the most risk (100% stock allocation), all of your money goes into the stock ETF basket. If you want to split it down the middle, 50% goes to the stock basket and 50% to the Treasury bond basket. Other allocations are available, based on your risk profile. You can also tweak your allocation to reflect your preferences.
As another bonus, as your account balance grows, your fee decreases. Many traditional accounts charge 1% or more in annual fees. With Betterment, you start by paying 0.35% annually, and that reduces to 0.25% and then to 0.15% as you reach different milestones. There are no hidden fees associated with a Betterment account.
It’s dead simple, which is why it is a great place for beginners to start. Building the habit of investing regularly is critically important and Betterment helps you do this without overwhelming you with complicated investment decisions.
OptionsHouse – Best Investment Tools
Do you like to see exactly how your money is working and how it has changed over time? Do you like to see minute changes on easy-to-read graphs? OptionsHouse is the online brokerage for you!
OptionsHouse has a whole toolbox of amazing kits that you can utilize to make the most of your online trading. They offer automatic alerts which can pre=populate orders and then send notifications once they happen. Another interesting tool is strategySEEK, which can scan market data based on criteria set by the investors.
While you can learn more in our OptionsHouse Review, the main advantages of OptionsHouse are:
- Low flat rate trading fees
- No account minimum
- 60 days of communion-free trading with promotion
- Excellent mobile app platform
TD Ameritrade – Best for ETFs and Easy to Use
If you’re looking for a solid industry leader that makes investing easy for new investors, TD Ameritrade is a great option. The company has been serving new online investors for years.
Unlike Betterment and Capital One ShareBuilder, TD Ameritrade isn’t designed solely for new investors. You get a set of robust tools whether you are new to investing or have been investing for decades. Like Scottrade, it’s an opportunity to access something approaching full-service without the full-service price.
As a leader in the industry, TD Ameritrade offers a vast array of investments that are suitable for new and experienced investors alike:
- 100+ Commission-free ETFs
- 13,000+ mutual funds
- Fixed income products like bonds and CDs
- Trade stocks, options, forex and futures
- Multitude of account options: Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Simple IRA, 401k rollovers, normal taxable investment accounts
One of our favorite things about TD Ameritrade is how they offer exclusive webinars and investing classes to help new investors get up to speed.
Trades cost just $9.99 to start, and if you choose some of the fee-free funds, you can avoid transaction fees (although you will still have to pay the expense ratios associated with funds). Want to learn more about TD Ameritrade? Check out our TD Ameritrade Review for more information!
Motif Investing – Investing with Experts
Motif Investing has one of the most unique platforms of all the online brokerage firms on the list. They offer a unique advantage that makes it very easy to diversify your portfolio in a matter of minutes, if you feel that this may be the route for you, learn more by reading a Motif Investing review.
Motifs are essential a whole group of stocks that are centered around one idea. When you select a motif to invest in, you get 30 stocks that revolve around one idea. The best part about this is, you don’t need to know every detail about every single business inside of the motif; you only need to know what you want to invest in. For example, let’s say you want to invest into Medical Applications or Industrial Solutions, but you don’t know any of the businesses inside of these industries, with motifs, that’s okay. You can invest into 30 organizations by investing into one motif.
While Motif Investing allows you to pick from the more than 150 expertly designed motifs, you can also build your own, or you can even invest into a motif another investor has created.
One of the best things about trading with Motif Investing, you can trade a whole motif of stocks for $9.95, which translates to $0.33 per stock. You aren’t going to beat that kind of price.
E*TRADE – Great Tools and Good for Beginners
If you’re looking for an industry leader in the online trading space that can help you learn more about investing, E*TRADE is a great option. The company has more than 20 years of experience in online trading, affordable trades, and a robust investor education center.
Unlike Betterment and Capital One Investing, E*TRADE isn’t designed solely for new investors. You have access to robust tools including research, screeners, and more.
As a leader in the industry, E*TRADE offers one of the largest inventories of potential investments available:
- Every ETF sold
- 8,000+ mutual funds
- 30,000+ bonds
- Trade stocks, options, and forex
- Multitude of account options: Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, 401k rollovers, normal taxable investment accounts
Some other firms have limited mobile or tablet options. I’m sure you’ve seen E*TRADE’s commercials, but the trading tools for mobile devices ranging from iPhone to Android to Blackberry and iPad is quite robust.
Trades cost are competitve with the rest of the industry and start at $6.95, and you can get a discount ($4.95 per trade) for frequent trading. However, frequent trading can be one way to lose money, and it’s not recommended for beginner investors. Learn more in our E*TRADE review about how this may be the right brokerage for your needs.
USAA – Best for Military Personnel and their Families
While not everyone will qualify to open a USAA account, anyone that is actively serving in a military branch, retired from the military, or has a family member that has served in the military will be approved to open a USAA account. USAA has been offering insurance and financial products for military personnel and families for over 80 years.
USAA doesn’t charge any annual fees or have any account minimums for their IRA, and you also have plenty of investments options; mutual funds, CDs, annuities, etc. While their trading fees might be a little higher than other online brokerage fees, they still have competitive rates, especially once you house more investments in the account.
Advantages to a USAA account:
- Easy and quick to set up
- Ability to hold several accounts and insurance policies in one place
- Easy to read and understand website with clear navigation
- Huge variety of investment opportunities and options
Firstrade – Easy Interface
Aside from the low trading costs, one of the best things about Firstrade is how easy the website and interface is to use. Some of the other Internet brokerage firm’s websites are cluttered and difficult to navigate. The Firstrade website is simple and clean.
The online dashboard of Firstrade is extremely easy two read, it’s separate into two accounts. One column will display your account information, while the other column helps you track the market.
While they don’t offer the same fancy tools that some of the other sites have, they make investing easy. Even for people that are confused by the charts and graphs. If you are a person that only wants the bare-bones essentials, with low fees, Firstrade is the website for you.
Want to learn more about Firestrade? Check out our Firstrade Review for your reference!
Scottrade – Best Customer Service
Scottrade offers a multitude of investment choices for investors. Betterment and Trade King have a place in the world — they are great at helping you get started and building up investments automatically — but discount brokerages like Scottrade give you more options once you know a little bit more about what you’re doing.
Scottrade also offers some of the least expensive trades available, starting just $7 per trade for stocks and ETFs. They have a no-fee IRA, providing you access to 3,100+ no-transaction fee mutual funds, and 14,500+ other (load and no-load) mutual funds. As expected you can trade stocks, ETFs, and options as well.
You can open an account with as little as $500. Scottrade will also pay up to $100 of your account transfer fees if you’re coming from another broker, but you have to transfer $10,000 or more to qualify for that. Another bonus is that it’s possible to set up an interest-bearing checking account through Scottrade.
While a little more expensive than some of the other options, Scottrade is one of our best picks for investors who want to be able to invest in individual stocks and enjoy an online discount experience that is close to what you’d see with a full-service broker.
Want to learn more about Scottrade? Check out our Scottrade Review!