When deciding to invest, selecting a broker can seem like a daunting task. There is an enormous variety of online options available, all with their own range of pros and cons.
Who you choose will depend largely on your own personal investing style; do you prefer to play it safe and see slow but steady growth, or are you in the market for high stakes and higher returns?
Whatever your preference, here is a comprehensive list of the best online brokerages to help you narrow it down and start investing wisely today.
Top 10 Online Stock Brokers
Betterment – Best Brokerage for New Investors
Betterment offers a unique investment opportunity that is 100% automated.
They help you make the most of your money through a portfolio of fixed income exchange-traded funds and passive, index-tracking equity to ensure that you are always getting the best possible deals.
What is even better is that you do not have to understand any of those words for Betterment to work for you. Betterment requires you to take a short survey when you sign up to assess your risk tolerance. From there, they handle all the investing for you.
The automated service rebalances your portfolio and even keeps track of other accounts to make sure you are hitting all of your financial goals. Think of it like an robotic financial adviser.
M1 Finance – Free Trading
M1 Finance prides itself on its automated investment opportunities and zero-fee portfolio acquisition; it will not charge you a penny to begin investing. This makes them the top discount brokerage, if you are willing to stay within their boundaries.
Their services are extremely easy for investors to use; you simply select the amount you wish to deposit (there is a $100 minimum). The automated service works out the best proportions and investments based on your desired return.
You can hand pick your preferred stocks and amounts and allow the automated system to balance and deploy your funds in the best way for you to earn maximum profit.
Ally Invest – Best All Around
A key aspect of Ally Invest is its ease of use and attention to customer convenience. Current customers who are curious about dipping into the world of investments can do so quickly and easily and with full support.
Existing customers also have the convenience of a single login to manage both their investment and everyday banking accounts, making this an excellent choice for current customers.
No minimum account cost combined with low fees also make Ally the top of the full service discount brokerage firms.
Stockpile – Best for Teaching Kids
Stockpile is part of a new group of stock brokerage services that make it easier for you to buy and sell stocks at your convenience. Starting with just a $5 investment, you are free to buy fractional shares – any fraction of a share you wish, rather than the whole thing.
This allows you access to big companies without having to find large sums of money, promising potentially lucrative returns. As an added bonus, Stockpile also allows redeemable gift cards for stock – the perfect gift!
Offering a wide range of investment choices and an experienced, knowledgeable team of advisors, TD Ameritrade is a safe and solid choice.
With lucrative long-term investment options and a transparent commission plan, TD offers ongoing education and training to ensure that you get the very best from your portfolio and to help you make informed, financially sound decisions.
Experts can also benefit from the advanced analytics and tracking tools that put you in control of your investment.
Offering a diverse range of services and opportunities, E* Trade allows you to select from a range of investment options, including stocks, bonds, and ETFs with ease, all with no need to hold multiple accounts. This makes it an ideal choice for investors looking to diversify their portfolios and try a range of options.
They offer full support no matter your experience, including the option to automate your investment or select a pre-built portfolio, making them ideal for investors at all levels.
Easy to use, access, and keep up to date with the market, TradeStation is an award-winning broker for a reason.
Their low fees and advanced yet easy-to-use platform means that you can focus on growing your investment without worry, and their powerful app allows you to check in and catch up with the market anytime, anywhere.
It’s perfect for busy and active traders who are looking to spot opportunities.
Designed for those who are serious about their craft, Interactive Brokers is ideal for the seasoned trader. A $100,000 minimum deposit is required in order to access its margin trading.
This may seem steep, but there is a great deal of reward for meeting these criteria, including great margin rates, commission schedules, and comprehensive support for any international trades. If you are a professional looking to move up to the next level, these are the people to work with.
For high levels of customer service, Merrill Edge is ideal. Integration with the Bank of America offers a number of benefits for investors, particularly for existing customers, who are offered free trades as a bonus gesture.
Low fees also make this an attractive option, though be aware that there is a minimum deposit requirement.
One of those rare brokers who can cater for all, Forex is suitable for both total beginners and advanced traders. Forex involves trading pairs of foreign currency and is a fast-moving and potentially lucrative choice to diversify your investment portfolio.
It boasts easy-to-use platforms, 24-hour accessibility, and a trading volume which is 53 times that of the New York Stock Exchange. This is definitely one to check out.
What is a stockbroker?
It is all very well compiling a list of the best stock brokers, but for beginners, it can be helpful to ascertain exactly what a stockbroker is. Put simply, the job of a stockbroker is to manage the financial portfolio of the client in order to try and ensure the maximum return on their investment, usually through deciding which shares to buy and sell at the best moment.
The top online brokerage firms will have a range of choices available to potential clients, including competitive rates, varied levels of support according to the specialty of the stockbroker, access to information and research which could be beneficial, and a diverse opportunity to invest globally. They will all have a common goal: to get the client the best possible return on the initial investment.
How to pick the right brokerage
Choosing the right brokerage account for you requires careful consideration and research. The right choice will vary from person to person depending on experience and needs. Consider how much you are willing to deposit as an initial investment; some companies have strict limits, while others do not require a minimum payment.
It is also important to consider the type of investment you wish to make. What assets are you planning to buy? Will you diversify? Look at the reviews for some of the brokers above – often they will have a strength or specialty which can help you decide.
Are you an aggressive, active trader, or do you prefer to be more passive? Some brokers will suit certain styles more than others; it is important to check you are a good match.
Are you tech savvy? Do you want to be able to monitor your investments constantly from your phone or laptop? Many online brokers will offer a wealth of apps and other features to help you manage your account, allowing you to feel totally in control and be able to see any growths or losses in real time as they happen.
It is well worth taking the time to research your broker carefully; make sure they match your goals and aspirations and that you feel confident your money is in good hands.
Why choose an online brokerage?
Most of our financial transactions now occur online – we pay using plastic, monitor our accounts with online banking, and transfer large sums without ever seeing the cash. Online investing is a logical extension of this trend.
Put simply, online brokers give you more control over your investment. You are able to see and monitor changes, choose your initial investment, and react quickly to the ever-changing market, which is sometimes the difference between a growth and a loss. By working online, you can manage your own investments, and it is important that you find a broker who is able to make you feel confident and comfortable.
In addition, online trading offers the option of automation – a feature which brokers such as Betterment and M1 use as a top selling point. Robo-advisors will take care of your investment for you, without any effort on your part.
No matter your trading style, experience, or initial deposit, you can make your money work for you by making some serious investments with the people who can help. Brokers are dedicated to helping you achieve growth, and the rise of modern technology allows you to combine autonomy and control over your finances with the knowledge of the experts.