The bad news is, with so many options, it can be difficult to know which broker is the best. While it may take a bit of digging to find the right fit for you, choosing the best broker is an important part of being a successful trader. Each trader is different and is looking for different tools and resources in a broker. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing your first broker. Consider what type of trading you will be doing. Day traders will be looking for different tools and information than long-term retirement investors will be.
Some traders will be looking for research to provide trading ideas for them, while others will be using the platform just to execute trades.
Consider commissions and fees and how they may impact your overall returns. Look for potentially hidden or unexpected fees in particular. Consider whether or not you will need banking or advisory services. Some brokers offer these services, and others do not. Finally, read reviews by other customers and look for patterns of complaints about customer service or any other problems with the service.
Here are several red flags to avoid. Some brokers have high account minimums that could potentially prevent you from opening an account in the first place. Margin traders may find some brokers have lower trading commissions but charge a higher interest rate on margin. Passive investors may need to watch out for fees such as account maintenance fees or inactivity fees.
Finally, for investors who need lots of educational tools and research, watch out for brokers who charge a premium for those features.
Many brokers offer educational resources for free , and those fees can add up quickly. However, understanding what type of fees to expect and what type of fees are reasonable will help minimize those profit-eating costs over time. Instead or in addition to a flat fee, many brokers will charge a per-share trading fee for stock and option contract trades. Many brokers have additional fees that can sometimes catch users off guard.
These fees include annual fees , inactivity fees , broker-assisted trading fees , trading platform fees , premium research and data fees and paper statement fees. Each reputable online broker should have an easy-to-find and clear breakdown of all their fees on their website. But new and inexperienced traders can end up costing themselves much more in the long run by choosing a discount broker and attempting to trade stocks and other assets without any guidance or help.
Wall Street is a complicated place, and jumping into the deep end of the pool without first learning to swim can lead to some costly mistakes. Sure, it may cost a little more to pay for a full-service broker, but the resources you get from those extra fees can help protect you from yourself as you learn the ropes of trading.
Not every broker offers each of these account types, and fees and interest rates vary from one broker to the next. Custodial accounts or college savings funds also offer unique tax benefits if offered. Read our review of TD Ameritrade here. Investors can explore its three trading platforms—Trade Architect, Web Platform and Thinkorswim—and choose the interface that is most comfortable based on their individual trading needs. Whether it be the outstanding promotional offers for new customers, access to a wide range of asset classes, world-class retirement investing tools or free access to a trove of market research, TD Ameritrade provides every trader with exactly what they need to take on the market.
We believe TD Ameritrade is a great choice for a beginner, even with their slightly higher fees. We selected them as well as Ally Invest and Fidelity in our best for beginners guide. As a beginner, here are some things to look for in a broker:.
E-Trade currently offers clients two free mobile apps. For the average trader, the E-Trade mobile app will likely meet all your trading needs. Take a look at a complete review of E-Trade here. For advanced traders, the OptionsHouse app has a wide range of professional-grade trading tools which make complex options trading a breeze, including customizable options chains and 4-legged spreads.
If your top priority is minimizing the cost of buying stocks, Robinhood may be perfect for you. Instead, Robinhood charges two fees every time you sell: To some, however, Robinhood lacks essentials functions as an online broker. Read our review of Robinhood for more details. Bring in Ally Invest. Ally offers discount trades, without all of the hidden fees. For retirement investors, TD Ameritrade offers a range of resources that take the guesswork out of building your nest egg.
FutureAdvisor has a robo-advisor algorithm to take advantage of free trading advice or premium automated trading features. TD Ameritrade has all the bases covered, from the entry-level trader looking for stocks and ETFs to the advanced trader looking to implement advanced options and futures strategies.
Open a TD Ameritrade Account here. The platform provides free research on many of these assets and provides exceptional customer support for traders curious about dabbling in new asset classes.
For traders tired of scouring the internet looking for tradable news or fed up with trying to piece together a fundamental picture of a stock one metric at a time, Fidelity is the best one-stop research source out there. Fidelity provides market research from 20 different providers.
Users get access to analyst ratings, specialized ETF reports, Equity Summary Scores, and even mutual fund fact sheets. For traders who would like to test out Fidelities extensive research offerings without any commitment, the firm is currently offering non-customers 30 days of free access if they sign up for a guest account. Day traders have their own unique niche within the trading community, and they have very specialized needs. Interactive Brokers was designed from the ground up to cater to those needs and was tailor-made for day traders.
In addition, it offers a wide range of advanced trading features that are geared toward providing day traders with that split-second advantage in the market, including programmable hotkeys, customizable order types and algorithmic trading support.
E-Trade firmly established its commitment to options trading when it acquired OptionsHouse in Between the online OptionsHouse platform and its mobile app, E-Trade offers two of the most comprehensive and easy-to-use option trading platforms available. Traders can explore a number of different contingencies before they put a single dollar at risk.
When choosing the best online broker, it never hurts to get a big bonus right out of the gate. Lots of brokers offer promotional deals for new customers, but TD Ameritrade has the best offer going.
TD Ameritrade currently offers 90 days of commission-free trades and tiered cash bonuses based on how much money you deposit into your account.
This publicly listed discount broker, which is in existence for over four decades, is service-intensive, offering intuitive and powerful investment tools. Especially, with equity investing, a flat fee is charged, with the firm claiming that it charges no trade minimum, no data fees, and no platform fees. Though it is pricier than many other discount brokers, what tilts the scales in its favor is its well-rounded service offerings and the quality and value it offers its clients.
If investors are on the hunt for a bargain broker, Ally Invest could be the one. With low commissions across the board, Ally Invest formerly TradeKing stops potential investors in their tracks with its especially low mutual fund commissions. Fidelity has unmatched market research.
The company uses the most providers to customize which research data is appropriate for the investor. Fidelity is best used for an experiecned trader who is willing to invest and make a minimum 36 trades per quarter. E-Trade is best known for its user-friendly browser, desktop and mobile trading platforms and its extensive research and educational information. Robinhood is a free stock trading mobile app that serves both iOS and Android devices.
They offer an easy to use interface and have excellent integrations to easily deposit money and begin investing. Benzinga is a fast-growing, dynamic and innovative financial media outlet that empowers investors with high-quality, unique content.
Login Email Password Forgot your password? Wayne Duggan Contributor, Benzinga. Contents [ Hide ]. Best For Beginner investors Advanced traders Investors who want portfolio-building advice. Open an account securely through TD Ameritrade's website.
Open an account securely through Ally Investment's website. Open an account securely through Fidelity Investments's website. Best For Mobile traders Traders looking for research and data Investors looking for retirement planning guidance.
Open an account securely through eTrade's website. Best For Low cost stock trading Beginners looking to start trading Investors on the go. Open an account securely through Robinhood's website. Best For Day traders Penny stock traders Forex traders. Open an account securely through Interactive Brokers's website. Get started securely through TD Ameritrade's website. Pros Superior technology No account minimum balance Excellent customer support Premier data and news partnerships.
Cons Slightly higher commissions Can be for more advanced users. Get started securely through Ally Investment's website. Pros Volume discounts available Among the lowest fees in industry Good for every experience level Excellent customer service. Get started securely through Fidelity Investments's website. Current Promotion Commission-free trades good for 2 years. Get started securely through eTrade's website. Pros Extensive resources Full banking services Easy-to-use platforms.
Get started securely through Robinhood's website. Pros Free trading for all stocks Multiple integrations for banking deposits No transfer out fees. Cons Lacks research reports Some features require premium paid upgrades.More...