Cheapest Online Brokers

The best deals on all types of investment products

The search for the cheapest online broker is about more than just a low price per trade. The cheapest online stock trading may differ from the cheapest overall trading account where you have access to products like options or mutual funds.

Other factors, like your required minimum balance and your monthly activity level, can also impact your overall cost. Taking all these factors into consideration, we created this list of the best cheap online brokers.

Our top picks for the cheapest online brokers

We found three standout online brokers that still give you the features you are looking for all at an affordable price.

OptionsHouse

OptionsHouse

Features

  • Affordable rates: OptionsHouse has some of the cheapest online stock and options fees in the industry.
  • No minimum balance: OptionsHouse doesn't require you to maintain a minimum account balance.
  • No required activity levels: Trade as frequently or as infrequently as you like.

Quick Facts

  • Stock flat fee $4.95
  • Minimum balance None
  • Margin rates 2% - 6.5%
  • Maintenance fee $0

Scottrade

Features

  • Low required balance: Scottrade only requires a $500 minimum balance in your online brokerage account.
  • Variety of investment products: Trade stocks, options, bonds, mutual funds and more for a low rate.
  • No maintenance fees: Scottrade doesn't charge you any fees to maintain your account.

Quick Facts

  • Stock flat fee $7.00
  • Minimum balance $500
  • Margin rates 5.75 - 7.5%
  • Maintenance fee $0

Interactive Brokers

Interactive Brokers

Features

  • Low per-share fee: Interactive Brokers charges a low per-share fee, rather than a flat stock fee.
  • Affordable margin rates: Interactive Brokers offers the lowest margin rates of any company on this list.
  • Huge selection of investment products: Investment Brokers enables you to trade every kind of investment product.

Quick Facts

  • Stock flat fee $0.005/share
  • Minimum balance $10,000
  • Margin rates 1.07 - 1.57%
  • Maintenance fee $10/month

What to look for to find the cheapest online brokers

Fees

Trading fees are the top concern when choosing a discount stock broker. Most companies charge a flat fee for trading stocks, although Interactive Brokers has a small per-share fee instead. Other types of investment products have different fees, so investigate the costs of these as well.

Maintenance fees are another thing to watch out for. Not all companies charge them, but they can up the total cost of the online broker considerably. OptionsHouse has some of the lowest prices in the industry, with a $4.95 flat fee for stock trading, so they are the top choice if you’re looking to keep costs down.

Required Minimum Balance

The minimum balance is the amount you’re required to keep in your online brokerage account at all times. This varies from one company to the next. Scottrade requires a $500 minimum balance, and OptionsHouse doesn’t have a required balance at all. Interactive Brokers has a high minimum balance of $10,000, which may put them out of the running for some. However, if you can afford this, Interactive Brokers is still one of the cheapest online brokers, due to their low per-share fees.

Investment Products

Choosing a company with a variety of investment products is important if you plan on trading more than just stocks. All three companies on this list offer stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and options trading. But if you’re interested in forex or futures markets, Interactive Brokers is the way to go. They are the only one of the three to offer both these products to their customers.

The Bottom Line

Any of the companies listed above are solid options if you’re looking for the cheapest online broker. We recommend OptionsHouse, but depending on how often you trade and the investment products you’re interested in, Scottrade or Interactive Brokers may be a better fit.