Stock trading is a strategy employed to make quick gains, so it’s unlike other investments, which focuses on long-term earnings. Trading infers more frequent activity than investing and when there is a dip in share prices, you should be ready to move, so you need a financial partner to rely on. Scalp traders and day traders operate on a temporary basis, while swing traders could invest for weeks at a time. That is why you must have the best online stock trading site to provide not just the features you need, but also the accessibility, mobility, and customer support necessary to boost your short-term holdings.
Our Top Picks for Online Stock Trading Sites
- INTERACTIVE BROKERS – Best for INTERNATIONAL TRADING
- FIDELITY – Best for NO FEES
- ROBINHOOD – Best for STOCK TRADING
- E-TRADE – Best for BEGINNERS
- TD AMERITRADE – Best for ACTIVE INVESTORS
- CHARLES SCHWAB – Best for CUSTOMER SERVICE
Interactive Brokers offers some of the most widespread investment options available today with more than 4,300 no-transaction-fee mutual funds.
The IBRK Lite plan enables affordable investing with no commissions and no account minimums on its stocks and ETFs. Its Pro plan is for the regular investor, with specific fees based on your investment activity. Research and education are impressive, with its Traders’ Academy offering free courses and several applications designed to help you make better investments.
International trading is an option for you, too, with access to over 125 markets in 31 countries and 23 currencies. That’s why it gets our vote for the best online stock trading site for international investors.
- Fantastic investment options
- Over 125 markets in 31 countries
- Free Investors’ Academy
- Difficult to navigate
- Long sign-up process
- Extra fees for add-ons or inactivity
A major perk of working with Fidelity is the abundance of research available. Investors can benefit from stock research from leading experts like Thomson Reuters and Recognia. There is also ETF research and options analysis software LiveVol. All of this data is calculated into an Equity Summary Score that you can use to make investment decisions. However, don’t expect to find Forex, cryptocurrencies, or futures available.
One of the best parts of Robinhood is the absence of fees for many services. There are no fees for opening or maintaining your account. RobinHood has commission-free online trading with no account minimum, added benefits to the clean accessibility of the user interface in its mobile app. It is a basic, easy-to-use platform with custom alerts, news, and detailed account analysis.
In addition to stocks, ETFs, and options, Robinhood’s online trading platform also supports cryptocurrency trades, which is an excellent fit for frequent or professional traders, with no trading fees, no annual fees, and no account minimums on brokerage and Gold accounts.
- No required account minimum
- Cryptocurrency trades available
- Easy navigation and accessibility
- Limited to mobile trading
- No bonds or mutual funds
There are not as many research tools, making this platform better for the experienced investor because there’s less of the hand holding in the way of research and education provided with other companies. Robinhood also doesn’t offer bonds or mutual funds, so you face a limited portfolio if you opt for this company. Still, with zero commission on most trades, it is an affordable solution for your more traditional investments.
TD Ameritrade, acquired by Charles Schwab in 2019, is a user-friendly option for beginner investors. There are hundreds of branches available for free in-person consultations, as well as international offices.
It’s also on the cutting edge of technology, featuring integration with Amazon’s Alexa technology to enable voice-prompted trading and market updates. You also have access to the extensive resource center, stocked with articles and videos to tell you everything you need to know about investing.
With zero stock and ETF commissions, there is a 65-cents fee on options trades. You also save money with no account minimums, which helps create comfortable and flexible terms for beginners.
- Over 300 in-person branches
- Expansive financial offerings
- Fantastic resources
- Expensive broker-assisted trade rates
- High transfer fees
TD Ameritrade offers a full portfolio of investment products, which include not only traditional stocks and bonds, but also futures, Forex, foreign ADRs, and even IPOs for some accounts. Fees are near average for the industry, while there’s commission-free trading for some investments, but you still face high rates for broker-assisted trades. Ameritrade does not assess fees on inactive accounts or partial transfers, but there is a $75 charge for every full transfer you make.
Charles Schwab is known for excellent customer service, winning top marks from J.D. Power for four years in a row from 2016 to 2019. The company also offers a refund policy, offering to refund commission or transaction fees if you feel unsatisfied with the service you receive.
There are no commission fees on stock, ETFs, and options trades. There is also a 65 cents per contract fee for options, and while there are also fees for outgoing transfers, it is still less than many other companies.
Charles Schwab also offers investors an extensive library of current research called the Schwab Knowledge Center, which provides more insight than other companies.
- Unparalleled customer service
- Refund policy
- Commission-free trading
- Pricey mutual funds
- No Forex or Cryptocurrency
The products are limited, with no room for Forex or cryptocurrency trading. Mutual funds are more expensive than many other companies, but zero-commission trading on stocks, ETFs, and options are still attractive to many investors.
E-Trade, acquired by Morgan Stanley in 2020, is an excellent choice for beginner investors. There is a large library of educational resources featuring not only articles and videos, but also webinars and advice from its own E-trade stock analysts, along with 24/7 customer support and online chat.
There are no required account minimums, and pricing is attractive with zero commission for stock and ETF trades. Options contracts are normally 65 cents each, but the price dips to just 50 cents per contract when you make 30 or more trades each quarter.
Accessibility is key, especially with the powerful mobile app that offers excellent mobility and transparency for your investment needs.
- Competitive pricing
- Expansive investor resources
- Access to in-house analysts
- $500 minimum deposit for new accounts
- Fees for mutual funds
Not only does the company feature advice and tips from leading industry experts, but you can also book free in-person appointments for guidance and support in your financial strategy. However, there is a $19.99 fee for mutual fund transactions, which is more than other companies.
Guide to Online Stock Trading Sites
Growing your financial portfolio shouldn’t be a considerable expense, so we look for companies offering competitive pricing with low or no fees on regular services that the average investor needs. Some companies advertise flashy features that come with a steep price tag, so we obtain a well-rounded portrait of a company’s financial requirements and fees before we choose the best online stock trading sites.
Broker’s fees and applicable taxes can make a massive dent in your earnings each year if you aren’t careful. There are many different kinds of fees that a broker can charge, including annual fees, inactivity penalties, add-ons, and even subscription services. Commission fees for stock trading can also quickly add up, so we consider a company’s entire schedule of fees to understand what an investor can realistically expect to pay for various investment services.
Mutual funds and ETFs can fall subject to some severe fees called the expense ratio. Even commission-free trades can be assessed either by a front-end or back-end load that can severely hamper your profits. Typical amounts vary between 0.5% and 1%, and while it may not seem like much at first, it does add up over time.
Employing an investment strategy can be beneficial for your long-term goals, allowing you to establish not only your goals but also your comfort zone in achieving them. Creating a financial roadmap helps to provide both direction and patience while formulating an overall strategy that you can use to achieve your financial goals. One helpful tool that you can use is TD Ameritrade’s paperMoney, which is a virtual trading platform that allows you to grow your skills and improve your strategy without risking your actual money.
It’s important to remember that investing is about the long-haul, but resist the urge to check your account for changes continually. Fluctuations will happen, and it will likely take time for your investments to pay off, which makes exercising patience a key to positive growth.
There are a lot of choices out there, so it isn’t always easy to identify the best online stock trading site for you.
To find the best, we look to the experts for regular guidance and updates on investment trends, as well as company ratings by leading industry pros Barron’s and J.D. Power.
Financial health and stability demonstrate how well a company performs and how safe your investments will be. As a registered trademark of Dow Jones & Company, L.P., Barron’s is a well-respected leader in the investment world. It regularly assesses the top investment companies and advisors, keeping a bead on an ever-changing market.
This includes a number of areas, like account information, firm interaction, commissions and fees, information resources, product offerings, and investment performance. These are important markers of a company’s ability to successfully perform for your portfolio.
How much a broker charges in fees and commission can also significantly diminish your total earnings, so we dive deep for a thorough analysis of each company.