The past year was showtime for online brokers as millions of new traders and investors entered the market for the first time amid a frenzy of trading in stocks and crypto. Brokers’ reliability, pricing, and range of offerings were all put to the test, as both new and experienced traders sought any edge they could find to capture returns.
Investors and politicians scrutinized online brokers for their role in wild market swings as retail traders and institutional investors alike piled into highly-shorted stocks, prompting short squeezes, trading halts, and platform outages. Pricing became paramount as the industry faced pressure over payment for order flow tactics, and how it actually makes money from customers.
As cryptocurrency quickly became a mainstream asset with more customers demanding it, online brokers made moves to include it on their platforms. That trend, and the growing interest in investing and trading among a new generation of customers, are here to stay.
Our list of the best online brokers of 2022 showcases platforms that best responded to evolving customer needs in an industry that requires rapid innovation every year.
Best Overall: Fidelity Investments
Fidelity Investments has been our top selection for Best Overall Online Broker for three years running. This year, Fidelity continued its commitment to lowering costs for investors by refusing payment for order flow, while boosting returns with its cash sweep of uninvested cash into money market funds. Fidelity’s research and trading tools remain among the best in class, as do its educational offerings.
Best Broker for Beginners: TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade continued its commitment to investor education and user-friendly tools, making it our top pick for beginners. Its paper-trading platform is a great launching pad for its robust online investing platform, which has tools for investors and traders of all levels. Its mobile platform is one of the easiest to use in the industry, and its smooth user interface translates to desktop and tablet, too.
Best Mobile Apps: TD Ameritrade
TD Ameritrade has two apps that together form the best overall mobile app offering. First, the thinkorswim mobile app is designed to make it easy for traders to manage existing positions and open new ones. Second, the TD Ameritrade Mobile App is intuitive and powerful enough to use as the primary trading platform—potentially creating a generation of app-only traders who never touch the desktop versions.
Best Broker for Options: Tastyworks
Tastyworks once again takes the top spot as the best broker for options trading given its flexible tools and intuitive platforms. It’s more advanced than other options platforms, but also offers new traders educational pathways with great content and features that help them improve. Tastyworks may not be the options platform traders start on, but many end up there as they become more skilled.
Best Broker for Low Costs: Fidelity Investments
In an era of no commissions for stock and ETF trading, the race to the bottom is short. Still, Fidelity finds ways to give its customers price improvement by eliminating payment for order flow, and sweeping uninvested cash into money market funds. Other brokers do this, but Fidelity’s overall price improvement is top-notch in the industry.
Best Broker for Advanced Traders: Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers (IBKR) remains our top pick for advanced day traders for the third consecutive year. Its offering of international exchanges, cryptocurrency, and incredibly low margin rates, plus some of the best tools and charts in the industry, sets it apart in a very competitive field. It also has superior order execution and pricing, which are must-haves for advanced traders.
Best Cryptocurrency Exchange: Coinbase
This was the year crypto went mainstream among retail investors and traders, creating more exchange options than ever before. Still, Coinbase wins for its ease of use, wide selection of major crypto tokens and alt-coins, and its research and educational offerings. Security is paramount for crypto-investors, and while Coinbase suffered a breach in March 2021, it worked quickly to fix the flaw and fully refund affected customers.
Best Broker for International Trading: Interactive Brokers
Interactive Brokers (IBKR) stands apart from its competitors in offering the most robust access to international markets of any online broker. IBKR offers the widest pool of assets and markets, and the tools to trade them. It also makes a point of connecting as many electronic exchanges as possible, allowing customers to trade equities, options, and futures around the world and around the clock.
Best Broker for ETFs: Charles Schwab
The ETF landscape became highly competitive for online brokers in 2021, but Charles Schwab stood out thanks to the strength of its ETF screener combined with the quality of its overall offering. Schwab offers robust educational materials, and portfolio analysis tools for everyday investors that make investing in ETFs simple. We like that Schwab also has more complex offerings and products for advanced investors as well.
Best Broker for Ease of Trading Experience: E*TRADE
Ease-of-use was paramount for online brokers as millions of new traders entered the market this past year. E*TRADE stood apart from the competition in this new category, thanks to its paper trading platform that mirrors its Power platform, as well as providing pre-built portfolios. E*TRADE also has a wealth of educational materials and market-related information that are easy to find and navigate.
Best Broker for Customer Service: TD Ameritrade
With so many new traders and increased trading activity, customer service took on a renewed level of importance this year. Most online brokers provide good-to-great customer service, but TD Ameritrade stands out as best-in-class for its commitment to 24/7 availability, its virtual client service agent “Ted”, and its direct-message availability on platforms such as Apple Business Chat, Meta Messenger, Twitter Direct Messages, and WeChat in Asia.
Best Broker for Low-Cost Options Trading: Webull
Options trading was on fire in the first half of 2021 as traders took advantage of pricing imbalances across the stock market. Webull has offered some of the lowest cost options strategies in the industry, alongside a robust set of tools at no cost to its customers. As one of the lowest-cost brokers around, Webull stands out for extending affordability into the options market.