Best Online Brokers for Stock Trading 1999

The Breakdown

Technology that enables traders and investors to place their own trades, rather than having to call a representative, has evolved considerably in the last 25 years. Data, research reports, and a great deal of advice are now easily available to anyone willing to open an account, not just to professionals who pay thousands of dollars monthly for access. Online brokers allow those interested in investing and trading to build wealth, whether it’s by making stock trades, analyzing investment opportunities, or consulting with a professional advisor, to do so from their own computer or mobile device.

We analyzed the offerings of 20+ brokers, considering their product offerings and fee structures as well as trading technology, special features, education, and solid customer service. The brokers below scored highest because of the value that each brokerage offers. 

Investing involves making personal decisions, and different brokerages focus on different styles of investing. All of the brokers we compare offer distinctive, unique features and platforms. Your task is to decide which criteria are most important to you and create your own personal list, but we want to help you narrow those choices down.

There is no one overall best online broker -- one firm may beat the industry average on several metrics and still not be the right one for you.  You may have already opened an account with a broker and feel it no longer fits your style. Though moving your account from one broker to another is a bit of a bother, it’s not difficult. 

 

Investopedia's Top Picks

 

Merrill Edge review

   

Commission

$6.95

per Stock & ETF Trade

Account minimum

$0

 

Open Account

Summary

Recently-launched features such as Portfolio Story and Stock Story give customers graphical representations of the markets.  With approximately 50% of the firm’s clients accessing its services using mobile devices, Merrill Edge updated their apps significantly, adding financial and retirement planning along with options analytics.

✓  Pros ❌  Cons
•  Excellent advisor services •  Minimum balance requirement for advanced active trading platform
•  Excellent research •  No forex or futures trading
•  Extensive educational resources •  Limited advanced/complex trades on trading platform
•  Integrated with Bank of America •  No commission-free ETFs platform
•  Unique benefits for eligible Bank of America customers  
•  Lower commissions for frequent traders/volume discount for frequent traders  

 

TD Ameritrade review

   

Commission

$6.95

per Stock & ETF Trade

Account minimum

$0

 

Open Account

Summary

Despite slightly higher than average fees among discount brokers, TD Ameritrade arrived at “Best Overall” because of the firm’s comprehensive trading technology and their education and product offerings. Users can take advantage of a standard web-based interface or the rich thinkorswim trading platform. We also found their special features, research, and mobile apps to be much better than the industry average.

✓  Pros ❌  Cons
•  High-quality, advanced trading platforms •  Higher trading costs
•  Large investment selection •  Higher margin rates
•  Messaging with Alexa, Facebook Messenger, Twitter •  No security token
•  Professional and automated (robo), low-cost investing solutions  
•  Excellent mobile app  
•  No account minimum  

 

Charles Schwab review

   

Commission

$6.95

per Stock & ETF Trade

Account minimum

$0

 

Open Account

Summary

One of the original discount brokers, Charles Schwab offers nearly all investment products, and its trading technology is well above average. Schwab received perfect scores in the Trust category for providing an enhanced security guarantee.

✓  Pros ❌  Cons
•  High-quality, advanced trading platforms •  Limited advanced trades on the mobile app
•  Zero-fee advisory service •  No forex trading
•  Extensive research •  Limited self-learning educational resources
•  Waiveable account minimum  

 

Fidelity review

   

Commission

$4.95

per Stock & ETF Trade

Account minimum

$2,500

 

Open Account

Summary

With over $2 trillion in assets under management, Fidelity is a giant of a broker with the ability to use scale to deliver excellent customer support, special features, and low trading costs. Their trade execution technology can save more than the commission charged for the transaction, especially when trading more than 200 shares at a time.

✓  Pros ❌  Cons
•  Extensive research •  Missing futures and forex
•  Good education resources •  No demo or virtual trading
•  Commission-free ETFs and funds •  Trade minimum for advanced active trading platform
•  Excellent customer support  

 

E*Trade review

   

Commission

$6.95

per Stock & ETF Trade

Account minimum

$500

 

Open Account

Summary

E*TRADE’s higher than average costs are largely offset by robust trading and analysis software. Forex trading and annuities are missing, but E*TRADE’s advanced trading platform, integrating the options trading and education tools via their acquisition of OptionsHouse should provide a lot of value to stock and options traders.

✓  Pros ❌  Cons
•  Above average mobile app •  Higher trading costs
•  Active trader mobile app •  Higher margin rates
•  Good customer support •  No forex trading
•  Trading Tools •  Account minimums for tools
•  Above average, advanced trading platforms •  Minimum balance requirement for advanced active trading platform
•  Lower commissions for frequent traders/volume discount for frequent traders •  Modest account minimum

 

 

About Our Methodology

At Investopedia, we started from scratch to build a better brokerage recommendation tool and objective reviews of self-directed brokerages. Our mission is to provide an unbiased and accurate analysis – so you can make smarter investing decisions.

We want to help find you the best online stock broker so we examined over 100 variables, from pricing and fees to trading platforms to special features. No single online broker was the best in every category, so you should review the complete list to identify the firm that best matches your priorities.