There are many important factors to consider when choosing an online Stock broker. While low commissions and fees are obviously important, there are many other things to consider, such as trading platforms, research tools, customer service, educational materials, and variety of stocks and ETF’s offered. There is no single broker that is the best across the board; each one has its own advantages, and what works for someone else may not work for you. However, we will try to rank them here in terms of their overall quality, and also give a short review of each one so you can decide for yourself which is best for you.
TradeKing is a low-cost, simple platform that is great for experienced investors that don’t need much from their online broker. The website is easy to use, and they charge a $4.95 flat commission and low fees. However, their research and training tools for beginners are not up to par with the best brokers on the market.
Merrill Edge is consistently ranked among the top brokers for research and educational tools, and also has great customer service. They also allow Bank of America customers to directly link their bank account to their trading account, and have no minimum account balance. They charge a $6.95 commission per trade.
TradeStation provides a great trading platform that can be used by anyone from a casual beginner trader, to hedge funds and institutional investors. The platform is very simple, but offers a wide variety of useful trading tools. TradeStation charges a flat commission of $5 per trade, and relatively low fees overall.
ETrade is known for offering a wide range of investments to their traders. Beyond stocks, you can also trade bonds, ETF’s, mutual funds, options, and futures on their platform. They also provide strong research tools, and charge $6.95 per trade.
Scottrade offers one of the best customer experiences in the business. They have over 500 locations, and traders can always speak with a live representative, something that has become increasingly rare these days. Their research tools are also among the best out there, and combined with the outstanding customer service, make Scottrade a great option for newer traders. Their trading platform is a bit lacking compared to some of the more modernized brokers, but their impending acquisition by TD Ameritrade should solve this problem. They charge $7 a trade.
Owned by ETrade, OptionsHouse offers a wide array of research tools and very low commissions and fees. They charge $4.95 per stock trade, and their account fees are competitive with the cheapest discount brokers. They are known as the best online broker for options traders with their low margins and fantastic desktop and mobile platforms.
Charles Schwab is one of the biggest names in the industry, and for good reason. They offer a great all-around experience for traders as well as low fees. They charge $4.95 per trade with no account fees. Their customer service, research, and trading tools are all very good, and they offer a wide range of investment options.
TD Ameritrade charges $6.95 per trade and its fees are on the higher side, but it consistently ranks near the top of just about every list of online brokers. Aside from the fees, everything about their service is top-notch. From customer support to research tools, they provide everything necessary for a new or experienced trader. They also boast the most advanced trading platforms and a vast array of investments.
Fidelity tops this list by combining the best of both worlds, as it offers a superb service combined with low costs. Stock trades cost $4.95, and the fees are fairly low, although there is a $2,500 account minimum. Their research tools and trading platforms are competitive with any broker, and they offer a wide selection, including 85 commission-free ETF’s. Fidelity was voted #1 for the past three years straight in Investors Business Daily’s annual survey, and we agree that overall, it is the best online stock broker out there.