With so many different types of online stock brokers available to investors, it can be tough to choose one that works best for you. That’s why we put these U.S.-based online brokers through a comprehensive review process that included hands-on research to determine the best in the industry.

When we started our 2020 online broker reviews in the fall of 2019, no one knew how the world would change. We recognize that we all are living through a particularly volatile time as we deal with this global crisis, and financial markets have also seen unprecedented change, impacting all investors. Our analysis of the online brokerage industry is, "Commission Cuts, Consolidation, and a Coronavirus Crash."

Our mission has always been to help people make the most informed decisions about how, when and where to invest. Given recent market volatility, and the changes in the online brokerage industry, we are more committed than ever to providing our readers with unbiased and expert reviews of the top investing platforms for investors of all levels, for every kind of market.

Best Online Brokers and Trading Platforms for July 2020:

  • Fidelity Investments: Best Online Broker
  • TD Ameritrade: Best Broker for Beginners
  • tastyworks: Best Broker for Options
  • Interactive Brokers: Best Broker for Advanced Traders
  • TD Ameritrade: Best Broker for Mobile
  • Interactive Brokers: Best Broker for International Trading
  • tastyworks: Best Broker for Low Costs
  • Charles Schwab: Best Broker for ETFs

Best Overall: Fidelity Investments

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0 for stock/ETF trades, $0 plus $0.65/contract for options trade
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Fidelity earned our top spot for the second year running by offering clients a well-rounded package of investing tools and excellent order executions. It has continued to quietly enhance key pieces of its mobile-responsive website while committing itself to lowering the cost of investing for its clients. Fidelity joined in the rush to cut equity and base options commissions to zero in October 2019 but remains devoted to offering top-quality research and education offerings to its clients. The firm also makes it easy for clients to earn interest by sweeping uninvested cash into a money market fund. Fidelity also shares the revenue it generates from its stock loan program, and allows clients to choose which stocks in their portfolios can be loaned out.

Pros
  • Fidelity provides excellent trade executions for investors. On average, over 96% of orders for Fidelity customers are executed at a price better than the national best bid or offer.

  • Fidelity offers a wealth of research and extensive pre-set and customizable asset screeners.

  • Your uninvested cash is automatically swept into a money market fund to help contribute to overall portfolio returns.

Cons
  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址Some traders and sophisticated investors may have to use Fidelity’s web platform in addition to Active Trader Pro to access all the tools and research they require.

  • Non-U.S. citizens or residents cannot open an account.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址Traders and investors must manually refresh the data when using the website.

  • Fidelity has a wide offering of securities, but no commodities or options on futures.

Best for Beginners: TD Ameritrade

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Free stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading commissions in the U.S., as of October 3rd, 2019. $0.65 per options contract.
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Financial markets can be intimidating the first time you try to put your money to work, so it helps to have an online broker that understands that and puts in an effort to help. To determine the best broker for beginners, we focused on the features that help new investors learn as they are starting their investing journey. Brokers were selected based on top-notch educational resources, easy navigation, clear commission and pricing structures, and the overall quality of their portfolio construction tools. We also looked for low minimum account balances, as these can be a barrier for new investors with limited capital. Finally, we put an emphasis on the availability of demo accounts so new investors can practice using the platform and placing trades.

2020欧洲杯体育官方网址 TD Ameritrade, one of the largest online brokers, has made significant efforts to market itself to beginner investors through social media. Work is still being done to further streamline its web and mobile experiences and make them more accessible to new users, but the resources new investors can already access are exceptional. Education is a key component of TD Ameritrade’s offerings. You’ll find expanded learning pathways, ranging from beginner to advanced, to help clients understand everything from basic investing concepts to extremely advanced derivatives strategies. You can open an account and poke around without making a deposit, and take advantage of all the learning opportunities until you’re comfortable. TD Ameritrade wants new investors to become more confident, and to trade additional asset classes as their skills grow.

Pros
  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址The education offerings are designed to make novice investors more comfortable.

  • TD Ameritrade offers in-person education at more than 280 offices as well as multiple training pathways available on its website and mobile apps.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址The TD Ameritrade Network offers nine hours of live programming in addition to on-demand content, viewable on mobile devices.

  • The well-designed mobile apps are intended to give customers a simple one-page experience.

Cons
  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址Some investors may have to use multiple platforms to utilize preferred tools.

  • TD Ameritrade offers one of the widest selections of account types, so new investors may be unsure of which account type to choose when opening an account. More support is needed to ensure customers are starting out with the correct account type.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址Investors are paid a tiny rate of interest on uninvested cash (0.01-0.05%) unless they take action to move cash into money market funds.

Best for Options: tastyworks

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0.00 stock trades, $1.00 to open options trades $0.00 to close
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2020欧洲杯体育官方网址 Options trading has become extremely popular with retail investors since the turn of the 21st century. Our best options brokers have a wealth of tools that help you measure and manage risk as you determine which trades to place. They also include valuable education that helps you grow in sophistication as an options trader.

2020欧洲杯体育官方网址 The commission structure for options trades tends to be more complicated than its equivalent for stock trades. Until the commission cuts that swept the industry in the fall of 2019, most brokers charged a fee for each leg of an options spread, plus a commission per contract being traded. The per-leg fees, which made 2- and 4-legged spreads expensive, have been eliminated for the most part. We are seeing some brokers place caps on commissions charged for certain trading scenarios. 

Investors with fairly large portfolios can take advantage of portfolio margining at certain brokers, a practice that assesses the total risk inherent in a portfolio that contains stocks and derivatives, and can reduce the size of your margin loan.

Tastyworks officers say that more than 90% of the trades placed by their customers are derivatives, so there are a lot of tools for options and futures traders. Everything is designed to help the trader evaluate volatility and the probability of profit. It’s all about making decisions and taking action. Executions are fast and the costs are low, capping commissions for opening orders for options on equities and futures at $10 per leg. As you build a position from a chart or from a volatility screener, a trade ticket is populated for you. There’s a video viewer embedded so you can keep an eye on the tastytrade network. Though a newcomer to options trading might be initially uncomfortable, those who understand the basic concepts will appreciate the content and features.

Pros
  • All of the tools you’ll need for analyzing and trading derivatives are built into the tastyworks platform.

  • The charting capabilities are uniquely tuned for the options trader. If you have multiple positions on a particular underlying, you can analyze the risk profiles of the combined position.

  • There are hours of original video from tastytrade every weekday, offering up-to-the-minute trading ideas, plus a huge library of pre-recorded videos and shows.

Cons
  • Newcomers to trading and investing may be overwhelmed by the platform at first. There’s a learning curve to climb.

  • There is no fixed income trading (outside of ETFs that contain bonds) for those who want to allocate some of their assets to a more conservative asset class.

  • Besides profit and loss, any additional portfolio analysis requires setting up a login on a separate site, The Quiet Foundation, which is also part of the tastytrade empire.

Best for Advanced Traders: Interactive Brokers

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite
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2020欧洲杯体育官方网址 Advanced traders need fast, high-quality executions, reliable data, sophisticated order types, and access to the asset classes they want to trade. We also looked for portfolio margining and top-notch portfolio analysis.

Interactive Brokers (IBKR) earns this award due to its wealth of tools for sophisticated investors and its wide pool of assets and markets. The firm makes a point of connecting to as many electronic exchanges as possible. You can trade equities, options, and futures around the world and around the clock. Interactive Brokers’ stays on top of changes in market conditions to re-route all or parts of your order to achieve optimal execution, attain price improvement, and maximize any possible rebate. The order routing algorithms seek out a speedy execution and can access hidden institutional order flows (dark pools2020欧洲杯体育官方网址) to execute large block orders. The wide array of order types include a variety of algorithms as well as conditional orders such as one-cancels-another and one-triggers-another. You can also set up conditional orders based on price, volume, daily P&L, margin cushion, number of shortable shares available, rebate available from the trading venue, and other factors.

Pros
  • IBKR’s order execution engine has what could be the smartest order router in the business.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址Interactive Brokers connects clients to 125 markets in 31 countries and enables clients to trade stocks, options, futures, forex, bonds and funds from a single integrated account.

  • Algorithmic order types include VWAP (volume-weighted average price) and TWAP (time-weighted average price) as well as order types designed to minimize the trader’s impact on the price of a particular stock.

Cons
  • You can only have streaming data on one device at a time. This could be an issue for traders with a multi-device workflow.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址The most advanced capabilities are restricted to IBKR Pro clients and trades on that plan are not commission free.

Best for Mobile: TD Ameritrade

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Free stock, ETF, and per-leg options trading commissions in the U.S., as of October 3rd, 2019. $0.65 per options contract.
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Over the last few years, online brokers have increasingly adopted the mantra “mobile-first.” As more investors and traders use tablets or smartphones as their primary platform, online brokers have made efforts to improve their mobile apps.

2020欧洲杯体育官方网址 Streaming data has made its way to mobile apps along with complex options analysis and trading, advanced charting, and educational offerings. With the availability of computers in our pockets, the way people interact with their trading and investment accounts have forced brokers to offer mobile apps along with their traditional desktop platforms.

TD Ameritrade focused its 2019 development efforts on its most active clients, who are mobile-first – and in many cases, mobile-only. TD Ameritrade’s thinkorswim mobile platform has extensive features for active traders and investors alike. The workflow for options, stocks, and futures is intuitive and powerful. You’ll find lots of bells and whistles that make the mobile app a complete solution for most trading purposes, including streaming real-time data and the ability to trade from charts. The regular mobile platform is almost identical in features to the website, so it’s an easy transition. TD Ameritrade clients can trade all asset classes offered by the firm on the mobile apps.

Pros
  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址TD Ameritrade optimized its traditional website for mobile browsers with a dashboard where clients can quickly access account details, balances, balance history, positions, news, and more.

  • The well-designed mobile apps are intended to give customers a simple one-page experience where they can quickly check in on the markets and their account.

  • The TD Ameritrade Network offers nine hours of live programming in addition to on-demand content, viewable on mobile devices.

  • Streaming real-time data on thinkorswim’s mobile app is unlimited.

Cons
  • Customers may have to use multiple platforms to utilize preferred tools. Options-specific tools abound on thinkorswim and its associated mobile app, but fundamental research for equities and fixed income tools are mostly available only on the website.

  • Over-the-counter (penny stock) trades are subject to a commission of $6.95 per trade.

  • Clients are paid a tiny rate of interest on uninvested cash (0.01-0.05%) unless they take action to move cash into money market funds.

Best for International Trading: Interactive Brokers

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Maximum $0.005 per share for Pro platform or 1% of trade value, $0 for IBKR Lite
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For the international trading category, category weightings for the range of offerings were adjusted upwards to measure which broker offered the largest selection of assets across international markets. After that, overall platform functionality and variety of orders types were also measured as these are important to successful trading when undertaking position management in markets that span the globe. These adjustments revealed a clear winner for international trading in the 2020 review.

2020欧洲杯体育官方网址 Interactive Brokers is the best broker for international trading by a significant margin. Interactive Brokers allows investors to access 125 exchanges in 31 countries across the globe. This reach is combined with a massive inventory of assets and 60 different order types to plan your entry and exit from a position. Investors can also fund their account in their domestic currency and IBKR will handle the conversion at market rates when you want to buy assets denominated in a non-domestic currency. And, if all that were not enough, the quality of trading tools available through Traders Workstation (TWS) make it easy to execute multi-layered trades across international borders. Interactive Brokers has won this category two years running, and there is no sign of that changing in the near future.

Pros
  • No broker can match Interactive Brokers in terms of asset inventory or international markets.

  • If an exchange enables a particular order type, IBKR offers it you. For example, very specific limit-on-close orders on the Tokyo Stock Exchange and pegged-to-primary orders on the London Stock Exchange.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址You can trade non-U.S. dollar assets on margin without having to have the local currency in your account.

Cons
  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址Most non-U.S. exchanges charge additional data fees that increase your trading costs.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址All non-U.S. transactions incur trading commissions, some of which are not completely transparent.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址Small or inactive accounts may be subject to maintenance fees or data charges, and interest is not paid on cash unless you have a substantial balance.

Best for Low Costs: tastyworks

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0.00 stock trades, $1.00 to open options trades $0.00 to close
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The qualification for this award is simple: the lowest out-of-pocket costs. Tastyworks fits that bill well, as customers pay no commission to trade U.S. equities online, and there is no per-leg fee for options trades. Tastyworks has a unique fee structure for options trades, charging $1 per contract to open a position, while closing trades are free. In addition, there is a maximum of $10 per leg for options trades, so traders who place large spread orders are happy.

Pros
  • Customizable trading platform with streaming real-time quotes.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址Options-focused charting that helps you understand the probability of making a profit.

  • A video player for keeping an eye on the tastytrade personalities is built in.

Cons
  • If you're new to trading options, the platform looks bewildering at first.

  • No bonds or CDs available.

  • Portfolio analysis requires using a separate website.

Best for ETFs: Charles Schwab

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: Free stock, ETF trading, $0.65 per options contract
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Money is increasingly flowing out of the mutual fund industry and into exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Some investors (and most robo-advisors) use ETFs exclusively to build a balanced portfolio meant to walk the optimal line between risk and reward. To determine the best online broker for investing in ETFs, we looked at research capabilities specific to finding the best ETFs for a customer’s specific purpose. Top-notch screeners, analyst reports, fundamental and technical data, and the ability to compare ETFs are the main components of this award.

Schwab is a full-service investment firm which offers services and technology to everyone from self-directed active traders to people who want the guidance of a financial advisor. It has a wide variety of platforms from which to choose, as well as full banking capabilities. It is, however, Schwab’s ETF screener on the StreetSmart Edge platform that will capture the attention of ETF investors. The StreetSmart Edge ETF screener has over 150 criteria that can combine fundamental, technical, and third party data. The ETF screener is extremely customizable and your criteria combinations can be saved for future re-use. Schwab’s news and research offerings overall were also among the deepest of all the brokerages we reviewed, sealing up this category for the industry giant.

Pros
  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址The StreetSmart Edge ETF screener is the best among all online brokerages we reviewed.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址There are 16 predefined screens for the ETF screener which can be customized according to client needs. Results can be turned into a watchlist, or exported. The ETF screener is available to both prospects (pre-login) and clients using StreetSmart Edge.

  • Schwab offers its clients free access to news feeds from BondSource, MarketEdge, Schwab Investing Insights Brief, Argus Research Alerts, Briefing.com, Morningstar Equity Research Alerts, Business Wire, PR Newswire, Credit Suisse, CFRA, and Vickers Insider Activity.

  • Premium third-party research is offered at a discounted price.

Cons
  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址In contrast to the excellent ETF screener in StreetSmart Edge, the ETF screener on the Schwab.com website is very basic.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址If you trade derivatives, most of the tools are on the StreetSmart Edge platform, but equities traders will wind up referring to technology on the standard website.

  • 2020欧洲杯体育官方网址Schwab does not automatically sweep uninvested cash into a money market fund, and their base interest rate is extremely low.

What to Consider When Choosing an Online Broker

When you are choosing an online stock broker you have to think about your immediate needs as an investor. Are you a beginner? Maybe you need a broker that has great educational material about the stock market. Do you only have a small amount of money you can put aside to invest? Some online brokers allow for small minimum deposits which can be a great option for those with limited funds. Are you always on the go and in need of a robust mobile platform? Some online brokers have incredible mobile apps delivering nearly all the features that their desktop counterparts do.

Another important thing to consider is the distinction between investing and trading. When people talk about investing they generally mean the purchasing of assets to be held for a long period of time. These types of investments are usually made to reach a retirement goal or to put your money into assets that may grow faster than it would in a standard savings account accruing interest. Trading, on the other hand, most commonly involves the buying and selling of assets in short periods. Trading is generally considered riskier than investing.

All of these factors must be considered before choosing an online broker. Do you want to trade or invest? Do you want a great mobile app to check your portfolio wherever you are? What types of assets are you looking to invest in? Answering these questions is not always easy. You can check out our guide to choosing a stock broker to gain further insight so you can make a sound decision. Once you've made a decision on a broker, you can also check out our guide to opening a brokerage account.