Trading stocks and options online has never been easier to do. There are hundreds of online stock brokers to choose from and a large number of product offerings like Index Funds, ETFs and Mutual Funds. Many of them offer low to zero dollar commissions or a free share of stock. Many of our members ask us, “What are the best online stock brokers offering?” or “What broker should I use for the best online stock trading?”
We researched and ranked the best stock broker platforms and online brokers to figure out the best places to open a new account. For beginning traders, we have paid special attention to the best online stock broker for beginners.
Strap in and learn about the best online stock brokers and some of the key features and benefits – with a detailed online brokers review of each one.
- Thinkorswim – TD Ameritrade
- Interactive Brokers
- Ally Invest
1. Thinkorswim (“TOS”) – TD Ameritrade
Professional Tools & Free
Thinkorswim has a wide range of tools that really benefits the active trader, and it is one of the platforms that we use regularly at True Trader. Order entry is fast and executions are top notch. The built in charting app in the TOS platform is superior to most other charting tools available. Every technical indicator imaginable is available on TOS and with their scripting language, traders can create their own indicators. The scan feature allows for stocks to be found based on a specified technical indicator (amazing) in addition to the more typical criteria such as volume, price, etc. Did we mention they have options scans too! A must use and must see for active traders – The TOS platform is free to use with a funded account. Without a doubt, one of the best online stock brokers.
- Professional Software with all the tools needed
- Excellent charting
- Level 2 Quotes
- May be too Robust for Beginners
- Desktop Download for All Features
- Lack of Short Locates
$0 Online Equity Trades & Low Options Commissions
Tastyworks is a solid choice for both stock and options traders alike. Featuring super low commissions of $0 for Stocks and ETFs and only $1.00 to open each options leg with $0 to close, this may very well be one of the best online stock brokers for beginners and experts alike. The platform itself is accessible via a desktop app or orders can be entered on the website (just with limited features and functionality). There are also IOS and Android apps that get the job done. Overall, a good online broker with an OK platform (not as robust as TOS) and low commissions. Customer service is excellent; with live chat support and telephone based support during US market hours. One of our top picks for best stock brokers for stocks and options trading with low fees.
- $0 Stock & ETF Commissions
- $1 Per Opening Leg Options Commissions / $0 To Close
- Excellent Customer Service
- Platform Functionality Leaves Something To Be Desired
- Charting App In Platform Needs Improvement
Direct ECN Routing & Liquidity Rebates
Lightspeed caters to the professional active trader and offers it’s own proprietary trading platform in addition to 3rd party apps. A solid broker for day trading, they do feature a $10,000 minimum deposit and charge $0.0045 per share plus routing fees per order ($1.00 minimum). The low commissions tend to draw in traders that want direct market access. Even though the account minimum is $10,000, to really get the full benefits of what Lightspeed offers, one should be a Pattern Day Trader – which means having a $25K + account. There are several platforms that can be used once a client is set up with Lightspeed including Lighstpeed Trader (standard platform – $130 / mo. Fee.) You can route your orders to the ECN of your choice, use the charting, Level 2 quotes and more. Very good for the active trader with $25K +. There are better online brokers for smaller accounts and there are other choices for the best online stock broker for beginners.
- Direct Routing To ECNs Of Your Choice
- Several Trading Platforms
- Market Rebates For Adding Liquidity (Limit Orders)
- High Monthly Fees For Inactive Traders
- Limited Research Tools
- No Commission Free Trading With The Better Platforms
Best Online Broker – Beginners & Experts
E*Trade has it all for most traders. Day traders, swing traders, passive traders, occasional traders, new traders and old traders can obtain some great value from E*TRADE. Multiple platforms featuring $0 Commissions, a wide product offering full of ETFs and Mutual Funds, desktop platform (Power E*TRADE), browser platform, apps and no minimum deposit make E*TRADE a consistent and steady winner for best online broker. Options traders find some love here too – with commissions beginning at $0.65 per leg and going down to $0.50 when a trader is active (30+ traders per quarter). E*Trade always has been, and always will be one of the best online brokers. We rate this one as the best online brokerage account overall.
- Thousands Of Mutual Funds
- Low Minimums
- No Inactivity Fees
- High Mutual Fund Commissions (some)
- E*Trade Pro For Active Traders Only
5. Interactive Brokers
Best Online Broker Account For Professionals & Low Fees
Interactive Brokers is used by the big guys – think hedge funds, institutional investors along with experienced active traders. For good reason too, as they offer 125 markets in 31 countries with a large suite of trading tools that can accommodate anyone. With direct access to global exchanges, whatever product you need – you can get. Fixed income products in Asia? IB has your back. Euro Corporate Bonds? No problem. The fees for active traders are the most competitive in the industry and with the recent launch of IBKR Lite, there is something here for newer investors as well. The only thing for a smaller account to watch, however, is the fees. They can add up quickly in a small account at IBKR. For an active and well funded trader, this is the best online broker for day trading.
- No Commissions
- Largest Selection Of Products
- Smart Order Routing Is Lightning Fast
- Suite Of Tools For The Highest Trading Needs
- Fees Are Substantial In Smaller Accounts / Inactivity Fees (IB is no commission trade)
- Challenging User Experience on Website
- Account Opening Procedure Is Lengthy
6. Charles Schwab
Zero Minimums & Zero Inactivity Fees
Schwab provides a solid user experience across the board. Known as “The Original Discount Broker”, Schwab appeals to long term investors (no inactivity fees), beginner traders (good educational tools), and swing traders alike. $0 stock trades and $0 minimums certainly help prospective customers become clients quickly. For active traders and day traders, there are better firms to get what you need out there. If you are looking for a wide array of investment services with no minimums, Schwab may be for you. They are one of the original online brokers.
- 3,000 + No Load Mutual Funds
- Companion Banking With Charles Schwab Bank
- $0 Stock Trades
- Nothing Unique For Active Traders / Day Traders
- High Mutual Fund Commissions On Some Products
Commission Free Stocks & ETFs
Fidelity is a brokerage behemoth and began in Boston in 1946. They offer clients a full suite of research tools with analysis from Thomson Reuters and more. Active Trader Pro is an amazing active trader desktop platform that offers features like 1-click trading and advanced order entry tool. Fidelity does require 36 trades in a consecutive 12 month period in order to use Active Trader Pro. Fidelity also features some pretty nice Android & IOS Apps! The cake is the pricing – $0 minimums, $0 inactivity fees and $0 stock and ETF trades. In addition, clients get access to Fidelity ZERO Funds – Fidelity’s own fund family.
- $0 Minimums, $0 Inactivity fees
- Active Trader Pro
- $0 Stock Trades
- High Margin Interest Rates
- Not Fully Digital Account Opening
- Higher Fees for Mutual Funds
8. Ally Invest
Best Online Brokerage Account For Beginners
Ally Invest is a subsidiary of Ally Financial. There is a wide array of features with this online broker including online banking, excellent customer service and trading functionalities. We like Ally as an excellent stock broker option for beginners, as their platform and user experience has a great flow and ease of use while still having robust trading tools like watchlists, streaming charts and easy to navigate options chains. The user interface is clean and there are no account minimums or commissions on most stocks and ETFs.
- $0 Commissions On Most Stock Trades
- Web Based, Android & IOS
- 100+ Fee Free ETFs
- No Virtual Trading
- May Lack Tools For More Experienced Traders
Best Stock Brokers For Ease Of Use & Mobile
Robinhood provides $0 commissions on most US stock and features a fast and easy account opening process. It could be another winner for best online brokerage for beginners. This online stock broker has excellent mobile trading platforms for both Android & IOS – and a good web platform. Analytics are not as robust as other competitors with limited research tools and a slimmer offering of products. However, the full digital and streamlined account opening process combined with the ease of use on mobile makes this the best stock broker for those seeking a fully mobile experience.
- Excellent Mobile Apps
- Easy + Fast Account Opening Process
- Slim Product Offerings
- Few Educational & Research Tools
- Short Selling is Not Allowed
Best Online Broker Account For Active & Experienced Traders
The Tradestation Platform is awesome. They have a full offering including stocks, options, crypto, futures, IPOs, mutual funds and more. This online broker is for a more experienced trader that needs access to advanced charting tools and high quality executions. Their Desktop 10 App has everything that one could need to get an edge on the market, while still having excellent web trading and mobile apps. This is the best online stock trading broker for an intermediate to expert trader; that is not quite ready for Interactive Brokers just yet.
- Speed, Execution, Tools
- Virtual Trading Available
- $500 Minimum Investment
- Trading Platform Fees (be sure to look)
Make it Your Own
The best trading platform is the one that makes the most sense to you and your needs. If you enjoy a minimal interface than you’ll probably use a different broker than someone who prefers complex capabilities. Additionally, different brokers and their platforms will certainly be a better fit depending on whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced trader. If you do your due diligence and experiment with a variety of brokerage options then you’re sure to make the choice that will help you succeed.