If you’re an active investor, stocks comprise a significant portion of your financial portfolio. But the stock market is volatile. If you’re lucky, knowledgeable, or both, you can make a killing. If you’re not, you may be left with nothing. A reliable stock trading company can make all the difference. Which is why a guide to the best online stock trading sites will be helpful to understand which companies charge the smallest trading fees and offer best customer service.
Top-tier online stock trading agencies cannot guarantee that you will always make money. But the best stock trading agencies do offer reliability, security, and a global presence. The stock trading platforms here, listed in no particular order, offer user satisfaction, attractive features, global presence, safety, and reliability.
Best Online Stock Trading Companies in the USA
A leader in the market for over a decade, eToro bills itself as the world’s leading social trading network. With millions of registered user and an array of innovative trading and investment tools, it’s a secure and reliable option for your investment needs. eToro charges no management fees but charges a withdrawal fee of $25, and an inactivity fee of $10.
Swell Investing is a good option for experienced traders who require additional research tools and more advanced reports. Investors who play the long-game will appreciate the low expense ratio and the wide selection of automated investment strategies.
Zacks Trade is a good option for experienced traders who require additional research tools and more advanced reports. This brokerage is a good choice for frequent traders who are looking for a fast platform with low costs that includes tools designed for day traders.
SureTrader allows you to trade stocks and options with up to a 6:1 leverage and a minimum deposit of only $500. If you’re looking for a low-cost brokerage, SureTrader is a great option.
While USAA insurance is available only to military personnel and their families, its banking and financial services products are available to the public. USAA has a two-tiered fee system. Platinum members (who execute 25 trades in 90 days and maintain a $50,000 account balance) pay $5.95 per month. Gold members (everyone else) pay $8.95 per month. USAA charges no surcharges for after-hours trading and few other fees. If you already hold a USAA’s bank account, a brokerage account is a logical addition.
Robinhood is an online stock trading brokerage based in Palo Alto, CA. It offers a smartphone mobile app, which allows individuals to invest in public companies and exchange-traded funds listed on U.S. stock exchanges without paying a commission. Robinhood allows its users to invest in stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptocurrencies, all commission-free, right from their mobile app or trade online via their desktop. Also, Robinhood does not require a minimum to open an account and offers referral incentives in-app.
The respondents of the 2014 J.D. Power Self-Directed Investor Firm Ratings gave Charles Schwab high marks across the board. Schwab provides great value for the money, with services like virtual trading and account transfers offered free of charge. New investors receive a bonus of $100 just for opening an account with Schwab. Best of all, there’s no minimum required to open an account.
TD Ameritrade got high marks across the board on the 2014 J.D. Power survey. Stock Trades are $9.99, and options trades cost $9.99 plus 75 cents per contract — pricier than some competitors. But there is no minimum balance requirement, and the available information and trading tools provided by TD Ameritrade are second to none. New investors trade free for 90 days and can receive credits of up to $600. Also, TD Ameritrade does not require a minimum to open an account.
E*Trade Financial ranks highly in research and trading tools and features reasonable pricing. It is also massive and globally prominent, with a presence in Canada, Mexico, Asia, Europe, and South Africa so you can make international trades by investing in foreign companies. With more than 3,000 employees worldwide, E*Trade investors have access to live trader assistance which makes E*Trade Financial is a great option for online stock trading. Also, E*Trade Financial has a mobile app on the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store so you can look at your investments on-the-go.
Despite high marks across the board in the 2014 J.D. Power survey, Vanguard manages to fly under the radar for many investors. But don’t write them off. Vanguard is a heavy hitter, managing almost $3 trillion in assets. Vanguard also administers the world’s largest mutual fund and features the research tools and educational materials you would expect from a top-notch operation.
Fidelity ranked especially high in customer service and research, two essential elements for enhancing investor confidence. It also offers good value for the money and a broad variety of product offerings. One area where Fidelity falls a bit short is in ease of use. Beginning investors may find it difficult to navigate Fidelity’s online platform. If you are an experienced investor, you may find the minimum balance to open an account at $0 to be a great incentive to use Fidelity’s services.
Affiliated with Charles Schwab, Options Xpress offers a $100 bonus for new investors. It also offers virtual training, broker-assisted training and instructor-led investment courses free of charge. In addition, Options Xpress features outstanding customer service and investor research materials. Like Charles Schwab, Options Xpress also requires no minimum balance with opening an account.
Don’t let the low $4.75 per trade price fool you. Ally is a first-rate operation. The platform features a user-friendly interface with rich data and research tools, available at no charge. Ally also offers account automation — Ally-managed accounts which make responsible investments on your behalf, for an annual fee of 0.30% of your balance. A minimum balance of $2500 is required to open a managed portfolio.
SogoTrade is a brokerage based in New York City, NY. Founded in 1986, SogoTrade is a good option for experienced traders who require additional research tools and more advanced reports. This brokerage is a good choice for frequent traders who are looking for a fast platform with low costs that includes tools designed for day traders. Also, SogoTrade requires no minimum balance to open an account.
ShareBuilder offers stock trades for $6.95 and options trades for $6.95 plus 75 cents per contract. New investors can receive a bonus of up to $600 when they fund their accounts. ShareBuilder is ideal for investors interested in automatic trades. Drawbacks include no broker-assisted trading and no international trading.
Firstrade offers 10,000 mutual funds, stocks, options, and no-fee IRAs, and requires no minimum account balance for investors. Self-executed trades cost $6.95 for stocks and $6.95 plus 75 cents per contract. Alongside its clean, easily navigated dashboard, these features make Firstrade a great choice for independent investors. But broker-assisted trades cost a pricey $26.95 each. On the plus side, Firstrade offers no minimum balance to open an account if you are fine with the price tag for broker-assisted trades.
If you are a high-level investor who values a professional platform and a broad variety of trading choices, Interactive Brokers is ideal. You have your choice of options, stocks, corporate and municipal bonds, Treasury instruments, Forex, and more. But Interactive Brokers also features a tedious sign-up process that involves waiting for verification codes by snail mail.
Lightspeed Trading offers a variety of accounts, including Roth and traditional IRAs. New investors can practice on a free account, and Lightspeed’s online community offers encouragement and assistance. Lightspeed also offers automated trading and direct access to exchanges. What’s the catch? Users must maintain a minimum account balance of $5,000 to avoid a monthly $25 fee. Customer service is also not the best, and there are no mutual funds offered. Also, there is no mobile platform available.
The $99 monthly charge to use the downloadable TradeStation platform may be a deal breaker for casual investors. And the $5,000 minimum deposit will stop others cold. But for active traders who trade at least 5,000 shares or 50 options contracts per month, all fees are waived. Serious traders will also appreciate TradeStation’s user interface, its knowledgeable online trader community, and its customizable software.
The Platinum Edge program allows investors with more than $50,000 in assets either with Bank of America or Merrill Edge to receive 30 free trades each month. Merrill Edge is also dramatically increasing the number of traders on staff, from 1,500 to 2,000. The online platform is fast and feature-packed, and its mobile app enables multi-leg options trading. If you already hold a Bank of America bank account, a brokerage account is a logical addition.
Looking for more investment advice? Compare the pros and cons of other investment platforms here, or read reviews of brokerages here. Or if you need more personalized guidance, consider an investment advisor.