Compare The Top Brokers Of 2020

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One thing you need to know if you plan on getting into trading stocks is an online broker. An online broker will allow you to trade stocks from home in real time and for very little, if any, commission.

Your broker needs to be someone that has a reasonable minimum, quality trading tools, great customer service, and you will probably want them to not have any hidden fees in their contracts. The problem now is finding an online broker that comes with these qualities and works great for you.

Finding a good online broker can seem like a daunting task, especially with technology making it so much easier to find brokers of any kind.

Unless you are an expert in terminology and know exactly what you are looking for, you may find yourself drowning in options.

Never fear, we are here to help you narrow down your choices. We have created this list of the best online brokers for stock trading.

Here’s a comparison of our top brokers of 2020:

Interactive Brokers - Best Package For Starters

interactive brokers broker review

On Interactive Brokers Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Interactive Brokers offers services for both retail and institutional investors. It stands out from the pack as a broker that is best for gaining access to the worldwide markets. Interactive

IB offers a complete brokerage service. It not only caters to individual clients, but prop traders, family offices, hedge funds, money managers, and small businesses. This makes Interactive suitable for global traders. The company recently aggressive campaigning to encourage retailer traders, who can benefit from the experience, background, and resources the company gained through big business dealings.

While it may not be the cheapest broker around, the access to global financial markets, competitive pricing, and premium technology make Interactive an interesting proposition. So, if you’re in need of a professional, regulated, global broker, who brings together institutional clients and retail traders for mutual benefit. Interactive is a solid choice.

  • Stocks - 125 markets worldwide
  • Options - 40+ years’ experience – low commissioning gives access to sophisticated trading strategies
  • Futures - Future options, commodities, futures, on 35 market centers in the world
  • Forex - Transparent low commissions to trade 23 currencies worldwide
  • Metals - Spot gold and silver on London bullion market
  • Bonds - Access a full universe of U.S. government securities, corporate bonds, municipal securities and more
  • ETFs - A large variety of ETFs, leveraged and short included
  • Mutual Funds - Over 18,000 funds from 270 different fund families
  • EFP - Exchange for Physical – sell stock and buy it back for future delivery
  • Hedge Fund Investing - Choose from a wide range of independent hedge funds available on the IBKR’s network
 
  • Easy to Navigate Website
  • Free Trial
  • No Pressure To Open An Account
  • Amazing Educational Services
  • Turnkey Solutions For Institutions
  • IBKR Lite Account Needs Improvement
  • Heavy Focus On Institutions
  • High Inactivity Fees

Ally Invest - Best For Technology Experience

Ally invest broker review

On Ally Invest Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Ally Invest is a leader in the digital financial services niche, assisting businesses with dealer financial services, corporate finance, banking, and direct to consumer home loans. Ally Invest offers two methods of investing: Self directed trade or through a managed portfolio.

Self directed trade allows hands on investors to trade stocks, options, and ETFs in a low commission environment. However, Ally also considered those potential investors with limited knowledge or those who don’t want the responsibility for investing their own funds. Through its managed portfolios, every type of individual investor has an option with Ally. Additionally, the minimum amount is just $100.

Ally Invest is a great option for those who are interested in margin trading. The company’s margin account rates are among the lowest in the industry, and there is a range of products to trade. However, the low commission structure also makes it competitive for any U.S. citizen looking for a broker. This makes Ally Invest a solid all rounder that caters to experienced traders and beginners.

  • Stocks - Commission-free trading on all U.S. exchange-listed stocks
  • ETFs - Wide selection from Vanguard, GlobalX, IShares, and more
  • Options - Option-trading for just $0.5/contract
  • Bonds - Government and corporate bonds to diversify the portfolio
  • Mutual funds - Invest in various mutual funds worldwide
  • Forex - 50 F.X. currency pairs to trade the world’s largest market
  • Margin account - Trade on margin by borrowing from the broker
  • Socially responsible - Invest in companies with environmental-friendly initiatives
  • Tax optimized - Maximize your investment when making after-tax contributions to an investment account
  • Core - Fixed-income, internationally diversified portfolio
  • Income - High dividend yields while maintaining a conservative risk profile
 
  • Managed Portfolios
  • Simplified Process To Transfer Individual Stocks
  • SIPC Protection
  • No Minimum Amount To Open And Fund An Account
  • 24/7 Support For Managed Portfolios
  • Demo Forex Account Available
  • Dedicated F.X. Platform + MetaTrader
  • Low Margin Account Rates
  • Little Or No Information On Several Products Offered To Trade
  • Unclear Pricing Policy For Fixed-Income And Mutual Funds
  • Markups on Fixed-Income Trading
  • Poor Trading Education
  • Little Details On The Main Trading Platform
  • No International Clients Accepted

E-Trade - Best Education Source For Beginners

e-trade's-logo-square

On E-trade Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

E-Trade is a complete financial advisor and brokerage service for residents in the USA.

Both the desktop and mobile trading platforms offer in house assistance and tutorials. The E-Trade knowledge center covers most investment services and can be an invaluable resource for newbies who need an introduction into the world of financial market investments.

E-Trade’s Brokerage Account, its flagship account, allows members to reach an abundance of markets, providing superb diversification potential. However, regardless of whether you’re an individual trader, self employed, future retiree, or small company, E-Trade has something to offer everyone. This company has made investing transparent and diversified.

This platform suits active and passive investors. Active traders are likely to welcome the commission structure. E-Trade offers commission free trading on most stocks, mutual funds and ETFs, and low commission on options and futures. Passive investors will appreciate the variety of managed portfolios, as the advisory arm is one of E-Trade’s core strengths. E-Trade also has excellent retirement planning assistance, creating an ideal environment for beginners, particularly those new to the stock market.

  • Stocks
  • Bonds
  • Mutual funds
  • Futures
  • Options
  • ETFs
  • Rollover IRA
  • Roth IRA
  • Traditional IRA
  • Beneficiary IRA
  • E-Trade Complete IRA
  • IRA for Minors
  • Small Business Retirement Accounts
 
  • Fees
  • Managed Accounts
  • Futures Trading Options
  • Full Cover of US Market
  • Knowledge Center
  • Commissions And Fees Exceptions
  • Poor Promotions, Only For US Residents

Merrill Edge - Best For Banking Combination

Merrill-Edge logo

On Merrill Edge Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Merill Edge offers self directed trading services that are specifically design for individual investors. This offers access to unlimited free trading with research and insights, seamless integration, and personalized online investments. There is even no minimum investment level.

Merill Edge also offers its Guiding Investing, a portfolio account designed to suit individual clients' needs while being balanced and managed by a pro. This guided investment account has a minimum investment of $5,000. There is also an advisor program to assist those with complex wealth management requirements. For a minimum investment of $20,000 and a larger annual fee, Merrill can build a tailored investment strategy for individual clients.

Finally, there are other options, including Private Wealth Advisor, Merrill Lynch Wealth Management Advisor, and access to a team of Bank of America wealth specialists.

Merrill has a network of physical offices across the USA, so it is well suited to those who prefer to put a face to a company. The customer service team also goes the extra mile, doing whatever it takes to ensure you’re satisfied.

This broker caters to all types of investors, from beginners to experienced, with products suited for each. Additionally, the company offers trading education to help investors learn more about the various markets and explore the other Merrill offerings.

  • Stocks - Invest in publicly-trading companies across various market sectors
  • ETFs - Benefit from the ETFs diversification advantages for an increased tax-efficiency
  • Mutual funds - Funds for every type of investor – new and experienced
  • Fixed income and bonds - Trade CD’s, Treasuries, corporate bonds, agency bonds, and municipal bonds at competitive rates
  • Options - Better manage risk with options trading
  • Margin trading - Take advantage of market opportunities with competitive margin rates
  • BofAML US 1 List - Stock investment choices recommended by BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research analysts
  • Merrill Edge Select® Funds - Funds screening for self-directed investors
  • Merrill Edge Select® ETFs - Diversified equity exposure that helps investors simplify the process of choosing the right ETFs
 
  • Extended Range of Investment Possibilities
  • Impressive Trading Education and Research Services
  • 10 Minutes on Average to Open a New Account
  • Bonus For Opening a New Trading Account
  • Impressive Customer Service
  • Level II Quotes
  • Additional Fees and Services
  • No International Clients Accepted
  • Demo Trading Unavailable
  • Additional Fees and Services
  • Poor Description of Some Product Categories

Fidelity Investments - Best For Experienced Investors

Fidelity broker review

On Fidelity Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Fidelity Investments has millions of customers across the USA and overseas. The company has been around for fifty years and is considered one of the largest brokerage houses in the world. The majority of Fidelity operations are in the USA, and it operates various investor centers and regional offices across the country.

Fidelity investment products range from annuities, mutual funds, and options through to sector investing and managed accounts, catering to advisors, institutions, employers, and individual investors. However, Fidelity also offers its investment services to international clients, but this is only in a limited number of countries, and it is via a separate, dedicated site.

Although it is not the cheapest brokerage house, Fidelity does excel in many areas where other companies lack. So, if you are prepared to pay a premium for outstanding trading education and excellent customer service, Fidelity could be the broker for you.

  • Stocks - Common stock, depository receipts, unit trust funds, REITS, IPOs and more, from 25 countries
  • Fixed-Income - Individual bonds, bond funds, bond ETFs, C.D.s, money market funds, deferred fixed annuities
  • Options - Options trading at $65c/contract
  • ETFs - Fidelity ETFs and iShares from the world’s leading ETF provider
  • Mutual Funds - Over ten thousand funds from Fidelity and other companies
  • Managed Accounts - Digital investing, portfolio advisory services and separately managed accounts for all risk profiles
 
  • Coaching Sessions
  • Powerful ETF Screener
  • 30-Day Free Guest Access
  • Easy-to-Understand Account Types of Structure
  • Complex Product Structure
  • Hidden Pricing Info
  • Higher Margin Rate Than Main Competitors

Firstrade - Best For Low Fees

Firstrade-Logo-Square

On Firstrade Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Firstrade integrates a variety of products from various U.S. markets. From just a single trading account, you can trade stocks, mutual funds, ETFs, and options. You can also invest in other adjacent services.

However, Firstrade is also clear that it strives to offer the lowest possible fees without compromising on quality, execution, protection, or customer service. Compared to others, Firstrade adds value, understanding that for most investors, low fees can have a significant impact on their bottom line.

Firstrade also made a giant leap away from the competition by allowing international investors. Despite the increased costs of dealing with non U.S. residents, Firstrade does a great job of providing access to the U.S. financial markets.

This makes Firstrade an ideal broker for those who are wary of the high commissions charged by many brokerage houses. With one of the lowest fee structures in the U.S, Firstrade continues to offer great execution, regardless of whether you’re a resident or not.

  • Stocks - NYSE, AMEX, NASDAQ, OTC Bulletin Board, Pink Sheets
  • Options - Trade Puts, Calls, or Complex Option Strategies
  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) - Choose from a variety of ETFs that track specific market sectors easily
  • Mutual Funds - 11000+ mutual funds
  • Bonds, CD’s, Fixed Income - Fixed income securities, C.D.s, corporate bonds, municipal bonds
  • Margin Investing - Competitive margin rates for leveraged investment
  • Dividend Reinvestment (DRIP) - No extra charge for automatically dividend reinvestment
  • Securities Lending Income Program - Earn from loans on fully paid shares
 
  • Acceptance of International Investors
  • Smooth and Simple Opening of an Account
  • Various Criteria to Rank the Funds
  • Quick Search Tool
  • Quick View Tool
  • Extended Trading Hours
  • The Trading Platform Makes it Difficult Sometimes to Find the Right Product
  • Options Trading is Not Granted Automatically for All Strategies
  • Need to Get Familiar with What Options Trading is and Educate Yourself

Vanguard - Best For Passive Investors With Significant Deposit

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On Vanguard Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Determined to change the way the world invests, Vanguard offers a different perspective to asset management. For sure, Vanguard is different than any other brokerage house in the United States, for the simple reason that it focuses more on investment management rather than on brokerage.

Vanguard runs a hybrid business – a combination of traditional brokerage (for stocks, ETFs) and investment management. With a client-first culture, Vanguard began operations in 1975, still managing the oldest balanced fund in the United States – Vanguard Wellington.

One of the world’s largest investment companies, Vanguard has over 30 million investors and focuses on funds management. Addressing both individual investors and financial professionals, Vanguard manages over 190 funds in the United States and more than 230 outside the country. It also operates Vanguard Brokerage, allowing individual investors to trade stocks and ETFs via a traditional brokerage account.

  • Vanguard Mutual Funds - Total market index funds, money market funds, US bond funds, balanced funds, US stock funds, international stock funds
  • Vanguard ETFs - Dozens of US and international ETFs – handpicked ETFs, socially conscious, or tailor-made – choose from a variety of options to trade ETFs with Vanguard
  • Other mutual funds - Other companies. mutual funds traded via Vanguard’s brokerage account – many without commission
  • Stocks and other ETFs - Diversify the portfolio with stocks and other ETFs from the United States and abroad
  • Fixed income - Bonds and CDs to further diversify the portfolio
  • Cash options - Different ways to manage short-term investment needs
 
  • Strong international presence
  • Accepts non-US residents as investors
  • Specialist in managing funds
  • Separated business entities
  • Not clear the when Vanguard Brokerage ends, and asset management begins
  • No desktop trading platform available
  • Limited options trading available
  • Account service fee
  • Confusing commission and fees structure
  • Minimum investment requirements for trading fixed-income products

Webull - Best For Non Professional Investors

Webull review

On Webull Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Webull also belongs to the new generation of brokerage houses challenging the traditional houses for clients. The company’s main tactic to compete is to attract many small retail traders, and by increasing volume, they are able to successfully compete despite only charging smaller fees.

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided the perfect example to understand this type of brokerage house. The $600 weekly checks offered by the government were put to work in many cases. There was a massive number of new retail trading accounts, but which brokers benefited from this new generation of traders? Since brokers like Webull accepted any deposit, they typically attracted clients that would have struggled to meet the minimum deposits required by traditional investment houses. This phenomenon was so large that the financial media often cited it as the primary reason the stock market continued to advance during the pandemic.

Traditional investment houses found these new brokers surprising, and as the competition intensified, they also lowered their commission to try to compete.

However, Webull continues to be highly attractive to new investors since it has no contract fees, and there is no commission for trading options. This is obviously far less than even the highly competitive Merril Edge that not charges $0.75 for contract fees and charges $6.95 options commission. Until the traditional houses learn that the new generation of traders operates in this way, Webull is likely to dominate by offering cheaper rates to gain exposure to the same markets.

  • Stocks
  • Options
  • ETFs
  • ADR
 
  • Full extended hours trading
  • Advanced market data
  • 24/7 online help
  • Easy to login and access the trading account
  • Demo account available
  • No minimum deposits
  • Non-US residents not accepted
  • Few details provided about the markets offered to trade
  • No trading/investing education
  • Minimum $2,000 to qualify for margin trading

Zacks Trade - Best For Active Individuals Traders

Zacks Trade broker review

On Zacks Trade Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Zacks Trade is a popular U.S. Broker that may offer access to global financial markets, but it is less well known internationally. However, Zacks does accept international clients, which puts this company in a small group of regulated brokers that target clients globally.

Zacks has a focus on international traders, offering low commissions and products catered more for individuals and active traders. There is also a simple and easy to understand commission and fee structure.

However, there are limited products on offer. Zacks Trade does not facilitate Forex trading. Additionally, many of the products have limited information. This focus on a limited number of products aims to create better trading conditions. Just be aware that Zacks lacks trading education and would benefit from a clearer presentation of account types and information.

  • Stocks
  • ETFs trading
  • Options
  • Mutual funds
  • U.S. government bonds
 
  • One Of The Lowest Margin Rates In The Industry
  • Powerful Research Department
  • No Extra Charges For Broker-Assisted Trades
  • Extra Layer Of Security
  • Offers International Accounts
  • No minimum deposits
  • Withdrawal Fee
  • Difficult To Find The Account Types Offered
  • Minimum Deposit Requirement
  • Poor Presentation Of The Products Offered
  • No Trading Education Provided

SoFi Automated Investing - Best For Customer Service

SoFi Student Loans Review

On SoFi Invest Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

SoFi invest is NOT just another brokerage house into the niche of fractional shares investing. Instead, it is a non-bank extending its services into the investing world.

SoFi is a good broker for those that do not afford trading with a regular, traditional investing house. High transaction costs and other barriers to entry (e.g., high minimum initial deposit) keep many wannabe investors aside – investors that just cannot afford the services but are willing to take a chance. For such investors, SoFi is the ideal choice. No commissions or fees for transactions, easy-to-understand products (crypto, stocks, ETFs), one account to trade them all from, a friendly app, and the ability to start investing with as little as $1.

On the other hand, it signals a lack of expertise. It only shows how easy it is to enter the brokerage industry should one has the funds to meet all the compliance required by the SEC. And SoFi does have the funds from the other businesses that generate more cash flow.

  • Active investing - Easy way to invest in stocks and ETFs
  • Automated investing - Robo-advisory services
  • Retirement accounts - IRA accounts for retirement
  • Crypto - Trade the main cryptocurrencies from the same account
  • Stock bits
  • ETFs - Easy, low-cost way to diversify a portfolio
 
  • Diversification benefits
  • Anyone can invest – no minimum amount
  • One single account to access all investing products
  • No commissions or fees for trading
  • The investing part is the smallest one in the SoFi’s business
  • Too complex membership structure
  • Limited range of products
  • Investing presented as too easy
  • Poor investing education section
  • No live chat options

You Invest - Best For Low-Cost Trading

you-invest-logo

On You Invest Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

The house of Morgan has deep roots in the international financial system. You Invest by J.P. Morgan is just that – the low-cost arm of J.P. Morgan. While aiming for low-cost transactions and a limited investing offering, they feel safer knowing that the J.P. Morgan’s expertise is behind You Invest. After all, the two entities share the same customer service and educational material.

You Invest is best for traders not affording a traditional brokerage account and will settle with similar features but at a lower cost. Yes, the product offering is limited. Not all markets are present, and one may lack the flexibility to diversify the portfolio the way it may wish to.

All in all, this is one of the best brokerage houses tackling the new generation of traders. Born out of the desire to compete with rising stars like Robinhood, You Invest comes with J.P. Morgan’s expertise and knowledge in the brokerage industry.

Even among its own competitors, You Invest stands out. For instance, it has a strong social media presence and a simple pricing and product structure.

  • Stocks
  • ETFs
  • Options
  • U.S. Treasury Bills, Notes and Bonds (including auctions and secondary)
  • corporate bonds, municipal bonds, government agency bonds, brokered CDs
  • Secondary Market: corporate bonds, municipal bonds, government agency bonds, brokered CDs
 
  • Strong brand name behind
  • Simple and efficient product offering
  • Video presentation of the trading app
  • Strong social media presence
  • Education from J.P. Morgan
  • Investment products are not insured
  • Minimum $500 investment for the You Invest Portfolio products
  • Unclear how customer service functions

Robinhood - Best For Amateur Traders

Robinhood broker review

On Robinhood Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Robinhood has been around for over a decade, and as the name suggests, the overall aim was to democratize finance for all, slashing the cost of trading stocks for U.S. residents.

Today, Robinhood is one of the most popular brokerage platforms. It is also due to expand its services to the U.K. in the near future. With its introduction of fractional shares, Robinhood caters to traders who are cost sensitive. The company also offers access to cryptocurrency markets.

The target client for this company is the younger generation. This brokerage house is challenging the traditional broker, making waves in the industry. Robinhood understands that while traditional brokers have more account types and cover more markets, they lack the ability for quick responses to customer changes. So, they aim to give clients the power to participate without the bulk from the traditional industry.

Although it has caused a great deal of damage to lots of businesses, Robinhood has enjoyed additional business. With little to no sporting events for people to bet on, newbie investors have turned to Robinhood. This is a sure indication that over the coming years, Robinhood will continue to grow.

  • Stocks and funds
  • Options
  • Crypto
 
  • Simple and User Friendly
  • Low Trading Costs
  • Fractional Shares
  • Easy to Open an Account
  • Crypto Trading
  • Extensive, Easy to Understand Trading Education Section
  • Only Market Orders For Fractional Shares
  • Fractional Shares Illiquid Outside the Robinhood Platform
  • Margin Trading Available on Robinhood Gold Accounts
  • Only US Clients
  • Limited Account Types

TradeStation - Best For Crypto Trading

Tradestation broker review

On TradeStation Secure Website

  • Overview
  • Details
  • Pros & Cons

Tradestation strives to offer low or no commission without compromising on the quality of its services. The majority of products and services have fees or commission in line or just above the market.

Although there is some room for improvement in its transparent pricing, TradeStation’s standards do not really deviate from the industry norms. The company has built a strong brand name, and its rising number of new accounts highlight that it is respected in the industry.

TradeStation covers all the market segments, with some in more detail. It is one of the few brokerage firms remaining that integrate crypto trading. It provides access for Japanese investors to U.S. markets due to its Japanese parent company.

With its range of quality products and services, TradeStation offers a trading platform that stands apart from the vast majority of brokerage firms in the USA.

  • Stocks - Access major U.S. exchanges and market centers
  • ETFs - Choose from 2000+ ETFs to trade, Track different industry sectors, commodities or currencies, IPOs through the ClickIPO app
  • Options - Gain leverage, manage risk, and hedge stock positions in a low-fee trading environment
  • Futures - 150+ futures products available to trade
  • Futures options- 250+ futures options products
  • Crypto - Trade Bitcoin, bitcoin cash, Litecoin, Ethereum, Ripple, and XRP from one account
  • Mutual funds - Over 2000 mutual funds to choose from
  • Bonds
  • EFP - Exchange for Physical – sell stock and buy it back for future delivery
 
  • Trading Platforms
  • TradingApp Store Built in a More Professional Way
  • TradeStation Builds a Large Database
  • No Minimum Amount To Open And Fund An Account
  • Relatively Cheap to Check if You Really Want to Trade with TradeStation
  • Extensive, Easy to Understand Trading Education Section
  • All Things are Presented Too Complicated
  • The Pricing Structure is Confusing
  • Features are Explained in Too Many Details that Make it Difficult to Follow