Best Online Brokers and Trading Platforms of 2024 (2024)

Table of Contents
Best Online Brokerage Accounts and Trading Platforms of 2024 Fidelity Investments: Best Overall, Best for ETFs, Best for Low Costs, Best for Cash Management Why We Chose It Best Overall Best for ETFs Best for Low Costs Best for Cash Management Pros & Cons Overview ACTUAL USER EXPERIENCE Editor's Note Charles Schwab: Best for Beginners Why We Chose It Best for Beginners Research Insights Pros & Cons Overview Editor's Note Interactive Brokers: Best for Advanced Traders, Best for International Trading, Best for Algorithmic Trading, Best for Risk Management, Best for Generating Stock Trading Ideas Why We Chose It Best for Advanced Traders Research Insights Best for International Trading Best for Algorithmic Trading Best for Risk Management Best for Generating Stock Trading Ideas Pros & Cons Overview Editor's Note: tastytrade: Best Broker for Options Why We Chose It Best for Options Trading Pros & Cons Overview E*TRADE: Best for Mobile Investing & Trading Why We Chose It Best for Mobile Investing & Trading Pros & Cons Overview Editors note eToro: Best for Cryptocurrency Trading Why We Chose It Best for Cryptocurrency Trading Pros & Cons Overview Editor's Note Public: Best for Alternative Investments Why We Chose It Best for Alternative Investments Pros & Cons Overview The Bottom Line Compare the Best Online Brokers Why You Should Trust Us How to Choose a Brokerage Account Frequently Asked Questions What Is an Online Brokerage Account and How Does it Work? How Much Money Do you Need to Open a Brokerage Account? Can You Invest With a Small Amount of Money? Do Brokers Offer Mobile Platforms? Can You Lose Money in a Brokerage Account? Can I Buy Stocks Without a Broker? What Is the Difference Between Investing and Trading? Companies We Reviewed How We Picked the Best Online Brokers and Trading Platforms Guide to Online Brokers and Trading Platforms FAQs References

The best brokerage platforms provide strong customer support, robust research and analytical tools, a wide range of investable assets, an abundance of investment account types, and more, all with a transparent fee structure and limited gamification tactics.

After hundreds of hours of comprehensive research, data analysis, and live broker platform demos, Fidelity Investments is our best overall online brokerage platform for investors due to its low fees, expansive product offering, wide-ranging full-service features, and so much more. Fidelity is just one of 26 online brokers that we evaluated based on 89 criteria, including available assets, account services, user experience, and additional features.

Best Online Brokerage Accounts and Trading Platforms of 2024

Fidelity Investments: Best Overall, Best for ETFs, Best for Low Costs, Best for Cash Management

4.8

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0 for stock/ETF trades, $0 plus $0.65/contract for options trades

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Why We Chose It

Best Overall

When it comes to bringing critical full-service brokerage features, sophisticated tools, and low fees to a wide range of traders and investors, all across continually enhanced platforms, Fidelity reigns supreme for the third consecutive year.

Best for ETFs

Fidelity is our best broker for ETFs because of its rich ETF-focused educational content and research tools, expansive ETF offering, and fractional ETF trading. Fidelity is a repeat winner in this category, after earning the top from Charles Schwab spot in 2023.

Best for Low Costs

Fidelity has long been an industry leader when it comes to lower fees, and its transparent and compelling fee schedule is the reason why, for the third year running, it wins for low costs.

Best for Cash Management

Finding the best brokerage account for cash management is not just about earning the highest interest rate possible. It’s also about seamless integration with critical, no-fee banking features and industry-leading insurance. In these areas, Fidelity’s cash management offering is unmatched, and it comes with solid passive earnings power on uninvested cash, along with reimbursable access to a global network of ATMs.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • No payment for order flow (PFOF) makes for excellent order execution

  • Strong portfolio analysis and account features

  • Superior trading platforms for all types of investors

  • Top-tier educational content, screening tools, and research capabilities

  • FDIC insurance up to $5 million

Cons

  • Only two digital coins available for trading

  • Minimum balance required for some index trading

  • Multiple platforms may be required to access all tools

Overview

In an industry full of innovative companies competing for the attention of an incredibly diverse universe of traders and investors, Fidelity delivers the most well-rounded product offering to suit the needs of nearly every investor. Headquartered in Boston, Fidelity’s storied history began with its founding in 1946. With $4.9 trillion in discretionary assets as of December 2023, the company ranks among the top brokerage firms in terms of assets under management.

Investopedia began evaluating online brokerages in 2019, and Fidelity has shown a commitment to improving its financial products and services ever since. Improvements in financial advisor support, bond liquidity analysis, and the new Fidelity Youth app were the highlights of our 2024 product demonstration with the company. In fact, of the 38.7 million brokerage accounts that Fidelity services, 43% of those accounts have been opened by investors 18 to 35 years of age. But the improvements didn't stop there. Fidelity now also has a comprehensive cash management product that is jam-packed with banking features.

Fidelity has long been an industry leader when it comes to lowering fees, and it has a stellar reputation as a broker with a huge customer service network, including 200 customer centers, supporting its low-cost, high-value offering. Investors looking for an online broker that keeps costs low, all while delivering some of the most powerful tools in the industry and resisting the common industry practice of collecting PFOF, will be hard-pressed to find a better broker than Fidelity.

ACTUAL USER EXPERIENCE

"I moved all of our family’s investment accounts to Fidelity in 2021 for one simple, but valuable, reason: It’s the only brokerage firm that offers every single account type we have, allowing me to house all of our investments under the same roof. We have a lot of different account types—from various retirement and taxable accounts, to an inherited IRA, to 529s and custodial accounts, and even an investable HSA. Before consolidating to Fidelity, I had to log into multiple places to check on our various investments. Now, except for a new workplace 401(k), I have one login that shows me everything on a single screen. And when I need customer support, Fidelity advisors can also view things as a whole. Moving to Fidelity has added a lot of ease and efficiency to my financial life." - Sabrina Karl, Staff Writer for Investopedia

Editor's Note

In addition to our review of Fidelity's online brokerage platform, we've also reviewed the company's robo-advisor service, Fidelity Go.

Charles Schwab: Best for Beginners

4.7

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0 for stock/ETF trades, $0.65 per contract for options

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Why We Chose It

Best for Beginners

Even before TD Ameritrade’s educational content was incorporated into its ecosystem, Charles Schwab—which acquired TD Ameritrade in 2020—was known as one of the best platforms for new traders and investors. With the integration nearing completion in May of 2024, Schwab has taken over top ranks in this category, a position previously held by TD Ameritrade for the past two years. Schwab now houses the most comprehensive library of evergreen learning materials, along with seemingly endless coaching programs and regularly scheduled live training events, making it the best for beginner investors.

Research Insights

“If you’re a beginner trader, a user-friendly broker platform will be key. It should be easy to navigate and understand, like using a familiar app. Don’t forget about learning! Look for a broker that offers educational resources to help you understand the market and make informed decisions. Many brokers now offer commission-free trades on stocks and ETFs, so be sure to factor that in as you compare costs. Consider fractional shares too! They allow you to invest in smaller portions of expensive stocks or funds, a great way to get started without a huge initial investment.” -Amrut Deshmukh, Investopedia Research Analyst

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Industry-leading educational content

  • Multiple user-friendly platforms

  • Superb ETF research and scanners

  • Over 400 branches in 45 states

  • Access to the highly regarded thinkorswim® platform

Cons

  • Relatively high margin rates

  • Low interest earned on uninvested cash

  • Lacks fractional ETF trading

  • No direct investments in cryptocurrencies

Overview

After Chuck Schwab and his partners formed First Commander Corporation in April 1971, they later changed the company’s name to Charles Schwab & Co., Inc. in 1973. Charles Schwab has experienced continuous growth over the years and, in October 2020, completed its acquisition of TD Ameritrade, with full client integration expected to wrap up in May 2024. Not only does Schwab provide the right mix of usability, tools, education, and research to cater to its diverse customer base, but it does so across multiple top-tier platforms.

With Schwab’s integration of TD Ameritrade nearly complete, the powerful combination of Schwab’s exceptional lineup of products and services and TD Ameritrade’s powerful capabilities for traders has boosted the company even closer to the top of our comprehensive rating model. One of the most anticipated additions to Schwab's lineup occurred on April 11, 2024, with the company announcing that futures and forex trading, along with a new Portfolio Margin feature, have been made available on its thinkorswim platform.Prospective customers should note, however, that crypto spot trading still isn’t available.

Editor's Note

In addition to our review of Charles Schwab’s online brokerage platform, we also reviewed the company's robo-advisor service, Schwab Intelligent Portfolios.

Interactive Brokers: Best for Advanced Traders, Best for International Trading, Best for Algorithmic Trading, Best for Risk Management, Best for Generating Stock Trading Ideas

4.6

  • Account Minimum: $0.00
  • Fees:$0.00 commissions for equities/ETFs available on IBKR’s TWS Lite, or low costs scaled by volume for active traders that want access to advanced functionality such as order routing.$0.65 per contract for options on TWS Lite; that is also the base rate for TWS Pro users, with scaled rates based on volume. $0.85 per contract for futures.

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Why We Chose It

Best for Advanced Traders

Interactive Brokers’ lineup of advanced analytical tools, trading technology, and breadth of assets is, quite frankly, awe-inspiring. Ongoing enhancements to legacy platforms like the masterfully constructed Trader Workstation (TWS) and the February 2024 addition of the next-generation IBKR desktop offer just a small glimpse into how Interactive Brokers equips advanced traders to capitalize on fundamental dislocations and pricing inefficiencies better than any other platform we reviewed. This is the third straight year Interactive Brokers has earned this award.

Research Insights

“For intraday and advanced traders, speed is everything. Look for a broker with fast execution speeds to ensure your trades go through quickly. In-depth market research is also crucial, so tools and data analysis are important features to consider. Advanced features like algorithmic trading and order routing control can be helpful for active traders looking to automate strategies or optimize order fulfillment. But remember, even the most advanced tools won’t guarantee success—reliability and low costs remain essential for all traders.” -Amrut Deshmukh, Investopedia Research Analyst

Best for International Trading

Simply put, not one of the 26 online brokerage companies we reviewed comes close to offering the scope of global research capabilities, international trading and support access, and currency-based funding variety that Interactive Brokers offers. That's why, for the third straight year, the company is our top broker for international traders.

Best for Algorithmic Trading

As trading technology continues to advance, so too does the interest in algorithmic trading. Advanced traders will find a powerful lineup of algorithmic trading features in Interactive Brokers’ pre-built algos, a laundry list of API languages, available algorithmic paper trading accounts, and so much more.

Best for Risk Management

With its powerful rebalancing features, robust portfolio and risk analysis tools, nearly boundless opportunities for asset diversification, and available access to licensed brokers, investors will be hard-pressed to find a better platform for managing portfolio risk than Interactive Brokers.

Best for Generating Stock Trading Ideas

For professional and retail traders looking for investing and trading ideas across the vast universe of equities, over short-, intermediate-, and long-term time horizons, Interactive Brokers brings together leading industry research vendors, proprietary search tools, and the industry’s largest universe of investable stocks to provide a nearly endless source of ideas that suit every investing and trading strategy.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Increasing availability of beginner-friendly platforms

  • Superior order execution

  • Industry-best selection of contingent orders

  • Unparalleled range of investable foreign and domestic assets

  • Powerful and highly customizable professional-level functionality

Cons

  • IBKR's SmartRouting not available to IBKR Lite clients

  • TWS can be difficult to learn

  • No in-platform backtesting

  • Often confusing tiered pricing

Overview

Founded under the name T.P. & Co. in 1978 by its current chairman, Thomas Peterffy, the company pioneered the use of computers in trading. Eventually, Interactive Brokers Inc. was incorporated as a U.S. broker-dealer in 1993, and the company has since developed into one of the industry’s most complete online brokerage platforms. Interactive Brokers (IBKR) offers astonishing access to 150 markets in 34 countries and support for its services in 200 countries, all with funding and trading capabilities in up to 27 currencies. Simply put, this is the broadest global coverage in the industry.

One of the first adopters of technology to the financial markets, both algorithmic and active traders have long regarded the company highly for its advanced trading features, highly customizable tools, low margin rates, and alpha-generating capabilities. Investopedia's team of industry experts is constantly delighted by IBKR’s innovative enhancements that just make so much sense from a purist’s perspective. IBKR’s latest product innovation is IBKR Desktop, a next-generation platform that combines a simple user interface with many of the company’s powerful trading solutions. It features innovations like Option Lattice, a graphical options chain display highlighting potential outliers in key metrics, and MultiSort, which enables users to sort data using multiple factors simultaneously.

This idea of simplicity is really where things have been getting interesting for Interactive Brokers, as the company has committed to making its platforms more accessible to beginners. With notable touches like the expansion of educational content across several platforms, including its entry-level IBKR Lite platform; available fractional investing; and the innovative and helpful Options Wizard tool offered on its user-friendly Global Trader mobile app (as well as other platforms), Interactive Brokers is quickly gaining ground on the industry’s top all-around brokerage platforms.

Editor's Note:

In addition to our review of Interactive Brokers' online brokerage platform, we've also reviewed the company's robo-advisor service, Interactive Advisors.

tastytrade: Best Broker for Options

4.5

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees & Commissions: $0 stock trades, $1 to open options trades (capped at $10 per leg), $0 to close

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Why We Chose It

Best for Options Trading

For the third year in a row, we chose tastytrade as the best options trading platform because of its options pricing structure, which includes options pricing caps that make it the lowest-cost brokerage for high-volume, high-frequency option traders. In addition, tastytrade optimizes tools and content to suit the needs of its options-focused client base.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Capped commission structure for options

  • Highly regarded tools for analyzing and monitoring options trades

  • Fantastic options-specific content and educational material

  • Fully customizable trading experience

  • Follow Feed feature allows users to follow trades of tastytrade's TV celebrities

Cons

  • No on-platform paper trading support

  • Few investing and retirement resources

  • Lacks some key investment choices like mutual funds

Overview

Ask any options trader and they are likely to tell you that this form of derivative trading is complex and difficult to master. But with the right guidance, the many options strategies that are available to use can become powerful weapons that allow both traders and investors to benefit from key factors like time decay and leverage. Created by the same people who developed TD Ameritrade’s highly regarded thinkorswim platform, tastytrade maintains its stance as the best broker for options because of its intuitive delivery of an industry-best mix of comprehensive options-focused tools and content.

Launched as tastyworks in 2017 and headquartered in Chicago, tastytrade delivers very competitive fees for options trading, including standout features like commission caps for large lot sizes, as well as the absence of any trade commissions when closing positions. Fortunately for tastytrade users, these low commissions come with a platform that continues to undergo enhancements which complement its already powerful delivery of options analytics, platform workflow, trade execution, and valuable digital content.

E*TRADE: Best for Mobile Investing & Trading

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: No commission for stock, ETF, and mutual fund trades. Options are $0.50-$0.65 per contract, depending on trading volume.

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Why We Chose It

Best for Mobile Investing & Trading

A pioneer in both mobile and online trading, E*TRADE has mastered the art of developing a mobile experience with the right mix of intuitive navigation, robust portfolio and risk management capabilities, deep research, easy-to-digest education, and complex trading tools to cater to investors and traders of all levels.Ongoing enhancements to E*TRADE's mobile capabilities over the past couple of years have caused it to grow closer to solidifying a position as our best mobile trading and investing platform, which it has accomplished for the first time in 2024.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Excellent range of tools and resources

  • Pre-built and automated portfolio options

  • Educational content library

  • Top mobile apps for traders and investors of all levels

Cons

  • Lacks international exchange trading

  • No direct crypto investing

  • Fractional shares only available through a robo-advisor portfolio or dividend reinvestment plan (DRIP)

Overview

Since its founding in 1982, E*TRADE has been at the forefront of embracing innovation that makes for one of the best customer experiences in the industry. Following Morgan Stanley’s acquisition of E*TRADE in 2020, the company has only continued to advance its capabilities by integrating many of Morgan Stanley’s highly regarded research materials, thought leadership insights, and large pool of financial advisors.

As one of the largest online brokers in the country, E*TRADE brings an expansive list of investment choices and trading tools to its customer base of 8.2 million households via its website, desktop, and two mobile platforms. E*TRADE’s already vast educational catalog has only grown with the Morgan Stanley integration, complementing the intuitive site design in a way that lets new investors enter the market with confidence. For more experienced investors, the ability to do deep analysis has never been greater now that proprietary Morgan Stanley research joins highly regarded third-party research and consensus ratings. While E*TRADE only offers these more advanced traders exposure to cryptocurrencies via ETFs and related stocks, traders have access to a wide array of analysis tools, charting functionality, and trading technology to make the most informed decisions in this and many other asset classes.

Editors note

In addition to our review of E*TRADE’s online brokerage platform, we also reviewed the company's robo-advisor service, E*TRADE Core Portfolios.

eToro: Best for Cryptocurrency Trading

4.1

  • Account Minimum: $100 for stocks and ETFs, $200 for CopyTrader
  • Fees: 1% crypto trading fee; no-fee stock, ETF, and options trading

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Why We Chose It

Best for Cryptocurrency Trading

eToro offers access to the largest crypto coin selection of any company we cover in the online broker space, and it does this with one of the most user-friendly experiences in the industry. One login to eToro’s online brokerage platform gives users access to stock, ETF, and futures trading, as well as 21 physical crypto coins, all on the company’s intuitive and socially focused web-based and mobile platforms.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Established platform available in over 100 countries

  • Relatively large selection of tradable crypto assets

  • Innovative and easy-to-use social trading experience

Cons

  • Only available in 47 states

  • Very limited account types

  • General lack of advanced trading tools, features, and research

  • No margin trading in the U.S.

  • Options trading only offered to U.S. and U.K. residents via a separate app

Overview

Originally developed with a focus on forex trading in 2007, eToro eventually transformed and in 2010 created one of the first social trading experiences, called OpenBook. Since then, the company has enhanced this means of enabling users to learn from and copy other seasoned traders across popular asset classes like stocks, ETFs, futures, and crypto. Currently, eToro is only available in 47 U.S. states, but its 25 million-plus users can also find support in more than 140 countries around the world.

eToro recently upgraded its charting capability with the addition of Tradingview’s Pro charts, but the platform still lacks many of the tools, calculators, and detailed order types beyond basic market and limit orders that most sophisticated investors would find necessary to carry out advanced trading techniques. eToro provides real-time pricing information for 21 cryptocurrencies, over 3,000 stocks, and more than 270 ETFs, covering the most important assets and securities. eToro’s crypto wallet is a separate omnibus wallet with its address. Users can’t bring in their existing crypto, but they can buy and store it with eToro’s wallet. Additionally, there is no staking available in eToro wallet.

While eToro recently added options trading to its asset mix, this functionality is currently offered to U.S. customers via a separate app. However, during our live demonstration with eToro we learned that options trading is currently being piloted in the U.K. and will soon be made available on the main app.

Editor's Note

eToro's selection of 21 available crypto coins is the largest of the 26 online brokerage and trading platforms we reviewed. However, this is far less than what's offered by many traditional cryptocurrency exchanges. Learn more about the best cryptocurrency exchanges.

Public: Best for Alternative Investments

3.9

  • Account Minimum: $0
  • Fees: $0 stocks and ETFs, Alternative assets: 2.5% per transaction; Public Premium: $10/month

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Why We Chose It

Best for Alternative Investments

Public offers an easy-to-use platform with social networking features, fractional investment capabilities, and a creative selection of alternative investment options. In addition to stock, option, ETF, and cryptocurrency trading, Public provides a platform for purchasing Treasury bills and alternative investments, like rare sneakers, trading cards, royalties, and more.

While Public is our best brokerage for alternative investments and offers a novel mix of alternative investments, it’s important to know that many of these investments are highly illiquid and speculative. That means it may be difficult to buy and sell assets with ease.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Available fractional share investing

  • A social media element that connects investors

  • Easy-to-use mobile app

  • No payment for order flow on stocks and ETFs

  • High interest earned on uninvested cash

Cons

  • Very limited account types

  • Illiquid and expensive alternative investments

  • Basic educational material

  • Limited features

  • One-leg options strategies only

Overview

Established in 2019 by Jannick Malling and Leif Abraham, Public offers mobile and web browser-based trading best suited for investors interested in a unique set of alternative assets. The New York-headquartered company is a regulated broker-dealer, with SIPC protection in each account up to $500,000.

Public was developed to help lower the barrier to entry for those who shy away from investing due to a lack of financial literacy, as well as those who lack the means to acquire positions in many expensive financial products. Considering Public’s clean and simple user experience; no-commision trading of stocks, ETFs, and options; $0 account minimum; fractional investing; and social networking element, the company has certainly succeeded on this front.

However, the platform is not without its faults. To begin with, many of the alternative investments offered on the platform are highly illiquid and speculative, and come with high transaction costs. Next, Public does not engage in payment for order flow (PFOF), but it charges an assortment of fees for things like inactivity and instant withdrawals. Investors may also be turned off by the fact that Public requires users to manually opt out of tipping on each transaction, which the company calls “a more transparent, more aligned way to make money” than PFOF. Lastly, Public currently only offers access to individual brokerage accounts.

The Bottom Line

Through our exhaustive research, we found that Fidelity not only outshines the competition when it comes to ETF investing, low costs, and cash management features, but it is also the best online brokerage platform overall. While International Brokers’ ongoing evolution into a more beginner-friendly platform is driving it closer to parity with the industry’s top all-around brokerage platforms, it remains a top choice for advanced trading techniques and risk management, as well as international trading.

For traders planning to make options the main strategy they use to reach their investment goals, tastytrade’s platform and market content are hard to beat. Charles Schwab’s integration of TD Ameritrade's educational programs and trading personalities has produced an unparalleled body of actionable learning materials and live training content for beginners.

E*TRADE’s long history of enhancing the user experience continues to shine through with its fantastic mobile apps, while eToro and Public bring social trading and networking to the next level as part of their top-rated crypto and alternative offerings.

Options trading entails significant risk and is not appropriate for all investors. Certain complex options strategies carry additional risk. Before trading options, please readCharacteristics and Risks of Standardized Options. Supporting documentation for any claims, if applicable, will be furnished upon request.

There is an Options Regulatory Fee that applies to both option buy and sell transactions. The fee is subject to change. SeeFidelity.com/commissionsfor details.

Compare the Best Online Brokers

BrokerStar RatingMinimum DepositStock TradesPer Contract OptionsMax Option LegsNumber of No-Load Mutual FundsFractional Share Trading of StocksNew Spot Bitcoin ETFs
Fidelity Investments4.8$0.00$0.00$0.6543396YesYes
Charles Schwab4.7$0.00$0.00$0.65414,900YesYes
Interactive Brokers4.6$0.00$0.00$0.65619,000+YesYes
tastytrade4.5$0.00$0.00$1.00/Open Only40YesYes
E*TRADE4.5$0.00$0.00$0.6546,310YesYes
eToro4.1Varies$0.00$0.652N/AYesYes
Public3.9$0.00$0.00$0.02-$0.051N/AYesYes

Why You Should Trust Us

Investopedia collected key data points from 26 online brokerage companies to identify the most important factors to investors. We used this data to review each brokerage platform for fees, usability, research amenities, and other key features to provide unbiased, comprehensive reviews to ensure our readers make the right decision for their investing needs. Investopedia launched in 1999, and has been helping readers find the best online brokerage accounts since 2019.

How to Choose a Brokerage Account

When choosing an online broker, you have to think about your immediate needs as an investor or trader. If you are a beginner, you may need a broker who has great educational material about the stock market and other financial markets. Several brokers also allow for paper trading before funding an account, allowing you to learn the platform, sample the available assets, and test out the trading experience without risking real capital.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an Online Brokerage Account and How Does it Work?

A brokerage account is a type of account similar in function to the accounts you have with a bank. With a brokerage account, you deposit funds with an investment firm (the brokerage). This is usually done by a transfer from your existing bank account. Once funds are added to your brokerage account, you can put the money to work using the brokerage's trading platform to invest those funds in the market. The assets you buy with your cash can be anything offered by that brokerage, including stocks, bonds, ETFs, and even cryptocurrency.

Your online brokerage account will display your holdings (the assets you've purchased) as well as your cash balance (your buying power). If you invest in something that gains in value, you can sell it and the profits will be deposited in your online brokerage account. From there, you can place another trade or even transfer the funds out to your regular bank account to use elsewhere. Some brokerage accounts even allow you to earn interest on your uninvested cash.

How Much Money Do you Need to Open a Brokerage Account?

There is no longer a real minimum to start investing in the financial markets. With many brokers offering margin accounts with no required minimums on taxable trading accounts and retirement accounts and access to fractional shares, you can open and fund an account with any amount of money. If you don't have a lot of money to invest, however, it will influence how you approach the market. Although you could invest $1 in fractional shares of a specific stock, the better approach with limited capital is to use ETFs. Index tracking ETFs, for example, offer greater diversification for your dollar than a single company stock because every share (and fractional share) of the ETF replicates an index made up of many companies in many different industries. You could also consider using options to leverage your dollars with a directional bet on the market or a specific stock, but this is a strategy best reserved for risk capital—not the whole of your limited investment capital.

When investing with small sums, consistency is the key to building wealth. If you can regularly put a set amount of money into the market—even $10 a week—you will be surprised at how quickly it begins to grow. This consistency also helps to smooth market effects, as you will be buying dips and peaks as the market goes up and down.

Can You Invest With a Small Amount of Money?

Many online brokers allow for small minimum deposits which can be a great alternative for those with limited funds. Account minimums (if any) are displayed at the top of our reviews, as well as in our selection of the best platforms for different types of investors. If you are looking for more general guidance on investing with limited capital, check out our article on smart investing on a small budget.

Do Brokers Offer Mobile Platforms?

Some online brokers have powerful mobile apps delivering nearly all the features that their desktop counterparts do. For example, E*TRADE's app, which we picked as our best app for mobile investing and trading, offers two mobile platforms that are streamlined versions of the company's powerful desktop platform.

Can You Lose Money in a Brokerage Account?

Yes, you can. It is a reality of the market that no reward comes without risk. You can lose money buying a bad investment, but you can also lose by buying a good investment at the wrong time. Investment decisions should be guided by extensive research and careful consideration of your risk tolerance. When it comes to the financial markets, there are endless possibilities for making and losing money. Unless all the funds in your brokerage account are sitting in uninvested cash (brokerage cash accounts are afforded up to $250,000 of protection by Securities Investor Protection Corporation insurance), there is a risk you will lose money. Another way of looking at that, however, is that a brokerage account sitting full of uninvested cash isn't at risk of making any money either. You can use strategies like asset allocation and diversification to reduce the risk of you losing money, but you will never fully eliminate it without also eliminating your chances of making a decent return.

Can I Buy Stocks Without a Broker?

Yes, you can actually buy and sell stocks without a broker, but it is not a common approach these days. Some companies still offer direct stock purchase plans that allow you to buy shares directly from the company. Companies administer these plans according to internal rules, and some are only open to company employees. You need to contact companies to find out whether they offer a direct stock purchase plan and what the terms and conditions are. These plans initially helped investors avoid brokerage fees, but the rise of online discount brokers with zero fees has removed this barrier, making the direct stock purchase plan somewhat of a relic.

What Is the Difference Between Investing and Trading?

Another important thing to consider is the distinction between investing and trading. When people talk about investing they generally mean buying assets to hold long-term. The goal of investing is to gradually build wealth and reach your retirement goals. Conversely, trading involves short-term strategies that maximize returns on a short-term basis, such as daily or monthly. Trading is generally considered riskier than investing.

All these factors are worth considering 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. For more support on how to choose a broker, you can check out our guide to choosing a stock broker. Once you've made a decision on a broker, you can refer to our guide to opening a brokerage account.

Companies We Reviewed

We researched and reviewed 26 online brokers and trading platforms to find the best companies you see in the list above. Below is the full list of companies we researched along with links to individual company reviews to help you learn more before making a decision:

Ally Invest, Charles Schwab, ChoiceTrade, E*TRADE, eOption, eToro, Fidelity, Interactive Brokers, J.P. Morgan SDI, Lightspeed, Lime Financial, Merrill Edge, Public, Robinhood, SoFi Invest, SogoTrade, T. Rowe Price, tastytrade, TradeStation, TradeZero, Vanguard, Webull, Wellstrade

How to Pick a Broker That's Right for You

How We Picked the Best Online Brokers and Trading Platforms

Providing readers with unbiased, comprehensive reviews of online brokers and trading platforms is a top priority for Investopedia. We combined our industry research, subject matter expertise, and investor survey data to guide the research and weightings for our 2024 online broker awards. To collect the data, we sent a digital survey with 110 questions to each of the 26 companies we included in our rubric. Additionally, our team of researchers verified the survey responses and collected any missing data points through online research and conversations with each company directly. The data collection process spanned from Feb. 19 to March 19, 2024.

We then developed a proprietary model that scored each company to rate its performance across 11 major categories and 89 criteria to find the best online brokers and trading platforms. The score for each company’s overall star rating is a weighted average of the criteria in the following categories:

Additionally, during our 2024 research, many of the companies we reviewed gave us live demonstrations of their platforms and services via video conferencing methods and also granted our team of expert writers and editors access to live accounts so they could perform hands-on testing.

Through this all-encompassing data collection and review process, Investopedia has provided you with an unbiased and thorough review of the top online brokers and trading platforms.

Learn more about how we review online brokers.

Guide to Online Brokers and Trading Platforms

Learn more about online brokers and trading platforms:

  • How to Invest in Stocks: A Beginner's Guide
  • How to Choose a Broker
  • How to Buy Stocks: Tips for Getting Started
  • How to Open an Online Brokerage Account
  • How to Open a Swing Trade Account
  • Broker vs. Market Maker: What's the Difference?
  • Why Do Brokers Ask for Personal Information?
  • How Much Money Do You Need to Start Trading?
  • How to Buy and Sell Stocks for Your Account
  • How to Trade 0DTE Options
  • How Long Does it Take for Brokers to Confirm a Trade?
  • How to Buy Fractional Shares
  • How to Trade Options
  • How to Invest Online
  • Investopedia’s Online Broker Review Methodology

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Best Online Brokers and Trading Platforms of 2024 (2024)

FAQs

What is the best broker in 2024? ›

Best Online Brokerage Accounts and Trading Platforms of 2024
  • Best Overall: Fidelity.
  • Best for Low Costs: Fidelity.
  • Best for Beginners: Charles Schwab.
  • Best for Advanced Traders: Interactive Brokers.
  • Best for ETFs: Fidelity.
  • Best for Options Trading: tastytrade.
  • Best for International Trading: Interactive Brokers.

Which is the best online trading platform? ›

Our recommendations for the best online brokers
  • Best for low-cost options trading: SoFi Invest. ...
  • Best for stock rewards: Stash. ...
  • Best for simple interface: Plynk. ...
  • Best for mutual-fund investors: Axos Self-Directed Trading. ...
  • Best for overall trading: Fidelity Investments. ...
  • Best for mobile trading: E*TRADE.

What are the top 3 brokerage firms? ›

Top Brokerage Houses, Ranked
Top Brokerage Firms by AUM and Number of Accounts
RankFirmCustomer Accounts
1Fidelity Investments50+ million
2Charles Schwab35 million
3Vanguard50+ million
1 more row

What is the best trading platform at the moment? ›

Best Online Brokers of 2024
  • Fidelity - Best overall.
  • E*TRADE - Best for mobile trading.
  • Charles Schwab - Best desktop stock trading platform.
  • Merrill Edge - Best research experience.
  • Interactive Brokers - Best for professional traders.
  • Firstrade - Best for Chinese-speaking clients.
Mar 25, 2024

What is the most trusted broker in the world? ›

Interactive Brokers holds the title of “best for professional traders” thanks to its wide range of highly customizable tools, investment options, and research. Investors can also trade in foreign markets and hold multiple currencies, for those interested in forex trading.

Should I use Fidelity or Charles Schwab? ›

Overall Appeal. Fidelity and Schwab are both excellent choices. These investment firms offer thousands of funds. There are some nuances, such as Fidelity being better for crypto traders and Schwab being more optimal for futures traders.

Which platform do professional traders use? ›

IC Markets' clients have access to a good range of professional platforms – MT4, MT5, and the cTrader platforms. All of these provide excellent charting tools and indicators and can run algorithmic trading strategies 24/7 using the IC Markets VPS service.

Which platform has the lowest brokerage charges? ›

Examples of brokers with Lowest brokerage charges in India include Zerodha, Angel One & Kotak Securities . These platforms often appeal to traders and investors seeking cost-effective options with transparent fee structures, providing a variety of financial instruments at competitive rates.

What are the top brokerages in the US? ›

5 Largest Brokerage Firms of 2024
Stock Brokerage FirmAssets under management*
Charles Schwab$8.5 trillion
Fidelity Investments$4.4 trillion
JPMorgan Chase & Co.$3.9 trillion
Merrill Wealth Management$1.3 trillion
1 more row
Jan 25, 2024

Which broker do most traders use? ›

Best brokers for day trading
  • Interactive Brokers.
  • E*TRADE.
  • Fidelity.
  • Webull.
  • Robinhood.
  • TradeStation.

What brokerage do most millionaires use? ›

Best Brokers for High Net Worth Individuals
  • Charles Schwab - Best for high net worth investors.
  • Merrill Edge - Best rewards program.
  • Fidelity - Best overall online broker.
  • Interactive Brokers - Great overall, best for professionals.
  • E*TRADE - Best web-based platform.
Mar 28, 2024

What's the best trading platform for beginners? ›

NerdWallet's Best Online Stock Brokers for Beginners of April 2024
  • Fidelity.
  • Robinhood.
  • E*TRADE.
  • Vanguard.
  • Webull.
  • Ally Invest.
  • Firstrade.
  • Public.
Apr 18, 2024

What type of trading is most successful? ›

The defining feature of day trading is that traders do not hold positions overnight; instead, they seek to profit from short-term price movements occurring during the trading session.It can be considered one of the most profitable trading methods available to investors.

What is the fastest growing broker in the world? ›

The highlight of iFX Expo Latam 2024 was the award ceremony, where Fxview was honoured with the title of the Fastest Growing Broker. According to Fxview management, such high recognition of the company's achievements will contribute to strengthening relationships with partners from Latin American countries.

What is the highest paid brokers? ›

High Paying Brokerage Professional Jobs
  • Broker. Salary range: $45,000-$131,500 per year. ...
  • Commodity Broker. Salary range: $97,500-$112,500 per year. ...
  • Energy Broker. Salary range: $60,500-$78,000 per year. ...
  • Associate Broker. Salary range: $44,000-$73,500 per year. ...
  • Stock Broker. ...
  • Broker Assistant. ...
  • Brokerage Clerk.

Which investment broker is the best? ›

Recap: Best Brokerage Accounts of 2024
  • Interactive Brokers: Best Online Broker for Traders.
  • TD Ameritrade: Best Online Broker for Beginners and Best for Mobile App Users.
  • Fidelity Investments: Best Online Broker for Everyday Investors.
  • Charles Schwab: Best Online Broker for Customer Service.
Apr 1, 2024

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